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 and check out last week's RoadBikeReview Hit List here.

Mavic Cosmic Ultimate II Shoes

Mavic Cosmic Ultimate II Shoes

Key criteria for a high end road cycling shoe? Low weight, stiff sole, ease of adjustment, secure fit - and of course comfort and good looks. We've just started testing the premium priced Mavic Cosmic Ultimate II, but give them high marks across the board thus far. Similar to a Boa, Mavic's Ergo dial lacing allows for fine tuning of fit in 1mm adjustment increments. Weight is a wispy 263 grams per shoe (size 44). And the ultra-stiff carbon sole is just 5.5mm thick, minimizing stack height, which improves overall power transfer to the pedals. And if you're not a fan of bright yellow, the Cosmic Ultimate II also comes in a more understated white/black colorway. | Weight 263g per shoe (size 44) | Price: $400 | More info: www.mavic.us

Specialized S-Works Tarmac Di2 Disc

Specialized S-Works Tarmac Di2 Disc Race Bike

Heretofore, disc brakes on road bikes have necessitated compromise. In exchange for superior stopping power and the ability to run wider tires, riders have had to sacrifice weight and handling. Disc-equipped bikes were the domain of endurance geometry, meaning cushy ride quality, but sluggish mannerisms, especially when dive-bombing twisty descents. Specialized's S-Works Tarmac Di2 Disc has gone to great lengths to change that - and for the most part succeeded.

Indeed, this is a race bike in every sense of the word. Yes, it's a hair heavier than its non-disc S-Works Tarmac brethren. But that difference is minimal, while the trade-off in braking performance is profound. Shimano's BR-785 hydraulic disc brakes take things to a whole other level, allowing the bike's pilot to carry more speed in and out of turns without fear of failure.

It's the bike's handling that truly stands out, though. By moving the cassette inboard on the 135mm Roval hub, Specialized was able to maintain proper chainline for crisp Shimano Di2 electronic shifting, while at the same time keeping the carbon frame's chainstays at a snappy 405mm long, delivering the stellar rear end stiffness and nimble handling you'd expect from a Tour de France level bike.

In late October, we saddled up the Tarmac Di2 Disc for the annual Hincapie Gran Fondo near Greenville, South Carolina. The 80-mile course with 8,000 feet of climbing had a little bit of everything, from extended steep ascents, to tight twisting descents, to high speed-rollers and flats. This bike was up to the challenge 100 percent of the time, helping us get to and stay near the front of the 2000-rider field from start to finish. It climbs with ruthless efficiency, goes downhill like a rally car, and holds speed like a TGV train. At the end of the 4.5-hour ride it felt as if we literally had gotten everything possible out of body and bike.

The only major shortcoming of this bike is that because of the special hub design you're essentially locked into the house brand 40mm deep carbon wheels that come stock on this $9250 bike. But honestly, is that really such a bad thing? Specialized has been making wheels for a while now and there's really nothing wrong with these hoops. During our test session, they've stayed perfectly true, while delivering the zippy wind-up that you expect from a high-end composite wheel. Just because they don't say ENVE, Reynolds, or Zipp on the side doesn't mean they cant deliver top-shelf performance.

The Tarmac disc is not perfect by any means. We'd prefer thru-axles rather than the QR set-up. And yes, the lack of wheel choice is not ideal. But full credit to Specialized for cracking the code of disc-equipped race bikes. Soon enough, the WorldTour peloton will be chock full of these new era bikes, and we'll all have the Big Red S to thank for really getting the proverbial rotor spinning. | Weight: 15.8 pounds (size 58cm) | Key components: S-Works FACT 11r carbon frame, Shimano Dura Ace Di2 drivetrain, Roval Rapide CLX 40 Disc wheels, Shimano BR-785 hydraulic disc brakes | Price: $9250 | More info: www.specialized.com

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



Suunto Ambit3 Multi-Sport GPS Watch

Suunto Ambit3 Multi-Sport GPS Watch

Honestly, there's a lot this watch can do that's way beyond my personal scope of need. The whole multi-sport thing is way off my radar right now, so features such as tracking heart rate while swimming just don't do much for me. But it's pretty cool to know it's there if/when I ever decide to take up triathlon.

But Suunto's Ambit3 is more than just a tri-geek toy. With functions such as GPS tracking and the ability to sync with your smartphone (and even display incoming text messages) via Bluetooth, it's a damn cool training tool - and a good looking watch, too. I also like getting the clutter off my handlebars, especially when on my mountain bike where there's a higher chance of crashing - and potentially mangling my GPS device. And if you want to attach it to your road bike bars, that works, too.

Other notable features include speed, pace, distance and elevation gain/loss tracking, a compass, route navigation and track back, power meter interface, activity based recovery time, and 15 hours of battery life with 5-scond GPS accuracy.

Initial set-up of the watch wasn't exactly easy. Blame some of that on my luddite nature, some on the clunky directions. But with a few sessions of trial and error, I figured out the menu architecture, and since then it's been easy to start and stop workouts, change display settings, and generally get the Suunto Ambit3 to do what I want it to do on and off the bike. It also syncs easily with Suunto's on-line Movescount.com website, which in turn syncs seamlessly with my personal Strava account. | Weight: 82 grams | Price: $400 (including heart rate strap and USB charger) | | More info: www.suunto.com

Fix It Sticks Multi Tool

Fix It Sticks Multi Tool

Sometimes the best inventions are the simplest. That's definitely the case with Fix It Sticks, a modular dual T-handle multi-tool that's lightweight and durable, breaks down small for easy storage, and has a wide array of capabilities, including key Allen wrench sizes, screwdriver and Torx 25. This ingenious little multi-tool has been a regular occupant of our tool box and saddle bag during the last year, and that's not likely to change anytime soon. | Price: $30 | More info: fixitsticks.com

Michelin PRO 4 Endurance 28c Tires

Michelin PRO 4 Endurance 28c Tires

Unless you're heading to the races or really addicted to Strava, there's just no need to chase a few grams when it comes to road tires. Instead, our preference is wider and more durable. Michelin's 28c PRO 4 Endurance hits that mark dead center. Reinforced bead-to-bead casing protection has yielded exactly zero flats during our fall testing session. The girthy 28mm width delivers a comfortable ride. And its 110 tpi count and dual-compound maintains a reasonable semblance of the supple ride characteristics you expect from a high-end road tire. Handling is enhanced via softer shoulders for better cornering, while the harder center increases durability. (The PRO 4 Endurance also comes in 23c and 25c if clearance is an issue on your frame.) Grip wise, we've yet to slip, which is at least in part due to Michelin's ability to extensively test its tires. Check out the video below to see the very cool contraption the tire making behemoth uses during its research and development process. | Weight: 287g for 28c | Price: $61 | More info: bike.michelinman.com

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZTHw3gigdE&feature=youtu.be&list=PL2H3Q2DoPv9TLm6k75uUkegZRisb_rk8q