First Ride: TAG Metals Enters the Mountain Bike Market

Working with legends like Travis Pastrana, Ryan Villopoto, James Stewart, Ricky Carmichael and others, TAG Metals has built up a solid reputation in the MX world ever since the brand came onto the market in 1999. Their mountain bike line-up is far more recent, launched in 2018 at the Taipei show and only just about now hitting the shops. To help with the development of their new products, TAG is currently supporting the Lapierre enduro team as well as slopestyle legend and YouTube sensation Sam Pilgrim, with others lined up to follow suit as various other riders become available over the next year. So far, the portfolio covers handlebars, stems, pedals, grips, a saddle, and a dropper post. Intrigued by the MTB newcomer, we decided to take a closer look at some of the fresh goods.  

TAG Metals T1 Carbon Handlebar Highlights

  • 5° upsweep and 7° backsweep
  • 800mm width
  • Bar width cut guide markings
  • TAG Oval Tech Construction – minimizes arm pump, bar vibration and maximizes steering responsiveness
  • Matte black finish with gloss black graphics
  • TAG Speed Adjust markings for levers, shifters, grips and stem
  • Available in 35mm clamp size only
  • Available in 10mm, 20mm , 30mm and 40mm rises
  • Weight – 228g (10) | 227g (20) | 232g (30) | 230g (40) 
  • MSRP: $159.99 USD

TAG Metals T1 Stem Highlights

  • TAG SAS (Speed Align System)
  • TAG Speed Adjust bar markings
  • CNC machined 2014 T6 Alloy
  • 2 opposing steerer clamp bolts
  • 4 bolt bar clamp
  • Available in 31.8mm & 35mm clamp size
  • 33mm, 35mm and 45mm lengths
  • Weight – 181g (35/35) | 221g (35/45) | 166g (31.8/33) | 222g (31.8/45) 
  • MSRP: $109.99 USD

TAG Metals T1 Aluminum Pedal Highlights

  • 2 Sizes: Standard 110mm x 100mm / Large 115mm x 120mm
  • Weight (pair): Standard 441g / Large 488g
  • 4mm pins (rounded or cone shaped, 8mm option available)
  • 6061 T6 Alloy
  • Customize your pin layout
  • 4 bearings and 2 DU bushings per pair
  • 20mm thick durable dual concave platform
  • Full body axle for long term durability and strength
  • MSRP: $139.99 USD

TAG Metals T3 Nylon Pedal Highlights

  • DU Bushings and sealed bearings
  • CNC machined Cro-Mo axle
  • Engineered nylon thermoplastic
  • 3mm high replaceable pedal pins
  • Platform 110mm x 100mm
  • Easy access for servicing and maintenance
  • 40 pins per pair
  • 4 colors (black, orange, blue, red)
  • Weight: 361g (pair)
  • MSRP: $49.99

TAG Metals T1 Braap Grip Highlights

  • 135mm Width
  • TAG mid level density rubber compound based on our market leading MX grips
  • Speed Adjust System alignment markings compatible with TAG handlebars
  • 29mm diameter narrowest point/31mm Widest point
  • Single clamp fitting
  • 7 colors (black, grey, blue, red, green, orange, yellow)
  • Weight: 100g per pair
  • MSRP: $24.99 USD

Initial Impressions

While they are new to the mountain bike world, TAG Metals has been making these types of products for many years, and it shows. Additionally, they appear not to be just trying to put out a catalog of me-too products, but rather taking an innovative approach to product development with an eye to delivering a bit of extra value to the end user. Starting off at the cockpit end, their bars, stem, and grips all feature TAG’s “Speed Adjust” markings designed to make it easier to properly align your grips and your controls. All the graphics are low-key, and seemingly of high quality (they have a bit of a rubbery, embossed feel to them which gives the product a touch of class).

A closer look at the stem reveals the next step in trying to help you align your cockpit: TAG’s “Speed Align System” or “SAS”. SAS was designed to easily align the stem with the front wheel, thanks to an open slot in the stem meant to be placed directly over a corresponding marking on the steer tube of the fork. Of course, this requires the cooperation of fork manufacturers, and TAG says they are in talks with some them which should lead to progress on this front going forward. Time will tell if this ever catches on, but the idea has some merit.

The T1 aluminum pedal comes in two sizes, a “normal” 110x100mm platform and a massive, 115x120mm version. The pedal layout is very open, with tons of space for mud to clear and features a slightly offset, chamfered design to help it slide over obstacles more easily. The platform itself is ever so slightly concave, and with the 4mm cone-shaped pins we tested the overall concavity is relatively modest (8mm pins are available as an option should you be looking for more). The pins bolt in from the top, but they employ a hex-spanner interface which should make it easier to remove them even if you should mangle the top. The T1 features a number of extra holes both around the edges as well as in the middle of the pedal, allowing you to customize your pin placement pretty much just how you want it. Each pedal spins on two bearings and one DU bushing, and the pedal is thick enough right across its entire width to not require any kind of bulge or raised area to accommodate the axle system.

For the budget-minded rider, TAG has also developed a nylon pedal, the T3. It features a smaller platform than the size L T1, but still plenty of space even for bigger feet. The pedal pins are 1mm shorter than on the T1, and are of a more classic threaded pin type. Like the T1, the T3 spins on a combination of bearings and bushings.

To round off the contact points and match your cockpit, TAG makes a couple of grips. The T1 Braap grip features a moto-inspired inner flange, as well as three different patterns in three different areas of the grip. There is a single lockring on the inside, while the end of the grip wraps around the bar end and features an internal end cap. The T1 Section lacks the flange and is slightly thinner. Both grips employ TAG’s mid-level density rubber compound derived from their moto grips.

On The Trail

Installing the new TAG components was a breeze, and we were impressed by the general level of finish of all the parts. The T1 stem is brawny, and the bar provides matching beef. TAG uses a relatively narrow mid-section on the bar, which gives it quite a purposeful profile. The “Speed Adjust” markings proved very useful when it came to setting up the controls, making it simple to ensure everything ended up symmetrical.

On the trail, The TAG cockpit provides a very direct feel. TAG uses what they call “Oval Tech Construction” to product a slightly oval section in the handlebar that is meant to increase compliance. How much of that translates to the trail is always hard to tell, but we never felt like the bar was beating us up unnecessarily, a common complaint with 35-mm carbon bars. The angles felt very natural on the trail, and the “Braap” grips worked well. The compound is tacky, and the different thread patterns provide plenty of grip in all circumstances. This tester would have liked a slightly thicker option, but that is always a personal preference kind of thing.

The T1 pedals are huge, which will provide an advantage for riders who like to move their feet around a lot or who prefer a wide stance. The cone shaped pins used by TAG are somewhat less grippy than the classic grub screw, but the pedal still provides more than enough grip for all your shenanigans. TAG is talking about more pin options in the future which could turn these into soul-slicing, shin-eating monsters as well. Comparing the T1 to the best pedals in our big flat pedal Face Off test, they are right up among the very biggest of all the pedals we tested, with the longest “Pin-To-Axle” measurement of the lot. This also translates to a bit more weight than the class leaders, and the pins fall a little bit short of the very grippiest out there, leaving the T1 just knocking on the door of a top-ten finish. Still a very solid choice and a pedal that served us well during testing.

What’s The Bottom Line?

TAG Metals knows a thing or two about making components for two-wheeled action sports, thanks to a long-standing moto heritage. They have put that experience to good use when designing their fresh new range of mountain bike components, introducing several innovative features that make life easier when setting up your cockpit. On the trail, everything works as it should, so if you are intrigued by what TAG are doing, you need have no second thoughts about giving their stuff a try.

More information at: www.tagmetalsracing.com.


About The Reviewer

Johan Hjord - Age: 46 // Years Riding MTB: 14 // Weight: 190-pounds (87-kg) // Height: 6'0" (1.84m)

Johan loves bikes, which strangely doesn’t make him any better at riding them. After many years spent practicing falling off cliffs with his snowboard, he took up mountain biking in 2005. Ever since, he’s mostly been riding bikes with too much suspension travel to cover up his many flaws as a rider. His 200-pound body weight coupled with unique skill for poor line choice and clumsy landings make him an expert on durability - if parts survive Johan, they’re pretty much okay for anybody. Johan rides flat pedals with a riding style that he describes as "none" (when in actuality he rips!). Having found most trail features to be not to his liking, Johan uses much of his spare time building his own. Johan’s other accomplishments include surviving this far and helping keep the Vital Media Machine’s stoke dial firmly on 11.

Photos by Nils Hjord and Johan Hjord

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