Riders who use clipless pedals are blessed with a seemingly endless array of compatible footwear. If, however, you prefer flat pedals, your choices all seem to fall into the skate-inspired bucket. Sure, there are urban and mountain variants, but the pickings are slim compared to the clipless side of the fence. Thanks to footwear giant adidas, though, flat-pedal riders now have another choice with the company’s Terrex Trail Cross SL hybrid shoe ($130 MSRP).
If there is one bike accessory that absolutely defines the Goldilocks condition it’s the multi-tool. Too big and you don’t want to carry it. Too small and it doesn’t provide enough leverage. Finding a tool that balances size and functionality can be a real challenge. Crankbrothers hopes to snag that elusive just right ranking with the company’s new f-series of multi-tools.
Thanks to their sleek, folding design, Crankbrothers’ f-series tools fit easily in your backpack, pocket, or seat bag. All three f-series tools share the same basic design, but the f10+ and f15 feature magnetized outer shells designed to hold everything together and provide additional leverage. Prices range from $29.99 (f10) to $42.99 (f15), and all models come with a 5-year warranty. I spent the past several weeks testing the top-of-the-line f15 model at home and in the field.
Is there such a thing as a truly do-it-all bicycle? Gravel bikes–which are often praised for their versatility–come pretty darn close. Despite their flexibility, however, gravel rigs still share many of the design traits and limitations associated with conventional road bikes. Last summer those limitations became abundantly clear when I began including more technical off-road sections in my mixed-terrain rides. Despite the gravel bike’s wider tires and lower gears, its road-based design placed more emphasis on aerodynamics and smooth surface efficiency than off-road capabilities.
Around the time of my existential off-road crisis, a press release from Oregon-based bike wizard Jeff Jones found its way into my inbox. The press release announced that Jones was now offering a carbon version of his popular Loop handlebar. Having previously tested—and liked–the aluminum Loop bar, I figured the new carbon version might be just what I needed to improve my gravel bike’s off-road capabilities. After a series of email exchanges, Jeff suggested that I give him a call.