Pinkbike Product Picks

Aug 23, 2013
by Mike Kazimer  
Shimano Zee Crankset

Shimano's Zee crankset is intended for the gravity crowd, or the hard charging all-mountain rider. Featuring aluminum crankarms and a steel axle, along with steel pedal inserts to help prevent damaged threads, the cranks are available in 165, 170 and 175mm lengths with spindle options to fit 68/73 or 83mm bottom bracket shells. Installation is the same as with the majority of Shimano's two piece cranksets - simply install the external bottom bottom bracket cups, slide the splined drive side spindle through, and then attach it to the non-drive crank arm by snugging down the plastic fixing bolt and tightening the two hex-head pinch bolts on the crankarm to the correct torque spec. Weight: 731g (170mm, without BB or chainring). Available single chainring sizes: 34, 36,38. MSRP: $159.99 USD. www.shimano.com

Shimano Zee crankset review test
Shimano's Zee cranks are a worthy choice for riders seeking a sturdy crankset at a fair price.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesOur set of Zee cranks have seen their fair share of use and abuse since we bolted them on last spring, everything from sloppy shuttle runs, lift served laps at Whistler, and plenty of human-powered rides as well. Throughout it all, the cranks have held strong, without a creak of complaint despite a number of solid encounters with rocks and stumps. There are a few dings at the ends of the crankarms from those aforementioned solid encounters, and the finish on the outside of the arms has begun to wear off in spots from foot rub, but that's almost a given considering the gritty conditions we often ride in - a long muddy ride is nearly the equivalent of going at them with 80 grit sandpaper. As far as stiffness goes, we're not exactly on the Clydesdale side of the weight spectrum, but there was no noticeable flexing during harsh landings or hard cornering, and power transfer felt quick when standing up and putting the power down. Overall, the Zee crankset offers a good value given its reasonable weight and even more reasonable asking price. - Mike Kazimer



Bell Full 9

The Full 9 is Bell's flagship full face helmet, which draws from the company's Moto 9 motocross helmet, but with mountain bike specific design features. A carbon fiber shell allows the Full 9 to weigh in at only 1100 grams (size medium), while still meeting all of the major safety standards – the helmet is ASTM, CE, and CPSC certified. Ventilation is handled by what Bell calls their 'Overbrow Ventilation' system, which uses three vents located just above the forehead that direct air over the top of the head and out two ports at the back of the helmet. Other features included an integrated camera mount, built in speaker pockets, removable magnetic cheek pads, and a D-ring style closure. Sizes: XS – XXL, five different color options. MSRP: $400 USD. www.bellhelmets.com

Bell Full 9 review test
Bell's Full 9 offers unparalleled comfort in a light, well ventilated carbon fiber shelled package.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesNo matter how many features a helmet has, if it doesn't fit well all of those extra amenities amount to nothing. Luckily, the fit of the Bell Full 9 proved to be exceptional, making it one of the most comfortable full face helmets we've tried in quite some time. It wraps the head securely without any pressure points or loose spots, and has remained secure without even a hint of side to side slop, even after almost five months of regular usage. The shape of the helmet has plenty of room for goggles, and also allows for excellent peripheral vision - the area around the eyes extends far enough back so that the shell doesn't interfere with a rider's vision. The Full 9's ventilation works well, and we never felt overheated, even on rides that saw us riding under the blazing sun during the hottest part of the day. Truth be told, we haven't taken advantage of the Full 9's helmet camera mount or speaker pockets, but it's good to know they're available should we decide to film our exploits while bumping tunes. Bell has introduced an excellent contender into the high end helmet arena, one that offers superb fit, good ventilation, and light weight, all while meeting the major safety standards, traits that make it a winner in our book. - Mike Kazimer



Sombrio N'Fluence Short

Sombrio's N'Fluence short, part of the Canadian company's Freeride Collection, is constructed from a nylon/lycra fabric that has been treated with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating for an element of rain protection. The inner portion of the short has a full mesh liner for moisture management, and there is a zippered vent on the outside of each leg for additional airflow. This double zippered vent is rather unique, with the bottom ¾ used for venting, and the upper ¼ providing access to a hip pocket. The right side pocket has a lift ticket holder on an elastic cord for those days spent in the bike park. An additional zippered pocket is located on the right rear side of the shorts. The shorts have a zippered fly and close with two snaps mounted onto a strip of Velcro for extra security. Sizes: XS-XXL. Colors: Blacktastic, Mineral Grey, Raw Green. MSRP: $125.00 USD. www.sombriocartel.com

Sombrio N Fluence Short review
Sombrio's N'Fluence shorts have a relaxed fit, long zippered side vents and an elastic bike park pass or key holder.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe N'Fluence shorts were comfortable from the beginning, with a slightly baggy fit that provides plenty of room for knee pads, and a high enough crotch so that we never caught the shorts on our seat. Much of our time with these shorts was spent in the bike park, where we found the elasticized pass holder to be a convenient little bonus feature. On foggy, drizzly days the DWR coating was beneficial, keeping us dry longer than we would have been with non-coated shorts. Granted, a full-on deluge will definitely soak through the shorts, but for rains of less-than-biblical proportions it's nice to have the additional protection from the elements. The side vents worked well, keeping things cool when the mercury climbed as long as there was adequate airflow, although we did have the zipper catch a few times on the inner fabric when we were opening or closing the vents or hip pockets. Related to this point, we never quite figured out the reasoning behind the double zipper system - it seems like having a separate zippered pocket and side vent would be simpler, and if smaller zippers were used the shorts would be much lighter. Another request would be the addition of an adjustable waist band instead of (or in combination with) the belt loops on the N'Fluence short - it's helpful to be able to make those micro-adjustments, and riding with a belt can get uncomfortable, especially if you end up spending any time doubled over in the saddle grinding up a long climb. As it is, the construction of the N'Fluence makes them best suited for lift-served riding or riding in cooler weather, since the thicker fabric and heavy duty zippers can make things pretty toasty on longer rides. That being said, the same construction that makes these shorts overkill for cross-country riding has helped them survive all of the rides we've taken them on, and despite numerous washings and multiple outings in foul weather they don't look any worse for wear, with no rips, tears or blown seams. - Mike Kazimer






88 Comments

  • + 62
 Well done pinkbike finally some products that we might actually buy.
  • + 19
 maybe your gonna spend 125$ on some chinese, sweat-shop shorts, but i sure aint
  • + 2
 You cant even find any Sombrio shit anywhere anymore. I always see their marketing up here (sombrio truck etc) but I cant buy anything from them in the past 3 years or so...
  • + 2
 Chain Reaction Cycle sells some of their stuff?
  • + 26
 I hope millions of people buy zee cranks because they are so great! simple, cheap, effective, set and forget, light, stiff, whats not to love???
  • + 115
 they don't say saint on the side though! fashion takes 20 minutes off your times even on 1 minute trails, FACT!
  • - 4
flag conlysm (Aug 23, 2013 at 3:57) (Below Threshold)
 someones on commission.
  • + 27
 Please correct me if im wrong.. does Shimano Zee crankarm looks more or less like the Deore M590 crrank arm?
www.jensonusa.com/images/Default-Image/Zoom/564/CR242A01.jpg
  • + 8
 and for a while the slx was half the price, 5 grams heavier, and 50% stiffer than the xtr, but people still bought the xtr . Then the new xtr was released. Fashion. . .
  • + 10
 vineet, you are not wrong. Deore 590 zee graphics
  • + 7
 Buy the Deore cranks and save yourself a nice chunk of cash, Shimano have pulled a fast one one everyone selling Deore parts with a new paint job and tripling the price. The Zee brakes however are fantastic.
  • + 6
 @vineet, I think the differences are, the zee is not as hollowed at the back of the crank arm, and the deore does not have the threaded steel insert for the pedals. I have had the Deores for a couple years, other than changing the BB to XT, I never had a problem. So I trust the Zee will perform as promised.
  • + 13
 I asked a Shimano rep that a few months ago and his replied was it's the same mold to keep cost down, but the material are different. I wouldn't be surprised if it's a lot stronger than Deores.
  • + 3
 @Turl

Thanks for the link. Now I just have to learn Japanese so I can read the site and watch anime without subtitles. ;P
  • + 1
 deore is still strong enough for most people I'd assume though... my turbines are still going strong and my descendants were until I replaced them with saint (pedal threads pulled out but they're sram so no surprise there)
  • - 2
 they are ugly
  • + 1
 zee are available in 165mm. so there the chaepest 165mm cranck from S. can they take an inner ring then?
  • + 1
 @digital-criminal no shit, the point is to make you get the saint for more money, @fussylou you don't need an inner ring
  • + 2
 @Turl

Love all the Ghost in the Shell series' and movies. I'll check out the other titles. Thanks!
  • + 1
 finn what i want to know has nothing to do with whether you think i need somthing.
  • + 25
 I have Zee cranks on my singlespeed 29er. Not entirely sure why.
  • + 4
 I was thinking about putting a set on my SS that I'm currently building as well. There aren't really any other decent cranks for the price, and I love the Zee cranks I have on my other bike.
  • + 9
 Just for the peace of mind of knowing you can huck a 20 foot gap if the situation necessitated...
  • + 3
 I also have the zee drivetrain on my fully rigid 29er hardtail (1x10)....great groupset, bulletproof, relatively cheap and even without a front guide, I have not dropped the chain yet...
  • + 2
 if i could get a new drivetrain for my honzo i would zee it up with the trail/fr gearing spec, so i respect your digs.
  • + 5
 I picked up my N'fluence shorts about 10 months ago for $60 on sale at my lbs, and has survived countless cycles through the laundry, riding in harsh weather, and just eating dirt! And yet, they barely show any signs of wear. I love the design, and they're comfortable as hell! But I find myself pulling these shorts down whenever my fox launch pads snag on them... All the time... But overall I'd definitely buy these again.
  • + 7
 You can't get deore in 83mm. Only saint and zee. I reckon a lot of people would run xt or xtr on light downhill bikes if they'd fit
  • + 5
 My Full-9 has been the most comfortable helmet I have ever worn... I am much happier in it than I was in my TLD, 661, or Fox helmets I have owned.
  • + 2
 Only downside is the camera mount is a bit flimsy, it tends to wabble a lot. Definately my first choice when i will replace my D3
  • + 2
 I waited in vain to read extra info about the speaker feature on the helmet. Maybe Bell is wrong and no one else cares about this feature or the camera mounting?
  • + 2
 I completely agree, best helmet out right now, certainly saved my head a few weeks back, took the impact like a champ, and the crash replacement service is an awesome feature! like rejean said though, the camera tends to wobble a bit, but I tidied mine up with a little electrical tape around the mount and its not too bad anymore.
  • + 4
 Is it 2000 6000 or 7000 series aluminum? are they forged? Nice pics but you mention close to nothing about what the cranks are made of . Im certain every one knows how a two piece crank is assembled.
  • + 1
 They're constructed from forged 6000 series aluminum.
  • + 1
 Thank you mike. Forged aluminum is much stronger than just a cast part. 6000 series is not quite as strong as 7000 series al. Im guessing these are for aggressive All mtn riding. Perfect cranks for the job.
  • + 5
 This was probably the best products pick in a while
  • + 4
 Just hoping someone decides to import/distribute Bell gear in Australia soon.
  • + 2
 their distributing effort their loss, grab a D3 if they drag their feet importing
  • + 5
 Order online! (distributors are overrated!).
  • + 1
 I need it to fit me though, I really don't wanna get a D3, It's either a Bell Full 9 or a Specialized Dissident.
  • + 1
 Dissidents are maaad... Just saying. Very expensive though.
  • + 2
 My dissident is worlds better for me than the D3. Much more comfortable for extended wear.
  • + 1
 Pretty sure Sheppards do, being pretty big though they tend to be a bit more difficult with special orders. They do shimano as well so any bike shop will have an account with them.
  • + 1
 You won't get the Aussie standards tick on an international mail order helmet. Not sure if they've ever checked at a race, but you could be told your not aloud to use it. Has anyone ever been checked at a race?
  • + 5
 Wow they picked good stuff!
  • + 4
 @Mike Kazimer or anyone at pinkbike :is it possible to do a crankset review and to compare all the "Gravity" cranks?
  • + 17
 i can already tell you how it would go.

descendants: flexy as fook
saint: unbreakable
zee: pretty much same as saint and heaps cheaper
sixc: lightest option, still strong enough but expensive
X0: shrapnel grenade
  • + 3
 Holzfeller?
  • + 5
 race face?
  • + 1
 descendant... flexy as fook... i dont think so
  • + 3
 @math-05stp. maybe if you're a light rider they won't but i've noticed it for sure.

fuark almost forgot about atlas cranks being really nice but a bit expensive, the respond stuff is probs just as good but heavy.
gravity make some nice cranks too, they're oem on a couple of DH bikes.
  • + 1
 got gravity lights on my AM bike: got no complaints, other than stupidity on my part with the install. (the bearing pre-load is really light, lighter than my torque wrench will even go, in fact. doesn't seem to introduce any side to side play, though, and it's certainly easier than having to crank it down super tight like ethirteen.)
  • + 0
 saint or nadda
  • + 2
 Bent the spider on my Saints in the first couple rides. But bent it back with a pipe and they have since lasted for 2 DH frames and 3 years.
  • + 2
 Fwiw, I tried on helmets from TLD, Giro, POC and Fox and NONE fit my weird shaped head. Bell full 9 fit SO well, felt like a head hug from my g'ma. Now to save $400.
  • + 1
 Whats a weird shape? Im rocking the XL watermelon shape. (skinny horizontally, big forehead.)
  • + 1
 Not sure in which way my head is weirdly shaped but all the above helmets did not fit well. Except the Bell. Getting a size L black carbon soon!
  • + 2
 ZEEEEE !! Great everything! I got the full set up & have never been Happier.
  • + 3
 ZEE cranks and Deore cranks are not the same
  • + 2
 Steel threaded pedal inserts are a must for repeated abuse. I was very happy to see them on the zee's
  • + 1
 zee's are awesome, we got them on both of our dh rigs. on set running with saint bb cups.
  • + 1
 The Zee cranks look identical to Deores (Deores are great budget crank too)
  • + 1
 I love my Zee RD, When my numbers turn up might have to give those cranks a go as well.
  • + 2
 helmat worth more than crank jesus
  • - 1
 Bell I really wish they would change either their name or logo. It is probably silly but that's the reason I won't buy their product. Giro, Fox, TLD all cool names and then you have Bell...blah.
  • + 2
 THAT BELL IS NICE! Would love to try her on.
  • - 2
 Blacktastic?? Wtf? How is that not a dodgy pr0n movie?? Or an even crapper version of boyz 2 men? At least (similar to CGs favourite song) you can be blacktastic from the waist down ...
  • + 1
 $125 for shorts? lmfao. not a hope in hell.
  • + 1
 bell helmet, I really like how they have changed... very handsome
  • + 1
 Looks like I am getting a new crankset!
  • + 1
 The Zee crankset look eerily similar to the Deore crankset
  • - 3
 It probably is, some spray on logos can make a world of difference on performance and reliability!
  • + 7
 Thats because it is essentially a beefed up Deore, which is not a bad thing.
  • + 3
 I think the only difference comes with the graphics and steel insert for pedals. Oh and of course availibility with single chain rings. I shred on deore cranks with 32t ring. So far it takes beating with no complains.
  • + 5
 It's different, I compared my Zees to a friend's Deores. The Zees can't be beaten on price anyway, £80 with BB and chainring if you look around online. Plenty strong for me and weigh the same as Saints. Single-ring only though.
  • + 1
 Check my Shimano ZEE, 170 lenght. www.pinkbike.com/photo/9796555
  • + 1
 The zee cranks vare really good just a strange colour.
  • + 1
 full 9 is the best helmet hands down!
  • + 0
 Hmm that Bell. Good runner up for the Dissident I want.
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