Vital MTB's Editor Favorites - Eurobike 2017 7

Vital sorted through thousands of products and gimmicks at Eurobike to bring you the standouts.

Vital MTB's Editor Favorites - Eurobike 2017

The Eurobike cycling show was, once again, packed with thousands of bikes, components, pieces of riding gear and prototypes for those looking for the latest and greatest. Some items we'd seen prior to the show, some were new to our eyes and some left our eyes bleeding. Vital's on-site tech gurus, Brandon Turman, Johan Hjord and Lee Trumpore showed us hundreds of MTB products from the halls of Eurobike, but they've chosen their favorite standouts from the show.

Brandon Turman

More Anti-Rotational Helmet Solutions

Helmets designed to reduce rotational forces are nothing new, and for years MIPS has paved the way with their yellow low-friction slip layer technology. Things are heating up in this space though, and it's good to see more competition. Kali lead the charge last year with their ArmourGel technology.

We were most impressed this year by POC's Spin technology, which uses easily smear-able silicone injected pads to achieve a comparable sheering mechanism. These simple pads replace the standard foamy bits in a helmet, are lightweight, unobtrusive, and will be offered as retrofit kits for older model POC helmets.

MIPS also displayed a few new helmet solutions, including a more slippery liner based off their original design, a sew-in solution for full face helmets without the need for re-certification, and some super low-profile pads that will reduce the bulk and complexity of their system.

The Beginning of Component Integration

Last year, EightPins opened the world's eyes to the possibility of component integration with their clever dropper seatpost design. This year we saw more brands thinking outside the box and considering ways to repackage items that are traditionally bolted onto our bikes. Integration could lead to lighter weights and simpler, more robust designs with fewer interfaces. The standout this year was the KS Genesys dropper post, which follows in EightPins' footsteps.

E-bikes That Actually Might Not Suck

For years we've seen a barrage of very poorly spec'd e-bikes. Who honestly thought a 150mm travel FOX 32 fork was a good idea on a 50+ pound bike? Talk about a death trap! That's changing, though, and brands who know their stuff are releasing interesting new designs that address many of the previous shortcomings. New bikes like the Pivot Shuttle and Rocky Mountain Altitude Powerplay are not only spec'd well, but there's a good chance they ride well, too. Both brands addressed many key issues including absurdly long chainstays, high weights, and poor power delivery typical of other designs.

Johan Hjord

Five Ten Impact Pro

Few products have made such an impact (pun fully intended) as Five Ten’s legendary flat pedal DH shoe. Ever since it first saw light, the Impact has been associated with relentless grip and great protection, and even though a few well-documented flaws have been the subject of much lamenting on forums the world over, the Impact dominated a market that was sorely lacking in worthy competition. Now that Five Ten has more challengers than ever, they have had to step up their game, and that is precisely why we are excited about the new Impact Pro.

Last year saw the release of the Freerider Pro, a complete overhaul of another Five Ten classic that combined many of the best traits of several previous models which left a very positive impression on our testers. The Impact Pro is the result of a similar effort, and we believe there is every chance that Five Ten have another winner on their hands.

There are a number of improvements to the shoe: the weight has been reduced, the height of the insole has been reduced by about 30% but overall the shoe still offers more protection as the toe box is more reinforced compared to the classic Impact. The upper on the Impact Pro is now synthetic, versus leather on the classic impact, and the material used in the midsole is also updated. The footboard is now synthetic as well which means the shoe will take on a lot less water.

The Impact Pro’s outsole is now scaled to be consistent throughout various shoe sizes. The tread pattern is actually is adjusted for each shoe size so that the dots on the bottom of the shoe are in the same place across sizes. This allows everyone wearing the Five Ten Impact Pro to have the same feel on the pedals.

The Five Ten Impact Pro will retail for $160 USD and should be available in January or February of 2018. There are a few low-key colorways available with two shown here.

Thule Vital Hydration Pack

It’s not that we think that there is a shortage of good hydration packs in the market, but if there is one thing we love here at Vital, it’s good design. When it comes to combining cutting-edge features with a distinct look and feel, the Swedes have their own thing going, and Thule has channeled that Scandinavian secret sauce perfectly with their all-new line of hydration packs. Although they are well-versed in the art of making luggage and backpacks already, it is still impressive to see how hard they’ve sweated the details for their first entry into the MTB hydration pack space.

Three features caught our eye in particular: the nifty “Retract” magnetic hose sleeve that automatically catches the reservoir hose when you release it after drinking, the “jersey pocket design” that places items like phones and energy bars in a spot where they are less likely to bend or get crushed, and the low center of gravity that liberates the upper back, keeping that area of the body well-ventilated and free to move. In addition, we think the packs look pretty awesome too, combining a modern shape and a sleek profile with the very latest materials to create an impression of quality from the very first look.

The Vital line will be available through Thule's global distribution network as of February 1st, 2018. The packs will retail for $89 USD for the Vital 3, $119 USD for the Vital 6, and $139 USD for the Vital 8, including the hydration bladder.

ENVE M-Series

If money were no object, who wouldn’t want a $3000 pair of wheels? Well, the answer is not as straight-forward as you may think. While ENVE’s current M-Series has certainly impressed us with its responsiveness and speed on the trail, the super-stiff rims could make for a harsh ride, and whilst the hookless bead was probably much stronger, it was also prone to pinch-flatting your tires. ENVE’s approach to solving these two problems was to take the whole line of wheels back to the drawing board, and they have come up with solutions that certainly seem like they will be going a long way towards addressing some of those previous shortcomings.

Proud of their product, ENVE did not only tell us about some theoretical improvements, they backed it all up with a live test at the show. Using a 50-lbs drop test, they were able to demonstrate a significant improvement in pinchflat resistance, in fact they went so far as to break a rim to show us that the tire would still hold air afterwards. This is all thanks to the development of a completely new rimstrip design, where a thick, profiled strip actually covers both the rim bed and the whole bead. This creates a broader surface for spreading the load of an impact, and the inherent shock absorption qualities of the material used also helps take the sting out of these snakebite inducing incidents.

Seeking a more compliant ride, ENVE revised their rim design to produce a shorter profile, which will help the rim conform to the terrain a bit more. We’ll have to wait until we can get a pair onto dirt to know for sure, but we think ENVE has taken their flagship wheelset in a good direction.

As for that price…well, there is no doubt that $2800 is a lot of money. However, when you factor in ENVE’s five year, no-questions-asked warranty covering impact damage for original owners, it starts to make a little bit more sense. And just to prove that the company is committed to taking care of its customers, a half-price crash replacement service is available for 2nd hand owners of the wheels as well.

Lee Trumpore

As the industry seems to be expending most of its energy falling all over itself pushing e-bikes, I'd be lying if I said I was particularly impressed by any one brand or product at Eurobike this year. However, a few promising trends did reveal themselves among the sea of electric motors and halls of re-branded e-specific gear.

A Resurgence of Coil-sprung, Fully-adjustable Suspension

After years of air springs dominating the trail bike market and adjustability increasingly being shed in the name of lighter weight and user-friendliness, it's refreshing to see both coil-sprung forks and shocks making a comeback of sorts. Being made of carbon everything these days, mountain bikes are lighter than ever, enough so that it appears an extra pound of coil-sprung, trail-bike-specific, and truly adjustable shocks and forks don't sound so bad.  Standout products in this category include the uber-adjustable BOS Syors, the 344 gram ND Tuned coil shock, MRP Ribbon coil fork and the coil-sprung Cane Creek Helm.

29er DH Frames Designed from the Wheels

I'd like to think we learned a lesson a few years ago from the result of trying the make 27.5 wheels fit into existing 26-wheeled frames.  Sure a tweaked linkage here or a new swingarm there technically worked, but with a few exceptions the corner-cutting was noticeable on the trail.  Obviously the keep-the-stock-front-triangle-and-redesign-everything-else approach is working for Santa Cruz, but a fair number of World Cup racers on other brands didn't get on so well with their 'modified' frames.  I say if you're going to make a 29er DH bike, then go all in, optimize the design, work on things like standover height, seat buzz, and possible fit challenges for shorter riders.  Get creative, solve the problems, make it work.  This is the approach that brought us rad 29er trail bikes and I bet it will lead to rad 29er DH bikes too.

Real Mountain Bikes for Kids

Sure, there were almost as many kid-specific, Strider-esque kid bikes as there were e-bikes at Eurobike, but what really go my attention were incredibly rad and capable bikes for the up-and-coming generation that could actually be shredded, day in and do out. Like me, if you have a toddler (or several), you know that they can destroy just about anything, and if they have a favorite toy, then its day of destruction is imminent.  So many kid bikes use cheap frames and even cheaper parts, which is fine for the average kid who may not really love to ride the way their mom or dad does.  But if you've got a proper mini-Gwin on your hands then good luck. They weren't the only example but UK brand, Early Rider, which has offered cool grom-rippable bikes for a bit now, really stood out for me.  Their bikes had incremental, age-and-size-appropriate part specs and drivetrains, real MTB components (so that the headset actually stays tight), kid-sized pedals and controls, SRAM GX components on the bigger models, and in many cases, shared compatibility with hand-me-downs from mom and dad. Protection and apparel for kids is more than just under-sized BMX gear, now too. Real mountain bikes for kids, batteries not included!

See all the gear from Eurobike worth pointing a camera at here

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