ENDURO DOMES | Helmets that Combine Coverage and Cool

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As enduro racing gains momentum in North America, a landslide of products catering to the “new” breed of renaissance rider has hit the market. Helmets are no exception, and just as the racing format’s proliferation has been a catalyst of the pursuit of the elusive combination of strength and lightweight when it comes to all-mountain bikes and components, expanding coverage and protection without sacrificing weight and breathability has become the mantra of enduro domes, expanding the selection of true mountain-bike helmets. Lucky then for the majority of riders, the format closely resembles what most mortals actually do on a mountain bike. So whether you’re looking to run goggles with your half-lid for the next stop of the World Series, or you’re just a weekend warrior looking for something better than a road helmet with a visor, here are eight enduro lids to keep you cool and covered.

 

Bell Super

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Even though it is the heaviest in the group at 390 grams, the Bell Super comes packed with enough features and a dialed fit to make the weight an afterthought. It provides some of the deepest rear coverage available in a half lid, but despite covering so much cranial real estate, features enough vents—25, to be exact—to keep you cool. Somewhat unique to the Super are the four brow vents just under the visor, designed to pull air in and through the internal channeling built into the EPS. The visor also offers 30-degrees of adjustability, which is not only nice when it comes to keeping a clear field of view, but actually allows room for goggles to rest off your face and under the visor. This, along with the integrated goggle guides, make the Super the most goggle-friendly of the bunch—and also leaves no doubt as to its intended demographic. Another standout feature of the Super is the integrated—yet removable—GoPro mount. Bell‘s Speed Dial fit system does a fine job of keeping things secure and comfy.

 

Uvex XP CC

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Although not the newest in the bunch, the made-in-Germany Uvex XP CC remains a solid performer in the all-mountain category. Formerly the XP 100, it gets a new name and colors for 2014. Despite full coverage and innovative who-woulda-thunk-it features like bug netting in the front vents and a Monomatic strap system allows you to micro-adjust strap tension on the fly, the XP CC is by far the lightest in the bunch at 260 grams. Thanks to something Uvex calls the IAS 3D+ system, one size fits all. While we were admittedly skeptical of a “one size fits all” claim on something as personal as a helmet, the fit system does its job well. Fore-aft length can be adjusted as can width, but the clincher here is the crown-height adjustment, which above all, seems to really allow you to find the just-right Goldilocks setting. Sixteen large vents help keep things cool and removable, washable, anti-microbial padding makes it easy to keep it clean.

 

Mavic Notch

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The French wheelmaker launched a line of technical apparel earlier this year aimed at the enduro trend that happened to include a new helmet very well suited to the discipline. Enter, the Mavic Notch. One of the lighter options in the group at 320 grams, the Notch is a ground-up trail helmet offering more coverage than Mavic’s cross-country offerings along with a unique rugged style.  Fit is dialed in courtesy of the Ergo Hold SL retention system, borrowed from the company’s road helmets to achieve maximum comfort and minimum weight. The anti-microbial liner fights funk and features a design that is continuos around the front brow with recessed channels for the straps for a seamless fit. A dozen forward-facing vents are coupled with large exhaust vents in the back for ventilation. The visor is fixed, which is fine as it doesn’t seem to obstruct field of vision, but riders looking for more room to run goggles may want to look elsewhere, although the visor is removable if doing so is more your style.

 

Giro Feature

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The Giro Feature has remained largely unchanged since its inception two years ago, but still finds a spot on this list for a reason—it is one of the lightest, offers some of the deepest coverage and is the most affordable. The In-Form fit system is among the more basic in the group, but does what’s mean to do and feels just fine. The Feature has 12 vents and internal channeling, but riders concerned with hot weather and longer rides may want to look at better ventilated options. But what the Feature lacks in ventilation, it makes with some of the most comprehensive coverage in the group and a round profile closer to a skate-style bucket than a spandex spear tip. The Feature also…um, features an adjustable visor. It all tips the scales at only 285 grams. Touché.

 

Urge Endur-O-Matic

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Even if you couldn’t see a single logo from afar, there’d be no mistaking an Urge helmet for anything else on the market—the Endur-O-Matic is no exception. The closest to being a full-on gravity lid sans chinbar in the group, the Endur-O-Matic offers the most coverage by far. There are only eight vents that give one the sudden “urge” to go bowling, but they are said to be positioned to create a Venturi Effect (air is accelerated as it moves through smaller spaces) along with the inner channels. The Gangsta Pad anti-sweat system mimics a bandana over your brow to keep the drips away, and along with the rear padding, does a fine job of wicking moisture for what looks to be such a sealed dome.

 

Troy Lee Designs A1

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Well known for its full-face offerings, Troy Lee Designs made a splash earlier this year when it returned to the half-lid game with the wildly styled and wildly popular A1. While the custom moto-inspired graphics and anodized hardware certainly make an impression, function leads form—as evidenced by three years of development and several scrapped prototypes. The goggle-friendly visor has 50 millimeters of adjustability, and a one-piece liner is as plush as we’ve ever seen in a bicycle helmet. Although Troy Lee Designs says more colors will be released throughout the year—we already saw a matte version of the Black Cyclops color at Sea Otter—the existing designs seem to be a love it or leave it affair for most riders. Regardless of how you feel about the graphics, once on, all else is forgotten. The A1 just feels right. The deep-fitting shell seems to cradle your skull just right. The retention dial will probably work for most melons, but there are also three height positions resulting in 20 millimeters of crown-height customization. The A1 weighs in at 340 grams without the visor, which, while not wispy, is quickly forgotten on long rides due to both the fit and cooling of the intake and exhaust vents and internal channeling.

 

Fox Head Flux

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One of the most popular helmets in the all-mountain/enduro category, the Fox Head Flux offers deep coverage with an aggressive look. It’s 352 grams is well ventilated thanks to 20 openings. In contrast to most “dial” fit retention systems, Fox Head‘s Detox fit system utilizes a ratcheting strap in the rear. Style and comfort lead the way as reasons this helmet continues to be a best seller.

 

SixSixOne Recon

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The SixSixOne Recon is a great option for more comprehensive protection in a sleek, lightweight package ready for all-day romps. The Recon weighs in at a tidy 300 grams and features matte graphics that stand out without being obnoxiously loud—a feat more difficult than it sounds. The straps anchor at the edge of the helmet, so they don’t rub your face or tussle with the liner over which one gets to hug your head. Eighteen vents and internal channeling provide “active” ventilation. The Recon shares the Detox ratcheting fit system with the Flux.

by Don Stefanovich

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VIDEO | Development of the 2014 FOX 40 FLOAT with Aaron Gwin, Greg Minnaar and Gee Atherton

The Link recently previewed the new FOX 2014 FACTORY 40 FLOAT RC2, and in this edit, Aaron Gwin, Greg Minnaar and Gee Atherton sound off on the research, development and results of the first air-sprung dual-crown downhill fork to hit mass production.

Does this spell an uncertain future for coil forks on World Cup Courses?

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VIDEO | Aaron Hodgkin on San Diego’s UTTV

Price Point rider Aaron Hodgkin was recently featured on San Diego’s UTTV. Check out this segment where Aaron shreds some Temecula trails, encourages beginners to get involved and gives Price Point a proper shout out.

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IN THE RED | Magura Unleashes eLECT ‘Smart’ Lockout and Long-Travel 29er Forks in Sedona

Magura's Brent Winebarger puts the 2014 TS8 through its paces.

Magura’s Brent Winebarger puts the 2014 TS8 through its paces. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Magura Direct (aka Magura USA) recently debuted new forks and technology at its 9th annual Press Camp in Sedona, AZ, and The Link was along for the ride. The Magura crew set “campers” up on a fleet of Specialized test steeds comprised of 29er versions of the Camber and Stumpjumper EVO, then led us to some of Sedona’s finest singletrack—from fast and flowy, to tight and technical—to use and abuse the new gear.

eLECT Automatic Electronic Lockout

The eLECT system can be retrofitted to existing TS forks and features a Bluetooth remote and USB port for charging and data retrieval.

The eLECT system can be retrofitted to existing TS forks and features a Bluetooth remote and USB port for charging and—eventually—data retrieval. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Undoubtedly the star of the show in Sedona, the eLECT system marks Magura‘s entrance into the electronic arena when it comes to suspension. Inside the damping cartridge is a 3D accelerometer—just like the one in your smartphone—capable of sensing speed, direction, angle and inertia. The eLECT replaces the Albert Select damper, and the idea behind the accelerometer is that the fork locks out via an internal servo whenever the unit is angled beyond a certain preset pitch—i.e., climbing. The rider is capable of calibrating the pitch simply by setting the bike at the desired angle of lockout, whether it be flat ground or propping the front wheel up the nearest rock or resting woodland creature.

It works. Several campers took it for a spin and Magura claims that in testing, a racer who manually locked his fork out 25 times on average during the course of a 1-hour cross-country loop ran the eLECT, which recorded (more on that later) over 200 automatic lockouts—and each one happens in 0.2 seconds. That’s fine and dandy for strictly cross-country applications on smooth climbs and fireroads, but on the ledgy redrock of Sedona singletrack, an active fork during climbing is a good thing, no matter what kind of bike you ride. Lucky then, the system is able to be “disarmed” via a wireless Bluetooth remote mounted to the handlebar.

The Bluetooth Wireless remote keeps the system lightweight and tidy.

The Bluetooth wireless remote keeps the system lightweight and tidy. Photo by Don Stefanovich

The eLECT features an impact “blow-off” feature—essentially high-threshold damping—just in case you do encounter a larger hit, and a “free fall” feature that fully opens the system should you find yourself with any substantial air between your tires and the trail. When not in motion the system goes to sleep with five minutes of inactivity to save battery life. The first impact will awake it in five seconds—but Magura claims it can tell the difference between a trail impact, and traveling, whether on an airplane or your roof rack. It also comes in over 20 grams lighter than the existing DLO2 cartridge, and is just about right on par with the new DLO3 (more on that later).

The system operates on a standard watch battery, rechargeable via a USB port, which is apparently how Magura retrieved data during testing. While nothing is confirmed, software to do the same may later be available to consumers. Water and grit are kept at bay by a screw-on cap, which you can still see rotating as the servo locks the fork out. There is a master on/off switch under the cap as well. Run time is said to be 40 hours in automatic mode, and up to 60 hours in manual mode. If the battery dies while you are riding, the default setting for the damper is fully open. A full charge is said to be reached in a “few” hours.

eLECT would be welcome on some grueling climbs in Sedona, but the new DLO3 functioned well on varied terrain.

eLECT would be welcome on some grueling climbs in Sedona, but the new DLO3 functioned well on the varied—and often technical—terrain. Photo by Don Stefanovich

While there are obvious benefits for the most competitive and obsessive of cross-country racers in this initial offering, we see greater potential for the technology. A similar system linked to travel adjust rather than lockout on a longer-travel all-mountain/enduro fork intrigues us, and with any luck, will intrigue Magura in the near future.

 

2014 TS Forks and DLO3

The 2014 TS8 29 comes ashore in 140-millimeter mode, but is internally adjustable to 150 millimeters.

The 2014 TS8 29 comes ashore in 140-millimeter mode, but is internally adjustable to 150 millimeters. Photo by Don Stefanovich

We spent the majority of our time in Sedona aboard the 29-inch incarnation of the new DLO3-equipped TS8 fork. Both the TS8 and TS6 will come ashore with 140 millimeters of travel—which is rather substantial in the wagon-wheel world—but will be internally adjustable to 150 millimeters; impressive, considering just last year 29-inch travel topped out at 120 millimeters in the Magura line.

All TS (Team Suspension) forks will feature Magura‘s proprietary M15 through-axle system, dropout bumper protectors (handy for standing the bike without a front wheel in place) and come set for 180-millimeter rotors, and will readily accept up to 203-millimeter stoppers—but there is no going back to 160 on the new TS.

The 29-inch TS8 comes in at only 1,775 grams, and 27.5 (650b) and 26-inch versions are expected in the fall. MSRP is expected to be about $850.

For a trail fork, the TS8 makes fine landing gear.

For a trail fork, the TS8 makes fine landing gear. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Although admittedly initially skeptical at 140-millimeter travel 29ers being the right tool for the job, we never once wished for more travel, not matter how fast, steep or technical the trail turned. The TS8 felt plenty plush and bottomless over ledges, roots, undulating slickrock and small drops. Magura‘s new DLO3—the latest incarnation of its Dynamic Lock Out— features a fully open, firm and close (lockout with blow-off) setting similar to the FOX CTD system. We opted to leave the the DLO3 fully open for most of the trails in Sedona, where even the climbs feature plenty of uphill obstacles. With air pressure at the recommended setting, unwanted brake dive was never noticeable when fully open, but the fork offered plenty of small-bump sensitivity and did a fine job of smoothing things out even when hack line choices took us through rather than around the chunk. With Magura‘s dual-arch design (DAD), even the 32-millimeter stanchions never seemed to flinch.

Still dual-arch design, DLO3 controls, M15 through-axle and dropout bumpers make the TS8 a well-though out trail fork.

Stiff dual-arch design, DLO3 controls, M15 through-axle and dropout bumpers make the TS8 a well-thought out trail fork. Photo by Don Stefanovich

The DLO3 comes as part of an upgrade Magura is calling the “Performance Package,” which will be standard fare on 2014 TS forks. Food-grade silicone grease—already employed in the lowers on previous forks—now replaces oil in the upper air chambers. Teflon-infused aluminum bushings replace plastic as well. Adding or removing internal spacers allows for an adjustable spring rate, and is done easily thanks to a removable top cap. Other finishing touches include a removable T-25 Torx that does double duty as a leverage pin for removing the M15 axle and adjusting brakes and other components requiring the increasingly popular fitment. The rebound knob also sees a redesign making it more ergonomic.

 

The TS8 made short work of the trail, from the rough to the buff.

The TS8 made short work of the trail, from the rough to the buff. Photo by Don Stefanovich

Even with an admitted bias against 29-inch wheels and slim stanchions, the TS8 was a downright impressive trail fork, even on the often steep and technical Sedona trails—territory we would normally peg as decidedly all-mountain, and opt for a 34 if not 36-stanchioned fork if given a choice. The details and simplicity show that someone thought this fork through, and we wouldn’t hesitate to run it on any trail bike. Although, we must admit, the impressive combination of light weight, stiffness and long-travel performance in a 29er fork makes us wonder what Magura could bring to the table should it decide to return to the 160-millimeter all-mountain/enduro market.

by Don Stefanovich

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VIDEO | Snow Summit Opens Big Bear Bike Park

Today marks opening day at Snow Summit in Big Bear, California.

Located just a short drive from Price Point‘s headquarters in the San Bernardino Mountains, Snow Summit has long been the closest lift-served downhill option for thousands of Southern California riders. While many remember the NORBA days and downhill racing on the ski slopes, legal problems eventually brought the sanctioned fun to a close. In recent years, riders have been able to ride Snow Summit’s lifts, only to roll off resort property and onto forest service land where steep and loose ungroomed trails awaited. While this was plenty fun for most gravity riders, others pined for the sculpted flow of a real bike park.

Today the wait is officially over—Snow Summit resort officially introduces the new Miracle Mile trail, a brand-new, lift-served downhill trail sculpted by none other than Gravity Logic, the team behind much of Whistler and other world-class bike parks.

Snow Summit Bike Park Map

Although technically one trail, Miracle Mile splits into several different “route options” before converging again near the base of the mountain. The trail boasts sweeping S-turns, 34 berms, six rollers, 10 jumps and three wood features including a 30-foot bridge, diving board and berm. The above video offers a sneak peek.

Snow Summit says it plans on opening at least three new trails in addition to existing trails with accessibility for all levels by the end of summer. Officially tagged the “Snow Summit Adventure Park,” the resort hints at zip-lines and a host of other sans-snow activities to make the most of the summer months.

The Snow Summit Adventure Park is open all three days Memorial weekend, and on weekends only until mid-June, at which time it becomes open seven days a week. Lift tickets—previously $25 in the summer months—are now $32.

Stay tuned for on-site opening-day updates and first impressions from Price Point rider Aaron Hodgkin.

by Don Stefanovich

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VIDEO | Darren Berrecloth crushes it in Five Ten’s new Freerider VXi

Shoes don’t make the man, but when it comes to traction, Five Ten’s Stealth Rubber compound has firm footing—pun intended—in the flat-pedal realm. Granted, Darren Berrecloth could probably shred in fuzzy bunny slippers and plastic pedals, but we’d rather watch him give the new Freerider VXi a proper flogging in this clip. The new VXi features a sole design designed to maked readjustment easier, as well as being lighter and narrower overall.

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10-SPEED TRICKLE | SRAM X7 Rear Derailleur Goes Type 2, 10-Speed Shifters Updated

SRAM X7 Type 2 Rear Derailleur

X7 Type 2 Rear Derailleur

Trickle-down technology continues to make high-tech more affordable, and SRAM‘s 10-speed drivetrain offerings are no exception. SRAM‘s cheekily named Type 2 (the silent killer) clutch-type rear mech has been introduced at the X7 level, meaning a 293-gram 10-speed rear-derailleur sans chain slap with an $89 MSRP. The X7 Type 2 has a 36-tooth maximum capacity and is offered in short, medium and long-cage options.

SRAM CAGE LOCK

 

CAGE LOCK is also par for the course in Type 2 territory, meaning you can lock the cage in place—i.e., extended—with the push of a button to make trailside maintenance less of a headache. Things are much easier when you have both hands free to fumble with tire levers.

 

10-Speed Shifters

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SRAM also let on that the majority of its 10-speed shifters—X0, X9 and X7—will now be outfitted with the same internals as the top-of-the-line XX shifters.

The new X0 shifter will retail for $262 and gets all the goods: ball-bearing pull lever, adjustable pull lever and three different colors to choose from—the latter being the most important.

All three versions go on a diet, allowing for an easier fit among the ever-increasingly crowded handlebar real-estate with proliferation of bar-mounted remotes for suspension, dropper posts, etc. The box for Zero Loss Shifting—read instant—will also be checked off on all updated shifters.

x9

The new X9 shifters will retail for $123 and feature a ball-bearing pull lever.

SRAM X7 10-Speed Shifter

The affordable workhorse of the line, the X7, gets a price tag of $70 and a quick cable change port.

by Don Stefanovich

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VIDEO | Chasing Trail: Curtis Keene

Enduro racer Curtis Keene has ridden trails all over the world. From dry, desert rock to deep forest singletrack, he says it’s all about getting after it and experiencing what’s out there. “We’re chasing trail,” Keene says in this edit from Avid brakes. “I’ve got to work this bug out of my system. I have many different fixes—the bike is great for that. It’s my addiction.” Here, Keene slays some Sedona singletrack to satiate the monkey on his back.

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BLACKBOX | TRUVATIV Releases Athlete Signature Series Bars

Truvativ BlackBox Collage | Price Point
Nearly two decades ago, the original RockShox BoXXer was launched as a specially tuned weapon for top competing athletes in the World Cup. In the process, RockShox learned as much about what didn’t work as about what did. Flash forward and RockShox became a part of SRAM, bringing the BlackBox concept along with it. As mountain biking evolved, the BlackBox program extended beyond RockShox and cross the SRAM product lines. TRUVATIV set a new standard in downhill and freeride bars when it released the BooBar to meet the requests of racers. Today, the company works with its elite racers to build components to their exact specifications, and now TRUVATIV has announced it is releasing three athlete-specific handlebars to the public.

Danny Hart | The Right Angle

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Danny Hart’s fast and loose style has found on the podium more than once, and in the rainbow jersey for a year after he turned the impossibly muddy course of Champéry into the stuff of legend. Like most riders, he is rather particular about his setup and traditionally ran a BooBar with 20 millimeters of rise atop a 5-millimeter spacer under his direct-mount stem to get him where he wanted. Designed by Danny himself, the new TRUVATIV Danny Hart BlackBox bar delivers the 25mm rise that he needs — with no spacers and less weight.  TRUVATIV also added two more degrees of back sweep for a total 9 degrees, which moves his weight back, putting more pressure on the rear wheel.

Specs
  • 7050 Al Alloy
  • 780mm wide
  • 25mm rise
  • 5˚ up-sweep
  • 9˚ back-sweep
  • 340g

 

Jerome Clementz | Degrees of Perfection

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Jerome Clementz holds the distinction of being one of the most recognizable racers in the world of enduro. Dominating Megavalanche, Mountain of Hell and Enduro des Nations have put him on the map. He asked TRUVATIV for a bar that was  stiff, relatively wide and light enough to pedal all day, but tough enough to take the abuse on the way down. TRUVATIV answered with a 750-millimeter wide carbon fiber bar with 5 degrees of up sweep and 7 degrees of back sweep.

Specs
  • Carbon Fiber
  • 750mm wide
  • 20mm rise
  • 5˚ up-sweep
  • 7˚ back-sweep
  • 240g

 Stevie Smith | Raising the Bar

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Stevie Smith is a big, powerful rider who attacks the gnarliest terrain head first and extremely fast. Stevie lives in a place where the trees can swallow you whole, so when he points it down the mountain, his hard-charging style requires a heads-up approach. TRUVATIV Teamed up with Stevie to create a bar that is high and out in front, giving him ultimate control. His signature 780-millimeter downhill bar features a 30-millimeter rise, keeping his hands forward, his head up and his eyes focused.

Specs

• 7050 Al Alloy
• 780mm wide
• 30mm rise
• 5˚ up-sweep
• 7˚ back-sweep
• 340g

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VIDEO | Aaron Gwin Redefines Fast

Troy Lee Designs rider Aaron Gwin is fast—a fact he’s proven time and time again—but it’s still awe-inspiring to see him in action. Clay Porter’s lens captured him in action in Idyllwild, CA, for this edit from Red Bull Media House.

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