Dirt Rag Magazine

Press Camp 2017 gear: helmets, sunglasses and packs


At this year’s Press Camp in Park City, Utah, Smith introduced a new helmet, Camelback launched a new protection hydration pack, Ryders Eyewear showcased its fog-free lenses and Thule showed us its GoPro-specific backpack. Keep reading for details on all of those new and nifty goods.

Smith Rover Helmet

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Smith’s first mountain bike helmet, the Forefront, was launched a few years ago to much attention for its unique looks, use of multiple new protection technologies and its steep price tag. Now, Smith has added the Rover, a lower-cost MTB lid with a removable (but not adjustable) visor that will retail for $150 without MIPS and $180 with MIPS. The Rover is available in stores now in eight colors.

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The Rover still features a comfortable, 360-degree fit system and the striking green honeycomb protection lining from Koroyd. Instead of full coverage, the Koroyd (a rather expensive material designed to reduce skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries) is strategically placed where crash impacts are most likely to occur. Light and camera mounts aren’t included, because whatever you already have should work at the top of the helmet, where there is no Koroyd blocking the vents.

On the road/adventure/commute side, the Smith Route is now available. It’s basically the same helmet but designed to look sleek without a visor.

Camelbak KUDU 8 Liter Pack

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The KUDU is a few years old but as Camelbak’s first and only pack with built-in back protection, it’s a standout. Camelbak will be introducing a smaller, 8-liter version later this year that will retail for under the $200 mark where the current smallest KUDU sits. The breakdown is 3 liters of water and 5 liters of storage.

A plethora of straps keep everything together and an internal tool roll provides organization. The back protector, which is removable, is rated at CE Level 2 (for motos) and is flexible, lightweight, breathable and capable of taking multiple hits.

The double chest straps up front help keep the back protector snug and secure. One waist pocket is zippered, the other has an elastic flap closure (that one will fit an iPhone 6). We snagged one and will bring a review, soon. So far, so good.

Updated Hydration Reservoirs from Camelbak

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Camelbak’s reservoir line got an update that was about five years in the making. Flow rate was increased by 20 percent thanks to a larger tube and a 45-degree (not 90-degree) angle on the bite valve. The bite valve has a new on-off flow switch that’s self-explanatory. Also updated is the handle, which is easier to hold and slips into pockets on the updated packs for security and stability.

The best update, in my opinion, is the cap. If you have ever had an entire water bladder leak out all over your car/back/wherever, you know how annoying some of them can be to properly and securely close. Camelbak came up with what they call a “pickle-jar” closure. Just put the cap on, turn and it’s sealed—no fiddling with alignment required. It really is that simple.

Ryders Eyewear With anti-FOG Lenses

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As soon as I hear a claim like “these lenses will never fog,” my B.S. antennae goes up. But I received a pair to wear during Press Camp and, low and behold, Ryders antiFOG lenses actually work. They carried me through several steamy rides. I look forward to testing them this winter while fatbiking with a balaclava.

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Ryders Eyewear started out as a family-run mountain bike sunglasses company and is now owned by one of the most high-tech lens manufacturers in the world. That gives the company access to some pretty impressive technologies, including the military-grade anti-fog treatment it adapted for its cycling lenses. Ryders elected not to polarize all of its riding lenses because it believes some glare is useful, allowing you to see things like ice patches and puddles.

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Some frames will feature rimless tops, which are intended to provide unobstructed views from a crouched, looking-up position, as well as ventilation. Rims on the bottom can also help protect your face in the event of a crash. Sunglasses with antiFOG lenses start at $79 for clear up to about $150 for lenses packed with multiple technologies (too many to explain here; you can still get polarization and photochromatic if you want it). Many models feature adjustable nose pieces and low-profile stems that work well with a wide variety of helmets.

Thule Legend GoPro Backpack

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This product is pretty self-explanatory. It’s also not brand-new, but it still raises eyebrows and gets some people excited. If you believe that your ride didn’t happen unless you posted a video of it to your favorite social media account, check out the Thule Legend.

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The Legend retails for $200, has integrated mounts both front and rear, keeps all of your camera accessories well organized and protected, and can carry up to three GoPro cameras in a crush-proof compartment. It also has a hydration bladder compartment (though one is not included). Get out there and get rad.

 

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Inside Line: First ride with the new Giro Montaro helmet


Photos by Justin Steiner

Giro has had a huge hit on its hands with the Feature, a great all-purpose trail helmet that doesn’t break the bank. The new Montaro builds on that success with several new technologies that make it more of a premium product.

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The first key design priority on the Montaro was making it more easily compatible with goggles. Giro says it is one of the few half-shell helmets on the market that can perch a pair of goggles on your forehead below the visor. To make it work the visor tilts really far up with several detents along the way, making it unnecessary to lock it in place with screw tension at the pivots. The vents along the rear of the helmet are also lined with a rubbery plastic that helps hold the goggle strap, a nice touch.

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Ventilation was another key aspect of the design, and the Montaro has Giro’s Roc Loc Air retention system that keeps the body of the helmet suspended slightly above your head, allowing air to move in and through more easily. If you do end up warming up and sweating, you should notice a lot less of it ending up in your eyes thanks to the super-absorbent brow pad that uses the kind of material you’d find in a ShamWow. If you pull it out and squeeze it in your hand a rather disturbing amount of sweat comes out.

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Other features include a clip-in GoPro mount, easy to adjust straps and a MIPS liner on all models. There are eight colors and three sizes for the standard Montaro and three colors and two sizes in the women’s Montara version, which is otherwise identical. It will go on sale for $150 this October.

Montaro

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Montara

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In action

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Bell introduces most affordable MIPS helmet yet


It’s not a good idea to cut corners when it comes to safety, but it can be tough to decide how nice a helmet you really “need.” Bell hopes to make choosing a bit easier with the introduction of the $90 Event XC, the most affordable helmet in its lineup with the MIPS safety system.

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If you’re not familiar, MIPS is a layer inside the foam (the yellow part) that floats between your head and the helmet. Because most impacts between your helmet and the ground are at an angle rather than directly on, it allows your head to rotate slightly inside the helmet, absorbing some of the motion that would otherwise be transferred directly to your brain.

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The Event XC also features the TAG adjustable fit system, has plenty of ventilation and has an adjustable visor. It comes in all-black or black/white in three sizes.

Learn more

Looking for something a little different? There is also the Stoker model with MIPS for just $95.

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Kali Protectives releases super light bike and DOT-certified full face helmet


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A downhill bike helmet must face strict safety standards, but for many riders the additional DOT safety rating is a strong selling point. The drawback? The additional size and weight of a DOT helmet is not only annoying, it can compound injuries due to the pendulum effect. Kali Protectives already makes some of the most advanced bike and moto helmets on the market, and its latest product combines what it has learned in both segments into a super light bike and DOT full face. Kali says reducing the volume of a helmet just 10 percent can reduce rotational forces transmitted to the brain in a crash by 22 percent. At 1,050 grams the Shiva’s weight is competitive with other brands’ top-tier bike helmets without DOT certification.

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The new Shiva is built around Kali’s in-molding process in which the carbon fiber shell and foam are molded as one piece instead of being glued or taped together. This means there is no impact from the foam hitting the shell before compressing. As small as that distance may be, it’s your brain we’re talking about here. The foam itself is Composite Fusion Three, a dual layer design with cones that crumple to absorb the impact. Kali has tested several cone shapes over the years and some of its helmets use a round cone while the new Shiva uses a pyramid shaped cone.

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Details include a breakaway visor and a rounder helmet shape that is less prone to getting caught and turning your head during a yard sale crash. It also has the requisite GoPro and accessory mounts for any sort of light or camera. It will retail for $500 in the US and is available in five sizes.

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See it in action

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Kali Protectives unveils new Maya trail helmet


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Not all foam is created equal. While all bicycle helmets sold in the United States have to pass the same safety regulations, there is a lot of room above and beyond those tests where impact absorption can be improved. Kali Protectives‘ Composite Fusion Plus technology uses a dual-layer foam construction better absorb impacts and help prevent serious injury.

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First seen in the brand’s downhill helmets, the Composite Fusion Plus foam is now being incorporated into the new Maya helmet for trail, all-mountain and yes, enduro riders. It has all the features you would hope to find in the category, including an adjustable, breakaway visor; integrated yet removable mounts for lights and cameras; a bug netting liner; a floating adjustment system; and plenty of vents.

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The Composite Fusion Plus technology works by using a system of cone shapes within the two low-density foams that can crush to absorb an impact. It also molds the foam directly to the helmet shell, eliminating the second impact created when the foam strikes the shell.

The Maya helmet weighs in at 350 grams, retails for $100, comes in in two sizes and is available in matte black, blue or black/white.

In action

Here’s Kali Protectives athlete Jeff Kendall-Weed showing us how it’s done:

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First Impression: Bell Super 2R


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Modern all-mountain bikes are really redefining what is possible with a single bike: controlled singletrack climbing and all-out downhill performance. With the machines pushing boundaries, riders are looking for versatile protection that remains comfortable up and down the mountain. Many enduro races also require a full face helmet for the timed stages, and carrying two helmets can be a chore.

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The Bell Super 2R is a reworking of the popular Super helmet introduced last year. While it shares most of its styling with the Super, the Super 2R is completely new and the integrated, removable chin bar is not compatible with the older version. What does remain from the first-generation Super are the X-Static padding, TAG adjustable fit system and overbrow ventilation.

Having a chin bar is not a new idea, and many folks are comparing this to the old Giro Switchblade helmet, for example. While the concept is similar, the execution is much different, with a bar that wraps the whole way around the helmet, rather than attaching at the sides.

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I got to ride the Super 2R during the two-day Oregon Enduro Series race over the weekend at Mt. Hood and found it to be just the ticket for enduro racing or rowdy trail riding. At a claimed weight of 694 grams, it is just more than half the weight of the 1,200 gram Transfer 9 full-face that I reviewed in Issue #178 and obviously vents far more than a solid full-face.

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The chin bar is easy to install and remove via the cam buckles. In fact, it’s even easier to operate with the helmet on, though the google straps cover the side bindings, and they can be tough to feel for with gloves on. The buckles are not only inspired by ski bindings, they are actually made in a factory that makes ski bindings.

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The breakaway visor tilts far up and easily makes room for your goggles perched on your forehead and the removable camera mount has been redesigned for a more secure fit. Inside the chin bar are cheek pads that have removable inserts to fine-tune the fit.

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Folks have a right to be skeptical about the chin bar’s strength, but Bell explains that while the Super 2R helmet doesn’t carry the full downhill/full-face certification, the chin bar has surpassed all its internal testing requirements. A super-slow-mo video of the test shows how it deforms and deflects on impact to dissipate the energy. A Bell employee even crash-tested one during practice over the weekend—walking away with a few scrapes from a face-plant that certainly would have cost him some teeth if he hadn’t been wearing the Super 2R.

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While the helmet’s intention is clearly focused on enduro racing and big-mountain riding, chatter over the weekend was about several other user groups who might enjoy it, including beginners or anyone looking for a little extra protection without having to wear a bulky full-face.

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The Super 2R will retail for $200 or $220 with the MIPS system, and will also be available without the chin bar as the Super 2 for $135 or $155 with MIPS. The original Super will be retired. Bell says the chin bar might eventually be sold separately for folks looking to upgrade later.

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It is available in five colors, including the Infared pictured here, which is impossible to photograph but glows in a sort of neon peach.

 

 

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Inside Line: New Super 2R helmet from Bell with removable chin guard


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While the recent influx of extended coverage helmet designs has brought better protection—and looks—to market for trail riders, there still exists a huge gap between their open-face coverage and a big downhill full-face helmet. Especially now that enduro racing and all-mountain riders are pushing harder than ever before, riders are looking for a little extra security on the descents, but a lot more comfort on the climbs.

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