iXS Slope-Series Evo Knee Guards
The iXS Slope-Series Evo knee guards have had a lot of thought put into them to provide a substantial amount of protection, be comfortable enough to wear for an extended period of time and stand up to the abuse that they'll no doubt see. The body of the Slope-Series Evo is made from a material that iXS calls "AeroMesh" that is said to allow more air flow than other materials, while the rear features an open section behind the knee joint to prevent any excess fabric from bunching up. The hard knee-cup is covered with Kevlar fabric that will be resistant to ripping when you're sliding across the ground on your knees. Hook-and-loop straps at the top and bottom, along with grippy Silica strips where they make contact with your skin, help to keep them in place. The Slope-Series Evo knee guards are not as bulky as many other options out there, but still include padding for the side of the knee that has been channeled for flexibility, as well as soft padding extension above and below the hard knee cup. The 370 gram/set Slope-Series Evo pads are available in three sizes: small, medium and large, and in the black color shown below only. They retail for $69.95 USD. More at iXS
The Slope-Series Evo knee guards not only feature a hard knee-cup for protection, but also flexible padding on the side. A cutaway on the back of the pad keeps the material from bunching up.
|The iXS Slope-Series Evo knees are my go-to pads when testing downhill bikes, or even when riding challenging terrain on our all-mountain rigs - that says a lot about how comfortable we found them to be. The more comfortable your pads are, the more likely you'll be to wear them, which is a good thing. They also did a great job of staying put throughout a long day in the bike park. The flexible side padding adds another level of protection that riders who have issues hitting the insides of their knees on the top tube will find especially nice. Gripes? We found them to be quite warm, even hotter then some other knee pads that we've used. Not ideal if you ride in a hot climate. Overall the Slope-Series pads are comfortable and, at $69.95 USD, they are also a great value. - Mike Levy|
Giro Xar Helmet
Giro's Xar helmet replaces the Xen, a longtime favorite lid of riders who were looking for a bit more coverage or didn't want to look like full-out XC racers when on their bikes. The Xar continues with that same theme, but adds an edgier and more modern look, along with some important updates. While the new shape is more obvious, the Xar's new Roc Loc 5 retention system has a much bigger impact on the helmet's performance. The new retention system is adjustable height wise to three different positions (just like the previous version
), but is much more svelte, and uses only a single central dial for fit adjustments. Hidden inside the Xar's EPS foam is the Roll Cage, a tough DuPont Nylon web that increases strength. The visor is adjustable without requiring you to loosen any dials, simply push it up or pull it down to the desired location. The shell features 17 vents, the same amount as the Xen had, but they have a more angular look when compared to the Xen's softer, rounder appearance. The Xar is available in six different colors, three different sizes that will fit most heads and retails for $130.00 USD. Giro
The new Giro Xar has a more angular look than the Xen, but the real difference is the helmet's mega comfortable and easily adjustable Roc Loc 5 retention system.
|The Xar has a very similar fit to the Xen, and every tester who gave it a go found it to be quite comfortable, but the revised Roc Loc 5 retention system is what sets the new helmet apart from previous models. While the Xen used a dual buckle arrangement for its Roc Loc that nearly always required two hands to adjust, not to mention that we found that it could loosen by accident if it made contact with the top of your backpack, the Roc Loc 5's fit could be easily modified with one hand while on the go. The adjustment range also felt to be much finer, allowing us to find a better fit than before. When compared back to back, it is also clear that the Roc Loc 5 feels much less intrusive - nearly unnoticeable - on the back of the head. The helmet's 17 vents are not quite as airy as Giro's race oriented Athlon, but certainly on par with what the Xen offered. The P.O.V. visor attachment works as advertised, being easily adjustable while also holding the visor from rattling about on rough trails. The Xar was comfortable, the helmet's new Roc Loc 5 was easy to adjust and felt more invisible than previous iterations, but it proved to be not as robust as previous versions - the unit on our Xar test helmet came apart at the clip where the vertical element clips into the band. It still functions fine, but we'd expect more from such an expensive helmet. - Mike Levy|
Giant XC Glove
Giant may be well known for their expansive line of bikes, but they have an impressive gear range as well, including a mountain of different gloves to choose from. Their XC Glove is a lightweight and minimally padded option that puts an emphasis on ventilation and bar feel. The single layer palm uses Clarino™ leather, and you'll find silicon grippers on the palm and finger tips for a positive feel in wet conditions. The top of the XC Glove doesn't use single layer fabric like found on many other hot weather inspired gloves, but instead a lightly padded and well vented mesh that no doubt provides a bit more protection. The minimalist XC Glove also forgoes any Velcro closure at the cuff. They are available in XS, S, M, L, XL and XXL sizes, as well as blue/white, white/gray and black/gray colorways. Retail price is $30.00 USD. Giant
Giant's XC Glove feels airy on hot days and fit my hands perfectly.
|The XC Glove certainly isn't just for cross-country riding, but work well whenever the temps start to rise. They strike a middle ground between gloves that use a completely mesh top, and much warmer, fully padded gloves that are better suited to lift assisted riding. Fit will always be a personal thing that is different from rider to rider, but I found that they matched my paws quite well, with no extra material to get bunched up, and the length of the fingers also felt to be spot on. They have held up quite well, not being any worse for wear despite having quite a few summer miles under their belt. The XC Glove is a great choice, but if I had to nitpick I would like to see the cuff opening a touch larger - they could be difficult to get on and off. A small complaint for what are otherwise a great pair of gloves. - Mike Levy|
Truvativ Holzfeller Pedals
Truvativ's stealth looking Holzfeller pedals certainly don't attract as much attention as some of the flashier options out there, but it should be mentioned that they were among the first to make use of larger inboard sealed bearings, something that is now quite popular among boutique pedals. They use 16 proprietary pins per pedal (8 per side), each one screwed in from the opposing face with a hex key, and the 18mm thick body is slightly concave to help your feet stay in place. While certainly are not the lightest option out there, they weigh in at 590 grams/set, their sturdy construction and sealed bearing internals should have them turning nicely for a long time to come. The galvanized color option shown here retails for $96 USD and the white for $107 USD. Truvativ
Truvativ's Holzfeller pedals offer tremendous grip in a sturdy package.
Have you used any of the products featured in Pinkbike's Picks? Share your impressions below.
|There are flashier pedals out there, but there is no denying that the Holzfellers offer an incredible amount of grip. Enough, in fact, that I'd put them at the top of my list in this category. The modest amount of concave helps, but most of the traction is surely down to the pedal's fierce pins that are far pointier than what is commonly used. The smaller diameter pins do provide loads of grip, but the downside is that their smaller size makes them a bit more vulnerable to damage. The good news is that if you do manage to break a pin, it can be easily threaded out from the opposite side, as opposed to having to get out the vice grips or drill as you would on some other pedals. While 580 grams per set is portly compared to some other pedals, they are still spinning as smooth as day-one and I expect them to continue running great for a long time to come. These are a great choice if grip and reliability trump light weight on your priority list. - Mike Levy|