A lot of gear comes across our desks here at Pinkbike. Check Out is an occasional round-up of items our editors have gotten their hands on recently. 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 once in a while it's crazy shit someone sent us unsolicited and we're having a laugh.
100% Aircraft S3 Sunglasses
• Multiple colour & lens options • Interchangeable lenses with clear lens included • $185 USD
100% made quite a splash a couple of years ago with their angular and bold Speedcraft sunglasses. Well, now the S2 and S3 versions keep a lot of what made that sunglass so great, while also potentially toning it down slightly when it comes to aesthetics. Now they’re merely “loud”, without any capitalisation.
I like the look of them, and they do seem to be noticeably more ergonomic than the previous generation. They not only provide a slightly gentler fit around the ear but also feel a lot lighter on your face.
A few grams here or there won’t make you ride any faster, but to say it doesn’t impact comfort would be untrue. The light feel of the S3's is a huge factor in their comfort and is one reason why I like riding them so much.
The 11% light transmission blue mirrored lens is okay for patchy light but, to be honest, on anything other than burnout-summer days I’m happy with the clear and the predictability that comes with it. As you can imagine, pretty much any imaginable colour configuration is available, as well as a new photochromic lens. Each set of glasses comes with two lenses - the original mirrored one and a spare clear one. The case comes with a spare slot should you ever buy an extra lens.
The grippy legs not only mean they don’t have to fit so tightly to your face to stay on but also help in securing the glasses in your helmet. These seem noticeably more secure and rattle less than the previous iteration.
OneUp Carbon Handlebar & Stem
• 800mm Wide / 35mm Dia Bars • Sweep 8° Back 5° Up Bars • $139.50 & $79.50 USD • 35 and 50mm Stem options • 0° rise Stem • Cuting and control alignment marks • 0° rise Stem • oneupcomponents.com
How we measure handlebars isn’t as simple as you might think. Not only does something like a high amount of bar rise mean that you can run the same bar height without eating into your frame reach, but there are also other factors that can muddy the water.
The way we measure sweep is in relation to where the taper ends. This means that two bars that on paper have the same dimensions can put your hands in a different position or your wrists at a different angle. Handlebars are one of the few areas of the bike that I’m more conservative about. When it comes to frames, I love the weird and sometimes whacky geometry dimensions people will come up with. However, with bars I’m very much a bread-and-butter kind of guy.
I like the shape I know and love and don’t have too much interest in exploring outside that. Going between bikes a lot, I needed a bar that had dimensions I liked that I could take from bike to bike, so I decided to go for these bars from OneUp.
Yes, it’s carbon and yes OneUp make assurances of fatigue reduction. These claims may well hold water, and I definitely didn’t find them to be uncomfortable, but without back-to-back testing and isolating some parameters it’s hard to say exactly. One thing, however, I really enjoyed was the shape. These bars put my hands exactly where they want to be. The considerable 35mm rise and 0° rise stem also give me set up options aplenty.
Something I also like that perhaps is a benefit OneUp didn’t intend is the flat part of the bar, which I believe is there to help balance the properties of stiffness and flex, is an excellent place to rest my thumbs when I climb with the palm of my hands on my levers. Having that flatter section almost feels like a nook to nestle my inner digit onto for a bit more purchase.
In regards to the stem, what can I say? It’s stiff enough and, at 173g, light enough also. It looks clean and I think it represents good value. Again, I’m a little old school and find super-short stems can often struggle to deliver the feeling I’m after, so I chose the 50mm version, but there is a 35mm option too.
These bars have already been between multiple bikes and brake setups are fairing well. There is some small scarring to the alignment marks but, to be honest, I would have experienced far worse by now with some other models. All in all, I’m very happy to use this setup as a control when testing.
Pinner Pro ATC
• Aggressive tire developed for World Cup racing, but in lighter ATC casing • DTC dual tread rubber compound with the softer compound on side knobs • $79.95
As anyone who knows me will attest, if you bumped into me in the last six months the chances are I’ve chewed your ear off about tire inserts. During my two part insert group test they made a complete believer out of me. I’ve since altered what I look for in a tire slightly to not only get the most performance but to do so in conjunction with an insert.
The insert I use, the Rimpact Pro, is lightweight at around 160g. So, instead of going for heavier casings I’ve started seeking out sub-kilo tires for the sole intention of having their blind spot covered by the insert. So far, I’ve been really enjoying this and feel that, for me and my riding, it’s the best compromise.
I’ve just come off a set of Vittoria Martello 2.4” Trail casing tires and was curious for my next tire to be something that also wasn’t made by Maxxis, which is a brand I’ve frequently used over the entirety of the time I’ve been riding. I chose the ATC Pinner for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, I don’t care about rolling speed, I just want something that offers a lot of grip. Secondly, I quite like to run the same model front and rear so I can just rotate them as needed. And, finally, there was something about the Pinner that I’ve always found very interesting and wondered further whether that would help it be an excellent playmate candidate for my inserts.
The tread pattern doesn’t feature centre and side knobs that are offset from one another. Offsetting them is a good way to protect the rim and is something that I often look for before taking the enlightened path of the insert illuminati. Having them in rows, such as with the Pinner or maybe even some Specialized tires can give you huge quantities of braking traction as well as a very predictable feeling when going between the centre and side knobs.
When riding the Pinner one thing is very obvious - this tire is brilliant at transferring between the centre and edge knobs and is wonderfully consistent. It's not a dissimilar feeling to riding a shaped GS ski that's narrow underfoot, where going from edge to edge feels both immediate and controlled. Rolling speed is perfectly adequate for a tire this aggressive and it’s been a great tire to have on the currently dry and blown out trails of Squamish over summer.
The ATC casing uses a more simple dual tread compound configuration, where the side knobs are softer than the centre, instead of the dual-layer that you might find on Kenda’s downhill tires. The difference being that on the AGC gravity casing, the knobs have a harder rubber at the base of the knob and softer towards the top. I would be very curious to try the ATC casing with the layered compound. All in all, it’s a good tire. Since autumnal conditions have started to roll through, I’ve actually really started to enjoy this tire on your downcountry bikes. It’s light enough and the added security of an insert helps lighten the reliance on your damper to handle compression spikes. There have been multiple times where I’ve bottomed out front and rear and been very happy to have that security and the added 160g per insert seems ever more reasonable.
All in all I’ve really enjoyed riding the Pinner Pro. I would love to try the ATC casing in a slightly softer compound, though. It feels very predictable, is confidence-inspiring, yet doesn’t feel as soft or quite as tacky as some other brands.
Race Face Stash Quick Rip 1.5L Bag
• 1.5L bag with external storage • Wide and supported belt • $57.00 USD
The Race Face Stash hip pack aims to offer a genuine alternative to the bulky and cumbersome hip backs that you may have seen. It’s sleek, it’s light and it’s very comfortable. It almost feels like the pockets you would find on a road jersey. It might not be able to take a bladder but that’s actually one of the reasons I like it. It can carry a bottle, or not - the stretchy water bottle carrier also handles a waterproof jacket very well.
All in all, I like it for its versatility. It can take a bottle, enough tools and, on particularly hot days, your knee pads strapped to the lower part of the pack. I know this might look a little kooky but on 1000m+ climbs in sweltering heat it doesn’t seem like a bad option, and that’s not even factoring in a pad like the Roam where you don’t have to remove your shoes. All in all, it makes a lot of sense to me.
The bag seems to be able to house all I need when riding. One side is dedicated for tools, keys and my mask. The other side is for Oreos and raisin bread. Funnily enough, each slice is accepted with mere millimeters to spare by the zip. I don’t take this as a coincidence.
In these rainy weeks, I’ve found one bottle to be enough so have stuff a rain jacket in the back and my gloves in the external mesh. However, it did occur to me that on high-elevation backcountry rides next summer this will be a great place to store bear spray. All in all, it feels like a SWAT setup for those that have neither a Specialized or a dremel and an afternoon free. I’ve got to say, I’m a big fan.
Race Face Roam Knee Pads
• Easy on-off pads • Plenty of protection for rowdy riding • $129.00 USD
• Skid plate and D3O • Breatheable back-mesh • raceface.ca
For some reason that I can’t quite explain, as bikes have got more capable and the trails I ride have got steeper, rougher and more technical, I’ve gone through the motions of running lighter and thinner knee pads. I wouldn’t say I’m going slower and although modern bikes may add some elements of security and reduce the risk of crashing, the fact that I’m riding rougher and faster trails means that when it does go wrong it can do so disastrously.
To buck this trend I’ve started running some Roam knee pads. Not only are they suitably burly with a skid plate but they also feature D3O padding. The fit is secure and robust. I don’t worry that this pad will move or be agitated under heavy load.
There is mesh on the back of the pad to help breathability but the main feature that might have you interested is the way you can remove the pad without having to slide it off over your foot. This sounds small and rather inconsequential but it is pretty useful - especially when you want to take them off on particularly hot days.