I don't know where the last year went (or the last decade for that matter), but somehow it's almost 2023. That means it's time for another round of year-end lists, a chance for Pinkbike's editors to share what we've been enjoying over the last 12 months. These are our personal picks, items that we individually enjoyed, as opposed to the Pinkbike Awards, where we argue politely(ish) amongst ourselves to determine the winners.
Continental's New Tire Lineup
I consider myself to be fairly picky when it comes to tires, since the last thing I want is to find myself skidding out of control down a mossy rock face, or struggling to find grip in a loose, steep chute. I typically gravitate towards the proven Maxxis Assegai / DHR II tire combo for most conditions in the Pacific Northwest, but this year it was Continental's revamped lineup that impressed me the most.
The DH casing, SuperSoft Kryptotal tires are the ones I've spent the majority of my time on, starting with the Enduro Bike Field Test earlier this year, where conditions ranged from wet to wetter. Even with the DH casing they're not that
heavy, and the compound offers a good blend of grip while also wearing very evenly, even in drier, more hardpacked conditions. When conditions are extra-wet I've been running the even meatier Argotal tire up front for max traction. Price:
$99.95 USDMore information: continental-tires.com
Crankbrothers Mallet Boa Shoes
I've had the Mallet Boa shoes for almost two years now, and they're still kicking. They're starting to show their age, but they still earn a place on this list because of just how incredibly comfortable they are. The Boa / velcro strap combination is simple to use and works great, and the overall fit hits that elusive Goldilocks zone - not too tight, not too loose, but just right no matter how long the ride. They're not the stiffest shoes out there, which I prefer – I find a little flex underfoot helps make me feel more connected to the pedals. If I had a gripe it's that they don't dry out all that fast, especially around the tongue, but that's what boot driers are for. Overall, these have had a great run, and I'm going to do everything I can to keep them in the rotation as long as possible. Price:
$200 USDMore information: crankbrothers.com
All the gear and gadgets in the world don't mean a thing if you don't actually use them, which is why I'm putting long rides on my list. Any ride is a good ride, but it's those multi-hour or multi-day excursions that really burn themselves into my memory bank, the epics where the only worry is consuming enough calories to keep turning the pedals.
This year I was lucky enough to put in a bunch of big days deep in the mountains during the Stone King Rally
over in France and Italy. The combination of amazing views, hard climbs / hikes, and exciting descents is hard to beat, especially when you get to do it for multiple days in a row. Closer to home, I racked up a number of bigger days in Bellingham and in the Sea to Sky corridor, rides that left me the best kind of tired and happy. My job may be to test all the latest bikes and tech, but when I'm out on a big ride that stuff takes a backseat to actually enjoying the trail in front of me.Price:
None. Just go outside and start pedalling.
Hope Union TC Clipless Pedals
Hopes Union TC pedals sort of flew under my radar when they were first released. I half expected them to be another SPD clone, another contender that was just not-quite as good as Shimano's offerings. I was wrong. For one thing, they require Hope's own cleat, which will be a deal breaker for some riders, even though each pair of pedals comes with two sets.
If you can overcome that minor hurdle, the Union pedals are excellent, with a very smooth entry and exit. As I wrote in the review, there's a slightly 'springy' feel when getting in and out compared to Shimano's pedal that results in more of a 'snap' when entering, compared to the 'click' that accompanies stepping into a Shimano pedal. The dimensions are wide without going overboard, and all of the little details come together to create what's become my new favorite pair of clipless pedals. And yes, I'm going to continue to call them clipless pedals forever. Sorry. But not really.Price:
$190More information: hopetech.com
Mixed Wheel Bikes
These days, debating the 'right' wheel with any amount of seriousness is about as exciting to me as watching paint dry. That said, this season I found myself really enjoying the latest crop of mixed wheeled bikes, including the Canyon Torque, Santa Cruz Nomad, and Trek Fuel EX. Steep trails tend to be my favorite trails, so gaining a little extra clearance between my rear end and the tire is beneficial, as is the way that the smaller wheels make it easier to zip around corners, or carve S-turns down a loamy chute. For shorter travel bikes, those with 130mm of travel or less, I still prefer 29” wheels, but on mid- to long travel models it's great to see more mixed wheel options emerging.
Fasthouse Hooper Knee Pads
I wear knee pads on 98% of my rides. The other 2% of my time is when I head out on XC rides in the middle of the summer, those hot, humid days where I'd ride naked if I wasn't worried about blinding other trail users with my pasty white skin. For that reason, I'm always on the hunt for low profile pads that provide a decent amount of protection without causing any chafing or other discomfort.
My current top two picks are Rapha's Trail Knee pads, and the Fasthouse Hooper pads shown here. Both option are CE Level 2 certified, meaning they provide more impact protection than some of the beefed up knee warmers out there. The main pad is removable on both models, so the sleeves can be tossed in the washing machine to help keep things smelling fresh.
The Fasthouse pads have an extra bit of padding that extends down to the shin, covering up the exact spot that flying rocks love to hit. I put the Hoopers to the test up in Whistler when I got cross-rutted and tossed to the ground, dragging my knee and shin through a pile of sharp rocks and dust. I emerged relatively unscathed, thanks to the pads absorbing the bulk of the impact. Along with earning their keep in the impact protection department, the Hoopers are also very comfortable, which equates to a winning combination in my book. Price:
$100More information: fasthouse.com
OneUp EDC Lite
Sarah Moore had the OneUp EDC Lite on her list
last year, so I'm a little late to the party. Better late than never, right? Other than Specialized's spring-loaded SWAT system, I still haven't found another option that works as well as this one. The tool is well made, with all the essentials you'd need for quick trailside adjustments, and this setup doesn't require any permanent steerer tube modifications. It's simple, convenient, and not crazy expensive. Price:
$44More information: oneupcomponents.com
Maybe it has to do with learning to ride on the East Coast, where there was no shortage of rocky, strange singletrack where finding flow took a serious amount of work and a dash of luck, but I've always enjoyed trails that don't hand over the keys to success without multiple tries. The Value Field Test took place in Tuscon, Arizona, this year, and the zone that we ended up using for our test loops was full of awkward turns, punchy climbs, and lots of sharp things waiting to dole out punishments for botched lines. That type of riding isn't for everyone, and I'm not sure I could make Tuscon my forever home, but it was a ton of fun trying to unlock all of the tricky trail puzzles out there in the desert.
I think it's sort of tacky to bash flow trails, especially since they serve as a relatively safe gateway to the sport for so many riders, so I won't do that here. There's a place in the world for smooth swoopy trails, just like there's a place for ones that seem like Salvador Dali and MC Escher started a trailbuilding company together. Learning to appreciate the weird can take time, but it's well worth it. Hard climbs, awkward corners, and technical descents are where it's at.
Books & Music
Books will always be on my list of favorite things, and this year there were a handful that stood out from the rest. I tend to read a pretty even mix of fiction and non-fiction, new and old, and my local library is still my favorite source for getting reading material, especially since they stopped charging late fees. Here are some of the best ones I've read recently: Cloud Cuckoo Land
- Anthony Doerr Damnation Spring
– Ash DavidsonThe Cold Millions
– Jess Walter Endurance
– Alfred Lansing
It felt so, so good to be able to see live music again this year. I still didn't see as many shows as I would have liked, but I managed to catch Dinosaur Jr. in Bellingham, and Boris in Seattle with Nothing. If you ever get a chance to see Boris, do it. Just don't forget your earplugs - the Japanese band turns their amps up to 12, with a mix of powerful, droning songs mixed with faster-paced, Motorhead-esque tunes.
Here are a few more artists that have been making my ears happy lately:
I count only one.
Cheers and Thanks, Kaz!
@100percent yall already know.
Time for the shoe manufacturers to accept that gravity based riders don't want to be balancing on their tippy toes and move the grooves further back? I can't believe everyone finds the backmost position possible "the sweet spot"
I find there is a big position difference when I ride xc shoes with cleat slammed forward and dh shoes cleat slammed back.
got it from here: theconstructor.org/building/soil-types-sand-silt-clay-loam/25208
Here in the SF Bay Area, there is a trail called Rocky Ridge in Santa Teresa County Park. Met a cat a few years ago who moved down the street, saw him zipping around in full-face, S-Works Enduro, flat pedals, he looked like he was ready to slay trail. So I sent him to Rocky Ridge. Later that day I saw him and asked him what he thought?
I kid you not--his response: "It was alright, but it didn't have any flow and there were too many rocks."
A mountain biker. On a mountain bike. With a full face helmet. Get the F outta here. I never spoke to that poseur again.
LOVE LIVE WEIRD TRAILS that aren't skid-kiddie approved.
Maybe you did that guy a favor for not speaking to him again.
>Is it wrong to desire flow when riding a mountain bike?
>does this make a less worthy mountain biker and a poser
Yeah, alot. Go back to the pumptrack
Also will recommend the book The Shadow of The Wind to you. I read a one of the books from your list last year and it was great. About to check out Cloud Cuckoo Land, sounds cool!
I love my EDC Lite, but I would argue that being forced to push your star nut way farther down is a pretty big hassle if you ever want to switch back to a regular top cap.
I get that it doesn't provide a ton of torque, but have y'all tried just stepping on it?
Their tires are 50% off at specialized site. I grabbed a several for ~$35 each. Time to stock up
But yea will look into Conti, but deff interested in the Cannibal as well for my Specialized Demo bike. I am thinking the Butcher Grid Trail and the Eliminator Grid Trail for my Forbidden Druid.
Just fitted a set of Kryptotal too.
I think the next step will be the mullet link and a 27.5" rear wheel build for the Stumpy Evo.
The thing I would love to try from that list is the Stone King Rally, sounded mega.
You're welcome. Or I'm sorry.
You should check out "Alone on the ice" by Douglas Mawson too.
Area: Bootleg Canyon, Boulder City, NV
Long, janky loop: Mother -> The Shit -> Cam's -> Ernie's Epic -> right at Outer Caldera and counterclockwise back to the mid-parking area -> up the service road then down Skyline -> East Leg Back to the start.
17 miles of very little flow. If you want to end with some adrenaline, though (and are a better biker than me), at the top of the service road, take Sidewinder to Ginger then at the bottom go counter-clockwise up Lower and across Upper Lake View back to the parking lot.
Flying Monkey, Nephi's Twist, Show Me the Money/More Money/Grafton DH
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard.
You are a big weirdo..... just like me..... I love it.
If you live outside of those countries you have to search for the articles and here’s the kicker - the competitions are only open to residents of those countries.
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