Our Favorite Hard Goods for Mountain Biking, Tested in 2022

We tested 185 mountain bike products this year, and our favorites include a dropper post, brake set, wheels, tires, and even a smart watch.

The Singletracks team tested and reviewed a lot of gear this year. 185 products, to be exact. With a sea of so many excellent components and accessories out there, it takes a lot for a piece of MTB gear to stand out from the rest. These are the items that truly impressed our product testers.

OneUp V2 Dropper post

Words and photos by Jeff.

Not everyone needs a dropper post with 240mm of travel, and even fewer can actually fit one in their frame. The Oneup V2 dropper post is available in various sizes with travel options ranging from 90mm all the way up to 240mm, which means there’s a fit for mountain bikers of every size. Priced at less than $200, it’s a great value too.

My post has a 30.9mm diameter, and I thought such a long dropper might feel a little noodley or eventually start to bind due to flexing and bending ever-so-slightly. Fortunately that hasn’t happened, and after running this post spring, summer, and fall it’s still working great and feeling smooth. The internal cartridge has proven to be airtight and the seat clamp makes saddle swaps mostly pain free.

Out on the trail, the number one question I get asked about the Oneup V2 dropper post is: How much travel does that thing have?!?

Hope Tech E4 Enduro Brakes

Words and photos by Matt.

Hope Tech revised their brake lineup this year and released the Tech 4 lineup, further delineating the brakes into cross-country, enduro, and downhill options. We tried their E4 brakes this summer, which are a heavy duty, 4-piston brake with a revised lever, producing additional power and leverage, and a smaller master cylinder for better modulation.

The Tech E4, which uses a DOT 5.1 brake fluid, does have a more complicated setup and bleed process than other brakes, but we have been loving their stopping power and modulation. The precise, machined aesthetic isn’t too bad either and the reach and bite point are easy to adjust.

We spent a few months reviewing these before the review was published in late September and they are stilling running strong and haven’t needed a bleed yet. The Hope Tech E4 is a great brake for anyone who wants serious disc-grabbing power with a light pull and a unique appearance.

Reserve Fillmore Valves

These little bad boys are the real deal. That might seem like an overstatement, but the Fillmores have been amazing valves all year long. They don’t clog up with sealant and they allow more volume to flow through from pump to tire. It’s a simple component and not inexpensive, but we’ve been stoked with the Reserve Fillmores and how they’ve made it that much easier to air up tires on your way out the door.

Donnelly GJT tire front, Continental Kryptotal rear

Donnelly GJT tire. Words and photos by Jeff.

I tested a number of tires this year, including several from brands that only recently started offering mountain bike tires. The Donnelly GJT ended up being my favorite front tire tested this year, while the Continental Kryptotal was my favorite in the rear.

The Donnelly GJT surprised me with its predictable cornering right out of the box. I found it works well in most conditions, from dry hardpack to damp rocks and roots. Weighing just 960g, the tire spins up fast, though riders who like to bash might find it a little under-gunned, especially in the rear.

At the other end of the bike I found the Continental Kryptotal Re also works well in mixed conditions which is great since few of us want to swap ours tires every time the weather changes. The Kryptotal rips the bark off tree roots on the climbs and the side knobs provide excellent support when leaned into the corners.

It took a bit of experimenting with a number of tires this year, but for me this combo provides maximum grip and control, and maximum fun.

Reynolds Blacklabel 329 Trail Pro wheelset

Words and photos by Jeff.

The Reynolds Blacklabel 329 Trail Pro wheelset stands out for being a workhorse that rides like a stallion. I’ve lost track of how many tires I’ve put on these rims this year, and almost every single tire went on without an air compressor, and needed few if any pressure top offs between rides. (The few tires that DID need an air compressor or that lost pressure between rides were clearly to blame, as subsequent tires mounted to the Blacklabel 329 Trail Pros had zero issues.)

At a time when 30mm internal rim widths are fairly standard for trail wheels, the Reynolds Blacklabel 329 Trail Pro rims are 32mm wide which I’ve found is just right for the 2.4″ tires I tend to run. And I’ve still yet to experience a pinch flat with these wheels.

The Reynolds / Industry Nine co-branded Hydra hub in the rear is pure bliss, with near instant engagement that’s great for technical and janky trail riding. Weighing under 1600g for the pair, they’re also quick to spin up and make lofting the bike a joy when it’s time to flow.

  • Price: $2,299
  • Buy from hayesbicycle.com

Wolftooth Karv grips

Words by Jeff and Sam.

The best mountain bike gear doesn’t have to be complicated, or even expensive. Sam tested a few different sets of foam grips this summer just to see how he liked them, and ended up falling in love with the Wolftooth Karv grips in particular.

“I’m a total convert and am running them on all my bikes now. They just make such a big difference to comfort in terms of hand fatigue and on bigger rides chafing/blistering. They’re such a cheap way to make a big improvement to on-bike comfort.”

While foam grips are often associated with XC riders looking to cut weight, trail and enduro riders may want to give these a try next year.

Coros Vertix 2 GPS watch

Words and photos by Jeff.

I had planned to test the Apple Watch Ultra immediately following the Coros Vertix 2, and I assumed it wouldn’t be a fair fight. It turns out I was right about that, but it was David that ended up besting Goliath.

The Coros Vertix 2 is a true outdoors person’s watch, delivering weeks if not a month or more of hardcore use between charges. The built-in maps and the ability to follow a track is surprisingly good for such a tiny, wrist-mounted screen and its tracking abilities are hella accurate. While the Vertix 2 may not have all the latest apps and gizmos like an Apple Watch, it has the smart features that really matter like notifications, a music player, and the ability to control your action camera.

  • Price: $700 ($100 less than the cheapest Apple Watch Ultra)
  • Buy from REI and Amazon.

Specialized Rhombus Tire

Words and photos by Matt.

It’s a mountain bike tire—for gravel bikes. I know, some argue, just get a mountain bike, but some of the most fun I had this summer was rolling through fast, rocky gravel roads and trails with these 700x47s on a fully rigid, drop bar bike.

The Specialized Rhombus comes in two sizes; a 700×42 and 700×47. The tire features a knobby, but fast-rolling center tread, nice transition knobs, and beefy side knobs. The 42s do move a bit quicker but the 47s are where it’s at if you’re into underbiking or technical gravel rides.

Kuat Piston Pro X Hitch Rack

Words and photos by Matt.

The Kuat Piston Pro X proves that gear rack companies are pushing their products to be better and better. This is the most feature-heavy rack we’ve tested, with integrated tail lights, gas-operated, Kashima-coated struts, and a lock that may actually deter or slow people down from running off with your bike while you’re parked at the brewpub after a ride. These aren’t components you’ll find on many racks.

Not only that, the Piston Pro X still feels as fresh as the day it came out of the box. We wish we could test products longer sometimes, but often we’re constrained by time, and issues can come up after a review has been published. We’re pleased to say that four months after our Piston Pro X review has been published, and after more than a half-year with it, it’s still got our vote of confidence. If you’re looking for a premium hitch rack to transport your beloved two-wheeled rigs safely, the Piston Pro X is up to the task.

Knog Frog lights

Words and photos by Jeff.

I probably went a little overboard with the headline for my review of the updated Knog Frog, however I regret nothing. A red blinky light is one of those things everyone knows they should have, even it’s just for infrequent and short sprints across or along the road, and especially when riding at night. It’s also the kind of thing you want to buy once and never have to think about buying again.

The Knog Frog is that blinky light. The design practically guarantees it won’t get lost during the ride and the rechargeable battery ensures that it’ll never end up dead at the bottom of the drawer because you can’t find any damn watch batteries.

  • Price: $24.95
  • Buy from us.knog.com.

Your turn: What’s been your favorite piece of MTB gear this year?