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.
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.
|Sharp 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 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.
|First 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
Kenda's Slant Six is a hybrid of two popular John Tomac signature designs. Small, angled tread blocks roll fast - very fast.
|Use 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.
|Far 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'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.
Have you used any of the products featured in Pinkbike's Picks? Share your impressions below.
|The 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|