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Added a product review for FSA Afterburner Hydraulic Disc Brake Set 5/28/2014 9:52 PM
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Tested: FSA Afterburner Disc Brakes

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Joe Schneider // Photos by Brandon Turman

FSA, a trusted and known brand for cockpit components, has now entered the hydraulic disk brake market. This stirs the pot and adds another player to the fray of manufacturers on the quest to make the ideal set of brakes. FSA has two versions of their hydraulic disk brake set, the K-Force and the Afterburner, both have the same functions but the K-Force drops 40 grams per side from the system. This review is on the Afterburner model which lists for $289 per side and weighs in at 345 grams for the front with a light weight rotor and rotor bolts.

Afterburner Disc Brake Highlights

  • Reach Adjustment on the Lever
  • Stroke Adjustment on the Lever Body
  • Ambidextrous Aluminum Lever Body / Master Cylinder
  • Aluminum Lever Blade
  • Mineral Oil
  • Front and Rear Specific Hoses
  • One Piece Forged Caliper
  • 160mm or 180mm Rotor Options
  • Top Loading Semi-Organic Pads with Aluminum Back Plate
  • Compatible with Shimano XT/XTR Brake Pads
  • Slim Aluminum Pad Retention Pin
  • Weight: 345 grams per side
  • MSRP: $289 per side

Initial Impressions

Before I received the brakes I was curious what level of quality FSA was aiming for. The pictures looked good, but you can’t judge a book by its cover. The first thing I noticed was that the weight is in check, which impressed me. The contour lines on the lever / master cylinder and the caliper are optimized to remove extra material and give them a unique appearance.

The installation couldn’t have gone better. The guys at FSA took care of me and precut the lines to the proper length and everything I needed was included in the package: brakes, rotors, hardware, adapters and a bleed kit. The lever fit the bar diameter very well and the post mount adaptor and bolts installed without any hick-ups.

All the bushings in the lever pivots were tight and the adjustments crisp. The reach adjustment knob is on the lever blade close to the main pivot and the stroke adjustment is the red wheel nestled into the master cylinder. Both have detents and click when they are turned, and the range of motion is actually wide enough to fit a very diverse group of hand sizes.

On The Trail

The lever feel was encouraging during installation, and this did not change once I got rolling. The brakes felt very natural which let me get comfortable with them quickly. By the time the pads were done bedding in I had completely forgotten I was on a new-to-the-market set of brakes. I will admit, the first trail I rode was steep and pretty sustained. Regardless the pads were quick to settle into the new rotors. One more factor which helped me become comfortable quickly was the adjustability of the lever reach and throw. I was able to dial in each setting just the way I like it, close and short, and I still had a couple clicks of adjustment left. Throughout my time on the brakes I did fine tune the lever adjustments while on the trail. The clickers are small and out of the way, which is how they should be. They are adjustable with gloves on, however to actually feel the clicks and keep the levers adjusted the same it is best to take the time to remove your gloves.

The stopping feel is assertive. They are as powerful as they need to be without being too grabby. The engagement of the pads is quick but linear with the rest of the stroke. FSA’s lever cam design is less aggressive getting to the initial pad contact than Shimano’s servo wave found in the XT and SLX levers. On the dirt this means FSA’s design is less prone to locking up the wheels when you first pull the lever, especially if you are light on your wheels over a roller or flicking into a corner. Initially I thought it made the brakes not feel as lively, but once I started riding, I found I gained a noticeable amount of light braking control. It added a new dynamic to my braking technique which was more significant than I gave it credit for. Once past the initial pad contact, the power ramps up quickly and evenly. They stop when you tell them to stop. The power is ample for whatever strength of braking required. The levers easily and naturally pull to the exact spot they need to be for the perfect amount of power needed at that split-second moment.

On top of feeling powerful and modulating well the front and rear levers have a remarkably matched feel. FSA spec’d different brake hoses which are specific to the front and rear; the rear brake line is stiffer than the front. This is significant, and here is why on a technical level: when you pull the lever it pressurizes the hose, which causes the hose to expand. This expansion takes up some of the brake fluid needed to push the pistons. Because the rear hose is longer than the front, it needs to be stiffer if you want it to behave like the shorter front hose in terms of overall volume of oil displaced by the hose expansion. A stiffer hose in the rear makes the volume of fluid taken up by the two hoses much closer to the same, which in turn causes the levers to have a very similar feel. Initially I ran a smaller rotor on the rear wheel, but midway through the test I upgraded the rear to a 180mm rotor to match the front. Having the same rotors really proved to me how similar the front and rear brakes feel. It’s a complaint I never knew I had, almost like having the volume controls for the car’s stereo on the steering wheel - I didn’t know what I was missing until I got it. My personal preference is to run the same tires in the front and the rear; I like the predictability and control it gives me when I move around on the bike. Having the levers feel the same has the same effect, and for this reason I would highly recommend staying with the same size rotors on the front and rear wheels.

The lever perch is stiff. Once mounted to the bars there is pretty much zero flex when you pull on the lever, again adding to the solid feel of the lever. The perch is also reasonably low profile; it snugged up as well as I could have hoped for next to my Reverb lever and Shimano shifter.

Out of the box I did experience some pump, not surprisingly but more so in the rear brake than the front. The FSA bleed kit contains FSA's blend of mineral oil and a syringe setup similar to SRAM’s, plus a small pamphlet with instructions. The instructions had pictures and concise sentences, written in English as their first language. The procedure was pretty standard and the bleed steps were easy to follow and perform. I was able to find some air in the master cylinder, which may have happened when the lines were cut to length.

Things That Could Be Improved

Sometimes after sitting for a while in the garage the first couple of pulls on the lever can feel inconsistent but then things even out. The semi metallic pads can also occasionally feel inconsistent through a revolution of the wheel until they get some heat into the system after a couple of good hard pulls.

Initially I had a 180mm rotor in the front and a 160mm rotor in the rear. The rear regularly was a victim of the standard lever pump issue from heat expansion that many mineral oil brakes experience. After an extended scrub of speed, then a quick release and back on the brakes, the lever would engage further out from the bars (shorter stroke). Discussing the issue with FSA, they recommended I up size the rear rotor to match the front in order to help with heat removal and they also had me push the pistons all the way back into the caliper then bleed out the little bit of extra fluid in the system. The upsized rear rotor made a notable difference in keeping the heat dissipated and increasing the braking power. On more sustained descents the system still will pump up a little bit, but the brakes were always still operable, the lever just lands a touch further out than when you are sitting in the parking lot. The performance has stayed pretty consistent for me when this happens; I always keep riding without any issue. On more pedally trails or ones with more intermittent braking, the pump effect never occurs. Between the two fixes and the bleed the brakes performance is right where it should be. The absence of a 200mm rotor indicates that FSA aimed squarely at trail riding with this brake, and that goal matches my experience with the brake in the field.

Long Term Durability

It takes a year and several sets of brake pads to really know if a brake will develop any real long term problems. I've not been on these brakes that long, but to date I have not had any issues, and that still a good thing. The lever linkage and the materials seem robust. Hopefully FSA gave the notorious sticky caliper piston issue some serious consideration because it has been the downfall of many great sets of brakes. If they have addressed that particular concern, then these should be trouble free brakes until you sell your bike.

What's The Bottom Line?

Based on my experience FSA has come to market with a very competitive product. They kept the end user in mind with their design choices. They encompass the features and weight of a high end brake and provide a powerful balanced feel. These brakes are a great upgrade for your shorter travel full suspension mountain bike.

Visit www.fullspeedahead.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Joe Schneider grew up in Durango, Colorado. Beginning in 2002, at the age of 13, he started riding mountain bikes and racing in the local race series. One thing led to another and he eventually made it into the mid-ranks of the pro cross-country field. Collegiate racing shed light on technical riding and he began to pursue longer travel bikes and most recently dirt bikes. He enjoys smashing through rocks or getting loose on flowy singletrack. Ultimately the alpine shuttle is his favorite, with a couple thousand feet of climbing and two or three times that in descending. He is currently a Mechanical Engineer who designs tools to blow things up. He loves to ride snowmobiles, motos, and mountain bikes whenever possible with his lady and many good friends. As a practiced mechanic, he enjoys spending the remainder of his free time fixing and maintaining all of his rides.

This product has 1 review

Added a comment about product review Tested: Mavic Alpine XL Clipless Shoes 1/20/2014 11:49 AM
C50_ska_zia_pic_2.5

It was tough. I think I used a lighter and melted the ends of the laces a touch, then while it was setting up I rolled the melted part into a point. I was able to poke it through the keeper and push it the rest of the way with a pick. I may have used another pick to open up the keeper a touch too. Also if you install the keeper the opposite way, they lay flat nicer on the top of your foot.

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This product_review has 6 comments.

Added a product review for Troy Lee Designs Ruckus Riding Short 9/25/2013 9:22 PM
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Tested: Troy Lee Designs Ruckus Shorts

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Joe Schneider // Photos by Brandon Turman

Troy Lee Designs dubs the Ruckus short the "jack of all trades," meaning they complement riders who dabble in everything. I'm one of those riders, and I've spent over seven months riding anything and everything in them. During that time the look has changed slightly, but these shorts deserve a chance in the spotlight.

Ruckus Short Highlights

  • Two-way stretch, lightweight, breathable 92% Polyester / 8% Spandex mix material
  • Removable chamois liner
  • Full waist and hip height adjustment via micro fiber waist adjusters
  • High quality ribbed Spandex stretch panel
  • Unique leg length adjustment feature ensures personalized fit
  • Reflective rear detail for added visibility
  • Pedal friendly side pockets with content security panel
  • Zippered front media pocket with YKK brand zipper
  • Ergonomic MTB specific cut and fit
  • MSRP $110

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, I was stoked with what I picked up. The Ruckus shorts were light, flexible and durable feeling. I dug the fact that the chamois was removable, and the two articles of clothing could move independently of one another. The last thing I noticed was how basic they were, at least at first glance. In my opinion basic is a good thing - there were no bulky patches, sewn on graphics, or excess layers of material from numerous pockets and vents. All of which may never be used or of much value to the end user. Right off the bat, I was very satisfied with my initial impression and excited to ride in them. Could these be the ultimate riding shorts?

On The Trail

Taking to the dirt, I was immediately comfortable and pleased that there was no break-in period required. The short material was indeed light feeling and effortless to move; plus, between the seat and the chamois the short material didn’t bunch up or feel bulky.

Going through the shorts from the ground up, the provided features were all useful or had value:

The leg length was great - long enough to not feel like an XC racer baggy, but not too long that they got in the way. They come with a second hemmed section so you can cut about an inch off the length. That is not what I was after with my 32-inch inseam, but it may be nice for riders with shorter legs.

There are only two pockets on the shorts - one on either side, and in the standard pocket location. One has a zipper and the other one doesn’t. They aren't huge. At first I was skeptical of the small pockets, but then I saw the function. Being smaller, about iPhone size, they keep everything close. Your stuff never slaps your legs and you instantly forget there is anything in your pockets when you start riding. They give you just enough capacity to carry the essentials and prevent the ride from feeling like a hiking trip.

The chamois is nice - it is not too bulky and provides enough cushion for longer rides. It doesn’t make up for a poorly conditioned behind, but is good on the longer pedals. The pad doesn’t get in the way while standing or descending.Seven months worth of rides later, I have no complaints with the chamois and haven't chafed.

Finally, TLD placed two snaps above the Velcro fly and an elastic adjustable strap on each hip. The micro fiber waist adjusters are infinitely adjustable within their range, and provide a bit of stretch to compensate for the change in diameter of your gut from seated to standing. I typically wear a size 31, but due to the fact that they're only offered in even sizes, I went with the 32. It was a good choice, and the waist adjusters provided enough adjustability for me.

Things That Could Be Improved

The only major thing that could be improved is having zippers on both of the main pockets. It would add peace of mind about not losing anything. I used both pockets equally, but did lose two things during all my rides, and I believe it was while seated in a shuttle van.

Although it is minor, sometimes pedaling while seated with my dropper post down, the bottom of the short will get stuck on top of kneepads. It is not an issue while standing or pedaling with the seat up.

Long Term Durability

Durability seems to be top notch.I usually hang them to dry, and the color is still bold after seven month of use. The stitching hasn’t begun to fail and I don’t have any rips. They get top marks in this department.

What's The Bottom Line?

I have done dozens of 6+ hour trail rides, ridden lift access bike park laps all day, raced several enduro events, ridden through bushes and branches and slid on the ground like baseball players wish they could. And guess what? These shorts still look nearly new. The bottom line is that I'm satisfied. You get what you pay for with the Ruckus shorts - good construction, essential features, and stylish comfort wherever you may want to ride.

For more details, visit www.troyleedesings.com.


About The Reviewer

Joe Schneider grew up in Durango, Colorado. Beginning in 2002, at the age of 13, he started riding mountain bikes and racing in the local race series. One thing led to another and he eventually made it into the mid-ranks of the pro cross-country field. Collegiate racing shed light on technical riding and he began to pursue longer travel bikes and most recently dirt bikes. He enjoys smashing through rocks or getting loose on flowy singletrack. Ultimately the alpine shuttle is his favorite, with a couple thousand feet of climbing and two or three times that in descending. He is currently a Mechanical Engineer who designs tools to blow things up. He loves to ride snowmobiles, motos, and mountain bikes whenever possible with his lady and many good friends. As a practiced mechanic, he enjoys spending the remainder of his free time fixing and maintaining all of his rides.

This product has 2 reviews

Added a comment about product review Tested: DT Swiss XM1501 Spline ONE Wheelset 8/6/2013 8:31 PM
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Yeah, I was pleasantly surprised by the durability of the wheels so far. About 2.5 months. Let me put it like this. I have every expectation to ride them well into next year without any issues. The stock wheels on my remedy were already dented and the hubs were starting to sound bad after 2.5 months of riding, and I have ridden these wheels much harder. Im sure you can destroy them, but for a race weight wheelset that you can ride all the time, they are sweet.

This product_review has 4 comments.

Added a product review for DT Swiss XM1501 Spline ONE 26 Wheelset 8/1/2013 4:12 PM
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Tested: DT Swiss XM1501 Spline ONE Wheelset

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Joe Schneider

The new Spline ONE wheels from DT Swiss combine several innovative features with some standby technology to create an excellent wheelset, at least on paper. From the unique Squorx nipples to the Ratchet Freewheel System, they look to be among the most advanced aluminum hoops available at the moment. Curious how they'd hold up, I mounted up a pair of the tubeless ready XM1501 wheels, which are designed for all-mountain and enduro use.

XM 1501 Spline ONE Wheelset Highlights

  • 26, 27.5, and 29-inch versions
  • 22.5mm internal rim width
  • Tubeless ready
  • 28 double-butted DT Competition spokes per wheel
  • DT ProLock aluminum nipples
  • Straight-pull hubs and spokes
  • Upgraded 36-tooth Ratchet Freewheel System
  • Strength Boost Welding Technology at the joint
  • Convertible 15mm or QR front axle and 12x142mm or 135QR rear
  • 1545 grams per set (26-inch)
  • MSRP $1,099

Aside from the XM1501 wheels, the Spline ONE line also includes the XC oriented XR1501 and the heavy duty EX1501's. Have a gander and learn about everything that makes them awesome in this in-depth First Look feature:

Initial Impressions

The first thing I noticed when I pulled the wheels out of the bag was how light and solid the XM1501 wheels felt. The spokes had good tension, they were true and round and respectably light for the general trail shredding and occasional enduro race I was about to put them through. The look was impressive too - graphics were not cheap stickers, but something of higher quality, which complimented the anodizing nicely. One decal has all the spoke lengths and rim measurements if you ever need to replace a spoke, which is convenient. The hubs also have some interesting lines, with rounded edges everywhere, not the sharp lines from machining I'm used to seeing. The cool part about that is, the shells are used in their net shape from forging, so DT Swiss didn't waste money on cosmetic machining in their effort to keep the wheels at a reasonable price. The look is different, but still says light, stiff and possibly revolutionary. That's all for not if they don't perform on the dirt, though...

On The Trail

I immediately noticed a difference with these wheels on my Trek Remedy. Losing more than 300 grams from the stock wheelset quickened my acceleration and flickability, giving the bike a much more responsive feel to rider inputs.

I have had several DT 240 hubs in the past, and the ratchet system in the Spline rear hub functioned every bit as well. The upgrade to the 36-tooth ratchets was a nice perk and almost necessary for the market they are competing against. They were slightly slow rolling on the first few rides but as the bearings, ratchets and grease settled in, they picked up speed. Replacing the stock grease in the ratchets with something thinner may have helped reduce the rolling resistance, but would increase the maintenance interval. I had high expectations for the hubs performance and they delivered.

I was skeptical of the rims, mostly because of the material. Let's be honest here - DT Swiss doesn't exactly have a glowing reputation in the rim durability department. An aluminum alloy change could be the answer, and the entire Spline ONE wheelset features an updated material.

Over the course of my rides,I saw a huge improvement in durability. I have raced four multi-stage enduro events and have been on numerous other rides and I still have not dented the rim or taken the wheel significantly out of true. There is a slight wobble / hop in the rear wheel and a couple spokes with slightly less tension than the surrounding ones on both wheels, but it isn't anything the write home about.

I hit the rim a solid handful of times, and to my amazement I still have not flatted. I've been running moderately wide Continental tires with the Protection Casing the whole time which are pretty flat resistant. On a couple separate occasions I heard both of the rims de-tension on a harder hit but they always came back. Overall, I am amazed and pleasantly surprised at the durability of the rim and its material.

Things That Could Be Improved

There is not much I would change about these wheels. Finding replacement straight pull spokes may be harder than the standard J-bend spokes, but, given the fact that they're made by one of the most popular spoke companies, their likely relatively easier those for any of the other proprietary or prebuilt wheels.

What's The Bottom Line?

In my opinion, DT Swiss hit a home run with the XM1501 Spline ONE wheels. They are light, durable, the width is generous for trail use, and they have great engagement with the upgraded Ratchet Freewheel System. They also bring a few new technologies to the table that actually seem very worthwhile, like the Squorx nipple design. If you cannot afford the upgrade to carbon hoops, the Spline ONE lineup should be high on your list of alternatives.

For more details, visit www.dtswiss.com.


About The Reviewer

Joe Schneider grew up in Durango, Colorado. Beginning in 2002, at the age of 13, he started riding mountain bikes and racing in the local race series. One thing led to another and he eventually made it into the mid-ranks of the pro cross-country field. Collegiate racing shed light on technical riding and he began to pursue longer travel bikes and most recently dirt bikes. He enjoys smashing through rocks or getting loose on flowy singletrack. Ultimately the alpine shuttle is his favorite, with a couple thousand feet of climbing and two or three times that in descending. He is currently a Mechanical Engineer who designs tools to blow things up. He loves to ride snowmobiles, motos, and mountain bikes whenever possible with his lady and many good friends. As a practiced mechanic, he enjoys spending the remainder of his free time fixing and maintaining all of his rides.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Mavic Alpine XL Clipless Shoe 7/4/2013 8:50 PM
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Tested: Mavic Alpine XL Clipless Shoes

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Joe Schneider

Mavic’s trail-focused mountain bike shoe, the Alpine XL, bridges the gap between their cross country line and the downhill shoes on the market by combining some interesting features from both heritages. We put it to the test to see what that mix translates to in actual on-the-trail performance.

Alpine XL Shoe Highlights

  • Contagrip Rubber Sole
  • XL Vent Tongue
  • Quick Lace system
  • Ergo Fit OrthoLite Insoles
  • Lace cover
  • Synthetic and mesh upper materials
  • EVA midsole
  • Mid ankle protection with perforated neoprene
  • Toe and heel protection
  • Higher volume fit
  • Sizes 3.5-13 US
  • Weight: 410 grams
  • MSRP $130

Initial Impressions

When I lifted the Alpine XL shoes out of their box, I was surprised by how light they were, how thin the material was and by the flexibility of the sole. They were much less bulky than what I had expected.

When I first put them on they felt good, the padding in the back cupped the heel of my foot nicely and the neoprene cuff was not too tight. The length was slightly on the shorter side of all the other brand size 44 EUR shoes I have previously owned, but they did feel the same length as my other pair of Mavic shoes. Although they were slightly short, the little bit of extra room in the toe box made this acceptable. For your reference as you're reading this, my foot is low volume and my instep is not very tall. I have a medium arch and medium width feet.

On The Trail

Some of my initial impressions were confirmed once I got on the bike. I was really satisfied with the weight and the fit. The length was fine and the insoles were comfortable and supportive in the right places. The padding that cups the heel wraps around both sides of the ankle. This provides nice support but I did notice some marks on the side of the shoe from the crank arm rubbing. The neoprene cuff found on the top of the shoe did a good job of keeping debris out, which kept the ride more comfortable and my socks a bit cleaner.

The material on either side of the shoe is a pattern of synthetic leather and mesh which helps keep the temperature in check. In contrast, the top of the toe is solid material and not mesh, more like a DH shoe - which in turn helps keep water out and provides a nice wind block on cold rides. The guard which wraps the front of the toe sort of resembles a truck bed spray on liner. It will help keep the shoe from being damaged but only provides light impact protection because it is very flexible.

The sole has enough flex that it is nice for walking or hiking, whether on the trail or grabbing a bite to eat. I did not notice the flex in the sole while pedaling or riding, so I decided it was not a bad characteristic. The tread is a hybrid of an XC style along the cleat but with good coverage all around - additionally the knobs are made from a rubber compound that will actually grip rocks and dirt. Overall I was very impressed with the function of the shoe and the unique features like the neoprene cuff.

Things That Could Be Improved

I was very excited about these shoes but was quickly disappointed by the lacing setup. The quick lace system extends from the toe to the ankle. It has a metal eyelet on either side, very high up on the ankle, actually above the strap. For my foot, with its squat profile, I could not get the quick lace to distribute the pressure where needed. It was very tight around my ankle and very loose along the whole length of my foot. It also caused the metal eyelets to severely dig into my ankles, even if there was hardly any tension at all in the laces. The strap was completely useless because it only added further pressure to the one area the laces were already digging into.

I decided to fix the problem. I cut the laces and unthreaded them from the top two sets of eyelets, the metal ones and the ones directly under the strap. I put the keeper back on and tied the laces back together. Now, the laces tighten my foot as securely as I need and the strap holds my ankle exactly where I want it. There are no longer any bad pressure points from the metal eyelets. The transition in feel is seamless between the laced up area and the strap. Additionally, the laces now fold up nicely under the lace cover instead of the in the pocket in the tongue, which I find more convenient anyway. Changing the lacing took these shoes from the most uncomfortable pair I have ever had to my favorite pair of mountain bike shoes. Some people with a higher volume foot may not have this issue but this is my fix for those who don’t.

Long Term Durability

There is a lot of stitching and bonding between all the different materials, patterns and the sole. I feel like those places are more prone to failure, especially where the sole meets the side at the ball of the foot. Too much walking could cause the sole to separate at the ball of the foot and may also cause the already flexible sole to break down too much and become too soft for riding. However, the overall quality seems high and these issues should only occur towards the end of the shoe's life, if at all.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Alpine XL is great for all around riding. They are perfect shoes for epic rides and completely race capable for all day events. By combining many bike shoe characteristics Mavic produced a comfortable and functional shoe with rather unique styling as well as innovative and valuable features. The quirky lacing system doesn't work for every foot, but the fact that any issues can be easily fixed means these shoes can be considered by a majority of riders.

For more info, cruise over to www.mavic.com.


About The Reviewer

Joe Schneider grew up in Durango, Colorado. Beginning in 2002, at the age of 13, he started riding mountain bikes and racing in the local race series. One thing led to another and he eventually made it into the mid-ranks of the pro cross-country field. Collegiate racing shed light on technical riding and he began to pursue longer travel bikes and most recently dirt bikes. He enjoys smashing through rocks or getting loose on flowy singletrack. Ultimately the alpine shuttle is his favorite, with a couple thousand feet of climbing and two or three times that in descending. He is currently a Mechanical Engineer who designs tools to blow things up. He loves to ride snowmobiles, motos, and mountain bikes whenever possible with his lady and many good friends. As a practiced mechanic, he enjoys spending the remainder of his free time fixing and maintaining all of his rides.

This product has 3 reviews

Liked a comment on the item Tested: Troy Lee Designs Ace Shorts 6/20/2013 9:52 PM

Wow your right groghunter they do look alike. If your referring to the fact that they are both shorts...

Added a comment about product review Tested: Troy Lee Designs Ace Shorts 6/20/2013 9:52 PM
C50_ska_zia_pic_2.5

Laying flat on the floor they measure 10.75 across. They are good with knee pads, although you might want to run a lower profile set.

This product_review has 5 comments.

Added a product review for Troy Lee Designs Ace Shorts 5/29/2013 5:46 PM
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Tested: Troy Lee Designs Ace Shorts

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Joe Schneider // Action photos by Shawn Spomer and Brandon Turman

As trail bikes become more popular, many people from all sides of the sport are upgrading their daily ride to one of these pedal friendly, downhill capable machines. Troy Lee Designs answered the calling from these people who want that classic TLD style in a pedal-able package with the Ace Shorts.

Ace Short Highlights

  • 90% Polyester, 10% Spandex material
  • Full waist and hip height adjustment using TPR adjusters
  • Pedal friendly inner side pockets with revered zippers
  • Permanent crotch ventilation via welded intake and exit vents (small round holes along inner thigh)
  • Reflective TLD logos
  • Additional thigh ventilation zippers
  • Removable inner short chamois
  • Padded rear zip pocket fits mobile phones or GPS
  • MSRP $129

Initial Impressions

I was pleased with what I saw when I pulled the wrapping off these shorts. I tested a black pair with a fist sized TLD logo on the outside of each leg. The lines formed by the zippers complement the logos nicely and create a sleek looking outer garment to rock with any jersey. The leg length is appropriate - longer than standard “xc baggies” but not too long. They are about an inch shorter than the TLD Ruckus shorts, for reference. As for the material, it is light, flexible, and stylish looking. The logo is screened on rather than being a bulky stitched on patch, so it doesn't add any weight, stiff areas, or places for the material to prematurely fail. Overall the shorts looked great and set my expectations high.

On The Trail

I usually wear shorts with a 31-inch waist, but given the even-only-sizing offered by TLD, I chose the size 32-inch shorts as my next best option. They fit really well. I was nicely in the middle of the adjustment range on the TPR waist adjusters, which pulled evenly, creating a consistent, comfortable feel all around my waist.

One of the things that impressed me most while riding was the function of the chamois. The last two inches of the chamois leg is a folded lycra band stitched to the mesh body and does not have a rubber gripper on the inside. Being only lycra, it is easy on hairy legs and does not cut off circulation like a traditional elastic gripper leg band can. The legs are not overly tight but stay in place, making them comfortable and functional. The chamois pad is just thick enough and the stitching is distanced from the thicker, padded area so it's away from places were chafing often happens. I expected some chafing in the beginning but never once had a problem, even on all day rides. I have had several pairs of bibs which are less comfortable in every aspect.

The shorts never felt bulky or in the way while pedaling, and the material seemed to breath pretty well - both key to good pair of trail riding shorts.

Things That Could Be Improved

The side pockets are great and essential, but I feel that on a pedaling oriented short they are too loose. The contents in your pockets slap your legs, which can be annoying and a waste of energy on long rides, especially while seated with a decent cadence. They aren't the best for heavy small items like multi-tools, but are suitable for bigger lighter things like Honey Stinger Waffles or Shot Blocks. Although things could move around in the pockets, the bottom of the pocket is stitched to the leg keeping everything in pretty close. The padded pocket is nice for added protection, but the padding won’t prevent your phone from being smashed in a crash, and the down side of the extra layers is that they add up in that area, making the shorts hotter than they could be.

Long Term Durability

Durability wise, I never sustained any damage from riding through branches or bushes. The zippers always functioned well and I was never let down by these shorts. The shorts themselves held up great during testing and don’t seem to have any particular weak areas. They should wear out evenly and last easily for a few seasons.

What's The Bottom Line?

Light enough to pedal, flexible and stretchy enough to fit well, stylish enough to kick it afterward and comfortable enough to wear all day, TLD did a great job on the Ace Shorts. The function oriented pedaler will be satisfied with this purchase.

Cruise over to www.troyleedesigns.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Joe Schneider grew up in Durango, Colorado. Beginning in 2002, at the age of 13, he started riding mountain bikes and racing in the local race series. One thing led to another and he eventually made it into the mid-ranks of the pro cross-country field. Collegiate racing shed light on technical riding and he began to pursue longer travel bikes and most recently dirt bikes. He enjoys smashing through rocks or getting loose on flowy singletrack. Ultimately the alpine shuttle is his favorite, with a couple thousand feet of climbing and two or three times that in descending. He is currently a Mechanical Engineer who designs tools to blow things up. He loves to ride snowmobiles, motos, and mountain bikes whenever possible with his lady and many good friends. As a practiced mechanic, he enjoys spending the remainder of his free time fixing and maintaining all of his rides.

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Liked a comment on the item 2013 Test Sessions: Ibis Mojo SL-R 5/8/2013 9:37 PM

fair enough, though i do think they need to do more testing if the bike seemingly can't handle a few high impact loads.

Added a comment about feature Meet the Testers from 2013 Vital MTB Test Sessions 4/22/2013 8:58 PM
C50_ska_zia_pic_2.5

The ones I had the most fun on were Grafton Mesa and Nephi's Twist. Girl Scout was pretty enjoyable too.

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