Traditionally, the Pinkbike Awards are focused on products that were released over the course of the last 12 months, the latest and greatest bikes and components on the market. This year, we've added a new category, a way to recognize the products that have stood the test of time, remaining relevant years, or even decades after their release. Shimano SPD pedals, Five Ten Stealth rubber, DT Swiss 350 hubs, and Specialized's Z-cage and Purist bottle made the cut this year, products that can be recommended without a second thought due to their proven performance out on the trail.
The Winners Are:
Shimano XT SPD PedalsWhy they were chosen:
Shimano's first SPD pedals and shoes hit the market in 1990, and 30 years later the cleat design remains unchanged, as do the basics of the pedal itself. A wider platform has entered the mix in recent years, but features like adjustable release tension, a cup and cone bearing system that'll keep spinning smoothly for years, if not decades, with only a little maintenance, and a tough body that can handle countless rock smacks have all remained to keep Shimano's clipless pedals at the front of the pack.
It's the XT pedals that are featured here, due to the fact that they seem to hit the sweet spot when it comes to price vs weight and performance, but realistically any of the options in Shimano's lineup will do the trick, and keep on ticking for many seasons to come.
Five Ten Stealth RubberWhy it was chosen:
Five Ten's Stealth sticky rubber was invented by Charles Cole back in 1986, and it wasn't long before it became the must-have compound for climbing shoe soles. Eventually, mountain bikers took notice, and by the early 2000s there was a line of shoes designed specifically for flat pedal riders.
Over 20 years later that rubber compound still remains the stickiest and grippiest out there. There have been countless valiant attempts to replicate it, and this year we saw a couple options from other companies that have gotten very, very close, but no matter what, it's the Stealth rubber compound that's become the gold standard that all other flat pedal shoe soles are compared against.
Five Ten raised the bar when it comes to flat pedal shoe performance over two decades ago, and its for that impressive longevity that Stealth rubber earns its spot on this list.
Maxxis Minion DHR II TireWhy it was chosen:
Yes, the Maxxis Minion DHF is arguably the most popular mountain bike tire of all time, but the introduction of the Assegai has seen it fall out of favor in some locales where riders are looking for the most amount of traction possible.
First introduced in 2013, the DHR II took care of all the issues that plagued the original DHR, with loads of cornering and braking traction, and a tread design that worked well in all but the gloppiest mud. In the years since its debut its popularity has only grown, and it remains the go-to rear tire for everyone from trail riders to downhill racers. Add in the fact that Maxxis has some of the best rubber compounds and tire casings in the business, and its easy to see why the DHR II made it onto this list.
Specialized Z Cage / Purist Water Bottle / SWAT ToolWhy it was chosen:
With how much electronic ink we've spilled over the last handful of years asking for bikes with bottle cages inside the front triangle, it only made sense to recognize Specialized's Z-cage / Purist bottle / SWAT tool combo as the standout in this category. The side-loading cage works even when there's limited frame clearance, and it'll hold a bottle securely in place even on rough descents, and that handy SWAT tool is always there when you need it without taking up much room.
As for the Purist bottle itself, it's the best bottle on the market, with a silicone inner coating that makes it easy to keep clean and free of any weird tastes or odors. The valve itself is leak free, and doesn't require turning any dials to get to that precious liquid.
DT Swiss 350 HubsWhy they were chosen:
Hubs are one of those things most of us don't spend much time thinking about, at least not until they decide to self destruct in the middle of a ride, forcing all sorts of MacGyver-esque tactics in order to avoid spending a night in the woods. Thankfully, the elegant simplicity of DT's 350 hubs makes the likelihood of that ever happening extremely rare.
The star ratchet design uses two springs and two ratchet rings, which makes servicing a quick and easy procedure, with no special tools required for a basic service or freehub body swap. Fans of faster engagement can spring for the 54-tooth ratchet ring, which creates 6.7-degrees between engagement points, but there's really not much need to run anything other than the 36-tooth option.
The 350 is a time tested, workhorse hub that should last multiple seasons without putting up a fuss. Yes, DT offers the lighter and fancier 240 hubs, and other manufacturers deliver options with faster engagement, but the 350 remains a rock solid choice for anyone looking for a hub gets the job done, mile after mile.