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When it rains it pours. The racing season couldn't get here fast enough, then came April and an absolute onslaught of red hot between-the-tapes action from the Southern Hemisphere. The World Cup circus got off to a flying start in hot and dusty Pietermaritzburg, and then headed off to Cairns, Australia for what was to be one of the wettest and wildest races we've seen in a while - think Champery with extra snakes and spiders. And as if that wasn't enough for the chronometer junkies that we are (it never is), the Enduro World Series was not about to be outdone in the exotic locations department. For their first foray South of the Equator, the Enduro aficionados could hardly have been treated to better conditions. Nevados de Chillan served up 6 special stages, each a bucket-list ride in its own right, that left many of us checking flights to Chile. And yet, somehow April was not quite done. There was the small matter of the Sea Otter Festival and some pretty cool new products to drool over, for those who could still find 5 minutes to get their new gear appetite up. But don't worry if life stood between you and the smorgasbord of mountain biking delights that April laid out - we've set the Best Of table for seconds and everybody's invited!

Vital RAW: World Cup Redux

There is no real substitute for standing next to a World Cup track and witnessing first hand the amount of pain the poor bikes get put through by the fastest riders on the planet, but Vital's race coverage is just about as close as you can get. To set the tone for 2014, we pulled together some of the best footage of 2013 and served it up RAW, just the way it should be. If this doesn't set your palate on fire, you've had way too much hot sauce already.

The stakes are high, and everybody's rolling the dice.

Out of Africa - the Finals at Pietermaritzburg

The doors were blown off the 2014 UCI World Cup Mountain bike season with a battle in the heat of South Africa. When the dust settled, Aaron Gwin and Manon Carpenter schooled their competitors on a track that was both technically and physically demanding. While short, the technical section would prove to determine the fate of Mick Hannah, who was favorite for a victory. A mistake up top would be too much for the Australian to make up and after a long, stressful run for Sik Mik in the hot seat, the last rider down, Aaron Gwin, would snag victory by just over 2-seconds.

Stars, stripes, and speed.

Sea Otter 2014

Weighing in at 33.8-pounds with a stock build, the new Pivot Phoenix DH Carbon looks to be a race weapon. This bike was developed with the help of Pivot's Pro riders, including Bernard Kerr who has been on an aluminum prototype since Crankworx last year. We came back from Sea Otter 2014 with the lowdown on plenty of hot new product, check it all out here to make sure you didn't miss anything!

This is what DH in 2014 looks like.

First Look: 2015 Shimano XTR 9000 - New Drivetrain, Wheels & Brakes

Ever since SRAM launched XX1 in the middle of 2012, we have all been waiting for Shimano's response. Our many questions were answered in April as the Japanese giant unveiled its all-new 2015 XTR 9000 line up, including drivetrain, brakes, and wheels. Prior to the launch we attended a presentation where we were shown the final working prototypes, and we were also able to gain a deeper understanding of the decisions that led to the features and capabilities of the actual final product. What did you think of the new stuff?

Rhythm and Range.

How To Crash Your Bike with Loic Bruni

This went absolutely as well as anybody could ever have wished for. Loic Bruni puts his superpowers on display for everybody to see as he tucks n'rolls his way out of a pretty horrific high-speed bail. World Cup DH racing takes no prisoners!

Spiderman is real, kids.

First Ride: RockShox BoXXer with Charger Damper

We don't hand out 5-star ratings very often, nor do we do it easily. Given how good the new RockShox Pike with its Charger damper is, we were all very excited at the idea of that performance and feel translating into the bigger forks, and none more than the BoXXer. Our curiosity was finally satisfied with the launch of the 2015 version of this long-standing classic, and we were not disappointed. Sven Martin spent some time rallying the new dual-crown destroyer in New Zealand, and according to him, it's basically akin to cheating. 5 stars it is, then.

Blenki gets rad, Sven Martin gets the shot. Just another day in the office.

Bike Checks

Our members put a lot of love into their rides, and that's why we're always stoked to bring you Bike of the Day. A fine build, a few nice shots to do your pride and joy justice, and you're well on your way to having your steed grace the homepage - just like this Knolly Podium did on April 17!  All the Bike Checks can be found HERE, and if you didn't share your bike yet - add it HERE.

A Podium contender for sure.

Enduro World Series - Nevados de Chillan, Chile

When an entire convoy of professional mountain bikers, media, and assorted groupies all agree on something, you know there's got to be some truth to it. Chile served up some of the best trails and the most incredible scenery of any race, anywhere, ever, and all we could do was stare in awe at the endless river of goodness flowing out of Nevados de Chillan and onto our screens. If you think you can take it, have another peek...

Yes, it really was this good.

On Borrowed Shoes - Downhill World Cup Rumble in the Jungle

How muddy was the DH World Cup race in Cairns? So muddy that Gee Atherton ditched his clipless shoes and borrowed a pair of Five Tens for his race run. Turns out that was a pretty good decision, as he went on win before handing the lucky pair back to the spectator who so kindly lent them out.

Adapt and overcome.

First Look: Santa Cruz Nomad - Completely Redesigned for 2014

When you set out to completely redesign an iconic classic, you better know where you're going. Santa Cruz didn't hesitate to get with the program when taking its heavy-hitting trail bruiser the Nomad to the next level - lighter, slacker, and sexier than ever! Check out the full story HERE, and get ready to see one at a trail near you pretty soon!

Gary Perkin on camera duties to do that sexy new beast justice.

Vital Power Rankings - Ups and Downs, Never a Dull Moment

As soon as the dust settled over Pietermaritzburg and the ensuing painful retrospection as we pondered our decisions and management's many failures to heed the cries of reason emanating from the minionry, it was time to do it all again and load up the rankings for Cairns. One up, three down, out with you, in with another...robbed of the benefit of hindsight it was suddenly back to square one and second, third, and fourth-guessing our choices once again. And no sooner had we run every possible scenario through the Cray computer we borrowed from NASA did Mother Nature throw a massive weather spanner in the works and our finest couch coaching out the window. Thank goodness for solid excuses!

Sam climbed the podium in Cairns. \

First Look: Mondraker FOXY Carbon

Mondraker has spent the last three years working on the carbon version of their very successful Foxy, a 140mm trail bike. Based on 27.5" wheels, the Foxy Carbon inherits the innovative Mondraker forward geometry concept originally developed by Cesar Rojo and brought to the forefront of the racing scene by Fabien Barel. In addition, as a complex carbon project developed in-house it marks a whole new high-end chapter for the Spanish brand, and one that they are very excited about. At less than 12kgs for the top-of-the-line Foxy Carbon XR with 140/160mm travel and 27.5" wheels, there is a lot to BE excited about.

In the immortal words of Jimi..."Ooh Foxy Lady..."

Perfect Day

Some days, it all just falls together. The weather, the spot, the feeling on the bike. Boštjan Gartnar captured this shot of Gašper Dolinar heading into the sun, and it made Daily Shot on April 26. If you want your shots to be considered too, upload them HERE.

Just a perfect day.

Around the Web

Totally awesome stuff we found on the internet...

Spectator Crashes While Riding Adam Brayton's Bike

You couldn't make this stuff up. Adam Brayton took a big crash during his race run in Cairns, which ended with a severe gash to the lower leg, reportedly 27cm long. While he was being tended to trackside, a spectator wanted to help Adam get his bike back to the pits, but made an ill-advised attempt to ride it down the track, only to crash on the whoops section lower down. We had another course hold while he was evacuated too, and Steve Peat got a rerun as he was shown a red flag during his original run. "Whoops Guy" Ben McGowan, the unlucky (or perhaps lucky) spectator, suffered two broken vertebrae and a dislocated shoulder, but much to our relief it's apparently "all fixable" as he reported in his own words.

Hold my beer and watch this...

Brandon Semenuk's Rad Company

Brandon Semenuk has been working on Rad Company, the heir to the NWD series for quite some time. Well it looks to been well worth it - there are moves in this trailer we can't WAIT to discover in their full glory. June 8, mark your calendars... #radredefined

Keeping Rad Company.

Big Lines and Big Crashes in Cairns

Take a huge boulder field, and then add enormous quantities of slippery peanut butter to it. Now attempt to ride over the whole thing on a bicycle. "Well it seemed like a good idea at the time"...


10-Year-Old Jackson Goldstone Blowing Minds

Pay close attention to this talented young ripper, he has style, control and tricks that take years and years to develop. Since he’s only 10 we’ve all got lots of time to watch him keep progressing!

Mind = blown.

Wheel ENVE?

They don't come much radder on a bike than Josh Ratboy Bryceland. Always happy, always charging, he's one of our absolute favorite riders to watch. He got loose as a goose while shooting ENVE's latest promo edit, making us all wonder if we should maybe join a knitting circle instead of pathetically squidding around on our that as it may, check out the video goods and if you want more info on the rad new hoops, that story is HERE.

If Josh was a superhero, he'd be Radboy.

East Coast Freeriding at The Land

"The Land" is a private freeride park under development in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. By the looks of things, freeride isn't dead then?

Beast Coast.

The Adventure of a Lifetime: Tackling Peru's Huayhuash Range

Sit back, hit full screen, and crank up the HD as you join Joey Schusler and friends in an attempt to circumnavigate the Huayhuash range of the Peruvian Andes with nothing but their bikes, gear, cameras and friendship. This is an adventure you won't soon forget...

Sun's out, guns out...literally.

How to Make a Sick Mountain Bike Edit

Stuck in a rut, making those same old movies? You need to move up to creating SICK EDITS - and here's the ultimate how-to for achieving instant internet stardom. Take this advice and maybe your edit will feature in this list next month...

The sicker the better.

Best of Vital will return next month!

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