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Added a product review for Reynolds Black Label 27.5 AM Wheels 9/20/2014 8:51 AM
C138_reynolds_black_label_27.5_am_wheels

Tested: Reynolds Black Label 27.5AM Wheelset

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

Reynolds has been around in the wheel game for some time, and with the recent release of the premium Black Label wheelsets, they bring their MR5 carbon rims paired with quality hubs and spokes to the market to offer a family of very high level wheelset builds. Available in 4 different models, 27.5" AM, 27.5" XC, 29" XC and 29" Trail, each Black Label offering has been specifically designed with a unique rim profile and carbon layup to cater to each intended use. We hit the trails with the 27.5" AM version to see what $2400 worth of wheels will get you these days.

Black Label 27.5 AM Wheel Spec Highlights

• MR5 Carbon rims
• Width: 31mm outside, 23mm inside
• Hubs: DT Swiss 240s straight-pull type
• Spokes: DT Swiss Aerolite, black aluminum nipples
• Centerlock brake rotor interface.
• 15mm through axle (F), 142mm X 12mm through axle (R), optional endcaps available.
• Shipped with tubeless tape and valve stem pre-installed.
• Weight: 1528/pair, 710g (F), 818g (R)
• MSRP: $2400 USD

Initial Impressions

After unboxing the wheels and giving them a once over, the Black Labels definitely live up to their name. This wheelset is fully murdered out. Sporting custom matte black DT Swiss/Black Label hub decals and black-on-black rim decals, the Black Label theme is played out well in all aspects of the wheel. The wheels felt light, well put together and ready for action.

A few things caught my attention during the initial inspection, the first of which were the bladed spokes. These are a bit of a rarity on mountain bike wheelsets and a well-debated topic of "are they better, stiffer, etc". I felt it only right to leave the speculation behind and see how they performed on the trail. The next was the rim/tire interface. These rims feature a pretty aggressive inward hook on the profile, and although the industry is moving more and more towards hookless designs these days I again felt that this was something to reserve judgment on until after some trail time with the wheels.

The DT Swiss 240s straight pull hubs feature the Shimano Centerlock brake interface, which provides for easy brake rotor removal and installation for travel and maintenance (there are adapters available should you need to or prefer to run a standard 6-bolt rotor).

The hubs were delivered with the standard 18 tooth star ratchet installed. I would have preferred to see a more precise hub offering on such a high-end build, especially since there is a 36 tooth star ratchet star available from DT Swiss. The hubs come with a standard Shimano freehub body while aftermarket 11-speed XD drivers are available directly from DT Swiss.

On the plus side, I was happy to see Reynolds deliver the wheels tubeless ready with pre-installed rim tape and air valves for those opting to run tubeless. Less time setting up = more time riding!

One last observation: the Reynolds Assurance Program (RAP) offers riders a no-questions asked wheel replacement coverage plan for an additional $250 (at time of purchase), which provides for one time per wheel repair or replacement during two years if you get a little too rowdy on the trail. And on that topic, time to saddle up...

On The Trail

I mounted a set of Maxxis 2.3 High Roller IIs with a tubeless set-up. The tires went on fairly easily without resorting to levers and they sealed right up with no issues. After fighting with various tubeless configurations in the past, this came as an enjoyable and refreshingly headache-free surprise.

During the first ride, it was immediately noticeable that these are very stiff wheels. I had just taken off my ENVE M70 wheelset with 2.4 HRIIs which provided me with an interesting opportunity to compare these two high end products. With very firm lateral stiffness exhibited in corners, through rocky sections and over off camber lines, the Black Labels wheels are anything but a noodly pair of hoops.

After some direct lap by lap comparisons at Highland MTB Park, the Black Labels proved that this is a strong wheelset that was designed to be pushed when things get rough. No flex in corners was detected and handling was razor precise as I was spit out of Highlands many huge gravity sucking berms – if you point it there, then that's where you're going. In terms of what these wheels can handle, they have proven themselves capable of withstanding a true “all mountain” beating. I usually run about 31 psi in the rear and 29 in the front and have had no issues with burping. The tires have stayed flawlessly seated on the rim despite a few sideways landings and harsh corners.

After a few rides, I decided to install a 36-tooth star ratchet to get a bit more precision out of the rear hub. The faster engagement instantly made things feel better, with the hub now up to the premium level that this wheelset aims to be at. Good riddance to 18-tooth star ratchets.

When cruising along on the trail, the freehub ratcheting does not reverberate through the wheel quite as much as on the M70s. These wheels have less of a “hollow” sound and feel more dense and damped when riding, so to speak. The smaller cross section of the rim (which means less hollow interior volume) could have something to do with this - it's not a bad or good thing, just an interesting note.

Things That Could Be Improved

The 18-tooth star ratchet feels like a big cut corner in regards to the overall performance of this wheelset. When you pay this kind of money for a premium pair of wheels, the sloppy 20 degree engagement feels cheap. The remedy takes only a few minutes with the simple installation of a new 36 tooth star ratchet, but it will also set you back an additional $100 in aftermarket parts.

With23mm of internal width, these rims come in a little on the narrow side compared to today’s increasingly wider standard. While my 2.3 HRII tires paired up with the Black Labels nicely, a slightly wider 2.4 might be better off mated to a wider rim.

The topic of high-priced carbon wheelsets has been debated to exhaustion these days across bike forums. When it comes to shaving off precious grams and squeezing that last extra little bit of performance out of a wheelset, the price tag jumps exponentially, which does cut off a lot of riders. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to determine the true value of these wheels, but regardless of your tax bracket, these are going to sting a bit.

Long Term Durability

I tend to try and take smoother lines and stay light on my feet through rocks when I can, so I have a fairly good track record of keeping wheels in one piece. So far, the Black Label wheels have held up despite riding a lot of rocky East Coast terrain where bad line choice bites you in a hurry. After hundreds of miles on the trails, no show-stopping damage has occurred. Rocks have left a few minor character marks on the outer layer of the carbon of the rims, but no structural damage has been noted. The wheels are still running true as ever and show no signs of needing attention anytime soon.

Owners that opted for the Reynold’s Assurance Program have the peace of mind of knowing that if they do destroy a wheel, they can get a one time free replacement. That peace of mind itself could easily be worth the extra $250 off the bat.

What's The Bottom Line?

Reynolds has stepped into the ring of high performance carbon wheelsets and come out swinging with their Black Label offering. This no compromise wheelset offers all-mountain strength and stiffness at XC weight and has proven to be a contender in this market. Aside from the 18 tooth star ratchet, these wheels leave little more to be asked for out of the box - but that should be expected in this price range where any flaws will definitely be reflected in the star rating. Ultimately, riders looking for that extra performance benefit that Reynolds has advertised in their Black Labels will not be disappointed with this solid set of modern day super wheels.

Visit www.reynoldscycling.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Fly Racing Ripa Convert Jersey 9/3/2014 11:52 AM
C138_fly_racing_ripa_convert_jersey_yellow_black

Tested: Fly Racing Super D Short and Ripa Convert Jersey

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

If you are into motocross, then you know Fly Racing is a staple on the apparel and gear front on the track. Fly has recently entered the MTB market, bringing their knowledge and experience to the pedal-heads, and they have brought a plethora of new products to the table, including the Super D shorts and Ripa Convert jersey put to the test here. How did they manage the crossover?

Ripa Convert Jersey Highlights

  • Convertible 3/4 sleeve arms w/ cut line under cuff
  • Mesh panels in the upper back and lower arms to help improve air flow
  • Drop tail for coverage and raglan sleeve cut for comfort while riding
  • Sublimated graphics
  • MSRP: $44.95 USD

Super D Short Highlights

  • Poly stretch construction, with reinforced 600d back panel for extra protection
  • Length cut for DH and All Mountain riding.
  • FLY RACING patented 2-D Buckle System, with TPR insert for waist adjustability
  • Quick snap front closure
  • Two zippered front hand pockets, one rear zippered pocket and one side leg pocket
  • Zipper pulls on front pockets for easy access
  • Internal loops for attaching liner/chamois (not supplied)
  • Belt loops
  • Screen printed graphics
  • MSRP: $99.95 USD

Initial Impressions

Our gear showed up in a loud black/hi-viz color combo, the kit looked fast already on the hangers. The initial test fit of the shorts and jersey showed them to be spot on. Using Fly's adjustable 2-D buckle system, I was able to dial in the perfect fit around the waist. The buckle system is located on the left hip, and has turned out to be a set and forget system - no Velcro to wear out, have come undone and leave you with annoyingly saggy shorts.

Fly has also added belt loops if you decide to hold up your shorts that way. The waist itself is secured with two large button snaps above the zippered fly that offer a very secure and snug closure. The overall cut of the short is on the slightly longer side, which sat well with me as I am taller and can use the slightly longer inseam when I can get it.

Using Poly stretch material, Fly has produced an extremely comfortable short that might be the best mix of breathability, lightness, and protection I have ever come across - thin and light enough for the hot trail rides and burly enough for the DH days. The material used for most areas of the short is slightly stretchy, and can be felt flexing when you need that extra movement. Four zippered pockets provide you with plenty of options for carrying items while riding and chilling, a nice option as I find myself leaving the riding pack in the truck more and more often these days.

The Ripa Convert jersey keeps things ventilated with a mesh panel in the upper part of the back. It is also designed with lower sleeves that can be cut off if desired to give a 3/4 sleeve option. I am a huge fan of 3/4 jerseys and after trying on the jersey on I immediately had plans to cut off the lower sleeve portion. There is a hemmed cuff located at the mid forearm that the additional mesh sleeve material attaches to and Fly even prints a "cut here line" to make it idiotproof. Cut it I did.

On The Trail

Just like in the livingroom, the Super D shorts and Ripa Convert jersey offered a great cut and fit while on the bike. After removing the lower forearm mesh material from the jersey (which looked and felt awkward right off the bat) the sleeves fall at a comfortable length on the forearm, offering some protection for the elbows if you go down. Sufficient room is also available in the sleeves if you opt to run elbow pads. The vented upper back panel breathes reasonably well, and it was pretty effective on rides without a pack or during DH laps.

The longer DH/all mountain fit of the short worked well while riding both with and without knee pads. Riders looking for a pair of shorts that fit above the knee caps should probably search elsewhere, but if you want that looser and longer fit, you are definitely in luck here. I never experienced any issues with rubbing/binding on the knees on any of my more pedally trail rides.

After owning a few shorts from other manufacturers that fell extremely short on pocket placement and design, I really appreciate the Super D's pocket layout. If you ride with a phone and/or multi-tool, the front two pockets are perfect locations for those items since they are fully zippered, large and located over a spot on the thigh that doesn't cause binding or smash the pocket's contents into your leg. The rear pocket is nice for your wallet if you are wearing the short during race registrations, travel to and from the trails and/or just chilling after riding.

Things That Could Be Improved

While Fly has included chamois attachment loops to integrate with their liner in the Super D short (who ever hooks in their chamois into their riding shorts anyway?), no liner is actually provided. It would be nice to have a pair included, as is often the case with shorts in this price category

The Ripa Convert's removable lower sleeve material seems like a needless option for a biking jersey. While there might be riders out there opting to keep the lower sleeve, the fit and cuff opening of the lower portion was quite large and awkward looking. No problem for me, a pair of scissors fixed this issue quickly and I was at 3/4 status and happy.

Long Term Durability

Both the Super D short and Ripa Convert jersey have been holding up just fine. After countless rides and wash cycles, they look no worse for wear and show no signs of giving up the ghost. All seams are intact and all zippers, buttons and pockets are as good as new. Unlike some other riding shorts I've owned, Fly's adjustable waist 2-D buckle continues to give me a good snug waist fit for the all the riding I can throw at them. This kit will be around for a while!

What's the Bottom Line?

Fly isn't just for the motocross track anymore. Applying their many years of experience of making gear for the moto crowd, us mountain bikers can now reap the benefits of well designed and thought out product on the singletrack. The Super D short and Ripa Convert jersey is now one of my favorite and most comfortable riding outfits. If you are in the market for fresh looking kit that performs and holds up to seasons of riding, give it a look too!

For more information head on over to www.flyracing.com.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Fly Racing Super D Short 9/3/2014 11:49 AM
C138_fly_racing_super_d_short_black_grey

Tested: Fly Racing Super D Short and Ripa Convert Jersey

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

If you are into motocross, then you know Fly Racing is a staple on the apparel and gear front on the track. Fly has recently entered the MTB market, bringing their knowledge and experience to the pedal-heads, and they have brought a plethora of new products to the table, including the Super D shorts and Ripa Convert jersey put to the test here. How did they manage the crossover?

Ripa Convert Jersey Highlights

  • Convertible 3/4 sleeve arms w/ cut line under cuff
  • Mesh panels in the upper back and lower arms to help improve air flow
  • Drop tail for coverage and raglan sleeve cut for comfort while riding
  • Sublimated graphics
  • MSRP: $44.95 USD

Super D Short Highlights

  • Poly stretch construction, with reinforced 600d back panel for extra protection
  • Length cut for DH and All Mountain riding.
  • FLY RACING patented 2-D Buckle System, with TPR insert for waist adjustability
  • Quick snap front closure
  • Two zippered front hand pockets, one rear zippered pocket and one side leg pocket
  • Zipper pulls on front pockets for easy access
  • Internal loops for attaching liner/chamois (not supplied)
  • Belt loops
  • Screen printed graphics
  • MSRP: $99.95 USD

Initial Impressions

Our gear showed up in a loud black/hi-viz color combo, the kit looked fast already on the hangers. The initial test fit of the shorts and jersey showed them to be spot on. Using Fly's adjustable 2-D buckle system, I was able to dial in the perfect fit around the waist. The buckle system is located on the left hip, and has turned out to be a set and forget system - no Velcro to wear out, have come undone and leave you with annoyingly saggy shorts.

Fly has also added belt loops if you decide to hold up your shorts that way. The waist itself is secured with two large button snaps above the zippered fly that offer a very secure and snug closure. The overall cut of the short is on the slightly longer side, which sat well with me as I am taller and can use the slightly longer inseam when I can get it.

Using Poly stretch material, Fly has produced an extremely comfortable short that might be the best mix of breathability, lightness, and protection I have ever come across - thin and light enough for the hot trail rides and burly enough for the DH days. The material used for most areas of the short is slightly stretchy, and can be felt flexing when you need that extra movement. Four zippered pockets provide you with plenty of options for carrying items while riding and chilling, a nice option as I find myself leaving the riding pack in the truck more and more often these days.

The Ripa Convert jersey keeps things ventilated with a mesh panel in the upper part of the back. It is also designed with lower sleeves that can be cut off if desired to give a 3/4 sleeve option. I am a huge fan of 3/4 jerseys and after trying on the jersey on I immediately had plans to cut off the lower sleeve portion. There is a hemmed cuff located at the mid forearm that the additional mesh sleeve material attaches to and Fly even prints a "cut here line" to make it idiotproof. Cut it I did.

On The Trail

Just like in the livingroom, the Super D shorts and Ripa Convert jersey offered a great cut and fit while on the bike. After removing the lower forearm mesh material from the jersey (which looked and felt awkward right off the bat) the sleeves fall at a comfortable length on the forearm, offering some protection for the elbows if you go down. Sufficient room is also available in the sleeves if you opt to run elbow pads. The vented upper back panel breathes reasonably well, and it was pretty effective on rides without a pack or during DH laps.

The longer DH/all mountain fit of the short worked well while riding both with and without knee pads. Riders looking for a pair of shorts that fit above the knee caps should probably search elsewhere, but if you want that looser and longer fit, you are definitely in luck here. I never experienced any issues with rubbing/binding on the knees on any of my more pedally trail rides.

After owning a few shorts from other manufacturers that fell extremely short on pocket placement and design, I really appreciate the Super D's pocket layout. If you ride with a phone and/or multi-tool, the front two pockets are perfect locations for those items since they are fully zippered, large and located over a spot on the thigh that doesn't cause binding or smash the pocket's contents into your leg. The rear pocket is nice for your wallet if you are wearing the short during race registrations, travel to and from the trails and/or just chilling after riding.

Things That Could Be Improved

While Fly has included chamois attachment loops to integrate with their liner in the Super D short (who ever hooks in their chamois into their riding shorts anyway?), no liner is actually provided. It would be nice to have a pair included, as is often the case with shorts in this price category

The Ripa Convert's removable lower sleeve material seems like a needless option for a biking jersey. While there might be riders out there opting to keep the lower sleeve, the fit and cuff opening of the lower portion was quite large and awkward looking. No problem for me, a pair of scissors fixed this issue quickly and I was at 3/4 status and happy.

Long Term Durability

Both the Super D short and Ripa Convert jersey have been holding up just fine. After countless rides and wash cycles, they look no worse for wear and show no signs of giving up the ghost. All seams are intact and all zippers, buttons and pockets are as good as new. Unlike some other riding shorts I've owned, Fly's adjustable waist 2-D buckle continues to give me a good snug waist fit for the all the riding I can throw at them. This kit will be around for a while!

What's the Bottom Line?

Fly isn't just for the motocross track anymore. Applying their many years of experience of making gear for the moto crowd, us mountain bikers can now reap the benefits of well designed and thought out product on the singletrack. The Super D short and Ripa Convert jersey is now one of my favorite and most comfortable riding outfits. If you are in the market for fresh looking kit that performs and holds up to seasons of riding, give it a look too!

For more information head on over to www.flyracing.com.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Atlas Crank Carbon Neck Brace 8/30/2014 6:33 PM
C138_atlas_crank_carbon_brace.

Tested: Atlas Crank Carbon Neck Brace

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

No one wants to spend the rest of their life in a wheelchair. Unfortunately, we are in a sport that puts us in a higher risk bracket for spinal cord and neck injuries. Neck brace research will show you that in lab testing, the benefits of a neck brace are huge - whether you think that lab testing can directly apply to a real crash is for you to form your own opinion on. This doesn't mean we have to quit what we are doing, but thanks to a handful of innovative companies, we can help give ourselves that extra bit of insurance if something goes really wrong during a ride. The neck brace is becoming increasingly standard equipment over the past few years, and Atlas has just released their newest version - the Crank Carbon. Coming off a diet, this is Atlas' flagship, no holds barred, high end brace specifically aimed at MTB.

Atlas Crank Carbon Brace Highlights

  • Sizes: S (33"- 36", 84cm - 92 cm), M (37"- 41", 94cm - 104 cm), L (42"+, 106+ cm)
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs (635g)
  • Carbon Construction
  • Emergency Release System
  • Flexible “Leaf Spring” Style Suspension
  • Reversible Rear Mounts for Multiple Offsets to Adjust for Chest Size
  • Includes Optional Tall Shoulder Pads, Chest Strap, X-Straps, User Manual, and Hard Shell Carry Case
  • Warranty: Limited Lifetime Against Breakage for the Original Purchaser
  • MSRP: $529.99

Initial Impressions

Coming from years of riding with a Leatt Brace on the moto, I was excited to give the Atlas a try on the bike. I had ridden numerous times with the Leatt on my bicycle (To note: not using the DBX bike model, but with the standard moto version, with the rear of the brace lowered as much as possible). After dealing with limited head mobility and consistent helmet contact I decided to ride braceless because it just was too much of a constraint on my riding style.

As a high end brace, the Atlas certainly looks the part. Beautiful carbon fiber, anodized lightweight hardware and subtle graphics give this brace the factory rider touch. The brace comes in a nice pre-molded zipper carrying case. Kind of gimmicky at first, I found myself using the case more than I thought and I like it. A small pocket inside can hold your straps/mouthguard/etc during transport and helps keep everything together and protected. When you are done with the brace, the two rear support struts fold up under the brace chassis to allow for a lower profile for storage. This is very nice when packing bags for trips where space is limited.

Beyond aestheticsand features, the Atlas brace appears much slimmer and less bulky when compared to my Leatt - a visual queue that head mobility might be better with this product. I opted for the medium brace after measuring in the upper size range. I figured I didn't want to risk going too big and getting a sloppy fit. After test fitting the brace, I had to flip the reversible rear support mount to get a slightly larger fit for my chest. This helped the brace fit better. Using this adjustment, you have only two chest sizing options so you should take care when deciding on your brace size before buying. Additional collarbone pads are supplied with the brace for further brace height customization, although I have not had to use them.

The brace is put on by simply lowering it over your head onto your shoulders and chest. Once on, you can choose two methods to secure the brace - using the full chest strap or the dual elastic band X straps, both systems are included. More on that later. The front chest pads are mounted on pivots, and this will let you dial in the perfect angle for contact with your chest.

In a post crash brace removal scenario, Atlas designed a quick release Emergency Removal System which utilizes a small lever to split the brace at the sternum for safe and easy removal by medical personnel.

On The Trail

For the first ride, I opted to run the full chest strap to secure the brace. After a few runs, it was very noticeable that this brace was not hindering my mobility as much as past braces have. It seems to sit lower on my shoulders giving me more freedom of movement than my Leatt. The brace also proved to be comfortable all day long with evenly distributed pressure across the chest. Contact with the bottom of the helmet is part of the brace game (as this is the main purpose of the design during neck hyper-flexion) but no excessive contact occurred until the terrain got steep and rough. I could then occasionally start to feel the back of the helmet press against the rear of the brace. This doesn't negatively affect the ride, but it is something you need to get used to when riding with a brace. The split design of this particular brace allows it to flex when in action which makes it comfortable and more adaptable to your body movements.

Another option for securing the Atlas brace is by means of dual elastic band X straps that are included with the brace. These are worn under the jersey and attach to the small hooks on top of the collarbone area. I wanted to prefer this method as it offers the cleanest looking fit of the brace, all while under your jersey - I just don't think it offers the security and snug, held down feeling that the full chest strap provides. With the elastic bands, the brace seemed to float off the shoulders more while jumping and blitzing the rough stuff. After each run I was continuously re-adjusting the elastic straps like a fidgety girl in a training bra. Not what I want to be doing in the lift line every run.

Fortunately, I haven't tested the brace in a crash so I can't speak to its ultimate design success. The brace feels like it has a good mix of emergency neck support and neck mobility that will allow you to normally twist, turn and position your head and neck without having to move around like Joey-no-neck at your local gym.

Things That Could Be Improved

Limited adjustment on sizing for each chassis can see the rider stuck with a brace that may not fit perfectly. With only two size adjustments for each brace size (S, M, L), you have limited options when it comes to this aspect. Measure carefully before purchasing.The high cost of this top tier brace might also catch some riders off-guard, and rightfully so. At an MSRP of $529.99, the Crank Carbon is quite an investment. However, for the more budget-minded riders, Atlas also offers the standard, non-carbon Crank brace for $200 less.

A 0.2 lb weight saving on this carbon model over the base model might make the weight savings vs. the money equation seem unbalanced, but when you start to stack up more and more gear on your body, everything adds up, especially around your neck. This is where every rider can make a decision - how serious they are about weight and performance. Again, this is a top of the line brace and it is ultimately left to the user to decide how much they are willing to spend.

Long Term Durability

The Crank Carbon has held up to the standard sweat, mud and general abuse a neck brace would see. We have found no issues to date that would affect the continued normal use of the brace.

What's The Bottom Line?

If you are a believer in the neck brace revolution, Atlas has come out swinging and upped the ante with their newest top-tier offering, the Crank Carbon. Offering a no-compromise material selection giving riders the option to spring for the lightest brace in the catalogue yet, the Crank Carbon is comfortable enough to be worn all day, and battle ready should you unfortunately need it.

For more information, head over to www.atlasbrace.com.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session were never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Five Ten Hellcat Shoe 8/11/2014 8:48 AM
C138_five_ten_hellcat_clipless_shoe_lime_punch

Tested: Five Ten Hellcat Clipless Shoe

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

All it takes is a quick look around today's World Cup races and you'll see Five Ten Hellcats strapped to some of your favorite rider's feet. Coming in hot with a new colorway, Lime Punch, we got the chance to run these tried and true clipless shoes ourselves and we wasted little time putting them through about as much abuse as we could muster up to see what they are made of. Answers below!

Five Ten Hellcat Highlights

  • Sole material: Stealth S1 rubber
  • Upper Material: Synthetic / Leather
  • Closure:Laces / Velcro
  • Pedal type: Clipless
  • Weight: (Size 9) 20.1 Oz/ 570g each
  • Available sizes (US): 6-12, 13, 14
  • MSRP: $130 USD

Initial Impressions

Being a huge Five Ten fan when it comes to flat pedals, I was excited to see how the Hellcats would perform. Coming off Shimano's DX shoes, I had no complaints with my set up, but I have always wanted to see how the Stealth rubber soles would feel in a clipless scenario. While I haven't officially weighed the Hellcats versus the DX's, they seemed very similar in weight using the trusty hand scale - something I was a little disappointed with since this seem to be fairly heavy for a shoe. There is a good reason for the weight though, full leather construction wraps the exterior of the shoe while Stealth rubber keeps things sticky on the bottom.

The general construction of the shoe is confidence-inspiring and it certainly doesn't seem likely to start falling apart anytime soon. The green lime punch colors are definitely flashy and match up well with today's fluorescent craze. Once laced up, the velcro strap not only acts as a "keeper" for your laces, but the added pressure keeps your foot more planted in the shoe.

On The Trail

I initially mounted up a set of Crank Brothers Mallet pedals and cleats. Using one spacer under the cleat, I got the set-up the way I wanted it and headed for the trails. After a few months on the Mallets, I switched to the VP Components VX Adventure pedals. Both these pedals functioned perfectly with the Hellcats.

The soles of the Hellcats offer good amount of support and flex under the foot both while riding and hiking. No hot spots developed under the foot while riding. The extra grip from the Stealth rubber was noticeable, especially when out of the clips and riding on the platform of the pedal, but it did not seem to interfere with the process of clipping in and out. Just like my other experiences with Five Tens, this is a shoe I could wear all day and stay comfortable.

The bottom tread pattern is a tight design that gives great traction both on the pedals and when hiking on rocks. On the flipside, the tight pattern does pick up and hold mud when conditions get sticky and it has trouble cleaning itself like more open designs can.

During wet rides, the shoes were not impervious to moisture. Very comparable to a standard leather skate shoe as far as water resistance goes, a few deep puddles or a ride in the rain saw wet socks - although my riding gear was often soaked by then too. The lace area on the top of the shoe is particularly exposed and creates an easy way in for water. After a soggy ride, the shoes would usually dry out overnight if placed indoors.

Things That Could Be Improved

While I feel that the shoe is a solid, robust design, it would be nice to see a weight reduction. Of course, this could eventually sacrifice the long term durability and protection that the Hellcats have exhibited so far, so this might be a design point that is hard to improve on.

The bottom of the sole did seem to lack in mud shedding capabilities as the small tread pattern easily picks up and traps stickier, wet soil. This doesn't affect the rideability too much, but it does drag a lot of mud and sand into the car and garage after muddy rides.

Long Term Durability

After hundreds of miles on the trails, bike park laps and plenty of hike-a-bike adventures, the Hellcats have stood up to all the mud bathing, toe smashing and pedal grinding I can throw at them. No blown stitches to report, and neither sole cracking nor glue separation has occurred.

Visually, the color has slightly faded to a more yellow hue, mostly around the toe area which has been heavily exposed to moisture, impact and general wear. As far as the dyed leather bits go, they still look decently fresh and stand out nicely.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Five Ten Hellcats have proven to be a tough, durable shoe that stands up to the abuse that DH and trail riding dishes out. If you are looking for a flashy pair of new clipless kicks that will take a lickin’, the Lime Punch Hellcats are a top pick.

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


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session were never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 3 reviews

Added a product review for VP Components VP-VX Adventure Race Clipless Pedal 6/24/2014 9:21 PM
C138_vpvx7000

Tested: VP VX Adventure Race Clipless Pedal

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

VP Components has grown their VX pedal product line with the new Adventure Race pedal. Aimed at the enduro and gravity crowd, a larger platform offers more support and a larger landing pad for your foot when you clip out and need to get back on the pedals and put down some power as fast as possible. The increased platform is said to match up better with today's gravity and trail shoe designs using a SPD compatible binding design. After throwing these on the trail bike for a few months and getting a fair share of riding, racing and abuse in, we might not ever take them off!

VX VP Adventure Race Highlights

  • Weight - 460g/pair
  • SPD compatible (cleats and hardware included)
  • Aluminum body with full platform for max stability
  • Adjustable release tension
  • Roller and double sealed cartridge bearings
  • Forged, heat treated, CNC machined chromoly steel axle
  • Heat treated steel VX bindings
  • MSRP: $130 USD

Initial Impressions

Setup was easy and painless. After installing the pedals on the bike, I installed the cleats in my trusty Five Ten Hellcats using the provided metal spacer plate initially. After my first ride, I removed the plate and now just have the cleats installed directly against the plastic sole of the shoe for the best feeling setup.

I have been a long time user (when I am not on flats) of the Crankbrothers Mallet series of pedals, and I noticed the differences right away. A consistent engagement/disengagement into and out of the pedal keeps you certain of whether you are clipped in or out. A reassuring mechanical click and your cleat is secured, and a twist of the foot provides a repeatable and consistent release. No guessing games here.

On The Trail

After a few rides, clipping in has never been more easy and consistent. Relying on pure muscle memory, it has become truly second-nature. I have found myself unclipping in tight loose corners and stabbing my foot back in easier than I have ever experienced with any other pedals. The pedal's platform size has been comfortable and left nothing to be desired as far as more foot support goes. Compared to the Crankbrothers Mallet, I also felt like I had more of a predictable pedal surface when I was unclipped and riding on the trail. This might be due to the fact that there is no rotating mechanism in the center of the platform that can roll your foot forward or backwards.

Pedal strikes seem to have decreased thanks to the cleverly shaped profile and perfectly sized platform - not overly big, just right. I can now lay my bike on its side and no pedal contact is made with the ground, with less material showing to snag rocks, roots and ruts in those tight, narrow lines. Even after some enduro race stages that had me pedaling like a mad man through some rocky chunder and smacking the pedals, these are still holding up very well and show no signs of giving up yet.

Things That Could Be Improved

As of now, the pedals have performed great with no negatives to report. A possible material option/upgrade for lighter overall weight could be made available, although this might affect the strength and durability. At 460 grams per pair, these are on the heavier side of the clipless pedal equation, but only by a litte bit.

Long Term Durability

The pedal bearings are just as smooth as they were on day one and the pedals have not needed service nor adjustments. When the day comes that they need some love, the VX's are user-serviceable and VP offers rebuild kits. The provided cleats are also holding up well after hiking rocky transition sections and climbing around Moab and the rocky east coast.

What's The Bottom Line?

VP's VX Adventure Race pedal has exceeded my expectations. This is now my pedal of choice when I want to be clipped in, which seems to be more and more these days after this overwhelmingly positive experience.

For more information, head on over to: www.vpcomponents.com.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Fly Racing Freestone Helmet 6/3/2014 9:34 PM
C138_hi_viz

Tested: Fly Racing Freestone Helmet

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

With today's all-capable, aggressive trail bikes, it is becoming more common to leave the DH bike back at home while getting our adrenaline fix on similar terrain at high speeds with these shorter travel steeds and open face helmets. For your head, this means you should probably be looking to maximize the amount of protection offered by your trail lid, as a simple XC helmet may easily be overwhelmed in case of a big crash. Fly Racing has recently entered the MTB game and have now brought the Freestone helmet to the table. Lightweight and breathable, with a long list of features like extended rear profile cranial protection and patented ConeHead Foam Technology to save your dome in case things go bad, the Freestone is set to be a contender as your next favorite trail helmet.

Freestone Helmet Highlights

  • ConeHead Technology crumple foam for impact absorption and energy dissipation featuring dual density foam
  • Deep rear EPS profile for extended crash protection
  • Adjustable moto inspired visor
  • One handed dial fit adjustment
  • 19 vents
  • Ventilated comfort liner with built in bug screen
  • 5 colors, 3 sizes
  • Cushy EVA impact foam on sides and back for comfort and protection.
  • 6 piece shell construction for a unique style and bold look
  • Safety compliance: EN1078-1997 + A1-2005 standards
  • Weight: 317g (Med/Large)
  • MSRP: $109.95 USD

Initial Impressions

Pulling the Blue/Hi-Viz version of the Freestone out of the box, the design, finish and overall looks were solid - this helmet is poppin' fresh. After throwing it on my head, the medium size fit nicely and seemed true to size compared to other brands. I reached for the rear adjustable dial fit knob and gave it a few clicks to perfectly snug the helmet around my head. After testing a pre-production version of this helmet last fall, the fit and padding on the production unit was more refined and very comfortable. It was also nice to have the adjustable visor to get that perfect angle for max trail swagger.

On The Trail

The Freestone has proven to be comfortable from the very first test fitting to the back-end of 5 hour trail epics. Through many rides with the Freestone, the venting and liner kept my head cool and comfortable, even in the heat of southern Utah and the muggy East Coast. As a good proof point of this I often found myself just keeping the helmet on my head during breaks as it doesn't make me feel I am going to overheat or sweat to death.

The extended rear profile that protects the lower rear part of your skull and the ConeHead Technology of the Freestone both add an element of peace of mind; you know that you are wearing something that has been engineered to protect you that little bit extra if you should take that bad tumble. Fortunately, I have not had the chance to test the crashworthiness of this helmet, but on the evidence of the finish and the amount of R&D put into it, I feel it would surely do its job as well as could be expected of an open face piece of head protection.

While riding with a hydration pack, I do notice occasional contact between the extended rear profile of the helmet and top of the pack, especially while standing during rough sections of trail since your head is tilted back more during this position. While no major interference was caused, there did seem to be the occasional need to push back the helmet as it tips forward over time. This slight contact seems to also sometimes bump the helmet's dial fit adjustment and cause it to loosen, and I sometimes find myself re-adjusting the dial on climbs or during breaks to get that proper secure fit back. This only occurs while riding with a pack, and will of course depend on your riding position and the profile of your pack.

Things That Could Be Improved

As mentioned above, the Freestone's dial fit adjustment knob could probably use more resistance to keep the fit more secure in the event that it makes contact with your hydration pack.

Long Term Durability

So far, the Freestone has stood up to all the riding, traveling and abuse I can throw at it. The liner is removable and washable and seems to be holding up well. I would suggest hand washing the liner as sometimes the washing machine can be a little rough on these. In all, this helmet should be in it for the long haul.

What's The Bottom Line?

Fly has come out swinging with their new Freestone. Packed full of features and style, the Freestone keeps you cool on the trail and protected when things go bad - and the price is right too. If you are in the market for a new trail helmet that raises the bar on the standard open face protection, the Freestone should be on your short list.

Visit www.flyracing.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Loaded Precision AMX Signature CroMo Flat Pedal 11/18/2013 9:24 PM
C138_loaded_usa_amx_signature_cromo

Tested: Loaded Precision AMX Signature CroMo Flat Pedal

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

There are two crucial points of control you have with your bike - your hands, and your feet. Loose either by accident and it's usually not pretty. If you are one of the many riders out there running flats, you know that flat pedal design has recently evolved towards a thinner, sleeker, and wider platform with plenty of pins to keep your feet glued on at all times. Loaded Precision's latest offering, the new AMX Signature pedals, fall into this category and our feet were excited to take them on a date to see what kind of trouble the two of them could get into.

AMX Signature CroMo Pedal Highlights

  • Material: Alloy Body, CroMo Spindle
  • Platform Size: 100mm(W) x 110mm(L) x 12.9mm(H)
  • Bearings: 6x Sealed Bearings
  • Colors: Black, Gray, Silver, Gold, Red, Green Blue
  • Narrow Q factor design
  • Price: $139.99
  • Weight: 326g (without pins)

Initial Impressions

Loaded offers these pedals in enough colors to keep the custom color themed bike freaks happy. Being a bit more low key, I ran the anodized black set to keep things on the stealthy side. I have been a flat pedal rider for a long time and have a stack of platforms in the garage that have seen their days on the trails. I was initially surprised by the low weight of the AMX's as I unpacked them and that sent me off to rummage through my collection - lo and behold, these are now the lightest ones I have. (Editor's note: there is a titanium axle version available for those who want to go even lighter).

The thin profile (12.9mm thick) and large platform are very noticeable when you first see the pedal on your cranks. The rectangular platform shape gives these pedals a simple but pleasing look. Some of the newer pedals out there seem to look more like a spaceship, but Loaded kept it classy with this design. Sporting 10 pins per side, things in the grip department also seemed solid. The time had come to go find out how all this would translate to performance where it matters.

On The Trail

After throwing these on my bike and lacing up the trusty Five Tens, I hit the trail. I immediately felt comfortable with the support and feel of the larger platform. This is not only due to the size and shape of the platform itself, but also the pin placement. The 10 pins per side are all located along the perimeter of the platform, which provides a pronounced concave feel and also gives a lot of grip. Most flats I have ridden feature a few pins in the center of the pedal. That was definitely not a feature I missed as I quickly got used to the more concave feel of these perimeter pins and the grip and controlled adjustability this configuration gives your feet while riding.

The thinner profile as well as the narrower Q factor of the AMX pedals were more noticeable than I would have thought. The slight clearance gained by the thinner pedal seemed to help avoid rock strikes during technical rides. The narrower Q factor was also noticeable, not in regards to pedaling feel, but again in regards to avoiding rock strikes. These pedals don't stick out to the sides (laterally) as much as most pedals, which meant I didn't tend to hang up as frequently in technical sections where rocks can easily grab/scrape/smash the sides of your pedals. Always a plus in my book when you get through the rough stuff with as little contact as possible.

Loaded's AMX Signature Pedal moves the outer platform point inboard approximately 0.5-inches compared to the Shimano Saint pedals. That's a total of 1-inch narrower and has led to a noticeable decrease in rock contact on sniper lines.

Things That Could Be Improved

This is a common beef with almost all pedals out there these days, but it is still a noteworthy issue: removal of damaged pins. Since the pins on the these pedals are threaded through the platform from the opposite side, any damaged pins must be threaded back through the platform material to be removed. If you have ever tried this with severely damaged pins you know the pain. Even if you cut the pin flush using a Dremel, you can still ruin the threads in the platform if the pin is really mangled.

Another downside is that no extra pins are sent with the pedals, which means you'll be scrambling to order replacements when you start breaking them. At $139.99 for a pair of pedals, a few spare pins wouldn't seem entirely out of place.

Long Term Durability

It's been a few months, and so far, these pedals have held up remarkably well. The bearings are still smooth and have not developed any play or slop. Scratching and wear from various impacts are as to be expected, but it is also worth pointing out again that these pedals have seen a bit less abuse thanks to their low profile and narrow Q-factor.

What's The Bottom Line?

If you are in the market for new thin flat pedals, the AMX Signatures should make your shortlist. Pricing-wise, you can find cheaper pedals, and you can find more expensive pedals, but in terms of features and performance, these definitely offer value for money. With ample real estate and featuring perimeter pin placement for a great feeling pedal, your feet will be the last thing you think about the next time you go charging through a rough section.

Visit www.loadedusa.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session were never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 2 reviews

Added a product review for Zoic Antidote Riding Shorts 7/6/2013 6:53 AM
C138_antidoteplaid_whitesquare_left

Tested: Zoic Guru Jersey and Antidote Shorts

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

San Diego-based clothing company Zoic has been in the industry for nearly 20 years. Boasting a grassroots, organic brand, the company has some new threads to show off for 2013, and recently sent over one of their new kits to get some ride time on.

Antidote Shorts Highlights

  • Detachable RPL Essential Liner with ZO-Tech chamois pad
  • Outer shell constructed of abrasion resistant nylon
  • Stretch fabric inseam panels
  • Integrated Air Flow mesh ventilation panels across the back and down legs, as well as zippered inseam ventilation
  • Microfiber sunglass wipe secured with elastic strap inside pocket
  • Locking zippers stay shut while you ride
  • Taped seams provide an ultra smooth, non-chafing, durable surface
  • Tagless labels eliminate itching and irritation
  • 14" inseam
  • Sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL, and XXXL
  • Seven color options
  • MSRP $99 to $109

Antidote Shorts On The Trail

The first thing I look for when deciding on riding shorts is the inseam fit. Too short and they might as well go in the trash. Featuring a comfortable inseam length and relaxed fit, you don't feel like you are running a pair of Larry Bird's retro basketball shorts. These passed the test with a proper all-mountain cut and fit. The leg openings were big enough to accommodate knee pads when the day's riding called for extra protection, but didn't seem overly baggy. I have been riding the Antidotes for a few months now, and they have proven to be an excellent short.

Staying cool was definitely on the top of the list when the Antidotes were designed. Featuring seven vented panel sections (the two inner thigh vents are opened with a zipper), the shorts are very breathable in warm weather riding. The durable but thin abrasion resistant nylon material feels light and breathable as well.

The waist band uses two Velcro adjusters on the left and right hip and has an elastic stretch section on the back of the waist, so dialing in that perfect fit was easy. This kept the shorts in place and stopped them from slipping down during rides. The removable chamois is extremely comfortable as well, and can be snapped into the shorts using the two small fabric loops on the waist. The chamois also features breathable construction with an all-mesh fabric design furthering the breathability of the short/chamois design.

The Antidote shorts have four pockets - two standard left and right top access pockets on the upper thigh and two zippered side pockets (one has a headphone cord slit if you are running your music).

Guru Jersey Highlights

  • Loose fit with full length sleeves
  • Mock V-neck with elastic piping at front
  • Two "Gunslinger" side pockets with flat finish zippers
  • Right pocket features internal headphone cable slit
  • Zip tech pocket on left sleeve also has headphone cable slit
  • Tagless neck label
  • 100% recycled polyester
  • Sizes S, M, L, and XL
  • Four color options
  • MSRP $64

Guru Jersey On The Trail

Featuring long sleeves, this is an easy choice on the cooler days - but don't count the Guru out of warm weather riding altogether. Featuring large vented panels under both arms and light breathable fabric, this jersey does noticeably better in the cooling department than your standard full length jersey. I found the sizing to be more of a "fitted" feel, which was welcomed after the larger beer gut cuts some companies are pumping out these days. In fact, for my taller, thin build, I can't think of a jersey with a better fit. Take note clothing companies! The sleeves are perfect length and run down to my gloves or pull up mid forearm and stay put with the elastic cuff when you want to stay cooler.

Two pockets are located under the arms by the ribs with small zippers. I never have used them to date, but are there should you feel the need to stash some small items like lenses, food, etc.

What's The Bottom Line?

Honestly, Zoic wasn't even on my radar when I got the chance to test this kit. It took a few rides with the new threads to realize that they were giving my previous go-to riding gear a run for their money. If you are looking for a comfortable, functional pair of shorts and a jersey, check out the Zoic Antidotes and Guru - you might be surprised how they become one of your favorites.

For more info, check out www.zoic.com.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Zoic Guru Riding Jersey 7/6/2013 6:39 AM
C138_guru_blue_right

Tested: Zoic Guru Jersey and Antidote Shorts

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

San Diego-based clothing company Zoic has been in the industry for nearly 20 years. Boasting a grassroots, organic brand, the company has some new threads to show off for 2013, and recently sent over one of their new kits to get some ride time on.

Antidote Shorts Highlights

  • Detachable RPL Essential Liner with ZO-Tech chamois pad
  • Outer shell constructed of abrasion resistant nylon
  • Stretch fabric inseam panels
  • Integrated Air Flow mesh ventilation panels across the back and down legs, as well as zippered inseam ventilation
  • Microfiber sunglass wipe secured with elastic strap inside pocket
  • Locking zippers stay shut while you ride
  • Taped seams provide an ultra smooth, non-chafing, durable surface
  • Tagless labels eliminate itching and irritation
  • 14" inseam
  • Sizes S, M, L, XL, XXL, and XXXL
  • Seven color options
  • MSRP $99 to $109

Antidote Shorts On The Trail

The first thing I look for when deciding on riding shorts is the inseam fit. Too short and they might as well go in the trash. Featuring a comfortable inseam length and relaxed fit, you don't feel like you are running a pair of Larry Bird's retro basketball shorts. These passed the test with a proper all-mountain cut and fit. The leg openings were big enough to accommodate knee pads when the day's riding called for extra protection, but didn't seem overly baggy. I have been riding the Antidotes for a few months now, and they have proven to be an excellent short.

Staying cool was definitely on the top of the list when the Antidotes were designed. Featuring seven vented panel sections (the two inner thigh vents are opened with a zipper), the shorts are very breathable in warm weather riding. The durable but thin abrasion resistant nylon material feels light and breathable as well.

The waist band uses two Velcro adjusters on the left and right hip and has an elastic stretch section on the back of the waist, so dialing in that perfect fit was easy. This kept the shorts in place and stopped them from slipping down during rides. The removable chamois is extremely comfortable as well, and can be snapped into the shorts using the two small fabric loops on the waist. The chamois also features breathable construction with an all-mesh fabric design furthering the breathability of the short/chamois design.

The Antidote shorts have four pockets - two standard left and right top access pockets on the upper thigh and two zippered side pockets (one has a headphone cord slit if you are running your music).

Guru Jersey Highlights

  • Loose fit with full length sleeves
  • Mock V-neck with elastic piping at front
  • Two "Gunslinger" side pockets with flat finish zippers
  • Right pocket features internal headphone cable slit
  • Zip tech pocket on left sleeve also has headphone cable slit
  • Tagless neck label
  • 100% recycled polyester
  • Sizes S, M, L, and XL
  • Four color options
  • MSRP $64

Guru Jersey On The Trail

Featuring long sleeves, this is an easy choice on the cooler days - but don't count the Guru out of warm weather riding altogether. Featuring large vented panels under both arms and light breathable fabric, this jersey does noticeably better in the cooling department than your standard full length jersey. I found the sizing to be more of a "fitted" feel, which was welcomed after the larger beer gut cuts some companies are pumping out these days. In fact, for my taller, thin build, I can't think of a jersey with a better fit. Take note clothing companies! The sleeves are perfect length and run down to my gloves or pull up mid forearm and stay put with the elastic cuff when you want to stay cooler.

Two pockets are located under the arms by the ribs with small zippers. I never have used them to date, but are there should you feel the need to stash some small items like lenses, food, etc.

What's The Bottom Line?

Honestly, Zoic wasn't even on my radar when I got the chance to test this kit. It took a few rides with the new threads to realize that they were giving my previous go-to riding gear a run for their money. If you are looking for a comfortable, functional pair of shorts and a jersey, check out the Zoic Antidotes and Guru - you might be surprised how they become one of your favorites.

For more info, check out www.zoic.com.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 1 review

Added a comment about product review Tested: Shimano Zee Disc Brakes - Affordable Power 5/19/2013 12:18 PM
C50_91001400_1272558654

I have been riding the new XT brakes on my trail bike the past few months, and they are going to be pretty similar to the new SLXs you are asking about. The Zee's are quad piston DH brakes designed for DH and freeride, while the SLX/XT brakes are for trail and XC and feature dual pistons. I would personally recommend the XT/SLX brakes for your trail riding as the Zee brakes are probably overkill on your trail bike.

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This product_review has 3 comments.

Added a product review for Race Face Charge Leg Guards 5/13/2013 6:08 PM
C138_race_face_charge_leg_guards

Tested: Race Face Charge Leg and Arm Guards

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

A common dilemma facing many riders is the pad situation when throwing a leg over their all-mountain bike. Who wants to run heavy, bulky downhill pads while they grind to the top of a fun descent? Then again, who wants to deal with cut up knees/elbows if things get a little too crazy on the way down? As a solution to the dilemma, Race Face has introduced the Charge Leg and Charge Arm Guards. They took a very minimalist approach with the guards by offering a thin layer of defense while maintaining maximum comfort and flexibility.

Charge Guard Highlights

  • Stretch mesh sleeve with second skin, minimal fit with targeted coverage
  • Foam panel impact zone with stretch Kevlar cover for shred proof durability
  • Silicone gripper along inner top opening ensures 'stay-put' fit
  • Silicone patch on shin of leg guard eliminates slippage
  • Flatlock comfort seam finish
  • Sizes XS through XXL, ensuring a perfect fit for everyone
  • Black color only
  • MSRP $53.99 (Legs) and $36.99 (Arms)

On The Trail

Using the Race Face fit chart as a guide, my leg and arm measurements landed right in between two sizes. Given that these are meant to fit snuggly and stretch over the knee and elbow, I decided to size down. This ended up being a good choice since these guards are designed to stay in place using the tension of the material, so getting a size too big would basically render the guards much less useful. The smaller option seemed to fit like a glove with more of a compression sleeve type of fit.

Once on, the overall comfort was very noticeable. Flexibility was still 100%, the material felt great, and I could hardly tell that there was any stitching internally.

As advertised, "second skin" is the best way to describe the padding - they're quite minimalist, especially when compared to your usual knee and elbow pads. The Leg Guards feature an approximately 1/8-inch thin foam insert that covers your knee and extends down to your mid to upper shin, providing quite a bit of coverage. The mesh extends a few inches up to your lower quad (almost to your riding chamois). The Arm Guards feature the same thin insert around your elbow area. Both guards have a durable Kevlar material over the top of the padded area, and it seems like it's made for the long haul. The surrounding mesh material breathes quite well, although you are still going to be warmer than if you were riding without them. Nevertheless, these are a big step closer to all-day comfort compared to your typical downhill pads. They rarely bunch behind the knee, and if they do it doesn't cut off circulation unlike many alternatives currently on the market.With the help of the silicon anti-slip treatment around the openings, they've stayed in place and I haven't had any issues with the guards slipping down.

While very thin, the guards do seem to take the edge off. Although I've had no proper rag dolling or huge get offs while wearing these guards yet (and hope to keep it that way), there were a few instances where having the Charge Guards on helped - mostly little impacts on pedals, branches, handlebars, etc. That "second skin" seemed to give enough of an extra buffer to prevent any minor injuries. That said, don't count on them to prevent major injuries should things go really wrong - they simply aren't thick enough, nor did Race Face intend for them to take any big hits. For someone that previously rarely wanted to wear pads of any variety while on my trail bike, though, they fit the bill well.

As an added benefit, I've found these to be awesome when temperatures drop. On colder days I find myself purposely grabbing the Charge Guards for more warmth on the legs. They are extremely comfortable while pedaling and offer more warmth to those tendons and ligaments when the temperatures outside are less than ideal.

What's The Bottom Line?

If you're looking for a little bit of protection on your trail and all-mountain rides, the Race Face Charge Guards are a great solution. They fit well, are comfortable, breathe well, don't restrict movement, and stay put - all necessary qualities for a good set of knee guards made to pedal in. They also offer a little extra warmth on cold days. We all push it just a bit too hard sometimes and the Charge Guards will help keep you from getting scratched up.

For more details, visit www.raceface.com.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks. If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 2 reviews

Added a product review for Shimano M640 Zee Hydraulic Disc Brakes 5/13/2013 9:57 AM
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Tested: Shimano Zee Disc Brakes - Affordable Power

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

Arguably the biggest star of Shimano's Zee lineup is the brake, which offers riders many of the same technology advancements and features of their big brother Saint. Luckily for us, Zee brakes come at a pretty substantial cost savings of about $140 per pair over Saint.

Zee Brake Highlights

  • Servo wave lever pivot
  • Shorty levers
  • High rigidity ceramic pistons for heat insulation
  • Anti-slip dimpled lever blade
  • Radiation fin pad with new metallic compound to improve control and consistency
  • Super stiff high-power 3-layer brake hose for a more consistent lever feel
  • One-way bleed for easy and clean servicing
  • 4-piston caliper
  • 160/180/203mm rotor options
  • Approximately 320g per brake
  • MSRP $249.99 per brake

Coupled with Shimano's ICE Tech finned 203mm rotors (sold separately), these 4-piston brakes have everything going for them as far as heat dissipating technology and raw stopping power goes - something every downhill enthusiast can appreciate while pinned at race pace down a steep course. One quick glance at the unique pads with radiation cooling fins is evidence enough that great measures were taken to reduce a brake's worst enemy - performance killing heat.

Initial Impressions

Provided you don't ride a downhill tandem, there is plenty of hose length provided on the pre-bled setup for any bike frame. Rather than run a spaghetti mess of cables in front of my bars, I immediately trimmed the lines shorter for aesthetics. Shimano provides extra hardware for this with every brake so there are no excuses not to. I was able to get away without bleeding the brakes by being very careful. If desired, Shimano's new bleed process is a piece of cake.

Installation of the levers was a breeze and did not require removal of the grips since the clamp hinges open for quick install/removal of the lever. The rotors also mounted up very quickly using Shimano's Center Lock design on the Zee hubs - a design I am growing very fond of after doing a fair bit of airline travel, forcing me to do frequent teardowns/rebuilds of my bike. Time is money my friends, and simple things like this streamline otherwise tedious processes.

After mounting up the brakes, and grabbing hold of the bars, I was immediately impressed by the new compact levers. They feel great with one finger, offer a comfortable lever bend, hold your finger tip securely, and pull in smoothly to pad contact. Squeezing the brake tightly with one finger, there is no lever contact with the thumb or other fingers. The perch also appeared to be stiff with no noticeable flex when pulling hard, likely because the lever is so short. After adjusting the reach (note that there's no tool-free reach adjustment on these, so bust out your trusty allen wrench) it was all systems go and time for some abuse.

On The Trail

Before the first run I broke in the new pads. After just a few full stops could feel the incredible power and modulation building. Once on the trail, it quickly became clear how light and effortless the one-fingered activation of the brakes was. Given how quickly they activated when compared to the brakes was previously running, I actually needed a bit of mental readjusting to feel completely comfortable with the new characteristics. That said, it was a change I was happy to learn. After a few more runs and with speeds picking up, braking once again became second nature and I was pumped on the added power the Zee brakes offered. I could get LOTS of power, fast, which is crucial given the last second nature of downhill riding and racing.

Halfway down the rocky trail I was shuttling was a fairly slick, muddy section with a few corners and key braking points. It was a perfect place to truly test how well these babies modulated. To my surprise, I was easily able to keep my traction and control my bike through the grease. They aren't what I'd call "touchy," and instead offer plenty of usable power without causing the bike to break loose.

Being extremely picky about my bike set up, I was expecting to have to adjust the lever reach at least once throughout the day. Much to my surprise, no adjustment was needed - in fact I have barely adjusted them in the several months since. That said, it still would be nice to have a tool-free reach adjustment offered on these just in case. After dozens of days of ride time, the brakes are still running strong and haven't needed a bleed or any service since I first installed them. I also haven't felt the need for the added free-stroke adjustment found on the pricier Saint brakes.

In dry conditions, rotor noise is pretty much non-existent. In the wet, a very slight howl sometimes happens at slow speeds, but only for a split second - likely long enough to clean the water from the rotor. Shimano chalks this achievement up to improved pad compounds.

Speaking of pads, Shimano brought a number of improvements from their Saint brake to Zee in the name of better heat management, including an optional finned pad upgrade. The technology improvements havebeen noticeable on the trail and brake fade has not been an issue, even at the bottom of a long, steep trail that's notorious for burning up brakes. Pad wear has also slowed down as the resulting temperature decrease is easier on the materials, so expect to enjoy less frequent pad purchases.

The finned pads occasionally make a very slight but audible jiggling noise on smooth trails. Pulling the brake levers a small amount stops the noise. Some riders will notice this, others won't. To me it isn't much of a bother.

What's The Bottom Line?

Power and modulation often times don't go together in the same sentence. Shimano's Zee brakes certainly don't adhere that statement, instead offering both power and modulation in a very usable package. I really appreciate that Shimano was able to bring the cutting edge technology found in the high-end Saint brakes down to a price point that doesn't put a major hurt on your wallet. The new Zee brakes have proven to be a strong performer and they'll be staying on my ride for some time to come.

For more about the race-ready Zee lineup, cruise over to www.crusheveryline.com.


About The Reviewer

Nick Zuzelski began riding motocross at a young age, a sport that would eventually lead him to the world of downhill. As a Colorado native, racing downhill, dual slalom, or a chill dirt jump session was never far away, and he eventually worked his way up the ranks to the Pro level. Now residing in Eastern Pennsylvania, he recently changed it up from the Rocky Mountain dust to East Coast loam, world class dirt jumps, and rocks... lots of rocks.If a trail has fast flow and some fun gaps, he is grinning ear to ear and getting after it. Living by the assumption that basically everything feels better with a short stem and wide bars, you can count on him keeping it real with a laid back attitude and flat pedals most of the time. Mechanical Engineer by trade, rider by heart, he enjoys riding it, finding out how it works, and making it better.

This product has 2 reviews

Added a product review for Easton EC70 Trail 26-inch Wheelset 2/28/2013 9:42 AM
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Tested: Easton EC70 Trail Wheelset - Carbon for the Masses

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

Carbon wheels are all the rage as of the past few seasons, but with their high cost, it's still a commodity seen more often on factory pro level bikes and in the wish lists of your everyday rider. Easton kept that in mind while creating the all new EC70 Trail Wheelset, trying to come up with a new price point offering for the trail riding enthusiast. I've been putting these wheels through some all-mountain abuse the past few months and it's time to fill you in on how they've performed.

EC70 Trail Highlights

The EC70s roll on Easton's proven M1 hubs. Featuring 24 straight-pull double-butted spokes per wheel, the wheels feel amazingly light when you grab them out of the box - scary light. Tipping the scales at a claimed 1,355 grams for the set, your trail bike will most likely be on a diet with these. The carbon rims feature a 20mm inner width, and carry a taller "squared" profile from a cross sectional view. Coming in a stealth, all-black look with a matte black carbon finish on the rims, the color scheme keeps things simple but oh-so sexy. Easton's attention to detail and quality is very apparent when you come in close for a better look at the wheels. The front hub is adaptable to run 9x100QR or 15mm axles while the rear is adaptable to 10x135QR or 12x135/142mm configurations.

The EC70 wheels are made without using Easton's Armored Ballistics Composite (ABC) that is used on their other carbon offerings, such as the Carbon Havens. From what I was told, ABC is specifically designed to withstand sharp impacts. Actually, it's designed to withstand bullets. Doing without the ABC material allows a significant price break on the EC70 wheels, but they still offer rim strength on the same level as the competition, according to Easton.

Wheelset Specs

  • Finish: Matte Ud Carbon Rim, Black Ano Hub
  • Wheelset Weight: 1355g
  • Type: Clincher - Non Ust
  • Rim Material: EC70 Carbon
  • Rim Width: 20mm Internal / 25.5mm External
  • Spokes: 24 Straight Pull - Double Butted Black Laced 3X
  • Nipple Type: Easton Alloy
  • Hub Types: M1 / 6 Bolt Disc
  • Front Axle Size: 9x100QR, 15x100
  • Rear Axle Size: 10x135QR, 12x135/142
  • Bearing Type: Sealed Cartridge
  • MSRP: $1800

On The Trail

After mounting up a set of 2.35-inch Schwalbe Hans Dampfs on my carbon Nomad, I immediately started putting these wheels through the paces on some more aggressive terrain. Coming from a DH racing background and weighing 185-pounds, I tend to ride a little more aggressively than the standard XC lycra clad welterweight, so I was interested to see how these wheels would hold up to some of my punishment.

I had an immediate dislike for the front hub's incompatibility with a 20mm front axle. With almost all the bases covered for common trail bike hub formats, the inability to run a 20mm axle was a pretty big letdown for me, especially since I'm still running a FOX 36 fork due to stiffness preferences. With a rather expensive custom 20 to 15mm adapter in place, down the trail I went...

The first thing you can notice with these wheels is the near silent rear hub with very precise engagement. If you are running a clutched rear derailleur, you are going to have one hell of a quiet whip. Freehub engagement has been completely free of skipping and popping, and the sealed bearings are still silky smooth after all the mud, dust, and water I can throw at them.

Another attribute I noticed was a faster/easier acceleration on the trail thanks to the lack of rotating mass. While slight, the light feeling really seemed to make the bike feel snappier while pedaling out of corners and sprinting. Always a plus in my book.

After getting some miles in, I decided to convert these wheels to tubeless using a conversion kit. Unfortunately the wheels aren't tubeless compatible out of the box. Regardless, the conversion was easy and I have not had any issues since. The tire beads are seating nicely and I haven't had to worry about tubes since - no more pinch flats = more time for shredding.

I ride lots of rocky and rooty terrain on the East Coast, a place where a strong wheel can shine and a weak one will consistently knock you offline due to excessive lateral flex. Simply put, my bike stayed in the path I chose (no matter how terrible of a line choice). They kept me tracking straight with no noticeable excess flex while navigating through the chunder. The carbon rims offer a solid and quiet ride quality while charging through the rough stuff, and it's quite noticeable - giving a feeling of a more damped and "plastic" rim than a ringing and pinging aluminum hoop. The rims have stayed amazingly true and held up great while trail riding.

In the spirit of "all-mountain" riding, which includes riding my Nomad a little recklessly, I put the wheels through more of a torture test than most would. Why not ride for a bit at the local freeride trails? I eventually tempted fate and smashed the rear wheel on a sizable double with a fairly sharp (and rock-solid) dirt case point. After casing that hard I was expecting to look down and see a taco-ed wheel ripping apart my drivetrain, but instead the rim had cracked, showed a small line of broken fibers, and was still almost perfectly true. Rather than risk a full wheel blow up by continuing to jump, I called the day short and rode back to the truck. Reflecting on past experiences, I can say that an equivalent aluminum rim would have had me carrying my bike back rather than riding. No wheelset will allow for every mistake, so it comes down to your comfort level and a basic risk analysis if you take your trail wheels to the jumps.

After mounting a replacement EC70 on the rear, the fun and outstanding performance has continued on the trails and these will undoubtedly last me through plenty of seasons of shredding. Personally, a line has been drawn for the need to throw on my more beefy freeride wheelset for the rowdy jumping days - or just grab the downhill bike.

What's The Bottom Line?

Coming in at their low weight to high strength ratio, the Easton EC70 Trail wheelset would be a great upgrade for your bike if you're in the market for performance at a slightly lower price point. The $1800 price tag might still keep some riders on a ramen noodle diet for a few years, but if you are serious about performance and want to reap the benefits of carbon while saving a few bucks, this could be a great wheelset for you.

For complete specs and more details, visit www.eastoncycling.com.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for Shimano Zee RD-M640 Rear Derailleur 2/13/2013 6:43 PM
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Tested: Shimano Zee Derailleur - Become a Trail Ninja

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Nick Zuzelski

In the craze of clutched rear derailleur technology coming out these days, Shimano's newest offering is targeted to fit the market of gravity riders looking for performance while keeping some hard earned money in their pocket. Enter Zee.

Zee RD-M640 Highlights

  • 10-Speed Only
  • Short Cage
  • Weight: 250 grams
  • MSRP: $109.99

The Zee rear derailleur features Shimano's Shadow Plus technology. Translation: The rear derailleur is strategically mounted and tucked in with a low profile design, decreasing the vulnerability of hits or impacts, and thanks to an innovative clutch, you aren't going to hear much chainslap noise while blitzing through rocks and braking bumps. The clutch is fully serviceable and adjustable so you can keep things maintained and running smoothly after some use and abuse throughout the season.

New to the whole clutched derailleur technology? Shimano has integrated a one-way clutch mechanism into the derailleur knuckle. This provides significantly increased resistance when the chain pulls on the cage, preventing excessive chain slack, which was previously the cause of the dreaded chain slap and poor retention.

All of Shimano's clutched derailleurs have an "on" and "off" mode, activated by a small gold switch. The only time we saw a need to put the switch in "off" mode was during wheel removal and chain installation to allow the derailleur to swing forward with less force.

Shimano offers two models of the Zee - A "DH spec" that fits up to a 28 tooth cassette, and a "Freeride spec" that fits up to a 36 tooth cassette. This is accomplished using a different sized b-link that can be purchased independently for converting your rear derailleur between modes.

On The Trail

We have been running both the DH spec on a downhill bike and the Freeride spec on a 1x10 trail bike. Both setups are holding up following some muddy, rocky abuse.

One area we have really enjoyed has been the benefits seen on the trail bike. The option to have both a clutched rear derailleur AND a short cage able to handle a wide range 11-36 cassette? Yes please.

Combined with the Zee shifter, shifting performance is crisp, precise and snappy quick. The derailleur has been a set-and-forget endeavor and has been free of any ghost shifting and skipping after a proper flogging on the trails for a few months.

One of the reasons we are seeing such great long term durability and continued performance in this derailleur can be greatly contributed to the extremely low profile of the Shadow Technology. The main derailleur body is much less exposed and seems to hide from rocks, stumps, and shuttling abuse that destroys more conventional designs.

Zee's clutch has virtually eliminated chain slap. Since installation, our test bikes have been silent slayers. No more ugly excessive tape or old tubes/tires/who knows what needed to keep your frame quiet and unscathed. Win. But wait… this has developed an unforeseen yet small downside - we have routinely scared the $#% out of hikers and slower descenders when running in Zee stealth mode. Sometimes it is nice to have a little noise to let people know that you're coming up behind them. I think we'll survive though.

If you have yet to throw your leg over a bike with a clutched rear derailleur, you better believe the hype - this new breakthrough is making bikes so quiet and dialed that you will never want to be without a clutched setup again. It's that good.

While the clutch is fully serviceable and adjustable, we haven't had the need to adjust any factory settings. They're working great, but it is nice to know that some adjustability is available if needed.

What's The Bottom Line?

Given the impressive features, performance, and durability we've experienced, it's hard to call the Shimano Zee rear derailleur a compromise. Coming in at half the cost of the Saint equivalent, this is a very good choice for budget-minded riders looking for solid shifting performance with Shimano's proven Shadow Plus technology.

Visit www.crusheveryline.com for more details.

This product has 3 reviews

Added a comment about photo 2013 Giant Glory Bottomed Out at World Champs 8/31/2012 8:26 AM
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I have never seen a stock 2013 Glory bottomed out. Check that off the list today

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This photo has 6 comments.

Added a comment about video VIDEO - 2012 Whip Off World Champs 8/14/2012 9:07 PM
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Best part of my day - watching this. Brendan gets so nice with it

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This video has 19 comments.

Added a product review for SixSixOne Recon Gloves 7/26/2012 3:25 PM
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Tested: SixSixOne Recon Gloves

Rating:

The Good: Breathability // Comfort // Thin palm

The Bad: Short wrist closure // Lack of protection

Overall:

Product Highlights

  • Dimple mesh upper for precise fit

  • Micro fiber sweat wipe

  • Silicon printed finger tips

  • $29.95 MSRP

Riding Impressions

Breathability and comfort - this all-mountain glove was designed with these two things in mind. Featuring full-mesh-backed fingers and backhand, these gloves stay cool while riding. The thin but durable palm leather offers good grip, precise lever feel, and doesn't bunch. Both the index and middle fingers feature silicon gripper coating for increased control and grip on levers. While not offering much tree-punching protection, the Recon Gloves offer much more than a bare hand in the grip and protection department.

The one real shortcoming of these gloves is the rubber wrist closure. As seen above, it is far too short to adequately secure the glove around an average-sized wrist, which means that it sometimes comes undone while riding.

What's The Bottom Line?

A comfortable, well breathing glove without all the bulkiness and thick padding so many other gloves are guilty of. The SixSixOne Recon Gloves are simple, thin and perfect for the medium to light duty rides. Save a minor issue with the rubber wrist closure, I'm a big fan of these.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for SixSixOne Evo Carbon Camber Full Face Helmet 7/25/2012 12:15 PM
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Tested: SixSixOne Evo Carbon Camber Helmet

Rating:

The Good: Lightweight // No goggle interference issues // Meets or exceeds several safety standards // Reasonably priced

The Bad: Shape limits helmet cam mounting options

Overall:

Product Highlights

  • 3k Carbon Fiber Construction

  • Removable, washable liner
  • Inner channeling links intake ports to aid ventilation
  • 
Weighs 2.1 pounds

  • $299.95 MSRP

Riding Impressions


For 2012, SixSixOne introduced an all-new lightweight downhill specific helmet. With a great, comfortable fit, light weight and good styling, the Evo Carbon is a continuation of SixSixOne's progressive helmet design.

Large vents located under the visor and at the back of the helmet encourage airflow and keep your head cool during riding. Goggle fit and peripheral vision wasn't an issue with the well designed eye opening.

The only small conflict with the helmet is with GoPro mounting - It is slightly hindered due to a small fin/ridge that runs front to back on the top of the helmet, but a small modification to the GoPro helmet mount (cutting/removing a small strip of the 3M tape to provide relief for the small ridge) proved easy and is still giving a strong mount thus far.

What's The Bottom Line?

Looking for a lightweight, downhill specific helmet? Put this helmet on the top of your list if performance, comfort and quality are in your helmet search criteria. During the seven months I've been using the helmet, I've had zero issues and it still looks great after countless rides.

This product has 2 reviews

Added a product review for SixSixOne Rage Knee Guard 7/24/2012 4:12 PM
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Tested: SixSixOne Rage Knee Pads

Rating:

The Good: Flexible // Breathable // Secure // Thin profile

The Bad: Offers slightly less protection than its predecessor

Overall:

Product Highlights


  • Perforated neoprene construction with stretch mesh back
  • 
Stretch Kevlar® knee cover with abrasion resistant graphics
  • 
Pre-curved ergonomic internal hard cap protector
  • 
$59.95 MSRP


Riding Impressions


The Rage kneepad was introduced as a new item in SixSixOne's 2012 lineup. This knee pad shares a lot of similarities with the classic Kyle Strait Knee Pads, but with a few variations. Think of this new knee pad to be the slightly slimmer, less beefy, better vented version to its hugely popular alternate.

For comparison, the Rage is on shown here on my right knee, and the most recent version of the Kyle Straits are on my left knee.

There is a much larger opening at the back of the knee for increased air movement and flexibility while pedaling. Unlike the Kyle Straits, the new Rage pads do not bunch behind the knee when seated. While still utilizing a similar flexible plastic knee cup to the Kyle Straits, it feels as if there is less foam padding over the entirety of this model. With less foam padding it slightly decreases the bulkiness, but also decreases the pad's protective qualities as a serious DH knee pad. For the dirt jump crowd, these should fit and breath better under jeans, while still keeping your knees from getting thrashed when you take a fall. I have also been using these pads during more aggressive all-mountain rides and am enjoying the increased breathability and flexibility for pedaling and climbing.

What's The Bottom Line?

If you're looking for better breathing and less bulky knee protection, the Rage has you covered. I've found it to be perfect for all-mountain, dirt jumping and light-duty downhill shuttle days.

This product has 3 reviews