Pinkbike Product Picks

Aug 30, 2012
by Alasdair MacLennan  
Kali Chakra Plus Helmet

Kali’s Brad Waldron passed us his latest Chakra Plus helmet at Eurobike last year and in the intervening months we’ve been more than happy to put it through its paces. Featuring a rotating dial at the rear to dial in the size to suit and your normal polycarbonate coated EPF, construction is fairly standard but certainly well executed. Removable padding features mesh over the vented areas to prevent ingress of bugs, or in the case of our local trails, foliage, mud and anything else that gets flicked up from the back wheel. Meanwhile the polycarbonate coating extends over the lower areas of the helmet to protect it from the abuse of daily life. Sizing is a little odd for despite being a large in most helmets, the Medium/Large of the Chakra Plus is right at the limit which suggests that we’d probably have been better off with the Small/Medium. The dial used to adjust the tension band is easy to use and stays put but it does seem a little on the large side in both diameter and the amount that it protrudes from the back of the helmet. This last part does mean that it can get caught when wearing larger all day packs although on ours we just made sure to tuck any excess straps on the pack away to prevent this. Once set though it doesn't move and becomes unnoticeable, even on longer five hour plus rides. MSRP: $50/£50 Kali Protectives

Kali Chakra XC helmet

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotes Quality is high, the feel sturdy and the weight is in the right ballpark for the money. The visor is tough and secure, there are plenty of vents and so far it’s done all that we’ve asked it to. In fact, the only thing missing is a proper crash but let’s be honest here, that’s something that’s not going to be simulated on purpose for a test. If you were handed the helmet and asked to guess its price you’d certainly put it closer to the £75 mark than the £50 and therein lies the real silver lining of it. Top of the range it isn't but it does provide similar features, comfort and protection for less money. And that’s certainly no bad thing. Despite the slightly oversized adjustment dial this is a great piece of kit and well worth a look if you're in the market for a new trail lid that's well ventilated and affordable. - Alasdair MacLennan




O'Neal Torque SPD Shoes

O’Neal isn’t perhaps the first name which springs to most minds when thinking about SPD footwear. However, with the new Torque, O’Neal's in with a shout of changing that thanks to this well thought out and executed offering. Featuring an upper velcro strap which keeps the laces neatly out the way and your foot held securely in place, the skate style shoe also has a high ankle covering on the inside of each shoe to protect your ankle bone against crank and pedal strikes. Aimed towards the downhill and gravity market they're made in the mould of other brands' skate style gravity offerings with good protection and style. The toe box is well protected and the whole shoe is sturdily put together with rubberised sections to improve water repellence and overall longevity when riding and hike-a-biking in rocky terrain. Away from the gravity arena they also excel as an all rounder, being more than capable thanks to a reasonably stiff sole combined with low weight and mated to plenty of comfort for when you're wearing them all day. The Achilles heal in some shoes of this type can be a tight entry and exit as a result of thick soles and not much space around the cleat but O'Neal avoid that and in so doing make for a very natural engagement & release. This added space around the cleat also aids mud clearing in filthy conditions and should enable even the most extreme cleat positions to be used without problem.

O Neal Torque SPD shoes

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotes Given that for the past decade and then some I’ve been a major fan of the XC race, disco-slipper shoes through choice, preferring their stiff sole and lightweight nature, it was something of a surprise to slip my feet into the Torques and find that I liked them a lot. Normally the biggest sell has been the ease with which the non-skate shoes can be clipped back in but the Torque, thanks to the large open section of sole which surrounds the cleat this is not an issue. Although not quite as stiff as the Shimano DX shoe when pedalling, it's more secure foot hold (thanks to the Velcro strap) makes up for that. Having raced downhill and enduro with them all season, as well as having put a lot of general trail miles in too, they're holding up well despite repeated jetwashing and trips through the washing machine. Combining all this with light weight and comfort means the Torque is a more than worthy contender against the competition. They're tough, look good and work great. In the context of other shoes they're up there with the very best and in all likelihood it'll come down to personal fit as to whether the O'Neal Torque suits you over the likes of the Shimano DX and Five Ten Minnaar.
- Alasdair MacLennan




Superstar XCR Chainguide

It’s very easy to focus on parts with an exponential price increase over the previous model. After all, if someone’s offering a product to try out, you’re naturally inclined to sway to the more boutique offering. And although there are a percentage of riders willing to spend whatever the latest and greatest kit costs, there are a lot more who aren’t. Enter Superstar. Making no efforts to hide the origins of their products’ Taiwan catalogue origins, they have gained themselves a loyal following in the UK very quickly by combination of good products, great customer service, and above all, affordable pricing. The 77g XCR single ring guide here is as simple as they come, comprising of just a small aluminium backing plate and a two piece plastic top guide to make fitting a cinch, so the MSRP of £20 seems pretty good to us. Our KTM Bark which we tested it on doesn’t feature ISCG mounts so we opted for a BB version. Alternative back plates are available to fit those bikes which do, in a myriad of colours.Superstar Components


Superstar XCR Chainguide

Pinkbike's Take:
bigquotes When it comes to guides, there’s an ever increasing variety, to cater from single to triple rings, and with Gravity Enduro in the UK taking off, the variety of riders in the market for chain devices is growing too. Single ring setups are becoming more popular with trail riders who want the same no-fuss ability of downhillers to get on the gas without worry of the chain falling off on rough terrain. Thanks to wide ratio cassettes out back, there’s no shortage of ratios available, even when using 34T & 36T rings, and this has helped bring about the single ring’s popularity. Although simple, the XCR proved reliable and pain free when used in combination with a Shimano Shadow Plus derailleur, avoiding any derailments, keeping chain bounce to a minimum and ensuring we could get on the gas without worry. At £20 it’s a steal and a valid proposition for anyone in the market for a simple and lightweight device to use on their trail bike. - Alasdair MacLennan







41 Comments

  • + 9
 looks like someone sneezed on that helmet...
  • + 1
 lmao so true
  • + 1
 Da Bomb is the house brand of the factory that makes them. They are marketed under several different names. I use them and they are perfect.
  • + 1
 Just wishing that the Da Bomb chainguides have a taco bashguard.
  • + 6
 Superstar. Good customer service?... pahahaha!
  • + 3
 their rubbish 4phone calls and 2 emails no reply, put their shit on their facebook wall and i got a reply in 5minutes
  • + 4
 I've bought various items from them and never had trouble. And I'm in Portugal.
  • + 5
 Bought load for superstar (Wheels,Pedels,chain guide,bars,pads,rotors,spacers,seat post) I’m happy there delivery time, price and products.
  • + 1
 Superstar have a reputation for horrendous customer service if there is a problem! delivery is usually great though
  • + 1
 I love their products but I asked for a specific brake mount and they sent the wrong one so I rang for a return code to no avail until I got on facebook
  • + 0
 I've got to say that their customer service is pretty bad.. I've bought from them a couple of times and they keep sending the wrong items! They are slow to respond on emails and they do not apologize for their mistakes. I don't think very highly of them...
  • + 2
 I've never had to return anything so I wouldn't know about that side of things. As for the delivery time, they usually just take a couple of days longer than CRC deliveries, for example.
  • + 0
 Oh hey look, its a bunch of whiny pinkbike readers complaining about another set of good reasonably priced goods.

The Chakra is an amazing helmet for the price. If you've ever managed inventory at a shop, you'd be very impressed at the quality of such a reasonably priced helmet.

As an American, I constantly hear about how great SuperStar components are, and they look great - but I can't buy them. It's nice to see PB repp'n its global audience and bringing me a little legitimate insight into the companys products.

As for those O'Neil shoes...Well, uh at least they have gum soles. Why do manufacturers like Five10 insist on making shoes that are destined to get dirty with white soles that look like crap after 2 rides in the dirt?
  • + 1
 I bought the Chakra a month ago, picked the M/L size, had the same problem... I need a S/M, they need to work better on their sizes
  • + 2
 50$ and 50£ are quite different, typo?
  • + 1
 Superstar XCR Chainguide - upper part is just the same as in Darmoor chainguide
  • + 3
 Yep but is £16.99
  • + 4
 the Superstar XCR chain device is exactly the same item as that of many other 'brands' selling this chain device model; as Superstar freely admit with the origins of their products

I use exactly the same chain device on my 1 x 10 commuting hybrid with Shimano Tiagra / Ultegra road gear set up, but it was bought under the "M:Part" brand which is the in-house parts brand label of UK Shimano distributor Madison

www.pinkbike.com/photo/8301145

chain device works fine, was easy to set up, cheap to buy and after 1 year of daily commuting its still working A1 with no noticeable wear to the nylon parts
  • + 1
 the chainguide for 20 bucks is a good idea. But E-13 is still unreachable in my opinion!
  • + 3
 its supposed to be affordable not the best... nothin beats my LG1
  • + 3
 It's not supposed to beat the LG1, it's supposed to beat the XCX, or at least match it, which it does, easily. For anyone interested in the XCR guide, I used one for a while, and as long as you use a singlespeed specific chainring, it's a brilliant guide. Makes you wonder how e-thirteen get away with charging more than double the price for exactly the same bit of kit.
  • + 1
 my knowledge of e13 is the srs and lg1... I just figured it was a low cost alternative
  • + 1
 nope, this is for XC bikes that don't necessarily need the lower roller. Superstar do make full guides as well at about half the price of the e-thirteen equivalents that are also very good. (you can tell i own a lot of superstar kit, lol)
  • - 3
 i dont get chainguides for xc bikes, why not just run a front derailleur on a 2x10 setup? if you really want to go single ring the chainguide days are limited with xx1 coming out
  • + 1
 I don't think they are limited really, you won't get total security from this XX1 setup, especially not on an all mountain or downhill rig. And to save weight I guess, I've been running a 1x9 setup on my XC rigs for about three years now, just because I never feel that I need a granny ring, and to have a chain guide rather than a front mech makes life a lot simpler sometimes.
  • + 1
 I've had 3 e.thirteens, a SRS +, LS1 and an older one, and tbh, £120 for one of them just isn't worth it over £50 for the top superstar one. with e.thirteens, if you use the wrong oil the plastics go brittle, certain frame/crank combos don't work well and spares are rediculous. id rather have a cheaper, simpler guide that, yeah, it might not last quite as long and i cant be like 'oh yeah i got e.thirteen' but less than half price you can have 2, meaning this is the cheaper option, and tbh, I think they look better, its just not got the brand image
  • + 1
 Does that Chakra helmet have bug screens in the front vents?
  • + 1
 The pictures of the bottom of those shoes are sweet!!!! Oh wait..
  • + 0
 Pass on these picks ftw!
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