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Every 30 days we award the Top User Reviewer with a little prize. This month Jenson USA pitched in a $100 gift card! Vital MTB member Gweggy wrote several great reviews, earning the Top Reviewer spot. Here's a recap of his best:

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Crank Brothers Mallet 3 Clipless Pedals - "Clipping in is a very different feeling from Shimano, it feels much more 'loose' and you get a lot of float. You shouldn't worry, though, as long as you have a fresh set of cleats the pedal holds on to your foot pretty secure. When you install the cleats under your shoes you can choose between a 15° or 20° release angle. I always use the 15° angle and would advise any beginner to do so, I have read on the internet that there are people who use the 20° angle, but I have never tried it, nor do most of my buddies. I can't think of a situation where I accidentally clipped out and thought: "a 20° release angle would have prevented that!", but I rarely clip out accidentally, never with fresh cleats. What did happen is, that a rock hit the underside of the pedal, which released the mechanism. This is a unique feature of the CB system, but it happened a maximum of 3-4 times in the last 4 years.

I like that you can actually ride unclipped for quite a while without losing the pedal. Obviously you can't pull up on the bike, but there's been a lot of occasions over the years where I failed to clip in before a nasty root section and managed to get through thanks to the pedal body and clipped in when things calmed down a bit. This is especially important when you're racing, you get faster and more precise with clipping in, but when you're trying to be on the edge and loose, these things happen. The pedal body and pins is the main reason I prefer CB pedals over Shimano. The pins allow a wide range of adjustment, with my old Shimano shoes they were about 3mm above the pedal body so they would barely touch the shoe , with my newer 5.10 Impact VXi or Specialized shoes they are only about 1mm above the body. With the Shimano shoes my foot was very close to the crank, even with the cleat all the way inboard, with the cranks level it was very narrow to clip the back foot out, it worked but sometimes I would struggle for a moment. With the 5.10 and Specialized shoes this is no problem at all.

The mud clearance is excellent and better than most other pedals, in clay like mud they can stop working, but if you stomp on the pedal a couple of times even the stickiest mud should just drop through the pedal.

My biggest criticism is, that the brass cleats are very soft and expensive, compared to Shimano. There are two DH races on consecutive weekends I did the last two years, where you have to push your bike for about 1-200m on a gravel road to get to the start. After those races my cleats are pretty much ready for replacement. If you don't walk much you can probably get through more than half a season." - Read more»

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e*thirteen LG1+ Chainguide - "The setup is pretty straight forward, it can take a few tries like most chainguides, but is no more or less complicated. Screws, washers and even an adapter to mount it to your bottom bracket are included.

Once set up the chainguide worked flawless, I never dropped a chain, even in the muckiest of conditions. If you ride in the mud a lot or pressure wash your bike you should re-grease the idler wheel bearings now and then.

The upper guide doesn't have any noise cancelling rubber inserts like some of the more modern chainguides have, so it's a bit more noisy. I used to glue a cut out piece of tube on there or the soft side of some velcro, this will quiet it down, but it also mean the gap gets a lot smaller and the chain can drag.

The biggest flaw is, that the idler wheel is fixed directly onto the plastic bashguard. I managed to break it of twice and had to buy a new bashguard, which is very expensive. The bashguard itself is very tough, I never damaged a chainring, it's only that little piece the wheel is fixed to. So I would recommend buying a newer version of this guide where the wheel is fixed to the backplate." - Read more»

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2015 Giant Trance SX 27.5 - "I previously owned a Banshee Spitfire V1 and when the time came to replace it, I was looking for a similar bike, with a bit more rear suspension. I was pretty set on the new Spitfire, until I saw the Trance SX at the local shop.

The components are exactly what I was looking for, 1x11 drivetrain, aggressive suspension, and a balanced geometry.

I didn't want a hardcore Enduro bike like the Reign, because I do a lot of DH riding and wanted more of a difference between the bikes and I also have tons of trails around here, but they are very steep and full of roots and rocks, so I prefer a bike that gives some feedback and that allows me to pick it up and do all of the weird hops and hucks around here.

Uphill: The first thing I noticed, was that it doesn't pedal that efficiently on flat ground, but once you go uphill the rocking stops and it feels nice and planted and gives lots of traction. If you've got a long, flat transfer ahead, the compression settings of the Monarch+ shock solve that problem very effectively. The dual position fork is a nice feature on really steep climbs, as the front wheel tends to lose traction. You notice that they just slammed a bigger fork into the standard Trance frame, because the seat angle feels a bit slack as well. This is probably the only thing I'ld change about the bike, but it's not that annoying. I stopped lowering the fork regularly for climbs pretty soon, because I forgot to extend it at the top 9 of 10 times but I still get up most climbs just fine. It's a nice feature if you climb a trail instead of a fire road, though.

Downhill: On the downhill the Trance SX is a beast, it's sooo confidence inspiring on the local technical trails and feels like a lot more than 140mm. I've ridden a few high-end 140mm trail bikes and the trance is nothing like them. Yes, the pedaling isn't as effective but it's miles ahead on the descends. I spend 2 weeks in the swiss alps (Davos/Klosters) and did a lot of runs with some European Enduro talents on hardcore Enduro bikes and never felt under-gunned on the rough alpine trails, I actually got a lot of compliments for keeping up, but I'm sure I wasn't riding over my head, the bike is just that capable. I ended up doing a few Enduro races including the SSES in Leogang and had my best result ever on some seriously rough alpine and blown out bikepark stages.

I felt very comfortable on the bike from the first moment on, you really feel like you're sitting 'in' the bike, not 'on' it. At 183cm tall I chose a size L frame and I'm pretty happy with it, maybe I'll go a bit bigger on my next frame, but it feels roomy enough for me." - Read more»


Big congrats to Gweggy! Thanks for helping out the riding scene with your thoughts on this product.

Want to be in the running for next month's award? Start reviewing the parts you use in the Vital MTB Product Guide and keep an eye on the Top Reviewer leaderboard. We'll announce the next winner in early March.

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