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Added a product review for iXS Trail RS Helmet 4/15/2014 1:29 PM
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Tested: IXS Trail RS Helmet

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Jessee Maule // Photos by Colt Maule

Speed on two wheels: That has been iXS's core business right from the start, providing functional sportswear and protection created from high-tech materials that you can rely on. The Trail RS Helmet is a contemporary trail helmet which attempts to provide the perfect blend of style and quality in a design that covers a large part of the head. The Trail RS boasts ‘Dual-compound head ring for highest comfort and optimized fit, a dual-inmould, lower 360 degree inmould shell to prevent front damage, Y-clip adjustable strap system, ratchet safety closure, crash release visor, dual-compound dial adjuster, Ergo Fit Ultra, and a fully flexible and adjustable retention system’. Now that's a long list of features to pack into a "simple" trail helmet, and I was curious to figure out what it would all translate to in the real world. Well, I toted this helmet around with me during my travels and was able to put it to good use.

iXS Trail RS Highlights

  • Full Inmould coverage for optimized absorption and weight
  • Aeration System with 22 large vents and internal air channels
  • Adjustable Bolt System MX style visor, optimized
  • Flexibility and full visual field
  • Crash-Release Visor
  • Dual-Compound Dial Adjuster
  • Ergo-Fit Ultra, fully flexible and Adjustable Retention System
  • Dual-Compound Head Ring for highest comfort and optimized fit
  • Dual-Inmould, Lower 360 Degree Inmould Shell to prevent damage
  • Y-Clip Adjustable Strap System
  • Rachet Safety Closure
  • Colors: Black, Blue, Green, Grey, Sand White
  • Sizes: SM (54-58cm) ML (58-62cm)
  • EN1078 and CPSC certified
  • Weight: +/-320g
  • MSRP: $119.00

Initial Impressions

When I first laid eyes on the IXS Trail RS Helmet, my initial impressions were that it is a quality, nice looking, stream-lined helmet. The color is vibrant, yet complimenting. The helmet didn’t appear too bulky, and when I picked it up, it felt very light.

Putting the helmet on, I was pleased to find it quite comfortable right off the bat. One thing that impressed me and really stood out is that I didn’t feel stricken with the dreaded bobble head effect, which some lids can do to you in a hurry. The Trail RS fit snugly, yet comfortably, and I was really happy with how the Dual-Compound Dial Adjuster worked to tighten the helmet. I felt this system gave me more control over the fit when adjusting the helmet.

The helmet has a little bit of an oval shape to fit the head versus the rounder circumference of other helmets I have worn. Being of the new school, dare I say Enduro-style, the Trail RS wraps around the head in the back to provide coverage for a larger part of the skull compared to traditional XC-style helmets, which is reassuring for when things get a bit hectic on the trail. Rocking the dreads makes me more prone to pressure points on my head and at times, it can take a moment to adjust a helmet properly to avoid discomfort. I didn’t come across that problem with the iXS Helmet.

The padding is comfortable without being excessive or bulky, and thanks to its absorbent qualities I never had to suffer sweat dripping down on my brow line which can be a hazard of some helmets. The straps hung smoothly and uniformly and didn't require any major adjustment out of the box.

On The Trail

I had the opportunity to test this helmet in mountainous environments as well as in the desert. On every ride, I found the helmet to be breathable and well ventilated. It never caused me to feel overheated, even in sunny, warmer climates. Once I was geared up and riding, the helmet on my head was never a thought or concern. I was never struck with the desire or idea that I needed to take the helmet off my head to give my skull a breather.

If needed, adjusting the helmet on the trail was quick and convenient. The visor offers minimal adjustment and does provide some protection from the sun. For the most part, my sunglasses fit well with this helmet too. From time to time I’d bump my head against low hanging branches in the woodlands or while hugging turns, and the helmet took these blows like a champ. It would be the sound of snagging a branch that would alert me to contact instead of the feeling that I bumped my head on something. Being a rookie tester, I lack the experience of some of my seasoned, die-hard colleagues and this time around I just couldn’t titty up and stuff my head into the ground for a proper crash test rating. With that being said, I do feel this helmet would hold up to such a test and protect my head in the event of a crash.

Things That Could Be Improved

As far as improvements go, I would have preferred to be able to lift the visor up a little bit more due to the fact that once in a while it would catch my eye and distract me for a second [editor's note: this is a common issue on many trail lids and one that manufacturers would do well to take note of]. Other than that, I didn’t discover any major shortcomings with this helmet. The padding on the chin strap is a bit awkward and large for a strap that goes under your chin, but it wasn’t something that was continually uncomfortable. To me it just kinda looked weird. There is always the option to remove the chin strap padding to make it less bulky.

The side of the helmet did come into contact with the arms of certain pairs of sunglasses. With some sunglasses, I can see where this might create an issue with uncomfortable contact pressure; just something to be aware of when searching for a proper helmet/sunglass combo fit. What it boils down to here is a rider’s needs and personal preference.

Long Term Durability

The Trail RS presented no particular signs pointing to any durability concerns during the test. It handled being tossed around in a van for transport, doesn’t appear to scuff easily, and it’s easy to clean off. It presents itself as a quality product that I feel confident would protect my head if the need arose, and it has held up well to life on the trail so far with out showing any signs of early breakdown or wear. I also feel that with continuous use over time, the chinstrap padding will break in and take on a more natural form.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Trail RS left me quite pleased and impressed, especially for a trail lid. I felt adequately protected in case of a crash, it fit properly, and I didn’t think I appeared overly goofy wearing the helmet. I generally prefer black helmets, but I was surprised by the fact that I actually enjoyed the vibrant, blue hue of the Trail RS and found it to be a flattering color. This helmet would be a good choice for riders of varying skill levels. It sports clean looks and is fairly priced for the quality of helmet, while being stylish and providing advanced protection for one of your most important body parts. The helmet is well ventilated and provides adequate airflow to help keep your head from overheating, and you soon forget you're even wearing it.

Visit www.ixs-sportsdivision.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Jessee Maule’s mountain biking adventures and exploits began roughly four years ago when she and her husband immersed themselves completely into the world of mountain biking and travel. With a lifestyle that constantly takes her to different mountain biking locations, Jessee enjoys prime opportunities to put her long travel and squishy suspension to good use. Lots of saddle time in ever-changing topography provides her with the opportunity to hone her skills in all kinds of terrain while experiencing how products perform in diverse environments. While she is willing to earn her turns, her smile is grandest on flowing descents, especially if there are jumps, berms and rollers to play on, or maybe a fast, techy section with multiple line choices. To sum it up, mountain biking and traveling for a living gives Jessee the unique opportunity to put her products through the paces in a variety of locations and her gender allows for a fresh, alternative perspective.

This product has 1 review

Added a comment about photo Ahab bliss 4/7/2014 2:28 PM
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Rad shot Devon!!

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Added a product review for Bell Stoker Helmet 4/2/2014 3:26 PM
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Tested: Bell Stoker Helmet

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Colt Maule // Projekt Roam

Established in 1954, Bell Helmets exists to 'inspire and enable the next generation of boundary breakers'. The goggle-compatible Bell Stoker Helmet is a go-to, all-mountain helmet with just the right amount of substance and style. Featuring air channeling vents, an adjustable visor, a SpeedDial Fit System, and extended rear coverage, the Stoker keeps you cool and confident while riding any terrain. I brought this helmet along for a few months of road tripping and bike shredding, and I’m glad I did... because it saved my head.

Bell Stoker Helmet Highlights

  • Airflow Brow Band
  • Channeled Ventilation
  • Coolmax Padding
  • Goggle Compatible
  • SpeedDial Fit System
  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL
  • Colors: Black/Red Haze, Matte Blue, Matte Glow Green, Matte Safety Orange, White/Silver Haze, Matte Black, Matte Titanium
  • Weight: 316g
  • Vents: 13 vents, 4 brow ports
  • Certification: CE 1078, CPSC Bicycle
  • MSRP: $70.00 USD

Initial Impressions

I pulled this helmet out of the box and was immediately impressed with the quality of helmet $70 could get you. It was comfy and easy to adjust to my head thanks to the SpeedDial Fit System. The flat black color looked great, it didn’t feel bulky or heavy,and I was pleased to have the extra protection the helmet offered for the back of my head in case of a crash.

Initial fitting of the helmet to my head went very smoothly and was less time consuming than helmets I have used in the past. The SpeedDial Fit System offered a quick way to adjust the helmet without the need to remove or add any padding. The neck straps hung from the helmet in the right spots and were easy to adjust around my ears. Neither too long nor too short, the strap also fit comfortably beneath my chin.

On The Trail

I took this helmet on the road with me for a few months to wear while riding in different environments. From the desert to the sea, this helmet held up strong, until it met its abrupt end. The temperatures in the areas I visited ranged from 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The entire time on trail, my head felt adequately ventilated and I had minimal brow sweat dripping onto my glasses. The Stoker's adjustments work well and the helmet fits properly, thus it never rattled around or applied awkward pressure on my head. My sunglasses fit in the helmet without any contact and I rarely even noticed the helmet on my head. The short visor stayed up and out of the way, going almost unnoticed, but still offered a sliver of protection from the glaring sun.

I never thought I would actually find the opportunity to fully test a helmet while testing a helmet, but things don't always go as planned.... isn't that the reason we wear helmets? I took a high-speed digger; my bike high-sided and catapulted me into the air which ended with me slamming my head into the ground. Thankfully, I was wearing the Bell Stoker helmet. It took the brunt of the impact, and I immediately hopped back onto my feet. My friends asked if I was OK to which I honestly replied yes. Then they asked why my helmet looked so funny. I took it off and noticed the crack in the front right temple of the helmet and the missing visor... I shook my head in disbelief, picked the visor up off the ground, snapped it back into the helmet, strapped it on my head, and finished the ride. I have never slammed my head hard enough to crack a helmet, let alone be able to immediately get up and have no adverse side effects. I was thankful I was wearing the Stoker that day. The helmet worked and my head is A-ok!

Things That Could Be Improved

The matte finish on this helmet shows signs of wear very easily. Within the first day of use the helmet already had scuff marks. After a couple months of constant use, the helmet is scuffed and the area around the visor shows wear marks. Otherwise, I like this helmet as is. Some individuals may prefer more adjustability of the visor, but I felt the visor's placement and size were perfect. I was never worried about the visor coming loose with the lock in system and it still offered minimal adjustment if needed.

Long Term Durability

Minus stuffing the helmet head first into the ground and cracking it, I've had no issues with durability; straps, buckles, and the visor are still hanging tough. The matte finish on this helmet will scuff easily but this will not adversely impact overall longevity.

What's The Bottom Line?

Bell has been making quality helmets for a long time and it shows. The Bell Stoker Helmet is a good choice of helmet for riders of any skill level. It's simple and affordable, yet stylish and effective. It has good ventilation and it's comfortable. With a full range of sizes and the easy-to-use SpeedDial Fit System, the Stoker should fit most heads out there, providing the protection and confidence that a good helmet should. I liked this helmet and I am pretty bummed I crashed and cracked it. I enjoyed using it and most of the time I forgot it was even on my head. [editor's note: Bell offers a crash replacement program for US customers, which provides a discount on a new replacement helmet following crash damage].

Visit www.bellhelmets.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Colt Maule's mountain biking roots took hold during his youth in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, and bikes have been a part of his life from that point on. Over the past four years, he has submersed himself completely in the world of mountain biking. He travels full time to numerous trail systems and mountainous locations that generally put his long travel or extra squish suspension to good use. Since he spends quite a bit of time in new areas, it's a common theme for Colt to be riding a trail for the first time, pinned with local riders. No matter where he is, his trail style keeps him constantly accelerating; whether he's manualing, popping off rocks and rollers, or railing corners. He's probably happiest though, on a good, technical descent. The benefit of riding a mountain bike full time for a living, in continually changing locations, accompanied by his demanding riding style, allows Colt to put his products to the test in every situation.

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Liked a comment on the item Projekt Roam: Vital Quick Rip - Sedona, AZ 3/16/2014 7:38 PM

Rippin! Love this trail.

Added bike check PROJEKT ROAM: Pivot Firebird 2/20/2014 10:56 AM
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Added a product review for Axiom Annihilateair G200LE Floor Pump 1/20/2014 6:31 PM
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Tested: Axiom Annihilateair G200LE Floor Pump

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Colt Maule

Axiom is committed to helping cyclists ride more and live better, and they have been at it for 25 years. Their products are designed and tested by avid cyclists, so every minute detail is painstakingly considered before a final design is approved. Axiom relentlessly pursue new ways to reduce their footprint, using environmentally sensitive processes and materials in all of their products and packaging. With that background, I was curious to see what they can bring to us riders, so I put their Annihilateair G200LE floor pump to the test.

Annihilateair G200LE Pump Highlights

  • 13 x 9-inch powder coated aluminum base with pedal pins for traction
  • 25-inch blasted 6063-T6 aluminum barrel
  • Aluminum CLAMPDOWN handle with LOCKDOWN grips
  • Chrome pump shaft
  • HEADRUSH DLX dual-valve connector to fit Schrader and Presta valves
  • Precision bleed valve
  • Head storage clip
  • 52-inch hose
  • Oversized 2.5-inch 200psi gauge
  • Weight: 3.75-pounds
  • MSRP: $111.00

Initial Impressions

It's just a floor pump, right? Not this bad boy... it's like the monster truck of floor pumps! Pulling the Annihilateair out of its box immediately put a smile on my face. The lock on grips, oversized PSI gauge, durable chrome pump shaft, and beefy base riddled with pedal pins all tell of a pump that means business.

First impressions are important, and it looks cool and all, but how would that translate to performance? The key is finding the balance between quality, size, stability, efficiency and price. Good ol' floor pumps are an absolute necessity for any faithful cyclist and as a daily trail rider, I made sure to put this floor pump to good use over the last couple of months to find out if it walks the walk too.

On The Trail and In The Shop

The Annihilateair looks good, and is easy to use. The HEADRUSH DLX dual-valve connector fits easily on both Schrader and Presta valves just as advertised. You simply put the valve connector on the valve, turn the locking lever, and start pumping away. The pump provides adequate air volume with little effort and allows for precise air adjustment via a button on the valve connector. The PSI gauge proved accurate with every use. The pump is also capable of seating a tubeless tire. I did notice, however, that it is quite difficult to turn the locking lever into and out of the locking position.

The 52" pump hose is long enough to reach your tires whether the bike is on the ground or in the repair stand, and it stores away nicely providing a convenient lock for the pump handle. The large aluminum base provides a stable platform for operating the pump in almost any terrain. This base, with its oversized and very grippy pedal pins proved to be one of the pump's strongest features, although as with many great things there comes a compromise. The large base was at times bulky and difficult to stash away in a vehicle or roof top cargo box, making it not entirely ideal for transport.

Some of my shorter female friends used the pump and commented how the pump extension was meant for a tall person. However, regardless of a user's height, the pump worked properly even without the handle being extended to the full 50".

The price on this pump is a little steep for my taste, but after using it in the field and experiencing its quality first hand, I now understand it's a pump that should last longer than you own most bikes, bar excessive abuse (more on that later). Overall, the pump performed well throughout the test, and I really liked it. Using this pump even makes the tedious task of tire inflation kinda fun...

Things That Could Be Improved

I did find one weak spot... towards the end of testing I managed to set the pump down perfectly on a partially buried rock and it hit the underside of the gauge in just the right spot to where the gauge popped out and broke at the brass connection to the pump. Up until that point, I felt as though the pump was bullet proof. On the upside, there is a lifetime warranty on the pump and I'm expecting my replacement part to show up in the near future.

Axiom is aware of the potential issue and future pumps will have an aluminum plate on the bottom to protect the gauge from intrusions from the ground. Despite that mishap, I was stilled pleased with the performance of the pump, and it should be noted that it takes a combination of good aim and bad luck to reproduce this breakage. Additionally, I'd like to see the locking action of the valve lever become a bit smoother.

Long Term Durability

Over the two month test period I lugged this pump around throughout my travels. It was tossed into truck beds, under back seats, and in and out of rooftop storage boxes in addition to pumping up many a tire at the trailheads. The pump still works just as well as it did on day one and barely has a scratch to show for it all, bar the aforementioned freak incident with the guage. In fact, this pump is so manly I was more concerned with the large aluminum base and pedal pins causing damage to my other gear. To avoid that, I often placed a towel between the pump and my other gear.

What's The Bottom Line?

The Annihilateair is a cool pump that does the job, no question. If you're a bells and whistles kind of person who doesn't mind paying a bit of a premium for your tools, it is awesome. The lock on grips and metal pump shaft are solid and comfortable. The large base with pedal pins, combined with an oversized PSI gauge that you can see from space, made this pump stand out among many others I have used. It's complete with some fun bike bling, and its performance makes it ideal for a garage or workshop. If you're looking for something compact and travel convenient, this pump may not be right for you.

For more details, visit www.axiomgear.com.


About The Reviewer

Colt Maule's mountain biking roots took hold during his youth in the San Bernardino Mountains of Southern California, and bikes have been a part of his life from that point on. Over the past four years, he has submersed himself completely in the world of mountain biking. He travels full time to numerous trail systems and mountainous locations that generally put his long travel or extra squish suspension to good use. Since he spends quite a bit of time in new areas, it's a common theme for Colt to be riding a trail for the first time, pinned with local riders. No matter where he is, his trail style keeps him constantly accelerating; whether he's manualing, popping off rocks and rollers, or railing corners. He's probably happiest though, on a good, technical descent. The benefit of riding a mountain bike full time for a living, in continually changing locations, accompanied by his demanding riding style allows Colt to put his products to the test in every situation.

This product has 1 review

Liked a comment on the item The Most Expensive Mountain Bike in the World 12/24/2013 9:45 PM

MRP guide, nice.

projekt roam added a feature story Destinations with Projekt Roam: Whitefish Bike Retreat 11/28/2013 7:17 PM

It was one of those brilliant and crisp late summer mornings. Bird calls resonated throughout the...

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Added a blog post Destinations: Whitefish Bike Retreat 11/28/2013 6:27 PM

It was one of those brilliant and crisp late summer mornings. Bird calls resonated throughout the...

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Added a new photo album Destinations: Whitefish Bike Retreat 11/28/2013 6:26 PM
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Added a new photo album Landscapes Vol. 3 11/18/2013 9:25 AM
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Added a new video PROJEKT ROAM: Landscapes Vol. 3 11/18/2013 8:44 AM
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Landscapes is a film series that celebrates and depicts the fruit of the earth's time and toils with the elements that have helped to create and shape the terrain we mountain bike across today. Volume 3 of Landscapes captures the charm and range of Whitefish, Montana. Throughout this rugged and tumultuous topography, trails abound. Ripe for exploring, this town is a treasure cache of mountain biking diversity.

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Added a new photo album Hanging out with Team Harmony 2013 10/30/2013 4:38 PM
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Added a new video PROJEKT ROAM: Landscapes Vol. 2 10/24/2013 6:35 AM
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If it wasn't for the colorful and diverse landscapes that decorate and geographically define our country, where would we ride? Landscapes is a film series that celebrates and depicts the fruit of the earth's time and toils with the elements that have helped to create and shape the terrain we mountain bike across today. Volume Two of Landscapes showcases several sides of the multi faceted trail systems found in Durango, CO. This elevated, mountainous country provides a plethora of variation and trail options for any mountain bike adventurer to explore.

Previously on Landscapes..

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Added a new photo album Landscapes Vol. 2 10/22/2013 3:48 PM
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Added bike check PROJEKT ROAM: Pivot Phoenix DH 9/10/2013 2:04 PM
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Added bike check PROJEKT ROAM: Pivot Mach 5.7 8/16/2013 5:39 PM
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