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Royal 2015 Drift Jersey

Vital Review

“Tested: Royal Racing Drift Shorts and 3/4 Jersey – A Royal Line”

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Review by Johan Hjord // Photos by Tal Rozow and Johan Hjord Royal Racing is going on 10 years in business now, and as we took delivery of some 2015 test kit, we had a rummage through the closet for a trip down memory lane. Looking through our pile of old riding clothes, Royal has always remained true to its roots – making functional and stylish kit for those who ask a lot of their gear. Racer heads or freeriders, outgoing color lovers or stealthy operators have always been able to find something to suit their tastes and needs in the catalogue. The quality has always been right up there, and the cuts and fabrics have Read More »

2014 Specialized Epic Expert Carbon World Cup Bike

“lean mean race machine”

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The Good: Rides like a HT

The Bad: Rear shock is slow to open valving, unreliable and expensive to repair

Overall Review: I've a custom built bike with full xx1 and trail xo wc brakes. No need to review the xx1 here, we all know it's top notch. I'm going to focus on Specialized's engineering here. Bike was purchased October 2014 at a bargain price due to new model release, plus no one wanted a small frame. Paid 5200 AUD (4600 USD) for a 2014 Epic Expert WC with full xx1. Can't complain about the price. It had been a custom build that the client walked away from. Strava tells me I've done 1500km on the bike. Carbon SL rims are awesome. Hubs are junk, bearings are already borderline, a high viscosity grease ( thick) was used Read More »

WTB Trail Boss Tire

Featured Review

“Great Tires for the Desert”

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The Good: Rolls fast, Durable, Great sidewall, Plenty of grip.

The Bad: Not the best in soft stuff.

Overall Review: If you have ever ridden in the desert, you know that there just never seems to be the right tire. Tires that are tough with good sidewalls have huge lugs and roll like a tank. Tires with low lugs are so flimsy the razor sharp rocks and spiny cacti kill them in a few rides. When I was riding 26" wheels I had found a few tires that help up to these conditions well, but when I got my new bike with 27.5" wheels I struggled to find some tread that would last. I went through Hans Damphs, Continental Xkings, and Nobby nics. I spent the entire InterBike show in September looking at tires that I thought would hold up to the conditions Read More »

Banshee Spitfire V2 Frame

“Brilliant trail bike for aggressive riders who prioritize descending”

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The Good: Absolute rocket on downhills, strong and high quality frame, confidence inspiring, good pedaling performance, beautiful utilitarian design, long lasting pivot bearings, modular geometry that doesn't take things over the top

The Bad: Heavy for a trail bike, not the best climber in its travel bracket, bottom bracket could be a touch lower and chainstays could be shorter with 650b wheels

Overall Review: Quite simply the best trail or all mountain bike I have ever ridden. I ride very technical trails here in the Pacific Northwest, and this bike has outshined my old Nomad Carbon in just about every way. I have the bike set up with 650b wheels, a 150mm Marzocchi 350 CR, and an Avalanche-tuned Fox CTD shock. Descending No question about it - this bike was built to go downhill fast. The top tube is roomy and, at 6'0 tall, the large feels perfect with a 50mm stem and 785mm bars. A 160mm fork gave the bike a high bottom bracket, so I changed to a 150mm fork and dropped the flip chips in the rear dropout to the lowest BB Read More »

Giro Feature Helmet

“Great budget helmet”

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The Good: Good coverage, reasonably lightweight, looks good

The Bad: Ventilation could be better, no strap adjustment, retention system is finicky

Overall Review: I picked this helmet up for less than $60 - it's a screaming deal. Fit is great, but my head fits Giro helmets well so that is not a surprise. Weight is reasonable for the coverage, and the helmet provides good coverage without looking like a bowling ball strapped to my head. Only a couple gripes. Breathability is generally fine for the cool weather we see here in the Northwest, but it can struggle in warmer conditions. The helmet also doesn't fit a pair of goggles too well - though I rarely ride with them, it would be nice to have a more accommodating shape for those really sloppy days that they are a necessity. Additionally, the retention system has been a little finicky for me and has gotten stuck a few times. The little wheel isn't ideal to adjust on the fly.

Loaded Precision AmXC

“Carbon Cockpit”

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The Good: Strong, extra coarseness for stem and grips, nice width, durable

The Bad: Some may or may not like the graphics

Overall Review: First of all this is a review for Loaded's Carbon version of the AmXc bars. When I first received these bars I was impressed with the packaging. Loaded takes a bit of time to package their products so they are protected stylishly. These are my second set of carbon bars and the are competitively light at 219 Grams on my food scale. I had got these bars because for the local trails, my previous bars felt too wide at 780mm. I was constantly hitting the bar ends on the singletrack. My local trails have lots of narrow passages between trees. The 760mm width instantly felt at home while on the trail and in my Read More »

Loaded Precision AmXC Shorty Stem

Featured Review

“One Solid Shorty”

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The Good: Sexy appeal, robust, light weight, torque specs listed on stem, easy to install

The Bad: There are none really

Overall Review: Loaded Precision is not as recognizable as other companies out there, but I do believe they make some great products and they are competitively priced as well. I have had this stem for about five or six months and I have enjoyed the short 45mm length of it paired with Loaded's carbon 760mm wide bars on my trail bike. First off, Loaded makes some sexy looking parts, they are beautifully machined and have multiple different colors to choose from to match any color scheme you ave going on. Not only are they great looking, but they seem to hold up real well. I have had no complaints with this stem so far. It was easy Read More »

Manitou Dorado Expert Fork

“Best triple crown fork out there-hands down!”

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The Good: Durable, predictable, gorgeous looking

The Bad: Air pressure build up-now solved with soon to be released IFP caps.

Overall Review: You've all read the reviews, and know the specifics on how the internals work exactly, but what's arguably most important is how it rides. Unlike other traditional forks that have predictable characteristics based on specific settings, the Dorado operates with a dynamic feel that, in a word, just "Does"... It doesn't take precise adjusting to get the fork to provide excellent feedback, it is a very forgiving fork that has to be exceptionally far from the correct settings, (For rider weight and terrain), to not be likable. No other fork has come close, in our years of experience. Now, that said, there are many, many forks Read More »

2015 Ghost Riot 7 LC

Vital Review

“Tested: 2015 Ghost Riot 7 LC”

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Review by Fred Robinson // Photos by Luca Cometti With the Big-S FSR patent recently expiring, more and more four-bar style bikes from brands all over the world have started making their way to American soil. Ghost Bikes is one of those brands. With a long history in Germany and all over Europe, Ghost has been designing and selling bikes for over 20 years and offer a huge fleet with more than 150 different models. We were given the opportunity to test the Ghost Riot 7 LC - a 130mm travel 27.5 trail bike with a carbon frame and their unique Riot-link suspension design. Let's see if the Riot 7 LC holds true to its motto: “One Read More »

7iDP Transition Elbow Pad

Featured Review

“Solid, versatile pads”

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The Good: the padding is thick enough for fairly serious hits and they stayed put when crashing. the material dries out super fast, and breaths very well

The Bad: the fitting around the wrist is a little tight compared to the upper arm (could just be how I'm built)

Overall Review: I got these pads for their versatility and am very happy with them. I use them on rougher trail rides and when racing/riding DH and Super D. I live in Phoenix AZ, so tripping while walking a trail and getting hurt on a rock is possible, so when riding a bike at much faster speeds, damage on some greater level is a reality. I keep them in my pack on trail rides, but if I know what I'm getting into at the start of my ride, it's easier to put them on first as I need to remove my watch and gloves to get them on. I wore them all day at the Bootleg race in March, starting with morning practice, racing my Super D Run, Read More »