Dirt Rag Magazine

2014 Editors’ Choice – On our radar


Dirt-Rag-Editor's-Choice-Logo

The year is almost over and it’s time we look back and consider all the bikes, components and gear we’ve tested in 2014. It’s always tough to choose favorites, but choose we did, highlighting our favorite products of the year in the new issue of the magazine. We asked each editor to choose the product they are most looking forward to trying in 2015, and these are their choices.

Over the next few days we’ll be rolling out our favorite Bikes, Components and Gear, as well as looking ahead to 2015 at some of the items at the top of our must-try list, so keep checking back to see the rest of the 2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice awards.

 


transition-smuggler-2

Transition Smuggler

$3,300–$4,900

Chosen by Tech Editor Eric McKeegan

The Smuggler is admittedly very close to the Process 111, which is probably why I’m so interested in riding it. Transition transitioned to a Horst Link–style suspension design for 2015 and redesigned its whole trail-bike line. With a 130mm RockShox Pike up front, 115mm of rear travel, and 29-inch wheels, this bike should be a ton of fun to get in over my head on.


shimano-di2

Shimano XTR Di2

$TBA

Chosen by Online Editor Adam Newman

I’ve put plenty of miles on Shimano’s excellent road-going Di2 prod- ucts, and I can only imagine the technology will translate perfectly to the dirt. Simply put, it shifts better and faster than any mechanical system ever could. Shimano has also chosen to keep the front derailleur around for a while, though it auto-shifts on its own so you only need a rear trigger shifter. This will help clean up the spaghetti noodles of modern cockpits. Yes, it is expensive, but trickle-down versions will eventually reach us all. I can’t wait.


giro-feature-mips

Giro Feature MIPS helmet

$95

Chosen by General Manager and photographer Justin Steiner

Prior to testing the Stego helmet, my go-to lid was Giro’s Feature. While I still love the look and fit of my Feature, the added safety of Stego’s MIPS gets the nod these days. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when Giro recently announced the Feature MIPS for the incredibly reasonable price of $95! Previously, the Stego MIPS was the most accessible all-mountain-style helmet, with POC’s Trabec Race MIPS demanding $230. Kudos to Giro for bringing MIPS to the masses. I can’t wait to get my hands on the Feature MIPS.


i9-pillar-wheels

Industry9 Pillar carbon wheels

$2,850

Chosen by Art Director Matt Kaspryzk

I love the way I9 wheels sound. I love how quick they are. I also love the color options. This year, as I build up another personal trail bike, I’m keeping an eye on their new Pillar Carbon wheel system. With several build options and compatibility for contemporary drives, they promise to deliver performance and lower credit scores.


niner-bsb9

Niner BSB 9 RDO 5-Star Ultegra Di2

$6,499

Chosen by Editor Mike Cushionbury

In the last year or so, my idea of what the perfect drop-bar bike is has changed. No longer am I concerned with the lightest, most aero crit racer; instead I’m interested in all-day comfort and off-road capabilities. But that doesn’t mean I want a casual upright position or “recreational” frame feel; I still want high-level performance for occasional ’cross (and, more often, gravel) races, fondos with timed KoMs, and long-distance train- ing all from one bike with just a tire change. In light of this, Niner’s BSB 9 RDO seems the perfect match, with its disc-brake-specific carbon frame, 15mm Maxle fork dropouts, dual bottle-cage capabilities, and high-performance geometry. Add in Shimano’s Ultegra Di2 parts and this is a capable tool for just about anything.


Keep reading

Read all our choices of the best new bikes, gear and components here.

The Editors’ Choice selections originally appeared in Issue #181. Pick up a copy here or better yet, order a subscription, and help support the independent mountain bike forum.

 

Print

2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice – Gear


Dirt-Rag-Editor's-Choice-Logo

The year is almost over and it’s time we look back and consider all the bikes, components and gear we’ve tested in 2014. It’s always tough to choose favorites, but choose we did, highlighting our favorite products of the year in the new issue of the magazine. We asked each editor to choose their favorite piece of cycling gear they used in 2014, and these are their choices.

Over the next few days we’ll be rolling out our favorite Bikes, Components and Gear, as well as looking ahead to 2015 at some of the items at the top of our must-try list, so keep checking back to see the rest of the 2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice awards.

 


lake-shoes

LAKE MX237 shoes

$290

Chosen by Editor Mike Cushionbury

These shoes have arguably the most supple and comfy full-grain leather upper I’ve ever used. The shoes broke in nicely, like a favorite pair of soft slippers, but over time they’ve proven to be durable and scuff resistant. The full-carbon sole has real rubber lugs and a traction strip in all the key places, and the dual side-mounted BOA lacing system snugs up nicely with no odd pressure points. The fit is roomy, but my feet never swim around, making these my go-to choice for any length of mountain bike (or gravel) ride or race. Stiffness and power transfer is also stout enough for cyclocross.


swat-bib-shorts

Specialized SWAT bib shorts

$88

Chosen by Tech Editor Eric McKeegan

Many people might find the concept of pockets on your liner short silly, but those people would be wrong. For riders who are looking to ditch that hydration pack but still want to be prepared, these shorts are just the ticket. And at $88, even if the pockets aren’t your cup of tea, these are still supremely comfortable bibs.


dakine-pickup-pad

Dakine pick-up pad

$110

Chosen by Art Director Matt Kaspryzk

I pretty much got a truck because I always wanted one of these, and it’s lived up to the hype. Its padded protection allows you to simply hang bikes on your tailgate for transporting. It comes in two sizes for mid- and full-size trucks as well as two color options (black and camo). There are straps to anchor your down-tube on the pad, and that’s all you need to keep your bike from flopping around. The access flap keeps your tailgate handle and back-up camera functional. It’s an inexpensive, quick, and convenient alternative to mounted racks, but does require a cable lock if you want security. And you also need a truck.

 


camelback-kudu-12

Camelbak Kudu 12

$200

Chosen by Online Editor Adam Newman

CamelBak took the holeshot in the hydration-pack market, but in the last few years they’ve seemed to be coasting. This latest pack puts it back in high gear, however, combining a simple layout, a great bladder, and just the right amount of storage. I wouldn’t want to land on my shock pump or whatever else is in my bag any more than on a rock, so the CE2 spine protector is an added bonus. From trail rides with friends to enduro racing, the Kudu 12 is my favorite pack of the year.


scott-stego-helmet

Scott Sports Stego MIPS helmet

$160

Chosen by General Manager and photographer Justin Steiner

Researching helmet safety and the Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) data for my review of Scott’s Stego helmet convinced me that MIPS-equipped helmets might help reduce the risk of concussion. Since then, the Stego has been my helmet of choice because, in addition to providing a little extra peace of mind, it provides great coverage around the head, is very comfortable, and breathes well.


mavic-crossmax-pack

Mavic CrossMAX hydration pack

$150

Chosen by Art Director Matt Kaspryzk

Mavic might not be your first thought when searching for a new hydration pack, but it’s worth serious consideration. Mavic has a full line of softgoods that are all top shelf. This season I’ve been really impressed with the CrossMAX Hydropack 15. It has plenty of compartmental storage for any all-mountain adventure. There’s a helmet strap and an easy-access pocket on the back. The 3-liter bladder is easy to use and gusseted to prevent sloshing fluid. In addition, there are four pockets on each front strap, making this a figurative tactical vest for off-road riding.


 

Keep reading

Read all our choices of the best new bikes, gear and components here.

The Editors’ Choice selections originally appeared in Issue #181. Pick up a copy here or better yet, order a subscription, and help support the independent mountain bike forum.

 

Print

2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice – Components


Dirt-Rag-Editor's-Choice-LogoThe year is almost over and it’s time we look back and consider all the bikes, components and gear we’ve tested in 2014. It’s always tough to choose favorites, but choose we did, highlighting our favorite products of the year in the new issue of the magazine. We asked each editor to choose their favorite component they used in 2014, and these are their choices.

Over the next few days we’ll be rolling out our favorite Bikes, Components and Gear, as well as looking ahead to 2015 at some of the items at the top of our must-try list, so keep checking back to see the rest of the 2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice awards.

 


sram-xo1

SRAM X01 Groupset

Starting at $1,335

Chosen by Editor Mike Cushionbury

The age of single-chainring drivetrains is here, and the best value in weight to performance is unequivocally SRAM’s mid-level X01 group. The weight and performance is so close to the top-tier XX1 set that
I’ve never wanted more than what X01 delivers. It looks great, provides perfect performance, and carries a decent price tag. The carbon crank is a mere 5 grams heavier than XX, and the X0 trigger shifter, with its aluminum backing plate, weighs the same as XX, which features a carbon plate. The biggest weight difference comes from the cassette: X0 is a “whopping” 15 grams heftier, but remains equal in performance to XX. Want an insider tip to save a little more cash? While I highly recommend using the complete group, you can try matching an X1 shifter and derailleur with an X01 cassette and crankset. You’ll be hard pressed to find a major performance difference save for trigger-shifter position; the X0 is adjustable, while the X1 is not.


WTB-vigilante

WTB Vigilante tires

$65-$75

Chosen by Online Editor Adam Newman

You can have the nicest bike in the world, but if the tires connecting you to the ground aren’t up to snuff, it’s all for naught. The Vigilante is one of the most aggressive treads in WTB’s lineup, and while it won’t be winning any hole-shot sprints, it will more than make up for it once the trail gets rowdy. Available in three wheel sizes and two different rubber compounds‚ plus WTB’s idiot-proof TCS tubeless bead‚ these are my go-to tires for trail and all-mountain riding.


thomson-elite-dropper

Thomson Elite Covert Dropper Post

$450-$480

Chosen by General Manager and photographer Justin Steiner

All of the dropper posts on the market offer something unique, and all have advantages and disadvantages. For me, Thomson’s Elite dropper has the winning combination. An effective, ergonomic, and tidy remote actuates consistent and predictable action with proven reliability. While conceptually I prefer three-position posts, the Thomson’s predictability provides enough consistency to keep me happy.


sram-guide-brakes

SRAM Guide RSC brakes

$400

Chosen by Tech Editor Eric McKeegan

These are good brakes. In fact, assuming we don’t start hearing reports of Elixir-style bleeding issues, these are great brakes. Besides switching back to a tried-and-true timing-port master cylinder, a new SwingLink linkage reduces deadband, increases power, and improves feel. Top it off with a new quiet rotor design and this brake is ready to compete against the best in the business.


Keep reading

Read all our choices of the best new bikes, gear and components here.

The Editors’ Choice selections originally appeared in Issue #181. Pick up a copy here or better yet, order a subscription, and help support the independent mountain bike forum.

 

Print

2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice – Bikes


Dirt-Rag-Editor's-Choice-LogoThe year is almost over and it’s time we look back and consider all the bikes, components and gear we’ve tested in 2014. It’s always tough to choose favorites, but choose we did, highlighting our favorite products of the year in the new issue of the magazine. We asked each editor to choose their favorite bike they rode in 2014, and these five are the picks.

Over the next few days we’ll be rolling out our favorite Bikes, Components and Gear, as well as looking ahead to 2015 at some of the items at the top of our must-try list. We’ll start today with the bikes we most enjoyed this year, but keep checking back to see the rest of the 2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice awards.

 


 

Cm2404(Size)01

Cannondale Trigger 29

$3,470–$8,120

Chosen by Editor Mike Cushionbury

One of the most versatile all-mountain bikes in existence, the Trigger 29, with its big wheels and 130mm of travel, rolls over rough terrain
like thunder across a late-summer sky. Flip the DYAD rear-shock lever and rear travel compresses to 80mm and the Attitude Adjust geometry raises the bottom bracket and moves rider position more forward into an optimum hard-charging pedaling position. Adding to all this prowess is the ultra-stiff Lefty SuperMax, with buttery smooth compression and damping—a fork that I can say with absolute confidence is one of my all-time favorites for all-mountain bashing.

Shown here is the stunning Carbon Team with a full XX1 group and RockShox Reverb dropper post, which weighs in at a mere 26.6 pounds without pedals. My own version is set up exactly the same but with an aluminum frame from 2013 and it still weighs in at less than 30 pounds, making it a perfect all-arounder for any and all of my off-road excursions.


 

kona-process-111

Kona Process 111 DL

$5,600

Chosen by Tech Editor Eric McKeegan

The Process 111 redefined what short-travel trail bikes are capable of tackling. Combine simple, efficient suspension with progressive geometry and the result is my favorite bike from 2014. My two main complaints are being addressed in the 2015 model, with the under-gunned RockShox Revelation fork being replaced with a Pike and the price dropping from $5,600 to $4,100 without losing any performance.


 

salsa-bucksaw

Salsa Bucksaw

$4,000–$6,500

Chosen by Online Editor Adam Newman 

Fat bikes have monster-trucked their way into the mainstream this year, and Salsa continues to push the trend with the first full-suspension offering from a major manufacturer. This isn’t some cobbled-together freakshow, either; it’s a refined design featuring Dave Weagle’s excellent Split Pivot suspension. Salsa has also announced it will be available in a full carbon fiber version as well. Fat bikes aren’t just for snow anymore; the big tires are big fun all year round and the Bucksaw is breaking trail in a whole new market.

Read more of our ride impressions here.


 

Santa Cruz Nomad Carbon

Starting at $5,899

Chosen by General Manager and photographer Justin Steiner

From its first incarnation the Nomad has pushed the all-mountain category, maximizing both descending prowess and pedaling efficiency. Santa Cruz took a giant leap forward with the 2015 Nomad Carbon in terms of efficiency by providing
an up-over-the-pedals riding position via a steep seat-tube angle and tuning the rear suspension for more mid-stroke support. The slack 65-degree head-tube angle provides a long front center for stability in steep terrain and at high speeds, while the short chainstays keep the rear end of the bike lively. Teamed with a low bottom bracket, this bike rips in fast, steep, and gnarly terrain. The new Nomad is a winning combination for rowdy riders: trail-bike weight and efficiency with the soul of a downhill bike.

Read our long-term review here.


 

niner-RLT

Niner RLT 9 2-star 105 build

$2,000

Chosen by Art Director Matt Kaspryzk

Maybe this is a bit of a surprise pick for me, but I’ve really enjoyed this bike. Whether it’s gravel waiting for grinding or hidden alternative lines along my morning commute, the RLT 9 is ready to tackle any road less traveled. It’s a fun ride that enables adventure—not to mention it features some of the best-looking colorways in all of cycling. Ride it anywhere; it can handle just about anything.

Read more of our ride impressions in our sister magazine, Bicycle Times.


Keep reading

Read all our choices of the best new bikes, gear and components here.

The Editors’ Choice selections originally appeared in Issue #181. Pick up a copy here or better yet, order a subscription, and help support the independent mountain bike forum.

 

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