Winter Powered by Krampus

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Snow Krampus

It’s been awhile and we realize that. Much apologies to anyone who has followed the blog. With lack of a good working computer and living with just a tablet and smartphone, blogging hasn’t been the easiest thing to accomplish. Never fear, there’s much to cover and be discussed now that the Spoke Haven’s tech  is now up and running again.

There are some new bikes in the lineup as of late 2016 and early 2017 and I can’t wait to share them all with you!

The first bike to join the stable was a Surly Krampus. The Krampus has been around for a few years. It’s what is classified as a mid-fat bike or plus sized bike. It has a 3″ wide tire spec’d on it. Surly has updated the Krampus for the 2017 model year with their knot boost spacing, the ability to add an internally routed dropper post, and a few other bells and whistles. Check Surly’s website for current spec’s.

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Stock Surly

I went for what is now referred to as a legacy Krampus. The bass boat green color cannot be beat. It’s probably one of my favorite Surly colors of all time. The bike just sparkles in the sunlight. So much so that I named my small sized Krampus Swampy Sparkles.
Before I delve into the overview, I want give a little history on Surly as a brand.
Surly has brought fat and plus sized riding to the mainstream.  When the Surly Pugsley landed on the market, it was not soon after that we saw a plethora of fat bike offerings from bike companies big and small. Each one trying to capture this new wave of people who wanted to extend their riding seasons and be able to ride in places never thought possible. OmniTerra is the term Surly uses to describe their category of fat and plus sized bikes.

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Headtube Glitter

Now, Surly admits to not being the first company to use the fat tire or plus sized platform. That being said, they have been able to push the cycling industry forward with creating bikes that are accessible and relatively affordable. Being a part of the Quality Bike Parts (QBP) family definitely makes sourcing a bit easier and a little more affordable.

I have personally ridden damn near every iteration of a Surly fat or plus bike they have ever made. Notice I said I have ridden, not owned. I don’t have a money tree growing outside of my front door! The exception being the new 27.5+ Karate Monkey. I admit that if I ride that bike, I may want to ride that over my Krampus. Maybe not though. Although the Prince purple version of that bike tempts me every time I see it. *drool*

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Photo from Surly’s Website- Karate Monkey

The Krampus is more nimble feeling than a traditional 4-5″ tired fat bike. It holds its own on groomed snow as well as on icy bike paths. With the name like Krampus, it’s surprisingly not marketed much as a snow bike. Rather, Surly deems it as a trail bike. Something you can do a great deal of exploring on, but it excels on dirt and loose rocky, rooty goodness.

That’s not to say the Krampus can’t be a fantastic off-road touring rig or a bike to use for snow riding. It just excels more at being a trail ripper that inspires confident riding. For those of you who are looking for a dedicated dirt tourer from Surly, check out the ECR. The ECR is on the same 29+, three inch tire platform- just different geometry and more mounts on the bike for attaching gear.

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Photo from Surly’s website- ECR

Out of the box the Krampus had some great things going for it. Shimano SLX and Deore components, a 1x drive train, mechanical BB7 brakes, beautiful paint, and a no-nonsense cockpit. I am usually one for taking a bike and pulling most stock parts off of it. I didn’t do much of that this time around. I didn’t feel the need to, as the bike was extremely functional and well performing.

I did swap out the stock chain ring for a wide-narrow option from Race Face. I also added some fun orange anodized headset spacers from Wolftooth components. I chopped about an inch and a half of handlebar off each side and slid on some Ergon grips. My friend’s over at Green River Cyclery in Auburn, WA hooked me up with the sickest decals ever. Some fun purple bar ends I had laying around, a set of Giant platform pedals and I was ready to go!

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A little bit of bling.

As an intermediate level mountain biker, the Krampus got me out of some riding situations I would that would have previously been either too sketchy or a death march on my fat bike. The width of the tires and the extremely low pressure they are able to run makes up for not having suspension on the front fork. They also provide amazing grip on even the greasiest of trails.

I have been also able to climb up some pretty technical, rocky ascents with the Krampus without hesitation. It has been a boost of confidence and allowed me to feel more comfortable riding more technical terrain as I develop my riding skills.

Overall I have really enjoyed the bike and it’s provided me some really fun riding over the summer and this winter alike.

Now, it’s not all butterflies and unicorns with the Krampus. The bike is quite beastly. There are a couple of local climbs I have either had to walk up or stop and take a rest on because the bike can take quite a bit of huffing to get it up some steeps.

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Getting Ready for Quarry Ridge! Photo by: Brenda Limpert

I do sometimes wish it came stock with hydraulic disc brakes in some situations, but I like mechanical brakes in a touring or bike packing situation where they are more field serviceable. It’s kind of a wash, but it may depend on what you plan on doing with the bike. I hope to use it more for off road touring and bike packing in 2017, as I have added a full suspension 27.5/650b bike to my stable. More on that in another post!

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Liv Pique 2 Sneak Peak! Photo: Vital MTB

Having the ability for a dropper post with internal routing would be nice, but that also adds weight. Same with adding a front suspension fork. All items being addressed on the current iteration of the Krampus. I personally don’t see adding a suspension fork to the bike anytime soon. There are quite a few folks out there in the blog world that have experimented with front suspension with some mixed reviews.

So far I haven’t had any real issues with the bike, other thank experimenting with chain length when I first built it. I ended up shoving the rear wheel as forward in the dropouts as possible and shortened the chain accordingly. I do sometimes get chain rub on the rear tire when in the largest rear cog on climbs, but it’s not enough to really make me pull the crank or cassette off to put in a spacer to address the issue.

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Snow Day!

Overall I am happy with the bike and look forward to having it being something I can beat on and not feel all that guilty about. There is nothing insanely expensive on it spec wise and everything is pretty dependable component wise. I look forward to experimenting with some different setups on it for bike packing. I see a Jones H bar in Swampy Sparkle’s future. A Jones bar and possible the Krampus/ECR fork with braze-ons to make gear hauling easier.  krampuspaint

If you are interested in checking out the Surly Krampus or any of Surly’s other bikes you can check out their Intergalactic Dealer Locator on their website. Almost all bike shops utilize QBP for ordering though, so you can pretty much source one from any shop in your area. I’ll be sure to post an update on the Krampus should it get a makeover, but for the time being it will be my outdoor winter bike, ready for the snow and slush!krampusseminole

Full disclosure: I was not paid by Surly to write a review for them. The bike was purchased via a shop discount through Fitchburg Cycles in Fitchburg, WI. All accessories added to the bike were also purchased by me and not paid for by any of the companies mentioned in the write up.

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Po Campo’s Midway Weekender: The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Every so often I receive a holiday gift that I absolutely love and can’t stop talking about. As of December of 2015 that gift has been the Po Campo Midway Weekender (MWW) bag.

It’s a bag I have lusted over since its existence and I was beyond thrilled when I had opened my holiday gifts and discover it was now in my possession.

The classic styling, vegan leather trim, and plethora of storage space makes it a great option for anyone in need of a versatile zippered tote.

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The Midway Weekender cozying up to the fire along with a bunch of snowboard gear. 

Some of my favorite features of the Midway Weekender Include:
-Waterproof outer material
-Bright colored liner
-Lots of interior pockets
-Internal and exterior storage pockets
-Vegan leather (animal friendly!)
-Yoga mat straps
-Zippered underside shoe storage
-Reflective hits on bag and shoulder strap
-Zippered roller handle pocked for air travel

My MWW was first utilized as a snow gear bag. I used it to carry snowboard pants, extra layers, socks, gloves, balaclavas, goggles, snacks, and other essentials. It is a great gear hauler. I was able to fit more than enough gear for a day trip to the ski hill.

It then morphed into my daily bag. I toss in an extra shirt, lunch bag, make up, magazines, and use the handy zippered under compartment to bring a spare set of shoes.

The zippered compartment also comes in handy as a dirty compartment for clothes worn after a workout or dirties during a trip.

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I’ve put a number of different shoes in this compartment. Cycling shoes, hiking boots, fashionable boots, tennis shoes, and several pairs of Toms. You can easily fit two pairs of shoes if you know how to utilize the space. Shown: Keen Springwater Cycling Shoes Size 7.5

The bag especially shines as a carryon for air travel. I was able to fit books, a change of clothes, extra shoes, snacks, an iPad, chargers, earbuds, and other essentials on my trip to United Bicycle Institute. The bag fits right under an airplane seat and makes it easy to grab anything out that is needed during flight.


One feature of the bag I have yet to use, but can fully appreciate is the yoga mat straps. You simply roll up your mat and slide it through the two black, elastic straps. Fitting yoga clothes, a block, a strap, toiletries, and a yoga towel would be no issue for the Midway Weekender. Po Campo even markets it as a gym bag for fitness buffs.

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Maybe they should have named this bag the Namaste. Dad joke aside, any yogi could appreciate this bag. 

The only use that this bag isn’t practical for is on the bike. Po Campo is a brand synonymous with cycling, but this bag would not be a great choice for someone needing a bag for commuting. The shoulder strap, while adjustable, is going to make the bag hang too low off the back and can get caught on a saddle. Even worse is that when the bag is filled to the brim, it swings to the front and can cause some steering issues mid ride.

I know the bag is not intended for cycling use, but I decided to test it out while I was attending UBI. With two heavy duty binders, food, and other daily essentials it was a little too much bag for riding with. The reflective hits however were appreciated as the sun started setting shortly after class had ended.

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Reflective hits are something I wish more companies would use on casual goods. I felt safe knowing cars could see me as I was crossing the street or if I was walking down a dark driveway. 

I ended up making the bag work as it was the only one I brought for schlepping my study materials to and from class. I got a little creative with how I wore the bag and it worked swimmingly.

Obviously the bag is an overall winner in my eyes and for $94 retail it’s a great buy with some great features. If I hadn’t received the bag as a gift I would 100% buy it for myself, a friend, or anyone in need of a cute and functional bag for the daily grind or for jet setting.

For more info on the Midway Weekender and other lovely products from Po Campo please visit their website!

Spoke Haven 2015 Gift Guide

The holidays are a wonderful time of year. If you are lucky to live in an area with all four seasons you’ll get to enjoy the world of winter biking. With the invention of fat bikes, snow bike races, and groomed single track; it’s easy to stay active all year round.

Our gift picks for this year will keep folks rolling through the winter time or help you pretend you’re riding on a 70 degree and sunny day.

On that note, let the holiday cheer begin!

10. Skratch Labs Cookie Mix
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We all know santa has a lot of houses to visit, so why not offer him up something delicious and all natural? Skratch labs has made a name in the fitness world for their great tasting hydration mixes and tasty portable treats. For $8.50 you can get some of the best pre-made cookie mix that money can buy. Take it from Allen and Bijou, you won’t regret eating these delicious treats!

Find Skratch products at your local bike shop or online at skratchlabs.com

9. Portland Design Works Owl Cage

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From the folks who brough us the famous bird cage comes the owl cage! Hold your waterbottle with style and and a litle bit of smugness. The PDW Owl Cage is the much needed flair for your drabe ride, so put on your best tweed and fly like the wind.

The PDW owl cage can be found at your local bike shop or online for $20 at ridepdw.com

8. Butterfly Universal Bike Mount by ProClip

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting a new phone only to find it won’t fit in the fancy, expensive bike mount you’ve purchase for it. The folks at ProClip have found a solution to that problem. The Butterfly Universal Bike Mount allows you to mount any phone with or without a case on their mounting system. You simply adjust the holder to fit the width of your phone, pull over the butterfly tabs on the four corners and voila!

We got our hands on a free sample from ProClip and have tried our hardest of knocking the phone out of holder. So far we haven’t been sucessful. This holder is a beast, it should be. ProClip specializes in making phone, tablet, and GPS holders. The cool part is they are based right here in Madison, WI.

If you or your loved one have struggled with finding the right phone mount for a bike, look no further. For $30 you can find the ProClip Butterfly Universal Bike Mount at your local bike shop or at proclipusa.com

7. Specialized Stix Comp Lights

Who says good things don’t come in small packages? The Specialized Stix lights may be small, but they pack a big punch when it comes to lighting up the night. These waterproof, USB rechargeable lights are small and lightweight. They also don’t look like your average bike lights.
With a bright 105 lumens for the front light and 20 lumens for the back, they provide plenty of light for riding after the sun sets.

The Stix Comp lights (not pictured) have three super bright LED lights while the Stix Sport lights offer two. The lights will mount to handlebars and seatposts out of the box. Specialized also offers rack and helmet mounts that can be purchased separately.

These lights have been flying off the shelves at our local Specialized dealer, so get them while you can! Any commuter or roadie alike will be thrilled to received these in their stocking or under the tree.

Find the Specialized Comp Stix lights for $40 a piece at your local Specialized dealer. You can also find the Specialized Sport Sticks for $55 for a front and rear combo at specialized.com

6. Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro

In the digital age there is rarely a gadget that serves one sole purpose. The Outdoor Tech Buckshot Pro is the prime example of how form and function come together for a great piece of kit. The original Buckshot (still offered by Outdoor Tech) was a simple Bluetooth enabled wireless speaker with a handlebar mount. The Buckshot Pro takes it to the next level with an integrated headlight and battery bank to charge your devices on the go. You get three wonderful features in one small package.

If that’s not a great gift, then we don’t know what is! For $80 you can scoop the Buckshot Pro or the Buckshot origninal for $40 at your local outdoor retailer or online at outdoortechnology.com

5. Wisconsin Bike Fed Gift Membership

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Advocacy doesn’t have to in the form of Critical Mass rides or by protesting. Some of the best advocates are those who support their local organizations.

Memberships to organizations such as the Wisconsin Bike Fed are a way to show support for cycling in your state. Many orgs have direct ties and relationships with local and state government and can affect change in a positive and efficient way.

We are big fans of the gift membership package that the Bike Fed has put together for this holiday season. The gift membership inclueds a year long membership to the Bike Fed as well as a Bike Fed customer bike headbadge with the W embelem as well as a cool cycling themed t-shirt. For $45 that is quite the steal, seeing as a regular membership is $30 a year and t-shirts are usually sold for at least $20 on their own.

Give the gift of bike love via bfw.org or check out your local advocacy group!

4. 45Nrth Cobrafist Pogies

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Never worry about cold digits again! 45Nrth is still fairly new to the cycling game, but they have proven themselves with high quality and high performance products. The Cobrafist Pogie is hard to beat. With a generously insulated design you will want to ditch the gloves and ride comfortably with these bad boys. With venting options, a structured donut internal stiffener, and customer bar plugs the Cobrafist is a step above all other cold weather pogies on the market.

The only thing we’d wish that 45Nrth did is create a road bike compatible version! Find the Cobrafist at your local bike shop or buy online from 45nrth.com with their Buy Local Now option.

3. Lezyne Port-A-Shop Toolkit 

Lezyne has been a brand we’ve loved for years. They not only create really well functioning products, but also very beautiful products. The Port-A-Shop is on our wishlists as it has all the necessary tools to do repairs on the fly all in an organized package.

This would be a great option for the budding mechanic, the traveling racer, or for anyone who likes to get their hands dirty.

Find the Port-A-Shop kit at your local bike shop or via lezyne.com for $140.

2. Zwift Membership

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Who says that riding on a train indoors is boring? Well, before apps like Zwift it meant either watching the same workout DVDs on repeat or marathoning your favorite movie franchise (cough cough Harry Potter cough cough Star Wars). Zwift brings indoor training into the next century with a video game like interactivity. Pick an avatar and compete against other riders on screen to see how you stack up.

Those who hit certain mileage goals, win races, and participate in competitions get the chance to unlock kit options, bike options, and more to customize your bike style.

Zwift is designed to work best with smart trainers (Wahoo Kickr, CycleOps Powerbeam, etc.) or those with dumb trainers and a power meter. You can also pair up Bluetooth or ANT+ speed/cad sensors and heartrate monitors to your computer, phone, or tablet.

Zwift is available as a desktop application and is also available on various app stores. We’re keen on using it with an iPad paired with an ANT+ dongle as you can mount the iPad onto your handlebars and even us Apple TV to wirelessly mirror it to your TV.

Giving the gift of Zwift can be as easy as supplying an iTunes giftcard or paying for a membership on the behalf of a family member. For more info on Zwift visit zwift.com

1. CycleOps Powerbeam Pro Trainer

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We know we’ve talked about the Powerbeam Pro before. It’s just such a great trainer that it’s hard not to add it to our list. The Powerbeam Pro is not only a cyclists dream trainer, but it’s also a great product for the tech nerd.

The trainer is made in the USA in Madison, WI at Saris Cycling Group. There are multiple offerings of the trainer depending on what devices you are looking to use it with. CycleOps offers the trainer in an ANT+ version that includes a micro USB dongle (best for use with a compatible tablet, laptop, or desktop). There is also a Bluetooth version for those with Windows 8 desktops and laptops. Bluetooth smart devices such as certain Windows/Android phones and tablets can also be used with the Bluetooth powerbeam. The iPad 2 and newer is what we prefer to use as the connection is pretty seamless when using the CycleOps Virtual Training application (a free app with features that you have to pay to use to get the full functionality of the application).

The third option is to purchase the trainer with a Joule GPS+ head unit. The head unit allows you to use the Powerbeam Pro without having to hook it up to a smartphone, tablet, etc. in order to control the resistance. You simply pair it up to the Joule GPS+ to set target wattage or target incline and you’re set.

The Powerbeam Pro can also be used with Zwift and other new interactive applications such as the CycleOps Virtual Training (CVT) application to replicate routes that you can ride outdoors.

The possibilities are pretty much endless with this trainer and it’s backed by Saris’s lifetime warranty against manufacturer’s defects.

We know the price tag on this item is a little more hefty, but it’s worth the investment for the cyclist in your life. It’s a great way to stay fit during the winter months and is also fun to show off to your friends!

Find the CycleOps Powerbeam Pro starting at $799 at your local bike shop.  You can also find the less expensive PowerSync trainer with similar functions to the Powerbeam Pro, just with none of the additional accessories that come with it starting at $719. Check out cycleops.com for more details on both trainers or to purchase directly.

*Please note that all items chosen for this list were hand picked by Spoke Haven contributors and we were not given monetary incentives to promote any of these products. Spoke Haven promotes honest reviews and product opinions and any questions about anything we feature on our site can be directed to info@spokehaven.com.

 

Badger Cycle Works Fattywompus 1.0 Overview

At the end of 2014 I decided to part with my beloved Raleigh RX 1.0 cyclocross bike to make way for a new steed. It was a bit sad, since I had loved the bike since the day I laid eyes on it, but I didn’t end up racing ‘cross like I thought I would.

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The Raleigh became my indoor training bike.

After the sale to a nice couple in the Twin Cities, I felt a void. I had only my Soma Doublecross and my Electra Saris branded cruiser. For most people, two bikes would be sufficient, but I’m not most people. I’m a hardcore bike nerd who strongly believes in the N+1 equation when it comes to bike ownership.

This is where the Fattywompus came in. I was browsing Facebook when I saw my friends over at Wheel & Sprocket had sourced their own house brand of fat bikes under the Badger Cycle Works name. They had two build options available at some really competitive price points.

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The Fattywompus 2.0 is spec’d with a solid 2×10 Shimano Deore drivetrain and hydraulic disc brakes, coming in at the $1299 price point.

The Fattywompus 1.0 is spec’d with a 1×9 Shimano Altus drivetrain and mechanical disc brakes at the $999 price point.

If anyone has been keeping track of the cost of Fat bikes, you’ll see that it’s hard to find a sub $1500 complete, let alone a sub $1000 one! There a some newer brands hitting the market that are starting to push the prices down with some cheaper builds and non name branded parts. So far most of them have had pretty good reviews from customers.

The thing that drew me to the Badger Bikes over some of the competitors is they are being assembled and sold via a local bike shop. Companies such as Bikes Direct or Framed are selling most of their stock direct to consumers via online sales. This can be a little sketchy with folks assembling their own bikes or when warranty issues crop up.

Some of the units are being sold through a dealer network, but as the race to the bottom continues there will be more and more of these bikes being assembled by folks with little or no mechanical experience. I can say I’ve already seen some photos of these on the web with forks installed backwards and other major issues!

Back to the fatty…I called up a friend of mine who manages one of the Wheel & Sprocket stores and had him place a Fattywompus 1.0 on hold for me. I had decided to buy the 1.0 since I had a stockpile of parts I had purchased in anticipation of building a fat bike from the frame up. I also knew I didn’t want to mess with hydraulic brakes since we get -40 below weather here.

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Within the week I was able to get my new bike and was extremely impressed by its massive 4.9″ tires and how nice the bike rode overall. There were a couple of items I knew I would have had to change out of the box, but nothing too expensive or difficult to change.

The seat post on the bike is 350mm, which worked well for Keri. Not so much for myself. I’m 5′ 5″ with long legs and a short torso. I ended up putting a 410mm seat post on, so I would have plenty of adjustment.

The seat post clamp also had to go. It was a quick release style that was kind of annoying to adjust, so an orange Salsa lip lock 32.0 sized replaced it.

The stock build of the bike is really solid. Trigger shifters work so well with a properly dialed dérailleur. Even the inexpensive Altus shifter was nice and crisp. I of course swapped it out because I can’t help but tinker with any and every bike I own.

My final build is this:
Frameset- Badger Bikes Fattywompus aluminum in Platinum 15″ small
Wheels- No name 135 front, 190 rear bolt on w/cutouts
Rim Strips- Surly clown shoe compatible in Orange
Tubes- Q tubes 26×2.75 (upgraded from the originals)
Tires- Surly Nates 120tpi ultra light
Seat post- Thompson 410mm
Seat clamp- Salsa lip lock 32.0 orange
Saddle- stock
Headset- stock FSA
Handlebars- Stock (will be upgraded with a more swept back bar)
Stem- Thompson 90mm
Brakes- TRP Spyke 180 front, 160 rear
Grips- ESI chunky
Shifter- SRAM X7 10 speed
Chain- SRAM 10 speed
Crank- stock sammox
Chainring- race face wide narrow 34t Orange 104 bcd
Rear der- SRAM x7 10 speed
Cassette- Shimano 11-36

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So far I love the bike and the build. The new tires and tubes shaved two pounds off the bike. It started at being almost 35 lbs. and now weighs closer to 32 with the component and tire upgrades. It’s much more responsive and doesn’t suffer from self steering, which those extra fat tires can often cause when the PSI is dropped.

A few things I may change are the cassette. A Shimano XT will allow me to install an extended range cog on the cassette allowing me to run an 11-42. I also want to swap the stem for a bit more rise and the handlebars for more sweep for a comfier hand position.

Overall I am super happy about my purchase and would recommend checking out the Badger line to anyone in the market for a fat bike that won’t break the bank. Winter riding has become much more fun with the fatty and I can’t wait to hit up the local MTB trails and beaches in the summer with it too!

Rainy Day Wear to Help You Survive Your Commute

Wisconsin has been experiencing some of the most miserable icy, rainy, sleety weather of all time. Most of us would opt to ride in three feet of snow over rain any day, because at least you stay dry in the snow.

We’ve decided to pick out some of our favorite rainy day items in the market place to help YOU stay happy on your commute!

5. Rivendell’s MUSA SPLATS!

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Rivendell has always been known for unique, but functional cycling wears. Their SPLATS are no exception. They are a waterproof shoe cover that are Made in the USA (MUSA), come in several sizes, and only cost $30! It’s hard to come by anything still made in the states for that cheap.

4. Brook’s Waterproof Saddle Cover

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There’s really nothing worse than a wet ass…and we don’t mean a donkey. Brook’s saddle cover was developed to help protect their precious leathery saddles from rain, but they fit a pretty wide variety of saddles. Pick one up for roughly $10-15 at your local bike shop.

3. PDW Metal Fenders
308_full_metal_fenders_1.1We’re aware that we at Spoke Haven tend to gush about how we really love clip on fenders. Our exception is of course made for the PDW Metal fenders. they are absolutely beautiful and much like their other products, they work really damn well. The Metal fenders retail anywhere from $110-120 Purchase some HERE!

2. Outdoor Research Crocodile Gaiters

61572_001Outdoor Research decided to utilize long standing rain shielding Gore-Tex technology in their ultra tough Crocodile gaiters. These are not only great for rain rides, but to keep your feet warm and protected while riding in snow, snowshoeing, and hiking. This season’s gaiters retail for $79, but older models can be found (in odd sizes of course) for a little bit less. You can purchase a pair HERE!

1. Cleverhood

The Cleverhood is probably the ultimate piece of rain gear a cyclist could own. It’s made out of waterproof, breathable material and most models come with reflective piping courtesy of 3M. They are also Made in the USA! Pick up one directly from Cleverhood for $249.