The matte-black Ajax looks stealthy, and it’s even more so once you ride it. Though materials and build play a part in the Ajax’s silent operation, the main reasons are the 8-speed internal Shimano Alfine hub and Gates belt drive at the heart of the bike’s derailleur-free drivetrain. All gearing is internal, meaning no derailleurs to break, bend, or fall out of tune. Internal hubs even let you shift gears without pedaling — a godsend for urban commuters who forget to downshift before stopping at red lights. With the Ajax, Spot takes the simplicity and dependability further by replacing the chain with a belt, like the ones found on automotive engines. The durable belts, made from layers of polyurethane, rubber and carbon-fiber strands, don’t need lubrication, either — no grease stains on your chinos. It all adds up to one badass bike for the to-and-fro commuter, and our favorite urban velocipede we tested this year.
Read John Bradley’s original review of the Spot Ajax, and check out their Gear of the Year selection that includes the Ajax (you’ll have to scroll down past all the laptops and other gizmos to see the Ajax).