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Schwalbe Nobby Nic Evolution Tire

“great all-round trail tire”

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The Good: rolls fast, light weight

The Bad: gets a bit overwhelmed on big features (2.25 size)

Overall Review: The spacing between the tread knobs helps this tire hook up well in loose conditions, yet it seems to roll quite well on hardpack too. The rubber compound on this tire helps give you good grip but I did find the rear tire knobs were getting "raw" on the leading edge after a dozen rides or so. While the tire isn't exactly designed to run the tread the opposite way, I did flip it in the rear to extend the life a bit without any adverse effects. The variety of terrain that this tire works on is what makes this a keeper.

Royal Rivet Gloves

“Nice, thin, breathable glove”

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The Good: inexpensive, keep hands cool

The Bad: lifespan is less than others

Overall Review: For some reason I have a collection of gloves in my bike bag and these Rivet gloves by Royal Racing are some that are pulled out fairly regularly when I'm doing a trail ride. I like the white urban camo look and the thin fabric on top is actually quite tough. It's the material on the palms that get chewed up and tend to wear out faster than normal that is a bummer. Per usual these days, the added silicone grippers on the fingers help when grabbing brakes. Bonus: these slip on so there is no wriststrap to get in the way or Velcro to wear out. 

Osprey Raptor 10 Hydration Pack

Featured Review

“Pretty solid!”

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The Good: Quality construction, usable layout and tailored fit, excellent hose routing, nice "love-handle" compartments

The Bad: Zippers on the "love-handle" compartments don't fully close - makes me nervous to put important stuff in there (like keys)

Overall Review: I have about a dozen hydration packs, but none of them are perfect (too bulky, cause chafing, etc.) - so they tend to get used for a half-a-season or so then put away. Lately I've preferred riding "bare-back" but that preference has bit me in the ass on a few occasions - high and dry with a flat tire in the unforgiving desert sun - so at Interbike Dirt Demo I was on the lookout for a lightweight, form-fitting minimalist pack. I found just-about exactly what I was looking for at the Osprey booth with the Raptor 10. The helpful Coloradoans mentioned they had a slightly smaller version from the 10, but that all they had Read More »

Shimano XT CS-M771-10 Speed Cassette

“Great range and great performance”

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The Good: resonably priced, ramped teeth help shifting

The Bad: racers will want a tighter cassette with smaller jumps between gears

Overall Review: Though it has been out for a few years, Shimano's 11-36 cassette is a game changer for those who are looking to minimize the front chainring set-up. The extra spread in gears allows mere mortals like myself to power up climbs and still bomb the downs with just a single ring in front. Shimano drivetrain parts usually means durability and quality, and this is no exceptionafter a couple of years of abuse. Hopefully this trend continues and we'll see a range like 10-38 teeth take hold in the mainstream offerings from the big drivetrain players.

Fox Racing Fox Richter Dirt Tee '11

“Better than a plain t-shirt”

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The Good: Not cotton, Soft

The Bad: gives you too many options of things to wear

Overall Review: It's nice to have a casual looking "jersey" disguised as a t-shirt for the ride that keeps you from looking too goofy when hanging out with friends later. This one is simple but fits the bill. A few places online like jensonusa.com are blowing out this (and other Fox technical t-shirts) for around 10 bucks which makes this a no-brainer.

FSA Step-Up Crank With Bottom Bracket Oe

“Heavy, but at least it works”

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The Good: cheap, transfers energy from legs to drivetrain, hasn't broken, the bolts are pretty swanky

The Bad: heavy, not too pretty

Overall Review: I've had these for several months, and they've served their purpose without issue. However, their weight is almost unbelievable, and the overall look is fairly unimpressive.  Buy these if you must, but I would advise you to save your cash for better parts.

Black Market Bikes Tech 9 Rigid Fork

“Cheap, lightweight alternative to suspension forks”

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The Good: very light, has proven quite strong, looks great, a fraction the cost of suspension, doesn't need to be rebuilt

The Bad: definitely not as plush as your average suspension fork

Overall Review: I got this fork to replace a Marzocchi DJ3 (which was essentially rigid once it got cold enough), and I love it. At only 150 USD and no service costs, it's high quality for a very reasonable price.  The difference between rigid and suspension on pump tracks and dirt jumps is amazing.  Not only can I now pump harder, but I feel a much greater incentive to not case or overshoot jumps.  Some things to take into account upon purchasing one of these beauties: your wrists will hate you if you case jumps, and you might want to get some higher bars, as the transition from suspension to rigid will drop your front end significantly.

Five Ten Hellcat SPD MTB Shoes

“Great all-around shoe with style to boot”

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The Good: recessed cleat, velcro, looks, stealth rubber, comfort, walkability

The Bad: flexible, hot on long rides, a little on the heavy side

Overall Review: Recessed cleat stays out of the way when walking, however this can prove troublesome when clipping in. They look rad.  The velcro strap is a nice detail and functions quite well.  These shoes are great for freeride, downhill, and even cross country.  Or just standing around and looking good.  I would recommend them most for freeride applications, as they are not as stiff as most XC riders want, and can be pretty hot on longer rides.

RockShox Vivid Air R2C Rear Shock

“Consistently performed for longer aggressive rides.”

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The Good: Its hot rod technology has completed and maintained its performance for much longer rides compare with other air rear shock. (Ex. 12 km to 3-4 km of other air rear shock) .
Drops and Jumps, Vivid Air perfectly beats other air shock (8 to 5) and if you could find your best set up, it will bring you to win Red Bull Rampage (Kurt Sorge - 2012's Winner of Red Bull Rampage). It showed Vivid Air could be much better than the best Coil Rear Shock for Drops and Jumps.

The Bad: It is required tune up more often than your coil rear shocks. You really need to find the right set up combination for cornering, full speed at rock garden and extreme descending,

Overall Review: The most hardiness among air rear shocks and compare with coil rear shocks, Vivid air could achieved coil rear shock performance with half of the weight. The best rear shock for Freeride, Gravity Enduro and AM

Five Ten Impact Low 2 Flat Pedal Shoe

“Best flat pedal shoes!”

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The Good: Grip, grip and grip. Also durability.

The Bad: Nothing to point out.

Overall Review: I guess by now everyone knows that these are the standart in flat pedal shoes. They just grip in every situation like I have never seen before. They may be on the bulky side and have the same look for a number of years now but I personally think they look awesome and feel awesome as well. As for durability, mine have now almost 3 years and they look like I have just bought them.