Pinkbike Product Picks

Sep 9, 2011
by Richard Cunningham  
Pearl Izumi Kicker Launch Short

Pearl Izumi’s attention to detail and quality construction is evident in the Kicker Launch Short. The fit is form fitting, yet baggy, with below-the-knee tapered legs and a lightweight, two-way-stretch fabric that feels cool on the hottest days. Kicker Launch shorts have a zip fly retained by a single snap which is double secured by a patch of hook-and-loop fabric. One cargo pocket on the left leg, two standard pockets at the hip and two pockets on the bum give the Pearl Izumi short a classic cargo look without the typical cargo-short bulkiness. Leather tabs that accent the corners of the main pocket flaps and belt loops give the wearer a backup garment should the day end in a surprise dinner with friends. Pearl Izumi includes a removable liner which features its comfortably-crafted MTB-3D padding. Kicker launch Shorts come in black, coffee and foothill green colors and cost $120.00 usd. Learn more about Pearl Izumi here.

Pearl Izumi Short
The Kicker Launch Short is slightly tapered, which makes for comfortable pedaling without cramping space for knee cups. Pearl Izumi's 3-D pad is quite comfy and the liner doesn't bunch up while riding like so many do.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesSharp looking and very comfortable, Pearl Izumi hits the mark with the Kicker launch Short. The subtle ribbed pattern in the fabric looks equally good at the pub as is does in the lift line, and the double stretch material doesn't bunch up or constrict the body while pedaling. I used the shorts with the included liner and am happy to report that the 3D pad and lightweight, breathable pant fit closely to my body without any hint of the disposable diaper feel of most liners. I logged a few crashes on the pants at Whistler, and at home in the Mojave Desert and the Kickers are no worse for wear. The leather tabs curled up and took a permanent set - which led me to wonder why the thick trim was there in the first place. Another warning is that the pockets are cut straight like dress slacks and in similar fashion, small change and lift pass cards tend to fall out of the front pockets at inopportune moments. Secure your important items in the cargo pocket. I'm just sayin' - RC

Shimano M780 XT Trail Pedal

We gave you a short taste of how Shimano’s XT Trail pedals performed at the Northstar-at-Tahoe launch, so we figured that you’d want the long-term followup. Three things make the M780 pedal stand out: the pedal’s stance is about a half inch wider than Shimano’s XC pedal, the curved platform makes it possible to dab a foot in a turn and then power out without pausing to click back into the mech’ and the addition of the platform facilitates short trips to the coffeehouse while wearing sandals – or no shoes at all. The mechanism of the XT trail pedal is the same as its XTR or XT cross-country brothers, so there is no need to mount up a new cleat to adapt to the Trail version. The shaft is chromoly, with an 8mm Allen hex and the mostly aluminum body has been sculpted to maximize support for the foot while using the least amount of material. The XT design is almost identical to the XTR version. Shimano M780 XT Trail pedals cost $149.95 USD and weigh 407 grams a pair. Shimano

SHimano XT Trail Pedal
Shimano added 3 millimeters to the axle and almost five times the surface area on the pedal platform when it designed the XT Trail pedal. In profile the M780 is quite slim. We rarely tagged it in the rocks.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesFirst impressions were stellar for the XT Trail pedals, and I like them enough now that I'll choose the bike of the day based upon which one of the three has the M780s installed. The feel of the platform additions is quite noticeable when riding in technical situations where a foot dab is needed now and then, or when pushing the tires beyond the bike's cornering limits requires dragging a shoe for a mid-turn correction. I rode the XT Trail pedals unclipped in my Five Tens and can report that the feeling was a bit lumpy, but not such that I would sit out a good trail ride had I forgotten my cleated Sidis. I will say that, when pressured to mount up on a technical climb, there is a tendency to step too far forward on the platform - an uncomfortable moment which can prevent clipping in until the foot is physically re-centered on the pedal. This occurrence does not sway my opinion, however, that Shimano's XT Trail pedal was long in coming and will be my favorite for the foreseeable future. - RC

Kenda Slant Six Tire

Aggressive tread seems to be in vogue at this time, which makes the diminutive angled tread blocks of the Kenda Slant Six tire seem like a street tire by comparison to the popular Kenda Nevegal and Maxxis High Rollers we ride so often. That said, the big-volume, 2.35 inch casing, grippy rubber compound and hundreds of little tread blocks of the Slant Six can find traction on a variety of surfaces as long as conditions are relatively dry. Kenda cloned the checkerboard pattern of its Small Bock Eight with the angled tread block of its Nevegal to produce one of the faster rolling tires in the trailbike genre. The Slant Six comes in a wide variety of sizes, including a double-ply casing for DH use. The dual-compound tread rubber is soft on the outside and tough down the center for grip and durability. The 26-inch Slant Six in the 2.35 size with a folding bead is claimed to weigh 625 grams (ours weighed 620 even), and costs in the neighborhood of $55.00 USD. Kenda Tires

Slant Six 3.35
Kenda's Slant Six is a hybrid of two popular John Tomac signature designs. Small, angled tread blocks roll fast - very fast.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesUse the Slant Six as a rear tire, paired with similar volume front rubber with more aggressive edging and braking tread for best results. The tiny canted knobbies of the Slant Six will surprise most riders with their uncanny ability to find traction while climbing sandy or gravelly surfaces. Descending can be dodgy though. I make it a habit not to skid up the local trails. That said, I scratched my way into a few corners with only a slight squeeze on the rear brake lever. Take the time to get the tire pressure into the Slant Six's sweet zone, though, and the sticky Kenda rubber will corner and accelerate with confidence that simply defies the look of the tread. I dropped the pressure from 27psi to 22psi and it made all the difference. Where the Slant Six makes it happen, is on the straights or when powering down on the pedals for any length of time. The angled blocks and big, resilient casing roll so easily over the trail surface that installing a more aggressive tire on the rear wheel will make you sad. - RC

Ryders Shore Goggle

Improvements in this Pinkbike favorite make Ryders' Shore Goggle worth mentioning once more. Wide plastic wing hinges direct the straps around the padding and helmet opening which keep the goggle against the face and effectively seal it against your cheeks. The smaller frame of the Shore is designed to fit within the confines of full-face cycling lids, which it does convincingly. Huge ram air ducts in the lower frame of the goggle, combined with a dual-layer lens are used to prevent fogging. The lens has nubs for tear-offs and a hard-coated finish. Dual-density foam helps the goggle sit comfortably round the nose and forehead. The Shore goggle is sold in black or white frames and with a clear ($49.99) or polarized ($69.99) lens. Ryders Eyewear

(clockwise) The Shore goggle's design offers more clearance between the frame and the helmet opening. A higher nose bridge fits different face types more comfortably. Large air vents in the lower part of the frame direct fresh air into the goggle to ward off fogging.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesFar from the foggy, banana slug infested rainforest tracks traveled by the fabled Mudmen of BC, riding at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains near the Mojave desert, I did not have the chance to test the anti-fog features of Ryders' design. While descending in scorching104-degree temperatures and huffing the short climbs of my secret Super D run, I did put the Shore's ventilation system to task. I liked the unconfined feel of the smaller frame inside the helmet, and how it allows air to pass around the goggle to cool my head. I was worried that the polarized lens would make it harder to ride from the bright summer light into the shaded sections of the course, but the reverse was true. The polarization seemed to remove ambient light, moderating the change from light to darkness. The only negative I can report is that I normally wear glasses under my goggles, and they were a tough squeeze in the smaller framed Ryders. Go big if you wear glasses, otherwise, the Shore goggle is a worthy purchase. - RC

Spank Oozy LTD stem

The shapely 3D forged and CNC'd Oozy LTD stem is light enough, at 135g for our 60mm version, for a true XC weight weenie to consider, but is built for trail and all-mountain use. It uses a single, massive titanium 8mm bolt to clamp the steerer tube, Spank refers to it as the 'Sex Bolt', that doesn't thread into the body, but rather a keyed insert on the opposite side. The LTD addition to the end of the Oozy name alludes to the stem's titanium hardware, including both the 'Sex Bolt and its four faceplate bolts. The Oozy LTD stem has a 40mm stack height and is available in 50, 60, 70 and 80mm lengths, as well as both black and white color options (both use the same silver faceplate), and retails for $110 USD. Learn more by visiting the Spank website.

Spank Oozy Ltd stem
Spank's Oozy LTD stem uses titanium hardware to shave a few grams, coming in at an impressive 135g for our 60mm test unit. Light weight aside, the stem is intended for trail and all-mountain use.

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotesThe Oozy LTD stem looks great and proved to be a reliable and lightweight option for those who are looking for something a little different. The Oozy felt quite stiff as well, but that is surely to be expected of any stem in a 60mm length. It should be mentioned that the stem's titanium hardware didn't feel nearly as soft as we've come to expect from our past experience with titanium, making it much more resilient in the long run to ham fisted, home mechanics or worn-out hex keys. What's not to like? The white finish looks less than fabulous after a few months of use, although we're betting that the black option would fare better. The only other complaint would be the not so knee friendly backside where the Sex Bolt resides. Yes, it has rounded corners, but it still protrudes farther than we'd like to see.- Mike Levy

Have you used any of the products featured in Pinkbike's Picks? Share your impressions below.


  • 38 2
 "In profile the M780 is quite slim. We rarely tagged it in the rocks."

Doesn't look like it lol
  • 6 1
 Depends where you live - these are pretty untouched for all the rock riding where RC lives.
  • 1 0
 Yeah I agree with Brule, I mean riding agressive rocky are gonna get scratches.
  • 3 5
 Scratches are always better than CBros bent clips (or easily destroyed cages like in ACIDs -> what a sht of a pedal)
  • 14 0
 Pedal strikes happen, if you're worried about scratches you're in the wrong sport.
  • 2 0
 Seeing as how those are on the side of the pedal I'm pretty sure that's from laying the bike down on the ground or crashing.
  • 2 0
 Paint comes off CBs just from touching them. My Acids looked after one ride worse than my NS flats after 5 years
  • 3 0
 Crank Bros quality is really pretty questionable across the product line Im afraid.
  • 1 0
 Form over function for them apparently
  • 5 0
 not sure who would use the slant six for DH it has the knobs of a cycle cross tire
  • 4 0
 Haha. Ryders Shore Goggle, featuring Gaper Gap Technology. Prob would be beneficial for ventilation though...
  • 1 0
 Waki is right about how clips benefit your pedal stroke. It has been proven scientifically. Breaking prototype clips in the 90's doesn't make you an expert on anything except breaking prototype clips in the 90's. No one can 'spin' 360 perfectly. A motor can. People can not. Pulling up on the pedal with your hind leg can actually hinder your ability to produce power efficiently and will most likely lead to knee injury. How are your knees rffr?
  • 2 0
 I have a pair of the ryder googles and they work really well. even had a crash with them on and they are still working like the day i bought them.
  • 1 0
 Its all nice looking gear, i may purchase some of those new XT SPD'S to replace my old and battered yet extremely reliable 545's.
  • 1 0
 I have ordered a set based on the wider Q factor for a wider stance and am looking forward to riding them this Fall.
  • 1 0
 I have been riding the XTR trail pedal since my Shimano rep could get his hands on a pair and I love the shape of these pedals.. I loved my DX's but never could come to run set on my AM bike due to the weight of them.. The new Trail pedals are a great middle ground between the Dx's and the XC racers pedals.. The only complaint I have is that the XTR's cost so much more then the XT's and they are only 20grams lighter.. I guess you are paying for the XTR name too..
  • 1 0
 20 grammes is nothing unless you are an absolute weight weenie!!!.
  • 1 0
 Thats why I am am hating my XTR's they are so expensive and not any lighter.. haha
  • 1 0
 Only chosen stuff from xtr might be considered worth the price increase over XT. I would say shifters and cassette, eventually the crankset
  • 1 0
 In my case, I rode the XTR's for a long time before the XT's were available.. Other then that, I would have been on the XT version..
  • 1 0
 I am still using Shimano 545's, they have a slightly raised cleat engagement that does have movement. I see the new XT version is flat, is this fixed and if so would it require a prolonged period in the saddle to learn a new clipping in technique??. At present my 545's are super easy to clip in and as the cleat engagement area is raised it makes it soooo simple..
  • 1 0
 My PD 424s got really worn out by the end of last year after 5 yrs of awesome faultessvservice, i was considering buying XTRs but went for CB Acids to try something else. Ended up with wellgo flats & 5.10 shoes even for XC Big Grin
  • 1 0
 I dont see what makes those shorts so much better than the numerous models offered by Fox. I've got about 4 pairs of Fox shorts that have all the same features, and more...
  • 7 0
 There are several of everything from everyone out there and we are not trying to say these are better/worse, we are simply showcasing some of the items that we are currently using here at Pinkbike. Yes I agree, Fox and many others have great products too, they simply aren't being shown in this article though.
  • 1 0
 someone is not buying into roadie Qfactor pedalling hype Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @Waki - I stand wider and close Q Factors hurt my knees, so I am willing to try a wider stance pedal as I feel clips are more beneficial in some situations.
  • 1 0
 Those XT Trail pedals are actually the M785's. The 780's are the regular race version. Recently upgraded to the 785's and LOVE them!
  • 1 0
 i like those shorts, they look uber comfy
  • 1 0
 Im not compaining about anything here. All looks pretty mint to me!
  • 1 0
 8mm clamp bolt on a stem? Yikes. Be careful on those carbon steerers!
  • 1 0
 Yeah, and don't hit your knee on it.
  • 1 0
 yeah i neede thsoe shorts, a butt slash ball guard would be great.
  • 1 1
 would it be ok to use those XT pedals on a DH bike?
  • 1 2
 yes I think so, since they have a metal cage they should hold up very well. Shimano system is also the only one on the Planet that can be released by pulling the foot upwards unlike others that release only by twisting the foot sideways. When you crash in Shimanos you are very unlikely to stay in the pedals. It is also very easy to find the clip with your foot, and so, to clip into them
  • 2 0
 since when Waki??? That makes no sense "pulling up" that means your clips aren't adjusted properly, since many times you tank up on the pedals while pedaling to give another half stroke of power to the drive train.

Unless something has changed since the 858's came out in 99 or 2k ish.
  • 3 2
 If you pull hard from shimano pedal, it will release the cleat, I had mine set almost to the max. And it is also a pretty old roadie myth about pulling up the pedal for extra power. Comparing to flats, Spds allow for earlier and more brutal pushing over the top and to apply power a bit longer at the lower end part of the stroke. Pros only unweigh the leg going up. Turning circles is fine on road but impossible to execute in bumpy terrain.
  • 1 0
 you can also buy a different type of spd cleat that has multiple realease angles. Can't remember the number but I think that be what he is talking about
  • 3 1
 Yea, that's what hes talking about. There are different cleats. Just the fact you said you had yours almost set to the max makes me believe you really don't know how to set up clipless pedals, or you were using some worn cleats.

And yea, now I remember mbjz, it was the dual release cleats that had the different angle ordea.

And roadie myth? Obviously you have never raced BMX competitively at a higher level... I'm not talking about XC or DH.

And more burtal pushing over the top??? Seriously? The only advantage they give is no foot slip, and the ability to double your torque band.

"Turning circles is fine on road but impossible to execute in bumpy terrain." Seriously? Even on my single speed hard tail mtn bike I can pull the hell out of the pedals bump or not. It's called learning how to "spin" correctly. =] Come on man... this is basic knowledge.
  • 1 0
 I ride flats for most of the year. Before certain races I will switch to clips. In the first ride or two after switching, if I sprint on rough terrain, I lift the back wheel off the ground and it'll spin momentarily. After a few rides it stops happening. There's something for and against both rffr's and Waki's points in that, depending on your theory as to why it happens.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. You can easily learn to spin and get used to it. But yea, it's easy to hop the rear tire. It's more not over killing it, and adding a smooth 360degree spin.
  • 1 0
 I used different types of regular cleats for 4 years. What mbjz is talikng about is Shimano multirelease cleats which they clip out way to easily, so I never used them. If you tale time to observe how Shimano rear pawls mechanism is done comparing to other systems like Time, you will understand why is it possible to clip out by pulling up Rffr try to push over the top on a flat pedal as hard as while clipped in. I recommend iodine for desinfection of monster energy sign that will appear on your calf soon after the experiment. Calf skin on pins mmm...
  • 1 0
 I won't slip a pedal what so ever. My pedals are concave as living hell. I also understand the design as I ran multiple prototype clips in the late 90's for BMX racing. I probably understand more about them than many people, as I destroyed multiple sets of them.

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