Pinkbike Product Picks

Oct 5, 2012
by Richard Cunningham  
Kali Avatar 2 Carbon Helmet

Kali Protectives is on the vanguard of helmet design, with a satchel of innovative construction strategies designed to lengthen the time it takes for an impact to reach your skull, and to spread the force of the blow into the widest possible area of the helmet's protective layers before that moment arrives. Due to its advanced carbon fiber construction and in-molded foam technology, Kali's Avatar 2 Carbon is a surprisingly lightweight full face helmet at 780 grams, yet it passes both North American and European standards for Downhill (EN 1078 or CPSC, ASTM F2040 and ASTM F2032). Molded directly into the carbon shell are two intertwined layers of foam, a higher and lower density sandwich that reportedly disperse concentrated impacts from the shell to surrounding areas of foam like a crumple zone in a modern automobile chassis. The Avatar's removable padding is washable and anti-microbal (resists stink) and air is channeled into the comfortable enclosure through eleven screened vents to keep the helmet cool. A standard D-ring retaining buckle is used and the free end of the webbing snaps cleanly out of the way - flap free. Plenty of room for goggles of all sizes and shapes is a plus, as is the fact that Kali squeezed as much peripheral vision from the Avatar's side-panels as was safely possible to present a wider field of view. The rear of the helmet's shell is relieved to securely retain a goggle strap and up top, a breakaway visor helps further protect the rider in a fall. Kali's Avatar 2 Carbon helmet is sold in white and black or gray and green colorways, and in X-small, small, medium, large and X-large sizes. Avatar 2 Carbon lids come with a protective carry bag and an extra visor and padding set for $349 USD.
Kali Protectives

Kali Avatar 2 Carbon helmet

(Clockwise) Kali Avatar 2 Carbon helmet showing the goggle-strap relief in the rear of the shell, the first of eleven screened vents, and the breakaway visor.

Pinkbike's take:
bigquotes"Comfortable and cool" come to mind after a Summer of sessions with Kali's Avatar 2 Carbon full-face in North American bike parks and on Europe's enduro-style downhill trails. June and July in the Alps is warm and humid, yet the Kali lid felt nearly as comfortable as an all-mountain half-shell helmet. Half-day enduro rides were enjoyable, and in the bike parks, the carbon helmet never felt heavy through the jumps or braking bumps. Wide visibility, good ventilation and truly comfortable padding make the Avatar feel like it disappears from your head, which led to a few embarrassing moments, banging it inside gondolas and the like. While the Kali lid was crashed a number of times, I never yard-sale'd the visor, and the paint remains quite new looking on the shell. Liked, but never mastered, was the snap closure on the end of the chin-strap webbing. Finding the small plastic snap with gloves on requires a moment of pause - which is often enough time for your buddies to gap you on the start of a descent. I began strapping my helmet on before I reached the top of the uplifts. Great helmet from sharp-minded people.- RC

Zoic Ether Trail Short

Zoic as been making baggies since the end of spandex and the beginning of real cycling clothes. Ether shorts are Zoic's best-selling trail baggy and the plaid version is its most popular style. With a 12-inch inseam, Ether shorts reach just over the knee and taper ever so slightly to prevent unwanted baggy flop while pedaling. A reinforced, adjustable, elastic waist band prevents plummer's crack, and vent panels across the back and down the insides of the short ensure that the garment breathes on hot days. The short is well constructed from a lighter-than-it-looks stretch fabric and all of its zipper pockets are flat seams. Speaking of pockets. The Ether has two docker style man-pockets in front, a pair of zip cargo pockets on the sides, a right-side cell-phone/iPod zip pocket and a rear zip pocket with an external loop for a wallet chain or iPod routing. The man-pockets are rivet-reinforced. Belt loops are included, and all Ether shorts are sold with Zoic's 'RPL Essential' padded mesh liner. Snap loops on the sides retain the liner, which has silicone panels on the waistband to keep it functionally in place. Colors are black, gray, brown or white plaid, and five sizes are available from small to XXX-large for $89USD.

Zoic Ether Plaid trail short

(From top left) Zoic's Ether Plaid trail short reaches just below the knee. A look at the cell phone pocket. The comfortable padded mesh liner is detachable. A vented strip runs across the back of the short and the right-lower pocket contains a handy tethered goggle wipe. Rubberized reinforcements make it easy to adjust the elastic waistband.

Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesAs baggies go, Zoic's Ether is among the more comfortable to pedal in. The stretch material and ample vents are perfect for sunny Southern California, which is two thumbs up from me. I usually hate side pockets in trail shorts, but Zioc managed to place them at an angle that keeps small items from swinging around while pedaling. I forgot my phone was in the designated pocket, which is a good thing. The Liner fits well, but is not as comfortable as I had hoped. I usually wear good quality spandex XC shorts beneath baggies for trail use. Zoic's mesh liner fits well, stays put and is much cooler, but it does not attain the long-ride comfort that I am used to. I am not throwing Zoic's liner under the bus, however, because it manages to stay in position and better still, help keep the short in position as well - two rarities in the baggy business. Considering that the liner is included in its 89-dollar suggested retail, Zoic has priced its most popular short quite reasonably. Good looking and comfy trail short from a reputable US brand.- RC

WTB Frequency i23 TCS rims

Wilderness Trail Bikes offers its Frequency i23 rim separately because the all-mountain/trail category that it services has such a wide range of riding styles and intensities that many of us prefer to custom build our wheels. To this end, WTB went out of its way to make the Frequency rim compatible with standard components. The 4D spoke drilling helps by pre-angling the spoke holes to align with a standard two or three-cross lace pattern. Inside the rim extrusion is WTB's 'I-Beam' vertical reinforcing web and outside, WTB shortens the rim flanges to give the tire a rounder profile. Inner rim width is 23 millimeters - which is well suited to higher volume tires from 2.125 to 2.4 inches. The outer width is darn near 28 millimeters. A carefully arched rim well is used to assist tubeless tires to air up, and the rim flange interfaces are a UST/tubeless-ready design. 'TCS' is WTB's term for tubeless-ready-but-only-with-the-addition-of-approved-rim-sealing-tape-systems. In short, Frequency i23 rims still have spoke holes, so you'll need to buy a Stan's NoTubes kit or equivalent to convert them to tubeless. WTB pegs the weight of a single rim at 475 grams, which checked out on PB's scale, and for those who think that is too light for all-mountain, WTB adds a little bulge at the rim flange called 'Unbendum' to ward of dents. WTB's Frequency i23 TCS rims come drilled for 32 spokes for $75 per wheel.
Wilderness Trail Bikes

Wilderness Trail Bikes Frequency Team rim

WTB Set us up with a complete wheelset with which to test its Frequency rim, Wooden spikes illustrate the rim's 4D angled spoke drilling. A look at the inside profile of the tubeless compatible rim well. A list of handy reminders populate the outside of the Frequency i23 rim to outline its unique features.

Pinkbike's take:
bigquotesInitially, our experience with WTB's Frequency i23-equipped wheels did not fare well. When we attempted to inflate tubeless ready tires (Specialized and WTB brands), they took a lot of fussing to get them to air up - and afterwards, would not retain air pressure. Our test wheels were set up with sealing tape and the single wrap of Stan's NoTubes tape was not enough. One more time around with the tape and the tires jumped on with a few quick strokes of a hand pump. Of course, tubes would have solved the problem, but what's the point of riding tubes in rims that scream 'tubeless' from every facet? (Note: WTB sells its own sealing system, which may be better suited to its rims.) A Summer of riding on two different bikes proved that WTB's new rims are pretty strong. Most riding where PB tests in Southern California is riddled with imbedded rocks, taken at mach speeds, where the wheels only accumulated only a few minor dents. The aspect of the Frequency rims that caught out attention though, was the sweet rounded profile that the low-flange rim imparted to the tires. The sense is that the rims are slightly wider than they measure and cornering feels enhanced by that. We liked the rims and WTB's simple-is-best concept as well. Our initial inflation trouble could have been a solitary experience, but if it wasn't, it's an easy fix.- RC

After reading Product Picks this week, I am ready to...

Author Info:
RichardCunningham avatar

Member since Mar 23, 2011
974 articles

  • 14 1
 Sorry, couldnt help myself with the last response. In all honesty though those wtb's look decent!
  • 5 0
 WTB rims are fine...I just wouldn't trust their hubs.
  • 1 0
 Funny, I have the Superduty hubs on my big bike, they have been running for 4 seasons on the Shore, the only issue I had was from using a cheap cassette the first time, the steel cassette and aluminum hub body don't like each other.

I also run the WTB Laserdisc Lite hubs on my 5" bike, no issues at all.

WTB hubs are light and have been durable for me, even running them in the most adverse conditions (all 4 seasons, rain or shine, snow or mud, dusty and dry).
  • 1 0
 I'm running WTB Laserdisc DH wheels and hubs. After my old bike running DeeTraks my wtb hubs are disappointing. Mine are slow active and the chain against the chain guide is louder than my hub. After a few months I could lock my rear break and the wheel would still roll about an inch before the hub would catch.
  • 10 0
 Whhoooo chop sticks when you buy the wheels! sick!....
  • 7 0
 Recently bought the rims, and love them. Tubeless setup with American Classic tape was troublesome, and used Gorilla tape instead (recommended - too easy).
  • 1 0
 +1 setup mine with 1" Gorilla tape and they both seated and held on the first attempt. Zero flats in two weeks of rough riding including two complete Whole Enchilada runs.
  • 1 0
 I bought some i23's early this year. Used the WTB TCS tape with Stan's valves... works awesome.
  • 1 0
 Gotta love wtb there headquarters is right down the street from our shop, never had a problem and the i23's are my go to rim
  • 1 0
 I hear ENVE ships their rims with Gorilla tape installed.
  • 1 0
 My i23s came with WTB TCS tape. They are stupid easy to inflate tubeless , easily accomplished with a floor pump. I have tried and have been equally successful with Specialized and Schwalbe tires.
  • 3 0
 The WTB frequency rims don't come taped. They're a rim only. So the tape job is something the end customer gets to take the blame for. It sounds like you got them from WTB and they may have rooked it. But for most people the tape problem may not be something they have to deal with.
  • 3 0
 i have that Kali, had the fiberglass version also. light, comfy, and life saving. top notch patented technology following the best science in head injury research... i totally trust this helmet to make sure my family doesn't have to have a dad who drools and needs his ass wiped.
  • 5 0
 I would rock that Kali helmet. Kali will be my next fullface helmet choice, I might even look at their XC lids as well.
  • 2 0
 I've been running their full face for three years and they're amazing. This year I replaced my ageing XC with one of their offerings too and is the most comfortable I've used; plus after some big Whistler AM bails, it's still good as new. The XC lids are quite 'shallow' by which I mean they sit a little higher on your head than say the Giro that come right down to your ears. Try one on though, if it feels good I'd recommend it.
  • 2 0
 just bought this helmet but the fiberglass not the carbon one.but its superlight and great!
  • 3 2
 I have a set of Frequency i23 rims laced up to DT Swiss hubs, with a set of WTB Moto 2.3 TCS tires on there as well. I used one strip of Stan's rim tape, Stan's tubeless valves, and 1.5 red cups of Stan's sealant on each wheel. Each one sealed up perfectly the first time. However what Pinkbike does not discuss at length here is that TCS rims are quite proprietary when it comes to their tubeless compatibility. Their On-Ramp bead seating technology is designed specifically to work with WTB TCS tires and nothing else. Not that they won't work with other UST or non-UST tires, but they were designed in tandem with the TCS tires. In their defense though it does work very well with said TCS technology, ensuring a perfect fit nearly every time.
  • 1 0
 A 23mm (inside) rim width may be what I need for a new front wheel setup. I have been pushing a 2.35 on a 17mm rim which has proved a challenge at times with Stan's wanting to burp on turns. I really wish they didnt have spoke holes though...
  • 1 0
 ya. I wish all companies would use ust rims even if they hate tubeless. Spokes popping tubes are pre-cambrian. I have been tubeless for over a decade. My tyres do not burp.Twice I have rippred a tyre in 8 years and that is all my tech issues with tyres.
  • 3 0
 Have the i23. One ring of gorilla tape and some stans and tires pop right on. They have been awesome so far this summer.
  • 1 0
I switched to Gorilla tape with my i23s too. The thicker tape gave the extra spacing needed to air up the tires.
  • 1 2
 cant believe wtbi23 next best thing after ztr flow will lost to the most shitty looking carbon helmet on the market.

and i cant believe someone with enough cash still buys shorts without mesh on the inside ... mmmmmm (btw didnt even catch between the lines if they have it or not ... ) ... if you got POC Flows you dont look on the other side of the fence.
  • 1 0
 Anyone else tried those short? Having a pocket where your phone doesn't flap around when pedalling would be really nice, and I would like a second opinion on that issue.
  • 1 0
 I have a few sets of their shorts. The phone pocket is perfect, it holds the phone tight and close to the body. Also works great for MP3 player when riding.
  • 1 0
 I have the same shorts except in white and they are quite comfy.
  • 1 0
 REI had them on sale for...$25 last week.. needless to say. i got the last in my size.. perfect, comfy, well built.
  • 1 0
 have these rims about 5 weeks, running tubeless on joes no flats tape, inflate on first attempt.
nice wheigt/ width for the price
  • 1 0
 I have had the Kali avatar and the avatar 2 carbon and I broke them both in one season I have to say I find them pretty weak but it sure did save my head
  • 1 0
 Kali is really big on safety studies,and they did a research, how helmet works best.And it turns out that the helmet actually shouldn't be to hard, cause then your brain hits agains the hard helmet wall and the best helmet is actually the one that cracks at higher impact cause thats the best way to desperse the energy of a big harmful impact. So the fact that your helmets broke might be the very fact that saved you head Smile
  • 1 0
 If you buy Zoic shorts buy them a size larger than what you would normally get. They run small.
  • 3 2
 I'm gettin those shorts and moving to Portland.
  • 1 3
 not sure that i'm a fan of only 23mm ID for a all-mountain rim... but then , I'm considering some spank stiffy rims for the DH bike, I like wider.
  • 1 1
 How bout the i25 then?
  • 1 0
 It didn't exist when I made this comment...
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