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Liked a comment on the item Vital RAW - World Champs Hafjell DH Practice 9/4/2014 4:41 PM

I think for world champs raws need to be extra long. Like this is one of the last glimpses of raw we'll see for awhile, we deserve extra long and extra awesome raw vids

Added a comment about photo HT X1 and X2 Clipless Pedals 9/3/2014 4:52 PM
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These look great.

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This photo has 8 comments.

Added a comment about slideshow 2014 Canadian Open Photo and Video Action 8/20/2014 10:31 AM
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How are there zero comments? Slide 10 alone is reason enough to write *something*. Man, I'm losing faith in the trinity of humanity, the internet and dudes who ride bikes everywhere... #angelface

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Added a comment about video All Guts and All Glory - Developing the New Glory 27.5 8/6/2014 4:04 PM
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Listening to them talk about wheel size still makes me wonder why no company has built a purpose specific 29" DH bike for certain tracks. #yeahIsaidit #donthatethemessanger

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Added a product review for Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe 7/10/2014 9:51 AM
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Tested: Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Clipless Shoe

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Jeff Brines // Photos by Ryan Hoff (action) and Jeff Brines (product)

Five Ten has long owned the flat pedal shoe market. The company’s stealth rubber shoes offer platform pedal grip that has proven unrivaled. As a clipless pedal rider, I’ve long wanted a 5-10 stealth rubber shoe that offers SPD compatibility at a reasonable weight and with good sole stiffness. Enter the new Maltese Falcon LT.

Five Ten Maltese Falcon LT Highlights

  • Stealth S1 rubber sole
  • Upper shoe material: synthetic textile, water repellent
  • Closure: laces/velcro
  • Weight – 475 grams each (claimed) 498 each (actual)
  • Price: MSRP $140

Initial Impressions

Perhaps the most important thing about any shoe is fit. To think you’ll garner enough information via the internet to determine if a shoe will really fit, without trying it on, is probably a stretch. Still, I’ll give my $0.02 as to the shoe's fit. First, I have a flat C-width foot. For the skiers out there (I spend my winter reviewing ski boots) I usually fit 98mm last lower-volume boots with minimal work. Point is, despite my flat flippers looking “fat”, my feet are actually average volume. All that said, my foot fit in this shoe with minimal break in and it seems true to size. I did develop some hot spots on extended descents but this is fairly normal for me and is remediable with a few small modifications to the footbed and cleat position. YMMV (your mileage may vary).

Now, I’m not a girl. I do not have a shoe fetish. And I’m partly embarrassed (or not?) to say that almost all of the footwear in my closet serves a specific function (ski boots, road shoes, work boots, driving shoes, golf shoes etc). Point is, I'm no Jimmy Chou - more of a Josh Temple type, truth be told.

WIth that said, I’m always shocked at just how bad cycling shoes can look. Wild colors, strange fabric, goofy shapes, clickity clackity noises. Often I wonder if the shoe designer collective starts the design process by taking a bunch of acid, popping in the movie "Elf" and scribbling on a notepad the inspiration that comes forth... be that as it may, the result is seldom "normal" looking.

Looking to the Maltese Falcon LT, the shoe is far easier on the eyes compared to most other cycling shoes. However, when compared to 5-10's own flat shoe offerings, I believe there is still a bit of room for improvement. The Maltese Falcons have a look that is something between space-age moon shoe and the kicks your grandpa might be wearing at the local nursing home with a bit of skater-ish shape thrown in. As much as I dig the lace covers I wonder if they are really something we need outside the always-muddy UK…and dropping them would reduce weight. In the end, I’d like something styled more closely to a traditional skate-style shoe but in the grand scheme of things, these ain't half bad…

On the Trail

Being that this is an enduro/downhill type shoe, I felt it was best to test it with a platform style clipless pedal - enter the Crank Brothers Mallet DH. From first clip in, it was readily apparent that I was riding a shoe with the ultra grippy Stealth Rubber. The pins of the pedal tenaciously dug into the sole of the shoe, which in a way made the float of the Mallet feel a lot “tighter”. It was much more difficult to rotate or adjust the shoe’s orientation once clipped in.

To help negate this feeling, I dropped the pin height of the pedal a bit. This allowed the shoe to feel a bit more “free” and take advantage of the pedal’s float when clipped in. Still, even with the pins lowered, I found myself feeling more locked in when compared to other trail shoes with less friction in the sole. I actually had a few “oh shit” moments when trying to unclip (yes I tipped over...). Obviously, this could be negated by a less aggressive flat pedal, playing with shims to raise the cleat or even going to a non platform style clipless pedal. However, with a bit of time, I became used to the how the rubber and pedal interacted but it did take a hair more effort to get out of no matter what flat-pedal clipless setup I was utilizing.

To me, the big question with respect to this shoe is how it performs while riding unclipped and standing on the pedal. All clipless riders can relate to those times when you are unable to clip back in prior to a gnarly section of trail. In such situations you have two choices, slow down and clip in or hold your speed, smash your shoe on the pedal in the best position you can and hope for the best - which is akin to playing russian roulette as to whether or not your shoe will stay on the pedal. The Holy Grail of shoe-pedal interface is a system that’ll allow the rider to ride as if he/she is on flats when unclipped. So, how did these perform in such as situation? To test the capabilities of the shoe I went to pretty extreme measures. I actually installed non-Crank Brothers cleats on the Maltese. This way there was a cleat on the bottom of the shoe that I’d be unable to clip into. After a few rides like this, the answer is that the Maltese Falcons performed notably better than most any other non-stealth rubber clipless shoes but still wasn’t “stealth rubber to normal flat pedals” good.

The fact of the matter is that there is a metal cleat on the bottom of the shoe right under the ball of your foot. Chances are, when you are unclipped, you are still close to this “athletic” part of your foot which means there is a high likelihood of the cleat skating around on the top of the pedal. When you have this metal on metal interface, no amount of sticky rubber is going to fix it. Sure, you could raise the pins or lower the cleats but this means you would have to accept that getting out of the pedal would become extremely challenging (when actually clipped in).

Going back to the correct cleat I started to realize that with a little adjustment, you could ride these unclipped more aggressively than normal clipless shoes. Simply stand on a part of the shoe where the cleat is no longer interfacing with the pedal. This puts you in a less than perfect position on the pedal but you know? It works.

For some riders this could translate to seconds on the race course as they could unclip, dab, mash their heel or toe on the pedal, ride a few seconds through something rough without getting kicked off then find a moment to clip back in during a smoother section of the trail. For others, who can’t seem to wrap their head around riding on their heels or toes, the shoe will likely just frustrate you.

Turning to efficiency (no pun intended) the shoe pedaled well and never felt all that heavy. Sure, this isn't an XC race shoe but it isn’t billed as such either. Weight and stiffness felt on par with, or perhaps a bit better than, other shoes in this category. Living in Jackson, it never gets all that hot around here but the shoe seemed to breathe well and kept my feet happy while riding. Again, the shoe isn't XC stiff but I seldom found myself thinking "man I wish this was a bunch stiffer". Overall it had an acceptable balance of “feel” and “stiffness”.

Finally, I did ride in the rain and I found the Maltese Falcons certainly repelled water better than most. And since they don't soak up much water they also dry out quickly after the more H2O-rich sessions. Overall they performed very well in the wet.

Long Term Durability

The shoe’s durability has been excellent so far. No stitching has gone AWOL, no tears are apparent anywhere, and the sole is wearing well. Great marks here all around.

Things That Could Be Improved

Honestly, the only way to make this shoe work better for its intended purpose, would be to engineer the shoe’s rubber to be sticky in certain places and non sticky in others.Obviously, at ~500 grams or so some weight could be dropped and perhaps a touch more stiffness added. But hey, everything could *always* be lighter and stiffer right?

Beyond these improvements, the only way to accomplish the aforementioned "holy grail" clipless shoe would be to engineer an entirely new pedal/shoe system. Perhaps an electro-magnet system? Somebody has to day dream right?

What's The Bottom Line?

This shoe is an awesome trail or (dare I say) enduro shoe. It's relatively light, stiff by “skate shoe” standards and holds up well. The shoe’s stealth rubber sole brings an interesting component to an already solid shoe. For the clipless riders out there who love the locked in feel of stealth rubber on flats and want a bit more grip when unclipped, this is your true calling. For those looking for the easiest setup to clip in and out of, keep looking. To me personally, the Maltese Falcon is one of the best choices out there, at an attractive price to boot...

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


About The Reviewer

Jeff Brines didn't go on a real date until he was nearly 20 years old, largely as a result of his borderline unhealthy obsession with bicycles. Although his infatuation with two wheels may have lead to stuttering and sweatiness around the opposite sex, it did provide for an ideal environment to quickly progress through the ranks of both gravity and cross-country racing. These days, Jeff races enduro at the pro level, rides upward of 150 days a year while logging over 325k of human powered ascending/descending on his bike. Bred as a racer, Jeff is more likely to look for the fastest way through a section as opposed to the most playful. Living in the shadow of the Tetons in Jackson, WY, Jeff works in financial intelligence and spends his winters as head ski gear guru and content manager over at earlyups.com.

This product has 1 review

Added a comment about photo Up Close: 12 Photos of Devinci's New Spartan Enduro Race Bike 7/7/2014 8:03 AM
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Looks rad. Except for the 8.25 pound frame weight!?

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Added reply in a thread List off the mountain bikes you've had 7/1/2014 9:54 AM

Sheesh. No way I'll remember the year but this is fun. This is what normal guys do, except its girls they are naming, not bikes. Novera REI mountain bike Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo Gary Fisher Sugar 3 Schwinn Homegrown K2 Full Suspesnion bike (can't remember ... more »

Added a comment about product review Tested: Race Face Turbine Crankset 6/24/2014 8:24 AM
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Touche!

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Added a comment about product review Tested: Race Face Turbine Crankset 6/24/2014 8:08 AM
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Penguin Power - This is true, however, this is the case with any chainring swap. The Turbine sure is a lot easier than dealing with chainring bolts, spacers and the mess of other more conventional spider systems. To add, some bikes with minimal chain growth can accommodate a fairly wide range of chainrings without doing too much to the chain. Point is, the adding or subtracting links from the chain is nothing specific to this system. It is something you must do to all chain based full suspension drive-lines. It'd be unfair to knock this product based of this inherent truth.

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Added a product review for Race Face Turbine Cranks 6/23/2014 2:39 PM
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Tested: Race Face Turbine Crankset

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Jeff Brines

The Race Face Turbine crankset may be one of the most iconic mountain bike components since its inception some 15 years ago. For 2015 the crankset receives a complete redesign, incorporating many features seen in the carbon Next SL offering. How does the new Turbine fair when compared to other mid- to high-end cranksets? We spent the better part of a month trying to bend, break and generally abuse them.

Turbine Crank Highlights

  • Intended for XC/Trail/All-Mountain/Enduro use
  • Completely redesigned for 2015 to incorporate the Cinch system
  • Crank arms are deep pocket forged and CNC machined to optimize stiffness
  • 170, 175, 180mm crank arm lengths
  • Black, Blue and Red crank color options
  • Protective ‘crank boots’ available
  • Removable spider offers the ability to convert between 1, 2, and 3X chainring standards
  • 1X Narrow/Wide options: 26, 28, 30, 32, 34 and 36T
  • 2X 64/104 BCD options: 22/36, 24/36, 24/38T
  • 2X 80/120 BCD options: 26/38, 28/40T
  • 3X options: 22/32/42, 24/32/42T
  • Industry standard 30mm spline interface CNC machined from 7050 alloy
  • BB92, 68/73 BSA, 100mm BSA, and PF30 bottom bracket options
  • MSRP $199.99 to $299.99, depending on chainring configuration

Installation & Initial Impressions

Comparing the premium Next SL cranks to the new Turbines side by side, it seemed clear the Turbine was more or less an aluminum version of the carbon Next SL. They share the same splined spindle, same Cinch chainring system, same crank extraction system, and same locknut. A few differences were obvious too - metal vs alloy, 184 grams, and about 50% in cost.

Setup was easy and exactly as described in our Next SL review. Any slop in the system is taken out using the threaded preload collar on the spindle that you then lock in place with a 2mm allen. No micro shims, no wavy washers, and no headaches with this system. Just a simple solid setup.

My only gripe is that it required a new Race Face specific bottom bracket tool (for those using non press-fit options). That said, don’t throw away your old school internally splined ISIS bottom bracket tool as it is required to fasten the chainring to the crank arm. Overall it’s an extremely easy system to setup properly - something both home mechanics and shop rats will rejoice over.

The crankset features Race Face’s proprietary Cinch chainring/spider system. This system is essentially a splined interface on the driveside crank arm that allows the rider a huge number of driveline setups. From the ego-deflating 26-tooth single ring option to a traditional 3X spider system and basically everything in between, the Cinch System is clean, easy to use, and versatile without adding additional expense. All things that make us tip our cap of engineer ingenuity.

Our scales clocked the crankset at 632 grams with a 34-tooth narrow/wide ring, which is slightly less than most of the competition within the $199.99-299.99 price point. The most popular model, which we tested, is the Direct Mount option at $269.99.

On The Trail

Cranksets are sort of like referees. You only notice them if they are screwing up or making unnecessary noises. After about a month of use, the crankset is actually unnoticeable, which is to say it has done its job extremely well. The system delivers power without undue flex, remains quiet and the bottom bracket bearings are still smooth.

The Turbine crankset has endured a few hard rock/pedal strikes, as one would expect when a sub 13.5-inch bottom bracket is paired with a “I want to pedal through everything” rider. To date they are straight and true. Aesthetically they are holding up, however, the black anodization on both arms is wearing off from shoe rub, something that has occurred on every single crankset I’ve ever owned and hardly a point of concern.

Overall, on trail performance has been superb. I pedal and my bike goes forward. No creaks, no weird noises, and no notable flex… they just work and work well. The Narrow/Wide chainring has performed very well, too, with no chain drops or premature wear.

Long Term Durability

There was a time not too long ago that’d I’d go through a crankset every few months. Those days are now far in the rearview mirror thanks to cranksets like the Turbines, which I expect to last for seasons. Thus far, they show no signs of premature wear or concern.

Things That Could Be Improved

At the $199.99-299.99 price point, depending on configuration, it's hard to fault this crankset. The only two quibbles I have include necessitating the home mechanics among us to purchase yet another proprietary bottom bracket tool, as well as having the crank arm auto-extractor cap unthread itself once on the trail. Both of these are pretty minor at the end of the day with the latter easily being fixed with a bit of locktite. Overall, it is hard to improve a product that performed so well.

What’s The Bottom Line?

Dollar for dollar, this is one of the best cranksets you can buy. With the popularity of 1X setups and evolution of larger wheeled trail bikes, it's nice to have a set of cranks that allows the rider to quickly adjust their setup to match the environment they are faced with. In the Italian Alps? No problem, run that 28-tooth single ring. Heading to a bike park? Cool, throw on a 36-tooth. Doing a 100 mile race? That 2X or 3X setup isn’t hard to add either. This variability combined with flawless performance and very respectable weight makes for a winner.

It's seems Race Face just broke the old adage: priced well, lightweight and strong… well done.

Visit www.raceface.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Jeff Brines didn't go on a real date until he was nearly 20 years old, largely as a result of his borderline unhealthy obsession with bicycles. Although his infatuation with two wheels may have lead to stuttering and sweatiness around the opposite sex, it did provide for an ideal environment to quickly progress through the ranks of both gravity and cross-country racing. These days, Jeff races enduro at the pro level, rides upward of 150 days a year while logging over 325k of human powered ascending/descending on his bike. Bred as a racer, Jeff is more likely to look for the fastest way through a section as opposed to the most playful. Living in the shadow of the Tetons in Jackson, WY, Jeff works in financial intelligence and spends his winters as head ski gear guru and content manager over at earlyups.com.

This product has 1 review

Liked a comment on the item Value DH Project: Building The Best Downhill Bike For Your $$$ 6/20/2014 1:18 PM

I know it goes against every fiber of your being looking at something that's not brand spanking new, current model, even if it's cheaper. But the much bigger reality of buying more affordable bike parts is buying parts that have been sitting in a warehouse for over a year...more

Liked a comment on the item Value DH Project: Building The Best Downhill Bike For Your $$$ 6/20/2014 1:18 PM

yeah man im lovin this also! i just hope that they can build up that bike for less than $3,000.

Liked a comment on the item Value DH Project: Building The Best Downhill Bike For Your $$$ 6/20/2014 1:17 PM

I've had excellent luck with plain Deore brakes and big rotors...

Added a comment about feature Value DH Project: Building The Best Downhill Bike For Your $$$ 6/20/2014 8:35 AM
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Love this

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Added a comment about video Crested Butte Ultra Enduro: 5 Days of Racing in the Birthplace of Mountain Biking 6/13/2014 8:00 AM
Grab

Looks so cool. But the entry fee is a bit steep no?

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Added a comment about video Vital Exclusive: Eddie Masters, E-Duro RAW 6/12/2014 10:53 AM
C138x104

If there is a hell, it's probably something like being Eddie's rear tire...

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