2012 gift guide and staff picks – Matt’s picks

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’ll be sharing a different staffer’s choices for their favorite gear of the year. Today’s picks are from Art Director Matt Kasprzyk.

Shimano XT Trail pedals – $150

The XT PD-M785 Trail pedal is a great choice for the technical trail rider or enduro racer on your list. The aluminum cage increases the length and width of the pedals’ surface area, allowing for more support and control; it also means there’s a larger target for your feet if you dab and need to get clipped again. As you can see, I have not been nice to my pair; they’ve been bashed off rocks and roots a plenty and are still going strong.

Schwalbe Racing Ralph, Nobby Nic and Hans Dampf tires – $85-$95 

These tires are my best friends—a Nobby Nic on the front grabs onto slippery rocks and guides me through mud holes, and a Racing Ralph lays down the power once through the danger spots. I opted for SnakeSkin sidewall protection on both, and of course ran them tubeless. The pair has gotten me through two campaigns at the Trans-Sylvania Epic; in fact, after I retired the trusty pair from last year, I shelled out my own money for another set in 2012. The Hans Dampf features a triple compound and reinforced sidewalls. While not the fastest rolling or the lightest option, this tire provides great traction in a variety of conditions. We’ve enjoyed this tire in both 26 and 29-inch sizes. It’s not light, or cheap, but it does offer incredible, German-engineered traction in almost any situation. 


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