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.
Tannus first entered the mountain bike world with an insert that used a tube to help it keep its shape. That product had me scratching my head a bit, since I haven't used a tube for anything other than an emergency flat fix in nearly a decade. The new Tannus Armour Tubeless insert makes a lot more sense, and it joins the extensive array of options on the market designed to protect rims from damage and provide more sidewall support.
Installation is simple, and can be performed without needing to take the tire entirely off the rim. I was able to get it installed in a matter of minutes without any cursing or broken tire levers. There's also no need for special valve stems, since there's a gap in between the insert and the valve, with holes in the insert to allow air to pass through. The insert is shaped with 'wings', which Tannus says helps add more stability in corners. It provides 20mm of foam impact protection, and weighs in at 150 grams.
The amount of support the insert provides is noticeable, stiffening up the lower three-quarters of the tire's sidewall. That makes it possible to run lower air pressure without worrying about rolling the tire off the rim – I was able to drop down to 18psi in a Maxxis EXO casing tire. Inserts aren't an absolute necessity, especially if you're not regularly denting rims or pulling tires off the bead, but they are worth considering for racers or hard riders with a penchant for punishing equipment.
Gold Rush Pants • Mid-weight stretch polyester, reinforced knees and cuffs • Treated for water & wind resistance • Reflective accents • Hook waist adjustment • $99.95
Club Ride's line of apparel is full of casual looking shirts, pants, and shorts that have performance-oriented details designed for cycling. Take the Shaka flannel – it's made of polyester rather than cotton, and has mesh underarm vents to keep air moving and prevent its wearer from overheating. I'd call it a mid-weight flannel, one that would work for chilly fall rides. Club Ride also make the Go Long Shirt, which feels more like a dress shirt that works on warmer days.
The Gold Rush pants' fabric is heavier than what you'd typically find on a DH race pant, making them better suited for colder conditions, or maybe for a day of digging out on the trails. The fit at the waist does seem to run small – I'm a 32 / medium for most pants, and with these I had the built-in belt at the first notch, and even that was a little snug.
Crankbrothers Cigar Tool
• Aluminum storage case with threaded top cap to hold CO2 • Weight: 55 grams • $29.99
• Includes tire plug tool, 5 plugs, CO2 head, mounting bracket • 5 year warranty • crankbrothers.com
Crankbrothers' Cigar Tool keeps a tire plug tool close at hand, and a CO2 cartridge threads into the top cap of the canister for use once the plugging is complete. It does require an extra step compared to something like the Dynaplug Air or Lezyne's Tubeless CO2 Blaster. Those two tools have a port that allows the CO2 to air up the tire before the tool is removed, while with the Cigar Tool you plug the tire, and then use the CO2 head that's stored in the canister to get it inflated again.
I'm still a fan of bringing a mini-pump along rather than a CO2, but in a race situation something like this could certainly come in handy. It's also nice that it comes with a mounting bracket for easy access in case of a puncture.
Shimano ME702 Shoes
• Speed lace system and ratcheting buckle • Neoprene ankle cuff • Michelin rubber sole
The latest version of Shimano's popular ME7 shoe has been updated with a slightly roomier toe box, and a new tread pattern and rubber compound from Michelin for the sole. Other highlights include a speed lace system for the front of the foot, and a ratcheting strap at the top. The shoes aren't waterproof, but the lace cover and small neoprene gaiter around the ankle do help to keep water and debris out. There's also a wide range of cleat mounting positions with raised indicators that make it easy to match the cleat location on one shoe to another.
I'm only a few rides in, but so far I'm very pleased with the ME7's comfort level on and off the bike. They're stiff enough for long rides while also retaining a good level of hikeability - I recently spent some time scrambling up frozen roots and rocks while wearing the ME7's and found that there was plenty of traction to safely get to the top of the trail.
100% Racecraft 2 Goggles
• Triple layer face foam • Increased field of view from version 1.0. • MSRP: $65 USD
The second generation of the 100% Racecraft has a 17.5% greater vertical field of view and improved fit around the nose. Outriggers make sure the goggles play nicely with helmets, and a wide strap with a silicone strip in the middle helps keep them securely in place.
There are six different frame colors and a variety of lens tints to choose from. The mirrored lens models come with an extra clear lens and a stack of tear-offs (please don't litter), plus a microfiber bag.
Specialized's Trail-Series Thermal gloves are designed for those chilly rides where summer gloves are too cold, and big, bulky mitts are overkill. The fabric at the back of the hand helps keep the wind from cutting through, and the palm isn't overly thick, so you can still have a good grip on the bars. The cuff is a little longer, which helps protect that strip of wrist skin between your gloves and jacket that often ends up exposed.