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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 vics26 knocked it out of the park by writing several good reviews, and we'd like to highlight a few of the ones that helped earned him the Top Reviewer spot.

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Shimano Saint M830 Brakes - "Right out of the box the M820 has a solid look and feel to it, the brake looks very tough and durable and doesn’t have any plastic feeling parts. Both front and rear pre bled hoses come in at very long length, allowing the brakes to fit any bike, I assume even extra-large frames should have no issues with the default hose. Compared to the M810 brakes, these new Saints have definitely shed some of their bulk, both caliper and level are a lot smaller and sleeker, thus helping to reduce some of the weight seen with the old M810s. Installation is a breeze and both removal and installation of the pads is also very user friendly and can be done so very quickly.

The brake includes an easy to use reach adjust nob, that is big enough and easy enough to access even while riding allowing you to customize the level reach while mid ride. The brake also has a free stroke bolt (requires a screwdriver), although I have played around with this I really have not noticed any difference in brake feel.

The Servo Wave level has a very ergonomic feel to it, it’s very compact and has a curve to it that helps reduce the chance of your fingers slipping off the lever. Overall the level feel is very solid and comfortable, and allows for one finger braking.

Riding performance: I’ve had the chance to use these brakes in various conditions and they have performed flawlessly. Regardless if you are riding in super dusty conditions or mud or even snow, these brakes provide tons of stopping power. Some people mention that the Saints lack modulation, that they are simply power ON and power OFF but I haven’t found this to be the case, the M820 offer lots of modulation allowing the rider to brake as much as needed. In terms of long hot  descends, the M820 really shine and provide consistent performance and stopping power regardless how hot they get, I haven’t noticed any  fade. Overall these brakes offer a lot of confidence on the trails and really allow the rider to push themselves as you know that you will have strong braking power when needed. As with the old M810, the M820 can also get a bit loud in wet conditions, but I think most other brakes do the same so not really a negative but they definitely do howl when they get wet.

Bleeding: This is where Shimano and specifically the M810 really excelled, in the past with the M810 there were times where I didn’t even have to remove the wheels or pads before bleeding the brakes. The complete bleed process could be done in less than 10 minutes. The M820 definitely also allow for a pain free, easy and simple bleed process. The bleed process is a bit different as it requires the addition of a funnel that gets attached to the level and then oil is bled into the caliper but overall the process is very easy and very quick.

Would I recommend the brakes: When I was upgrading my old M810 I knew I wanted to stick with Shimano so it was a toss-up between the Saints and the Zees, overall it looks like from a performance perspective they are both very similar, the Saints however comes in a tad lighter, offer on the fly level adjustments and have a bit less bulk to them on the calipers. Regardless of how much you throw at these Saints they offer consistence braking power in various conditions, modulation and  quick and easy bleed process, overall I am very happy with them and would strongly recommend this product."

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Race Face Atlas FR Cranks - "I've been a fan of Race Face cranks since back in the days of square tapered bottom brackets and the North Shore crank sets, the Atlas is an evolution of the DH /freeride crank that provides a stiff and durable crank while keeping the weight at a minimum. The weight to strength ratio of this crank is very good, that’s probably why this crank can be seen on full out DH bikes to all mountain/trail bikes. It's a solid crank that allows you to setup and then ride without any hassles for the rest of the season.

Besides the great performance and durability, the other great thing about the Atlas range of cranks is that they offer a lot of color ways allowing you to truly get a custom looking setup on your bike. While most cranks come in just one color option, the Atlas line has several base colors plus the addition of some limited editions like the Green Monster and Kash Money (kashima colorway).

So overall this is a great crankset that can be used for various types of riding, it’s very durable and stiff while also being a great value. I would strongly recommend this product."

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Troy Lee Designs D3 Carbon Helmet - "Besides great looks, the D3 offers loads of safety protection and really great comfort. The inside padding is very soft and offers comfort through all day riding even in the warmest conditions. TLD has done a great job of air vent placement in all the right spots to offer superb airflow allowing you to stay comfortable as you ride, there was a huge difference between the air flow with the D2 and the D3. The overall weight of the helmet is very noticeable in a good way, that is to say that's its very minimal which also adds to the comfort of this lid.

Fit wise the helmet comes in several size allowing each rider to find their perfect fit, the cheek pads are also removable and interchangeable allowing for even more custom fit.In terms of goggle fit, we have tried Dragon goggles and most recently the Oakley Airbrake and they fit perfectly with this helmet.

The other great thing as compared to the older D2 is that most of the inside padding can be removed and washed. Although I haven't had to do this yet it's nice to know that the helmet can be washed and kept clean & fresh when the times comes.

TLD definitely has great options when it comes to looks. The D3 comes in a variety of color ways, allowing riders to choose a helmet to match their style or kit. You can choose from more flashy graphics to more subtle and simple styles like the black pinstripe carbon. Plus this year looks like they have an Aaron Gwin signature, so that's pretty sweet, buy that helmet and you'll be able to rip down a World Cup track on just your back rim!

Another nice thing about the D3 is that in addition to the carry bag,  the D3 also comes with an additional visor which is a nice bonus in the event of crashing.

So overall I am very happy with this full face, yes it's very expensive but you really do get what you pay for. The comfort, airflow, looks and protection you get from this helmet is well worth the price."

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Renthal FatBar Handlebar - "Handlebar choice is a bit of personal preference, a lot of the bars in this price range offer similar sweep, length and rise and for the most part they all work great, the Renthal FatBar is no different.The Fatbar comes in a 31.8mm clamp size and also in 20mm low rise, 30mm mid rise and 38mm high rise versions, I'm running the low rise bar.

The bar features a positioning grid to assist with bar setup as well as width marks to assist with cutting the bars down if required.

The Renthal bar features very subtle graphics (with just two logos) logos that seem very durable, some other bars the paint or logo graphics have worn out but with these ones they still look new.

In regard to performance, these bars have been great for the past few months, they are very durable and very stiff. One of those set and forget products. Comfort wise the rise and sweep feels perfect my riding style.

Overall I am very happy with this moto inspired bar, the looks, comfort and durability are great and I look forward to using this bar for many more years."


Big congrats to vics26! Thanks for helping out the riding scene with your thoughts on these products.

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 August.

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