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Added a comment about product review Tested: Dainese Rhyolite Jacket 7/21/2014 6:57 PM
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I believe it's their own compound, similar to d3o though.

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Added a comment about product review Tested: Dainese Rhyolite Jacket 7/21/2014 6:57 PM
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If it's any help on sizing, I'm about 5'9" 165lbs with a 32" waist and a 40" chest and I'm a medium in the Rhyolite jacket.

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Added a comment about product review Tested: Dainese Rhyolite Jacket 7/20/2014 1:52 PM
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Agreed. If gear like this would get more people wearing protection over not wearing any at all, then I'd say they are doing their job. So many kids at Highland rocking the tshirt and neckbrace combo but nothing else to keep their body protected.

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Added a comment about product review Tested: Dainese Rhyolite Jacket 7/20/2014 6:51 AM
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Try here? http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/us/en/dainese-rhyolite-soft-jacket-2014/rp-prod118468

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Liked a comment on the item Tested: Dainese Rhyolite Jacket 7/20/2014 7:12 AM

For people who - after reading this review - are still hesitant:
Loic Bruni uses it at every world cup (sleeves too),
probably the only top 10 guy using body armour and as you guys can see it doesn't seem to restrict him or slow him down in any way.

Added a comment about product review Tested: Dainese Rhyolite Jacket 7/20/2014 6:51 AM
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I hear ya on price. I went on the TLD site and checked out both options and I'm impressed by the price point. Trying to find specs on both of these to compare weight, but the TLD does have more material covering your body so I would assume it weighs more and is probably a bit warmer. With no zipper to get it on/off you'll be squeezing into that like a stuff Chipotle burrito and having an even more difficult time getting it off. That being said, with stuff like this is definitely something of a personal choice and I would recommend trying one on if you can to compare. There was an VERY indepth article on another mountain bike website (it has the name Pink in it) that goes into big detail on how it was constructed. I actually read it AFTER reviewing this product and and it eases a lot of my concerns about large impacts on their soft padding. The testing they do in-house is pretty impressive and they are transparent with the results which is nice to see. Quick google search will find the article, have a read if you have 5 minutes.

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Added a product review for Dainese Rhyolite Body Armor Jacket 7/10/2014 8:52 AM
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Tested: Dainese Rhyolite Jacket

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Justin Schroth // Photos by Justin Schroth, Dave Smutok, and Ryan Thibault

Dainese has long been in the body armor game and carries with it a reputation for creating some of the best protective equipment on the market for those who love to point their wheels downhill or twist the throttle to the red line. When I first cut my teeth on downhill in the late 90s, it seemed like the go-to protection for pro racers was the Dainese Gladiator or Shuttle Pro full body suit, but it carried with it a pretty hefty price tag for a weekend warrior like myself. In addition to price, the biggest hurdle to overcome when convincing riders to wear body armor was the restrictive feel and over-heating that most of us encountered on a hot summer day. Dainese has looked to tackle both of these issues with the new Rhyolite Body Armor, aiming at hitting a balance between proper protection with breathability and comfort in what remains a premium offering.

Highlights

  • Back protector - Crash Absorb® memory retention material certified to EN 1621/2 Level 2
  • Elbow and shoulder protectors - Pro shape coupled with Crash Absorb® certified according to the EN 1621.1 standard.
  • Protective structures are extremely flexible and contour to the body shape
  • Removable sleeves
  • Silicon insert on the waist
  • Perforated protective structures
  • Breathable jersey
  • MSRP - $299.95 USD

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, the first thing you’ll notice is the flexibility of the Rhyolite Jacket's padding. The Crash Absorb® material used throughout is similar to the D30, in that it remains flexible to conform to the shape of your body, but then stiffens upon impact. Getting into the Rhyolite jacket was quite simple and easy. The sleeves are open in the armpit and didn't make me feel like I was trying to put on a wetsuit.

On the Trail

The jacket seemed to conform to the shape of my shoulders and chest quite easily, and felt more like a compression top instead of a turtle shell floating around my back, arms, and shoulders. The back protector is composed of two independent layers that are able to slide back and forth. Combined with the silicon band around the inside waistband, the Rhyolite jacket rarely shifted or rode up on my torso. Although there is no cutout for the rear portion of a neck brace, the pads are pretty thin and I didn’t see much of a decreased range of motion when looking up (note that this really depends on the helmet/brace combo).

One thing I enjoyed was not having a kidney belt waistband digging into my love handles as I rode, but this may be a toss up as you do lose the protection in that area with any major impact. Zip off sleeves were a VERY welcome treat on the Rhyolite jacket, especially for those trails that might not require the full elbow protection, or when looking to cool down on the way up.

Things That Could Be Improved

Although not as warm as other body armor I’ve tested, the stretch material covering the inside/outside of the Rhyolite jacket is a tight weave and ventilation could be improved a bit with open mesh material in some areas like the chest, rear, and side panels to allow for more airflow. On a low 80s day I was still pretty warm after a few hot laps at Highland Mountain Bike Park (shameless plug). I also wish the rear back protector extended down a few more inches to help cover the lower spine better. And finally, at $300, the Rhyolite jacket is near the top of the price range of similar body armor jackets.

Long Term Durability

Although I have thankfully had no all-out crashes wearing the Rhyolite body armor yet, I’ve put my shoulder and forearms into some smaller trees while riding and was not phased by the impact. All of the seams are strong and properly stitched with no loose strings and I have no doubts that true to Dainese's reputation the Rhyolite will hold up to many seasons of abuse.

What's The Bottom Line?

Compared to some of the other body armor I’ve owned over the years, this has to be of the most comfortable and least restrictive body armor jackets I’ve worn for a day of downhill - and all this without making me look like a hockey player. While not offering the full protection of a hard shell suit, this is a great middle ground for those looking for a bit more protection without sacrificing riding comfort.

Visit www.dainese.com for more information.


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 blog post Reviewed: Pedro's Starter Kit + Burrito Wrap 6/5/2014 6:28 AM


Pedro's has been long known for their line of lubrication, cleaning, and bike tool products. Although they offer a very impressive Master Took Kit with over 60 tools, it is most likely way out of the budget and needs for someone like me that can handle simple tune-up work but still relies on a mechanic from...more

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Added a comment about product review Tested: Lizard Skins DSP Grips 5/9/2014 5:09 AM
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jumpman + sheline I hear you on all these responses, and thats what basically kept these from getting a perfect score. If they weren't so comfortable they'd be 2 or 3 star product, but the comfort makes up for this main flaw. If they could be removed easily they would be a hands-down 5 product and be on ALL my bikes since the comfort (i.e. softness and traction) is prob some of the best I've experienced. I dont think the 32.3 diameters will give you the thickness you're looking for but I urge you to find a pair mounted and see how they feel to you.

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Added a product review for Lizard Skins DSP Grip 5/5/2014 2:38 PM
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Tested: Lizard Skins DSP Grips

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Justin Schroth and Joel Harwood // Photos by Justin Schroth

Lizard Skins recently applied their DuraSoft Polymer (DSP) technology to their mountain bike line, allowing them to create a grip that does not require an inner plastic sleeve or lock-rings. The result is a grip that is super lightweight with a soft feel and thin profile.
 Previously the DSP material was used to make bar tape for road bikes, touting improved durability, increased shock absorption and superior grip in all conditions. Curious to see how the DSP grip stacks up against a sea of other options, we mounted a few pairs and hit the trail.

DSP Grip Highlights


  • DSP (DuraSoft Polymer) material

  • Available in 8 colors (black, white, blue, red, pink, green, yellow, and orange)

  • Available in two thicknesses (30.3mm and 32.3mm installed diameter)

  • 130mm in length
  • Includes end plugs and double-sided Feather-Lite Lock Tape
  • Total weight: 27 and 30 grams for 30.3 and 32.3mm diameters
  • MSRP: $30

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, the first thing you'll notice is how light the grips are, coming in at nearly 1/3 of the weight of most lock-ons. Installation involves the simple process of cleaning your handlebar, applying the provided double-sided tape, spraying both the tape and inside of the grips with glass cleaner, and twisting on the grips into position and letting them dry. Here's a video overview of the process:

The DSP grips use a foam base layer to absorb vibrations, and the DuraSoft Polymer surrounds the outside area where your hands grasp the grips.

On The Trail

For someone with smaller hands, the thin profile of the 30.3mm grip proved to be a welcome comfort, even on long cross-country rides without any arm pump or hand fatigue. The thicker 32.3mm grip would likely suit those with large hands well.

Without a layer of leather and padding between palm and grip, gloveless riders might be a little pickier. After a couple of months of riding these grips, we’re happy to report that they also suited bare hands just fine.

This grip has three traits that make them worthy. First, the absence of lock-rings on the outer edge offers more comfort to those who may hold the edge of the bar, or even overlap onto the palm slightly. Second, the lock tape technology results in a palm friendly, smooth surface with no pressure points to irritate bare skin. Lastly, regardless of the smooth surface these grips seem to remain sticky with a surprisingly amount of traction whether they are wet or dry. No worries about having to hold on too tight while riding in the wet or when your palms perspire.

Although the method of using double-sided tape to install grips seemed quite strange, they surprisingly never twisted, even after a few rocky "death grip" East Coast downhill sections and a wide variety of weather in British Columbia.


Things That Could Be Improved

The installation process will leave most scratching their heads on how to remove them, especially for those who want to swap grips between bikes or need to remove grips to install or remove brake levers and shifters. It's easy to see that removal will be much tougher than simply loosening lock-on clamps, and at best will require an air compressor, more glass cleaner, and a new set of Lock Tape to remount them afterwards. For this reason it would be nice to have a few extra pieces of Lock Tape included with the grips. Worst case, seeing as they didn’t move at all while riding, you may need to use a utility knife for removal which could be tricky with carbon bars.

In addition, one of four end caps on our two pairs of test grips fell out seemingly easier than normal after buzzing a tree through a tight section.

Long Term Durability

With black gloves the grips started to darken slightly after only a handful of rides. It didn't affect the feel or grip and is only a minor cosmetic concern.

What's The Bottom Line?

The thin diameter, grip, and comfort with or without gloves make the Lizard Skins DSP Grips very enjoyable. The only downside is the inability to quickly remove them, and a cost that's equivalent to many lock-on alternatives. If you are looking for a lighter set of grips with a bit of squish and a thinner feel than anything else on the market, then the Lizard Skins DSP Grips might be right up your alley.

Visit www.lizardskins.com for more details.


About The Reviewers


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.

Joel Harwood has been playing in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia for the last 8 years. He spends his summer months coaching DH race groms in the Whistler Bike Park, and guiding XC riders all over BC. He dabbles in all types of racing, but is happiest while blasting his trail bike down trails that include rock slabs, natural doubles, and west coast tech. On the big bike he tends to look for little transitions and manuals that allow him to keep things pointed downhill, rather than swapping from line to line. Attention to detail, time in the saddle, and an aggressive riding style make Joel a rider that demands the most from his products. Joel's ramblings can also be found at Straightshot.

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Added a comment about video The Adventure of a Lifetime: Tackling Peru's Huayhuash Range 4/29/2014 7:09 AM
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Great work all around by Joey, Sam, and Thomas!! I CANNOT imagine riding with all that gear and still having control of a bike!

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Added a comment about video Cam McCaul vs Tyler McCaul - Vital MTB's Wheel of Fortune 3/28/2014 10:30 AM
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So. Good.

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Added a blog post GoPole VentureCase // First Impressions 3/12/2014 5:58 AM

*NO BS Disclaimer: GoPole is a sponsor of Lucent for 2014 and provides us with product and discounts*

I often find myself bringing along a GoPro and a few simple mounting accessories in my pack for a quick bike or snow adventure, but never really had a good case for it. So when GoPole announced the...more

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Added a product review for Hincapie Tour LTX Pants 2/21/2014 6:36 AM
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Hincapie Tour LTX pants

Rating:

The Good: Stretch fabric keeps you feeling unrestricted. Wind proof material

The Bad: Could use a few small zipper pockets // No chamois provided

Overall:

Tour LTX Pant Features

  • 4-way stretch Adavanced LTX Wind Repel™ fabric moves with the body while providing unparalleled wind protection
  • RegulatorTek™ with Thermocool™ optimizes body temperature regardless of activity level
  • Ergonomic articulated knees for a tailored fit and freedom of movement
  • Auto-locking, zippered leg openings facilitate easy layering over shoes
  • Seamless gusset eliminates short seam overlap
  • Elastic draw cord adjustable waist
  • Reflective treatments for high visibility
  • MSRP $110

As you can see from my epic Van Halen inspired split kick, the pants were anything but restricting. As far as warmth goes, the wind proof material helped keep my chicken legs toasty warm from start to finish.

I'm undecided if this is a bad thing, but the pants are unpadded so you'll have to wear your favorite chamois of choice to keep your bits protected. I'd also like to see maybe one or two small zipper pockets for chapstick or a phone for those that can't help but Instagram their ride of the day.

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Added a product review for Hincapie Black Ice Gloves 2/21/2014 6:34 AM
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Hincapie Black Ice Gloves

Rating:

The Good: Warmth of a winter glove without the bulk

The Bad: Runs slightly big // Overkill for fall riding, best used for winter/cold rides

Overall:

Black Ice Glove Features

  • Insulated, windproof/water-resistant laminate blocks out the elements
  • Special Dry Hand lining helps move internal moisture away from skin
  • Chamude palm with silicone logo gripper provide excellent feel and a more secure grip on the bars
  • Silicone gripper wraps around side panel for no slip shifting and braking
  • Reflective piping across glove top for improved low light visibility
  • Anti-pill fleece nose wipe area on thumb
  • Glove clip helps keep gloves together for easy storage
  • MSRP $70

The Black Ice gloves gave the warmth of a winter glove without feeling like I was wearing hockey gloves. The perfect amount of insulation kept my hands SUPER warm throughout the ride and I never had any issues shifting or braking. The silicone on the palms and fingers kept me connected and always in control. The fleece thumb nose wipe is a nice touch, and I def put it to use on our chilly ride.

The Medium gloves were a tad bit roomy for me so it might be helpful to try them on before purchasing. For fall riding you could probably go with the Power Winter glove model from Hincapie as I think these would be TOO warm for fall riding.

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Added a product review for Hincapie Arenberg Zero Jacket 2/21/2014 6:19 AM
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Hincapie Arenberg Zero Jacket

Rating:

The Good: Cut perfectly for riding position // Very warm

The Bad: Would benefit from two zippered pockets // No use for rear pockets if riding with a pack

Overall:

As I packed up the car and filled my Camelback, my wife looks at me and says "You're wearing just THAT to go riding?!". The mercury read 37F as I loaded up, so I figured if this Hincapie gear could keep me somewhat warm on a cold day like this, it would perform amazing on a crisp fall day!

Hincapie has a strong reputation in the road cycling & triathlon industry for manufacturing high end bibs, tights, jerseys, etc. and their XC gear isn't any different. At first glance all the gear looked solid and well made, but we all know the real test happens on the trails. For me, the true sign of great cold weather gear is that you stay warm without effecting performance and mobility.

Arenberg Zero Jacket Features

  • Textured, 4-way stretch MTX Wind Repel™ fabric provides a conforming fit and insulation from cold temperatures
  • HyperOptic Roubaix™ reflective treatment for superior visibility
  • Super Roubaix™ back panel for added warmth and breathability
  • Weather protective center front 2-way zipper with internal storm placket
  • Enhanced ergonomic design improves riding comfort and element protection
  • Three generous back pockets
  • Weather protective hem, cuffs & collar seal out the elements
  • MRSP $200

Just like the baselayer, having gear with the body's riding position in mind helps with fit and comfort. I never felt like I was stretching out the arms to reach the bars and the material had some stretch to it...which helps when you're a husky Medium like me!! As far as warmth, with the combined baselayer I was surprisingly VERY toasty on our snow ride, even during short stops to take pictures. The zippered cuffs were also key for tucking the gloves into the sleeves for a nice tight seal on warmth.

For someone that always rides with a hydration pack, I typically have no use for rear pockets unless I wore it out on a road ride. I'm all about hitting up the pub after a ride, so I would have also liked to see small zipper pockets on the front to stash keys and a phone.

I was honestly VERY surprised how warm and comfortable I stayed throughout the ride. I would go as far as saying that on a reg fall day, if you layered the Merino baselayer with the Arenberg Jacket you'd probably be TOO warm. But with some proper gear like the Hincapie lineup, many of us in the Northeast could extend our riding season at least another month!

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Added a product review for Hincapie PowerCore Merino LS Baselayer 2/21/2014 6:17 AM
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Hincapie PowerCore Merino LS Baselayer

Rating:

The Good: Cut perfectly for the riding position // Very warm

The Bad: Merino Wool is pricey

Overall:

As I packed up the car and filled my Camelback, my wife looks at me and says "You're wearing just THAT to go riding?!". The mercury read 37F as I loaded up, so I figured if this Hincapie gear could keep me somewhat warm on a cold day like this, it would perform amazing on a crisp fall day!

Hincapie has a strong reputation in the road cycling & triathlon industry for manufacturing high end bibs, tights, jerseys, etc. and their XC gear isn't any different. At first glance all the gear looked solid and well made, but we all know the real test happens on the trails. For me, the true sign of great cold weather gear is that you stay warm without effecting performance and mobility.

Powercore Merino LS Baselayer Features:


  • Super-fine ADV™ Merino Wool is itch free and naturally antimicrobial.
  • Every fiber contains thousands of tiny little pockets that trap air to insulate against the elements.
  • Naturally porous Merino wool fibers give off a small amount of heat as they absorb and transport moisture away from the skin, preventing chill.

  • Wool and polypropylene fiber blend increases dry time to improve comfort, recovery, strength, and durability.

  • Fiber’s unique chemistry and bacteria resistance naturally suppresses odors caused by human sweat.

  • Ergonomically fitted body and gusseted side panels provide a contoured, conforming fit.

  • Elongated body, comfort fit cuffs and smooth flat-lock seaming ideal for layering.
  • MSRP $80

It's obvious that the Powercore Baselayer is made for cycling, cut to fit perfectly and never felt like I was stretching it out when reaching for the bars. With the extended back seam, I could keep it tucked in without it riding up on me keeping out those pesky unwanted drafts. And as with most Merino baselayers, it's super soft, wicks away moisture and isn't one bit bulky.

As will all high end Merino wool products, you'll pay top dollar. But in my opinion, they are worth their weight in gold!

I was honestly VERY surprised how warm and comfortable I stayed throughout the ride. I would go as far as saying that on a reg fall day, if you layered the Merino baselayer with the Arenberg Jacket you'd probably be TOO warm. But with some proper gear like the Hincapie lineup, many of us in the Northeast could extend our riding season at least another month!

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Liked a comment on the item Forget the Pack - The Story Behind Specialized SWAT Apparel 2/19/2014 4:00 PM

Ugh. This looks terrible. If you wanna carry a bottle why not get get a bottle cage. Or I dunno just wear a better fitting hydro pack. I never notice mine when I am riding. Also, why is this called "Forget the Pack". Aren't they really saying forget the pack you already have...more

Added a new video 2014 Lucent Team Rider! 2/17/2014 7:52 AM
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Building the bike up for Lucent's first sponsored rider! Special thanks to Todd and John at GT!

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