Added reply in a thread Forum Hot Seat - Todd Seplavy, Director of Product at GT Bicycles 12/11/2015 3:34 PM

What is your recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala? I've tried recreating it from that time at Bromont and have failed miserably.

Added a comment about product review Tested: Fly Racing Transfer Shoe 11/30/2015 1:14 PM
C50_img_0810_1401977666

For reference, my personal pair of shoes are Mavic Alpine shoes (not the XL).

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This product_review has 2 comments.

Added a product review for Fly Racing Transfer Shoe 11/24/2015 11:00 AM
C138_fly_racing_transfer_shoe_in_black_hi_vis

Tested: Fly Racing Transfer Shoe

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Justin Schroth

Already established in the motocross world and with a growing MTB presence, Fly Racing continues to expanded their cycling product line for 2015. One of their new products is the Fly Racing Transfer Shoe, a skate-style clipless shoe that offers some of the key features most look for in a shoe at an affordable price.

Fly Racing Transfer Shoe Features

  • Skate-style SPD compatible shoe
  • Stiff mid sole
  • Velcro lace enclosure
  • Ventilated side panels
  • Colors: Black/Hi-Vis (pictured) & Black/White
  • MSRP $99.95 US

Initial Impressions


The Transfer shoe has all the makings of a solid skate-style SPD shoe: an asymmetrical shape with higher inside coverage to protect the ankle bone, a Velcro shoelace cover to help keep mud, dust and dirt out of the shoe and a nice, stiff sole to help transfer power to the pedals efficiently. Perforated material covers a good portion of the shoe, but without much mesh material we were skeptical of airflow and ventilation. There are no aggressive lugs for off-the-bike hiking, but the tread depth still looks decent. The soles are a one-piece design with solid stitching throughout the shoe which we hoped would translate to durability and a long life for the shoe. The two color options both have subtle style to the design without being over-the-top, so you can bet that you’ll look good without looking like you stepped right out of a catalog.

On The Trail


Our tester's feet are shaped like cross country skis (long, super flat and narrow), so lacing up the Transfer shoes required a bit of extra cinching. He was still able to get them to fit snug without any noticeable side-to-side movement. Having flat feet, proper arch support makes a world of difference for comfort, and the Transfer shoes did just fine in this department. On the first day of riding, we found it a bit tough to engage/disengage the cleat due to the stickiness of the rubber. We saw this initially as a nuisance, but with any shoe, the stickier the rubber, the better. By the second ride, the rubber “broke in” and engagement/disengagement was a breeze and we never noticed it again. Our feet felt secured in place without ever noticing any heel-lift when pedaling hard out of the saddle and only minimal side-to-side shifting during the rough sections.

Stiffness in riding shoes can be quite a personal taste and often times a compromise of comfort over power transfer. While the Transfer shoe has nowhere near the stiffness of a full-on XC shoe, we were pleasantly surprised in the overall support of the shoe given how comfortable they were to walk in. If XC shoes are the ski-boots of the mountain bike world, we would consider these all-mountain snowboard boots: comfortable with support in all the right areas.

As mentioned, we were skeptical that the Transfer shoes wouldn't have great airflow and ventilation, and from testing this held true. Although the design does help keep mud and water out of the shoe, the downside of any lace covering is that airflow into the shoe is minimal.


Our first time hiking with the bike we were VERY surprised with the amount of traction this flat-sole shoe had. Even without toe lugs, we were able to navigate pretty much any surface confidently. Dirt, loam, rocks, roots…all tackled with no problems. We were even taken back on how much grip the rubber kept on wet rocks. You won’t be winning any rock climbing contests with these shoes, but they’ll get you up most features quickly and back into the saddle before your friends see that you weren’t man enough to make that tech climb.



Long Term Durability


After riding the Transfer shoes for over 3 months they have held up extremely well. No loose stitching, and the soles are in excellent condition without any separation or major wear to the rubber, which is a huge plus in our eyes. The Velcro for the lace cover still holds strong and the uppers are looking great. Being a ‘pleather’ material they clean up easily after a muddy day on the trails. No complaints!



Things That Could Be Improved


As mentioned, the ventilation was lacking with these shoes, so any improvement to airflow would be a big improvement. As a trail or BMX shoe, we think the shoes provide plenty of protection, but the flimsy toe box leaves something to be desired if you’re thinking of rocking these for DH. We’ve had a few small rocks kicked up at our toes and definitely felt the impact, so it's safe to assume any bigger crashes could do more damage to your precious piggies. We couldn’t find a specified weight for the shoe, but in-hand they felt noticeably heavier than our personal pair of riding shoes, so any weight reduction would be appreciated.


What’s The Bottom Line?


With an MSRP of $100, Fly Racing has come up with a solid option for those looking for a skate-style SPD shoe that offers key features, comfort, durability and style that won’t break the bank. Since testing the shoes we have not gone back to our personal pair of trail shoes, and probably won’t for a while. Kudos to Fly for making a well-rounded, solid shoe that both the BMX and trail rider will enjoy.

For more information, visit flyracing.com


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast NORBA and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.


This product has no reviews yet

Added a product review for Dainese Hybrid Knee Guard 11/1/2015 6:20 PM
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Tested: Dainese Hybrid Knee Guards

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Justin Schroth

The name Dainese brings with it a reputation of creating well-designed and innovative protection for riders. Today we're taking a closer look at another recent addition to their revamped mountain bike line, the Hybrid Knee. Hoping to find that happy medium between downhill-ready armor and light-weight ‘sleeve’ style knee pads, the new pads claim to offer the protection of a hard shell with the comfort of a soft protector.

Hybrid Knee Guard Highlights

  • Rigid knee cap and shin plate in thermoformed shock absorbent Polystyrene
  • Low-profile, flexible Pro-Shape honeycomb structure
  • Anti-abrasive coating
  • Memory Retention Foam
  • Breathable 4-Way Stretch run-resistant fabric
  • Elastic openings with silicone inner lining
  • MSRP $99 USD

Initial Impressions

It seems that Dainese is looking to design the Holy Grail of knee pads by blending hard shell coverage with the flexibility and comfort of their “Pro-Shape” soft padding on the sides. Their proprietary material is a very firm ‘memory foam’ material that, although most likely won’t prevent injury from sharp/pointy impacts, can provide ample protection for most broad impacts and still allows the material to conform to the contours of the body.

The hard shell is coated with an anti-abrasive layer, leaving them with a super slick feeling, which could help keep the pads from hanging up on rocks/dirt/etc during a crash. Tight mesh covers the front of the pads with a more open mesh at the back of the pads. Securing the pads in place is done with top and bottom straps with silicone lining, along with a cross strap over the calf.

On The Trail

Getting the pads on and off took a little bit more effort than some of the other lower-profile knee pads we've tried, and as a result are not likely a great option if you plan to put them on/off throughout the duration of a ride. Although the Pro-Shape soft padding aids in the overall flexibility of the pads, they still were not as flexible as we had anticipated right out of the box, causing the top strap to lift/pull when in a seated pedaling position for gravity runs. After a few more rides they seemed to break in bit, and this strap issue wasn’t as noticeable.

Once strapped on, the stretch fabric, cross strap on the calf, and silicone inner-lining were beneficial in keeping the pads in place with only a bit of shifting/movement after extended pedaling sections. Minimal adjustments were necessary but nothing where protection was compromised.

When it comes to overall protection, the extra shin coverage and the side padding on both in the inner and outer knee area make these a great option for gravity riders, but most likely overkill for the all-mountain excursion. Sizing was spot-on with the measurements Dainese provides online, which makes ordering the proper size a breeze.

Long Term Durability

As with other Dainese products we’ve tested, the craftsmanship is some of the best. Quality materials along with rugged stitching and seams are no stranger to the Dainese line. No big crashes in these (thankfully?), but after a few months of continuous use they’ve held up well to daily rigors, and with a quick toss in the washing machine after some muddy runs they are just like new again.

Things That Could Be Improved

As with most protective gear, having something that is very comfortable while on the bike for the whole day is a big plus. The tight mesh increases durability, but is a trade-off as airflow through the pads was minimal, even with the honeycomb Pro-Shape padding. On a hot summer day our legs were quickly warm and sweaty after a few laps. Although the hard shell protection is two pieces, flexibility between the two sections could be improved for more out-of-the-box comfort.

What's The Bottom Line?

Dainese is consistent with their quality and craftsmanship once again. Although not the Holy Grail of knee pads, their offering still provides a level of protection a step above a simple, soft-protection pad while still maintaining a level of comfort that makes them enjoyable throughout the day. Although not ideal for warmer days, this is a trade-off most riders would accept for quality protection. Compared to other offerings on the market, the price point is in-line with similar options and offers the same (if not more) protection.

Visit www.dainese.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all-mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot-out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast NORBA and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.

This product has no reviews yet

Added a product review for KS Ether Stem 10/12/2015 2:58 PM
C138_ether_stem

Tested: KS Ether Stem & Bar

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Justin Schroth

KS Suspension, who first made their presence known in the mountain bike arena with a wide range of dropper posts, have further branched out with their new line of Ether Control products. The new line, which includes traditional fixed seat posts, both carbon and alloy, as well as the Ether stem and Ether handlebars. Available in multiple lengths, widths, rises and materials, we chose to give the 780mm-wide carbon Ether Rise Handlebar and 50mm alloy Ether Stem a go. Continue reading to how the new bar and stem combo stacks up.


KS Ether Rise Bar Highlights

  • 
Material: Carbon
 (alloy version available)
  • Clamp Size: 31.8 or 35mm
  • 
Width: 780mm

  • Rise: 20mm
  • Upsweep: 9°
  • 
Backsweep: 9°
  • 
Colors: Black

  • Weight: 7.3 oz (207 g)
  • MSRP:$159.99

KS Ether Stem Highlights


  • Material: Alloy

  • Clamp Size: 31.8 or 35mm
  • 
Length: 50mm or 70mm

  • Rise: 0°

  • Steer Diameter: 1-1/8”

  • Colors: Black

  • Weight: 4 oz (114 g)
  • MSRP:$65.99

Initial Impressions

Right out of the box, it's very apparent the carbon KS Ether bars are on the lighter side of the scale for a carbon bar. At 207 grams and a healthy 780mm wide, these are actually quite light considering some of the competition’s carbon bars are around 200g at only 740mm wide. With black on black graphics and rough textured clamping area to help prevent slippage, KS did a good job putting together a subtle yet sleek looking handlebar that balances ascetics with functionality well.

As we mentioned, we tested the 50//31.8mm Ether Stem, It's worth noting, though, that the stem is also available in 70mm length and 35mm clamp, with slight variations in weight depending on the configuration. Our 50//31.8mm stem came in at 114 grams, making the Ether Stem the same, if not lighter than other stems that are similarly priced. A nice touch is that the steer tube clamp bolts are nicely tucked-away near the front of the stem, (hopefully) preventing any unwanted kneecap-to-stem-bolt interaction. Subtle graphics round out the two, with a smooth, stealth matte finish on the handlebar and gloss black for the stem.


On the Trail


Once in the saddle, we quickly noticed the extra width of the Ether handlebar compared to our prior bars, which were 740mm. The wider reach took some getting used to, especially in the Northeast where our trails are typically littered with some tight “pucker up and close your eyes” squeezes between trees. As with all wider bars, we never really appreciated the wide posture until hitting the rough trail sections where the extra leverage helped keep our line through the chatter or muscle through the tight turns. With the carbon material, stiffness, strength, and durability in a lightweight package are the obvious big advantages. And the 9-degree backsweep and upsweep put our hands in a comfortable position without any wrist pain or soreness, even after a long day in the saddle. The 20-degree rise of the Ether Rise Bar and the 0-degree rise of the Ether Stem keeps your hand position low, which is especially nice on the taller front ends of some long-travel all-mountain bikes. In regards to the stem, the steering response was quite snappy and immediate, which often times inspired us to charge a bit harder through some familiar turns. That added gusto sometimes caused us to forget we were riding a trail bike and not a DH sled. Navigating through rough sections and picking lines was done without hesitation, never feeling much flex or compliance in the cockpit. Point and shoot.

Long Term Durability


We’ve been on the Ether equipped cockpit for a few months now with no signs of weakness, distress, or wear. The durable matte finish has yet to show any scrapes or scratches, and with the designed handlebar//stem interface the bars have not rotated or slipped out of place, not even a hair. A simple "set and forget" design.


Things That Could Be Improved


With the "wider is better" trend going on the past couple years, KS is only offering the Either Rise in 780mm. For those with shorter arms, it would be nice to see a 740mm option available. While the obvious solution would be cutting the bars down to the desired length, some people just aren't comfortable cutting carbon or perhaps don't have the proper carbon-specific blade to cut them down at home. Another small gripe is the bars lack clear markings for centering the bars and rotation, something common on most handlebars.

What's The Bottom Line?


With the price point of the Ether Stem around $65 it is a great buy for a stem that is simple, lightweight and durable. As with carbon ANYTHING, you can expect a higher price tag as it's a high-end material. The Carbon Ether Rise bar is no different at $160, but that is comparable to other carbon bars on the market. When combined together, we think this duo is a great alternative that can EASILY rival some of the offerings by the larger component companies with the added bonus of shedding a bit of weight in the process.

Visit kssuspension.comfor more details.


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast Norba and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.


This product has no reviews yet

Added a product review for KS Ether Handlebar 10/12/2015 2:58 PM
C138_ether_35mm_carbon_riser

KS Ether Rise Bar

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Justin Schroth

KS Suspension, who first made their presence known in the mountain bike arena with a wide range of dropper posts, have further branched out with their new line of Ether Control products. The new line, which includes traditional fixed seat posts, both carbon and alloy, as well as the Ether stem and Ether handlebars. Available in multiple lengths, widths, rises and materials, we chose to give the 780mm-wide carbon Ether Rise Handlebar and 50mm alloy Ether Stem a go. Continue reading to how the new bar and stem combo stacks up.


KS Ether Rise Bar Highlights

  • 
Material: Carbon
 (alloy version available)
  • Clamp Size: 31.8 or 35mm
  • 
Width: 780mm

  • Rise: 20mm
  • Upsweep: 9°
  • 
Backsweep: 9°
  • 
Colors: Black

  • Weight: 7.3 oz (207 g)
  • MSRP:$159.99

KS Ether Stem Highlights


  • Material: Alloy

  • Clamp Size: 31.8 or 35mm
  • 
Length: 50mm or 70mm

  • Rise: 0°

  • Steer Diameter: 1-1/8”

  • Colors: Black

  • Weight: 4 oz (114 g)
  • MSRP:$65.99

Initial Impressions

Right out of the box, it's very apparent the carbon KS Ether bars are on the lighter side of the scale for a carbon bar. At 207 grams and a healthy 780mm wide, these are actually quite light considering some of the competition’s carbon bars are around 200g at only 740mm wide. With black on black graphics and rough textured clamping area to help prevent slippage, KS did a good job putting together a subtle yet sleek looking handlebar that balances ascetics with functionality well.

As we mentioned, we tested the 50//31.8mm Ether Stem, It's worth noting, though, that the stem is also available in 70mm length and 35mm clamp, with slight variations in weight depending on the configuration. Our 50//31.8mm stem came in at 114 grams, making the Ether Stem the same, if not lighter than other stems that are similarly priced. A nice touch is that the steer tube clamp bolts are nicely tucked-away near the front of the stem, (hopefully) preventing any unwanted kneecap-to-stem-bolt interaction. Subtle graphics round out the two, with a smooth, stealth matte finish on the handlebar and gloss black for the stem.


On the Trail


Once in the saddle, we quickly noticed the extra width of the Ether handlebar compared to our prior bars, which were 740mm. The wider reach took some getting used to, especially in the Northeast where our trails are typically littered with some tight “pucker up and close your eyes” squeezes between trees. As with all wider bars, we never really appreciated the wide posture until hitting the rough trail sections where the extra leverage helped keep our line through the chatter or muscle through the tight turns. With the carbon material, stiffness, strength, and durability in a lightweight package are the obvious big advantages. And the 9-degree backsweep and upsweep put our hands in a comfortable position without any wrist pain or soreness, even after a long day in the saddle. The 20-degree rise of the Ether Rise Bar and the 0-degree rise of the Ether Stem keeps your hand position low, which is especially nice on the taller front ends of some long-travel all-mountain bikes. In regards to the stem, the steering response was quite snappy and immediate, which often times inspired us to charge a bit harder through some familiar turns. That added gusto sometimes caused us to forget we were riding a trail bike and not a DH sled. Navigating through rough sections and picking lines was done without hesitation, never feeling much flex or compliance in the cockpit. Point and shoot.

Long Term Durability


We’ve been on the Ether equipped cockpit for a few months now with no signs of weakness, distress, or wear. The durable matte finish has yet to show any scrapes or scratches, and with the designed handlebar//stem interface the bars have not rotated or slipped out of place, not even a hair. A simple "set and forget" design.


Things That Could Be Improved


With the "wider is better" trend going on the past couple years, KS is only offering the Either Rise in 780mm. For those with shorter arms, it would be nice to see a 740mm option available. While the obvious solution would be cutting the bars down to the desired length, some people just aren't comfortable cutting carbon or perhaps don't have the proper carbon-specific blade to cut them down at home. Another small gripe is the bars lack any sort of indication or markings for centering the bars and rotation, something common on most handlebars.

What's The Bottom Line?


With the price point of the Ether Stem around $65 it is a great buy for a stem that is simple, lightweight and durable. As with carbon ANYTHING, you can expect a higher price tag as it's a high-end material. The Carbon Ether Rise bar is no different at $160, but that is comparable to other carbon bars on the market. When combined together, we think this duo is a great alternative that can EASILY rival some of the offerings by the larger component companies with the added bonus of shedding a bit of weight in the process.

Visit kssuspension.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast Norba and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.


This product has no reviews yet

Added a comment about product review Tested: Pearl Izumi Launch Jersey and Elevate Short 6/10/2015 6:29 PM
C50_img_0810_1401977666

I really need to close my mouth when I'm riding.

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This product_review has 1 comment.

Added a product review for Pearl Izumi Launch Jersey 6/7/2015 8:57 PM
C138_pearl_izumi_launch_jersey

Tested: Pearl Izumi Launch Jersey and Elevate Short

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Justin Schroth

The Pearl Izumi name carries with it a reputation as one of top manufacturers of performance apparel for cycling, running, and triathlon athletes. With a well established presence in the road world, Pearl Izumi looks to turn some heads with the dirt crowds by offering a revamped mountain bike line with some stylish new designs that carry the Pearl Izumi quality and craftsmanship. Let's take a look at two of the standouts.

Launch Jersey Highlights

  • V-Neck Collar Design
  • 100% Polyester
  • Sublimated Graphics on Selected Panels
  • Hidden Optical Cloth
  • Loose Fit
  • Colors: Shadow/Lime Hex or Mykonos/Grey Scrib Camo
  • Sizes S-XXL
  • $65 MSRP

Elevate Short Highlights

  • 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex, 4-Way Stretch Ripstop Main Body Fabric
  • Water-Resistant DWR Treatment
  • Two Zippered Hand Pockets Plus One Additional Zippered Security Pocket on Center Back
  • Snap Front Closure with Zip Fly
  • 15" Inseam (Size Medium)
  • Knee Pad Compatible
  • Sold Without a Liner Short
  • Colors: Black, Rifle Green, Belgian Block
  • Sizes S-XXL
  • $100 MSRP

Initial Impressions

As someone who has owned Pearl Izumi products and has come to expect a high quality product, it was no surprise to me that both the Launch Jersey and Elevate Short looked great right out of the box. Solid seams, high quality materials and no loose threads to doubt the craftsmanship.

With a bit more relaxed fit than their XC jerseys, the Medium size was spot on with the right amount of room in all the right places for my 5’9” 160-pound frame. To be blunt, I’ve never been a huge fan with the styling Pearl Izumi chose for most jerseys, but I was really taken back by the subtle yet modern design of the Launch Jersey. It's a nice improvement. Bonus points when the wifey commented on how fancy I looked heading out for a ride.

With the Elevate Short, I noticed that the material is a bit thicker than many shorts, which should bode well for durability. It's also water resistant thanks to a DWR coating. Although a bit longer cut, I liked that they had an elastic feel and knew that this typically leads to comfort in the saddle and while moving around the bike. Additionally, I was glad to see mesh materials on the inside thighs, side zippered pockets, internal waist adjustments, and a solid and secure snap-closure on the zipper. Be aware that the Elevate Short is sold sans chamois, which is fine in our book, so be sure to pack your favorite chamois for a trail ride if that's your thing. The Launch Jersey and Elevate Short come in at $65 and $100 respectively, which is line with most comparable jerseys and shorts on the market.

On The Trail

The Launch Jersey is made with a lightweight and breathable material that has plenty of stretch, and with a comfortable cut I never felt any tight spots in the shoulders or arms on the trail. Pearl Izumi craftsmanship also meant I never had any thick seams digging in under the straps of my pack or rubbing against my skin. With the bottom half of the front and rear panels composed of a tight mesh material, I was instantly hit with a refreshing breeze once moving, and even with a riding pack the airflow was more than enough to keep me from overheating. Additionally, a hidden optical cloth inside the lower hem of the jersey is nice for a quick wipe of your shades after a day of sucking dust behind your riding buddies.

The longer cut of the Elevate Short makes them an obvious match for those rides that require knee protection, and with the thicker material I could even see these as a perfect pair of downhill shorts for those lift access/shuttle days. Shifting around on the bike in all directions felt effortless, all thanks to the 4-way stretch fabric. For most trail rides though, once I hit the climbs I found myself wishing the Elevate Short were an inch or two shorter as they hung well over my knee caps. The other trade off of the mentioned thicker material was breathability. Although there are mesh materials on the inner thighs, I wish these panels were a bit bigger as the water resistant material meant that airflow on the remaining surface area was compromised.

In the storage category, the large zipper tabs were easy to find and access with gloves, and easily fit a phone/keys. Since I always ride with a pack, I found the rear zipper pocket of no use and would love to see this removed in favor of a lower price point. Additionally, as one that already owns Pearl Izumi liner shorts, it would be awesome to see loops inside the short to fully integrate the two.

Long Term Durability

With their reputation and my personal track record with Pearl Izumi gear, I have no reservations with the long-term durability and quality of the Elevate Short and Launch Jersey. After a few months of abuse, there are no loose seams or stitches, aside from a few Velcro induced fabric pulls.

Fortunately for Vital readers (and unfortunately for me), additional durability testing was performed with a direct encounter with East Coast grit, resulting in scientific abrasion testing after an ill-fated off the bike. After dusting myself off and assessing damage to my body, bike, and ego, I was relieved to find out that both the jersey and short held up great with no rips or tears. A quick wash and they were no worse for wear.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The competitive price, brand reputation, and all-around comfort on the trails makes the Launch Jersey and Elevate Short a solid contender in the ever-increasing apparel market. The styling of the Launch Jersey will keep you from looking like you picked through the bargain bin, and if you’re one that wants your shorts to pull double duty or resist some less-than-perfect riding conditions, you cant go wrong with the Elevate Short.

Visit www.pearlizumi.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast Norba and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.

This product has no reviews yet

Added a product review for Pearl Izumi Elevate Short 6/7/2015 8:55 PM
C138_pearl_izumi_elevate_short

Tested: Pearl Izumi Launch Jersey and Elevate Short

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Justin Schroth

The Pearl Izumi name carries with it a reputation as one of top manufacturers of performance apparel for cycling, running, and triathlon athletes. With a well established presence in the road world, Pearl Izumi looks to turn some heads with the dirt crowds by offering a revamped mountain bike line with some stylish new designs that carry the Pearl Izumi quality and craftsmanship. Let's take a look at two of the standouts.

Launch Jersey Highlights

  • V-Neck Collar Design
  • 100% Polyester
  • Sublimated Graphics on Selected Panels
  • Hidden Optical Cloth
  • Loose Fit
  • Colors: Shadow/Lime Hex or Mykonos/Grey Scrib Camo
  • Sizes S-XXL
  • $65 MSRP

Elevate Short Highlights

  • 95% Nylon, 5% Spandex, 4-Way Stretch Ripstop Main Body Fabric
  • Water-Resistant DWR Treatment
  • Two Zippered Hand Pockets Plus One Additional Zippered Security Pocket on Center Back
  • Snap Front Closure with Zip Fly
  • 15" Inseam (Size Medium)
  • Knee Pad Compatible
  • Sold Without a Liner Short
  • Colors: Black, Rifle Green, Belgian Block
  • Sizes S-XXL
  • $100 MSRP

Initial Impressions

As someone who has owned Pearl Izumi products and has come to expect a high quality product, it was no surprise to me that both the Launch Jersey and Elevate Short looked great right out of the box. Solid seams, high quality materials and no loose threads to doubt the craftsmanship.

With a bit more relaxed fit than their XC jerseys, the Medium size was spot on with the right amount of room in all the right places for my 5’9” 160-pound frame. To be blunt, I’ve never been a huge fan with the styling Pearl Izumi chose for most jerseys, but I was really taken back by the subtle yet modern design of the Launch Jersey. It's a nice improvement. Bonus points when the wifey commented on how fancy I looked heading out for a ride.

With the Elevate Short, I noticed that the material is a bit thicker than many shorts, which should bode well for durability. It's also water resistant thanks to a DWR coating. Although a bit longer cut, I liked that they had an elastic feel and knew that this typically leads to comfort in the saddle and while moving around the bike. Additionally, I was glad to see mesh materials on the inside thighs, side zippered pockets, internal waist adjustments, and a solid and secure snap-closure on the zipper. Be aware that the Elevate Short is sold sans chamois, which is fine in our book, so be sure to pack your favorite chamois for a trail ride if that's your thing. The Launch Jersey and Elevate Short come in at $65 and $100 respectively, which is line with most comparable jerseys and shorts on the market.

On The Trail

The Launch Jersey is made with a lightweight and breathable material that has plenty of stretch, and with a comfortable cut I never felt any tight spots in the shoulders or arms on the trail. Pearl Izumi craftsmanship also meant I never had any thick seams digging in under the straps of my pack or rubbing against my skin. With the bottom half of the front and rear panels composed of a tight mesh material, I was instantly hit with a refreshing breeze once moving, and even with a riding pack the airflow was more than enough to keep me from overheating. Additionally, a hidden optical cloth inside the lower hem of the jersey is nice for a quick wipe of your shades after a day of sucking dust behind your riding buddies.

The longer cut of the Elevate Short makes them an obvious match for those rides that require knee protection, and with the thicker material I could even see these as a perfect pair of downhill shorts for those lift access/shuttle days. Shifting around on the bike in all directions felt effortless, all thanks to the 4-way stretch fabric. For most trail rides though, once I hit the climbs I found myself wishing the Elevate Short were an inch or two shorter as they hung well over my knee caps. The other trade off of the mentioned thicker material was breathability. Although there are mesh materials on the inner thighs, I wish these panels were a bit bigger as the water resistant material meant that airflow on the remaining surface area was compromised.

In the storage category, the large zipper tabs were easy to find and access with gloves, and easily fit a phone/keys. Since I always ride with a pack, I found the rear zipper pocket of no use and would love to see this removed in favor of a lower price point. Additionally, as one that already owns Pearl Izumi liner shorts, it would be awesome to see loops inside the short to fully integrate the two.

Long Term Durability

With their reputation and my personal track record with Pearl Izumi gear, I have no reservations with the long-term durability and quality of the Elevate Short and Launch Jersey. After a few months of abuse, there are no loose seams or stitches, aside from a few Velcro induced fabric pulls.

Fortunately for Vital readers (and unfortunately for me), additional durability testing was performed with a direct encounter with East Coast grit, resulting in scientific abrasion testing after an ill-fated off the bike. After dusting myself off and assessing damage to my body, bike, and ego, I was relieved to find out that both the jersey and short held up great with no rips or tears. A quick wash and they were no worse for wear.

What’s The Bottom Line?

The competitive price, brand reputation, and all-around comfort on the trails makes the Launch Jersey and Elevate Short a solid contender in the ever-increasing apparel market. The styling of the Launch Jersey will keep you from looking like you picked through the bargain bin, and if you’re one that wants your shorts to pull double duty or resist some less-than-perfect riding conditions, you cant go wrong with the Elevate Short.

Visit www.pearlizumi.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast Norba and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.

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Added a product review for Pearl Izumi MTB WRX Jacket 5/1/2015 6:15 PM
C138_pearl_izumi_mtb_wrx_jacket

Tested: Pearl Izumi MTB WRX Jacket

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review and photos by Justin Schroth

Pearl Izumi has long been in the cycling game creating clothing, shoes, and accessories for road, triathlon, and mountain bike athletes. Building on their experience and reputation for creating high quality apparel, Pearl Izumi has launched a new line of mountain bike apparel for 2015, including the new WRX jacket. While there are a huge range of options on the market for general outerwear that is lightweight, functional, and protects from the elements, Pearl Izumi adds their own touch with some cycling specific features. Read our review to find out how we got along.

MTB WRX Jacket Highlights

  • MTB Barrier fabric for high performance wind and water protection with abrasion resistance
  • Full-length internal draft flap with zipper garage seals in warmth
  • Hood that fits over a trail bike helmet
  • Elbow pad compatible fit
  • Armpit and hood vent
  • Body: 100% polyester woven twill with a 2.5 layer charcoal membrane
  • Weight: 272 grams
  • Colors: Black or Yellow
  • Sizes: Small-XXL
  • MSRP: $175

Initial Impressions

The WRX jacket was designed to be a lightweight jacket that is easy to pack down and store for the riders who won’t let a little precipitation get in the way of a day in the saddle. Once tossed on and zipped up, the jacket felt very lightweight with a nice thin material that didn’t feel too bulky nor offer much resistance when moving around. I am 5’9" and about 160-pounds, and although Pearl Izumi describes the WRX as “semi-form fit,” the jacket still had enough room to comfortably add another layer or pads without being overly baggy and cumbersome once hunched over in the saddle.

Sometimes it’s the little things that count, and with the WRX, an attached helmet-designed hood, a sealed zipper with an internal draft flap, zipper cover on the collar, and abrasion resistant elbows add some nice touches to the jacket.

At first, I kept reaching to the sides to slide my phone in a pocket, but Pearl Izumi keeps it simple with no pockets on the WRX jacket. Note that if you're not a huge fan of the "Citronelle" yellow color, Pearl Izumi offers up a traditional black option as well.

On The Trail

We all know that once you are in the saddle and reaching for the bars, most non-cycling apparel quickly shows its true colors. Arms that are too short, tightness in the rear back panel, or the dreaded plumbers crack that makes an unwelcome appearance because the lower back panel does not provide enough coverage. Thankfully Pearl Izumi kept the riding position in mind and avoided all of these common pitfalls, providing arms that are generous in length, and an extended cut in the rear.

I’m a big fan of having no seams/Velcro around the wrist, so the simple elastic cuffs were a wise choice in my opinion. Even the attached hood is designed to fit perfectly over a helmet, and somewhat surprisingly it easily stays in place without restricting your vision when looking side-to-side, once again thanks to the elastic opening.

On a cool 60-degree day the jacket provides enough airflow thanks to the two side vents, but like with most outerwear that offers some water resistance, once the temperature goes up it can get a little clammy inside. Since evolving into a fair-weather rider in my ‘old’ age, I honestly never had a chance to take the jacket out on a full rain ride, but still felt like the moisture protection needed to be tested.

The ‘wind and water-resistant’ feature held up pretty well to a constant shower stream, and after about a minute or two in the shower I was still dry underneath. Based on this uber-scientific experiment, I have confidence that the WRX jacket would hold up well during a typical rain ride.

Things That Could Be Improved

As someone who doesn't often ride with many layers nor any pads for most rides, I would like to have a slightly less baggy fit. Although I did have some extra room in the sleeves so it’s quite possible I should have just gone a size down to a small.

As mentioned, I can’t break the habit of going to put my phone in my jacket pocket, and having a simple zippered pocket in the front would be nice for those quick runs to the store (or the bar) after a ride. It's possible that Pearl felt a pocket could compromise water-resistance, or it might have been omitted to help keep the price down, but I still feel it would be a useful addition.

Long Term Durability

Although the WRX is made from lightweight materials throughout most of the jacket, the added elbow protection provides the right amount of durability without adding bulk. Thankfully during testing there were no off-the-bike experiences or rough interactions with trees/thorns to test the limits of durability, but all seams, zippers, and stitches appear top quality and seem to have been constructed with care. Most Pearl Izumi gear I own is still going strong on its 3rd or 4th season, and at this point I have no reason to believe the WRX jacket will be any different.

What's The Bottom Line?

Compared to other cycling jackets on the market that provide the same weather protection, the $175 price tag is at or below most such offerings. Although I’d like to see some zippered pockets, Pearl Izumi makes up for it with a lightweight jacket that is perfectly cut for life in the saddle.

Visit www.pearlizumi.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast Norba and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.

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Added a comment about product review Tested: Source Ultimate Hydration System 4/27/2015 8:13 PM
C50_img_0810_1401977666

I really enjoyed testing another Source pack here on Vital, the bags are high quality and the reservoirs are killer. I'm notorious for leaving water in my bladder between rides and just topping it off before heading out and I never had any gross tasting water.

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Added a comment about photo PIT BITS - Stevie Smith's New Devinci Wilson Sits Idle 4/9/2015 7:40 AM
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Bummer

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Added a comment about video Steps to the Top - Brandon Semenuk 3/30/2015 7:30 PM
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MindSpark did this one (and others)

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  • Vital MTB member matt?
    12030 matt? /images/default/avatar/c50.png http://www.vitalmtb.com/community/matt,12030/all 12/07/11 5 24 34 1

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Added a comment about feature First Look: 2016 FOX Factory 34 Float 27.5+ 3/12/2015 5:47 PM
C50_img_0810_1401977666

Dafuq man. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H07zYvkNYL8

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Added a product review for 2015 Fezzari Nebo Peak Bike 12/7/2014 5:41 PM
C138_2015_fezzari_nebo_peak.

Tested: 2015 Fezzari Nebo Peak

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Justin Schroth

With endless options for trail bikes, and seemingly ever-increasing price of high end components, it is rare to find a bike with a higher end build kit that does not require a second mortgage on your home. Fezzari hopes to make a impact in this market with the Nebo Peak, offering a build that rivals bikes almost twice its price, all while proposing a customized hands-on approach to the purchasing process. Cutting corners or simply a smart new business concept? We were about to find out, and now so are you!

2015 Fezzari Nebo Peak Highlights

  • 6061 Hydroformed Alloy Fezzari Racing Design HL675 frame
  • 27.5-inch wheels
  • 150-mm (5.9-inches) rear wheel travel
  • Tapered headtube
  • Internal cable routing for drivetrain, brake and optional dropper post
  • Single pass smooth welding
  • ISCG mounts
  • Direct mount rear brake
  • 142x12-mm rear axle
  • Full sealed cartridge bearings
  • Replaceable derailleur hanger with threads in the hanger
  • Water bottle bosses
  • RockShox Pike RC Solo Air, 150-mm travel fork
  • Custom tuned Fox Float CTD rear shock with handlebar mounted remote
  • SRAM X1 1x11 drivetrain
  • Shimano XT brakes with Ice-Tech rotors
  • Oversized RaceFace Evolve bar and stem
  • Ergon GE1 grips
  • Stan's tubeless ready Flow EX rims
  • Maxxis Ardent 2.25-inch tires
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL (15", 17", 19", 21")
  • MSRP: $3,199 USD

Initial Impressions

When purchasing a bike directly from Fezzari, you not only save money but you can also take advantage of their 23-point custom setup. So before the Nebo Peak shipped, I exchanged a handful of emails with the guys at Fezzari in order to set the bike up to my riding style and height/weight, as well as add a few upgrades such as a tubeless set-up and a dropper post. As a result of this process, not only did Fezzari install the mentioned upgrades, but they also adjusted the saddle position, set the air pressure in the shock/fork/tires, adjusted the handlebar height/angle and brake lever position, among many other tweaks.

Upon receiving the bike, putting the Nebo Peak together was pretty straightforward and way easier than the typical “build from the box” process that most of us are used to from other manufacturers. A once over found no loose bolts, a properly dialed derailleur, and no major adjustments required to the cockpit. The only thing I had to do was install the fork, reroute the front brake housing to my taste, and dial in the position of the dropper post lever to accommodate my smaller-than-average hands.

The Nebo Peak is crafted from a 6061 Hydroformed Alloy, utilizing a Horstlink suspension design with the shock attaching to the downtube. The frame includes internal cable routing for shifting and braking, as well as internal dropper post cable routing that is new for 2015, giving the bike an overall clean look. Closer inspection reveals large sealed bearings for the linkage and very clean welds. On the subject of manufacturing, Fezzari claims their single pass smooth welding adds strength and reduces frame weight. In regards to geo, with a 67 degree head angle, 13.5 BB height, 17.1" Chainstays, and 45" wheelbase, the Nebo Peak is pretty much in line with most bikes in the same category.

On The Trail

I was very curious to see if the adjustments Fezzari made to the cockpit and saddle position were in fact accurate to measurements I sent them. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the riding position, reach, and brake lever position all felt super comfortable, to the point that it actually made me realize that my current setup on my personal bike might be a bit off and in need of a little tweaking. I will note that I added a few extra PSI to the fork and rear shock for a little extra stiffness. My only conclusion here is that I should have factored in my weight with gear, as my first ride was with 2.5L of water in the pack.

Once hitting the trails I quickly found out where the bike shines and where it could see some improvements. With the aluminum frame and the 27.5" wheels, I did notice a weight/rolling penalty compared to my 26” carbon fiber trail bike. On the longer climbs, I often found myself switching into either the ‘trail’ or full lock-out mode of the CTD shock to save some energy. Fire road climbs in the saddle felt smooth with minimal bob, but once charging out of the saddle I found myself quickly reaching for the CTD remote to reduce unwanted suspension movement and save some energy.

The Nebo Peak felt balanced and planted on short fast technical climbs, but a little sluggish and awkward on the slower climbs and switchbacks. Once pointed downhill though, the Nebo Peak really came into form and showed that it loves to go fast and get airborne, feeling quite stable at speed and super balanced when in the air and railing corners.

With it's 27.5" wheels, the Nebo Peak rolled with ease over everything from small bumps to big rocky sections and square edge hits with no major issues, inspiring me to let off the brakes more often than once and giving the suspension a chance to do all the work. Even though it is "only" a 150-mm travel frame, it felt like it had an extra 10- to 15-mm of travel on the bit hits. Finally, the Nebo Peak has plenty of stiffness with a 142-mm rear end combined with a one-piece forged rocker.

Build Kit

The first thing most will notice about the Nebo Peak is the amazing list of parts that are included in the $3199 price tag. Up front, the Rock Shox Pike is the current fan-favorite trail fork on the market (and probably mine too). Light, stiff, and with smooth and plush action it handles the challenging and varied terrain we see on the East Coast with ease. Combined with the RaceFace Evolve bar & stem cockpit, the steering felt direct and precise throughout testing.

Slowing down was always easy with the Shimano XT brakes paired with Ice Tech rotors. The custom-tuned Fox Float CTD rear shock worked well with the frame, and having the 3 'modes' was helpful with this linkage design (see the On The Trail section). The Sram X1 1x11 drivetrain worked flawlessly, even during an 18-mile mudfest ride. Trickle-down tech at its best.

The Stans ZTR Flow EX wheels are a solid choice for the bike. Although they are slightly heavier than some comparable wheels on the market, they provided a stiff feeling to the front and rear end and didn't require trueing nor tensioning even after a few months of testing. The Maxxis Ardents are a good all-around option, providing plenty of traction in a wide range of conditions.

Lastly, the Rock Shox Reverb is one of the current top choices for dropper posts (note that this was ordered as an upgrade, it is not included in the standard build kit of the Nebo Peak). Unfortunately for me my post decided to act up on the first ride in the cold, requiring some 'coaxing' to return to the top position, and often taking about 15-20 seconds to return to full height after pumping the dropper release button. With internal routing remedying the issue with a fresh bleed does take some additional work, but it is a relatively straightforward fix nevertheless.

Things That Could Be Improved

As previously mentioned, the obvious area where I could see potential for improvement is in the weight, to make climbing a bit easier. Of course, it is impossible not to take the incredibly low price into account whenever discussing improvements here, as you could argue that this point is unfair - it is worth mentioning, nevertheless. Although the Nebo Peak is far from a stout pig (I got my test bike down to 29 lbs with the tubeless set-up, excl pedals), the overall ride experience would benefit from the frame or the wheels going on a slight diet. Aside from this issue, I couldn’t find many negatives regarding the ride, especially with the excellent stock build.

Long Term Durability

My first ride was a 100% rain and mud affair, and the paint showed some substantial signs of cable-rub and wear on the head tube and top tube afterwards. I would suggest some clear 3M tape in the typical wear areas. As with most Hydroformed 6061 aluminum frames, you really shouldn't expect to see any issues with the frame, especially with the solid and clean welds of the Nebo Peak. But to put your precious dollars at ease, Fezzari includes a limited lifetime warranty on the frame, and a one year warranty for paint finish and original components. Speaking of components, as previously mentioned, they are of high standard throughout and we would expect years of loyal service from most of them.

What's The Bottom Line?

For those who ride fast and hard and are looking for a versatile 150-mm trail bike with an amazing build that won’t break the bank, the Fezzari Nebo Peak is a great option. Yes, it feels a little heavier than its weight might suggest, but looking at it from a parts-for-dollar point of view there is very little actual competition out there right now in this price bracket. And not only will you spend less to buy the bike, since you most likely won't find yourself looking to upgrade components mid-season either, you’ll have some extra cash for post-ride beers too!

For more information, head on over to www.fezzari.com.


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast Norba and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Source Whistler 20L Hydration Pack 11/26/2014 6:20 PM
C138_7

Tested: Source Whistler 20L Hydration Pack

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Justin Schroth

Source produces a wide range of hydration packs, ranging from minimalist running packs to bike-specific hydration packs of various sizes. With the Whistler 20L Hydration Pack, Source aims to provide technical features in a pack that can also hold a larger amount of gear and water without weighing you down. To see how they have achieved this goal, we strapped one on and set out on a mission to find out.

Source Whistler 20L Hydration Backpack Highlights

  • Lightweight fabrics: Ripstop 70D nylon
  • Loop for helmet attachment
  • Padded shoulder straps
  • Valve docking station
  • Adjustable sternum strap with integrated whistle
  • A padded and vented back system with porous foam
  • Elastic strap retainers
  • Fast access hip pockets for easy reach and more storage
  • Lightweight buckles
  • External straps for fastening protective gear
  • Concealed rain cover
  • Reflective LED tab holder
  • Essentials compartment with internal Storeganizer™
  • Insulated hydration compartment
  • Carrying handle
  • Dimensions: H 46.5cm W 26.5cm
  • Weight: 949-grams
  • Cargo volume: 20L
  • Bladder capacity: 3L
  • MSRP $135.00 USD

Initial Impressions

Out of the packaging, the Whistler 20L is noticeably larger than your typical day pack and looks to meet the needs of someone that is going out for longer rides and/or needs to bring along additional layers and gear, together with a solid amount of water/liquid.

With the mesh side pockets and extra long straps across the back, it's obvious that this would be also be a great pack for multi-stage Enduro races where riders might want to ditch the knee pads and full face during the long climbs. I tested out this scenario quickly and found that it’s straightforward to strap in a full face helmet and pads securely if needed.

Additional technical features like zip pockets in the hip belt, a docking station for the valve, insulated hydration tube, and included rain cover show that Source have put some thought into the design and features. Source's hydration system itself is among the more advanced in the market, specifically with regards to the features that prevent buildup of slime and other unwanted additions to your drinking water. Previous tests showed this to be more than just marketing talk, and we were eager to find out if the system would again perform in this review as well.

On The Trail

My first weekend out with the pack started with a 20-mile ride, requiring me to pack a good amount of gear such as a rain jacket, an additional long sleeve layer, plenty of Clif Bars, a mini pump, and a multi tool. The Whistler really shines in the volume department, allowing plenty of expandable room when needed but still feeling comfortable on the body. The lightweight pack felt centered and didn’t shift around much, and the porous thick rear padding combined with the vent channels helped to keep airflow moving.

For my shorter rides, simply cinching down the rear straps tight compresses the pack nicely and makes it a usable day pack for those quick jaunts as well. What set the Whistler 20L apart for me are some of the technical features that Source added to it. Much of our riding is done in the pouring rain and mud, so having an included rain cover and a valve that docks into a protective shield so you’re never having to swallow bits of mud and dirt was much appreciated. I also really liked having quick access on the hip belt to items like a cell phone or an energy bar, and I wish more packs would implement this feature. Additionally, the Whistler has extra long straps pretty much all over, so riders of all sizes should have no problem making this pack fit.

When it comes to hydration, at first I wasn’t a huge fan of the Widepac hydration bladder, but its ease of filling quickly had it growing on me. Source also includes a UV-shielding cover on the tube as well as technology in the plastics that prevent bio-film buildup and inhibits bacteria growth. All this means that you can leave water in the pack for a few days and just top it off before your next ride (guilty of this!) and not have to worry about funky tastes and smells getting into your water - pretty cool. Learn more about their hydration reservoir technology HERE.

Things That Could Be Improved

One area that I could see improved on the Whistler 20L pack is some of its internal organization. In the two main compartments, there are only large zippered pockets that don’t really isolate items too well, especially if you toss your phone inside with keys or multi-tools. It’s also a bit of a pain to have to undo all the straps on the rear to access both compartments completely.

Being someone that rides in variable conditions, I’d also like to see the hip pockets be made of a sealed material instead of mesh so as to help keep water & mud off a stored cell phone for example.

Long Term Durability

During testing of the Whistler 20L, I had a pretty serious OTB onto my back landing on a section of roots, rocks and plenty of east coast mud. There were no rips or tears in the Ripstop material, and after a quick run through the washing machine, the pack looked brand new again. A couple of months down the line, all the seams are holding up well and I can see this pack lasting many seasons.

What’s The Bottom Line?

If you’re looking for a lightweight pack with plenty of space to haul some extra gear when needed and appreciate the technical features Source have added to the Whistler, the $135 price tag makes it a competitive option compared to packs of similar capacity. Add to that the performance of Source's hydration systems and you're looking at a short-list-worthy candidate for your next riding pack upgrade.

For more information visit http://sourceoutdoor.com/en/


About The Reviewer

Justin Schroth has been riding mountain bikes for over 15 years, experiencing first hand the evolution of the industry from thumb shifters and MCU cartridge forks to carbon fiber frames and single-ring all mountain bikes. As an East Coast rider, he loves trails with a combination of jumps, technical downhills, and the occasional loose corner for some foot out action. With a Mechanical Engineering degree, Justin's instinct is to always consider how it works over how it looks. After many years of racing the Northeast Norba and Collegiate series, Justin hung up the race plate and his diploma to go behind the camera at Lucent Productions, creating mountain bike video content for several clients such as Highland Mountain Bike Park.

This product has 1 review

Added a comment about video Most Intense Downhill Run Ever? Dan Atherton on Hardline 11/25/2014 5:50 AM
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DAMN!!!

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This video has 5 comments.

Liked a comment on the item First Look: 2015 Fezzari Nebo Peak - Affordable Fun 10/27/2014 12:50 PM

Shit, I would buy that just to keep the components and then swap out the frame to get a real beauty going!!

Liked a comment on the item First Look: 2015 Fezzari Nebo Peak - Affordable Fun 10/27/2014 12:50 PM

The bike looks really great and it's nice to see Fezzari talked about. A couple questions:

Why not turbine cinch?
What's the expected weight? Can't imagine it being too bad as the spec is pretty dialed.

Liked a comment on the item First Look: 2015 Fezzari Nebo Peak - Affordable Fun 10/27/2014 11:54 AM

great price/value, and they got a proper XL size.