I wear a cap under my helmet on every ride year round. It protects my bald beak from the sun. Also learned my lesson a few years back before I started wearing a cap when I got stung by a bee on the crown of my head on a very steep and fast descent off a mountain climb. Anyway, this cap is super light and breathable. You can easily tilt the brim when you need to without interfering with your helmet fit. The material wicks away sweat unlike the cotton caps. The SPF is a bonus. I look to buy a couple more to keep in my cap arsenal. If you want a cap under your helmet this one is the best I've had so far...and you should see my collection.
Shoes are really a difficult purchase for me. I agonize over the decision because uncomfortable feet can just wreck a ride. And shoes (especially good shoes) are really expensive, and not returnable once you put cleats on them. So, I thoroughly test shoes at home (on carpet) before I commit to the purchase. I have about 200 miles on these now, and I am not disappointed. First of all, these have got to be the most comfortable cycling shoes I've ever worn. Maybe the most comfortable shoes period. The uppers are very thin and form perfectly to my foot, yet they also hold my foot very securely. The shoe's tongue and over-arch area is extremely comfortable as well, with no chafing or binding so far. I'm convinced this is in part because of the laces. In the past, I was a devotee of the dual boa dial. Boas are great because you can adjust them on the fly, and two boas allows you to adjust the toe box separately from the arch. But I found myself constantly fiddling mid-ride as a result. In my opinion, laces work much better. Somehow, a lace system always seems to equilibrate to the perfect even tension across the whole shoe. Mid-ride fiddling just never seems necessary. Another thing about the uppers is the amazing ventilation. I was very skeptical of this initially, figuring that all that ventilation would effectively make these shoes into "sandals", resulting in wet socks and uncomfortable feet if there was even a hint of rain. That has not been the case so far. The ventilation has a kind of mesh that allows warm, sweaty air to escape even as it allows light amounts of water to basically run off. Using a spray bottle, I tested this by lightly spraying the shoe with a mist for about a minute. Most of the water just ran off the surface, but even the water that hung around quickly disappeared. And my sock never got wet. I've done a few hard rides since and I was surprised by how dry my socks were at the end of the ride. Now, to be clear, these are not rain shoes. And if it's under 45-deg, I would definitely wear shoe covers. But honestly, I would do that for almost any shoe'even my much heavier mountain bike shoes. I'm also impressed with how stiff these shoes are. If I used the Specialized S-works SL7 as a stiffness benchmark, I would say these are about 95% as stiff. Not quite as rigid as the benchmark, but pretty damn stiff! Additionally, these shoes have a very comfortable heal with a fair amount of padding, but excellent grip that keeps my foot firmly planted. Another great thing about the sole is the adjustable arch in the insole. I have pretty average arches, but I used the high arch setting and found them to be both more comfortable and to provide better power transfer in that mode. The combination of comfortable uppers, grippy heal, and really stiff Easton carbon soles creates excellent power transfer for the shoe. The final positive is weight. These shoes are really light. Again, using the SL7 as a benchmark, these are noticeably lighter. I did not expect that to matter, but on long climbs you can tell. To be honest, the Empire SLX was not on the initial short list. Nate in Customer Service convinced me to give them a try, he said it was his favorite shoe. Thanks Nate, for the excellent recommendation!
I was looking for a comfortable shoe for long gravel rides and XC MTB rides - particularly for the Texas summer heat. One that was stiff enough to be efficient but still walkable. A lightweight, breathable and narrow fitting shoe. I have narrow heels and needed a shoe that would wrap my heel securely to prevent slippage. I think this shoe is going to be great. The heat isn't here yet but I did take this shoe on a 101 mile gravel ride this past weekend. First ride out of the box and they were comfortable the entire time. I never thought about my shoes which is a good sign - no discomfort anywhere. I like how breathable the shoe is which I expect to be nice this summer. The double Boa is awesome. I can leave the toebox a little looser for comfort and snug up the back for good secure fit. Overall - I shopped around for a while looking for the right shoe and I found a good one.
These are the best short finger cycling gloves I've owned. They fit well, true to size and they last a long time. My last pair survived over 2 years and I ride about 9000 miles a year on average. The gel on the palms placed perfectly and has just enough cushion for me. The loops on the back of the middle 2 fingers make it easier to take them off at the end of a ride. I ordered 2 pair this time just in case they quit making them or change the design before I need another pair!