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2015 Niner JET 9 RDO Limited Edition

Vital Review

“Tested: 2015 Niner Jet 9 RDO”

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Review by Joel Harwood // Photos by AJ Barlas At the end of March, I was offered the opportunity to race the BC Bike Race. This 7 day XC stage race is advertised as the ‘ultimate single track experience’. Being that my little bike falls on the burly end of the spectrum I wanted to get my hands on a capable, durable XC whippet to train and race on. The ideal marathon XC bike has to be light and efficient enough to allow a rider to conserve energy as much as possible, but it also needs to be confidence inspiring for whatever one might come across while on the trail. Enter the Niner Jet 9 RDO Limited Read More »

RockShox Boxxer RC Fork

“Simple and great”

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The Good: Price, easy set up, reliability, weight, easy to do your own service

The Bad: You can lose rebound knob.

Overall Review: Awesome fork for good money (if you look at other fork prices...) and easy settings. It will ride great if you do at least 1 oil changing per season (depends on how much you ride, of course). It has two very basic settings - compression and rebound and you honestly don't need anything else except racing on WC level and even there, some guys race RC forks. You can lose rebound knob if you hit some rocks or fall.. Just setup the fork and remove the knob, you don't need it there all the time once the fork is set-up.

2014 Scott Gambler 30 Bike

Featured Review

“Awesome bike, good price”

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The Good: This bike is great. It has exactly the same geometry as 10 or 20 Gambler model but with lower priced components and of course for a better price. Great handling, fast and HOT looking! This frame will go through two seasons of racing easily. Once you change few components on the bike you have nothing to worry about. Otherwise, everything is good, wheels are strong, stock 'syncross' components are looking great and very strong. Pedaling is surprisingly good.

The Bad: The Gambler 30 has some components that have to be changed from the beginning in my opinion. Brakes are critical for every downhill rider and those Elixir 1 are not helping. Also, the chainguide is very weak and you WILL break it. And maybe the next bad point could be the weight of the bike, which is around 39.6 lbs (18.0 KG). I don't mind that, it still handles great and it's better that it is a bit heavier but strong and confident at any track.

Overall Review: I've had this bike for this season now. Few of my friends have last year model and are still running this year. It is a great bike, i would recommend it to anyone - racer or bike park shredder. The rear of the bike is soft from the beginning but it really feels like you have endless rear travel. Everything is so dialed on this bike, Scott did a great job with the new geometry. If it's stock chainguide and brakes would be better, this would be 5 stars. I give it 4.5 just because of that. After having few downhill bikes from different brands.. I have finally found what I need.. A fast bike that will hold me for more than one season with no problem or special maintenance.

Kore OCD Handlebar

“Like the McGuyver of wide bars”

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The Good: 800mm means there's space to cut
Lightweight
Stiff enough
Durable

The Bad: Aluminum has a fatigue life

Overall Review: I bought these trying to go wider on my 160mm bike. Well....800mm is about as wide as you're gonna get for the most part. Jeebus! I tried it a ride at 800mm and knew immediately that it wasn't going to work that way. I tried on a few different settings and eventually settled on 760mm. That's a lot of cutting, right? Luckily there's gradations every 10mm so you can get things cut right. Bar actually cuts relatively easily. It's not a soft bar either. I've wrecked a few times with it and it isn't worse for wear. Eventually those wrecks WILL add up because it's aluminum and will fatigue eventually. The bar is very lightweight for Read More »

2015 Giant Reign Advanced 27.5 0 Team

Vital Review

“First Look, First Ride: 2015 Giant Reign 27.5”

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Review by Brandon Turman // Photos by Sterling Lorence After over two years of development, testing, and fine tuning, the Giant Reign 27.5 is finally here. While Giant may have begun their 27.5 quest with a prototype Reign, it’s the last to hit the market. Why did it take so long? Giant says they were busy trying to make the best bike possible, and that took time. The bike is redesigned from the ground up for 27.5-inch wheels. It’s longer, lower, and slacker than ever before, making the 6.3-inch (160mm) travel bike even more capable. For 2015, Giant will offer the Reign with Advanced Composite (carbon) and Read More »

Specialized Atlas XC Pro Short

Vital Review

“Tested: Specialized Atlas XC Pro Short”

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Review by AJ Barlas // Photos by Jon Anthony We recently tested the Specialized Atlas XC Pro jersey and some keen eyes will have noticed that there was a matching short in the images from the article. That matching short was the Atlas Pro XC short and like the jersey, it's not your usual XC labeled bit of riding apparel. In fact, the short is closer to what others may label a trail short. Much like the jersey, the short has been designed to be worn all day, keeping out of the way and remaining comfortable on the trail, without being a skin tight piece of lycra. As an added bonus (for those interested), it also Read More »

2014 Commencal Meta Hip Hop 1

Vital Review

“2014 Test Sessions: Commencal Meta Hip Hop 1”

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Reviewed by Evan Turpen, John Hauer and Brandon Turman // Photos by Shawn Spomer and Lear Miller A new bike with 26-inch wheels?! In 2014? Gasp. Clearly Commencal isn’t afraid to have some fun. The Meta Hip Hop is made for those looking to jump, rally bermed turns, drag bar (or at least attempt to), and just have a good time. They say it has “the responsiveness and performance of a trail bike combined with the aggressiveness, ease of jumping, and downhill abilities of an enduro bike.” By combining 120mm of rear travel with a 140mm fork and a slack 66-degree headtube angle, it’s certainly an interesting ride. Curious to Read More »

2013 KHS SixFifty 5500 Bike

“2013 KHS SixFifty 5500”

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The Good: Price, good descender

The Bad: Cockpit can feel a bit cramped

Overall Review: Been riding this bike for about 9 months. Great all-mountain bike.  Perfect for someone on a budget that still knows how to mash down the mountain.  Only complaint is that the cockpit feels cramped when climbing, but I didn't buy this thing to go fast uphill.  Not the best components, but good bike to start with, or to build from.

Urge 2014 Supacross Helmet

Vital Review

“Tested: Urge Supacross Helmet”

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Review by Josh Cady // Action photo by Xotio Media The Supacross is a 14-vent cross country/trail helmet from the French company Urge. While not new to the helmet scene, this is Urge’s first foray into protecting the brain-housing part of cross country riders. It is available in six different colors, has adjustable padding inserts, and is equipped with a dial-in retention system. It is fabricated with in-mold construction and made with a recycled EPS shell. The straps are made from recycled PET. Available in S/M (54-57cm and L/XL (57-60cm), it retails for $129.95. I took the helmet’s ability to handle the Read More »

Specialized Atlas XC Pro Jersey

Vital Review

“Tested: Specialized Atlas Pro XC Jersey”

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Review by AJ Barlas // Photos by Jon Anthony It seems the days of limiting 'XC' labeled apparel to lycra is drawing to a close, and that can't come soon enough if you ask us. Companies like Specialized have created entire lines of XC gear, none of which are revealing though all are made to breathe well, to be comfortable for trail bike use and technically capable of being ridden in all day. The Atlas XC Pro jersey is Specialized's answer to a garment that stays out of the way, while keeping you cool on those long rides. We've been ripping about on the trail bike for a couple of months in this jersey to see Read More »