Best Gear Accessory NomineesWhile the pricey suspension bits and carbon enduro bikes get the lion's share of oohs and ahhs, this year's three Best Gear Accessory nominees are truly clever little gizmos. And that's exactly what it takes to be nominated: while not required for a ride, the product must be useful enough to have around or enhance the experience in some way. These three nominees check those boxes.
First up is the Quarq ShockWiz. Never heard of Quarq? Think of them as SRAM's personal RadioShack, although the ShockWiz was the creation of a guy named Nigel Wade and his tuning company, Dusty Dynamics. This little thing monitors the air pressure inside of your air-sprung fork or shock as it extends and compresses in order to keep track of things like sag, number of deep compressions, rebound speed, and even how long you were in the air for over a jump. The future is now, it seems.
Less computer-y but much handier when you have a flat is the Dynaplug Air tool that uses a CO2 canister combined with their tire plug delivery system to both seal the puncture and instantly inflate your tire. Talk about easy; at this rate, we'll soon have bikes that pedal for us! There's no 'Stuffing As Many Tools Into Your Steerer Tube As Possible' award, but OneUp would surely win that one with their clever EDC tool that pretty much does exactly that. They might also win the Best Gear Accessory award to boot.
So, what's it going to be; the suspension computer, the stabbing tire tool, or the concealed carry tool?
Why it's nominated:
Here's one for the nerds out there. The pint-sized ShockWiz is a way to keep track of your suspension's behavior over the course of a ride. It does this by constantly measuring a fork or shock's air pressure as it compresses and rebounds, and then uses that data to come up with metrics for sag, number of deep compressions, rebound speed, and more.
The $399 USD unit is both waterproof and dustproof, and it's powered by a common CR2032 battery that you can find at a corner store. In addition to monitoring the changing air pressure, it even has an accelerometer that can tell you the average amount of time spent in the air per jump. Because knowledge is power! From the review:
Why it's nominated:
The $74.99 USD Dynaplug Air is just the ticket for riders who're in a hurry. Not racing? Then the comparatively tortoise-like standard puncture repair routine will do you just fine, but if the clock is the enemy, you might want to consider the ability to both seal the hole and inflate your tire all in one quick stabbing motion. Here's how it works: the business end of the straw-sized steel tube is what the plug is inserted into, and behind that is a CO2 cartridge that's threaded into the anodized aluminum body. When you hear that dreaded 'psssssssss' sound, all you need to do is your best Norman Bates impression and jab the business end of the tool into the wound before turning the CO2 cartridge to release the pressure. When you do that, the air escapes from two small vents on the side of the steel tube while the plug seals the hole; boom, your tire is both plugged and inflated.
Our test unit plugged a handful of differently sized stab wounds quickly and flawlessly, which makes it ideal for those racing cross-country, enduro, or any other timed event where losing only a handful of seconds doesn't necessarily mean the day is over. From the review:
Why it's nominated:
In my review, I needed roughly six million words to describe OneUp's $59.00 USD tool system and how it performed simply because there's so much to it. OneUp has managed to stuff 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm hex keys, T25 Torx key, quick link tool, EDC top cap tool, and a flat head driver onto the tool itself, while a separate chain breaker is mounted onto a tire lever that doubles as the latch to hold the tool onto the carrier. Oh, and it's also home to four different spoke keys and a spare chain ring bolt. All that goes into the handle of OneUp's 100cc mini-pump or down your steerer tube, and if you choose the latter option you can thread either a small and very hidden stash container or CO2 cartridge onto the bottom of it. For real.
That's a whole lot of stuff squeezed into a pretty small piece of real estate, but it's executed in a way so as not to feel clumsy and overdone, especially because the multi-tool and chain breaker/tire lever are two separate items. From the review:
I can think of good reasons for owning each of the three nominees but, as the adage goes, there can only be one winner. And what it should come down to is how useful the item is to a rider, and what it can add to the ride. - Mike Levy