X-Fusion's Manic dropper post proved to be a winner when I reviewed it earlier this year
. Not only did it offer flawless performance and a light lever feel due to its actuation linkage, the thing is always reliable. In fact, it's still running trouble-free to this day on a tester's bike, making it a bit of a surprise performer. Regardless, X-Fusion made some big updates to the Manic for 2018, including answering the call for a much-requested 150mm-travel version to go with the 125mm stroke model that I reviewed. Sorry, no 170mm-travel version yet.
And speaking of length, they've also managed to shorten the Manic by a handful of millimeters via a new one-piece head design that replaces the previous iteration's that was bonded onto the upper tube. One thing that hasn't changed is the price: the Manic still sells for $199 USD.
This one is for the real bike dorks out there, including myself. FAV Equipment comes from the brain of Tomo Ichikawa, the guy who designed the awesome Clever Standard tire lever that has a built-in quick-link tool; this time Tomo had turned his attention to valve stems. His carbon fiber valve stem - yes, carbon fiber - weighs a barely-there 2.8-grams, which is about half the weight of an equivalent length aluminum presta stem. I know we're talking single digit grams here, but those who spend deep into the four digits on a set of carbon wheels might want some matching valve stems. Tomo plans to offer a few different lengths, both presta and schrader versions, and pricing is still to be decided on.
Tomo's other trick is an aluminum valve stem that he says can't be plugged up by sealant. A schrader valve is spring-loaded, so they snap shut as soon as you're not forcing air through them, but a presta valve depends on air pressure to push it closed. This isn't a problem 99-percent of the time, but it can be when tire sealant manages to build up inside the valve and prevent it from closing. Tomo's valve uses a tiny rubber tube (not pictured) to preload the core and push it shut when you're not pumping air through it, just like a schrader valve.
6D, the helmet brand known for their dual-shell design, recently won the Head Health Challenge III's $500,000 grand prize
in partnership with Dynamic Research for their Omni-Directional Suspension (ODS) technology. The design is essentially two separate helmet shells, one inside the other, that are joined by rubber dampers that let the outer shell to move independently of the inner shell. 6D says that the design allows for three-dimensional displacement of the inner shell upon an impact, which ''uncouples the impact force at the outer shell from the riders head.''
They've since made some updates to their ODS system, including going to differently shaped dampers in certain areas that provide movement more in tune with what's required, a change that's come about directly from their work for the Head Health Challenge.