House Brand

A few of us who’d been with Pedal for a little while had an interesting chat at the downtown shop not long ago. We’d ridden on Vittoria tires and wore Bell helmets and had clothing from Sugoi and wore mostly Giro shoes. And the conversation turned to the fact that most of us were now wearing clothing and using equipment from Bontrager and Specialized. And to a person we all said, “I had no idea that this stuff was so good.”

Since we became a dealer of Trek and Specialized bicycles, we’ve also become a dealer in those companies’ parts, accessories and clothing. Some of my friends and customers recently asked me, “Is that stuff good? Can I trust that house brand stuff?”

In short words, yes, for two reasons.

One is that Trek and Specialized are proud companies. They don’t want their name on jankity stuff. They hire smart people and, lemme tell you, they hear about it from their constituent dealers if the stuff is not of high quality. And while it might take a product cycle or two (or maybe more) to really figure out, say, cross country mountain bike tires or bib shorts or any number of things, that learning curve has become flatter over time. These companies are now experts at saddles and chamois and most other things related to riding your bike.

Two is that we want you to be happy. This is the case with all things: we want to know about it if you don’t like something you purchased from Pedal. We want to make it right for you and, if it’s really a dud product and not a fluke, we don’t want to sell it to anyone else.

Here’s a quick rundown of some things I’ve purchased myself and some brief words about each:

  • Bontrager RXL bib shorts. This is exactly what you expect a $160 pair of bib shorts to be. The chamois is great. The material is top shelf. These things disappear from your mind once donned. High praise indeed.
  • Specialized Prevail helmet. Generally speaking, I’m not that fussy about saddles but am very picky about the fit of my helmets. Few things surprised me more than the perfect way Specialized helmets fit my noggin. The Prevail is a really light, pretty expensive road lid with which I could not be more happy. I’m serious: best fit ever.
  • Bontrager Cambion mountain shoes, in no small part because they’re blue. I like the fact that the lugs on the soles of this shoe are more grippy than many other shoes I’ve owned. I’m not convinced that the BOA system is the end-all and be-all of fastening systems, but it works just fine. The upper took a couple of rides to break in, but now they’re quite comfortable.
  • Bontrager Lithos Stormshell Jacket. I just purchased this, but my initial feelings are very good. I’d been thinking about a pure protection layer for some time, and thought this looked pretty fantastic — cycling-specific with mythical waterproof + breathable properties, provided in large part by 37.5 technology. Bontrager says this garment is semi-fitted, but it’s more fitted than semi. There are plenty of pockets and vents, sealed tight with waterproof zippers. My only complaint thus far is that the hood doesn’t detach. I rode in the snow wearing this jacket the other day and loved it. It was totally windproof and totally without that feeling of riding in a trash bag you can get from many other allegedly breathable garments. It looks like I’ll have plenty more opportunity to test the jacket in the near future. Stay tuned.

One year ago, I would not have thought it possible that I’d be wearing shoes, shorts, a helmet and a jacket from Trek and Specialized. That is to say that I knew they made the stuff, but thought that surely bike companies could not make products as good as Giro or Sugoi or whomever. Well, they can. And they do. And I’m a happier, more comfortable rider as a result