VIDEO | Fabien Barel Presents: Season 2 Trailer

Mavic‘s own Fabien Barel is back for another season of “Fabien Barel Presents.” Debuting in June, Season 2 will follow Fabien as he delves tread first into the trails, culture and food of diverse destinations such as Scotland and Sicily alongside the likes of Jerome Clementz and Joe Barnes. Be jealous and enjoy the trailer.

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VIDEO | 2013 Fox Head Gear Tested by Kirt Voreis and Tyler McCaul in Bend, OR

Check out Fox Head athletes Kirt Voreis and Tyler McCaul ripping trail bikes on some sublime singletrack in Bend, OR as they put the 2013 Fox Head all-mountain and trail gear through its paces with some exhaustive R&D.

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RANCHSTYLE 2013 | Mike Montgomery Wins Big

Mike Montgomery wins Best Trick with a cliffhanger backlip. Photo courtesy Pinkbike

Mike Montgomery wins Best Trick with a cliffhanger backlip. Photo courtesy Pinkbike

Price Point rider Mike Montgomery swept the 2013 Ranchstyle Mountain Bike Festival.

Montgomery won both the Pro Slopestyle  and Best Trick competitions Saturday in Glade Park, CO.

“I’m stoked to start the season off with a W.” Montgomery told The Link. “This is going to be a good year!”

Montgomery is currently preparing for the 2013 Red Bull Berg Line in Hochsauerland, Germany, on May 19.

Ranchstyle 2013 Results

Best Trick
Mike Montgomery

Pro Slopestyle
1. Mike Montgomery
2. Paul Genovese
3. Carson Storch
4. Brayden Barrett-Hay
5. Jack Fogelquist

Open Slopestyle
1. Liam Wallace
2. Breidan Phipps
3. Justin Sherman

by Don Stefanovich 

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GETTING SOME AIR | FOX Introduces Float 40 and Float X CTD, Revamps 34 Talas for 2014

Mick Hannah sends it aboard FOX RAD prototypes in Leogang, 2012. Photo by Thomas Dietze

Mick Hannah sends it aboard FOX RAD prototypes in Leogang, 2012. Photo by Thomas Dietze

FOX has unleashed a slew of new air shocks, fueled by the recent trend of enduro racing. Prototypes have spent considerable time under racers in enduro formats—a perfect testing ground for products aimed at everyday all-mountain riders as well as racers, FOX says. But perhaps more surprisingly, the mid-travel all-mountain market isn’t the only segment getting some air.

Float 40 FIT RC2

All tech aside, what really matters is that the graphics now wrap diagonally, just like the pros.

All tech aside, what really matters is that the graphics now wrap diagonally, just like the pros.                           Photo by Jon Ho

Gravity riders have long sung the praises of coil-sprung suspension—plush and active, weight be damned.

But FOX has unveiled a completely redesigned air-sprung version of its popular 8-inch dual-crown 40—which has gone largely unchanged since 2005—throwing convention out the window, along with the coils.

The general consensus from FOX racers seemed to be in favor of a more progressive fork. This, along with an eye on weight, tunability and stiffness, drove the development phase and several RAD (Racing Application Development) prototypes have been spotted over the past two years leading to quite a bit of speculation. FOX tried several new designs, including inverted forks with 36-millimeter stanchions and a pneumatic-assisted coil spring, which added a more progressive spring rate, but did nothing to shave weight. It also lacked the tunability racers wanted. They all wound up in the scrap heap.

FOX is building and stockpiling race-winning state-of-the-art air-sprung weaponry. Photo by Thomas Dietze

FOX is building and stockpiling race-winning Kashima-coated air-sprung weaponry. Photo by Thomas Dietze

As counter-intuitive as it may seem to most, FOX settled on an air spring for its new gravity fork. Spring rate is adjustable via shock pump from 45 to 80 psi, and is designed to be linear early the travel and ramp up toward the end, providing the progressive feel racers wanted. The RC2 damper is all-new with a Kashima-coated shaft—yes, on the inside where you’ll never get to oggle it—and lacks bottom out, thanks to the air spring. Compression ratio is internally adjustable via an allen key thanks to a new nine-position compression piston.

The lowers are entirely new as well, reshaped with materially used sparingly when possible and beefed up where necessary, like near the brake mounts.

The net result is that the Float 40 FIT RC2 is a full 1.15 pounds lighter—and intentionally less stiff—than its predecessor.

It is perhaps the latter that requires some explanation.

“When we did our chassis study, which included an inverted fork design, our athletes preferred a chassis with slightly less torsional stiffness than the previous 40,” Mark Jordan, FOX global marketing and communications manager, told The Link. “They liked how it tracked and how it felt at the handlebars.”

It turns out that having less torsional stiffness kept traction better in turns, but where test riders wanted to keep the ultra-stiff characteristics of the previous 40 was in fore-aft flex, or lack thereof.

Bleed ports allow equalization of internal pressure at altitude, and new arch design saves weight and adds torsional compliance. Photo by Thomas Dietze

Air-bleed ports allow equalization of internal pressure at altitude, and a new arch design saves weight and adds torsional compliance. Photo by Thomas Dietze

Other nifty features include the pinch bolts on the crown being moved to the front to reduce frame bump when the bars are turned and an air-bleed system to allow riders to painlessly equalize internal pressure at altitude; no more “burping” forks with zip-ties, potentially scratching stanchions and ruining seals in the process.

“Much like a moto fork, the large size of the 40 makes big elevation and temperature changes affect it more,” said Jordan. “Relieving the internal pressure in the lower legs helps lessen the seal pressure on the upper tube and it makes a big difference on the 40 due to its size and travel.”

Expect a mid-season release of a 27.5-inch version as well.

Float X CTD Rear Shock

The Float X CTD replaces the DHX Air in the FOX lineup. Photo by Jon Ho

The Float X CTD replaces the DHX Air in the FOX lineup. Photo by Jon Ho

As for the enduro/all-mountain goodies mentioned earlier, the Float X CTD rear shock seems to be stealing the show since a prototype was spotted back in January on FOX race program manager Mark Fitzsimmons’ bike and he confirmed it was aimed at the enduro segment.

The Float X CTD replaces the DHX Air in the FOX lineup, adopting the CTD technology in lieu of the Boost Valve and Pro Pedal, allowing for greater tunability. In addition to the Climb, Trail and Descend modes, Trail mode features three different low-speed compression adjustments. After taking notes from riders on 2013 product, FOX has stated that CTD across the board is retuned for 2014 for more midstroke damping and a firmer climb mode, and the Float X is no exception. Rebound adjustment remains unchanged.

Aaron Gwin won the Sea Otter Classic downhill aboard a Specialized Enduro 29 equipped with a FOX Float X CTD. Photo by Thomas Dietze

Aaron Gwin launches a Float X CTD-equipped Specialized Enduro 29 to victory in the Sea Otter Classic downhill. Photo by Thomas Dietze

“The Float X is a completely new shock and was designed to cater to modern trail, all-mountain and freeride bikes, so it’s a big update from the DHX Air,” said Jordan. “We wanted to produce a reservoir shock that could handle rugged terrain while offering the on-the-fly adjustments of the CTD system. So Float X offers easier tuning, great damping performance and the benefits of the CTD system.”

With enduro racing driving development, FOX knew a lighter, more pedal-friendly platform was desired that could still remain consistent on rough, extended downhills.

The latter is accomplished with the piggyback reservoir, much like the DHX Air, meaning increased oil and flow for a more consistent feel as the shock heats up during rough rides. But the Float X is an entirely new design that also sees trickle-down features from the new DHX RC4 coil shock, like better damping and lower internal pressures for better small-bump sensitivity.

The ups will be a little easier thanks to the aforementioned stiffer Climb mode and better midstroke damping in Trail mode. The fact that the Float X sheds 70 grams from the outgoing DHX Air doesn’t hurt either; an 8.5-inch by 2.5-inch Float X only weighs 365 grams.

The Float X is the only CTD rear shock that can be converted to accept a remote if it was not originally set up as such.

34 TALAS CTD

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The new TALAS features a drop-in cartridge that can be retrofitted to convert older FOX forks. Photo by Thomas Dietze

The TALAS forks also see a makeover, with the 34 160-millimeter model taking center stage. While the TALAS has been popular for some time due to its ability to reduce the travel—and front end height—for climbing, critics always pointed out that it never seemed quite as plush or stiction free as the FLOAT models. Internally, it had many more seals than the FLOAT. According to FOX, that’s all changed.

“The new TALAS system uses an air spring design that is similar to FLOAT with an inline hydraulic travel adjuster,” Jordan told us about the simplified internals. “When TALAS was first released, the system changed travel by transferring air between chambers. The 2014 TALAS system uses fewer seals in the air spring, so has less friction and a more precise travel adjuster with the hydraulic system.”

On paper, it has a suspension curve that looks extremely close to the FLOAT.

The new system is also now a self-contained cartridge system that can also be purchased separately and retrofitted to update compatible late-model FOX forks—both air and coil.

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The new TALAS uses a self-contained cartridge system that can also be purchased separately and retrofitted to update compatible late-model FOX forks—both air and coil. Photo by Thomas Dietze

The new TALAS—along with all other CTD forks for 2014—has received more supportive mid-stroke damping in all three modes to reduce brake dive and prematurely blowing through the travel. Travel is now reduced by 30 millimeters instead of 40. The 34 TALAS will be available to fit both 26 and 27.5 (650b) bikes.

by Don Stefanovich 

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INSIDE SEA OTTER 2013 | Part 2

The Link, Price Point’s finger on the pulse of the bike industry, delves deeper into the depths of Laguna Seca to continue bringing you coverage of the coolest new bikeswag from the Sea Otter Classic.

Giro Chamber

Served up hot ‘n’ fresh, the Chamber marks Giro‘s first entry into the downhill realm. Developed with none other than Aaron Gwin, the Chamber combines casual skate style with super-sticky vibram rubber soles. Flat and clipless-ready varieties are available, with the latter featuring a super-stiff sole. They’ve also lost considerable weight since debuting at Interbike in prototype form. An internal bootie,  EVA foam footbeds, impact-absorbing Poron XRD heel cups and velcro strap enhance comfort and fit.

 

Continental 27.5-inch Tires

Continental 27.5

Photo by Don Stefanovich

The German tiremaker introduced 27.5 (650b) versions of four of its most popular mountain treads. The Trail King (our personal favorite), Mountain King, X-King and Race King have all adapted to the tweener size. Currently only existing in 2.4 widths, Continental says most of the tires should be available in a full size run for 2014.

 

Troy Lee Designs Sam Hill D3 and Fresh A1 Colors

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

Troy Lee Designs released much anticipated colorways of two of its most popular helmets, the D3 and the all-mountain A1. The D3 sees a fresh splash of color for the Sam Hill Signature edition while the A1 gets both a new metallic treatment and even a version with a matte finish.

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

The matte finish covers one of the original A1 paint schemes, but creates a stark yet welcome contrast to its metallic-flake siblings.

 

Optrix Barfly

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

The new Barfly mount from Optrix makes mounting the XD5 to your handlebars a simple and versatile affair. It can be mounted for POV action, or flipped to lay the phone in a flat “landscape” mode if you’d rather use apps and training functions. 

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

Optrix also made sure no one forgot its waterproof dunkability.

 

Marzocchi 380 C2R2 Titanium Fork and Moto C2R Shock

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Marzocchi is replacing the 888 with the new 380 C2R2 Ti fork. Compatible with 26 and 27.5-inch wheels, the 200-millimeter 380 is a complete redesign with 38-mil stanchions, titanium spring, new arch and lowers, titanium pinch bolts, a hollowed-out axle and new internals. It trades in the open-bath design in favor of a “Dynamic Bleed Cartridge” inspired by the Italian company’s motocross forks, which it says will provide the plush, smooth feel of open bath with the consistency of a cartridge.  The DBC cartridge employs a one-way seal to let oil in. A spring-loaded piston acts a compensator; the piston moves up to make room as the damper cartridge fills with oil, and then back down to take up excess volume as oil exits the cartridge. Impressive—and it all weighs in at a tidy 6 pounds, 2 ounces.

SeaOtter_2_3017

Photo by Don Stefanovich

The ROCO isn’t going anywhere just yet, but the C2R will be the top-of-the-line DH shock going forward. With an eye on weight, the body is machined down to a minimalist design, and the 14-millimeter shaft and shock eyelet have been precision machined from a single piece of aluminum, decreasing weight and increasing strength.

Marzocchi doesn’t find the compression boost necessary, but offers the C2R both with and without for riders wanting increased tunability and bottom out. It all tips the scales at just 369 grams without the spring.

 

Bell Super

SeaOtter_2_2879

Photo by Don Stefanovich

Bell claims the Super splits the difference between heavy-duty downhill coverage and cross-country comfort and breathability. While that’s just another way of saying this is an all-mountain/enduro helmet, it seems to hit the mark in both form and function—not to mention style. The Super is also designed to readily accept goggles with an adjustable visor and guides.

 

Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40C

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

Creating what it felt was the perfect carbon clincher wasn’t easy, but Mavic found a simple yet elegant solution.

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

The French wheelmaker used aluminum inserts for increased strength and stiffness, giving the spokes a strong anchor point while keeping weight respectable at approximately 1,545 grams per pair.

 

Sock Guy Rainbows and Unicorns

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We think these socks speak for themselves.

 by Don Stefanovich 

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INSIDE SEA OTTER 2013 | Part 1

The Link goes on location at the Sea Otter Classic in the pits of Laguna Seca for a sneak peek at all the new bikeswag being unveiled.

Answer Gentlemen’s Collection Bars

Photo by Don Stefanovich

Classy as always, Answer proudly displayed its Gentlemen’s Collection of bars with dignified designs such as paisley, plaid and houndstooth. The bars are a manly 780 millimeters wide with 4-degree upsweep and 8-degree backsweep. The graphics for each bar are hand-laid ensuring no two are alike. The Gentlemen’s Collection features a military-grade anodized finish to ensure the bars don’t fade or scratch.

Answer Gentleman's Collection

Photo by Don Stefanovich

Further adding to the allure, Answer says these are limited edition, so once they’re gone, they’re gone.

 

Sun Ringlé 27.5-inch Wheels

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

Sun Ringlé expands its wheel line with 27.5-inch (650b) offerings in both the Charger Pro SL all-mountain and—adding to the signs of changing times—A.D.D. downhill wheels. Both feature Stan’s NoTubes BST Technology.

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

The anodized hubs of the A.D.D. downhill wheels look as good as they sound.

 

Manitou 27.5-inch Forks

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Manitou‘s trail forks gets all-new lowers, graphics and are now available in 27.5-inch (650b) sizes to fit the emerging crop of middle-wheeled bikes.

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

The Minute Pro and Marvel Pro are available with up to 140 millimeters of travel. Expect a 160-millimeter all-mountain fork with 34 millimeter stanchions in the near future.

 

Fox Head Rampage Pro Carbon

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

The Rampage Pro Carbon tops Fox Head‘s helmet lineup with carbon-fiber construction, 17 vents and tips the scales at only 1,145 grams.

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

Colors range from subtle to not so much. We spotted a few of these on the race courses already on pros and amateurs alike.

 

Race Face Narrow-Wide

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

Race Face designed its Narrow-Wide chainrings to be run as single-ring setups and eliminate dropped chains and the need for chainguides. The name refers to alternating-width teeth similar to SRAM’s XX1 X-Sync. Narrow Wide will play nicely with while adding a touch of color to XX1 setups.

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

Rather than the ramps of traditional two and three-ring setups designed to drop chains for smoother shifting, the Narrow-Wide design holds onto chains with a Kung-Fu grip.

 

Crankbrothers Mallet DH

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

When Crankbrothers redesigned its popular mallet to be lighter, it resulted in slightly less platform real estate. Gravity riders lamented, so Crankbrothers introduced the Mattlet DH, featuring the refined internals of the new Mallets with a larger platform resembling the original design. They still come in at a respectable 470 grams per pair.

 

Zipp Wheels 202 Firecrest Carbon Clincher

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The 202 Carbon Clincher is the lightest wheel in the Zipp lineup at a scant 1,375 grams per pair. Designed to combine aerodynamics with low weight, the 202 combines the 32-millimeter rim depth of its predecessor with a more aerodynamic Firecrest profile and now has a wider 25.4-millimeter max rim width, resulting in an impressive all-around road wheel.

 

Kenda Turnbull Canyon and Honey Badger Tires

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Developed with cross-country legend Tinker Juarez, the Kenda Turnbull Canyon tire is named for the Southern California trail network where Tinker is notorious for the self-inflicted torture of his training sessions. The XC/marathon tire will be available in 2.0 width in 26, 27.5 and 29-inch incarnations.

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

The Honey Badger is Kenda‘s new do-it-all trail tire designed to grip as well on slimy Northwest roots as in the dry and loose of the Southwest while retaining fast-rolling characteristics. Climb all day? Descend some serious chunder? Like its namesake, the Honey Badger don’t care—as the letters stamped in the tread will remind you. Currently available in 2.2 widths for 26, 27.5 and 29-inch wheels, look for a 2.4 downhill Honey Badger soon.

 

Fox 34 TALAS CTD, Float X Rear Shock and Float 40

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

FOX displayed its new 34 TALAS CTD and Float X rear shock on the wildly popular Santa Cruz Bronson C, further iterating their intended all-mountain/enduro purpose.

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

The Float 40 RC2 announces FOX’s commitment to air springs taking center stage in its gravity forks going forward. Completely revised lowers feature air-bleed valves and shave 1.15 pounds from the previous 40, resulting in a sub-6 pound dual-crown gravity fork—impressive.

FOX stopped by Price Point headquarters to give us an in-depth look, so be sure to stay tuned for a full review.

 

Shimano XTR Revisions

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

Shimano overhauled its XTR brakes with magnesium calipers and carbon levers, dropping 40 grams per wheel and resulting in the company’s lightest hydraulic brakeset to date. The rotors see finned Freeza technology trickle-down from the 203-millimeter gravity realm where it debuted, to a full range of cross-country sizes, improving cooling and shaving weight.

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Photo by Don Stefanovich

Get your glue, kids. A new carbon tubular XTR 29er wheel also saw daylight for the first time in Laguna Seca.

 

Five Ten Freerider VXI

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The redesigned Contact Outsole of the Freerider VXI allows full pin contact for maximum grip, but lacks tread on strategic areas of the sole to allow repositioning without lifting the foot.

 

To be continued…

Stay tuned for continuing Sea Otter Classic coverage.

by Don Stefanovich 

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DON’T CALL IT A ‘CASE’ | Optrix turns iPhone into an HD action-sports cam that can take a beating and a bath

The Optrix XD5 and helmet mount in action.

We’ve all done it—fumbled with our iPhone during a ride to try and get “the shot” only to have it wind up face down in the dirt with a new spiderweb screen saver. And point of view with the same iPhone? Forget about it, unless you like riding one-handed.

Enter Optrix, a unibody polycarbonate housing that turns iPhone 4, 4S and 5 models into waterproof, wearable, wide-angle, high-definition, point-of-view action sports cameras. Given the HD capabilities of the iPhone and the fact that most users carry it just about everywhere, this seems like a no-brainer. So, why didn’t someone think of it sooner?

Well, they did.

“This isn’t our first rodeo,” John Willenborg, Optrix founder and CEO told The Link.

The first Optrix was designed around the iPod Nano in 2009.

Optrix has been a labor of love for about 4 years,” recalls Willenborg. “I used to be a semi pro motorcycle racer and used a GoPro frequently. One race weekend I was getting ready to head on track and I realized I left the GoPro SD card in my computer. My iPod Nano was just sitting there on the table and I decided to zip-tie it to the front of the motorcycle. The results were fantastic. The Nano was clearer, easier to use and I was able to watch the race back right on the device. The simplicity made so much sense I decided to start Optrix and create a better way to capture action video.”

The XD5 is not Optrix' first rodeo. Photo courtesy Optrix

The XD5 is not Optrix’ first rodeo.

In 2010 the company patented a clamshell design for the iPhone—then scrapped it.

“If there was a mistake to be made on the housings, chances are we made it,” Willenborg says, surprisingly candid about the dead ends in the extensive development process.

“The XD5 is the fourth generation of our XD Series, and it’s the result of countless hours of industrial design and engineering—making Optrix more than just a ‘phone case,’” says Willenborg. “We built prototypes, we tested, we found flaws, and reengineered until it was, in our eyes, perfect. There’s a reason our housing doesn’t look like anything else on the market: we’ve tried them all, and none compare to the durability and user friendliness of Optrix XD5.”

Among those flaws was the fact that the clamshell design required 15-percent more area—read more material—to be waterproof. More material equals more weight, and one of the goals—other than being waterproof and nearly indestructible—was to be lightweight, according to Willenborg. That lack of heft was achieved with a distinctive low-profile, monocoque, polycarbonate construction that still allowed it to take a beating—and a bath. During the marketing, er, testing phase, Optrix dropped its latest incarnation, the XD, from a second story window, threw it against a wall, ran it over with a full-size pickup truck and took it snorkeling in the Pacific, all—safely—while recording.

Not bad considering we’ve had friends mourn the loss of iPhones that met their demise during mundane activities such as getting out of the car or using the restroom. But we digress.

Out of the box

The Optrix XD5 includes everything you need—and a zip tie.

Out of the box, both the XD4 and XD5 include the main housing, an iPhone “sled,” a 175-degree wide-angle lens, a flat base mount, a curved base mount, a safety leash, a removable rail clip and a zip tie (hey, ya never know when you’ll need one).

The main housing—the true brainchild of Optrix R&D—is what makes it unique in the world of cases and mounts for both stand-alone POV cams and camera phones. Optrix claims it received inspiration for the monocoque, unibody construction of its housing from the driver “cocoons” designed to protect Formula 1 drives in fiery 200-mph crashes. It all sounds a bit dramatic, but regardless of the inspiration, the waterproof, nearly indestructible result is impressive. A “membrane” over the screen allows the user to retain full touchscreen functionality while remaining sealed and waterproof. The XD5 features an access door on the bottom of the housing to allow easy access for charging and headphone use while inside, though opening this port mitigates its waterproof properties.

The included iPhone “sled” serves as a sort of protective cartridge for inserting your iPhone into the main housing. Upon slipping an iPhone into the rubberized sled, we discovered it lives a surprising double life. The sled, as it turns out, makes a rather fine iPhone case for everyday use on its own. Bonus.

The wide-angle lens enhances the field of view, making the most of the iPhone’s HD recording abilities. Flat and curved base mounts with 3M industrial adhesive give you some mounting options to get started, but over 40 mounts are available, including our personal favorite, the chest mount. A sliding rail system means that you can easily attach and remove the main housing, allowing you to utilize its protective capacity whether or not it’s mounted and filming.

A safety leash and zip tie are thrown in for good measure.

In action

Head or chest? Life is about choices. Photo courtesy Optrix

Head or chest? Life is about choices.

Setup is easy. The sliding rail system allows for easy attachment to various mounts. The adhesive mounts work as well as any others we’ve used and the unibody construction keeps weight to a minimum. Other than being able to immediately watch footage you’ve just recorded, being able to immediately see what you’re recording on the iPhone’s screen makes for easy adjustment when mounting, taking the guesswork out of getting the right angle. There’s nothing worse than having a great run only to download your footage and find out your chest mount was pointed straight up your nose the entire time.

Once on the sled and in the case, things are pretty simple—but they weren’t simple enough for Optrix. The company developed propriety iPhone apps to maximize POV potential. The Optrix VideoSport is a free app featuring focus lock and adjustability for resolution and frame rate. The focus lock feature prevents the iPhone from “hunting” and constantly attempting to focus while in motion. At the time of press, motion-activated start/stop and a “minutes left” warning are slated for the next update.

An Optrix VideoPro gives users the ability to overlay telemetry data on their videos including speed, G-Force, lap times and a track map in addition to the functions of the VideoSport for $9.99 in the app store. Both also include oversized record, stop and play buttons for ease of use.

Final take

While it may seem counter-intuitive to bomb your favorite trail with an expensive iPhone anywhere but stowed safely in your pack or back in the truck, we’re looking forward to spending more time with and putting the Optrix through its paces and—most likely—testing its crash-test rating. While other dedicated POV cams likely aren’t going anywhere, the Optrix offers an ingenious and viable option for riders who already have a very capable iPhone, but don’t want to drop the extra coin for an expensive stand-alone unit.

by Don Stefanovich 

 

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TROY LEE DESIGN’S TRAIL ROOTS | New gear recalls the company’s history

The new A1 only the most recent incarnation of TLD's trail helmets.

The new A1 is only the most recent incarnation of TLD’s trail helmets. Photo by Don Stefanovich

If you ride a mountain bike, chances are you know Troy Lee Designs for its line of full-face helmets and gravity gear. And maybe you are familiar with its origins in races requiring internal combustion engines; Troy, after all, got his start racing motocross as a teenager and painting helmets for his friends in his parents’ garage. But what most people don’t realize is that the company’s first venture into bicycle helmets was closer to the recently hyped A1 enduro helmet than anything in between.

The A1 recently received quite a bit of buzz, and rightfully so. After three years of development and scrapping several concepts, TLD released what it felt to be a proper all-mountain helmet—not a road helmet with a visor. The A1 features deep rear coverage and EPS (expanded polystyrene, the impact-absobing material in most helmets) that is strategically thicker in common impact zones and reinforced with fiberglass strands, but combines that extra protection with “super vents” for improved cooling over similar designs without compromising safety. Inside is a one-piece liner for comfort, so you won’t have to fuss with separate pads. Naturally, as an artist, Troy couldn’t let the A1 leave the factory without a custom look, so techniques used on moto helmets were applied to the paint and graphics along with anodized hardware. It all weighs in at a tidy 320 grams.

But among all that buzz in the bike-industry media, the A1 was widely regarded as TLD‘s first trail helmet without a chinbar—a statement that happens to be both true and false.

A young Troy Lee makes visors on at a time on the punch press. Photo courtesy TLD.

A young Troy Lee makes visors one at a time on the punch press. Photo courtesy TLD.

Troy Lee Designs‘ deep [bicycle] roots can be traced back to the ’70s when Troy and his brother Kelly roamed around in the hills of Laguna Beach on beach cruisers,” bicycle division marketing manager Craig “Stikman” Glaspell told The Link. “And later on when Troy started painting helmets in 1981, he would eventually find his way to BMX racing in the late ’80s painting Dave Cullinans helmets, who would be the first BMX racer to have a custom painted helmet.”

In the early ’90s, motorcycle helmet manufacturer Shoei decided it was going to take a stab the mountain-bike market, but needed a little help. Troy got the call.

The Edge lived double lives as trail helmet and downhill dome bucket.

The Edge lived double lives as trail helmet and downhill dome bucket. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Shoei’s now-iconic—among those old enough to remember it—louvered shell was soon splashed with wild paint schemes by Troy and outfitted with a custom visor. One of the first “real” mountain-bike helmets was born. Donned by pro riders the likes of Brian Lopes, Greg Herbold and Leigh Donovan in races at the time, it quickly put the motorsport-goods maker on the mountain-bike map. When Lopes wanted a little more protection, Troy devised a detachable chinbar, making the Edge both TLD‘s first half-shell and full-face lid. While the chinbar design wouldn’t pass TLD‘s strict safety standards of today, the concept was revolutionary at the time for a bicycle helmet—and even moto helmets of the day featured removable chin pieces.

A young Troy Lee shows his nephews how to paint an Edge helmet. Photo courtesy TLD.

A young Troy Lee teaches his nephews how to paint an Edge helmet. Photo courtesy TLD.

“Later in the ’90s was when Troy would make the groundbreaking full-face that set the standard, the Daytona,” said Stikman. The Daytona closely resembled today’s full-face helmets, and was a giant leap forward in 1995. Mike King, Nico Vouilloz and Dave Cullinan—luminaries during the ’90s in BMX and mountain-bike racing—all had their heads inside a Daytona. Soon everyone wanted one. TLD began production in 1996, and soon the Daytona was making appearances on the World Cup circuit on noggins the likes of Steve Peat and Shaun Palmer (yes, the snowboarder was a World Cup downhill racer—and a damn good one).

A detachable chinbar was was good enough for motocross, why not mountain bikes?

A detachable chinbar was was good enough for motocross, why not mountain bikes? Photo by Don Stefanovich

While the Edge helmet planted TLD‘s feet firmly in the mountain-bike market, the Daytona’s popularity carried more momentum, eclipsing the Edge and eventually evolving into the popular D2 full-face in 2001 and later the D3 in 2009.

Today the company is predominantly known for its strong footing in downhill and freeride helmets and gear but Stikman is quick to point out that it’s only a part of TLD‘s bicycle segment. “Troy Lee has been making BMX and mountain-bike apparel since the ’90s as well, from number plates and racewear to the introduction of trail-riding gear in early 2000, to what is now one of the best lineups in all-mountain, enduro, freeride and racing apparel on the market,” he said. The company counts to its credit an all-star big-bike roster including Aaron Gwin, Sam Hill, Brendan Fairclough, Troy Brosnan,Cam Zink and Brandon Semenuk, but is growing its enduro team as well. Nicolas Vouilloz, Curtis Keene and Lars Stenberg are all on board.

Even though they are separated by two decades, the A1 bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor

Even though they are separated by two decades, the A1 bears a striking resemblance to its predecessor. Photo by Don Stefanovich

The Link was recently able to preview TLD‘s newest technical trail products—including gloves, shorts, jerseys and even an expansion on TLD’s partnership with Shock Doctor to include post-injury support products such as knee and wrist braces—but most of the goods are still top-secret. We will give you full details as soon as we’re able, but what we can say is that the new gear will round out the line to cover just about any style of riding when it comes time to put two wheels in the dirt.

Vintage cross-country race bikes and kits from the likes of Brian Lopes, John Tomac and Greg Herbold remind visitors of TLD's trail roots.

Vintage cross-country race bikes and kits from the likes of Brian Lopes, John Tomac and Greg Herbold remind visitors of TLD’s trail roots. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Lest anyone forget TLD‘s trail roots, cross-country race bikes and kits from the likes of legends like Greg Herbold, John Tomac and Brian Lopes hang among the wild array of clothing, products and memorabilia in its So Cal showroom.

“We have been doing it for a few years and some of the items we have had were the first to market: trail-riding shorts, freeride shorts, loose-fitting jerseys, etc.,” Stikman said. “It is definitely a buzzword right now, but these new formats are things Troy and I did 20 years ago. Racing mountain bikes you had to race the uphill to race the downhill. We were out all day on trails, having fun with our friends, cooking at the campsite, having a beer fireside. It is a lifestyle that we all still live today, not just the latest craze for us.”

by Don Stefanovich 

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MARKLEY ANDERSON | Tour Divide Training Update

Markley stops for some facetime during a training ride in Shenandoah National Park.

Anderson stops for some facetime during a training ride in Shenandoah National Park.

March 29, 2013
“Did 100 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing today in a cold Shenandoah National Park. Feeling good and the training is going well. This pic is me after I finished. You can see I’m still fresh. Could have done more easily which is a good sign that I’m on target.” 
-Cheers, 
     Markley

Mad man Markley Anderson continues training for his second Tour Divide. In gearing up the massive multi-day 2,700-mile race, Anderson is logging hundreds of miles per week both dirt and road, and consuming thousands of calories. It’s all part of his idea of fun.

Anderson gets some time on the dirt in before work on a crisp Virginia morning.

Anderson gets some time on the dirt in before work on a crisp Virginia morning.

April 1, 2013
“Here’s a little action shot of me getting it done this morning. I had a great training weekend. I got back to back 100-milers with 20,000 feet of climbing in and felt great. Out this afternoon with a buddy for a three-hour gravel roader.”
     -Markley

Markley’s next “warm-up” race will be 24 Hours on the Ridge on April 20 in Danville, VA.

by Don Stefanovich 

Finger_End

ONE MORE HILL | Welcome to the All-New Price Point

“Hey, I think I can see my house from here!”

 

Sometimes you just have to put your head down and charge up one more hill. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s downright painful. But you keep going. You keep breathing. You keep spinning. Eventually you stand and sprint. You keep going because you know that just over that hill lies the next adventure—a ride that eclipses everywhere you’ve laid tracks up until now.

We’ve spent more than a few late nights here at Price Point headquarters, charging up our most recent hill—working on the all-new PricePoint.com—and now that we’re at the top, we couldn’t be more amped on the view in every direction. It’s been a great ride, and it’s far from over. We won’t stop at the top of this hill—or the next one. Every challenge is a new opportunity, and the new Price Point is just the beginning.

MORE DIRT, LESS DOUGH

The new PricePoint.com.

The new PricePoint.com.

 

Even though our own after-work rides have become sparse at best, we’ve forgotten what daylight looks like, and have subsisted on coffee, CLIF Bars and the occasional taco, we’ve managed to create an entirely new Price Point experience centered around a completely rebuilt website with improved shopping features like intuitive navigation, bigger product images, super-fast checkout, Q&A, a new rating system and even better deals. It is now easier than ever to get the gear you need and have it delivered quickly.

But the dialed new website isn’t all we’ve been up to.

Price is still the point, but in addition to the great low prices we’re known for, we are expanding our product selection to include more brands, models, colors and sizes of the latest trends, tech and products driving the cycling industry—still at unbeatable deals, all backed by The Price Point Pledge, our promise to provide you with the best selection, service and prices in the industry so you can get what you need and get on your bike.

Want to try before you buy? Our 90 Easy Returns make it painless, whether it’s the wrong size or the wrong color.

Don’t want to wait? Our 100% In Stock Guarantee ensures that if it’s on our website, it’s in our warehouse. And same day shipping means that you can buy today, ride tomorrow.

Found a better price? Our 120 Day Best Value Pledge means we’ll refund the difference if you find a lower advertised price up to four months from the date of purchase, because worry-free shopping feels good.

And just to celebrate the new Price Point, we’ll be giving away gear from now until Sea Otter, including a complete SRAM XX1 drivetrain.

LOOK, MA—NO HANDS!

Wait, we already used this picture for our Groundhog's Day sale. Why is it happening again?

Wait, we already used this picture for our Groundhog’s Day sale. Why is it happening again?

 

You won’t need your mouse and keyboard to connect with us anymore, either. Now that the new site is up and running, we’ll be spending a lot more time on the trails and at the races and events that help define our sport. If you see us, don’t be shy. Come say hi and we’ll give you the finger—a Price Point logo sticker, that is. Give it back by tagging us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter in a photo of your creative, legal placement of the finger-logo sticker, and if we post your photo, we’ll put together a Price Point prize pack with your name on it.

But for those of you still in front of a computer—whether you live somewhere you are forced to play a waiting game with Old Man Winter, you are recovering from an injury or just happen to be watching the clock in cubicle land—we’ve created this humble bike blog, The Link. Be sure to check back for plenty of contests and giveaways, reviews and previews on all the hottest new gear, updates from our sponsored riders, training and tech tips, and the occasional groundhog.

LOG ON AND DROP IN

Get dialed at PricePoint.com.

 

It’s been a long winter, but spring weather, longer days, new rides and the next adventure are just around the corner. It’s time to attempt to collect our thoughts and our riding gear. So, go ahead. Click around. Check out the site and let us know what you think. Think we could do something better? We want to know. Want to heckle us or cheer us on? Feel free to drop us a line. Then go ride your bike. We’ll see you on the trail.

by Don Stefanovich 

The End