What our Editors Used and Loved in February 2023
A barely-there helmet, an upgrade to the most vulnerable part of cold-weather riding, a coffee upgrade, and a mirror that does it all - these are a few of our editors' favorite things this month.
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Every month our staff tries out lots of triathlon and triathlon-adjacent things. Yes, we test new gear, but we also have old favorites and secret things we’re loving right now. That’s why each month we share our favorite tri-related things.
Giro Aries Spherical Helmet
I know a super lightweight helmet might not be top of mind when half of the country (including my little corner in Southern California) is being hammered by wintery weather, but when I’m a fan of something, I need to shout it from the (icy, rain-slicked) rooftops. Weather be damned. Yes, it’s pricey, and yes, it feel like another iteration in a long line of things getting immeasurably lighter, but as someone who has tried a multitude of helmets, the Aries Spherical is notable.
It literally feels like wearing a hat. Yes, a baseball cap, or a beanie—whatever. Weighing it at a scant 275 grams for a size medium, the spec might not elicit any eye popping on its own, but when you throw in the fact that it has MIPS built in, and the fact that it has so many vents and is so low profile that I had to quadruple-check that it actually did have MIPS, well, then you’ve got something. In the past I’ve had to choose between airiness, light weight, and safety, but with this latest road helmet from Giro, I don’t have to.
-Chris Foster, Editor-In-Chief
Lululemon Studio Mirror
Full disclosure: I didn’t actually buy this mirror. My sister-in-law did, and when I saw it propped up in her basement during a recent visit to her home in Colorado, I rolled my eyes a little. Something about it just felt a little too bougie to me: a mirror that not only broadcasts workout classes with perky instructors clad in head-to-toe Lululemon, but comes with a built-in camera so said perky instructors can tell you you’re doing so great! But after realizing running at altitude in a Colorado blizzard sucks, I bit the bullet, pulled on my off-brand leggings, and started up the mirror. I was surprised to see over 10,000 workouts, sorted by category, ready to go – everything from strength training and HIIT to Pilates and yoga, all with instructors ready to help give you feedback on form to prevent injury and maximize muscle activation. I even did a dance class (with the camera covered, of course – no one needs to see my Elane Benes-inspired moves). It’s almost $800 bucks for the entry-level model, plus a $39/month subscription for classes, so it’s not an impulse buy – but if you’re in a rural area with limited access to gyms and fitness classes (or you’re just that serious about strength training and cross-training), it could be an investment worth making.
-Susan Lacke, Senior Editor
Aeropress + Porlex II Grinder
$40, $84; aeropress.com, porlexgrinders.com
Once or twice a week, I wake up early to skin up Aspen Mountain before it opens. On those mornings, I deviate from my normal home coffee routine (pour over) and use my AeroPress and Porlex grinder. Don’t ask me why, it’s just what I do, and it’s wonderful.
The whole ritual takes about five minutes (including bringing water to a boil), half of which is spent grinding beans and half of which is the coffee brewing. The Porlex (I have the tall version) is a handsome stainless steel burr grinder from Japan that is easy to operate and puts forth just enough resistance while grinding to keep me awake while I’m gazing out the kitchen window. With the AeroPress, I use the inverted method (the company calls it a “more technical brewing method,” I’m so pro) and try to stick to a strict 90-second brewing time which turns out a consistently clean and delicious cup of coffee every time.
Then, with notes of bergamot and blueberry on my tongue, I float up the mountain, my human-powered ski fueled by my human-powered coffee.
-Betsy Welch, Senior Editor Velonews
Specialized S-Works Recon Lace Gravel Shoes + Castelli Pioggerella
$325, $70; specialized.com, castelli.com
It’s been a weird winter for cycling in Boulder: very warm one weekend, snowy the next, and sloppy in between. But I can take only so many rides in the pain cave, and my new gravel bike has given me an irresistible off-season training option. So I upgraded my footwear – the most vulnerable part of my cold-weather system – and have been blissfully barnstorming my local trails, slush and frozen mud be damned.
The first key purchase was Specialized’s S-Works Recon Lace gravel shoes (MSRP $325 but currently on sale for $243 on the Specialized as of this writing). A longtime S-Works wearer for road and triathlon, I knew the Body Geometry last would comfortably support my foot and transfer more power than my previous, less-stiff off-road shoes. But I wasn’t sure how well that stiffness would play on hike-a-bike sections. Well enough, as it turns out, thanks to the position, depth, and grip of the tread and toe studs, which have provided dependable traction and a more natural gait than I expected. Thumbs up, too, for a toebox that’s a bit roomier than my triathlon shoes, enough for warmer socks.
The second key purchase was Castelli’s Pioggerella shoe covers, which have extended my comfort range in the Recon Lace enough to ride for 2-3 hours at 40-45 degrees F even though they’re uninsulated. Made of a stretchy, PU-coated synthetic material with taped seams, the Pioggerellas fit snugly and kept my feet dry through miles of slush. My favorite feature, though, is the offset zipper, which eliminates the Achilles rub that plague many rear-zip covers.
-Jon Dorn, Senior Vice President of Strategy, former Backpacker editor, and Hawaii Ironman finisher