Although DUALCO may be new to the bicycle lubricant market, the Texas-based company has more than 50 years of experience producing lubrication products for light and heavy industry, recreational, and military applications. Additionally, DUALCO’s grease guns have been a staple among professional and home bike mechanics for years (I own several; including one that’s been in service for nearly twenty years).
If you were a bicycle racer in the early hardshell helmet days, you may remember Brancale‘s distinctive white-and-blue helmets. The Italian company’s products were a common sight in the pro peloton, but eventually the storied brand faded away. In 2014, Brancale relaunched as a US-based company, concentrating on high-end cycling apparel and accessories produced in Italy, England and the United States.
For their winter gloves, Brancale partnered with one of England’s finest glove makers. The gloves–meticulously cut and sewn by hand–are constructed from buttery-soft hair sheep leather. Fleece liners offer additional insulation, and thin, dense padding on the palm and thumb absorb vibration and road buzz. At a time when high-viz is the current rage, Brancale bucks trends by offering their gloves in a rich, warm brown they call cognac.
Adventure often means different things to different people, and Specialized’s family of adventure bikes is as diverse as the word itself. Designed to combine versatility and durability, the company’s AWOL line has become extremely popular since its introduction in 2014. Over the past twelve months, Specialized’s AWOL Comp has seen regular duty as my daily commuter, dirt-road and gravel rig, and primary test bed for numerous components and accessories.
At the heart of the matte black Comp is its TIG-welded frame and fork. The frame is constructed from a blend of Reynolds 725 and 520 steel tubing, and a CroMo unicrown fork completes the package. For maximum versatility, Specialized chose custom rocker-style dropouts, making the AWOL compatible with internally geared hubs, single speed setups, and belt drive systems. There’s no shortage of braze-on fittings, either–the bike has mounts for three bottle cages, front and rear racks, fenders, and all the necessary cable guides and stops for a 1x, 2x, or 3x drivetrain.
If you ride long or far enough you’ll eventually want–or need–to carry more than will fit in your jersey pockets or under-seat pack. For commuting and extended exploring, panniers offer convenience, security, and the capacity to carry your essentials and much more. Since 1983, Ortlieb has produced what many consider to be some of the best panniers available. The company offers a staggering array of bags, and I spent the past twelve months testing Ortlieb’s Front-Roller Plus panniers.
Constructed from abrasion-resistant Cordura fabric utilizing high-frequency welding, the Front-Roller Plus panniers ($180 MSRP) feature a 25 litre capacity (per-pair) and weigh a respectable 640 grams (each). The QL2.1 mounting system is compatible with racks up to 16 mm in diameter, and can be adjusted without tools. Niceties include padded (removable) shoulder straps, integrated interior pockets, and 3M™ Scotchlite™ reflectors. Like Ortlieb’s other panniers, the Front-Roller Plus comes with a five-year warranty.