A lot of gear comes across our desks here at Pinkbike. Check Out is an occasional round up of everything our tech editors have gotten their hands on. Sometimes it's products we're doing long-term tests on, other times it's stuff we're stoked on but don't have time to fully review. And, sometimes it's crazy shit someone sent us unsolicited and we're having a laugh.
Shotgun MTB Tow Rope
• Designed for mountain bike families • Shock absorbing stretch tow rope • Quick to attach and remove (stem loop + carabiner included) • Combo pack includes the shotgun kids MTB hip pack
• Unisex design featuring rad 'Shred Til Bed' animal print • Load rated to 500lb / 225kg • Dual pockets with waterproof zips and outer • $90 USD • kidsrideshotgun.com
After seeing what some parents come up with to tow their children on the trails, I'm sure there are some families who will be a lot safer and spend a lot less time wrangling ropes and tubes with the introduction of this product. The super stretchy rope should also make the tow smoother than a non-stretch option for both the tower and the towee.
The attachment points are well thought out with the rope hooking nicely around the adult's saddle and the kid's handlebars, which should make it easy to attach and release. It also looks like it won't cause damage to the bike they're attached to. The fanny pack can fit on an adult's waist, but the pattern will incite children to want to carry it themselves. If you don't want the fanny pack, you can also buy the tow rope on its own for $60 USD.
The tow rope is rated for 500 pounds, so while the colours might be on the more juvenile side, I'm thinking the tow rope could also be suited to towing a grown adult up behind an eMTB. Just saying.
Specialized Women's Trail-Series Wind Jacket
• 100% recycled polyester wind shell • Water resistant • Minimal bulk and a built-in storage pocket • Under helmet integrated hood with fixed elastic binding
• Relaxed fit • Comes in black and dusty turquoise • XS-XXL • $125 USD • specialized.com
Honestly, at first glance, I thought I wouldn't like this jacket. I take my jacket on and off multiple times when out riding since we have long sweaty climbs followed by long chill-inducing descents; I usually prefer a full zipper over a half zipper since many anorak designs make it difficult to pull the jacket over your helmet without awkward contortions. However, I've found the Trail-Series Jacket easy to pull on and off over my helmet, and it packs down small enough to stuff in my hip pack when it's not needed.
I've also found that, unlike a lot of lightweight wind shells, the Trail-Series Jacket breathes well in addition to cutting the wind and beading when you encounter a light drizzle. There's venting at the back of the jacket and the lightweight fabric doesn't feel like a plastic bag when you put it on. You can actually pedal in this jacket in cooler conditions without becoming soaked from your own sweat on the inside. I firmly believe that's a key factor in making a good fall / mild winter layer since the drier you can stay in cool conditions, the warmer you stay.
The Specialized Women's Trail-Series Wind Jacket is also a great emergency layer since it stuffs into the built-in storage pocket and you'll barely notice its light weight when you carry in your hip pack or a storage bib shorts. The only downside is that Specialized has designed the hood to fit under the helmet instead of over which means you have to take your helmet off if you want the hood to fit properly, but I've also found it fits over your helmet in a pinch.
Despite my initial resistance, this packable, breathable jacket has quickly become one of my go-to riding pieces. Oh, and the fit is true to size, flattering and comfortable. Like I said, I'm sold.
KOM Cycling Tubeless Repair Tool
• Includes two tools: a tire reamer and a tire fork • Includes 8 x 1.5mm bacon strips • Made of CNC machined aluminum • Weighs 25 grams
• Comes in Red, Black, Orange, Purple, Pink, Yellow, Green, Celeste • $16.99 USD • komcycling.com
KOM's new tubeless repair tool has a tire reamer for cleaning out the hole in your tubeless tire and enlarging it so the tubeless plug will go in more easily, as well as a tire fork for stabbing the plug in the tire. You can stuff 8 plugs into the tiny 4 1/4" long tube and you can combine two of the plugs on the tire fork for larger punctures.
With its light weight of 25 grams, it's so light you're not going to notice it when you throw it in a jersey pocket or your pack so there's no reason not to bring it with you and be prepared at all times. Luckily, there's an impressive array of seven colours so you can choose a highly visible one that won't get lost in your pack forever.
Pearl Izumi Women's X Alp Summit Shoes
• BOA Fit System with L6 dial • Seamless, perforated synthetic upper • Reinforced toe box • Vibram ECOSTEP rubber outsole EVA heel cushioning • Nylon composite sole
• 2-bolt SPD cleat compatible • Sizes 36-43 (no half sizes) • Comes in Spruce • $150 USD • pearlizumi.com
I've put in several rides on Pearl Izumi's X Alp Summit Shoes in the past couple of weeks and from day one they felt like old friends. It was straightforward to set up the cleats on them and the Boa dial and toe strap make it easy to find a secure fit.
Pearl Izumi says the shoes are designed for all-day mountain bike adventures and it's obvious that comfort was a priority in the design process. They do a good job of balancing comfort and walkability with efficiency however, and they don't feel like they're stealing watts on the climbs. The shoe dries relatively quickly and has perforations to improve ventilation, so while I've only ridden them in cool weather so far, they should keep your feet comfortable on a hot day as well.
VelociRAX 5X Hitch Rack
• All steel construction • Hinge assist dampers for fully loaded hinging • 230 lb total bike weight capacity • Price: $819 USD
• 3 to 7 bike options available. Requires 2" hitch • Hinge assist dampers for fully loaded hinging • Integrated anti-rattle locking mechanism • velocirax.com
VelociRAX are a relative newcomer to the hitch rack world, but they've hit the ground running, with a lineup of options that'll carry anywhere from three to seven bikes. A rubber strap holds the front wheel in one of the hoops at the top of the rack, and another strap holds the rear wheel to the cross bar. For longer trips or on rougher roads I've been using a cut piece of tube to pull the front brake lever of each bike – that makes a noticeable difference in limiting the amount of side-to-side movement, and adds a little peace of mind when I look in the rearview mirror.
There is a latch that can be used to lower the rack for loading or unloading the bikes, which could be handy for shorter riders or when the rack is used on an extra tall vehicle. My van isn't that tall, and I'm not that short, so I haven't really needed to use this feature, but it's there if you need it – just pull it down and a fully loaded rack will slowly tip towards the ground for easy access thanks to two hydraulic dampers.
So far the VelociRAX has worked exactly as intended – assembly was straightforward, and the rack and the bikes on it have remained securely in place even when bouncing down pothole filled dirt roads. I went with the 5X since it has the most space between bikes, which helps prevent them from smacking into each other on rough roads. There is a more bike movement than the North Shore rack I recently reviewed – that rack slots over the fork crown versus the front wheel – but the VelociRAX is quicker to load, and the rubber straps make it highly unlikely that a bike could escape. Overall, the VelociRAX hitch rack is a sturdy option worth considering for riders who regularly carry multiple bikes, whether that's for a day of shuttling or a family road trip.— Mike Kazimer
OneUp EDC Lite
• 9 function Multi Tool • Includes 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8mm + T25 Torx + Flat Head Screwdriver • Stored in your steerer tube • No need to remove your star nut or thread your steerer tube.
OneUp Components now offers a cheaper and lighter option to their EDC tool. I like the simplicity of the new tool and find it handier than the full EDC V2 tool since I invariably end up dropping one of the three parts of the EDC V2 tool whenever I take it out of my steerer. If you are riding a new bike and want a multi-tool at your fingertips to adjust your saddle height or brake levers, the EDC Lite is much quicker to access. Of course, it doesn't have a chain breaker tool, so if you're going out on more than a local lap, you'll likely still want to opt for the full EDC V2 tool with tire levers, a chain breaker, and spoke keys.
Installing the EDC Lite was relatively straightforward. All you need is the provided setter bolt that you use to push the star nut down 75mm into your steerer tube and a hammer to smash it down there. You do have to reset a couple times to make sure that your star nut doesn't get too crooked, and be prepared to hit the star nut more times than you thought you would. I was slightly petrified of accidentally hammering my frame in the process, but it all worked out. If you aren't that steady with a hammer, you could always take your fork off your bike to avoid any frame-smashing incidents.