2021 Pinkbike Awards: Product of the Year Nominees

Dec 1, 2021 at 21:12
by Henry Quinney  

Product of the Year Nominees

"Mountain biking products" could be any number of things and come in many different shapes and sizes. From what we were, to how we make our bike our own or maybe get it back up and running again, it's certainly quite an expansive title and category. In fact, over a twelve-month period narrowing it down to a short list of four is pretty tricky. All the items on our list impressed us, and often that was not only because of their performance but other tangible gains like reliability, fit options, comfort, performance, or indeed a combination of all four.

We all do have products that we like more than others though, and the tech team at Pinkbike is no different. We don't agree on every single thing, but when we do it's because a product has really genuinely impressed us and, by our reckoning, occupies a space at the forefront of its respective class.

Why it's nominated

Specialized may be more well known for their bikes but they also have a huge reputation for their aftermarket components and clothing. It's not uncommon to see racers use blacked out Specialized equipment, be it shoes or saddles, on their race bikes. Comfort is important and the Body Geometry division certainly keeps busy releasing products that aim to not only fit but often work well to boot.

The $120 2FO Roost flat pedal shoes really impressed us for a variety of reasons. Firstly, they are one of the few shoes that can genuinely boast to offering grip comparable to Five Ten's benchmark Stealth rubber. A lot of other companies have made claims but, at least in our experience, more often than not they just don't deliver.

The fact that the 2FO Roost can compare, as well as being slightly cheaper than the comparative Freerider Pro model, is no mean feat. When Mike Kazimer reviewed the shoes, he even considered the Specialized model the grippier when directly comparing them.

Having more shoes on the market might not change the way we ride bikes, but it does mean more fit options for different foot shapes. These shoes offer some serious competition for Five Ten, and that is only going to be a positive for mountain bikers in the hunt for some ultra-grippy new kicks.

Why it's nominated

Having something as small as new rotors on this list might seem a little trivial, but increased brake performance is something that a lot of brands and riders are striving for. The fact that SRAM has released a new rotor that not only increases performance but is also retrofittable and compatible with their current brakes whilst being slightly different dimensions is very important.

Swapping out rotors to increase brake performance is a great no-nonsense way to make the most of our brakes. The fact that rotors wear over time means that there might be a point in time where you need rotors and the HS2 offers many superior qualities whilst also not giving you compatibility headaches.

SRAM is not the first brand to explore thicker rotors, and the HS2 rotors aren't as thick as others on the market, most notably TRP who have 2.3mm rotors. However, with just how many bikes come with SRAM brakes I can see why they wouldn't want to go too thick and alienate current brake owners. Pad clearance is a fine balance. The HS2 rotors deliver on their claims of more power at a minimal weight penalty and don't foul on their calipers and, whether you're trying to slow down your freight train of an eMTB or just want more power at your fingertips on sustained descents, that's definitely a good thing.

Why it's nominated

DT Swiss' EX1700 wheels tried to give people what they want by including many of the components customers wanted in custom wheel builds through a factory wheelset. The EX accompany the XR and XM models in the range and have their sights on enduro and hard trail riding. As with most DT Swiss, the wheels are available in many configurations including six-bolt or centerlock and a variety of freehub options.

The wheels use the 350 hub at their center and the EX511 rim. As to be expected, they're laced with DT's own competition spokes, as well as Pro Lock Squorx nipples and washers. The 350 enjoy many of the features you might find in the previous generation 240s, and that's certainly a good thing. The 36T standard ratchet is interchangeable with a 54T, should you be after more engagement, too. The rims have an internal width of 30mm.

The wheels offer hard-hitting performance at under a 2 kg overall weight. Whilst not inexpensive, they impressed us with their performance relative to their cost of $886. Yes, they are cheaper wheels but there are also less reliable and poorer performing ones, too.

In his review, technical editor Dan Roberts said "Put simply, they just work, ride after ride, are easy to work on and are actually the same wheels that many of us, Pinkbike editors and industry riders, would build up if we had the choice. That says a lot about DT Swiss' individual components but in particular these EX 1700 wheels." and it sums it up perfectly. Most of us have had time on this wheelset at some point in the year and they've proven to be a reliable and no-nonsense choice.

Why it's nominated

The original 100% Aircraft helmet was a popular choice and helped establish 100% as one of the big players in mountain biking protection. It also set quite a high benchmark to surpass.

Interestingly enough, the Aircraft 2 seemed to represent a fresh take on the full-face downhill helmet for the brand and could easily be mistaken for their enduro model, the Trajecta. However, this helmet offers all the airflow through its ample venting that you might imagine but also satisfies the (ASTM F1952-15) downhill racing certification, as well as the more traditional CPSC (16 CFR 1203) and CE (EN 1078:2012+A1:2012). Multiple testers have ridden in this helmet and were impressed with just how ventilated it was. In fact, we believe it's the most ventilated full downhill helmet we've ever laid our hands on.

Technical editor Matt Beer remarked as such in his review "It's comfortable, relatively light, and handles hot temperatures very well, traits that make it worthy of consideration for riders on the hunt for a new high-end full-face helmet."

If you're looking for a full-face helmet to ride in high-summer at the bike park - this is an exceptional choice.

Author Info:
henryquinney avatar

Member since Jun 3, 2014
294 articles

  • 215 5
 Sheesh, has it really been that bad of a year for mtb?
  • 181 1

1. Shoes that offer grip similar to what the industry leading brand has had for the last decade.
2. Rotors that are .15mm thicker but still not as thick as competitors
3. Decent wheelset for the bargain price of just under $900
4. Helmet with more holes
  • 45 0
 Perhaps the items had to be in stock at some point during 2021 to be considered?
  • 3 0
 @jspier: hehehe... Nice...
  • 3 1
 @Burningbird: If Adidas keeps making sneakerhead designed shoes or stops using S1 (like on their Trailcross models) other shoes will be more desirable and grippier. I used to love 5.10 but it's going downhill.
  • 2 0
 @Burningbird: To be fair, that wheelset is de facto the benchmark for any aluminium wheelset. You won't find anything more reliable than a DTSwiss EX 511 rim in that general price range.
  • 1 0
 agreed, there was no mention of any sort of revolutionary development and it seems like they could have something about RockShox flight attendant or a high pivot bike or something.
  • 1 0
 @jzPV: I liked my Trailcross Mid Pros enough to get the Gortex version for winter riding and have been happy
  • 1 0
 @Drewzellator: because there is an “Innovation of the Year” category for stuff like that.
  • 2 1
 COVID has had an effect on even the largest of manufacturers. Nobody is willing to pay that excessive bounty for a good PB review.
  • 97 1
 You spelled "brake rotors" wrong. Should be "POC dungarees." Common mistake.
  • 59 1
 This is.... uhh... somewhat disappointing?
  • 1 1
 PB bounty is too high my friend.
  • 51 0
 A shoe that finally has pretty equal grip to a fiveten. Wow, what a product
  • 27 1
 Don't forget the thicker rotor that is pretty equal thickness to other rotors introduced in the past few years.
  • 2 2
 @Burningbird: I ride five ten since a really long time and one pair last me 4 months max. Ok I use Chromag Dagga and I ride a lot but I still stick to five ten because they stick really well to my pedal... Didn't find that grip with other brands. So I'm really gonna give a try to these Specialized shoes... Sounds good ! Then I'm glad they are mentionned here. I see an alternativ to my 4 months five ten shoes... It start to be expensive haha
  • 2 0
 To be fair, the story about grippy soles that do not disintegrate immediately is more interesting and contended than it seems. It all started in rock climbing, around 30 years ago, when Five Ten created the rubber Stealth C4, that was an instant success given its much superior grip than anything else up to date. It even allowed climbers to climb walls that were not possible before. La Sportiva then created the also famous Vibram, whose model Grip was close to the Stealth C4, but less durable. Vibram Grip 2 was an improvement in durability, but still the C4 was grippier and more durable. Since then, Five Ten has reigned in soles with their patented formula, and even with all the research of big rubber companies into play, they have not reached a similar performance, even though they are slowly approaching
  • 50 0
 Henry, WTF is this?
  • 1 0
 It's not Henry's fault. PB has gone full Mafia style and greed got the best of them.
  • 37 2
 Pretty much sums up 2021.
  • 18 0
 Those rimes won product of the year the moment Jack Moir took out his preferred rock tool

  • 16 0
 Wasn't there some new radical valve stems that revolutionized mountain biking this year?
  • 16 0
 SRAM get so obviously shoved into these nominations it’s ridiculous
  • 2 0
 If we buy the Outside+ subscription will you then be able to list the actual products of the year and not the things from big companies who paid to get listed? Wink
  • 15 0
 C'mon guys let's dig a little deeper. Pretty shallow list...
  • 11 2
 Lots of meh. Most notably rotors that STILL TURKEY GOBBLE!!!! SRAM even understands why (vibrations) but can’t/won’t make no gobble rotors.

I don’t hate SRAM brakes anymore. I’d even keep Codes on if I got a bike that came with a pair, but product of the year?!
  • 3 0
 I have codes paired with 220 MDR-P rotors and mtx gold pads. Super quiet, consistent and MAX POWER! Totally agree with you, SRAM brakes aren't terrible but they could be better. And just like with the reverb sag issue their unwillingness to address known faults is frustrating.
  • 4 0
 @highfivenwhiteguy: I actually think Codes are very, very good. And pretty easy to bleed. But it took SRAM 4 or 5 generations of brakes to get there.

I wasn’t willing to actually endorse Codes until they’d been out for a couple of seasons based on prior products.
  • 2 0
 Yea, when the TURKEY GOBBLE is still NOT SOLVED and FOLLOWING you on a ride these rotors are not the product of the year!! Try again PB, edit the list again... Frown
  • 11 0
 @Henry are you drunk? Or is this list just what is in stock before the festive Season Wink
  • 9 0
 Henry is surely trolling us Pinkers.
  • 5 0
 Why 100% Aircraft 2 over Spesh Gambit?
Why GX AXS not in list, which now you can buy for €450 (only €100 more than wired X01)?
  • 1 0
 As the aircraft 2 is a well vented full dh helmet ,the spesh gambit is an enduro lid
  • 5 0
 Delium tires should be on that list.... $40 vs. $100 is a game changer and I bet they don't wobble.
  • 2 0
 Would've loved to see the Kavenz (or any other brand) on there which had obviously impressed in the tests, but doesn't have the money to advertise here (which this list sort of seems to be influenced by as the comments show).
  • 5 1
 This read more like an advertisement than an awards list. Thanks for that great gear list Outside Magazine. Pinkbike, it was nice to know you.
  • 3 1
 So that guy who commented about how Pinkbike is now partly owned by Specialized and how that may influence content maybe had a point after all.

Those shoes offer nothing that FiveTens don't. They aren't better production quality, they look just as bland and you know they are made under the same bad labor conditions just as every other sports shoe (otherwise Specialized would have bragged about that). They aren't even better value. In fact, I just checked and where I live they are more expensive than FiveTens in retail. They are not an exciting product at all and yet they are the first item on the selection for "Product of the Year. How very odd.
  • 5 0
 Odd, no mention of BETA online magazine.
  • 25 0
 keep with the times, we are on omicron magazine now
  • 1 0
 @adrennan: make sure to sign up for you super-booster.
  • 5 0
 Will agree with the majority and say this was...subpar
  • 4 0
 I had a pair of those shoes fall apart in two months, my Leatt shoes have been way better WTF to this.
  • 4 4
 @henryquinney "I'm pissed you didn't write about my favorite product of the year. I just bought new shoes, put new rotors on my new wheels, and bought a new full face helmet, but they weren't the brands chosen for this award. Therefore, this article is only representing biases reflected by who pays for advertising and should be taken down immediately."
  • 1 0
  • 3 0
 tried to get the new Sram rotors, back ordered till fall 2022.
  • 1 0
 Can name you a few e-shops in EU where they are in stock in all sizes
  • 2 0
 Is it me or are some titles missing above or below the picture?
  • 1 0
 Where's the Bright fork?

That comment section was a "something of the year"
  • 1 0
 anyone have the Aircraft helmet? Looking for a better DH helmet vs. my flimsy Fox Proframe but curious how others like it.
  • 2 0
 No I have had the trajecta tho and it felt good but the shape didn't fit me at all ,I'd also recommend the tld d4
  • 1 0
 @Adrianmtb06: do you have a more round or more oval head? This is usually what determines if a helmet will fit at least relatively well w/ my oval noggin.
  • 2 0
 What is this nonsense? Maybe the real POTY contest is behind a paywall?
  • 2 0
 Some real boomer-ass comments here.
  • 3 2
 DT should be disqualified for their crimes against MTB with the 370 hub...
  • 4 0
 I feel like the fact that they now sell a star ratchet retrofit kit (instead of having to get the 4 parts needed before) absolves them.

Virtually all conventional pawl hubs are crap. Even the durable ones (I9 come to mind) are draggy. Aside from Onyx, DT had the lowest coasting drag around (with star ratchet guts).
  • 1 0
 Laces on 2021?? Is this retro-nominees?!...
  • 1 3
 Laces, chain rings and chains are never a good combination…
  • 8 0
 Ever tried tying a double knot?
  • 3 3

Ever tried unlacing a wet double knot?

There’s better technology for the same price…
  • 2 4
 No Reserve valves? At least they offer a solution to an ongoing problem.
  • 1 2
 This!^ I was hesitant to drop the money on the Reserve valves but I’d say by a long shot they are my favorite new product in the last year or so.

Copyright © 2000 - 2023. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv42 0.026018
Mobile Version of Website