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SDG I-FLY I-Beam Saddle

“Excellent DH/FR seat.”

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The Good: Weight, durability

The Bad: Confort for long rides

Overall Review: When you are searching for your next seat you may not pay too much atention to the I-Beam options because you can't choose the seatpost and seat independently, but don't see that as a disadvantage. SDG making both the seat and post makes for a better integration and for a very light, yet strong and durable setup. Also, the setting up of the seat is extremely easy, and the adjustability is great. Mine has sustained almost 2 years of riding, with your tipical crashes now and then, and the only thing I can complain is that the graphics are wearing off. Confort wise, if you are into enduro or other similar type of riding, I would advise you to look to other SDG offering, as the I-Fly isn't the best seat for pedalling. But if your thing is Downhill or Freeride I would definately recommend it!

Lezyne CRV 12 Multi Tool

“Great multi-tool to help save your ride”

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The Good: compact, strong

The Bad: some tools are tough to use

Overall Review: The first multi-tool I had growing up was twice as big and heavy as this and still only had half the tools the CRV-12 has. Thankfully tools like this have improved over time. This one functions fine and is easy to use with the exception of the size 2 and 8 allen keys. The 2 is just hard to twist around due to the crooked end of it and the 8 is hard to get enough torque on, but maybe that's my own weakness and not the tool's fault! The thing I maybe like about the tool the most isn't so much the function, though it works well enough, but that it has a nice elastic band that fits around it and keeps the tool from opening up in your shorts pocket and poking around where it shouldn't. Or worse, leaving it's mark in your body like a set of keys do in a crash.

Sunline V1 All Mountain Stem

“Strong stem for AM duty”

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The Good: simple design, inexpensive

The Bad: hard to find

Overall Review: This stem has a simple design that works great. My favorite thing about it was the clamp that fits up with the steerer tube is rounded in an effort to save your knees should you connect with it. Budget bike builders should consider this as an option since the price is good and the stem is strong enough that I wouldn't hesitate to own a used one. You may have a tough time finding one though.

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.