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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 »

2014 Kona Explosif Bike

Featured Review

“2014 Kona Explosif”

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The Good: Price, SLX/XT Spec, Party Geometry, Tubeless Ready Wheels

The Bad: Rear Tire Clearance, Deore Shifters

Overall Review: As soon as this bike was released, I knew I needed one. Having wanted a steel hardtail for the last couple seasons to complement my quiver, a quick review of the numbers on the Explosif confirmed my initial impulses. Missing the mid-season release of the 2013, I promptly ordered a 2014 for Spring delivery. The important components are spot on with a complete SLX build and a XT rear changer. The only miss on the mechanical components in my opinion are the Deore shifters, which do not allow for inboard adjustment when married to the brake levers. Regarding the cockpit spec, the stock Kona parts will work for a majority of riders, Read More »

2014 Trek Remedy 9.8 27.5/650b

Vital Review

“2014 Test Sessions: Trek Remedy 9.8 27.5”

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Reviewed by Steve Wentz and Brandon Turman // Photos by Shawn Spomer and Lear Miller The Trek Remedy has been a mainstay in the trail bike realm since before trail bikes were a must have item. For 2014 the bike received a few upgrades in the form of 27.5-inch wheels and a burlier 34mm stanchion fork. Surprisingly Trek reduced the travel from 150 to 140mm as a result of the bigger wheels and in an effort to better fill the gap between the 120mm Fuel EX and 160mm Slash. They also reduced the head angle by 0.5 degrees. Would any of the changes be detrimental to the ride or would they improve it in other ways? Curious to Read More »

Shimano M162 SPD Shoes

Featured Review

“Nice all mountain spd shoe!”

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The Good: 1. All mountain weight weenie shoe- they feel light! 2. Fit and finish are all Shimano- super nice 3. They are a great value at Vital's retail partners.
4. Sizing is spot on, since they use the Euro chart and it offers fractions of sizes.
5. The ratchet release is the best I've used.
6. Toe box is roomy, but not sloppy.
7. Heel retention is perfect!

The Bad: 1. The accents could have been black - fashion slave
2. White shoes make my feet look big and they aren't - that's what she said

Overall Review: To preface this review I am coming off of the Mavic Alpine XL so #enduro. I went to this shoe since I wanted to lighten up my shoes without going to the ultra light and slippery carbon sole'd full on XC shoes that I've used in the past. I prefer a shoe that once I've unclipped or clipped out I can still hammer on the power and clip back in when I get the chance without feeling like my foot is gonna blow off the pedal as I rack myself on the top tube. These are a GO TO shoe for riders looking for great trail shoes without the 1/2 lbs. weight penalty of the shoes offering big neoprene cuffs, some semi-flexible Read More »

Race Face Charge Leg Guards

“Great XC knee guard for those just in case moments for riders who usually don't have catastrophic starfish moves coming off the bike in the trees at speed.”

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The Good: Fit is right on according to RF sizing. The don't move down the leg while riding. They aren't too hot in the summer. Minimal protection for those not needing or wanting to wear Goalie gear.

The Bad: None yet. They are NOT a DH impact guard!!!

Overall Review: I got these pads earlier this month from my LBS and they have been just what I was hoping for. I consider myself an aggressive XC rider...Not enduro or DH. I usually don't have catastrophic starfish moves coming off the bike in the trees at speed :) That being said I did come off the bike last month and have been nursing some knee issues ever since. These pads have really hit the mark if you are looking for something that you can ride in for a couple hours in 90 degree weather and wear them just in case. These are perfect just in case guards for your knees. They have some minimal knee protection that is Read More »