In the spirit of balance and fairness, here’s a counterbalance to the scorn I spat on some of the crappier products I’ve been using:
Vittoria Randonneur Hyper Tyres – I’ve used these for a while now, principally because they are really light for a wide (38c) tyre, have thin supple sidewalls and are usually really cheap online. I used to get a few punctures per year commuting in glass-strewn Birmingham, and actually sliced one open, so I was afraid they wouldn’t be up to the task, but they have performed flawlessly so far. Of course, by writing this I will now be struck by a spate of punctures. Actually, scratch that, I’m not superstitious: BRING IT ON PUNCTURE-GODS!!!!
Exposure lights – I know what I said before, but they’re so good when they work, and my rear one has been faultless. The front one might actually have saved my life when some Portuguese numpty veered across the road on the top of a mountain whilst “appreciating the scenery” (code I just made up for drink-driving) too, so let’s just say I’m not angry, just disappointed.
Endura Merino stuff – I have about 5 base layers and I wear them almost all the time in the UK as it’s always cold and I’m pretty likely to be cycling but also potentially working, going out for a drink or doing something else ‘normal’. The quality seems to differ one month to the next, but the functionality is great. It’s probably just merino in general I am praising here as I don’t have any other brands to compare against, except a lovely M&S v-neck which I wore and wore until it got strung out and then wore some more and then eventually had to throw away (I wouldn’t inflict the injustice of rag-status upon it as a sign of respect).
Milka Chocolate – I’m averaging 200g a day at the moment. So milky, so sweet, so very good and now, thanks to evil Mondelez ownership, mashed-up with all sorts of other brands into Frankenchocolate for when you’ve had three bars already and want a bit of variety lest your appetite suffer.
Shimano drivetrain – easy to forget, but compared to the two pieces of SPAM on my bike, incredibly good. No issues, no noises, no reminders of their existence, it just works and keeps working with brilliant Japanese efficiency. Imagine if the English made a groupset! It’d probably be worse than Campag!
My wheel building – I’ve built a few wheels for customers but the problem is you never get to see them again and so can’t really vouch for their quality. The ones I’m using were pretty cheap to build but have held-up fine so far over ridiculous cobbled streets and unforeseen pothole smashes. The point of this is not to big myself up but to point out that wheel building is not a black art and if you’re curious and even moderately mechanically able you should give it a go yourself. The problem is that off-the-peg wheels are usually fine if you avoid the cheap tat and always cheaper than doing it yourself, so you’d better enjoy the process for its own sake!