Latest Product Reviews


e*thirteen TRS+ Cassette

Vital Review

“Tested: e*thirteen TRS+ Cassette”

Review by Evan Turpen // Action Photos by Joel Harwood, Product Photos by AJ Barlas and Evan Turpen Over the last 20 years there have been incredible changes in mountain bike technology, but drivetrain technology still seems to change at a snail’s pace. We’ve only added three additional cogs to our cassettes in that 20 year span. Gearboxes are the potential holy grail of durability, gear range, and weight placement, but they may never be ready for the mainstream yet. Narrow-wide chainrings, clutch-equipped derailleurs, and add-on cassette expanders are recent steps towards greater performance, but consumers still want more. Read More »
Rate review: +3 Up Down
Vital MTB member E.T.
699 E.T.,699/all 08/31/09 4 8 1 5 47 13

Hope Technology Tech 3 E4 Hydraulic Disc Brake Set

Featured Review

“Not just good looks”


The Good:

Beautifully made / Easy to bleed / Predictable power / Dead reliable / Comfortable, stiff lever

The Bad:

Price / Pistons can stick in caliper when new / Weight is higher than most competitors

Overall Review: These brakes are my new favorites. After years of trouble with Avids, a bad experience with Magura, and constant annoyances with both pairs of Shimanos that I most recently owned, I decided to spring for the Hope Tech E4 based on almost unanimously positive reviews around the internet. I was able to find a great deal on the brakes that put them within the range of their competitors, so I bit the bullet and ordered a pair. First impressions were outstanding - these brakes are made to a higher standard than anything else out there. Everything on them is beautifully finished, yet utilitarian - the burly, Read More »

OneUp Components Traction Chainring

Vital Review

“Tested: OneUp Components Traction Chainring”

Review by Fred Robinson // Photos by Josh Job (action) and Fred Robinson Hailing from the mountain bike mecca that is Squamish, B.C., OneUp Components has been churning out truly unique and innovative drivetrain components and upgrades for a number of years now. Replacement derailleur cages said to improve shifting performance, expander sprockets that increase the range of your stock cassette, and some elegantly simple and well-thought-out chainguides have come from the small team at OneUp. Their creations are inspired by what they’d like to see on their personal bikes. Recently, OneUp gave us the Read More »
Rate review: +3 Up Down
Vital MTB member FredLikesTrikes
18548 FredLikesTrikes,18548/all 09/14/12 130 3 255 167,18548/setup 30 206 57 40

Spank Oozy Trail295 Bead Bite Wheels

“Better wheels out there for the money...”


The Good:

Customer support, pretty colors...if riding on red rims is your thing...

The Bad:

Unreliable freehub, spoke tension and lateral strength...

Overall Review: Granted I'm 6' 1" tall, weigh about 200lbs and wail on and load my wheels on some pretty technical trails, I still think the wheels should have performed much better. I've had the wheels for about 5 months and have had many challenges with the hub, the spoke tension and the outer rim. ------------------------------------------------- FREE HUB: ------------------------------------------------- These wheels have inspired me to buy and build my own wheels again. The 3 pawl and 27t engagement isn't enough and typical of lesser quality hubs/wheels. This roomy engagement can have an effect on technical climbs and Read More »

2016 Felt Decree 3

Vital Review

“2016 Test Sessions: Felt Decree 3”

Reviewed by Fred Robinson and AJ Barlas // Photos by Lear Miller While Felt might be best known for their road bikes, over the past few years they’ve been hard at work further developing their mountain line. Featuring an all carbon frame with Felt Active Stay Technology (FAST) suspension, the 140mm (5.5-inch) travel Decree uses flexible seatstays in order to mimic the performance characteristics of a four-bar system, yet eliminates the need for a pivot near the rear dropout. This simplifies and reduces the overall weight of the rear triangle, yielding an ultralight frame that's still surprisingly sturdy. We were excited to throw a Read More »
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Vital MTB member bturman
109 bturman,109/all 08/01/09 1156 92 6023 1040,109/setup 264 1143 2126 130 39

Giro Cipher Helmet

“Good helmet for the budget conscious”


The Good:

Good fit
Breathes well
Plays well with Atlas neck braces

The Bad:

Chin bar is too close to face
Finish could be better

Overall Review: The Cipher is a great all around helmet with great air flow for staying cool on warm days. The field of view is good, and the helmet appears to be solidly built. Giro's helmet shape has always worked well for me, and the Cipher is no different. As an evolution of the Remedy helmet, the Cipher improves in almost every way - D ring buckle, burly DH-certified protection, and better padding while maintaining a reasonable weight. My main gripes are associated with the value that this helmet provides - it offers good protection for a good price, but the finish quality is somewhat lacking. Many other helmets have moved toward Read More »

Race Face SixC Handlebar

“A carbon bar worth trusting your teeth with”


The Good:

Comfortable sweep / rise

The Bad:


Overall Review: I have typically been less than trusting of carbon bars given some of my prior experiences with lack of durability in crashes. The SixC has changed my mind. RaceFace has done a great job of creating a bar with a great balance of stiffness and vibration damping that is comfortable on all day rides, but still strong enough to go balls out in the bike park. I have not been too kind to my SixC bars and they have shrugged off crashes, botched landings and other rowdiness without flinching.

FOX 2016 Float 36 FIT RC2 Suspension Fork

“Single crown awesomeness for aggressive riders”


The Good:

Incredible damping control
Highly tunable
Lightweight bruiser
Great finish quality

The Bad:

Lots of knobs means more time setting it up
Can feel harsh if not charging
Price a bit steep

Overall Review: Let me just start off by saying this fork is amazing - really, it is astounding that mountain bike suspension has been able to come this far in so little time. My last Fox fork was a 2012 Fox 36 Talas that required a ton of maintenance, was always a bit sticky, and tended to dive a bit. I dabbled with Rockshox products for a bit and even went so far as to try XFusion and Marzocchi's offerings in the long travel all mountain single crown category - it's a good time to be an all mountain rider because of the range of products that are all pretty damn good. But Fox, you win the category in my mind. I had a bad couple of Read More »

2016 Scott Genius LT 710

Vital Review

“2016 Test Sessions: Scott Genius LT 710”

Reviewed by Steve Wentz and Brandon Turman // Photos by Lear Miller Scott's Genius LT received a major overhaul in 2014, and while the 2016 model doesn't look all that different from recent years, the company's continued focus on refinement could help improve the overall ride. Previous Genius LT bikes have had their pros and cons, with suspension that didn't quite agree with us and some questionable component choices. The latest version makes use of FOX's most up to date rear shock technology and custom tuned 36 fork, which much more closely align with how a 170mm (6.7-inch) travel bike can be ridden. Will a slight evolution Read More »
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Vital MTB member bturman
109 bturman,109/all 08/01/09 1156 92 6023 1040,109/setup 264 1143 2126 130 39

2016 Santa Cruz Bronson C S

Vital Review

“2016 Test Sessions: Santa Cruz Bronson C S”

Reviewed by AJ Barlas and Brandon Turman // Photos by Lear Miller New for 2016, Santa Cruz revamped their ever popular Bronson, the company's 150mm travel all-around trail smasher. While the updates may seem minor on paper, they’re just the right amount to take it from being a pretty "standard" trail bike by today’s standards to something with more potential to get wild and ridden with aggression. You're looking at a revised Virtual Pivot Point (VPP) suspension system, fresh rear shock tune, Boost axle spacing, slacker and longer geometry, lower standover heights, and more. The Bronson faced off with the rowdy, rocky Read More »
Rate review: +2 Up Down
Vital MTB member bturman
109 bturman,109/all 08/01/09 1156 92 6023 1040,109/setup 264 1143 2126 130 39