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.