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Latest Product Reviews


Specialized Atlas XC Pro Jersey

Vital Review

“Tested: Specialized Atlas Pro XC Jersey”

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”


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”

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!”


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.”


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 »

Five Ten Impact High Flat Pedal Shoe

“Are You kidding?”


The Good: + + + Rubber + + Tread and shape of the sole + Finger and ankle protection

The Bad: --- Price (I bought just because of the stock minus 30 percent) --- Unsticking!!! (like any other shoes I've had in my life) - Absorb water like a sponge - Dry at least a week after a big rain - Connection between the top and the sole: it couldn't work .. - Appearance (especially those trashy letters on the heel) - The quality of the material (artificial, 'plastic' leather) - The type of fill (sponge-absorb water, too much in tongue) - Weight (while dry- is heavy but acceptable, but wet weights minimum 1 kg per one) - Convenience: when tied on the last holes,is a stab in the tibia by riding / pusching up the bike.

Overall Review: I've absolutely no idea, WHY so many riders are so strong praising this shoes. The ONLY top-rated value thing on them, is a rubber. Sad to say- unfortunately none of the competitors (Teva, Sombrio, what more..?) do not have such a good (sticky, flat, wide, with a perfect grip) equivalent. Some pictures in gallery below explains my opinion. After 3 attempts of gluing soles,3 weeks agoI've turned my knee on the ridge, because the mountain pine caught by hole in the shoe. before complaint attempt:http://1drv.ms/1oUC1M4 and epilogue:http://1drv.ms/Wkv0NQ

Race Face Khyber Knee Guard

Vital Review

“Tested: Race Face Khyber Women’s Knee Guard”

by Monica McCosh With the Khyber kneepads, a relative of the already successful Khyber clothing kit, Race Face is the only company we know of to offer pad protection specifically for women. First introduced in 2014, Monica McCosh recently tested the only sample of the 2015 Khyber kneepad prototype. Read on to see how it treated her and vice versa. Khyber Knee Guard Highlights Open-back construction Women's specific fit Perforated Neoprene Terry lined Foam padded side walls Integrated stabilization pad Branded rubber grab tab closures MSRP $69.99 Initial Impressions I felt privileged to receive an exclusive Read More »

Specialized Mountain Bib Liner with SWAT

Vital Review

“Tested: Specialized Bib Liner with SWAT”

Review by A.J. Barlas // Photography Jon Anthony One of the best aspects of mountain biking is creativity. It can be found in how a rider will approach a section of trail, how a builder will interpret and utilize the terrain they are crafting in, all the way down to how an individual will dress. Some choose to wear what they feel comfortable in, while others will wear what they think they are supposed to (and then there's the #sh*tmtberswear). When Specialized released their SWAT range of gear there was a definite split in the armchair critics, but a surprisingly large number of riders were Read More »

Spank Spike Race28 Wheelset

“Excellent all-around wheelset”


The Good: tough and relatively light at a good price

The Bad: hub adapters for 142mm or 157mm axles cost extra

Overall Review: Earlier this spring I decided to pick up a set of these wheels to help drop some weight on my DH bike and to add a little bling to the bike. The somewhat heavy stock wheels were the obvious choice for me to shed some weight and after calculating what the swap would do, I estimated that I would save a pound from going to the Spank Race 28 wheels and another pound by going to slightly lighter tires (Schwalbe Magic Mary super gravity casing) set up tubeless. The change was noticeable right away. After three months of riding them on shuttled trails and bike park tracks, I am glad to have gone this direction and have seen no Read More »

Jett Hornet Jersey

Featured Review

“Jett Hornet jersey”


The Good: solid construction

The Bad: thicker fabric can get a bit hot

Overall Review: I've been using Jett's Hornet jersey on and off for the past two years and have found it to be a keeper. Each piece of clothing has it's own characteristics, not that they are good or bad in and of themselves. This jersey is made of a somewhat thicker fabric with perforated mesh holes to aid in breathability. The fabric is stitched well and has survived a couple of my minor tumbles and shown only minor damage. A couple of snags have appeared over the years and this could be due to scraping rocks or even a dreaded velcro scrape. Since it is a little heavier duty than many of the other jerseys I have, I often wear it Read More »