Pinkbike Product Picks

Oct 10, 2013
by Mike Levy  
Fouriers stem and handlebar

Fouriers may not be name that many are familiar with, but the brand is working to change that with a wide range of components for nearly every cycling discipline, including their new 35mm clamp diameter SM-MB001 stem and HB-MB001 bar for us mountain bikers. And while their naming convention might seem a bit odd, the 780mm wide carbon fiber bar and 50mm stem certainly look ready for anything you might encounter on the trail. The black, red, and white bar employs a proven 9° backsweep and 5° upsweep, along with a middle of the road 20mm rise, and weighs in at 270 grams. The burly looking 6061-T6 CNC machined stem weighs in at 205 grams in its 50mm length, and comes with shims should you want to use a handlebar with it. Somewhat surprisingly, it comes with a shim that is required to clamp the stem to standard 28.6mm steerer tubes, or it can be removed to fit Giant's 'Overdrive' 31.8mm steerer design. The HB-MB001 handlebar retails for $147.99 USD, the SM-MB001 stem for $104.00 USD

Fouriers review test
The Fouriers 35mm clamp stem and bar combo look quite burly, and the competitive pricing will win over many riders.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe combination of the short Fouriers stem and 35mm diameter handlebar makes for an imposing and confidence inspiring cockpit, one that looks as if you could mow through a stand of alder trees if you only had some bark busters mounted up. We obviously didn't test that assumption, but both the bar and stem certainly saw a fair bit of hucking action and had nothing to say about it - no creaks, groans, or any issues that might cause us to lose faith. Is the setup any stiffer than a 31.8mm bar/stem combo? While the Fouriers bar and stem's 35mm diameter clamping area would understandably have you assuming that the combination is much more flex free than the "puny" 31.8mm standard that the majority of the industry uses, that isn't really the case. In fact, we noticed no real improvement in rigidity over other short stem and wide bar setups, and we're not sure if we'd agree that having a stiffer cockpit setup than what is currently available is a good thing, anyways. When was the last time you stopped on the trail and said to yourself "damn, if only my bar and stem interface were stiffer.'' Probably never, and no properly looked after bar or stem should be breaking these days, either. So, the 35mm system from Fouriers doesn't feel any more rigid or comfortable than anything else on the market, but leaving it that would be selling the black and red kit a bit short. The 780mm wide bar is priced competitively at $147.99 USD when compared to other carbon fiber offerings, and while there are lighter wide bars out there, its 270 gram weight is quite reasonable. The 205 gram stem is also in the ballpark when it comes to weight given its intentions, although its steerer tube clamp arrangement had our knees shaking in fear due to the prominent edges that look ready to tear into any exposed skin. With all of the above in mind, neither the stem or bar would be at the top of our "must have" list, but the Fouriers components' reasonable cost might mean that they'll make sense for a rider who is looking to move to a 35mm clamp system, or someone who wants something different from the more common brand names out there. - Mike Levy

Bontrager XR Mud Team Issue tire

Bontrager's XR Mud hasn't been designed as a mixed conditions tire, but rather as a mud specific option that is meant to be used when the ground turns to a mucky soup. That focus has led to its low-volume profile - either 2.0" or 1.8" wide - that cuts through mud instead of floating on top of it, as well as an open tread pattern that has been chosen for its ability to shed goop rather than pack up and turn into something resembling a racing slick. The simple looking but relatively tall lugs are designed to penetrate slop, and Bontrager bills the XR Mud as being easily trimmable for a custom tread pattern. All of that has been laid over their 'Inner Strength Casing', a carcass that they describe as "lightweight sidewall protection is supple and strong'', and tubeless conversions should be easy due to the tire's TLR designation. Both 26" and 29" (tested) sizes are available, with prices ranging between $64.99 and $69.99 USD.

Bontrager Jones mud tire review test
It doesn't get much more condition specific than Bontrager's XR Mud tire.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe XR Mud is, as its name suggests, quite condition specific, but it's for that very reason that a mud tire can make the difference between laying it down or keeping it upright as we work our way into the wet weather riding season. We were reminded of that fact after we installed the XR Muds onto the front and back of one of our test bikes, a job that turned out to be quick and mess-free due to their tight fit on the bike's Stan's Flow EX rims and "tubeless ready" construction - there was zero pressure loss straight from the get go, and they seated straight with a floor pump by the time we hit 30PSI. While Bontrager does advertise the XR Mud as being trimmable, that is something that is rarely performed by the average rider and it could be said of any tire on the market. Regardless, a racer-type may way to trim down the XR's crown a touch to increase rolling speed, but we left it stock during our time on them. Given their relatively skinny width and aggressive, open tread pattern that's designed to both penetrate and shed mud, it wasn't really too much of a surprise to find that they offer a stunning amount of grip in the slop compared to a standard high-volume tire. Climbing traction is the most noticeable difference, with the rear tire biting in hard enough that it was almost like riding in the dry (almost, but not quite), and we scooted up messy climbs in far more control than other riders with regular "all-season" tires. Cornering traction on the way back down was also far more predictable, with a level of grip that can't be equalled by anything but a true mud tire when the conditions suit it, and it is that last fact that potential buyers should take note of. The flip side to the XR Mud, or pretty much any mud specific tire, is that its prowess in the slop is offset by its sketchiness on wood and hard packed ground, something that certainly doesn't suit it all. That may not matter if your trails aren't littered with roots and wood bridges, but sprinkle a few of either of those onto a wet trail and you better be on your best behaviour if you have the XRs mounted up. It only took a few close calls - the bike jumping out from under us over slimy roots, or sliding across a wood bridge - for us to learn to ease off when coming across either. A higher volume would certainly help as it would allow for lower air pressure and a larger footprint, but you'd then be sacrificing some of the tire's ability to cut through the slop. It's always a balance, and that is never more clear than with tires. So, we'd give the XR Mud a big thumbs up when talking about how they perform in the mud - the exact type of stuff it was intended for - but we'd also recommend that you look at another option of your riding includes much in the way of roots and bridges, or even mixed conditions that vary between soft and hard packed ground. - Mike Levy

Ergon SM3 Pro Carbon seat

Ergon's mountain bike saddle lineup all use the same shape and SM3 designation, but the range is consists of three models that go from the entry SM3 with metal rails and a 'GFK-Composite' shell, to the SM3 Pro with its metal rails and carbon fiber shell, and finally the 213 gram SM3 Pro Carbon with carbon rails and carbon shell that we review below. The seat's shell has been designed to flex in specific areas in order to improve comfort, and multi-layered padding with different densities has been employed for the same reason. A small insert between the nose and forward section of the SM3's rails is used to damp vibrations, and a cushion covering the underside of the seat's nose should make for more comfortable portaging for those times when you have to carry the bike up and over obstacles. Ergon offers each model in three different widths that have been designed to suit different sit bone widths and seating positions, and you can use their saddle selector to figure out which size makes the most sense for you. MSRP $239.95 USD

Ergon saddle review test
You can use Ergon's ''saddle selector'' to figure out which width of SM3 seat makes the most sense for your behind.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe SM3's relatively flat and angular shape, as well as its carbon fiber rails, are likely to be polarizing factors when a rider first takes a look at the 213 gram saddle. That was the case with us, at least, as many years in the saddle has shown that we'd usually prefer a skinnier and more rounded shape than what the unique looking Ergon brings to the table. With that in mind we have to admit to finding the SM3 reasonably comfortable under us, and we didn't have any of the suspected fit issues that we thought might arise. The key to the SM3 is finding both the correct fore/aft position and angle atop the seat post, as we found that its sweet spot is smaller than what you might find from a more standard saddle shape. We found a comfortable setting after some tinkering that involved lowering the seat's nose and sliding it forward a touch more than the seat it replaced, although making such adjustments are in order anytime a seat change happens. Having said that, we'd like to have a go on an SM3 that is one size down in width as we felt that there was a bit of awkward pressure after the two hour mark. This is where Ergon's three different size options begin to make some real sense because it allows riders to stay with the general shape that they prefer, but move up or down in saddle width to best suit their body. Ergonomics aside, the SM3's carbon rails brushed off our abuse, which really says something because the seat was intended to be used as a lightweight option for cross-country racing rather than being bolted to a bike that is going to be pointed down some rowdy terrain. Would we recommend the less expensive, 'Tinox' hollow railed standard SM3 if you plan on using it on a longer travel rig that will see some air time? Probably, since it does offer the same shape at a lower price ($139.95 USD) and with metal rails, two facts are likely to win over some riders. - Mike Levy


  • 97 1
 Where the TECH TUESDAY's gone? I want it back.
  • 23 2
 AND sequence saturdays!!!
  • 22 5
 It's Friday bud
  • 49 1
 and Friday Fails?
  • 24 1
 ^ *Fails for your Friday* , Best. Posts. Ever.
  • 3 10
flag goodscholar (Oct 11, 2013 at 7:21) (Below Threshold)
 and tooney tuesday?
  • 9 13
flag spoothead (Oct 11, 2013 at 7:45) (Below Threshold)
 oR PIZZA pthursday!?!?!
  • 18 1
 Am I the only one bothered by $240 price tag on a seat?
  • 1 1
 $240 for a seat, no thanks!
  • 40 13
 Am I the only one that's getting bored of looking at these product picks?
  • 22 4
 Oh yes most definitely! Product pics are the mustard to my custard, ya know what they say matey! wink wink nudge nudge ahuehuehue Wink Love them little whippersnappers these days, out of controlllll.

That Ergon seat looks the goods, it's even got a little cradle for your family.
  • 3 0
 *laughing out loud*
  • 3 3
 Yawn!!! Boring
  • 2 0
 I try not to complain too much about the free content that Pinkbike posts (and doesn't make me read), but these products really were very uninspiring.
  • 1 0
 I like tire and pad reviews because thats what i'm most likely to buy next, though i would like to see some more component reviews, shifters, brake sets, that kinda stuff... i know a few years back they did a tire shoot out that was cool.... and $ is $ it's an expensive sport, yes $140 for a handle bar isn't cheap but how often do you tell someone out side of the bike world how much you spent on your bike... how often do the almost shit themselves?
  • 1 0
 I don't much care about the price of the products reviewed, but I do want to see things that can somehow change and improve my riding experience. Products that are innovative, original, or different in some way.
  • 11 3
 Firstly i think PB seems to think that everyone reading these articles are minted?? well nooooo !! hense the for sale section! where good honest ppl are selling there used goods for some extra cash so as they can buy some new goodies :-) But evertime PB put up new product reviews u would have to sell your entire bike to get a bloody pedal ?? I mean why not do some reviews of some standard (not necessarily budget ) stuff? Or aybe do a price range section ?
Secondly I do like this stuff PB review (sometimes) im just having a rant cause i cant afford it :-) ha ha
Keep up the good work PB :-)
  • 7 0
 i agree... more standard priced stuff please
  • 4 1
 The high end companies are the ones that buy ad space. That's what it's about generating income to keep the site going and to make money. Companies want to sell their big ticket items so that's what pinkbike gets to test. Not ideal, but you don't have to look at product picks if you don't want to.
  • 4 2
 You dont have to look at product picks if you dont want to ????
eh ridiculous statment of the day !!!
Of course i wanna look at them ! the point is, thats all i can do!
Anyway THATS ME TOLD :-(
  • 2 0
 Yeah, I shop online and search out closeouts and sales and research it like crazy, cuz it is expensive to play. Sometimes I can get my LBS to drop a price. I too would like to see some mid range, long term tested stuff instead of the top shelf stuff. They did point out that the saddle comes in Ti form, which I'd prefer, cuz that's more realistic for me to buy the Ti unit. But carbon and ti are completely different, so.. Manufactures send pb stuff in most cases, can't blame pb solely. I think manufactures would be floored if pb requested the base-mid priced stuff.. That is real world thinking.. But..if I had a choice.. I'd like the perk of riding a $10k carbon rig or a $260 pair of pedals, which in most cases get sent BACK to the manufacture afterward...
  • 1 0
 Am I the only person who's actually seen a lot of reasonably priced stuff in the product pick articles, and other articles in general? But okay, stir up the hyperbole for the witch hunt. Rar rar, get your pitch forks...
  • 1 0
 The prices aren't too outrageous, it's still a bit too expensive for ME. I've been around mountain bikes for 22 years and it seems like most parts have doubled in price. The new parts are better, but the low end MSRP is as much as the high end stuff 10 years ago, drive train parts have almost tripled. I pieced my last complete bike together and have the good stuff, XTR shifters (9 spd) and Hope brakes and hubs, etc. But everything was on sale. It was $1800 or so, it could have been $4500 retail. If I had to spend $4500, it would have taken about a year, not the 4 months it took me. Anyway, I was just agreeing with philyk, Why not test a $70 saddle, a $75 bar, a $60 stem, they are out there, maybe not carbon, but they are out there and I could buy those today. I think those parts would appeal to more riders anyway.
  • 11 2
 A $240 seat?! If im paying that much it better come with GPS, a butt warmer/cooler, and a beer dispenser
  • 4 0
 Secret Saddle Flask...I think we're onto something.
  • 4 0
 I was riding in Minnesota and came across 2 hippies smoking weed out of a seatpost. It came off one of the guys bikes. Complete with seat and saddle bag. Looked like it had a screen soldered near the seat. They had grease rings around their lips. Don't think that'd ever be reviewed.
  • 1 0
 wow Pedalwon who put a stick up yer ass dude? Wink
  • 5 0
 The SM3 Pro Carbon that was tested is not the lightest saddle in the SM3 line-up. For the tester, and the size he ran based on his sit bone dimensions, the weight was +/- 200 gr. The SM3 Pro Carbon in Small weighs in at +/- 195 gr. This saddle is also available in Ti rails.

While the SM3 is dedicated XC/Marathon and all-around-mtb designed saddle, the 2014 SME3 will fit in here better with the Pinkbike riding styles. All the same technology of the SM3 is 'tweeked' to a more aggressive and technical riding style; softer closed-cell foam, shorter saddle length, no sharp edges for potential hooking of shorts, etc.

More on the 2014 SME3 saddle, due out in Feb here on Pinkbike from their Interbike coverage:
  • 4 0
 I've got my xr mud tyres on now for the next few months in the UK. They are an amazing mud tyre and very fast rolling which surprised me. I've had zero punctures or damage in about 6 months of use too, running tubeless.
  • 2 0
 Nukeproof Sam Hill Signature bars 760mm 38mm rise 298g = 51.99 CAD from CRC. Answer Rove AM 80mm stem 179g = 60.99 CAD also from Chain Reaction Cycles
Rock solid and not bad for weight, why would I pay more? Bling doesn't make you a better rider or faster.
  • 4 0
 That is way too heavy for a carbon saddle. A Specialed Phenom Pro is lighter and less money.
  • 2 0
 Not sure why they'd have a carbon saddle on here. I'd check out the Specialized. I got the Phenom Expert, Ti railed saddle. 240 gram in mid width. $130, but it was on sale on Specialized website for $75. 2 1/2 years, not a peep out of it. Actually went for a flat tabletop last night and accidentally unclipped my downside foot and the seat and post took the hit from 4 feet on a hardtail!! Nothin'..
  • 3 0
 I always liked when pinkbike posted all the standout good deals from around the interwebs... not saying that these aren't good products but who doesn't like a deal??
  • 1 0
 The bontrager tire is a clone of tires made for performance bicycle the price is twice what performance wants. I woll say i run the tire myself amd have zero traction issues. They are lighter then the tires that came on my trek.
  • 5 1
 again, none of the above !
  • 2 1
 seriously every week none of the above dominates the poll yet we still keep getting these over priced products that majority have no use or care for
  • 2 0
 All I want is a new Ti rail Titec Berserker DH saddle. The best saddle shape and size ever and I need a new one.
Why doesn't someone copy that shape?
  • 1 0
 I found this thread through a google search "titec berserker dh replacement" looking for the exact same thing! Couldn't agree more. One of the best saddles ever.
  • 1 0
 Brits must have small "family" that little divot wouldn't do a damn thing.. plus the only reason they put a cradle in there is so you don't hit the gouch nerve!
  • 3 1
 I like product pics . I'd like to see more of it . Nice bar stem combo :-)
  • 2 0
 The manufacturers must think were fuckin minted ...
  • 1 1
 Omg not the pointless 35mm standard people it isn't an improvement or necessary. 31.8 is fine or why would dirt bikes only use 28.8, please get f_______ed.
  • 1 0
 ya every review on every 35mm setup has resulted in the reviewer saying it didnt make the bar stiffer, complete marketing
  • 1 0 more Pinkbike Product Picks to pass....its getting annoying !
  • 1 0
 how can i get these brake levers stickers with my name???
  • 1 0
 $148 for bars? reasonable price?
yeah, whatever...
  • 1 0
 Does anyone else make cheaper DH carbon bars?
  • 5 0
 Throw a Clif Bar down a hill. It's carbon based and only $1.29...
  • 1 0
 Do you really want a cheaper carbon bar?
  • 1 0
 No, I'd stick with aluminum if I couldn't afford the very best carbon. But it was in response to dude above calling $148 for bars unreasonable. Which in context (35mm clamp carbon DH bars) is very reasonable IMO.
  • 1 0
 for no improvement in stiffness and minimal weight loss, i would say $148 is expensive. Easton havoc alloy claimed weight is 300g and is a lot cheaper. You'd have to be a mug to pay that much for bars.
  • 1 0
 Sure those XRs are mud specific, but are they enduro specific as well? Wink
  • 1 0
 Would pick some Hans Dampfs anyhow
  • 1 0
 Hey Mike, those brakes, are you a black box rider now? hehe
  • 1 0
 Stinger RS saddle 190 Grams, and cheaper
  • 1 0
 And "none of the above" wins the poll again! What a surprise...
  • 1 1
 Bontrager XR4s are hands down the best tire on the planet for all conditions.
  • 1 0
 Yah if u like over priced tires that are copied from performance bicycle
  • 1 0
 Where can i get a pair of those Mike Levy brake handles?!
  • 1 0
 Weight of the tires?
  • 1 0
 About 550g
  • 1 0
 And they are heavier then the performance pigah tyres too total crap in my book
  • 1 0
 the stem will break

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