Trail-tracking watches that cost as much as a hardtail are sweet, but not all mountain bike gear is priced at a premium. We also get to test a lot of cool kit that’s on the more affordable end of the spectrum, and we wanted to share some favorites ahead of the winter holidays.
Club Ride Gunslinger 2-hour chamois
I haven’t put myself through the crotch-forging process of riding without a chamois, so I’m pretty particular about wearing one, and wearing the right one on any ride. I’ve found that a lot of shorts liner chamois just don’t cut it — the foam compresses too much, they don’t fit right, and they’re uncomfortable.
Club Ride’s shorts liner chamois are cut from a different cloth, however. They fit well, they’re breathable, and most importantly, the foam portion is worth a damn. Club Ride makes a 1, 2, and 3-hour chamois, but I have grown to like the middle child best. Likely because if the ride is more than two hours long, I’ll be wearing a full bib liner. But the Gunslinger is the perfect lunch ride, or short ride chamois.
MSRP: $49.95. Available at the Club Ride website.
G-Form X-3 Pads
You don’t get much more bang for your buck than the latest G-Form X3 knee pads. The X3s are the latest barely-there pad from G-Form and they provide a base level of protection without the expense of comfort. The pads slip on, stay in place, and don’t chafe or twist on a ride. The G-Form X3s are subtle and welcome on long and short rides alike.
Muc-Off Stealth Tubeless Puncture Plug
I deeply dislike punctures, and I have even stronger feelings about putting a tube in my tire. With sweet tools like the Stealth Tubeless Puncture Plug from Muc-Off onboard, the days of dumping sealant into the dirt are largely behind me. This sleek and colorful little system tightens into the end of the handlebar, ready to be ripped out and put into action at a moment’s notice. The plug tool is sturdy, with ample girth to get it through the thickest of DH casings time and again, and the dagger on the other side can be used to trim those plug ends among various other trailside tasks. Both are encased in a lipstick-size alloy capsule to keep them fresh and clean, and the shell is available in ten different colors. I like to tape 2-3 zip ties to the end of the caps so I always have them handy in the woods.
Mucky Nutz Fender
Joe Diffie is a self-proclaimed “pickup man.” I’m a self-proclaimed “fender all year” person, and I generally go for the most coverage possible. This massive mudguard from Mucky Nutz may look a tad silly on my bike in mid-July, right up to the point when a storm rolls in and I’m the only person who can see on the descent. The long version of this fender provides the best front tire coverage I have found to date. It’s good enough that I can ride without glasses during the season when the lens would otherwise be fogged and blurred with rain. At £25 for the long version and £20.00 for the shorter cut, this guard is one of the most worthwhile components on my bike.
Oury Lock-on Grips
This year I started experimenting with gloveless riding, and the best grip for this that I’ve found so far is the Oury V2 single clamp lock-on. The chunky grip has big channels for dumping sweat, and the rubber compound seems to get stickier with just the right amount of moisture. Also the thicker rubber soaks up some of the bad vibes that the fork can’t quite tame. The single-clamp design makes cockpit swaps and adjustments quick and easy, and they grab onto the bars tightly. Read the review.
Rapha Trail Hip Pack
Hip packs aren’t hip for everyone. I’d rather strap everything to my frame or stuff my pockets than wear a bag. When I do need the extra space, that bag has to be top-notch, and this Trail Hip Pack from Rapha is. The fit, form, and function of this hip-holster are some of the best I’ve experienced, and it can hold all the snacks I need for a full day of pedaling. The bottle pockets do well to keep my hydration in place, and the inside of the pack is organized so I can quickly locate things. The interior is also made of a bright orange material that’s easily wiped clean, so this little satchel is a good choice during chanterelle collecting season.
Reserve Fillmore Valves
Filling tires is a necessary evil in mountain biking, but that doesn’t mean it should take as long as it usually does or always has. Reserve came out with the Fillmore valve this fall and it improves upon the Presta valve by moving the poppet valve to the bottom of the stem, allowing more air to flow from your pump to the tire. The design should also mean less sealant clogs at the valve.
The Reserve Fillmore valves aren’t cheap at $50 a set, but they are worth checking out if you’re ordering a new set of wheels or just want to make your bike feel a touch nicer.
Vittoria Syerra Tire
Tire swaps and upgrades make a huge difference in a bike’s ride feel and performance, which makes for money well spent. The Vittoria Syerra is a new tire designed for light trail riding and I’m really digging how well it grips. It’s a supple tire for those who like a little give, yet it’s not a total flyweight that needs to be babied through the rough stuff. Read the review.
MSRP: $79.99. Available at Competitive Cyclist.
Wolf Tooth roll-top bag
The Wolf Tooth TekLite roll-top bag goes everywhere with me. It mounts pretty much anywhere: saddle rails, seat tube, underneath a bottle cage, you name it. The bag fits all of my flat repair kit including a tube, pump, sealant, tire plugs, patch kit, and levers. The roll-top enclosure keeps dirt and water out, and the TekLite material has proven to be rip- and tear-proof over hundreds of miles of singletrack. Thankfully I rarely have to open it on the trail. Aren’t today’s tubeless tires great? Read the review.