|It being cold, and it being cold and wet are two very different things. The former is pretty easy to deal with when talking about keeping your paws warm, which obviously makes riding in chilly conditions a whole lot more enjoyable. If it's dry but cold, forget about spending a load of money on a pair of winter-specific gloves and instead go down to your local supply store and pick up some inexpensive fleece gloves - they'll keep your hands toasty warm so long as the temps don't dip below freezing, and they're much thinner and more natural feeling than true waterproof winter gloves that seem closer to oven mitts than anything you'd want to wear mountain biking. It being really cold and wet is a different story altogether, though, and you're best off picking up something that will keep you both dry and warm. Dakine's White Knuckle gloves are one of our favourites, with a layer of Thinsulate insulation that can really makes the difference between being miserable and being happy. - Mike Levy|
|Wolftooth and number of accessory brands produce single rings for late model XTR cranksets that use a 104-millimeter bolt circles. Average prices range from $50 to $90 USD. Depending upon the bolt kit you use, you can install the chainrings with Shimano XTR's sexy looking profiled aluminum backing plates, or ditch them and run standard hardware. Be sure to purchase a sprocket with a narrow-wide tooth profile, so you don't have to install a complicated chainguide. If you are riding 26-inch wheels, the 34-tooth will be OK, but most trail riders find that a 32-tooth ring paired with a standard, 11 x 36 cassette provides a better range for climbing. As a rule, gear down two teeth on the chainring to compensate for the next larger wheel diameter. - RC|
The MRP chainring and guide on the left, and the Absolute Black chainring on the right are two of the many options available to fit the Shimano XTR 104-millimeter bolt circle. Be sure to specify whether you want to use Shimano's profiled chainring nuts (left) or aftermarket hardware when you order your bolt kit.
|Based on your criteria, I'd steer you towards WTB's aluminum Frequency Team rims, either the i23 or the i25. They're light enough for trail riding, but still capable of handling any rugged terrain you come across, and at around $78 USD each the price is reasonable as well. As you may have guessed, the difference between the two rims is their inner widths - you can choose either 23 or 25mm. There's a 19mm version as well, but I'd leave that one for the XC racers. Going with the 25mm vs the 23mm version does add an additional 40 grams per wheel, but in my mind that tiny weight increase is worth it for the improved tire profile a wider rim provides. You will need to use rim tape of some kind (I recommend Gorilla Tape) to get them set up tubeless, but that shouldn't take long to get sorted out, and once all is said and done, the resulting wheelset should be able to take on whatever trails you feel like tackling. - Mike Kazimer|
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