Precisely How Steep is “Steep”?

WHAT: Sky Mounti Inclinometer
HOW MUCH: $24.99

There are a lot of complicated devices that you can strap to your bike; this product isn't one of them. The inclinometer is essentially a miniature version of a carpenter's level. Screw it onto your handlebar and the little bubble tells you exactly how demonic the hill you are presently climbing actually is. The Sky Mounti Inclinometer measures grades up to +/- 21 percent. No batteries. No wires. Just that lone bubble floating in some viscous fluid. It weighs a mere 26 grams and is available in either a black or red finish. Oh yeah, it's made in Germany. That seems to be an important detail to a lot of people.

I tried using the Inclinometer on my mountain bike, but eventually found the device more useful on my road bike. For starters, the little bubble moves around a ton if you are climbing out of the saddle and/or mashing the pedals gracelessly. As I tend to do both while mountain biking, I found it a bit of a chore to read. Most of my local trails are also fairly narrow and technical—the kind of terrain that requires constant attention. Thus, I never really found it convenient to stare at the little handlebar-mounted Inclinometer. If I rode a lot of fireroads, I'd probably have kept the device on my mountain bike, but fireroads are (fortunately) not a big part of my riding menu.

Whether or not you'd find the $25 price tag on the Inclinometer a fantastic bargain or a minor waste of money depends on whether you belong in Group A or Group B. Group A is made up of the people who like to know things (such as their current heart rate, cadence, elevation or the steepness of their current climb) when they are in the midst of suffering. Group B is made up of people who quietly zone out and retreat to their inner dark places while they pedal in pain. The members of Group A will love the Inclinometer. The representatives of Group B are probably better off spending that $25 on spare hamster food or a couple rolls of duct tape.