Summer is almost here, which means it's time to start planning some big rides and adventures. Riding a bike is as simple as spinning the pedals, but there are a few things out there that make your summer riding a lot better.
Here's a list of some of our go-to items.
Smith Attack Sunglasses
• $259 USD
"Designed for performance at full speed", the Attack includes Smith's new MAG interchangeable technology where the lenses snap in and out of the frame for easy swapping and less chance of breaking than previous pivot designs. The frame-less design should keep sweat from pooling on the lens, too. The ChromaPop lenses also make everything brighter with a unique contrast. - NR
Maxxis Double Down casing tires
• $80-ish USD (depending on the tire)
Developed as a mid-weight tire for enduro racing, this is the casing of choice for people who ride aggressive trails day in and day out but don’t want the weight of a full DH tire. It won’t eliminate flats, of course, but it will certainly lessen the chances of you kicking it trail side either plugging a tire or covering your hands in goop as you toss in a tube. How? It basically has a tire butyl insert and 2 layers of 120TPI casing, giving it a puncture/slash resistance that’s greater than a standard mountain bike tire but not quite as tough (or heavy) as one with a full DH casing.
Depending on the tire, that reinforcement adds about 200 grams to the tire’s carcass, but I’d rather push a heavy tire than deal with the inconvenience of a slashed sidewall miles from nowhere. Double Down casings are found in Maxxis’ Aggressor, Minion DHF, Minion DHR II, Griffin, Shorty (27.5” only), Minion SS, Tomahawk, and High Roller II tires. - CM
POC Resistance Enduro Women's Wind Jacket
• $150 USD
• Colors: Carbon Black and Propylene Red
• Weight: 144 grams
The POC Resistance Enduro WO Wind Jacket is a highly functional lightweight windbreaker designed for mountain biking. The jacket provides wind and rain protection with a DWR coating, and it can be unzipped and folded up into the chest pocket for easy stowing. The stretch material around the elbows will accommodate elbow guards, too. At 144 grams, this is my go-to riding jacket for spring and summer. It packs down super small to stuff away for unplanned weather, and it has a simple stylish appeal with design features that cater to mountain biking. - NR
Details of the Resistance Enduro Women's Jacket: easy hood adjustments and a zipper garage at the neck, plus Vectran reinforced fabric at the elbows.
Banana Boat Sport Performance Sunscreen Cream
• $8 USD
• Weight: 8oz
Look, let’s face it… It’s summer now, and if you’re a mountain biker anywhere in the northern hemisphere, your pasty white skin hasn’t seen the sun in months. Use a little common sense and slap on some sunscreen. There are a ton of great sunscreens out there, but Banana Boat’s Sport sunscreen is the only one I’ve used that doesn’t sweat into my eyes. Everything else I’ve tried has made it feel as if hot pokers have been thrust into my eye sockets five minutes into any climb I’ve ever been on. Banana Boat comes in SPF 15, 30, 50, and 100, and comes in a variety of sizes and application methods (lotion, spray, stick). - CM
Ion GAT Glove
• $42 USD
The Ion GAT is a lightweight glove with a unique knitted upper-hand construction, one-piece palm panel for good feel on the bar, and a bit of extra knuckle padding. If you are looking for something a little different than your standard glove, this knit design offers extra ventilation while being super comfortable. - NR
Topeak Joe Blow Booster
• $159 USD
• Weight: comfortably solid enough to be used as a club
Never take a road trip without a floor pump. And given the prevalence of the tubeless tire revolution, having a floor pump with the capability to inflate a tubeless tire (even one with a stubborn DH casing) is money in the bank of good times. Pinkbike’s Tech editor Richard Cunningham reviewed this pump two years ago
, and it’s the same as it ever was: Reliable, easy to use, and has a smart head for both presta and schrader valves.
It’s not digital, but there’s not much more you can ask for. Spendy? Yes. But durable enough to be a good investment. And if it’s broke, you can likely fix it: Topeak has replacement bits available for any part that’s likely to wear out. - CM
Details of the Joe Blow Booster: easy to read pressure gauge and bleed valve for fine tuning your tire pressure.
Oneball Stanchion Lube
• $12 USD for 2oz
Yeah, yeah, the name, I know, but... The last time I visited Fox Racing Shox, I was granted access to their Area 51 where they work on the future products and test suspension for their pro racers. There was a bottle of Oneball’s Stanchion Lube in every single work station. If that’s not a testament to how good this stuff works, I don’t know what is. But I do know that putting it on my own personal fork meant instant buttery smoothness. Stiction I didn’t even know existed vanished, and it lasts a long time. - CM
7mesh Northwoods Wind Shell
• $175 USD for 4oz (112 grams)
The big rides of the summer mean proper planning - nothing sucks worse than being two hours from nowhere and getting caught in bad weather while unprepared. The Northwoods Windshell is silly light, wind-proof, and stuffs easily into a pack. When that weather hits (and in the mountains, it will always hit sometime) having these four ounces of protection stashed in your pack or pocket is priceless. - CM
Details of the Northwoods Wind Shell: nice full zipper with easy to grasp zipper pulls as well as micro fleece on the forehead and chin areas to prevent chafing.
Defiant Packs Enduro Bags
• Guerrilla Gravity coil shock B.B. bag: $55 USD
• Guerrilla Gravity top tube bag: $55 USD
More and more we’re seeing riders stepping away from the hydration pack. First, we had the waist pack revolution. On a separate evolutionary line that marched hand in hand with off-road bike touring came the bike-packing frame bags. Now we're seeing the mutant off-spring of that evolution: small, purpose-built frame bags that replace the old seat bags of the primordial days of rigid mountain bikes.
Defiant Packs has been in the frame bag game for six years, and they have a variety of frame bags that are designed specifically for Niner, Guerrilla Gravity, Yeti, Salsa Cycles, Rocky Mountain, Whyte Cycles, and Trek. Don't see your bike on that list? Custom frame bag options are a phone call away. - CM
Yeti Hopperflip12 Cooler
• $250 USD
Yeti coolers are virtually as mythical as their namesake. They are easily the most expensive coolers you could buy, but they’re worth every penny for the simple reason that they’re both durable and insanely insulating (rumor has it the insulation is made from braided yeti fur, hence the shocking cost). The Hopperflip 12 is a simple zippered cooler that will easily carry lunch for two to three people along with a couple of beers, or a double handful of your favorite post-ride beverages.
Sure, there are cheaper options out there, but you could likely leave this thing in a car parked in the Sahara for a week and still have cold beer inside it. Try that with a $6 bargain buy. -CM
Tire plugs have been around for years as a solution for punctures on everything from tractors to cars to motos to lawn mowers, and the enduro racing crowd discovered tire plugs for mtb tires a few years ago. All a tire pug is, is a sticky strip of material that plugs a hole well enough for the tire sealant to do the rest of the job. The most well-known bike tire plugs are the Genuine Innovations “bacon strip” plugs and the more premium offerings of Dynaplug.
Plugs are a more or less permanent fix, and I've known plugged tires to last for months without a failure, but consider a plugged tire the same way you would a cracked helmet: Due for a replacement ASAP.Genuine Innovations
• Tubeless Tackle Kit
• $25 USD
• 56 grams
The Tubeless Tackle Kit is an alloy weather-proof storage capsule that contains five “bacon strip” plugs (a sticky strip of mystery compound that melds to the edges of puncture holes when poked into them), two valve cores, an integrated valve core removal tool, and a tire plugger tool. Genuine innovations plugs are easy to use and work well. "Side of Bacon” refill kits (twenty replacement plugs) are available for $8. You can also get their mini plugger tool and five plugs for that same price. - CMDynaplug
• Dynaplug Racer: $44 USD
• Dynaplug MegaPill: $75 USD
• Dynaplug Air: $75 USD
Dynaplug has been around since 1991, and their plugs work the same way as Genuine Innovations' (although their plugs look very different) but their delivery systems kill it: they offer different types of plugs and smart, compact tool kits (the racer tool is about the size of a cigarette) that make installation simple and easy. Yes, they are a premium offering, but their well-designed kits can save you a long walk out of the forest. From the simple Racer tool to their MegaPills (I carried this in both the Trans BC and the Trans Provence races) to the Air, they’ve got you covered from every angle. - NR
Some of Dynaplug's more popular offerings: the Racer, the MegaPill, and the Air.
Gregory Endo or Avos 10L
• $120 USD
• Weight: 821 grams
The Avos 10L is the women-specific version of Gregory's new mountain bike-specific pack offerings. The Avos features include a removable tool pouch, bike-specific organization (tools, pump, tube, etc.), waist access pockets, a hardy 3-liter Hydro Reservoir, and a low-profile vented back panel. This pack was easy to adjust to fit my body, and overall I was super impressed with the quality. - NR
Lezyne Digital Pressure Drive
• $75 USD
• 133 grams
Do you really need a digital hand pump? To be honest, not really. But Lezyne’s digital pump gives all the top shelf performance you expect from one of their standard pressure drives, but has the added benefit of providing a precise readout vs. a little needle bouncing back-and-forth. This can be a handy feature if you’re riding a 27.5+ bike or doing a quick fix on a liaison between stages at a race and want an exact tire pressure.
Weighing in at just a hair over four ounces, and small enough to fit easily into a hydration pack or strap to a frame, this pump will inflate to 120pis/8.3 bar. It’s not as fast as a CO2 cartridge, of course, but it’s not slow, either, and it won’t run out of air. - CM
High Above Lookout Pack
• $100 USD
High Above has been making equipment stash bags for over six years, and their Lookout Pack is reasonably sized, well-designed, and built to last. The pack’s material is waterproof and incredibly robust, and it measures 9“ x 3“ x 5 1/4“. There are three interior pockets and YKK zippers with extra long para cord zipper pulls for easy opening and closing. It also includes one bottle rocket for carrying your water. -CM
Lezyne Port-a Shop
• $140 USD
Summertime road trips rule but having to work on your bike on the road… That’s kind of a pain in the ass. While Lezyne's Port-a-Shop tool kit isn't as inclusive as the Feedback Sports Team Edition reviewed by Mike Kazimer
, it covers your necessities at a reasonable price. It includes a T-block, chain drive with four spoke wrenches, multi-block, saber levers with a 15mm box wrench and a bottle opener, classic kit, hey-block, smart kit, and power levers. Everything is nicely labeled and is well-organized with individual sleeves. - NR
Slime Premium Tubeless Tire Sealant
• $11 USD for 8 oz
Back in 1989, Slime hit the market as the first tire sealant for bicycles. At that time, tubeless tires didn’t really exist, so it was mostly just to help keep tubes from flatting. It did that, but as any bike shop employee from that era will testify, it was a nightmare to clean up. Nowadays, with the tubeless revolution charging full steam ahead, it only makes sense for Slime to have revisited their formula. The new slime isn’t the same as the old Slime — it lasts longer and offers more coverage to reduce air loss. It’s also not subject to freezing like some sealants. Nor does it stink. But it’s still a ghastly green color that’s guaranteed to give old-school mechanics flashbacks to their shop grom days. I can’t say it lasts any longer or performs better than Stans or Orange Seal, but it’s competitively priced. - CM
Camelbak Skyline LR 10
• $130 USD
• Weight: 650 grams
The all-day adventures of summer can call for a hydration pack, and there are a number of great bags available out there but Camelback‘s Skyline LR (Low Rider) 10 is a solid option. It has all the usuals: Stash pockets, 3L bladder, ventilated hip straps, separate tool roll, magnetic hose attachment, etc., but it fits better than anything else I’ve tried. The magic is the bladder design and the harness fit. The bladder is both wider and shorter than traditional bladders, which keeps the center of gravity over your hips. The pack’s harness also allows the Skyline to hug the body better than other packs I’ve worn.
It rides against the body so well that other than the weight, after a few minutes of pedaling, you don’t really notice the pack. And no matter how aggressively you’re riding, the Skyline conforms to your back like a second skin. At the same time, the back panel still ventilates well. - CM