Hot Summer Bicycling Gear for Cool Riding
We tested some of the hottest–and coolest–new bicycles, e-bikes, and gear to super-charge your summer commutes and weekend adventures.
Specialized Turbo Tero X, Xtracycle Swoop, Priority 600X, Loud Horn, Cannondale Compact Neo, Grayl, Share the Road plates, sun sleeves, and more!
Summer is peak bicycling season, which means you may be looking for gear to maximize your riding.
Below are some of the most interesting items we’ve tested recently, plus some ideas for bike-y gifts for friends, loved ones, or yourself.
Share the Road
If you own a car, buying a Washington state Share the Road plate is an important way to both support Cascade Bicycle Club’s bike advocacy efforts and send a message that our roads are for everyone–not just motor vehicles. $28 of every plate purchase directly benefits our policy and advocacy work for safer streets. Show your love of bicycles with a Share the Road license plate.
Specialized Turbo Tero X
The Turbo Tero X is like an SUV in the form of an e-bike. It has a powerful Class 3 mid-drive motor (assist up to 28 mph, no throttle) for blasting up hills and doing the speed limit on Seattle’s 25-MPH streets.
Plus, it’s equipped with everything you need for commuting or recreating on both pavement or gravel: front and rear suspension for taming potholes, a dropper post for lowering your seat at red lights, front and rear lights, full fenders, and a pannier rack.
We've been testing one for several months in Seattle for commuting, grocery shopping and errand-running and have found it to be one of the most versatile, safe, and high-performance e-bikes we’ve ever ridden. As Cascade Executive Director Lee Lambert said after commuting on the Turbo Tero X 6.0 for a week: “It’s everything you’d ever want in an electric commuter bike but were afraid to ask for.”
The only downside is the price: $6,500. But that’s nothing compared to the $30,000+ cost of a new SUV. Watch our short video review on Cascade’s Youtube channel. Note: Class 3 e-bikes are currently not allowed on Washington state trails.
Xtracycle was a pioneer of the cargo bike movement that is sweeping the nation as more folks seek ways to pedal rather than drive. The Swoop is one of the California company’s top-of-the-line electric cargo bikes, with a Class 1 (assist up to 20 mph, no throttle) mid-drive motor from Shimano.
The Swoop is like a family minivan on two wheels, with space for hauling kids to school, going grocery shopping, or even e-bike camping. It comes with full fenders, lights, and a center kickstand for stability when parked.
The step-through frame makes it easy to mount or put both feet on the ground when stopped, and the 20-inch rear wheel lowers the center of gravity for stability when loaded.
The Swoop has been a workhorse on Cascade's Pedaling Relief Project!
Cascade loves Xtracycle, and we use a Swoop for our Pedaling Relief Project food bank deliveries and food rescues. If you have a garage or storage space, this is a great car-replacing vehicle for individuals who can afford the $5,000 price tag.
The Cannondale Compact Neo is a diminutive e-bike for individuals who want a smaller and lighter electric bike for commuting and errands. Most e-bikes weigh 50 pounds or more. At less than 40 pounds and with a short wheel base, the Compact Neo is easier to lift and store.
Twenty-inch wheels give the Compact Neo a low standover height. That means you can easily put both feet down at a red light. The stem and pedals fold down to lessen its size when stored indoors so you can tuck it against a wall.
With front and rear lights, fenders, a kickstand, and rear rack for hanging panniers, the Compact Neo is a practical Class 1 e-bike that retails for $1,900.
If you’re looking for a 20-inch wheel e-bike, we also recommend REI’s Co-op Cycles Generation e1.1, which offers great value at $1,500–plus REI’s nationwide network of service shops. Watch our short video review on Cascade’s Youtube channel.
Priority 600X with Pinion Gearbox
We are big fans of Priority Bicycles and their lineup of low-maintenance belt-drive bikes and e-bikes for commuting and recreational riding. Priority also supports Cascade through its sponsorship of our Seattle Bike-n-Brews and Woodinville Wine Ride.
With its Pinion gearbox and Gates Carbon Drive belt, the 600X, at a $3,500 price tag, is Priority’s off-road adventure bike. It’s an acoustic bike perfect for exploring the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail or bikepacking on gravel.
Designed by globe-trotting bikepacker Ryan Van Duzer, the technical highlight of the 600X is its advanced drivetrain. The 12-speed Pinion gearbox takes the place of the front chainring, the rear cassette, and the derailleur. With a 600 percent range from the highest to the lowest gear, the Pinion has a bigger range than any derailleur setup on the market.
The only maintenance required on the Pinion gearbox is an oil change every six years or 6,000 miles. And the Gates belt drive will never rust or stretch like a chain, and it never requires lubrication.
Multiple riders including Executive Director Lee Lambert rode 600Xs on Cascade’s Winthrop Gravel Tour Lite in June. We found the lowest gear ideal for spinning up the Methow Valley’s steep gravel roads.
Holy Grayl Water
For bikepackers, finding water can be challenging when riding far from towns. Enter Grayl’s Ultrapress water purifier, $90, which filters any stream water you find along your ride.
Using it is simple. Fill, press, and drink. We used it on the Winthrop Gravel Tour Lite, turning creek water into safe and refreshing drinking water. Bonus: Grayl is a Cascade supporter that sponsored our Winthrop Gravel Tour Lite.
Bike Bottle Cages
You could carry your Grayl Ultrapress in a backpack or pannier, or you could attach it to your bike with Grayl’s Adjustable Looney Bin bottle cage, $26.95. It has a click wheel for securely storing your Ultrapress.
Water bottle cages are utilitarian but they can also add bling to your bike. The Rattlesnek Kej, $25, from Portland Design Works is made from lightweight alloy and weighs only 54g. Plus they are side-entry, which means you can push your bottle in from the side rather than sliding it down in from the top like most cages.
Honk at Dingalings
Bike bells or “on your left” are fine for communicating with people walking or biking, but they are ineffective when trying to get the attention of distracted drivers. Cars have horns. Now bikes can, too.
The Loud Bicycle horn honks at 125 decibels with the push of a thumb button. The horn attaches to your handlebars, is rechargeable, weatherproof, and made in the USA.
I’ve used the Loud Bicycle horn a handful of times while riding in Seattle, including several times when I was almost hit in crosswalks by distracted drivers turning right on red without stopping or looking. It got their attention and they stopped for me, because drivers are conditioned to look when they hear a honk.
But don’t be rude. Never honk at pedestrians or people on bikes. The Loud Bicycle horn, $179, is only for getting the attention of drivers.
If you need to ding-a-ling on the bike paths, we love the King of Ding II brass bell from Portland Design Works, $25.
Car Bike Racks
Need a bike rack for summer road trips? ReRack in Renton and Portland gives Cascade members 10 percent off any of their used racks.
Just tell store employees that you’re a Cascade member to get the deal. The 10 percent discount applies to used rack purchases, but if a new rack catches your eye, talk to a store employee about special pricing for Cascade members.
Lightweight sun sleeves are great for protecting your arms from sunburn. I’ve had a pair of REI sun sleeves, $26.95, for about five summers and wore them on the Winthrop Gravel Tour Lite. They’re great protection for long rides when you don't feel like applying sun screen.
I don’t use one because I find them distracting, but many people swear by bike mirrors. If you’re considering a helmet mirror, check out the Hubbub on our Member Benefits page. Cascade members get $5 off the normal price of $34.95. It's nice to be able to spot cars behind you when riding on the street.
Traditional tight and stretchy bike shorts are beneficial for racing, but they’re not necessary for recreational riding. We love the trend of bike shorts that resemble streetwear–with some technical features and stretchiness built in.
The Women’s Gravel Shorts, $94, from Showers Pass have an adjustable waist, silicone grips to prevent them from sliding up or down, and ventilated zipper pockets to keep you breezy. They’re 95 percent nylon for toughness and quick drying, with five percent spandex for a comfy four-way stretch while on the bike or at the barbecue afterward. They also offer a men’s version.
Showers Pass is a Cascade supporter, and members get up to 40 percent off the Portland company’s gear on our Member Benefits page.
Now that you’re geared up it’s time to sign up for a Cascade summer ride before the first day of fall on Sept. 22!
Our Free Group Rides take place across the Puget Sound 365 days a year, with paces and distances to suit people of all skill levels.
Cascade’s three-day Tour Lites offer a chance to visit and ride in some of Washington state’s most scenic locations. Registration for our Port Townsend Tour Lite (Aug. 18-20) is open until Aug. 13. Or try our Ellensburg Tour Lite (Sept. 15-17) to enjoy scenic vistas of central Washington on three unique routes–plus some gravel segments. Registration closes Sept. 10.
If you missed STP but want to ride 200 miles over two days, there is still space on RSVP, the Ride from Seattle to Vancouver and Party, supported by Western Washington Honda Dealers Association. Registration is open until Aug. 13 at midnight.
Like wine? Our Woodinville Wine Ride (Sept. 10) travels through Woodinville’s winery district and along the lovely East Lake Sammamish River Trail, with food and wine samplings at multiple tasting rooms plus a full pour, music, and food trucks at the end.
Last but not least, don't forget to check out the stunning colors of the Kitsap Color Classic on Sept. 24. New this year, we'll have a finish line celebration with meat and veggie hand pies available.