We put together our dream team of bike-related products and accessories — everything we would choose for our perfect riding setup. It includes all of our favorite biking gear fit for various biking styles and budgets. From big purchases (like a bike!) to small but helpful accessories like a frame pump, this list has got you covered with advice on everything you may need to enhance your next two-wheeled adventure.Editor's Note: We updated this article on July 28, 2022.
First and foremost, you've got to protect your noggin. All of the bicycle helmets we tested will do the job, but if you're bombing down a steep trail on your enduro, you may want more coverage than if you're pedaling cross country on your gravel bike. Different helmet styles have features that may be a better fit. Some may prioritize airflow, ventilation, and comfort, while others put more emphasis on protection and coverage. In the end, it really comes down to your personal preference and riding style.
Budget Bike Helmets
For those just getting into biking or who only go out occasionally, there is no need to spend a fortune on your gear. A more affordable bike helmet will do the trick and keep you safe while riding from point A to point B.
Giro Fixture MIPS
Road Bike Helmets
If you know you lean heavily toward road cycling, you'll want something sleek, aerodynamic, comfortable, and breathable. These are our top choices, but if you want to peruse your options, we included many different styles when we tested road bike helmets.
Bontrager Velocis MIPS
Bell Z20 MIPS
Mountain Bike Helmets
Protection is probably the first thing you look for in a helmet, especially if you are a regular on knobby and gnarly trails. While maybe a bit heavier than other styles, the additional coverage, and durability found in a helmet made specifically for mountain biking is worth it to many riders.
Giro Manifest Spherical
Giro Radix MIPS
Downhill riders who live for jumps, drops, and other hefty obstacles should opt for a full face helmet. They provide the most head coverage, wrapping all the way around the face, and are great for anyone who can't stay away from adrenaline-filled rides but still want to mitigate risks.
Smith Mainline MIPS
Fox Rampage Pro Carbon MIPS
Bike Racks, Locks, and Pumps
Getting stuck with a flat is a surefire way to ruin anyone's weekend ride, and worse still is returning from a quick pit stop to find that your bike is not there at all. Of all the bike related gear we have tested, racks, locks, and pumps may not be as enticing as, say, a zippy e-bike. However, these essential pieces can help get you out and riding and protect you from potential trail mishaps.
There are several ways to get you and your to the trailhead, but if it is any great distance, you probably don't want to waste your time pedaling there. Enter the bike rack. Our full review of bike racks includes models with different mount and carry styles to best fit your vehicle. Here are our favorites:
Thule T2 Pro XTR
City riders will understand the importance of a secure bike lock for any bicycle. However, even if you're not in a city, you may have invested hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in your bike. Trust us on this one: a reliable bike lock is worth it. Here are our top locks:
Kryptonite New York Standard U-Lock
Hiplok Original: Superbright
Full-size bike pumps are essential for good bike maintenance and are nice to have around the house or to take with you in the car on your way to the trail. Full-sized versions are a bit heavy, but they fill your tires faster and with less effort than a handheld version.
Specialized Air Tool Pro
For those who ride especially gnarly routes and are prone to flats, you'll want a pump you can take along with you. A useful frame pump is lightweight enough to keep from slowing you down on those grueling uphill climbs and is 100% worth the added grams when you find yourself in a pinch miles away from home.
Topeak Road Morph G
Lezyne Road Drive
The shoes you wear to bike in varies significantly from rider to rider, but as with most outdoor activities, your footwear matters. Clipping into your road bike can improve energy transfer and help you squeeze every last drop out of each pedal rotation. Perfectly sticky mountain bike shoes can give you more control over your bike and offer a firm pedaling platform. Whatever your needs, we've got you covered with our favorite options for each category.
Road Bike Shoes
The right pair of shoes is one of the best ways to improve your efficiency and power transfer while pedaling and can also give you a higher degree of control over your bike. Out of all the road bike shoes we tested, these are some of our favorites:
Fizik Vento Infinito Carbon 2
Fizik Tempo Overcurve R4
Mountain Bike Shoes
Clipless shoes can up your trail game as well. A stiffer sole offers a platform for energy transfer, and being attached to your pedals allows you to execute more complicated maneuvers while out on the trail. From the dozens of mountain bike shoes we have tested, these are the ones that we prefer to hit the trail in:
Five Ten Hellcat Pro
Giro Empire VR90
Mountain Bike Shoes for Women
Bike shoes that are specific to women differ in that they typically run slightly more narrow than their male-specific counterparts and may also come in different colors. These are the top shoes as chosen by our testers:
Crankbrothers Mallet Boa - Unisex
Specialized 2FO Roost Clip - Unisex
Flat Mountain Bike Shoes
You may prefer flat pedals depending on your riding style and comfort level. However, you can still find mountain bike-specific flat shoes that offer grippy soles and tread patterns, support, ventilation, and protective features, all of which are intended to improve your performance on the trail.
Five Ten Freerider Pro
Ride Concepts Livewire
Flat Mountain Bike Shoes for Women
Women's flat pedal shoes offer many of the same features such as grippy rubber and better ventilation, support, and protections. However, they usually have a more narrow heel cup and less volume in the toe box to accommodate smaller feet. Here are some of our top choices for women:
Five Ten Freerider Pro - Women's
Ride Concepts Livewire - Women's
Mountain bikes. The big bambino. This is likely what drew you here in the first place, and now you've finally made it to the main event. From the sleekest-looking carbon frames to the entry-level setup perfect for beginners, we've taken dozens of MTB models out on the trail to find the best option for every avid or aspiring rider. After analyzing the geometry and getting a hands-on feel for each bike, these are a few of our favorites:
Trail Mountain Bikes
Trail is a broad category of mountain bike that includes models that most people would think of when they hear "mountain biking" and have middle-of-the-road features that make them adaptable to a broad range of terrain. Here are a few options we love:
Ibis Ripmo V2 XT
Yeti SB130 TURQ X01
Mountain Bikes Under $2,500
While not necessarily a budget purchase, $2,500 is a more manageable amount for most riders to invest in their bike. We were impressed with the performance of some of these mid-range mountain bikes. Here are the models that outrode others in this price range:
Polygon Siskiu T8
Marin Rift Zone 29 2
Hardtail Mountain Bikes
Hardtails don't offer any rear suspension, but they trade this feature for a lower price tag and easier maintenance. If these are both compelling selling points to you, this may be right up your alley. Here are a few of our favorite hardtail bikes:
Specialized Fuse Expert 29
Ibis DV9 NX
Bike Accessories And Components
While not always necessary, certain accessories can add elements of comfort and convenience to your ride. Hip packs, and knee pads keep you safe and hydrated, while the ever-handy bike multi-tool is an accessory many would consider essential. Solid upgrades to your components, like new flat pedals, extra knobby tires for you mountain bike, or snazzy new wheelsets, can elevate your riding to a new level without breaking the bank. These are some of the best add-ons for any biker:
Bike Phone Mounts
If you bike in the city or take long tours on your road bike, you may understand the importance of keeping the open map on your phone front and center. Here are some mounts that we like:
Rokform Pro Series Quad Tab Mount
Quad Lock Out Front Bike Mount
Mountain Bike Tires
The right MTB tires are one of the most accessible and affordable upgrades you can make to your bike. With very little time and effort, you can go from slipping and sliding around corners to digging into sharp turns. Here are a few sets that we recommend:
Maxxis Minion DHF 3C/EXO
Maxxis Aggressor 2.3 EXO
Mountain Bike Hip Packs
Opting for a hip pack rather than a backpack can lighten your load and lower your center of gravity, making you feel more stable when tackling steep lines. We tested a bunch of great bike hip packs, but these are the options that we like the best:
EVOC Hip Pack Pro 3L
Mountain Bike Knee Pads
As much as we try to avoid it, crashing is inevitable if you ride your bike frequently, and your knees can often take the brunt of the fall. Investing in a pair of knee pads for biking gives your body a better chance of staying intact. These are a few of our preferred styles:
Fox Racing Launch D3O
Mountain Bike Pedals
Your pedals are one of your most vital points of connection with your bike. You'll want to choose a set that helps you feel confident and stable in your stance. Of all the MTB pedals we set our feet on, these are the ones that we like the best:
HT Components T1
Mountain Bike Flat Pedals
If you prefer the freedom of flat mountain bike pedals and shoes, we looked at some of the top options available and chose our favorites. Below are the models that offer the best combination of grip and stability without clipping in.
Race Face Atlas Pedal
OneUp Components Composite
Part of tailoring your bike to your riding style is finding the perfect bike seat. No matter if you prioritize comfort or weight, there is a seat out there that will support your tush through thick and thin. If you're not sure how to narrow it down, these are some of the ones we prefer:
Giddy Up! Bike Seat
If you are in the market for a new saddle for your road bike, we got our hands on a group of the top models, all sleek and streamlined, and selected our favorites. These are the ones that made it to the top ranks:
Mountain Bike Saddles
Mountain riders look for slightly different features in their saddle, and so there is an entirely different market of options to choose from. We rode on some of the most popular saddles for mountain bikers, and these are the ones that we like the best:
Tioga Undercover Stratum TI
WTB Volt Chromoly
If you are training for a race, tracking your fitness, or are just curious about the details of your ride, a bike computer is a nifty little device to bring on your cycling journey. Out of the best options available today, there are a few that we would recommend to a friend:
Garmin Edge 830
Bryton Rider 420
If you are going any further than the coffee shop down the street, every rider should keep a multi-tool handy and ready for any mishaps that may happen while on the road or trail. Our favorite multi-tools are easy to use and have enough variety to come in handy in almost any scenario.
ToPeak Mini PT30
Pro Bike Tool 17 in 1
Bike seats built for performance aren't always the most comfortable, and protecting your tush is essential when you start getting into longer and more consistent rides. It is important to find the right shorts for any occasion, on or off the trail, and bike-specific styles are designed to keep you cool, comfy, and chafe-free through your most intense sessions.
Those who prefer pavement riding will want bike shorts that cut down on excess fabric and have maximum ease of movement. These are the top-performing styles in our testing:
SUGOi Evolution Bibs
Endura Pro SL Bib Short
Bike Shorts for Women
Women's bike shorts are explicitly tailored to fit a woman's frame and provide compression in the right areas. Some of our favorite styles are included below:
SUGOi RS Pro Bib
Louis Garneau Optimum - Women's
Mountain Bike Shorts
The type of riding you do will influence what you look for in your biking attire. On single-track trails that wind through bushes and forests, you'll want more protection; longer lengths and tougher fabric are two hallmark traits of mountain-style shorts for both men and women. These are our top MTB short picks for men:
Kitsbow Mescal Ventilated
Troy Lee Designs Skyline
Mountain Bike Shorts for Women
Again, mountain bike shorts made for women perform similar to men's in the amount of protection and comfort offered, but they come in different cuts and colors that cater to a woman's anatomy. These are our top choices for lady riders:
Rapha Trail Shorts Women's
Endura MT500 Spray Short II Women's
As much as you may want to hop on your bike and go, even the most minimalist of riders needs a few items to help them prepare for a day on the trail or road. After getting our hands on hundreds of top products, and years of personal riding experience on all types of terrain, we have dialed in on what makes a piece of bike gear worth the purchase and share our top recommendations with you here. If you want more in-depth info, our Buying Advice articles will help guide you through the ins and outs of our major categories to help with your decision.
— Chris McNamara
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