Since 2006, Pivot Cycleshas been well known for its full suspension creations, and we’ve had several successfully run through the Dirt Rag testing process. A few have even made it into the personal stables of a couple Rag staffers. So, it was of interest when Pivot Cycles designer/founder Chris Cocalis decided to throw his hat into the “pivotless” ring with the manufacturer’s first hardtail 29er, the LES, which aims to be a high performance race bike with a smooth ride.Tweet Print
Rand McNally certainly knows how to make maps, but when it comes to using them in the outdoors, why let the tech companies take over? The Foris is a handheld GPS unit designed for general purpose outdoor use by hikers, cyclists, geocachers and others.Tweet Print
The new Bend H-bar from Jeff Jones builds on a legacy of creative tinkering started over a decade ago by the man himself. The idea behind the new $85 Bend H-bar was to create a svelte version of his signature Loop H-bar without. Less material means less places to mount things like GPS, lights, bell and other gadgets, but, like Swedish design, sometimes cutting things down to their essence makes for a better product.Tweet Print
Our reviews of the (L-R) Specialized Butcher Control, Michelin Wild Mud and Specialized Purgatory Control.Tweet Print
According to Yeti, “SB” stands for “super bike.” Normally this type of marketing claim makes me skeptical, but I was mightily impressed with the SB-66 and its Switch suspension. Given that, I was itching to see if the 66’s settled chassis, snappy pedaling performance and ready-to-rally spirit translated to Yeti’s big-wheeled trail bike.Tweet Print
When you’re camping out in winter, your sleeping bag is one item you do not want to skimp on. The Ignite Dridown 0 bag makes use of Kelty‘s new DriDown coated down, which helps retains the fluffy features’ loft and warmth. While I certainly didn’t sleep out directly under the rain, I did get it plenty moist on some rainy nights to be convinced that DriDown works. Another bonus: if you’re on an extended journey, it also dries more quickly, which is essential when you have limited opportunities to dry your gear.Tweet Print
Way back in issue #151, I reviewed Shimano’s MP66W shoes. Since then, Shimano has introduced the AM45 model to replace the MP66. I really liked the MP66, so I’m happy to see their spirit carried on in the AM45, with a few improvements.
While the MP66 came to us from the BMX world, the AM45’s are designed for aggressive trail riding. They offer excellent protection via an internal heel pad, a burly rubber outsole that wraps up high on the shoe to protect your toes, and light padding all around the synthetic upper.
Shimano’s Volume+ last offers a medium-wide width, which is great for those with wider feet, such as this tester. Shimano’s insole is decent, but I did swap out for my personal favorite after a couple of rides.
In general, I can’t say enough great things about these shoes. I use them for nearly all of my riding, from trail to downhill. Hell, I even use them for day-to-day commuting and the occasional XC race. I love being able to walk comfortably and enjoy having my feet a bit more protected. Sure, these shoes get a little warm in the summer, but the perforated upper panels breath better than you’d expect. Conversely, these shoes keep my feet warm in cool conditions, and also shed a surprising amount of water. One of the major improvements over the MP66 is the removal of the two mesh panels over the toe area of the old shoe. These small mesh panels allowed water to sneak into those old shoes, where that water simply rolls off the AM45.
For all around trail riding, and anything short of XC racing, I find the AM45 shoes hard to beat, particularly for the $100 asking price. Weight: 1,150 grams/pair in size 43. Made in China.
REEB cycles was started a few years ago by Colorado craft beer brewery, Oskar Blues. Rather than copy an existing design and slap on the REEB logo, Oskar Blues went against the grain with slacker geometry to tackle the rough descents near its Colorado brewery.
REEB bikes are aimed at the rider wanting a capable trail rig without twitchy, XC racer geometry. But, non-race geometry doesn’t necessarily make a bike slow, as evidenced by Macky Franklin’s victory at last year’s Breck Epic in the Solo Singlespeed category riding a REEB. My tester is a 29-inch-wheeled singlespeed, with Paragon dropouts and a Gates belt drivetrain, but it can also be built as a geared bike.Tweet Print
Kitsbow’s mantra is “Impeccable mountain bike wear for obsessives”. This is expensive sounding language, but it captures much about what makes Kitsbow stand out from the rest of the mountain bike apparel crowd while remaining tastefully understated.
There are no garish colors to be found in the Kitsbow catalog, mostly grays and blacks and blues, all finely tailored and sewn from expensive materials in British Columbia by folks with years of experience manufacturing high end outdoor garments. Kitsbow is headquartered in Larkspur, Calif., having been founded by two friends with background in mountain biking and clothing design.Tweet Print
As trail helmets continue to evolve, they seem to get more expensive. Not so with this new helmet from Bell, which hits a great price point while only losing a few features from its more expensive big brother, the Super.Tweet Print