Shopping for chain lube can be daunting task. There are different formulas for wet and dry weather, road and off-road use, and even lubes that claim to lube and clean your chain at the same time. What if you just want one lube that performs well for any type of riding? Bucking the trend of hyper-specialized lubes, Smooth Operator offers a single chain lube that’s designed to excel in wet and dry conditions, on- or off-road.
Smooth Operator chain lube is available in four ounce bottles ($12), or a travel size (10 ml) three-pack ($9). Both bottles feature child-resistant caps and precision applicator tips. While I didn’t review the lubes’ safety data sheets, the company classifies their the lube as environmentally friendly and low-toxicity. My highly scientific sniff test revealed a light, sulfur-like scent, but any odor dissipated quickly after application.
According to legend, Tullio Campagnolo was inspired to invent the quick release skewer nearly a century ago when he was unable to loosen his bike’s wingnuts during a race. Some may argue over the authenticity of said legend, but it’s generally acknowledged that Signore Campagnolo’s invention was a major technological advance. If you’re not racing, though, you may not need–or want–quick release skewers. For riders who prefer added security and simplicity, Delta Cycle offers Axlerodz bolt-on skewers.
Priced at $14.99/pair, Delta’s Axlerodz feature Chrome-Moly axles, stainless steel springs, and aluminum end pieces (with threaded steel inserts). Installation requires a 5 mm Allen key (not included), and the bolt-on skewers fit dropouts with outside measurements of 95-115 mm (front) and 128-148 mm (rear). Untrimmed, Axlerodz weigh just 69 grams (per-pair). By comparison, a pair of Shimano Deore XT skewers weighs 123 grams.
It’s no secret that bicycle helmet technology has improved dramatically over the past 40 years. Today’s helmets are lighter, more comfortable, and look a radically different than their predecessors. Some of the more recent technological advances aren’t so obvious, though. Since 1996, Stockholm-based MIPS has been working on improving how helmets protect against rotational trauma and angled impacts. In 2014, MIPS partnered with Bell Helmets to bring MIPS technology to a wider audience.
Bell currently offers sixteen MIPS-equipped helmets, which range in price from $60 to $240. With MIPS-equipped helmets available in road, mountain, lifestyle, and gravity models, Bell has something for any type of cyclist. I split my riding between pavement, dirt, and gravel, so I opted to test the company’s Stoker MIPS ($95 MSRP) and Gage MIPS ($195 MSRP) helmets.