By the Dirt Rag staff
This is our first attempt at a holiday gift guide, and, in typical Dirt Rag fashion, we had to do it our way. We’ll share a dirty little secret with you: most magazines’ gift/buyer’s guides are not created based on the recommendations of riders, but by the wants and desires of advertisers.
That’s not how we roll. Instead, we asked each staffer to select two items that they had experience with and would wholeheartedly recommend to fellow a mountain biker. Real riders, honest recommendations, realistic prices—the way it should be.
Each day we’ve been sharing a different staffer’s choices for their favorite gear of the year. Today’s final round of picks are from Dirt Rag’s editor, Mike Cushionbury.
SRAM XX Grip Shift Shifters – $295
As a longtime fan of SRAM twisters I was filled with glee when I heard they were returning in 2012, primed and ready for the now standard 2×10 mountain bike drivetrain (and XX1 if you’re so inclined.) My glee turned to delight after the first ride. The new Grip Shift far surpasses its predecessors. New internals consist of three rows of ball bearings, full-metal index shifting and an all-new Speed Release Spool system to provide crisp, quick gear selection. I love the ability to be able to jam through as many cogs on the rear cassette as I want in one motion. Additionally, thanks to a short throw, front shifting is the fastest and easiest I’ve ever used on a mountain bike. Want to save $70? The X0 level twisters, though lacking a stylish carbon cover and Gore RideOn cables and housing, weigh the same and shift just as nicely.
Mavic Fury XC Shoes – $325
Sure, the bright yellow color screams XC Dork, which I am, so I gravitated to these slippers like a moth to a flame. At just under 800 grams for the pair (size 44) they’re about the lightest available and the Energy Grip carbon sole is as rigid as a Catholic school nun. This is all great stuff in my book but the real defining feature for me is amazing comfort. A mixture of Mavic’s “Ergo” designed fitment and an “Energy” retaining upper and heel counter results in shoes that nearly disappear on my feet while providing total power transfer to the pedals. I also thoroughly appreciate the Contragrip rubber lugged outsole. It’s subtle yet provides impressive grip when clambering over rocks and logs even in wet conditions and it also does an impressive job of guiding the cleats right into the pedals, something too few XC specific shoes can claim.