Bikerumor Editor’s Choice Awards 2022 – Zach’s Best Bikes, Parts & Gear



The bicycle is an escape. An escape from daily pressures, which lately may seem all too real. While modern bicycles have gotten incredibly complex, it still all distills down into the same essence – balance, momentum, movement. We’re continually chasing that feeling, and honestly, most of the time it doesn’t matter what you’re riding, as long as you’re riding.

For those that want to make the most of their riding time though, all products are not created equal. While 2022 has continued to present challenges when it comes to the availability of certain products, we’ve still had the chance to try out some incredible bikes, parts, and gear that have earned the title of Editor’s Choice.

About Zach

In the 12 years that I have been writing for Bikerumor, there hasn’t been a lot of change for me personally when it comes to bikes. More than anything, my riding evolves with the season, picking the most appropriate bike for the terrain and the time of year. The caveat there is a notable shift away from road riding in favor of gravel, well, maybe adventure or ATB is a better term. I love that you can jump on a gravel bike and get the same level of workout that you would from a road ride, but with far more excitement exploring the offshoots, paths, and trails along the way.

While mountain bikes remain a big part of my life, time constraints mean I can’t drive to far away trails as often. Instead, you can find me most often riding from the house on various bikes, trying to dream up new adventures along the way.

Experience: Supermoon-lit Fat Bike Ride on the Beach

Taken with Night Mode on my phone, but still, it was so bright it was almost daylight.

Fat bikes get a bad rap as a “winter-only” bike, but if I’m honest, I prefer them when it’s much warmer out. And sandy. Of all the rides I’ve done this year, there is one that I can recount almost second-by-second, it was that memorable.

While down south on a family vacation, we happened to be by the beach during a super Flower Moon, total lunar eclipse, and a king tide. The lunar eclipse ended up a bust due to cloud cover, but the next night the moon was still nearly full, the king tide had gone out leaving an insanely low tide, and I had the beach all to myself.

The moon was so bright that the reflection off the sand and water made lights completely unnecessary, and the super low tide made for fast riding conditions that went on for miles. Truly one of those transformative rides that you can’t really plan, but have to recognize when you’re in the moment.

Honorable Mention: eBike Tour of Austin with Bosch & BikeTexas

Towards the end of this year, I had a chance to zip down to Austin, Texas to visit with Bosch. While we were there, they set up a group ride with demo bikes from Electric Avenue and the Executive Director of BikeTexas, Robin Stallings was our guide. Not only was the Beno RemiDemi a fun bike to cruise around Austin on, but the tour that Robin led us on highlighted the impressive cycling infrastructure that Austin has put together so far. The ride only further emphasized that eBikes are one of the best ways to take in a new city.

Mountain Bike

Ibis Ripmo V2

Editor’s Choice: Ibis Ripmo V2

Years ago, the Ibis Ripley v4 was an easy choice for my EC pick. It would still be in the running today – that’s how much I love that bike. So it’s probably no surprise that when I finally got on the latest version of the Ripmo, I felt right at home. Since I got the Ripmo V2 in for testing, Ibis updated it with the Ripmo V2S. It’s still mostly the same bike, just with an updated swingarm to include a SRAM UDH along with the accompanying 55mm chainline, and updated clevis bushings (which means you can find the Ripmo V2 on some decent sales currently).

The Ripmo has all of the things I love about the Ripley including a pedal-friendly ride with excellent suspension, room for a full-size bottle in the front triangle on a medium, Ibis’ awesome Pork Chop bags, plenty of tire clearance, and just a great overall ride. The Ripley is still my go-to bike for daily rides around home, but for bigger terrain, the Ripmo is an excellent choice.

Road & Gravel Bikes

fiftyone bikes assassin gravel bike

Editor’s Choice: FiftyOne Bikes Assassin

Probably a sign of things to come, I spent a lot less time this year on a road bike, and a lot more time on gravel bikes. A highlight of the year was my time on the FiftyOne Bikes Assassin. This bike just struck such a balance between racing and adventure, it never really felt out of its element in spite of the circumstances. Great looks, supremely versatile, definitely one bike I miss having around.

Fat Bike

Why Cycles Big Iron V2 fat bike titanium

Editor’s Choice: Why Cycles Big Iron V2

Fat bikes are dead, right? No, but generic me-too fat bikes with terrible geometry are.

On the flip side, well-designed fat bikes just keep getting better, and finally seem to be coming to terms with the bigger 27.5″ fat bike wheels and tires. The Why Cycles Big Iron V2 improved a lot from V1, and it’s the first fat bike I’ve ridden that’s been designed around 27.5″ wheels and tires that I truly love.

The ride quality from the titanium frame is top-notch, and the lack of any real finish means heel rub, bag rub, rust, and other frame damage is a non-issue. With my custom build, I got it down to 27.34lbs /12.41kg without pedals, but still with a Deore 1×12 drivetrain and 4oz of sealant per tire. It was good enough that I had to buy it.

Kid’s Bike

woom one plus balance bike with brakes

Editor’s Choice: Woom 1 Plus Balance Bike

Thanks to the Strider Sport 2-in-1 Rocking Bike, it seems like my daughter got off to an early start on the balance bike outside. Meaning, she quickly got to the point where she needed something with real brakes.

Bikerumor Editor's Choice Zach Overholt Woom one plus balance bike

Scopin’ lines at the pumptrack

That’s where the Woom 1+ came in. At 2 1/2, she was just big enough to make the leap to 14″ wheels, and the dual color-coded hand brakes meant she quickly learned how to stop, properly. The One Plus also has a high-quality build with Schwalbe pneumatic tires that offer a lot more grip on various surfaces.

Throw in features like a removable steering limiter and removable “surfboard” for resting your feet on when coasting, and you have the ideal in-between balance bike for adventurous riders. My daughter’s only complaint? It doesn’t come in pink.

Tires

Schwalbe G-One Overland tires

Editor’s Choice: Schwalbe G-One Overland

While gravel is getting hugely popular, not everyone is using their gravel bikes in the same way. I rarely toe the line for a gravel race, but I do take gravel bikes on all kinds of adventures. That usually means a balanced mix of pavement, gravel, dirt, sand, and most importantly, singletrack.

Schwalbe G-one overland tires

As soon as I saw the new Schwalbe G-One Overland tire I figured it could be the perfect tire for my needs. And I was right. This tire rolls very well on pavement, but has way more grip than you would expect once you get off-road. At 575g for the 700c x 45mm version, it’s not a lightweight, but also not too heavy – especially when you consider the durability of the Super Ground casing.

All in all, if you want a gravel tire that performs well everywhere and you’re willing to sacrifice a few grams to get it, you can’t go wrong here.

Wheels

Roval Rapide CLX II tubeless whees

Editor’s Choice Road: Roval Rapide CLX II Tubeless Wheels

Earlier this year, Specialized finally announced that their Roval Rapide & Alpinist CLX II wheels were officially tubeless-ready. Initially, I had requested the Alpinist wheels since they seemed like a perfect fit for the Specialized Aethos. But only the Rapide wheels were in stock, so I went with it.

I was blown away not only by how stable these wheels are in high winds but also by their climbing ability. I’m sure the Alpinist wheels would climb even better given their feathery weight, but I didn’t feel like I was giving anything up with the Rapide wheels – which just motor along the flats.

The only negative seems to be the $2,800 price tag. Though that hasn’t stopped Roval from completely selling out of its inventory.

Shimano GRX gravel wheels

Editor’s Choice Gravel: Shimano WH-RX870-TL GRX Carbon wheels

These wheels have everything you could want from a gravel wheelset – they’re light, have a 25mm internal width, a low-profile yet still aero profile, a responsive straight pull lacing pattern, and the legendary smoothness of Shimano cup and cone ball bearing hubs. There’s also a steel freehub body which is a big plus for running cassettes with split carriers so they won’t dig into the softer aluminum.

Their excellent ride makes them even more appealing, and that’s before you get to the almost-reasonable price tag of $1,399. I could go on, but just know that the Shimano WH-RX870-TL GRX Carbon wheels are certainly worth a look.

Reynolds BL329 black label trail pro wheels

Editor’s Choice MTB: Reynolds Black Label 329 Trail Pro Wheels

Take one of the best hubsets on the market and lace it to a hookless, asymmetric, Reynolds MR5 carbon rim and you have a winning combination. The Reynolds Black Label 329 Trail Pros are Reynold’s highest-level trail wheelset with a 32mm internal width rim, and Industry Nine Hydra hubs.

For me, these strike the perfect balance of stiffness to compliance, yielding a wheel that offers traction in spades, yet is deceptively quick. When paired with my (still) favorite tire setup of Schwalbe Wicked Wills (soft compound up front), these wheels have delivered some of my best rides of the year.

Blackbird Send Wheels from Ibis

Editor’s Choice Affordable MTB: Ibis Blackbird Send 29 MTB Wheels

The Reynolds wheels are truly amazing, but we know that a lot of riders won’t be able to shell out $2,299.99 for a wheelset.

At $529 for the pair, I’ve been very impressed with Ibis’ Blackbird Send 29 wheels. They’re on the heavier side being aluminum and offering a 35mm inner width rim, but these wheels are meant to take a beating – and they deliver. The rear wheel has extra reinforcement to send it big, and both rims use Stan’s BST to eliminate pinch flats and create a better interface with the tire. The wheels include a 7-year, no-fault rim warranty, and 2-year warranty on the hub, making these a solid choice for shredders on a budget.

Components

Reserve Fillmore valves

Editor’s Choice: Reserve Fillmore Valves

At the end of 2021, I put a pair of Reserve Fillmore Valves on a pair of fat bike wheels destined for the Why Big Iron V2 above. If I have issues with valves, it’s usually on my fat bike wheels due to the volume of sealant used, the amount of time they sit idle during “non-fat bike season”, and the gnarly conditions they get exposed to (road salt, sea salt, freezing conditions, etc.).

A full year later, the Fillmore valves on those wheels are still working flawlessly. They’re easy to use to adjust tire pressure trail-side, and still allow a high volume of airflow for easy seating of tubeless tires.

Gear

Bell mips spherical gravel helmet

Editor’s Choice Helmets: Bell XR Spherical

If you want an amazing gravel helmet, get the Bell XR Spherical. If you want a versatile adventure helmet? Check out the Bell XR Spherical. What about a mountain bike helmet without a visor and enduro-level protection? Take a look at the Bell XR Spherical.

This helmet manages to cover a lot of different categories with great looks and seriously impressive weight. It’s more protective than road helmets, which is good news for adventures that get a little sendy. But it’s also far more breathable than a lot of MTB helmets out there, and quite a bit lighter at just 285g.

It’s become my go-to helmet for any adventure rides, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Roka Halsey sunglasses

Editor’s Choice Sunglasses: Roka Halsey Sunglasses

These glasses were a pleasant surprise. Purpose-built cycling glasses are great, but let’s not kid ourselves – they’re often not the most stylish thing off the bike. For those of us who want high-performance shades that can seamlessly transition from adventure to après, the Halsey glasses from Roka check a lot of boxes.

Roka glasses adjustment kit

I have a small nose, so I struggle to get many sunglasses to fit properly. Roka includes three different nose pad thicknesses in the box, even for their casual styles (there’s even a little tool to help change them). Using the guide, you can use the pads to make sure the glasses are sitting on your nose correctly, which positions them correctly for your eyes.

The Halseys also have grippy pads at the temple which keeps them planted on your face, even when sweating. Just as important, I’ve put mine through the wringer and they seem to be the most durable sunglasses I’ve used in terms of scratches on the lenses (there aren’t any).

Available in a number of colors and different lens shades, there’s even a custom option to design your perfect pair.

Kurt Piston Pro X hitch rack

Fits a full size 27.5 x 4.5″ fat bike tire without adapters, or tools needed to change from carrying a road bike.

Editor’s Choice Bike Rack: Kuat Piston Pro X Hitch Rack

I’m so close to being finished with the full review of this rack, but just know this: it’s my favorite so far. I’ve lived with many of the tray-style racks on the market (including 1Up), and the Kuat Piston Pro X takes the title on its ease of use. It’s not the lightest, and probably not the toughest in terms of rigorous off-roading, but for a bike rack for the typical rider, it’s nearly perfect. Stay tuned for the full review, but in the meantime if you’re looking for a new rack, you really can’t go wrong with the Piston Pro X (as long as you can afford it).

Bikerumor Editor's Choice Zach Overholt Rapha jersey gore tex Infinium

Editor’s Choice Road/Gravel Clothing: Rapha Brevet Insulated LS Gore-Tex Infinium Jersey

For those of us that ride in cold & wet places half the year (or more), Rapha’s newest Brevet Insulated Long Sleeve Gore-Tex Infinium Jersey is worth a look. Starting with a Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper shell, the jersey eliminates the need for a jacket in most cases with a breathable, windproof, and water-resistant layer built right in. On the inside, “Active Insulation” mimics the performance of Polartec Alpha, offering an impressively warm jersey that also breathes incredibly well.

I purposely rode in this jersey on a warmer day with temperatures reaching into the 50s (F), and while I was sweating from being too warm, I managed to stay comfortably dry so when the temperatures dropped back down, I wasn’t soaked and freezing. On the other hand, the jersey works down to much colder temperatures and without the need for layers. A thin baselayer was all that was needed for a ride in the mid 30’s, and I was more comfortable than my usual setup as the temperatures fluctuated.

Just keep in mind that this is a jersey and not a jacket, so the cut reflects that. Not that you would need to, but don’t expect to be able to layer a bunch underneath.

USWE zulu 2 hip pack

Editor’s Choice Bags: USWE Zulo 2L Hip Pack

I’ll admit – I’m not a huge fan of hip-packs. I like them in theory, but in reality, I find that most are saggy annoyances that affect your ability to pedal – or breathe. The USWE Zulu 2 on the other hand, is successful for a few reasons: it’s small, well-shaped, and doesn’t try to overdo it.

The banana shape hugs your hips well, and the single buckle strap, while small, seems to stay tight and is easily adjusted. For longer rides, I’ve used the included 1L hydration bladder which is just enough to let you carry extra water without feeling like you’re carrying a watermelon in your pack. On shorter rides, you can ditch the bladder, and just carry the essentials with enough storage space for the essentials.

The only caveat is on my sample, the magnetic hose clip broke instantly the first time I tried to use it. Fortunately, I had some spares from another pack lying around, but if you buy one for yourself, make sure you test it before heading out for your first ride. It’s an easy fix, but an annoying one on an otherwise stellar bag.

Specialized packable down jacket bikepacking

Editor’s Choice Bikepacking: Specialized Packable Down Jacket

To be honest, I didn’t even know Specialized was making a down jacket until it showed up at my door. I’m so glad it did, as I’ve been searching for the perfect down jacket to bring along for bikepacking adventures where storage space (and warmth) is a priority.

Specialized down jacket packable actual weight

The Specialized Packable Down Jacket is exactly that – packing down into the included stuff sack that measures about 8.5″ x 3″. The jacket is also extremely light at 235g including the stuff sack. Yes, there are lighter jackets out there, but many ultralight down jackets eliminate features to get the weight as low as possible. The  Specialized offers dual main zippers, two zippered exterior pockets, two internal pockets, an adjustable elastic hem, and a hood that’s large enough to slip over a helmet, but cut so it also works without a helmet.

Packed with Allied Feather + Down 90/10 down/white goose feather and mixed with PrimaLoft Bio to attain an 800 Fill Power, the jacket is impressively warm for how light it is. So far, I’ve been comfortable wearing it down to the mid-20s (F) with just a t-shirt underneath, so with a few layers thrown in, you should be able to make it through some cold nights at camp.

Elite Rizer trainer incline simulator

Editor’s Choice: Elite Rizer Climbing Simulator

Last year, I spent a lot of time on the trainer in the winter months trying to prepare for the season. I knew that I was attending the Roads, Rocks, and Reggae gravel event in Alabama early in the season, which meant I would see some solid climbing to kick off the year. So I took the chance to try out the Elite Rizer Climbing Simulator to see if it would help.

By all accounts, I am not a good climber, but I found myself consistently at the front of the ride and summiting each climb with less effort than expected. I’d have to say that the Elite Rizer actually works – the result being a much more dynamic trainer workout that taps muscles usually left out during indoor training.

At more than $1,000 though, the Rizer is quite expensive, but I would buy this first over a trainer rocker/roller platform. As an added benefit, it provides in-game steering for programs like Zwift, which works much better than the Elite Sterzo. The Rizer is definitely not for everyone, but for anyone looking for the most realistic indoor training possible, it adds another dimension to your riding.

Hoka Challenger ATR 6 trail running shoes

Editor’s Choice Off the Bike: Hoka Challenger ATR 6

For me, the time has finally come to consider running. I feel like I’ve reached a point where I need to change things up in terms of cross-training, and suiting up for a run is faster and easier than getting ready to ride – especially in the colder months of the year.

Initially, I didn’t think I’d be into trail running, simply because I couldn’t see myself driving to an MTB trail without my bike. But trail running has opened up new trail systems where bikes aren’t allowed, which helps keep things fresh and exciting.

When it comes to running, a lot of my various cycling gear carries over (hats, gloves, casual jerseys, etc.), but the one big difference is the shoes. I love the Hoka Challenger ATR 6 for light trail running and jogging around the neighborhood. They’re noticeably more comfortable than my previous running shoes, and have a big impact on my ability to recover after a run, which is currently, not great. But that’s part of the fun – seeing continuous improvement nearly every run and hopefully translating that to fitness gains on the bike next season.


Many more great products have passed through our hands this year, but this collection highlights the best I’ve seen or ridden. Full disclosure: Each of these products has been chosen purely on their performance and/or technological merits for the reasons described above. Under no circumstances were any of our selections paid for by their producers. Nor was any preference or favor given to advertisers or brands who invite us on trips. Our selections are limited to products that we’ve actually spent time riding/testing in person. So, a brand’s willingness to invite Bikerumor to join a launch event, or to provide product samples, does make it more likely that we will have considered their products simply because we’ve had a chance to try them firsthand.



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