A mountain bike is only as dialed as the sum of its parts, and the way those parts are developing these days is pretty overwhelming. There's a lot of high-tech electronic things going on in drivetrain and suspension but it's still a little early in the game for us to get overly excited about running these components on a full-time basis just yet. Plus we're still a little suspicious of Mark Zuckerberg finding out the specifics of our rebound preferences, so he can re-sell that data to Myspace.
Vital's testers have been beating up plenty of non-electronic mountain bike components this year, however, and they've compiled their Top 3 bits for worthwhile upgrade.
With a nod to the original Sweet Wings cranks that were years ahead of their time, Cane Creek created the drool-worthy eeWings titanium crankset. From the CNC'd 7075 T-6 aluminum preloader to the welds that hold everything together, attention to detail in this piece of craftsmanship is truly remarkable. Weighing in at just 400 grams, these high-grade titanium cranks are in the same weight range as premium carbon cranks, but are stiffer, more durable, and far less prone to impact damage. And damn, do they ever look incredible!
Surviving seven straight days of Whistler's endless braking bumps and rock and root smashing aboard a 160mm-travel enduro bike is no easy task. With the Fasst Flexx Bars though...no worries. Having proven the concept with over a decade in the off-road moto scene, Fasst Company looked to bring the same benefits to mountain bikers. These bars drastically reduce jarring terrain feedback, tame oh-shit moments, lessen rider fatigue, and improve control of your bike. While they may weigh a bit more than your standard set of bars, in our eyes they're worth every gram.
ENVE has built up a reputation for making quality wheels, and in prior testing they’ve proven themselves worthy of abuse as well. However, 2018 saw ENVE introduce a novel concept, in the form of an integrated rim strip that reaches all the way up and over the rim bead. This rim strip not only helps with providing a dependable tubeless seal, but more importantly it significantly reduces the risk of pinch flats and torn tires. We might have been skeptical at first, but extensive testing has proven it to be effective beyond what we imagined. Yes, ENVE wheels are very expensive, but with the new rim strip they truly deliver the kind of peace of mind we thought was going to remain beyond reach.