NW Cyclist: 2012 Gear Review

Sneak Peek at New Bike Gear

By Stephen Renegold

Grip your handlebars. Snap on a helmet. In 2012, a deluge of new accessories, apparel, and bike models are guaranteed to help you roll faster, safer and with more style on the road or trail.

Gathered from sneak peeks at the Interbike trade show last September, to product tests from the past few weeks, here are the 10 top items we feel will stand out in 2012.

This edition of Gear Review is sponsored by:

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Under-seat bike hydration

Adding water capacity and a hands-free drinking option, the VelEau system from Portland’s Showers Pass is among the more unique products of the year. It works with an under-the-seat reservoir that holds 42 liquid ounces of water. Drinking hoses snake from the reservoir to a handlebar mount, allowing you to lean forward and sip. Under the hydration reservoir, there’s a zipper pocket big enough to carry a spare bike tube, a CO2 cartridge, tire levers, and a multi-tool. $80.  www.showerspass.com

Carbon-fiber wheels

 

Sleek, strong, and super light, Crank Brothers now has carbon-fiber wheels made for mountain biking. They weigh about three pounds apiece, allowing for fast spinning uphill and on long singletrack stretches. But the carbon sweetness will cost you—the new-school wheels go for a wallet-crushing $2,200 a pair.  www.crankbrothers.com

Bright light

After-dark rides demand good bike lights. The Urban 500 model from Light & Motion is a turn-key option: charge it via your laptop’s USB port, clip it onto your handlebars, and ride. Its max-bright beam ignites a city street or mountain trail with a 500-lumen blast. Orange lights on the case offer visibility from the side. The Urban 500 can run on its high-beam setting for 1.5 hours, enough for a solid ride into the night. $159.  www.bikelights.com

Monster-tire bike

Surly Bikes’ obese-wheeled Moonlander is a bike that allows for 4.7-inch “monster” tires that can float over rocks and bumps, no suspension required. The bike is made for rough terrain and snow riding, where the airy tires ride through the white fluff instead of cutting in deep. $2,350. www.surlybikes.com

Sit-down speed demon

Recumbent bikes are rarely thought of as race cars you can pedal. But with its Sprint X-type recumbent trike, England’s Inspired Cycle Engineering touts a sit-down bike that’s “optimized for speed.” The upgraded model offers a tighter turning radius, a big chain ring for pushing speed limits, and disc brakes when you need to, reluctantly, slow down again. Starts at $3,365.  www.icetrikes.co

Bright red blinker

High-power taillights are a necessity for city riding. The CatEye Rapid 5 rear light is among the brightest back-light options on the market and includes a high-power center light flanked with smaller LEDs. It takes two AAA batteries and runs for 50 hours on pulse mode. The company touts 180-degree visibility for cars approaching from side streets or from behind. $25.  www.cateye.com

Kid “safe-T-seat”

The center-mount safe-T-seat from iBert Inc. puts a kid front and center on your ride. It attaches to the stem area of a bike and provides a “captain’s chair” experience for the kid as mom or dad pedals along. A new version for 2012 has an improved mounting system, a padded kid “steering wheel,” and a bright pink color scheme sure to turn heads of both kids and adults alike. $110.  www.ibertinc.com

Battery-operated bike shifting

Electronic shifting for the masses! That’s what Shimano touts with its (somewhat) budget-conscious Di2 Ultegra groupo, a derailleur system that gives battery-operated, push-button control to riders who want to more efficiently rocket through gears. “It’s bringing the proven performance of our (pro-level) Dura-Ace electronic shifting to a much wider audience,” a company rep told us. Watch for Ultegra Di2 electric on high-end ($4,000 and up) road bikes this spring.  www.shimano.com

Bottle lock

The Bottle Lock from Küat is a water-bottle-shaped canister that hides a retractable three-foot-long cable and key lock. It stores cleanly in a standard bottle cage when not in use. The cable is made of 8mm braided steel. A simple and smart innovation for city riders and commuters tired of fussing with cables wound around their frames. $34.  www.kuatracks.com

Magic shifter

Gears are out, “continuously variable planetary transmissions” are in! At least that’s what Fallbrook Technologies, Inc. wants you to believe in regard to its NuVinci 360 internally “geared” hub. The NuVinci system uses a set of rotating and tilting balls inside a hub to offer “continuously variable” shifting with no gear-to-gear jump. This year, the brand unveiled an Aftermarket Kit to let builders more easily add the NuVinci technology to bikes. $399.  www.fallbrooktech.com

Stephen Regenold is founder and editor of www.gearjunkie.com. Connect with Regenold at Facebook.com/TheGearJunkie or on Twitter via @TheGearJunkie.