As a more “behind-the-scenes” member of the Wolfpack, I don’t get to ride as much as some of the other guys. So being tasked with selecting my own “Editor’s Picks” of the year is no easy feat. My list is not necessarily filled with must haves, aside from a couple, it more compiled of bikes and products that surprised me in one way or another.


Outside of my road biking days, the only clipless system I have used has been Shimano SPD. I attempted to give Crankbrothers a try, but I couldn’t get comfortable with them. Fast forward to this year, SPD is out, and HT’s clipless pedals are in. Ignoring the fact that HT offers a wide array of colors to match your bike or stand out compared to Shimano. The HT platform makes clipping in a struggleless endeavor and the same goes for clipping out. Pressure required to clip out can be easily adjusted with an allen key, similar to the SPD pedals, however, there is a visible gauge on the HT system to see just how tight things are. The only downside to the colors offered on the HT pedals, is the anodization can fade with a ton us usage. The teal pair I have been running all year are beginning to be more polished silver than teal.

Paladin x TLW Alpha Pad


It wouldn’t be an editor’s pick if we weren’t shamelessly plugging are own merch. We are gearing up to launch our first tailgate pad, made in collaboration with the fine folks at Paladin. The Alpha Pad is designed with simplicity in mind as well as ease of use. The pad can be installed and removed in seconds, long gone the days of leaving a pad on the truck because the install/removal process is too much a pain in the a**. For those who are always on the look out for products made in the U.S.A, you’ll be happy to know the Alpha Pad is made right here in Bend, Oregon. Whether or not I agree with it, it has a price tag to match. Launching early 2024.

Oneup eBar


Drew’s said it in the video review of this helmet, “this is one of our favorite DH-ready full-face lids.” We both received our helmets at Crankworx Whistler this past year and have been wearing them any chance we get…at least when the situation calls for it. The helmets look good, they are extremely lightweight and feature Leatt’s 360-degree turbine technology for rotational impact mitigation. If you are looking for a lightweight, carbon full-face helmet that is DH-certified, put this one on your short list.


This is more of an honorable mention in my book, as I am not a big fan of convertible helmets. That said, there is absolutely a time and place when convertibles come in handy. For instance, in October of this year we took our bike trip to Guatemala where we were riding a mix of trails and terrain. I didn’t want to have to keep track of two helmets during the trip, so I grabbed my Leatt Enduro 4.0. The helmet spent plenty of time in both configurations during the trip, from full-face at the bike park to half shell the rest of the time. The Enduro 4.0 is comfortable, is equipped with the same 360-Turbine tech found in the rest of Leatt’s helmets and is quite easy to convert between modes. If you are someone that does a lot of traveling and doesn’t like hauling around multiple helmets, a convertible may be the option you are looking for.

Pivot Switchblade Brunch Ride


For a brand as prestigious as Pivot, whose bikes are just out of reach financially for some of us mere mortals, to launch a $4,999 build kit for their Switchblade and Mach 6 is the stuff of dreams. I spent a solid week shredding our Switchblade on the gnarly trails of Guatemala and was impressed to say the least. The Switchblade was pushed well outside its comfort zone but held course and was nimble enough to correct when things got real dicey. Getting a premium frame, factory components and a solid drivetrain spec that won’t entirely break the bank is well worth the cost. It would be great to see Pivot offer a Brunch Ride build on some of there other frames, like the Firebird, but I will take what we can get for now. Sure, you can get a bike from some other brands with AXS drivetrain for the same price, but you won’t get the premium, non-plasticky feeling frame.


During peak bike park season, I spend a lot of weekends riding the chairlift with our Canyon Spectral CF8 K.I.S. While a lot of us, myself included, thought the K.I.S (Keep It Stable) system would be more gimmicky than not and more stuff to go wrong on the bike. Anything could be further from the truth, the K.I.S system works surprisingly well, in fact I felt like I had some of my best Rattlesnake laps on the bike. The system won’t help you steer the bike, but it does help keep you on the line you want to be in and improves corner exit speed…atleast, that’s where I felt it was most noticeable. Is it a must have? No, probably not, but it also shouldn’t be dismissed without trying it and it still is a positive standout product for the year.


These are the only things on my list that I have paid for with my own money. Going on a year now with the Maxxis Razr AT tires on my truck and I have been nothing but impressed. I have always only ever run Toyo tires on my truck, but living in an area that actually has 4 seasons, the RT’s I was running we sub-par. So, I decided to broaden my horizons and glad I did. The Razr AT’s are 3 peaks rated, the main reason I switched, and do an excellent job in snow and dirt even with my truck being 2WD. They have just aggressive enough styling to look good, and do not produce much road noise. Being a softer compound tire has both pros and cons…pro being there isn’t as much road feedback in the steering wheel, and the con being that longevity is not quite there as my Sierra 2500HD is heavy. I might be lucky if can squeeze 25000 miles out of them. The only other negative, and this won’t pertain to most the population, they were a nightmare to mount on my Innov8 Racing Beadlock wheels, fml was that a mission and a half. Even with my concerns, I will still likely buy another set when it’s time as they aren’t as expensive as Toyos or Nittos and perform great for what I need.


This summer, OneUp Components sent over their new thick and thin grips for a little experimentation. Before we started swapping grips around, my mind was already made up, the thick grips were going to be the winner for me. Boy was I wrong, after a couple back and forth swap laps, I realized that thin grips were the way to go. I felt that I had much more control and grip over the bike. There was not nearly as much trail feedback as I thought there was going to be. Not saying it will be the same for everyone or all scenarios, but it was an eye-opening experiment for myself. OneUp’s grips are relatively inexpensive at $24.50, and I implore you to give both sizes and try and see what works best for you. My thin grips now follow me to whichever bike I am riding for the day.


Every year, I do a gear bag cleanout of the gear I no longer wear to make room for next year’s deliveries. Having recently done so, I realized that Fox now comprises 90% of the items in my bag, atleast in terms of bottoms and jackets. For good reason though, I’m a big fan of their athletic cuts, simplistic design and unique colors. The red Defend pants and shorts have been my go to’s when I have a clean jersey to match, only followed suit by traditional black and then tan colorways. Quality has been second to none as I have yet to ruin a pair despite my ability to fall in the worst spots. In addition to Fox’s bottom offerings, the Flexair NeoShell jacket has been a staple this year and come in handy more times than I can count. It does a phenomenal job keeping moisture out even when the rain comes down harder than we would like. Is it expensive? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Entirely up to the end user. I will say, I do not think there is another jacket as stylish or multi-purpose in the same category that is cheaper.

Tacky Chan


Aside from having one of the best product names in the mtb industry, the Tacky Chan from Schwalbe is a killer tire. Rob laid first tracks with the Tacky’s at a launch event, while we here in the PNW had to wait for our SL Roundup to go down. We fitted them to all our SL test bikes and were blown away by their performance right away. Particularly, corning traction, especially in deep sandy corners, was mind boggling. The side lugs do an amazing job holding traction when the bike is laid over, the only thing needed from us, it trust in the bike and tires to hold. Since the roundup, we’ve run out of fresh Tacky Chan’s and have been moving test samples from bike to bike. They may not be the best tire for everyone, or all conditions, but they are a solid choice for us in the PNW.


Josh Venti of Bros and Hoes Landscaping has built a mecca of amazing trails near his place in Pacific City. While they may be private trails for now, this spot is probably one of my favorite places to ride now and I have yet to scratch the surface. From natural loamers that are fast and fun, to the perfectly built jump lines that instill confidence to go bigger and bigger, to everything in between it’s no wonder you see his place used in a lot of edits coming out these days. I’m looking forward to going back and hopefully mother nature won’t be rearing her face like the time.


This one won’t apply to many, but it is probably my favorite drop of the year. As the main person laying stuff out on our website, my biggest pet peeve is when photographers send over portrait shot photos. Especially after repeatedly requesting landscape as that is what works best for our website. Having to crop portrait photos to work doesn’t always work out, but now that Adobe has this new AI Generative Fill, all that is a thing of the past. While I only use is to expand backgrounds, usually just foliage, it is crazy at how well it can add and blend the fill it produces. Thankfully, I don’t have to use it that much, but it definitely comes in clutch when I do. Bravo, Adobe.


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