DREW’S TOP PICKS
WTB CZR i30 WHEELS | WTB TRAIL BOSS/VIGILANTE TIRE COMBO
Over the years I’ve ridden a lot of carbon wheels, and not all of them have yielded the best ride quality. In recent years, carbon wheels have improved greatly when it comes to compliance and comfort, and to me, the WTB CZR i30 were a really fun, trouble-free wheelset. They look good and rode very nicely. I’d put them on par with Crankbrothers Synthesis wheels, WeAreOne offerings as some of my favorite carbon wheels out.
The cherries on top, were the WTB Trail Boss and Vigilante tires. It’s been a while since I’d ridden WTB tires and the improvements to both traction, life span and durability were duly noted. The Trail Boss rolls well, yet still offered great traction and some solid shoulder knobs. A solid set up all around!
ONEUP COMPONENTS CARBON EBAR
I’m a stickler when it comes to hand and foot feedback through the bike. Not only as a test metric but also because I’m damn near 40 years old and my fingers really start to ache after long descents and big rides. OneUp Components released the most compliant carbon handlebar that meets eBike certification and it has extended my comfort without a doubt.
The Carbon eBar has holes in it for internal routing, but I wouldn’t let that be the only reason to buy one, heck, I run this bar on my analog bikes just because it’s so comfortable and rides so nicely. If you’re a rider who suffers from arm or hand fatigue and want something that offers a bit more compliance, check out these OneUp handlebars.
GARMIN FORERUNNER 955 SOLAR WATCH
When it comes to tech, or fitness tracking, I’m pretty much an ostrich with its head in the sand, until now. As my new dad bod gets fatter, I mean older, I’ve started taking a closer look at my daily body information to let me know how I’m doing. When I say closer look, I mean I’m practically addicted…I am constantly checking my heart rate, stress levels, hydration, how many calories I’ve burned or how many steps I’ve made toward my daily goals. What’s more, I get a morning report that gives me a sleep score and Body Battery rating with a breakdown of light, deep, and REM sleep minutes. I’m fully nerding out on this info and find myself looking at my watch all time both on the bike and while sitting at the computer. It has helped me drop some weight and given me a great way to gauge my perceived efforts on test bikes while climbing or descending my favorite tracks too. The Grit and Flow MTB feature is pretty neat and I hope to use the Golf feature more over the holidays.
ROBERT’S TOP PICKS
RIDE CONCEPTS TALLAC BOA FLAT SHOE
We’re just about to wrap up the review of these, but in case it’s not yet live I can sum it up pretty quickly. These are the best flat pedal shoes I’ve used so far. Great grip and pedal feel; comfy, light and airy yet impressively weather resistant. These are really top tier.
CANYON STRIVE CFR
Undoubtedly my “Bike of the Year”, the Strive CFR is seriously good. The Shapeshifter geometry and suspension adjust takes the Strive CFR from a descending demon to an ascending animal at the flick of a switch, and makes it one of the best bikes in the category both up and down the hill.
HOPE UNION GC CLIPLESS PEDALS
These Union GC pedals are without a doubt the most user-friendly clipless pedal I’ve tried, offering great clip security without hindering ease of entry and exit. They’re highly tunable, built to take a beating and just work so damn well. Clipless newbies and experienced riders alike will love these, I’m sure.
DARIO’S TOP PICKS
MONS ROYALE VIRAGE PANTS
Look, I know pants aren’t the coolest recommendation from a year’s worth of testing bikes and gear, but these are really damn good. The merino blend makes for a pant that doesn’t stink after one ride, stays cool when you want, and also holds up well to rain and cold. The fit is great, and you’re supporting a small company of Kiwis doing things differently from the mainstream.
The rest of the Mons kit is great as well, but the Virage pants are the piece that really stood out from the rest for me. They’ve consistently been the first I grab whenever the dryer finishes spinning.
EVIL LOOPHOLES CARBON WHEELS
I’ve had these wheels on various bikes of mine for the better part of the past year, and they’ve been reliable companions through and through. My full review goes into all the nitty gritty details, but generally I really dig how they feel on trail, splitting the difference between alloy and traditional carbon in a way that I find to be the best of both worlds.
My time on the wheels started with my through-ride of the Colorado Trail this summer, so they’ve certainly been through the wringer. Over that whole odyssey, they rolled true and held up nicely to the abuse, and they’ve continued to impress on my personal all-mountain bike.
CONTINENTAL’S REVITALIZED TIRE LINEUP
When it comes to tires, I’m always looking for something new to unseat the tried-and-true front tire favorites, namely the frustratingly good MaxxGrip DoubleDown Assegai. Though they’ve long been a bit of a dark horse in the mountain bike tire market, Continental has completely reinvented their lineup for this year, and they really knocked it out of the park.
Every detail of the tires is killer, from compound to tread pattern to even the graphics package. I’ve been a big fan of the Argotal DH super-soft up front, with the Kryptotal Fr DH super-soft in the rear. Their DH casings are a little less stiff than the competition, which makes them great for trail use. For harder-hitting bikes, I’ve been running an insert front and rear, which makes them shine at lower pressures.
MAX’S TOP PICKS
TREK FUEL EX
With my personal bike being a Trek Slash I felt very comfortable hoping onto the new and improved Trek Fuel EX. It was fast and efficient, but enough suspension travel to handle rougher trails. Excelling on undulating terrain the Fuel was so fun to jump down the trail. Featuring 150/140mm of suspension travel, the Fuel EX is a much more enjoyable daily driver than the Slash. Another bike to add to the quiver!
WTB TIRES | TRAIL BOSS & VERDICT COMBO
After being a long time Maxxis user it was refreshing to get onto a set of WTB tires and find confidence. The Verdict is an aggressive front tire that claws its way through sand and gives plentiful grip on those wetter days. Running the Trail Boss 2.4 on the rear wheel helped with speed and corning thanks to the lower profile center knobs and aggressive side knobs. I really enjoyed this tire. Perfect for drier conditions. I think I have found a new go to tire combination!
RAPHA TRAIL WINDBLOCK JERSEY
Is Rapha apparel expensive? Yes. Is it always worth it? I’ll let you decide, but one piece I have been extremely happy with is the Men’s Trail Windblock Jersey. The majority of the jersey is made up of merino wool with a nylon wind resistant shield over the chest and arms. This is the perfect layer on those cool, fall days or warmer, winter days. I choose to pair it with a long sleeve shirt underneath for a bit extra warmth, but it can be worn on its own. The nylon front panel makes shocking difference on cutting down wind chill, while the merino wool gives the jersey some warmth. This is my new favorite piece of cold weather riding gear.
SOURPATCH’S TOP PICKS
SL / LIGHTWEIGHT EBIKES AS A WHOLE
I know it’s not a single product highlight, but the category is really starting to heat up. Between the light weight, new motor options and battery sizes, the bikes are starting to find a place…moreless. They may still be a “neither” bike for some, meaning you cant keep up with a full power group, and a group of analog bikes would just hold you back, but as they sit right now, the category is all I need in an ebike. To do 4 laps on the Fuel EXe with a 360Wh battery in boost at one of our favorite downhill zones in just over an hour is good enough for me and about all the time I have to ride anyway during the week. Looking forward to where this category keeps going. The Pivot Shuttle SL is proving to be a promising rig, and one that I look forward to the most to spend more time on after getting a short tease in Colorado at their press camp for the LT. There was one other bike I spent quite a bit of time in the saddle of earlier this year, which isnt out yet, is what really kicked off my revitalized outlook on the lightweight market. Hopefully we see that bike coming out sooner than later
CRANKBROTHERS MTB SHOES
From day one, I knew the Mallet Clipless Shoes were going to be one of my favorites. I’ve been wearing them for just over a year now, on every ride, and they still perform and fit as good as they did on day 1. I don’t think I could recommend them enough, more than some of the other shoes the other guys on the crew like. I’ve also just recently received the new Stamp Street Fabio Flat shoes that show just as much promise as Mallets. They are certainly a comfortable everyday shoes thus far, but I will have to wait for the snow and ice to melt before I can test out there on bike performance.
MARZOCCHI SUSPENSION | BOMBER Z1 & BOMBER DJ FORKS
When it comes to suspension, I prefer to spend more time riding than fidgeting with a bunch of dials to get the fork in a somewhat okay feeling spot. I’m a big fan of keeping things simple and Marzocchi’s approach to suspension does just that, while also offering a ride that, in my mind, is easier to dial in and at times almost feels better than factory or higher end options on the market. We swapped out some boujie suspension on one of our test bikes that I wasn’t agreeing with earlier this year for the Bomber Z1 Air fork, and was instantly blown away by its performance and on trail feel. Not to mention it required a fraction of the set-up time and was half the price. I also put a Bomber DJ fork on my new Commencal dirt jumper, and while DJ forks are extremely simple, it rides well and looks even better in that Marzochhi red color. If you’re looking to upgrade the clapped out or low-budget suspension on your rig, I would highly recommend taking a look into Marzocchi’s offerings.
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