Yesterday was about the most important aspect of the road world… The RIDING, but lets not forget our beautiful steads that so purposefully carry us into the goodness. Yes, its time for the GEAR awards for 2013. You’d be reasonably right in thinking that these awards will be extremely biased, so dish yourself up a massive grain of salt as you savour the 2013 winners below.

The “More reliable than those little buggers that carried Sir Ed’s bags” award

There are plenty of candidates in this department, but the 12,000km’s ridden this year across all sorts of terrain leave me no choice but to call out one particular piece of kit, our winner:

Fulcrum Racing Zero wheels

Yip, Alu Clinchers are starting to be considered retro in some quarters, but these things can NOT be beaten for reliability, awesomeness and general good looks. Never once have they needed to be trued, brake track is still awesome and they roll smoother than Bree Olsen coated in baby oil. (Fuck, if you don’t know who she is and you’re at work DO NOT google search that).

If you’e in the market for wheels, BUY them, you’ll not regret it… Worth noting that my Racing 1’s have done over 30,000km’s as well and haven’t missed a beat:

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Not carbon… Not so aero… But they will happily do an extended tour in Afghanistan

The “If Aliens came to earth to fuck us over and had to ride bikes to do so, they would choose this one” award

Actually, an Alien has come to earth and he spends his spring fucking over everyone and which bike did Mr Sagan (not his real name) choose? Yes, that’s right, the Cannondale Evo. Don’t just take our word for it, talk to the German Lab that independently tested it and proclaimed it the best in the world (like an Exec in a Exco meeting I am glossing over details here), so there is some solid substance here.

As you may recall from my gear rant, the thing is an absolute weapon. What makes it even better is it doesn’t get all fancy pants on it and show off like a Pinarello Dogma… Nor does it try and bring funky lines into the mix like a BMC. It can be accused of being Old School… Just like Chuck Norris and Steven Segal and (minus the pony tail), they are bad ass, so bank that valid point.

So, ignoring the paint dept (which is on the improve) and the BB and Headset (which is always best to be replaced with Ceramic upgrades any way), you pretty much have the world’s best bike, here they are awaiting their Alien masters:

A line up that would trigger a major Wolf kit melt down

Maximum firepower on the Power Generator!

The “If you wear anything other than these as sunnies you clearly don’t care about getting laid at all” award

Clearly Froome dog doesn’t like chasing Cats, which is why he persists with the Jawbones most of the time, unfortunately they went by the wayside when they made the Liestrong version and as such there is only ONE model to have poked behind your ears this year:

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So cool they do the impossible and make Fabian look even COOLER

The Oakley Radarlock’s… The coolest sunnies ever seen on a person… on a bike, yes, even cooler than the Frogskins you had when the priority was going to a woodshed party to smashed on rocket fuel before falling over whilst trying to deliver the worlds worst groping. You know who are.

Throw out your Ruby Projects immediately, or like Roberto just pretend your old Oakleys ‘fell off’ during a race and get to the nearest Oakley store STAT.

The “If I became a social outcast and weird and didn’t want to ride an Evo, I would get one of these” award

There are a LOT of bikes to buy out there… I do get asked from time to time what I would get… Well, assuming for a moment I had turned to scientology or any other brain washing cult and forgot that the Evo was the best bike EVER, then I would ask Santa for one of these:

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Ja, we send to you in a big box with 4 to 5 Sausogaes as a gift

The Canyon CF SLX Ultimate… Sure, its a freaky concept buying a bike purely on the Internet… From Germans… But, I suspect that this would be an awesome machine to roll on. Also has the distinct advantage of not being in the Specialized/BMC/Giant pack herds that roam the weekend roads.

The “How does my beard look in this?” Rapha kit award

How does one pick a single Rapha product out from the legions of beautifully crafted and form fitting gear? VERY hard to do so… Especially when it allows everyone to be a model. But, after extensive testing and usage I can give the nod to the Rapha Merino Leg & Arm warmers.

I basically didn’t take them off all through 5 Passes, both because they looked so good, but also because I was freezing my nuts off, which of course begs the question when they will make a version to stop that situation from happening.

Special mention goes to the Pro Team jersey and the Classic Jacket, both awesome pieces of kit if you have a spare $900 lying around.

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Spot the rider from Asia… May have also slept in those leg & arm warmers, like its 1987

The “Can you please sponsor me because I sort of like all your stuff” most improved company award

I am fast becoming a bit of a groupie here, but its not without good reason… It started with helmets, spread to socks, then gloves and finally shoes. Yes, Giro are making some awesome kit these days and aside from their sunnies, everything is top notch.

I can even attest to the gloves being good, although I did only get 2 rides out of them before their destruction when I hit the deck at 45kph during Crazies, the good news was though they did save the hands! Job done. I would highly recommend the Factor Road shoe, an excellent slipper and goes well with your Aeon Helmet which is awesome in any colour BUT Liestrong:

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White… Most awesome theory for road shoes ever… Until it rains.

The “How did I get out of bed in the morning without you?!” best accessory award

Well, this one is a double header really for the road crew and may not apply to everyone, but this year I have been loving the K Edge Garmin and Go Pro mounts… Sure, together they look shit on your handlebars to the point where you look like a cycle tourist or one of those weird RAAM people, but there is no denying the power of the practicality here.

The Go Pro mount in particular handy in bringing a lot of this years footage to life (Go Pro helmet mount on MTB is ok, on road, massive infringement). The Garmin mount particularly handy if you’re doing intervals twice a year like me and need to see your numbers without the risk of riding into a taxi that has stopped without indicating, which is 98% of the time.

The “Bob Ford melt down and blow out” product award

I agree at some stage we’re all going to be rolling on road bikes with Disc Brakes… yes, the look of it freaks me out a bit, but I am pretty sure its going to happen and riding down the Angliru struggling to slow the bike down I wanted them right then and fucking there.

However, unfortunately for SRAM (SCAM/SHAM) they have gotten a little ahead of themselves and forgotten the DN song which they should have sung before rolling out their road disc brakes: “Shimano make brakes, SHAM makes mis-takes…” 

The result? A TOTAL RECALL:

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The standard look when using a SHAM brake product… The exhilarating feeling of the lever coming into the handlebar

Can’t wait for their electronic group set I saw spy shot of this morning to hit the market! YAY!

The “like a sex change, it doesn’t seem we are able to go back” gear award

After 4 months of riding on compact gearing I made the misinformed decision to take a standard chain set to Abu Dhabi, its flat right? A quarter of the way up a 9% 5km climb I realised that my world had changed forever… Yes, the big gears which had been normal to me all my life now felt incredibly awkward. After much analysis, the decision was made, a full conversion to compact chain sets.

Yes, get me a bowl of milk and brush my tail, but given my Peter Pan mentality I refuse to accept this is an age thing. I will say this though, whilst they are awesome 98% of the time, when you get caught out with compact and run out of gears, you really get caught out, so a warning to those that are still racing.

So…. there it is, Road Awards over for 2013. You may be right in thinking that nothing much happens gear wise in the road world and to a large degree you’re right. I did also notice a correlation this year that some of the strongest riders I raced against were on the most basic kit, so food for thought there… namely: Get your kit sorted and get out and RIDE!

Dirty DisclaimerNone of the shit I have talked about above was given to me for free… Which is poor form, surely given how technical my reviews are its time for the free boxes to start stacking up by my door? However, there may be a slight bias towards stuff that I already owned…

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