Pinkbike Product Picks

Jan 25, 2013 at 0:07
Jan 25, 2013
by Mike Levy  
 
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Camelbak Charge 10LR backpack

While a traditional backpack holds its bladder in a vertical postion, Camelbak's 2013 Charge 10LR has it positioned horizontally at the bottom of the bag. The idea is twofold: first, move the heaviest item, the bladder full of fluid, to the lowest possible location in order to take some stress off of the wearer's back and shoulders, and second, to create a pack that is far less prone to shifting around under duress. The two liter bladder bears a slight resemblance to a manta ray, with two '"wings" that slip within lumbar extensions (which are also home to zippered pockets) on each side of the bag. The same wide opening that we've gotten used to seeing on Camelbak's bladders is used, as is the handy 'Quick Link' hose connection. The bladder loads into the bag from the rear, with a wide catch handle replacing the finicky hanger hook from past years. The hose's bite valve remains the same, complete with the handy on/off switch to prevent leaking when you inevitably place your bag on the mouthpiece while it is in the back of your car - we've all been there. The bag itself employs lighter weight materials than some of Camelbak's burlier traditional bags, with a mix of lightweight 40D Diamond Ripstop and 230D Taffeta fabric being used to keep things svelte. The main large zippered opening is split into two sections about two-thirds down, with a Velcro fastened pocket and two smaller stash pockets within. While there aren't as many organizational options as a larger, heavier bag, there is a pump loop and a short strap and clip to attach your keys to. An external sleeve can stretch out to fit a jacket, with an adjustable strap and buckle at the top. Smart zippered hip pockets extend out from each side, a good place to store things like bars and gels, multi-tools (although we'd recommend not falling on them), or a phone/camera. Clever hooks on each side of the bag are designed to have your helmet's straps slip down into them in order to keep your lid from sliding down and hanging off the bottom of the bag when transporting. Total storage space adds up to 500 cu in. All of the straps are adjustable in every which way, with the sternum height adjustment range being increased relative to what we've seen in the past. MSRP $110 USD.

Camelbak Charge LR
The Charge 10LR's low bladder makes a ton of sense on the trail - it remains incredibly stable, even when the bladder is completely full.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesMoving the bladder so it's spread across the rider's lumbar region isn't an entirely new concept, but we admit that the Charge 10LR was our first on-trail introduction to the idea. We're kicking ourselves for waiting so long. The positioning of the two liter bladder low on the body goes a long way to hiding its weight when full, not to mention that it also creates a much more stable bag that moves around far less due to its lower center of gravity. This is clearly a good thing, especially for those who end up doing a lot of jumps and drops while wearing a pack - there is far less chance of the Charge 10LR coming up to smack the back of a rider's head mid-jump or when pointing it down a steep chute. Filling the bladder with water and reinstalling it is a bit more involved given that you have to push the bladders 'wings' into each side of the bag, but the large Quick Link hose connection and easy to manage hanger do certainly help. We didn't notice any more or less back sweat while using the Charge 10LR compared to any other bag. We liked the easily reached side pockets (although not as much as a dearly missed shoulder strap pouch), but the looseness of the fabric sometimes made zipping them shut with one hand a bit tricky. Our pre-production bag depends on a small strip of Velcro to hold the main internal storage pocket closed, but it only spans about one third of the opening, meaning that whatever is there can come out if the bag is upside down. Camelbak agrees that this isn't ideal and has added full-length zipper to the production version, thereby keeping your wallet and other valuables safe and sound. What's not to like about the Charge 10LR? The small plastic hooks on each side of the bag that are designed to hold your helmet by its straps are a bit too tight for us, making it a sometimes finicky job to remove the straps - we like the idea of keeping the helmet from slipping down and hanging off the bottom of the bag, though. Our only other complaint boils down to how the two liter lumbar bladder seems reluctant to give up its last few sips of water without a fight - we ended up needing to squeeze the bladder with a hand to get the outtake valve to pick it up. Those two complaints aside, the Charge 10LR impressed us with both its fit and ability to stay put while charging on tricky terrain. - Mike Levy





Chromag Ranger stem

Located in Whistler, B.C., Chromag offers a lineup of sturdy steel hardtail frames that make sense for the area's challenging terrain, as well as a range of components that continue on that same theme. Their Ranger stem is relatively light, at 140 grams for the shortest 40mm option, yet it has been designed to be durable enough that you will happily move it from bike to bike as your rides change over the years. Each stem starts life in Whistler as a block of 7075 T6 billet aluminum before being CNC machined down to its finished shape, after which it is anodized and has Chromag's twin bear logo laser etched on its side. Length options include 40, 50, 70, 80, and 90mm (all with zero degree rise), and you can choose from black, pewter, red, gold, purple, and the blue shown here. MSRP $140 USD.
www.chromagbikes.com

Chromag Ranger stem
Made in B.C., the Chromag Ranger is one component that may end up gracing the front end of multiple bikes during its lifetime.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesOur Ranger stem does the same job as most other stems. That is, holding the bar firmly in place without the slightest hint of trouble. No squeaks, no groans, and no unwanted bar or stem rotation from a big crash. So why pick up the Ranger instead of any other of the near countless trouble-free options out there? There are two reasons in our minds. One, the finish is impeccable - we've seen Chromag stems that are many years old and still look great. Two, we have to admit that we are big fans of it being manufactured in B.C., as opposed to being a catalog knock-off unit from Asia. We have no idea if that fact puts the Ranger on your wish list, but it certainly does for us. - Mike Levy





MRP G3 chain guide

MRP's new G3 chain guide takes some cues from the previous G2 model, but comes to the fight sporting some clever updates in the name of making mechanics' lives easier and increasing strength. The biggest talking point is an entirely new lower assembly that brings the bash guard and lower roller unit together, increasing strength while keeping things simple. This means that the lower roller is now adjusted independently of its shroud, but it can also be removed and replaced with a plastic slider unit that MRP calls the 'G-Slide'. Using a slider instead of a roller isn't a completely new idea, but it is one that makes a lot of sense for muddy, gritty conditions because there is nothing to gum up. If you've ever had to install and remove a chain guide multiple times when trying to sort out crank arm or chain ring spacing, you'll no doubt know that it can be a huge hassle. Someone at MRP must know this as well, because the G3 uses a clever 'Swingset' concept that allows the entire lower assembly, both the roller and guard, to hinge down and out of the way of your crank and chain ring by removing a single 4mm hex bolt. Pretty clever. The final touch is a coating applied to possible chain contact points that should help keep noise down. All of this is attached to a new lower profile backplate, available in both carbon fiber and aluminum, that can be had in ISCG, ISCG-05, and BB mounted flavours (no BB model for the carbon, though). MRP offers two different models depending on ring size, one for 32 - 36t, and one for 36 - 40t setups. Colour choices are either black or white. MSRP $150 USD

MRP G3 guide
The G3's clever design points mean that it simplifies installation and removal of both the guide itself and your cranks.


Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe MRP G3 guide tested here was fitted to our Banshee Rune 650B test bike, mated to a set of Race Face Atlas cranks and a Chromag chain ring. While we didn't perform the initial install ourselves, we have since removed, re-installed, and adjusted the guide on the bike, all with great results. Just like on the G2, the split upper slider means that the chain doesn't need to come apart, and the new 'Swingset' hinged bash guard/lower guide unit allows you to fit or remove the crankset without having to take the guide off of the bike. While this is possible with other models, it usually involves having to completely remove the lower guide assembly from the backplate, a sometimes finicky operation. Setup-wise, we managed to get the G3 running drag free within a few minutes, and it ran smoothly despite running it through quite a lot of B.C. mud and grime. As expected, we haven't dropped a chain while using the G3, and it has brushed off a few good impacts along the way. MRP's older G2 model also performed quite well for us, but the G3 is a step up due to the new integrated lower roller layout and hinged guard unit - we are big fans of simplifying things, and that is exactly what MRP has done. - Mike Levy





Follow Mike Levy on Twitter: MikeLevyPB
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94 Comments

  • + 68
 I have always liked the look of chromag components...
  • + 13
 Like-wise, in my mind they're similar to Hope components in terms of finish....and price Smile - Had a Ranger on my bike for about a year now and although it has blended in to the bike now its still an eye-catching piece
  • - 2
 ya they look nice, but how do you test a stem? seems a bit nonsensical if you ask me, like testing grips
  • + 3
 I've got a fubar OSX on my ride, it's awesomely stiff, great bar for dj, FR, DH etc...
  • + 1
 Jimmy I guess it goes more on looks more then the performance as they mostly all hold the bars with enough torque..
  • + 1
 I have a Sunline V1 AM stem, and on my AM/Freeride bike, I can feel it flex, and I'm not even that great of a rider.

It's lighter than a Thomson stem too.
  • + 5
 if you can feel your stem flex on your freeride bike you need an upgrade
  • + 1
 If you are going for looks and a good feel a twenty6 stem is a really good choice
  • + 1
 the fubar osx bars are great for any type of bike ! I have em on my hardtail. so nice
[Reply]
  • + 42
 The chromag logo is like a man-bear-pig,
  • + 8
 Or bear-man-pig. It's grabbing its crotch too
  • + 14
 Michael-Jackson-Bear-Man-Pig
  • + 4
 Loving the South Park reference
  • + 4
 Are you cereal?
  • + 0
 No, he's kitten
  • - 3
 No, it's more like a pig-bear-man. Super cereal.
  • + 1
 Actually it's two pig bear men
  • + 0
 EXCELCIA!!!!
[Reply]
  • + 18
 How can people say any modern short stem feels stiffer than the next? Your bars are going to flex before you feel anything from the stem.
  • + 2
 ... because they do.... I had a Superstar 50mm stem on my Nomad and I could notice the flex due to the face plate being narrower than other stems. Now the Superstar stem is no longer on my Nomad as I could not get used to the feeling when riding hard. I have Kenisis carbon bars on the bike too, so they are light, but changing the stem and the bars around pointed towards the flex induced by the stem contact area.
  • + 1
 Yeah stems do flex, I've broken the faceplate on two different stems and I always use a torque wrench, you may not know were the flex is coming from unless you play around with different bar stem combos, just like stems some bars flex more than others. Also consider how much leverage you put on the stem when you push hard on the handlebars, it's definately a component that is subject to a lot of stress. Chromag rules
[Reply]
  • + 8
 On the camelbak not wanting to give up the last bit of fluid, you ever tried blowing air into the bladder so the water is forced out? Could that get the last bit out without resorting to physically manipulating the bladder, or is it more a problem with the shape &/or pickup location?
  • - 10
 "move the heaviest item, the bladder full of fluid, to the lowest possible location in order to take some stress off of the wearer's back and shoulders"
a huge mistake - I don't give health for stable feeling.
  • + 5
 not going to negatively impact your health to have the water across your hips. Hiking packs distribute much of the weight to your hips to take the stress off your shoulders.
  • - 18
 the heaviest item should always be at the top of the pack. this camelback is just bad design with psuedo scientific babble in the press blurb.
  • + 40
 Dudes, honestly? Primarily, the bladder is at the bottom so the pack isnt floppin all over the place when you're ridin. We're not talkin about a 90 lb internal frame here.. Its a 70 oz bladder. 4.5 lbs of water. If youre really that worried about 4.5 lbs hurting your back, maybe you should sell your bike and take up golf? Just make sure you lift with your legs and not your back when you grab that 9 iron, huh?
  • + 4
 Right, except the whole thing is hype. My water has never been floppy and, as I drink, it all settles to the bottom thanks to gravity. I was just answering his concern.
  • + 3
 Sorry taletotell, shoulda clarified I was refuting the other guys' statements and not yours. You may be right on it being hype, but I think the design could have valid merits in use. Til my $30 off-brand one dies though, I wont be the one to find out.
  • + 1
 I have the slightly larger version of this Camelbak (100oz) and it does do what it's supposed to, although I only really notice the different weight distribution when the pack is full, once I am down to half my water it doesn't feel all that different from a standard Camelbak. But the lightweight construction IS noticeable, this bag is about a half-pound lighter than my previous Camelbak. +1 on the helmet strap holder. It's a great idea and I use it, but it's kind of a PITA.
  • + 2
 I have the lumbar style bladder and it is far and away better than the traditional style. Where my riding friends and I ride, there are a lot of steep chutes and when I bought mine, we had the conversation about the bladder pushing forward and hitting you in the back of the helmet... I have never had that problem since I have been using the lumbar style bladder. I, for one, will never go back to the traditional vertical style bladder. Of course, if you are riding mellow trails without any steep chutes, this shouldn't be problem.
  • + 5
 i haz camelbak... it allows me to drink, no one cares for more?
  • + 2
 timmy, my waist strap would prevent my pack from travelling forward like that. I could hang upside down and mine would not slip forward.
  • + 13
 mine only stays down cuz the strap gets caught on my gut on the downhills
  • + 3
 Pseudo scientific babble?! The center of gravity of a human is in the middle portion of the sacral vertebrae (S3). This is the hip area. They hit the nail on the head with the Science behind this product.
  • + 6
 i agree with dualsuspensiondave, havinig the weight down low, although not likely to hurt your back at this weight, is much more comfortable and stable especially when jumping. i can't believe some of you have never had your hydration pack hit you in the back of the head. i too have waist and chest straps on my pack, but unless i make them extremely tight, which is pretty uncomfortable, makes it hard to breathe when climbing and just plain looks stupid my pack hits me all the time. i'd say camelback is on to something.
[Reply]
  • + 7
 $150 for the mrp is a bit steep for something that isn't exactly revolutionary. Of course, MRP is always overpriced.
The cromag stem is pretty but again, too costly for me. The camelback maybe.
  • + 7
 What chainguide ISN'T in the price range of $150 though? Theyre all overpriced injection-molded plastic with a few bolts here n there..
  • + 4
 true. Pretty much only the black spire stinger is affordable. When is the price going to come down? i guess I better make my own and sell them for $50 a piece.

www.treefortbikes.com/product/333222370959/95/Blackspire-Stinger-Chain.html?gclid=CLXa1ZD8g7UCFUid4AodwhwAxQ
  • + 2
 MRP is basically hand making these out of a garage with precision. Not a good chainguide for less. They earned my business for sure.
[Reply]
  • + 6
 I have mixed feelings about the stem, really something for someone who wants to spend triple the extra money for a stem just because there is a nice logo and...the fact that its not made in china/taiwan isn't really a justification to buy it. just my take on this matter.
  • - 12
 Then stick with your old FSA stem...that's a logo that's a little more affordable. Do you like the taste of dirt?
  • + 2
 Protour still on here?
  • + 5
 Well, since I'm Canadian, I can justify spending a bit more on Chromag, Raceface, Devinci, etc. And I have. Love my bike and it's mostly Canadian.
  • + 1
 I think, mielec, that there's also a lot of politics behind North Americans purchasing products from North America. At least, there is for those of us who live stateside.
  • + 5
 I will gladly pay a little more to support the bike industry in my own country. (or failing that, my friends in the USA can take my money) Chromag, RaceFace, Straitline, Knolly, etc. - I guess it's easier to stick to my moral high ground when the stuff Canadian companies make is so damn cool!
  • + 1
 I'll gladly pay more for north american made products but not to have graphics and logos etched all over everything. I'd appreciate a cheaper nude option
[Reply]
  • + 9
 I have a Ranger and a G3 turning up any day now, and apparently I'm going to like them Big Grin
[Reply]
  • + 7
 Pewter? Pewter? Why don't you just simply call it grey?
  • + 8
 Because grey sounds boring.
  • + 7
 Grey is flat, pewter shines. Different colors, sorta like orange and copper.
  • + 0
 What about Gloss Grey?
  • + 4
 how about gloss pewter?
[Reply]
  • + 2
 All I have to say is, FINALLY MRP! The G2 is what I have on my Faith and I'm sick of replacing the lower roller assesebly. In the past month I've had to replace one one two bikes. Guess what happened on the first ride after? That's right, broken plastic plate, again.
I'll definitely squirrel away some change for the G3 now that MRP has fixed the weak link.
  • + 1
 or you could try a different brand....not to hate on mrp but if you have repetitive problems that's the definition of insanity
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I have this stem and it is awesome, I have tried a lot of other stems and none compare other than maybe my thomson, it is so stiff it made my handlebars feel flexy, yeah it's expensive but it's made from 7050 aluminum and the machining quality is top notch. It's sweet that it is made in Canada, but that is not the only reason to buy it, the quality is above and beyond. FSA has some okay stems but they are garbage compared to the chromag, and yes I've used both, My FSA's faceplate cracked after awhile, and yes I use a torque wrench. It's worth the price you can't knock it till you try it, and the colours are frickin sweet too.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 from a mechanics stand point i couldnt ask for anything more in a stem: easy mounting, quality bolts, robust but light design, good colors, and selection of lengths. i run it on my slayer; low and short. teamed with the black chrome osx. i would advise anyone who hasnt ridden a chromag bar to try one.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 That Chromag stem is all about the details if you see it in person. All quality and it really does stand out from the crowd with its unique shape and lines. Tha Charge LR is a fantastic pack and low mount reservoir really does work well and stay in place when leaned over on the bike. I'd like to see them add some better venting on the back but that's about it.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Chain guides are getting way to expensive for what they are,dont get me wrong they do a important job on the bike and most do it very well but they are really simple items of technology compared to somthing like a gear shifter that costs 1/4 as much
[Reply]
  • + 1
 sonebody I know took out the rollers in his chain guide and replaced tge with jockey wheels. it works really well, even with gears. I wonder why no companies have done that? Also it looks like pb will have a banshee rune (maybe 650b) test up in the future!
  • + 2
 The MRP guides have a jockey wheel on them already. Been this way for like a good 3 years at least.
  • + 1
 Oh, i did not know that :p
[Reply]
  • + 4
 I have the Chromag stem and it is just a straight up quality made product. Expensive, but light and stiff as hell.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 I like the camelbak. It's always nice to see companies that are on top of the game continue to innovate and try new technology.

Won't be buying it anytime soon. I am currently rocking my Camelbak"Don" model that I got last year. Which replaced my worn out Mule.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Chromag stem and the G3 chain guide are really nice things. I will try the G3 chain guide if its fit the 2013 Spez Demo
[Reply]
  • + 2
 Chromemag is getting real blingy! I'm getting pumped on that g3! Nice clean design!
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Can you run this new G3 guide with a rear set like the sram XX1, or a 1X9 setup? I assume yes. So im curious what kind of rear setup would be ideal for this guide?
  • + 2
 Of course, that's what chainguides are made for. Any rear setup would be ideal.
[Reply]
  • + 3
 I love my chromag fubars, next addition will be the stem
  • + 1
 You will love the stem.
[Reply]
  • + 2
 I thought the Cromag logo was a Mylodon, going with the theme of the name
[Reply]
  • + 0
 G3 looks good my G2 is excellent i would go for one again but not at £150+

Chromag stem wtf who pays over £100 for a stem
  • + 0
 Not sure if you meant to say $150 USD instead of £150 GBP....big difference between the two.

Stem I agree with...even in USD.
  • + 0
 my mistake its £120 retail in the uk which is still stupid if you ask me.
  • + 0
 look around and do your homework....you can find the stem for $100.
  • + 0
 thats as maybe add $40 for shipping and £20 for import its a bargain
[Reply]
  • + 1
 G3 looks quality. Sliders are the way forward, I have a straitline guide and its just mint.
[Reply]
  • + 0
 i like the thinking behind the camel back, when im going down steep descents mine rides up my back, hopefully this will stay in place
[Reply]
  • + 1
 my camelbak bladder doubles as a spine protector. ill keep it on my spine, thank you very much.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Camelbak sure had to give you their least manly color.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Good shit. I know the G3 will live up to its name! Well done MRP.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Word of the day: finicky...
[Reply]
  • + 0
 That hydration pack design has been around for almost 10 years now:
www.wingnutgear.com/products-page
[Reply]
  • + 1
 Why is the chainguide postioned so far rearward counter-clockwise?
  • + 1
 Because it will hit the chainstay otherwise as you can see in the photos. 12 o' clock is preferred, however they fit all bikes differently.
[Reply]
  • + 1
 What kind of a word is "svelte" haha?
[Reply]
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