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ODI Ruffian Lock-On Grips

“The classic thin grip”

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The Good: Easy To Install, Good grip

The Bad: Odd Tool Size for install/removal

Overall Review: The smallest of the ODI family, the Ruffian have stood the test of time and could be considered the standard bike grip against which others are judged. I personally like a bit thicker grip (but not too thick) so I go with the Ruffian MX. If the smaller size is your thing, you just can't go wrong with the classic. The only thing I can think to improve would be for ODI to have a bit more fun with the end-caps - add some color or something!

Mavic Crossmax SX Complete Wheelset

“These wheels truly rock!”

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The Good: light, strong

The Bad: has some proprietary parts

Overall Review: I had this set on a bike that I sold a year ago and liked the wheelset so much that I got the newest version (white with black graphics). They are essentially the same wheels minus a few cosmetic tweaks. If you are a tubeless rider take a close look at these wheels. You can run a tubeless set-up without fussing with funky conversion kits or adding extra weight to your wheels. They look great too and work on everything from AM to FR to all but the craziest DH, where you might want wider and heavier rims.  However, I did see a few riders running these at the Rampage and so I can't imagine a better endorsement.  I just wish the rim were a little wider to give bigger tires a better profile. The only reason to shy away is if you absolutely hate proprietary parts.

Fox Racing Launch Shorts

“Good protection pads”

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The Good: Good Placement Of Pads, Fly Hole

The Bad: Itchy Butt Tag, should be cheaper

Overall Review: These give you the protection for hips and tailbone where you tend to hit in a crash. Extra pads on the thigh come in handy too. Fit is comfy minus the tag in back, so do yourself a favor and chop it off.  These run true to size and the material around the pads is a nice breathable fabric so you don't get too hot.

Fox Racing Sidewinder Glove

“Perfect all rounder glove”

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The Good: thin palm, color options

The Bad: nothing really

Overall Review: Some riders go glove-less but I like gloves on my hands (thin palm only please). There are countless times I've been thankful I've worn them during crashes, etc. and the Fox sidewinder are the best I've worn over the past 9 years or so of mtb. I wear them on everything from local trails to the bike park. I have to say that I wish there was a softer fabric on the backside which comes in handy when wiping sweat from your face, but the tough fabric found on the sidewinder holds up to abuse better. The only thing that threw me off at first was that the glove comes up a bit high on the wrist but that doesn't interfere with anything and may just give a little extra support and protection for the wrist.

Easton Havoc Carbon Handlebar

“Easton hits a homerun with this one”

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The Good: Tough, Easton quality, Soaks Vibrations, Good size, Light

The Bad: a bit pricey

Overall Review: Can't beat these bars if you want the best! I went from an aluminum bar I liked a lot to these and was amazed at the difference 100grams less weight and the vibration damping the carbon bar makes overall. Great measurements at 3/4 inch rise and 750mm wide. Spoil yourself and get one, just be sure to protect them with end caps somehow.

Shimano AM45 MTB Shoes

“Durable shoes for AM - DH riding with clipless pedals”

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The Good: Hikable, Comfortable, Good grip

The Bad: Get Hot In Summer

Overall Review: Remember when riding clipless pedals meant your shoes were awful to hike in? These shoes from Shimano are comfortable to walk around a bit but the soles are still stiff enough to keep you from getting hot spots on your feet when riding on clipless pedals. The material of the shoes is durable and holds up to abuse but they can get a bit hot on a summer day. One thing to note is that these seem just slightly roomier than Shimano shoes of the same size from years ago so see if you can try a pair on before you buy.

Maxxis Monorail Tire

“Great, affordable all-around XC tire”

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The Good: Fast rolling, predictable cornering in loose, dry and wet conditions, impressive life-span

The Bad: Not the greatest cornering on dry hard-pack.

Overall Review: The Maxxis Monorail is a perfect multi-use XC tire. The "micro-ramped center knobs" definitely work as advertised in reducing rolling resistance. The side knobs are more aggressive and provide plenty of confidence in the corners. I've put 1700 miles on them over the last year on all sorts of terrain and conditions, and they still ride predictably. It is certainly time for a replacement but I think it says a lot that they are still riding well after that much use. They come tubeless ready, with sturdy sidewalls, they have withstood jagged loose rock sections on all day rides on multipleoccasionswith little sign of damage to Read More »

SDG Bel-Air SL I-Beam Saddle

“Light yet comfy enough for all day adventures”

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The Good: light, tough, good shape

The Bad: i-beam is less common

Overall Review: The I beam should be more common in my opinion since it saves a bunch of weight and is super strong. The kevlar sides on the Bel-Air are tough and will keep it from getting thrashed when the bike meets the ground from time to time (aka crashes). The Bel-air has a shape that fits me well and so I don't mind spending a few hours pedaling on a trail with it.. So, in the chance that you don't have to get a railed saddle to match your traditional post, consider a go on the i-beam system and this saddle. If you're stuck with rails, SDG makes a railed version as well.

Five Ten Maltese Falcon Freeride Shoes

Featured Review

“Amazing multi-purpose shoe for flats, and clipless riding!”

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The Good: Stiff sole, comfortable insole, sleek style, not too bulky, velcro lace strap, superior grip on and off the bike... Stealth rubber!

The Bad: The rubber that covers the cleat mounts has to be cut out, so it is not replaceable.

Overall Review: First impression: These shoes have a sleek style and do not look as bulky as many of the other casual styled clipless shoes. They have a leather/rubber upper that is durable and wear resistant. The insole is comfortable, and has decent arch support. I have wide feet, and while these are slightly narrower than a wide shoe they still work fine for me with no discomfort. The construction is very solid and sole is pretty stiff but still allows for a little flex in upward direction for while walking. The velcro top strap allows you to easily cinch them down with no worry of them coming loose. The Read More »

SRAM X.9 10-Speed Crankset

“Performance on a budget”

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The Good: Tough, light and inexpensive

The Bad: Needs a 165 mm arm length option

Overall Review: You might be surprised how much you like this crankset. I know I was. SRAM has put together a simple package that opens up a ton of options. Stick to the original rings or convert it to a double with bash or even a 1x setup by removing the spider and going with something like the MRP bling ring. A future proof crankset? Who knows... Carbon may have the cool factor going but these aluminum arms aren't too far behind in the weight department and will save you some hard-earned cash for other bike upgrades. This crankset has stood up to some friendly abuse this season and so far is my favorite purchase this year. Poking around online will yield some good deals on these or the truvativ aka, which is essentially the same crankset.