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.
Yep Components Uptimizer 3.0 Dropper Post
The joystick style lever can be pushed and pulled in any direction. There's even a screw on end cap to hide the cut cable end.
Quick access to the internals mean you can easily keep the post running smooth and prevent long term damage.
• Air spring, hydraulic control & cable actuated • Easy service and adjustability • Diameters: 30.9mm & 31.6mm • Drops: 80mm, 100mm, 125mm, 155mm & 185mm
The Uptimizer 3.0 is a Swiss made dropper post coming in a variety of diameters and lengths. But its unique points are centred around its reliability, serviceability and adjustability.
Yep struck a balance between post length and bushing overlap to make sure the post is efficient in its packaging but also rigid enough to have good reliability.
The whole dropper hydraulic internals can be bled in a matter of minutes while still all connected up to the bike, and there's easy tool-free access to the seal head and top bushing for cleaning and maintenance. Stripping the entire post is simple too, and opens up the ability of the user to adjust the posts function. Drop height can be altered, air spring progressivity can be tinkered with and even the oil weight can be swapped out for personalisation or for use in colder or hotter climates.
The joystick style lever can be actuated from any direction and will also work with all other cable actuated posts out there. There's even a screw on cap to hide away the cut end of the cable. Anyone who's got a bit of cable up under your nail will know the pain. The post and lever are littered with small, well thought out details like that.
On top of all that is the ability you can personalise your dropper and lever with a bunch of different colour parts. We've got a lovely stealth black 185mm drop version in for long term review and we'll be sure to test the serviceability and adjustability of the post too.
Fox Speedframe Pro Helmet
Just a photo of a tree stump.
Dual density EPS foam dissipates energy from a variety of different intensity impacts. There's four positions for the rear of the fit system.
MIPS is featured on the Speedframe Pro and the washable anti-microbial pads should stop it smelling like an old wet dog.
• 19 vents • MIPS layer with integration into the helmet fit system • Dual density EPS foam • XT2 antimicrobial padding • Fidlock buckle • Adjustable, 3-position, goggle compatible visor
• Sizes S (51cm - 55cm), M (55cm - 59cm), L (59cm - 63cm) • 380g • 5-star Virginia Tech rating (10.8 score) • $159.95 • foxracing.com
Fox's Speedframe Pro is their latest open face helmet packed with a shopping list like feature roll of all the latest details. Dual density EPS foam makes up the helmet bulk and can work to dissipate energy at a multitude of impact speeds. There's a MIPS layer integrated into the fit system of the helmet. That fit system encompasses your entire head circumference and is easily adjusted with the indexed dial at the back of the helmet. There are four positions at the back to adjust the height of the fit system.
19 vents all over the helmet work to get fresh air in and hot air out and the removeable XT2 anti-microbial pads should keep the helmet smelling fresh for longer periods between washes. The magnetic Fidlock buckle can be done up in a flash, and even with just a well-timed head swing if you're lucky.
Goggles and a little helmet raise hell in the comments section faster than Lucifer himself, but the Speedframe Pro accommodates them easily in its design, and stores them under the adjustable visor for when not on your face. There are gentle reliefs in the side of the helmet to help hold the goggle strap and with goggles on the helmet the strap doesn't cover the rear vents.
Subjectively, I think this helmet looks good both on and off your head as opposed to some of the older Fox designs which were a little bulky once you actually wore them. There are eight colourways to choose from and even some less expensive versions if you'd like the Speedframe helmet on a little more of a budget.
So far, I've been riding the Speedframe Pro a bunch and on shorter rides the comfort is good. On longer rides the comfort does deteriorate slightly, and required the helmet to be loosened a couple of clicks for the in-between sections of trail or climbs. The build quality is excellent, however, and all the features on that packed list are all still working spot on. Everyone’s head is a different shape so we'll continue with longer rides with some more fiddling with the fit to really get to know the Speedframe.
Fox Transition Duffle Bag
A single large main pocket also features 4 smaller pockets, 2 elasticated and 2 zip, on the inside of the closing flap.
A separate compartment for muddy and wet gear with a changing mat included.
• Large main compartment • Additional smaller zippered and stretch mesh pockets • Soft lined pocket for goggles, glasses and electronics
• Separate compartment for dirty or wet clothes and shoes • Pull out changing mat • One size - 42L • $149.95 USD • foxracing.com
Out of all the products accumulated recently the Fox Transition kit bag probably gets used the most, and not gently either. It's regularly stuffed up to the eyeballs with gear and thrown around in the back of the van.
There's ample room for swallowing all of a single rider’s kit, and room for most of the gear for two people. That gear can be really nicely divided with the large main pocket doing the heavy lifting while with a large zip opening accessing it over the top of the bag.
Separate smaller pockets are all over the bag too. There are two exterior side pockets with one softly lined to take care of your electronics of eyewear. Inside are two zip closed mesh pockets with added in straps for securing keys and two elasticated pouches.
There's a larger pocket at the bottom of the bag lined with a tougher and more water-resistant fabric for your muddy and wet riding gear. Inside that pocket is a fold out changing mat for those inevitable times you need to get naked in the middle of a car park or forest layby.
Outside are a bunch of handles for grabbing and throwing it around any which way and attachment loops a-plenty for hanging other bits and pieces off the bag. The bag's straps aren't necessarily the comfiest for carrying around big loads for a long period of time, but as it's a gear bag that isn't likely to happen that often, and there's an added check strap to help stop the bag wobbling around too much when you wear it.
The Transition kit bag has taken a beating the past couple of months and shows no signs of wear and tear and will continue to be stuffed up and thrown around for a long time to come.
Bluegrass Skinny D3O & Solid D30 Knee Pads
Solid D3O left and Skinny D3O right.
The Solid uses a zip closure and adjustable Velcro straps on the cuffs.
The Skinny is a sock style pad with silicone grippers around the interior of each cuff.
The Skinny knee pads are a sock like construction with a large, shaped D3O piece for protection. Elasticated upper and lower cuffs are lined with silicone strips to help stop movement and the rear of the pads use a more breathable material.
The D3O pad on the Skinny isn't removable, but it's been through the washer a few times now and doesn't feel like it's having an effect on it so far. The knee pads are easy to get on, but turning the upper silicone lined cuff inside out does help in making it a bit easier and potentially robs you of less leg hair.
The pad pouch for the D3O pad is shaped in a way to give ample room for your knee, which can feel a bit odd when you're walking around in them, but on the bike with bent knees it feels comfy and like it's well shaped to a knee joint. So far there's no issues with the pads and they're comfy enough to wear for long rides with no rub marks on your legs after. Initial fit of the Skinny was really good when new, but the upper cuff does seem to have bedded in a bit now and grown ever so slightly. So, it's more squats to up my thigh diameter to get that snug fit back.
The Solid resembles the Skinny but adds in extra side pads and uses a zip and Velcro closure. The same D3O pad pocket shape is there and the comfort is as good as the Skinny. The zip closure can make you wince a little for fear of getting a nick of skin caught in it and as yet hasn't been tested for its robustness when crashing. The Velcro straps add an extra layer of fit adjustment to the Solid pads and are cleverly designed to not catch onto anything and everything they come into contact with.
I'm not a fan of crashing, but will keep riding the Skinny and Solid pads and eventually the numbers game will prevail and they'll touch the dirt at some point.
Nukeproof Horizon Carbon V2 Bars & Horizon Stem
The Horizon stem is all aluminium, machined heavily and will probably stand you well for a long time.
The Horizon carbon V2 bars have positioning markers all over for the stem and controls, and there's a rough finish on the bars where they will be clamped to up friction.
Horizon Carbon V2 Bars • 9° back sweep & 5° up sweep • 31.8mm & 35mm clamp diameters • 780mm & 800mm widths • 12mm, 25mm or 38mm rises • 232g (780 x 25mm rise) • £109.99 or $154.99 RRP • nukeproof.com
Nukeproof liked the angles of the Horizon V1 bars but saw that their favoured 9° back sweep could reduce the reach feel of a bike when compared to other lower back sweep bars. The changed the way they apply the angles to the bar to reduce the bar arc by 10mm as you roll the bar forwards and back. There's 780mm and 800mm widths with three rise options from pretty damn flat to on trend high rise, so finding the right shape and size for your personal bike and setup shouldn't be a problem. There's an added 35mm clamp diameter now to accompany the normal 31.8mm diameter. Markings on the bars help alignment and setup of the bars themselves and the bar mounted controls.
The carbon fibre layup is touted to maintain high strength while allowing a degree of flex and vibration absorption. Measuring that with a pair of uncalibrated skinny arms is somewhat tricky, but I've got a set of the bars in 31.8mm and 35mm diameters to swap and change. The layup also saw added woven reinforcement around the bar tips and ends to provide more resistant meat for the areas likely to see the most time in contact with the ground and also provide some hoop strength around the grip and control mounts.
Nukeproof have a lifetime warranty on the Horizon V2 carbon which should help remove any of those doubts planted by composite haters and naysayers.
The Horizon stem accompanies the bars nicely and is a nice little piece of CNC work. The reversible design allows 10mm overall range of adjustment by running the stem either right way up or upside down. It's all quite round at the back, just in case you whack it with your knees and there's a no gap design for the face plate which is handily lasered onto the stem to remind you during installation.
For a strong as hell stem it's pretty light. I'm not sure they could have taken much more material away without reducing the function. This will likely lead to a stem that makes its way from bike to bike and sticks with you for a long time.
Nukeproof Horizon Chain Guide
Co-moulded rubber sections inside the top guide on all the Horizon chain guides keep things quiet.
The full guide and bash option comes with a second, different sized bash guard and all chain guides come with stainless steel hardware.
• Top guide only available in low direct mount (SRAM S2 / Shimano E-Type) and ISCG 05 • Top guide with bash available in ISCG 05 • 28 - 36 tooth capacity • 32g (top guide low direct), 45g (top guide ISCG) & 106g (top guide with bash)
• Top guide low direct: £27.99 or $38.99 • Top guide ISCG: £34.99 or $48.74 • Top guide with bash: £59.99 or $83.57 • nukeproof.com
Nukeproof's recently launched group of chain guides are another well thought out, no-nonsense product from the brand. Coming in three different flavours dependant on mounting and how much coverage you want, there's options for everyone. An aluminium backplate can accommodate chainrings from 28 to 36 tooth capacity and there's no need to take any parts off to get easy access to your cranks. The top guide is split and features co-moulded rubber sections to silence any chain noise.
For the full guide and bash option there are two bash guards included to cover up to 32 and 36 teeth chainrings and all guides include stainless steel hardware to keep the bolts from corroding.
All the guides are available in six colours and Nukeproof also offer a complete range of spares to keep your guide running for a long time to come.
Prologo Scratch M5 & Scratch M5 PAS Saddles
Scratch M5 left and Scratch M5 PAS right.
The padding is split up into multiple zones said to each work individually to be comfortable and supportive.
Carbon fibre composite base uses long fibres to keep the base rigid and let the padding do its job. Extended rails increase the adjustment window of the saddle.
• Multi sector padding system • 250mm x 140mm size • Nack and Tirox rail options
• 129g - 189g depending on rail and model • €135 or €199 depending on model • prologo.it
The Scratch M5 and Scratch M5 PAS are new saddles from Prologo that are aimed to be a comfy perch for all riders but definitely focussed at being performance-oriented saddles. In a collaboration with the Politecnico of Milano they developed the multi sector system, which sees the saddle's padding divided into separate zones that are said to work individually and give comfort and support during the pushing and pulling movements incurred during pedalling.
Prologo saddles are divided by their overall shape, and they classify the Scratch series as a round shape to allow low degrees of natural pelvis rotation. The Scratch M5 sees the center of the saddle padded, but there is a cut out in the base below the pad, allowing it to deform further. The PAS (perineal area system) version sees this center padding removed all together.
There are Tirox and Nack rail options, or metal and carbon fiber respectively. The Tirox has 7mm diameter rails and the Nack has 7 x 9.3mm shaped rails. The rails are also a little longer than normal to help get your preferred saddle position. The base of both of the Scratch models is a long fiber carbon composite construction to up the rigidity of the base while keeping the weight low, and allows the padding to work as designed.
Categorized as aimed at on and off-road use, I'll be swapping and changing between the Scratch M5 and Scratch M5 PAS version to see how they hold up and how comfy they are with my bony behind.