Each week our editorial team does a lap of the proverbial test garage, making note of the best cycling gear and apparel we've been using lately. Some of it is brand new. Some of it is so old and beat up you can barley read the label. The common thread is that it's all earned a place in our regular use rotation due to quality, performance, durability and/or price. Here's this week's hit list. What's your go-to gear? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

Knight 35 Carbon Wheels

Knight Composites 35 Carbon Wheels

We've only been on these wheels a few months, so it's tough to make a call on long term durability. But thus far performance has been A-1-A. These 35mm deep carbon clinchers are reasonably light at 1530 grams (actual weight), but it's stiffness and braking feel that have really impressed us. No matter how hard we mash up a climb or reef on the bars mid sprint, brake rub is absolutely non-existent. And when it's time to come down, these wheels deliver the predictable and modulated braking feel of an alloy rim. No grabbing, no shrilling, no heat build up on the brake track. Tracking is also spot on, even when barreling down gravel roads, which we've done a few times.

Knight makes some bold claims about aero efficiency, but in a 35mm wheel I cant say it's particularly noticeable. They don't feel slow, but not runaway fast either. These wheels do have an interesting back story. Bend, Oregon-based Knight was formed by Beverly Lucas (who helped start ENVE) and Kevin Quan (ex-Cervélo bike designer). Now the two have put their heads together on a new project. So far, so good. | Weight: 1530 grams | Depth: 35mm | Width: 25.5mm | Spokes: 20f/24r | Price: $2500 with Aivee SR5 hubs | More info: knightcomposites.com

Bontrager XXX Road Shoes

Bontrager XXX Road Shoes

For a tidy $400 you expect light weight and high performance from a shoe. But Bontrager's halo road slippers have also proven to be a durable and comfortable long term companion. We've ridden these in all types of weather, walked up rough gravel roads, and even crashed hard once. But aside from a little scuffing they've held up admirably, two-way micro-adjust BOA closures and all.

We especially love the no-slip lining in the heel, which helps keep your foot in place without having to over-tighten the dials or Velcro strap. And with a lightweight carbon sole that has a 14 stiffness index rating, power transfer is never in question. | Weight: 260 grams per shoe | MSRP: $400 | More info: www.bontrager.com

Shimano PD-9000 Dura Ace Pedals

Shimano PD-9000 Dura Ace Pedals

Nothing new here - and that's the beauty. These Shimano pedals have been our go to option for several years now, and have required absolutely zero maintenance. We've ridden on-road and off, in the dry and in the wet, and they simply take a licking and keep on clicking. The axles spins smooth. The carbon body holds together. And the large platform makes them easy to get into and enhances power transfer. | Weight: 250 grams for the pair. | MSRP: $280 but easy to find for less | More info: www.shimano-lifestylegear.com

Specialized S-Works Turbo Tire

Specialized S-Works Turbo Tire

While it reads "For Racing Only" on the sidewall, the 26c Specialized S-Works Turbo Tire has done just fine as an everyday driver on pavement and dirt. The 220 tpi casing provides a supple, smooth ride, while the BlackBelt sidewall protection has resulted in exactly zero flats during a full summer of riding. Yes, we're starting to see some wear along the crown, but in our mind that's a fair trade for the low rolling resistance and superb cornering traction you get form these high performance tires. | Weight: 220 grams for 26c | Price: $55 | More info: www.specialized.com

Continue to page 2 for more of this week's best road bike gear and apparel »



POC DO Half Blade Sunglasses

POC DO Half Blade Sunglasses

Depending on your fashion sense, you'll love or loathe the look of these POC Swedish shades. But there's no arguing with the wide field of vision (especially in the lower periphery) and superb Zeiss lenses, which are remarkably clear and increase contrast, making it easier to spot hazardous obstacles while riding. They also have anti-fog and water repelling coatings so they don't get all mucked up when you're suffering up a long climb. We also like the adjustable nose piece and ease of lens swapping. It literally takes a few seconds. | Weight: 33 grams | Price: $230-$280 | More info: www.pocsports.com

Kask Protone Helmet

Kask Protone Helmet

Three words: Italian leather chinstrap. That might sound like superfluous luxury, but trust us, it's a welcome feature. No more salt stain build-up, no more chin chafe, and because the straps are independent the lay nice and flat on your cheeks without flapping in the wind. We're also impressed with the Octo Fit functionality, which includes micro-adjust dial and a floating cradle with internal gel pads that conspire to provide a snug, custom-feeling fit.

One downside is because of the helmet's wrap-around shape, it doesn't play particularly nice with cycling caps compared to some of the other helmets we've used. It does, however, work well with a variety of sunglasses, both when worn and when stowed in the helmet vents.

Like its peers in the aero road category, the Kask Protone combines solid ventilation with claimed aero efficiency. We've wore it on some of last summer's hottest day and never felt over cooked. | Weight: 220 grams size medium | Price: $300 | More info: www.kask.it

Pactimo Summit Speed Jersey and Summit Raptor Bibs

Pactimo Summit Speed Jersey and Summit Raptor Bibs

Yes, there are higher-end cycling garments on the market. But few companies offer the bang for buck served up by Denver, Colorado-based company. For the same price you'll spend on a pair of high-zoot bib shorts, you can get Pactimo's top-of-line top and bottom.

The jersey is a collective of five materials, each serving a specific performance purpose. Lycra across the shoulders and low-profile collar enhance aero efficiency. Three compact rear pockets, plus a hidden water proof pocket provide ample carrying capacity. The full length zipper lets you open up when the pace heats up. Close cut sleeves deliver a sleek fit and have built-in silicone impregnated reflective material to keep you safer in low light conditions.

The same reflective material is used in the leg bands of the Summit Raptor Bibs, which deliver similar no-nonsense performance. Compressive fabric keeps blood flowing to muscles - and thus far has maintained its slim-and-trim shape despite repeated long rides and multiple trips through our washing machine's spin cycle.

The bibs' cytech chamois is a tad thick for our tastes, but it's plenty comfortable, especially on longer rides when other chamois can start to pack out. | Price: Jersey $115; Bibs $175 | More info: www.pactimo.com

Polygon Bend CX Cyclocross Bike

Polygon Bend CX Cyclocross Bike

Last but not least is the Polygon Bend CX cyclocross bike, which we've been riding and racing this fall. Honestly there's nothing truly special about this bike until you consider its price. At $3500, it's just a few hundred dollars more than most of the big boy manufacturers third or fourth-tier CX bikes. The difference is you're lucky if you get a blended Shimano 105/Ultegra mechanical drivetrain and so-so alloy wheels on those bikes, while the Bend CX comes with full Ultegra Di2 and a ready-to race alloy Novatec tubular wheels wrapped with Schwalbe Racing Ralph EVO tires. If you haven't tried racing on Di2, you're missing out. Not worrying about miss-shifts and being able to grab multiple gears with the simple press of a button is confidence inspiring.

The Bend CX is also light. Our size 60cm tester with carbon frame and fork came in at 17.7 pounds sans pedals. Compare that to another test bike in the garage, Specialized's Crux Pro, which runs $5200, has mechanical Ultegra and weighs nearly a pound more in a size 58cm.

Polygon Bend CX Cyclocross Bike

The hitch here is trust. In North America Polygon is a little known Indonesian bike maker. California-based Specialized is arguably the world's best known cycling brand. I have to admit some trepidation the first few times I dropped the Bend CX into steep bumpy lines while racing. Would the head tube snap? Could the (too narrow) off-brand Entity Elite handlebars handle the pounding? But thus far all is good.

It's also worth noting that Polygon has been around for more than two decades, is well known in Australia and Southeast Asia, and even builds bikes for other brands sold as an OEM manufacturer. Their manufacturing capability includes design, engineering, fabrication and assembly, explained Polygon PR rep Matt Karaus. Additionally, as part of their engineering unit, they also have their own test lab where all frames that are made by sub-contractors are run through a process of testing and evaluation to ensure quality and safety. That's the case with the Bend CX, whose frame comes in from a third party factory, then gets tested by Polygon, before being painted and dressed with parts for assembly and shipping.

Handling wise, I'm not in love with the Bend CX. Thru-axles front and rear help maintain tracking and rotor/caliper alignment on the Shimano hydraulic disc brakes, but the frame's tall'ish headtube makes the bike sluggish when trying to snap around tight turns. And the rear end has a tendency to bounce around more than other CX bikes I've raced. Hard out of the saddle climbing on rough terrain is not this bike's happy place.

But again, this is a value proposition that's backed up by Polygon's "Ride&Decide" 30-day guarantee. So assuming the company stands by that promise, there's not much to lose. | Weight: 17.7 pounds | Key Spec: Shimano Ultegra Di2 drivetrain, Entity Elite carbon cockpit, Novatec CXD tubular wheels | More info: www.polygonbikes.com