Editor’s note: As we welcome a new year, we’re taking a moment to look back at the bikes and products that improved our riding experience in 2019. Some products were new for the year, others are tried and true items that are still best-in-class. Here are five products that Jordan Villela fell in love with in 2019.
Jordan Villella’s 2019 Gear of the Year
It was a year of monumental launches from the heavy hitters of the industry, which made this list very hard to narrow down. So this is my Gear of the Year out of everything I’ve reviewed and put through the wringer. I tried to offer a little bit of everything because we all don’t need a new bike (even though we want it) but we can always use some new tires or shoes. I hope you enjoy the list!
It seems like the data you collect from the ride is just as crucial as the ride itself these days. I’m a long-time Garmin Edge fan and was very hesitant, leaving my trusty Edge 500 behind. For the last couple of years, the computer landscape seemed to stagnate and nothing was catching my attention – even the Garmin Edge 1000.
I really enjoyed my first rides with the Garmin’s Edge 830, I knew it would soon become my go-to head unit. The ease of integration with all other Garmin devices including; watches, headunits, even cameras. The interface is easy to set up with all manner of sensors and will collect lots of data, piles of data actually. I personally use the Garmin Vector pedals and the pedaling coaching and cleat placement is something that can be next level, especially for those looking for the next level efficiency. Pair that with easy programmable workouts via Training Peaks and mountain bike specific features – I was sold. I enjoy the food/drink consumption and heat acclimation data as well, especially if you roll a long ride and would like to measure your intake. After a very full season of crits, crashes, mountain, and cyclocross – Garmin’s Edge 830 has stood up to it all, and the screen is as fresh as the day I opened it.
More info: Garmin.com
The Salsa Warroad, surprised me, I was ready for another gravel bike – something super granular. The Warroad is the total opposite, this is a do-it-all ride that excels in all matter of road and put a huge smile on my face. I was happy with the performance – stable at speed, clearance for massive tires, and all-day comfort. The look of the Warroad is unique; the seat stays are flared out, giving the frame compliance with smooth ride quality, and the appearance of a matte frame with gloss accents is stunning. The front end is all businesses and is snappy out of the corners and expressive in hard efforts. The Warroad is just as much fun on the road as it is on the gravel. There was no ride that I went on that the Salsa Warroad couldn’t roll – no matter if it was a hammer fest on 25mm tires or a gravel race in West Virginia on 35s, this bike had my back. The spec of Ultegra hydro with tubeless WTB wheels is just the right mix of efficiency and luxury. Truly the Warroad is a classic, and Salsa offers many different builds so that everyone can dial in there “more road” experience.
More info: Salsa.com
Vittoria Corsa Speed Graphene 2.0 Isotech Tubeless Ready
Tires are personal, and personally, I like to race tubulars when I can, but they are expensive, time-consuming and etc. The next best thing is a quality tubeless tire, but with the new Vittoria Corsa Speed Graphene 2.0 Isotech, I feel that they perform as well or better with zero lightheaded glue sensations. The tires are made in a very similar fashion to Vittoria’s popular Corsa Graphene 2.0 clinchers. The same 320tpi core-spun cotton casing and graphene compound. The big difference is found in the casing’s covering. The grey coating is applied to both sides of the casing and feels very similar to the Aquaseal you’d see on a Dugast Cross tire. Comfort is another big bonus of this super supple tire, everything feels better and more fluid. Taking corners in tight crits are a pleasure, the total confidence I feel in the Corsa Speed is the same I’ve felt in the tubular version without the typical tubular drawbacks. The weight is a bonus as well and at 471g for the pair (235.5g each), they’re actually 20g lighter per tire than the clincher Corsa Graphene 2.0.
More info: Vittoria.com
Turbo Creo SL Expert EVO
The Creo is a bike that broke the mold for me – this is a new style of e-bike that feels natural and responds to pedaling like a bike and not a moped. The Creo SL Expert EVO, with gravel and offroad capability, rides like a dream. A truly excellent experience and a way forward for those looking to rekindle their love of the open road no matter of age, injury or time away from the peloton. The Creo is a performance bike, with a price to match, but after the release many other e-road bikes have followed, descending in price. The Creo is the bike that defined what the e-road experience could be. My hope is that the prices will trickle down and along with the tech.
More info: Specialized.com
Bontrager XXX Road Shoes
I’ve always had a soft spot for Bontrager shoes, as they were my first pair of full-on carbon race shoes. Over the years though, the fit changed, and so did my preferences. I found my self searching else wear for my footwear – until now. The new Bontrager XXX road shoe is stiff, supple, and ultra-comfortable. The toe box supplies ample room to move your toes around, and the cut is on the money for free movement of the ankle. Apart from the cut, the boa system was updated with the elimination of the bottom strap form the previous years. What really resonated with me is the fact that both the Bontrager XXX mountain and road shoes carry the same cut and fit. This will be monumental to others that have finally found footwear that fits only to change brands for the off-road disciplines. 2019 was a groundbreaking year for Trek and Bontrager, and these shoes are a massive part of its success.
More info: Bontrager.com