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.
Ion K-Lite Knee Pads
• Removable SAS-TEC foam pad • Sizes: S - XL • $99.95 USD
• EN 1621-1:2012 / Level 1 certified • Velcro strap at back of calf and top of thigh • boards-more.com
Ion's K-Lite knee pads occupy the space between minimalist sleeve style pads and bulkier, purely DH-oriented options. A removable SAS-TEC viscoelastic foam pad provides the majority of the protection, while additional EVA foam pads on each side add another layer of defense against impacts. There's also a layer of abrasion resistant material over the knee that's designed to help the pads slide over the ground rather than sticking and getting pulled down.
The K-Lite pads have become the pads that I grab for bike park laps or days when I want a little more protection than the sleeve-style pads I usually wear for trail riding. They're quite light, especially considering the amount of coverage they provide, and they're slim enough to easily fit under riding pants. The thigh and calf straps work well to keep them from slipping out of place, although I wouldn't mind if the upper cuff was a tiny bit taller, in part to reduce the chances of the dreaded gaper gap from occuring.
I've taken a number of slams while wearing the K-Lite pads, and each time my knees and the pads emerged relatively unscathed. There aren't any rips or tears to be seen, and even the mesh at the back of the knee has remained free of any pedal-pin induced holes.
Overall, the K-Lite pads hit the sweet spot when it comes to balancing protection, breathability, and comfort.
Every so often a package will arrive with mountain bike clothing in it that makes me feel like someone is pranking me. My color preferences for riding clothes tends to be black or earth toned, so Fox's new 'Celz' collection isn't exactly something I'd willingly wear. Maybe if I could do double backflips or ride faster than 99% of the rest of the world it'd be a different story, but as it is I'd rather dress as low-key as possible, rather than donning a Spiderman-esque outfit that screams 'Look at me!'
Gaudy graphics aside, Fox's Flexair apparel is nice stuff, and it's also available in more normal colors. Keep in mind that even though the names are almost the same, there is a difference between the standard Flexair pants and the Flexair Celz. The standard version is constructed from a lighter, slightly stretchier fabric, and has perforations on the front and back of the lag to help with ventilation. The regular pants also use a stretchy lower cuff, while the Celz's cuff has a zipper that extends a few inches up the back of the leg.
I do like the jersey fabric – the weave on the chest and back is very breathable, and the fabric used for the arms is slightly thicker to help prevent it from getting ripped or torn by branches and brambles. The jersey also folds up into a small bundle, and it's a handy layer to have around for those evening rides when the temperature starts to drop as the sun sets.
Dynaplug Covert MTB Tire Plug Tool
• Includes 2 plugs per tube (4 total) • Available for flat bars or drop bars • Made in USA
• Price: $124.99 USD (includes two inserts, one for each side of the bar) • dynaplug.com
The Covert MTB is Dynaplug's latest addition to their extensive line of tire plugging tools. A small machined aluminum insert sits inside the handlebar, where it's held in place by small set screws. Once that's installed, the tool can be unscrewed and used to fix a flat. Two plugs are housed in each side; Dynaplug supplies 3 of their standard plugs along with an oversized Megaplug with the tool.
Installation doesn't take that long, and the hex tool needed to access the set screws is included. Strangely enough, it's a 5/64” hex key, but a 2mm key will also work. The aluminum end caps do add a few extra millimeters to the total handlebar width, so it's probably good that they have a Cerakote coating to help protect them from close encounters with trees. Accessing the tool is as simple as unthreading a bottle cap – it doesn't take more than a few seconds.
Other than the extra width the end caps add, the only real downside to the tool is the cost – that $125 price tag is tough to swallow, especially considering how many relatively affordable options are on the market. As someone who's constantly switching bikes, I'm more likely to toss Dynaplug's $55 Racer Pro in my pack and call it good. And yes, even that price tag is on the high side, but I've had very good luck with that tool, and it should last forever.
At the end of the day, for the rider that's trying to stash as much stuff in or on their bike as possible and doesn't mind paying more for US-made convenience, the Covert MTB could be worth considering.
POC Elicit Sunglasses
• 7 frame and lens tint options • Includes additional clear lens • Interchangeable nose piece
Somehow the theme of this Check Out seems to be 'really expensive stuff that you might not need'... If that's the case, POC's Elicit sunglasses and their $250 price tag fit right in. That's a whole lot of money no matter how you look at it, but these spendy shades do have some interesting features. The biggest talking point is the weight, or rather the lack of it. At only 23 grams the Elicit's bring to mind Ned Flander's famous line – they really are like wearing nothing at all. For as light and airy as they are they stay securely in place, thanks to the rubber nose piece and the rubber on the bottom of each arm. The optics are excellent too, with a wide field of view and no distortion. A tinted and a clear lens are included, along with a hard carrying case, a soft bag, and a spare nose piece.
POC says that the Elicit's temples are designed to break away in the event of a fall, although I'd hate to see the crash that's hard enough to cause that to occur. The lens provides complete UVA and UVB protection and is coated with Ri-Pel, a treatment that's meant to keep sweat, dirt, and oil from accumulating on the lens.
Juice Lubes line of cleaners and lubricants are now available in the USA. The UK-based company has been cranking out bike maintenance products for over a decade now, with a lineup that includes everything from chain lube to bearing grease. Their website is easy to navigate, with sections dedicated to bike washing, lubing, polishing, and maintaining.
The biodegradable bike cleaner is effective, and the chain lube keeps things quiet, although it's not that viscous, and thus more likely to drip on the floor during application. Juice Lubes recommends applying it a couple of times before heading out in order to make sure it thoroughly coats the entire chain.