This year, Pinkbike's editors decided to take a page from the CyclingTips playbook and put together a few “10 Things I Loved” lists of our own. Think of it as a more personalized version of the Pinkbike Awards, a place to recognize the bikes and equipment that left a lasting impression on us over the last 12 months.
For the last several years, I have averaged over 100,000 miles of travel by plane. This year, I can count on my hands how many times I left the county on one hand and I sure haven't left the country. I established some strong routines, which often carried over into my riding gear selection. Reliable, comfortable, and practical are key, especially when living in an area that receives a lot of rain along with big temperature swings.
Specialized 2FO Roost Clipless Shoes
The riding around my house often involves some hiking through creeks and across some slick rocks. Being that I ride clipped in most of the time, I like my shoes to also have really good tread so that I'm not falling as I'm pulling off the "Pisgah Pendulum" across a river - there aren't many things I dislike more than getting my feet wet mid-ride on a cold day.
The latest generation of Specialized's 2FO shoes have become my go-to in the latter part of 2020. They've proven to be plenty sturdy for pedaling hard while offering enough traction to keep me from busting my ass. They also fit my slightly narrow foot really well. When I do get them wet, they dry quickly and don't become overly water-logged. Additionally, they deflect wind well enough to keep my feet from getting really cold on brisk days, which is about all I can ask for...except, I hope there will be an option in the future with a BOA dial as laces just aren't quite as fast.Price:
$130 USDMore information: First Look: Specialized's New 2FO Roost
In keeping with the theme of comfortable and dry, the Fox Ranger kit and Defend Pro Fire gloves help me ride when the weather outside is frightful and I just don't want to.Fox Wet Weather Gear
I really struggle with the motivation to ride in the wet. In the summer, it typically rains by noon, and in the winter, things stay saturated longer...plus, it's colder and I really dislike being cold. Ever since a tango with some mild hypothermia several years ago I've been overly sensitive to chilly weather. Even on a beautiful sunny day there are still creeks to splash through where I live, and if it's at all above freezing even sitting on the ground results in being fully saturated.
Fox's Flexair Neoshell jacket, Ranger 3L Water pants, and Ranger Water shorts have become staples on days where there could be muddy roost or there's a light mist in the air. The jacket isn't the lightest shell, but it keeps the warmth balanced to where I don't feel as if I have a trash bag on and I stay fairly dry when the bottom drops out. The pants do an excellent job of keeping everything else dry and work well when the weather is cool too. Getting wet doesn't matter as much if you're just doing DH runs, but if you are spending a lot of time in the saddle and have to climb out after a descent having a dry chamois is nice.
Additionally, Fox's Defend Pro Fire gloves aren't overly bulky. They offer a little bit of additional warmth and then block the wind and light precipitate as well. I'd opt for something more heavy duty if it was dumping rain and around the freezing mark, but usually I just opt not to ride when it gets that brutal out.Price:
Jacket - $400, Pants - $175, Shorts - $80, Gloves - $70More information: Fox Racing
Revel RW 30 Fusion Fiber Wheels
Revel's RW 30 wheels are more of an outlier in the carbon wheel world, and stand out in a unique way - the rims can be recycled. Now, they can't be turned back into wheels after they are broken down, but the rims can be made into other products and that's pretty cool.
I've had these wheels on everything from heavy-duty trail bikes to 170mm travel bike park rides. They've also been passed around within my circle of friends who I ride with, some of who go through wheels faster than a set of brake pads. It's been a nice surprise to see these hold strong where some other wheels, both aluminum and carbon, haven't fared as well.
The rims are built on I9 hubs and the overall ride quality is great. Besides being reliable, which is really what matters the most, it's awesome that Revel did something different and I'm looking forward to seeing this technology, hopefully, applied in varying ways in the future.Price:
$2,200 USDMore information: First Ride: Revel's Recyclable RW30 Fusion Fiber Wheels
Teravail Kessel Tire
Sure, it looks a lot like another tire out there but that other tire works really well. Teravail's Kessel tire is the brand's more aggressive trail tire. I've had a few sets that have rotated off and on bikes over the last several months and I've been more than happy with the performance.
Lots of tires come and go but there are very few that stand out equal to or better than some tried and true contenders. The Kessel offers up plenty of grip in technical terrain, it rolls well, and wears well. I've had (knock on wood) no flats after months of riding them and they seem to bite a little bit more aggressively than a Minion DHF in cornering traction.
For a house brand from big bike distributor QBP, Teravail is a solid option. The price may make it a little steep for someone trying to picture it as a "bargain version" of a Minion, but I'd propose that it's not that. It's more of an even competitor with a slightly different ride feel and completely worth a consideration for someone in the market for a new aggressive trail tire.Price:
$85-90 USDMore information: Teravail Kessel Review
POC Clarity Glasses
I'm really picky when it comes to riding glasses. They are, after all, helmets for your eyes. I have used a number of different brands and tints and styles over the years but was really pleased with POC's DO Half Blades
that I reviewed last year. This year, I was fortunate to find a new pair of POC's more mountain bike specific Crave glasses which I've taken care not to scratch or lose, as I really like the way they fit and work.
The lenses are interchangeable and typically I ride with what POC calls a Cat 1 lens that's very minimally tinted. This is great in the deep woods around me and it helps add a little texture to the trail, which can all look the same at times - even though there are plenty of rocks and roots lurking just under the leaves. The glasses fit well and don't pinch my head in a way that is uncomfortable. They stay put in rough terrain and fit nicely in the back of my favorite helmet - up next.Price:
$265 USDMore information: POC
Specialized Ambush Helmet
Helmets are a personal fit thing and some fit people better than others. I've always had a good fit with POC, Bell, and Specialized for the most part, and the Specialized Ambush is my go-to for helmets. I've worn this particular helmet far longer than I probably should have, but it only has one dent in the top of it that I don't think was even from a crash.
What's awesome about it? It fits, for one. The visor is easily adjustable, and it has a MIPS system in it. Most importantly, my glasses fit in the back of it. Where I live, it can be extremely humid and misty rain can pop up out of nowhere making the glasses inoperable if they're on your face, especially if you don't have anything to dry them off with.
While a lot of helmets claim to fit glasses in them, this one doesn't have a catchy gimmick that doesn't work. It just cradles them where I leave them. I tuck them up with the ANGi sensor on the helmet (I don't use it for anything but a glasses cradle) and know that they're pretty secure, even on a rough descent and especially on a climb. The arms don't poke me in the head and it's a worry-free interface.
While the Ambush isn't brand new this year, I hope that whenever Specialized comes out with a new helmet it still has the same fit and features. Price:
@200More information: Specialized Ambush
POC Rhythm Resistance Pants
For years, riding pants meant whatever worn-out pair of jeans were kicking around or, in the worst winder conditions, maybe a waterproof hiking shell on top of riding shorts. In more recent years I mostly wore XC-oriented gear: leg warmers, knee warmers, pads on top, etc to stay warm when it was cold out. DH or wet weather pants are really good, as mentioned above, but a cool weather riding pant hasn't been on my radar all that much until recently.
POC's Rhythm Resistance pants have become a staple on cooler days where I don't plan on getting too deep into wet terrain. The pants are comfortable, offer a good cut for riding, and keep me plenty warm. I've managed a number of long days in the saddle with these pants on and had no complaints whatsoever. They're a solution to a problem I didn't realize I had until I stopped getting dressed up in lycra to go ride a trail bike.Price:
$200 USDMore information: POC
Shimano XTR Trail Pedals
Wait, those aren't the new XTR trail pedals...That's right, they're not new at all. They're almost a decade old (PD-M985). I can't count how many times I've thought they were done for. Just three years ago, I was complaining to Kaz at Crankworx about needing some new pedals because mine felt horrible. He gave me another set of SPD style non-Shimano pedals he had kicking around that are good, and have served well, but mine never died. I came home, clamped these in the vice, pulled them apart, cleaned, re-greased, tightened the bearings up, and it's like I had a brand new set.
There aren't a lot of products that just keep working day after day and year after year, especially with little to no maintenance but, these keep on doing what they're supposed to. Sure, a new set would look nice but, I'd be genuinely upset at this point if I was ever not able to rebuild this set of XTR trails I bought some years ago.Price:
$180 USDMore information: Shimano
2006 Honda Ridgeline
Stop right there. I know what you're thinking...and, I'll admit, I probably thought that too but, then through the good fortune of my newer car dying, I came upon this beast parked, unused for months in a good friend's shed. Sure, it's not the coolest or best looking and some people who drive around what they feel is a "real truck" don't quite know what to think, but when they get stuck I know who they call.
I can't say that I've ever had anything much more functional to drive than this 2006 Honda Ridgeline. I can easily fit five bikes and five people plus their gear, although I rarely want to be around more than my immediate family these days. There's storage in the bed of it that can lock, and I've hauled ton after ton of construction supplies from the hardware store to my house.
Steep and slippery grade? No problem, there's a differential locker that helps out quite a bit if things get too crazy; you know, if you're loaded down, and pulling a broken down car with towing a trailer full of firewood behind it (true story). Still not enough? Just get a running start and go a little faster. I have story on story about meeting other Ridgeline owners who share similar experiences. While I can't say it'll be the perfect family car, it's the perfect car for a family to have, and at 210,000 miles it's just getting broken in.
Now, I'm not trying to add any more dents to every single body panel that already has a dent in it (there's really at least a dent in every panel), but I'm not too worried if I do. And when I jump into it after a rainy ride, soaking wet, I don't care that I get the seats dirty. I'm certainly not worried about resale value because I'll never sell it.
For me, practicality is king and the Ridgeline is at the top of practical. It's served well, especially in this year of using it more than I ever imagined I would due to the lack of work-related travel, and that's why it's a product I loved (and will continue to) in 2020.Price:
$ ?More information: Honda
Often a jersey by itself and sometimes with a light jacket, I'll use the Gryphon for anything from sub-freezing to just slightly chilly conditions.7Mesh Gryphon Crew LS Jersey
I'm rounding out my list with another softgood. Yeah, it's a lot of them but, 2020 hasn't sent quite as many bikes this way due to shipping and logistics, and there's a lot of really good gear out that helps me want to ride and be comfortable while riding.
7Mesh's Gryphon long sleeve jersey has proven to be a crucial piece for me because of how versatile it is. For one, it fits well and doesn't fit like bike-specific clothing. If I want to wear it while out on a hike, etc. it still functions without having goofy pockets I don't need that feel weird under a pack. The cut isn't obnoxious like a lot of bike wear is, there aren't goofy graphics, and it is equally versatile to wear around the house.
I've used the jersey as a base layer on cold mornings and as a top layer when a light jacket may or may not be necessary. It is constructed out of Polartec's Power Grid fabric and it breathes really well and seems to retain a good amount of heat without causing me to sweat more than I should be.Price:
$120 USDMore information: 7Mesh