Bearclaw signature grips measure only 29.5 millimeters in diameter and are intended for riders who want a firm, tactile feel at the bars, Lizard Skins' plastic end-caps snap into the locking aluminum collars.
|Riders who use thin gloves or opt for bare hands will need to toughen up to enjoy the Claw's favorite grips on extended rides. The minimally padded grips do little to mute the sensation between the front tire's contact patch and the rider's hands - which is a good thing for those who want to know exactly what their tires are doing and where they want the front wheel to go at any given moment.The grip's surface feels super secure with gloved hands and surprisingly, the diamond pattern doesn't tend to chafe unprotected hands.That said, however, the thinly padded grip can beat your hands up on a long, rocky descent.- RC|
Syntace's Vector Carbon High 10 handlebar in the 12-degree sweep-back angle takes a little getting used to, but once you get the bar rotation right, it is quite comfortable.
|Some may complain that the Vector Carbon's 740-millimeter width is far too narrow for their manly needs, but those who can live with a mid-width bar will be pleased to discover that Syntace has found a sweet balance between low-vibration comfort and big-hit rigidity. Most commercially available handlebars use a sweep-back between five and eight degrees and we'd expect that many Syntace customers will be ordering the eight-degree option of the Vector Carbon High 10 bar. Paired with a 60-millimeter Syntace stem, the 12-degree bar feels a bit weird at first, but after experimenting with different angles, we found that a bit more upward angle produced a good feel for technical riding without giving up climbing comfort. The test bar in the pics is the second Vector Carbon High 10 bar we've ridden. The first was baptized by boulders on the first weekend and it's still looking good. The up-side of a more swept-back bar is that it releases tension on the wrists and arms while descending. The possible downside is that the grips are farther back in relation to the stem, so a 60-degree stem feels more like a 40 on the bike. Bottom line is that Syntace's Vector Carbon High 10 handlebar is a good call for aggressive AM/trail riders searching for a lightweight carbon bar designed and manufactured by people who understand what aggressive riding actually means.- RC|
Syntace's Megaforce 2 stem employs a wide stance at the clamp area to maximize lateral rigidity without giving up an excessive weight penalty. A close look at the stem's profile (lower right) reveals that the handlebar's centerline is inset in order to direct more force into the body of the stem.
|Syntace's products are on the expensive side, but for those who ride hard and are chasing grams, the Megaforce 2 stem represents a trustworthy purchase. The feel at the handlebar is rigid and precise and the fact that Syntace offers five extensions between 30 and 80 millimeters offers riders a lot of tuning options. Syntace was one of the first stem and handlebar makers to jump to the oversize 31.8-millimeter standard, and the Megaforce 2 offers those who are considering the big-handlebar upgrade a lab-tested and ride-proven lightweight alternative to the colorful CNC-machined aluminum bricks that proliferate the present marketplace.- RC|
Conti's 29er Mountain King II is not intended specifically to be a mud tire, but it has all the right features to keep a big wheel bike moving in the slop. We mounted them tubeless with little effort.
|Big wheel bikes already suffer from heavy rolling stock, so any weight one can remove from the tires pays huge dividends. Continental's Mountain King 2.2 inch tires are quite capable of scratching their way up technical climbs in both dry and wet conditions, and the reverse is true on the downs, where the Black Chili rubber and long-fingered tread pattern kept the bike under control when braking. Cornering on slick dry surfaces was good, but not as predictable as we experienced running larger-volume tires with similar-sized tread blocks, and hitting big rocks with small tires proved to be hard on the rims. Conti' bills the Mountain King as an all-'rounder, capable of thriving on hardpack, loose and loamy soil, and this proved to be the case. While its competitors may offer an advantage in a narrow range of conditions, the 'King could survive a Summer on Southern California hardpack as easily as it could manage a winter of slug-popping in the forests of the Northwest. Where the Trail King did best, though, was when we were rained out for a week. The 'King's grippy tread and relatively narrow profile tore through the soft sections, stuck in the corners, and rarely collected any mud. Given the fact that the Contis were on a big-wheel bike, loading the tires up with mud would have made those days unhappy slogs instead of celebrations of Autumn's first thunderstorm.- RC|
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