2010 is nearly drawing to a close and I’ve done alot of riding this year including trail centres, bike parks, pump tracks, dirt jumps, muddy night riding and even a Downhill race!
I’ve used lots of different bike parts, accessories and clothing during the year, but have come to realise the parts that really helped my riding this season
here is my (Rob C) personal top 10 for 2010:
1. Renthal Fatbar
British manufactured by the legendary Motocross company Renthal, the Fatbar in 750mm x 20mm just feels…perfect!
Great shape, highest quality manufacturing, Renthal’s legendary strength-to-weight ratio and a wonderful anodised gold colour which lets the World know you have chosen the best bar on the planet
Forget carbon fibre, Renthal knows its all about high strength aluminium-alloy, and did I already mention its British made??
2. E13 LG1+
E13 revolutionised the chain device market some years ago, and have continued to bring new innovations to chain devices every season or two
The LG1+ is a “taco” style device meaning that the chainring and chain are protected by a large lexan (polycarbonate) wedge that sits underneath the backplate, ready to greet any nasty rocks or tree roots on the trail
The “+” designation means this is the latest LG1 featuring a redesigned backplate which accomodates any frame style with regular, narrow or wide angle settings – just choose ISCG OLD or ISCG 05 to suit your frame, and you can run E13′s bottom bracket adapter if your frame does not have ISCG mounts
In use, the LG1+ is “transparent” (you won’t notice its there); the chain stays put whatever abuse you give your bike and a great feature for our wet climate is the ability to properly clean the chainring / chain as the lack of a bashguard means you can get at the chainring teeth whilst cleaning your bike
3. Specialized Control Purgatory tire
A bit of a “sleeper” hit in the Specialized tire lineup, this is easily my favourite front tire for all-mountain bikes and trail bikes
Light at sub 650 grammes with its kevlar bead, very large volume for a 2.2″ tire (as large as a Maxxis in 2.5″), dual durometer which means a harder centre knob line and softer edge knobs for cornering, and a great tread pattern which always feel predictable even in mud and snow, and clears extremely well considering its not a mud specific tire
The other huge bonus is the “2 bliss” membrane that all the “control” series tires have – meaning easy setup with tubeless systems like the Stan’s No-Tubes conversion kit
4. Hope Pro II hubs
Hope have been making excellent, tough wearing kit for years, and the Hope Pro II hubs are another example of their excellence!
Legendary for their rolling performance, wet weather durability, fantastic strength-to-weight ratio, ease of servicing (with all spares available next-day from Hope) and adaptability for different axle standards and dropout styles
Both my bikes run Hope Pro II hubs in the 20mm front and 135mm x 10mm ‘screw-in bolt’ variants in 32H and black
I’d always suggest black as the hubs will last so long that you might find you use the same hubs on different rims and bikes and so black works great as its a “colour” that is almost neutral in that it works great with different coloured rims and other coloured bike parts
5. Wellgo MG-1 pedals
You won’t find these on our website yet, but they are due very soon…
Wellgo is the world largest pedal manufacturer, making pedals for a good number of the leading brands, as well as doing a very brisk business under their own ‘Wellgo’ name in the aftermarket and OE sectors (original equipment for complete bikes)
I was turned onto these MG-1 (magnesium) pedals by my buddy who managed to find a spare pair for me, and I have not looked back since – they’ve been used and abused in mud, rain and snow and used for dirt jumping, XC trail riding and a downhill race
A decently large sized and relatively thin platform design with good quality sealed bearings, a good concave and removable steel pins, all mounted into a magnesium-alloy body which means one of the lightest pedals on the market at a low price (typically £40) without the stupid expense of titanium axles or hand-machined US made exotica!
I’ve actually found them so grippy with 5-10 shoes, I’ve had to remove 4 pins per pedal face, which is easily accomplished using an allen key
6. Fox RP23 BV shock
Now this is something really special, if you want to run an air shock, this is about as good as it gets!
It looks deceptively simple, but works brilliantly, many would argue its actually better than the DHX Air?
The RP23 is based on the venerable Float air shock, but with the Boost Valve trickery cleverly crammed inside, adjustable air pressure, adjustable rebound and a 3-position pro pedal control which also has an on/off setting
In practise its very very good – with the larger “XV” version ideal for all-mountain bikes and even FR / DH bikes previously fitted with coil shocks
Great small bump sensitivity, great ‘pop’ on jumps and good control through the mid stroke into the long stroke with no harsh bottom out or funny habits even at high speeds and big impacts – highly recommended – I have these fitted to both my bikes!
7. 661 Kyle Strait knee pads
Something for your body – the 661 Kyle Strait (or ‘Slim’ as its also known) is a brilliant pad that truly changed the body armour market
Its simple but very effective with a neoprene construction and hard plastic cap embedded inside the knee area, with high density foam padding behind the cap, and above / below the cap, and also on the sides to protect the vulnerable patella from top tube or terrain impacts!
Easy to fit, easy to use (you won’t notice you are wearing them even on XC rides) and giving a good level of protection whilst not getting in your way or affecting your riding style, and also easy to clean after use
After years of wearing bulky and restrictive hard shell knee/shin guards I only use the 661 Kyle Straits – they are a great choice to keep your knees warm during winter XC rides, and also for freeride, dirt jumping and downhill racing where you want the freedom to move whilst protecting the vulnerable knee during the inevitable crashes!
8. Shimano SLX HT2 crankset
Shimano have shot themselves-in-the-foot with the Shimano Hollowtech SLX crankset – unless your bike has an 83mm bottom bracket shell (meaning you need Shimano Saint) there really isn’t any reason to buy any crankset but SLX
I’ve used this on my short travel freeride bike for 2 seasons including some stupidly big gap jumps, drops and dirt jumps – never even looked at the cranks since fitting..
I also use these on my all-mountain bike and once again they are fit and forget and as most of the most important parts of any bike, a great crankset you can truly rely on!
Perfect balance of strength and weight, extremely tough with the steel pedal insert and washer, easy to setup with single ring, dual ring with bash, chain devices or triple rings – Shimano include their well sealed and super durable bottom bracket, the price of SLX absolutely kills any competiting brands and SLX is only 40 grammes heavier than the more expensive Shimano XT!
9. Endura Baa Baa base layer
If you have unpleasant memories of a woolen jumper your granny gave you for Christmas, don’t worry – modern ‘mercerised’ merino wools do not itch, and give you an incredible performance than modern synthetics cannot hope to match
Merino wool is incredible warm even in thin plies, retains warmth whilst wet and importantly is naturally anti-bacterial so will not retain the odour that afflicts many synthetics
Enduro’s “Baa Baa” long sleeve top is brilliant as a base layer in cold weather conditions, or even for wearing under normal clothing during the colder months – you may find yourself wearing it for several days….
10. Madison Shield glasses
My final item is critical for night riding, or riding during the winter in poor weather conditions (any riding where you don’t need sunglasses)
Very affordable but also very functional – the clear lense Shields glass keeps your eyes safe and sound from mud, gravel and rogue tree branches or sticks
As they are very affordable you don’t have to worry if you ruin them by wiping muddy glasses with your gloves, or lose them on a night ride, or sit on them when back in your vehicle (which I once did to a £130 pair of clear Oakleys…)