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Added a product review for Gravity Gradient MegaEvo Carbon Crank 5/24/2015 12:02 AM
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Tested: Gravity MegaEvo Carbon Cranks

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Gravity have jumped in and joined a small, but growing niche of manufacturers willing to put carbon cranks on the line, and not just in a cross country package either. No, they've gone all in and vested themselves with a full carbon, hollow crank aimed at gravity riders, but not so much downhillers (unless you're downhill bike runs a 73mm bb).

Did they do a good job, and will they stand the test of time? We've been beating on a set for some time in an effort to answer these questions and more.

Features

  • Hollow Carbon composite arms with UD finish
  • Low speed extruded AL7050 30mm spindle
  • Removable inner chainring spacer
  • Alloy chainring bolts
  • Optional light weight polycarbonate bash ring
  • Protective Spider Tab (s.t.c.) for use when running as a double
  • Removable crank arm endcap protective covers
  • To fit 68mm or 73mm BB Shells
  • Length ‐ 165mm, 170mm, 175mm
  • BCD ‐ 104/64mm
  • PC/32/22, PC/36/24, 44/32/22 and single versions
  • 32T, 34T, 36T, 38T, 40T, 42T
  • Weight - 598g
  • MSRP: $499 US

Initial Impressions

The finish on the Gravity MegaEvo Carbon cranks is primo, complete with visuals of the composite layup thanks to a clear coat, rather than sanding and masking up the construction. Some enjoy this look, others not so much, but personally, we think they look tight. The spider is also constructed of carbon and is moulded into the arms of the cranks, forming a large, uniform piece on the drive side crank arm.

The spindle is of the 30mm variety and forms a solid bond with the non-drive side crank, which is where all the securing takes place. This results in a crank that is relatively painless to setup alignments with guides and so on. The use of the sometimes dreaded wave washer on the non-drive side helps secure the cranks in place and prevent them from loosening off while riding.


Setting them up was very straightforward and everything went together smoothly. A 10mm allen-key tightens everything down and the use of a cap over the ends of the spider result in a very clean looking interface for the chainring bolts and the cranks. Included are a set of crank arm boots, to help alleviate beating the ends of the cranks to death on rock, or any other terrain obstacles while hacking up a storm.


On The Trail

Hitting the trail the cranks stiff construction was noticeable, with great response through the rear wheel when putting the hammer down and pushing into the bike while attempting to snap out of corners. We tested them in a 170mm length, single ring configuration and despite having little interest in dual ring setups, were impressed with the way in which the crank is compatible for it.

Within the first couple of rides the lack of a narrow/wide chainring rang clear, the first of which left us with the dreaded jam up between the upper guide and crank/chainring interface. After a little cussing and dirty hands, we were back on the trail, though it wasn't long before we dropped another. Lesson learned—traditional full guide for a regular chainring, no matter how well you think your drivetrain is running.


Once we swapped out the supplied chainring with a OneUp Narrow Wide there were zero issues for the rest of the review. The cranks show little sign of wear, despite some serious abuse including non-stop days in the Whistler Bike Park. The supplied crank boots did a killer job, taking the brunt of a number of miss timed pedals resulting in horrible meetings between the bike and terra-firma, and show signs of this abuse. At one such point we almost lost a booty, with the upper portion around the peddle insert, stretched, but hanging on for dear life as the ground attempted to rip the rest of the boot from the crank, though with no such luck.

The shape of the crank worked well for us, remaining out of the way of the shoe, no matter how crossed up on the pedals we got while contorting to dodge trees and get back on line. We've had issues with wearing away at the outboard surface on many a crank in little time, and despite using no clear tape to preserve the Gravity MegaEvo they display little sign of wear to the crank arms after months of abuse.


Things that could be Improved

While the Gravity MegaEvo carbon has been a sturdy performer, there are a number of things that we would like to see amended. Supplying an all-mountain crank in a single ring configuration with a narrow/wide chainring should be a no brainer with todays market. Despite this, the set we received came with a regular chainring which resulted in swapping it out early on due to lack of reliability without a full chainguide.

We also think that despite an appreciation for the craftsmanship and carbon construction of the spider, it creates limitations in a newly progressing 1-by world. That said, a smaller BCD, which may not be feasible within the construction restraints of this system, or a direct mount ring similar to that of other manufacturers, would be a great call and broaden their market, opening the use of this crank to a range of people that run a smaller front chainring.

Long Term Functionality

As far as the construction of the cranks goes, we've seen little in the way of problems during our test period. We've given them a good couple of hits into the ground and at angles similar to those that were issues for other carbon cranks in their early days. For the beating we've given these, they actually still look pretty baller and minus some dirt and scuffs to the crank boots, which is what they're for, really look like they just been thrown on the bike.

We were a little concerned with the addition of parts for the chainring bolts that it would just wind up being a purely aesthetic contribution and actually result in another area for noise to begin to generate from. Fortunately we've experienced no such problems in this department, despite lots of moist, followed by boned dry riding and plenty of grit—conditions that commonly result in us experiencing all sorts of noises from the bike.


Whats The Bottom Line

Gravity have arrived in the carbon crank game in style. They've produced a tidy package and one that has run trouble free for the duration of our testing—no creaks, squeaks or issues of any sort. Their pricing is competitive, though we feel the MegaEvo would offer greater value if it included a narrow/wide chainring for those not keen on running a full guide on their trail bikes.

If looking for a lightweight crankset that includes some unique features and construction, while getting on with the job at hand, then the MegaEvo Carbon is definitely worth a look.

For more on the Gravity MegaEvo carbon cranks, visit http://ridegravity.com/

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Added a new video Kali Maya GoPro Mount Test 5/4/2015 12:29 AM
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Added a product review for Kali Protectives Maya Helmet 5/3/2015 7:58 PM
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Tested: Kali Protectives Maya Helmet

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review and photos by AJ Barlas

Mountain bike helmets have evolved very quickly in recent years, with extended coverage and improved impact technologies at the forefront of the improvements. These updates have provided the all-around rider with helmets that not only do a great job of keeping us safe, but look good while doing it.

Though their staff has loads of prior experience, Kali Protectives are still a relatively new brand within the bicycle industry. This youthfulness shines through in their products and the brand's ability to come forward with designs that think a little outside the box and a focus on the everyday rider. Their latest foray brings us the Maya - a mountain biker's helmet designed with the utmost safety in mind, but for a price that puts them at a competitive advantage.

Can a helmet provide the same coverage, aggressive looks and safety ratings as the competition, yet perhaps go one step further by offering it all in a great value package? We've been riding in the Maya for a couple of months in an effort to find the answers to these questions and more.

Highlights

  • 12 vents, with internal channeling to aid with airflow across the head
  • Adjustable, flexible and break resistant visor
  • Antimicrobial liner with integrated bug liner
  • Composite Fusion Plus technology with the lowest density EPS foam Kali has ever used
  • Integrated camera/light mount on top of visor
  • Adjustable Dual Closure system
  • Certified to EN 1078, CPSC
  • Colors: Matte Black, EnduroBro Blue, and White/Black Duo
  • Size: S/M and L/XL
  • MSRP: $99 US

Initial Impressions

We tested a few pre-production Maya helmets during Vital MTB Test Sessions, and while the updates made since those earlier versions have been minimal, they have been for the better. The finished product comes across in a refined package, and initial impressions are good. The helmet fits close to the head, is comparable in weight to other helmet leaders in this genre (a claimed 350 grams), and most importantly is comfortable.

Adjusting the lid to fit is simple. Making it tighter the "pinch and press" mechanism is straightforward, but if you want to loosen it a little it can be more troubling than other dial-style systems.The Maya also includes an integrated mesh panel through the roof of the helmet, which prevents insects and debris from getting caught up in your hair or on your scalp - an interesting addition.

At the rear of the visor you'll find an integrated GoPro/light mount. Included are a number of attachments to change between the two, and the mounts are designed to break away in the event of a crash, preventing any unwanted additional forces going through your head or neck. This breakaway technology first appeared on another Kali helmet, the Amara, back in 2011 and they continue to use it in their mounts today.

On The Trail

We're fans of helmets that don't look like big bowling balls on top of your noggin, and the Maya does a great job of keeping a small profile while still offering great protection. The close fit is a result of Kali's effort to create a helmet that passes CPSC standards without containing excessive mass to do so. Kali firmly believe that a heavier/bulkier helmet creates more dangers, especially concerning rotational forces in a crash.

Kali's solution was to work on the foam structure of the helmet, and the Maya includes the lowest density foam they have ever used, strategically integrated with higher density foams. The cone shapes help dissipate forces in an accident, progressively downgrading impact energy. Fortunately we haven't needed to put this to the test, and will take the expert's word for that one.

The close fit is very comfortable with sufficient padding. It is a little warmer than similar helmets from other brands, however. We haven't had the warmest of weather here in the PNW during testing, and it's fine on the cooler days, but the warmer ones left us with more discomfort than we're used to in this regard. There are fewer vents in the Maya than some (a total of 12, with most of these at the back), and the placement of these are no doubt a contributing factor to the lower airflow as well. There are no vents on the sides, though this does add to the helmet's coverage and protection.

The helmet remains stable on your head when bombing down trails, and stays comfortable despite the older adjustment mechanism. The only time we had any discomfort or issues with the helmet's stability was when testing it with a GoPro on the integrated accessory mount.

The position of this mount can create unwanted pressure at the front of the helmet, and as a result it tends to shift forward while descending. In an effort to prevent the unwanted movement, we tightened the adjuster on the rear of the helmet, but to no avail. Even with the adjuster uncomfortably tight around the head the helmet would still gradually rotate forward. While the integrated accessory mount is a great idea, positioning the mount further backward would be helpful. On short 2-3 minute runs we had fairly substantial changes in the helmet's fore and aft position.


Before testing with the camera mounted, we were interested in whether the visor itself would move, given that the mounts don't lock it down completely. It never did move, with or without a camera mounted, but it does move up/down relatively easily when grabbing the visor and pulling or pushing on it. The visor is also flexible in an effort to prevent it from breaking in a crash or adding to potential injuries, but solid enough that it never caused any issues while riding. Our only concern with the visor is that it is a little long, sometimes getting in our field of view when descending the steeps.

Long Term Durability

We've had little in the way of durability issues with the Maya during two months of testing. The helmet is very well made, with the straps and adjusters remaining where we initially positioned them for the duration of testing. Simply slap it on and ride!

What's The Bottom Line?

The Kali Protectives Maya helmet offers a ton of protection and technology in a light, slim fitting package. It is comfortable, has a unique look with aggressive styling, and comes at a great value that really sets it apart from the competition. The adjustment mechanism, accessory mount position, and ventilation could be improved, but would no doubt cost more and wind up raising the price for the consumer. For the $99 US price tag, the Maya packs a whole lot of punch in a very competitive niche, complete with several innovative safety technologies that pass all the relevant standards. We really value Kali's consideration for non-standard crash scenarios, too.

For more on the Kali Maya, visit www.kaliprotectives.com. It is available at local bike shops in North America, Europe, and select areas of Asia.


About The Reviewer

AJ Barlas started riding as most do, bashing about dirt mounds and popping off street curbs. Not much has changed, really. These days the dirt mounds have become mountains and the street curbs, while still getting sessioned, are more often features on the trail. He began as a shop monkey racing downhill since day zero, only to go 'backwards' and start riding and racing BMX later on. He then came full circle once moving to Whistler. AJ loves riding everything from eight hour mountain pass epics (bonking) to lap after lap in the park and 20 minute pumptrack sessions at sunset. Driven by his passion for biking and exposing people to the great equipment we ride, AJ started and maintains the Straightshot MTB blog. So long as wheels are involved, and preferably dirt (the drier and dustier the better), life is good.

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Holy crap, the ladies finals we're close!

Added a comment about news blog QUALIFYING RESULTS, Port Angeles ProGRT / NW Cup 4/26/2015 11:28 AM
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Yeah Connaa!

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Who the fuck is Charlie Sponsel?

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Anyone know if there is some sort of loose schedule available for these! Froth'n to shoot one of these crazy events.

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Black is the new black

Liked a comment on the item ENVE HDH High-Rise DH Bar 4/17/2015 4:55 PM

Nice.
But the real question is why are XL bikes now getting HT less than 6". Literally you cannot find a XL with a decent size HT forcing tall guys to use lame hi riser bars and mega spacers.

Added a comment about feature First Look: 2016 Intense M16 Downhill Bike - The Next Gen of M 4/15/2015 1:28 PM
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Does anyone have any info on what happened to the hydroform tubing of the past? Was it changed from a functionality point of view; ie, weight savings, trouble with alignment etc. or was it a manufacturer issue, as in a lack of qualified people for that process? Would be interesting to know and no doubt it has been discussed at some point in the past.

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Liked a comment on the item First Look: 2016 Intense M16 Downhill Bike - The Next Gen of M 4/15/2015 12:09 PM

No disrespect to Intense and their racing history, but I have a hard time seeing why someone would choose this instead of a V10. Even the C version of the V10 frame is going to be significantly lighter and frankly looks a lot more polished. I appreciate keeping production in...more

Added a comment about feature First Look: 2016 Intense M16 Downhill Bike - The Next Gen of M 4/15/2015 12:09 PM
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Have to agree. Intense is such a rad company that do so much really well, but this, at least from a purely finished product appearance pov, falls short of the competition (whether V10, or other alloy bikes). The finish is very utilitarian, and while many like that (myself included, normally), it doesn't look like the Ferrari of DH of Intense's past. That weight too! That's around what my old Cove Shocker from 5+years ago weighed… #morerefinement Besides that it no doubt smashes lines though!

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Hahaha! ^^ You know it will be worth the wait.

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Didn't work so well for Neko

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I don't know how Blenki avoided disaster 2x's in a split second. Skills.

Liked a comment on the item Vital RAW - Lourdes World Cup Gnar 2 4/11/2015 2:29 PM

I don't know how Blenki avoided disaster 2x's in a split second. Skills.

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So shitty to hear. Hopefully he feels like he can smash it tomorrow. Any news on how/when?