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.
Yeti Ridgway Pants
• Two open hand pockets, two zippered side pockets • Sizes: SM - XXL • $170 USD
• Two way stretch fabric w/ water repellant finish • Colors: spice, black • Webbing waist adjustment • yeticycles.com
Riding pants used to be relegated solely to DH racers and park rats, since the available options tended to be much too bulky for any extended pedaling. There's been a dramatic shift over the last few years, and now nearly every apparel company has a pair of riding pants in their lineup. I'm all for it, especially since many of my rides take place when the temperatures are mild and the trails are muddy.
The Ridgway is the latest addition to Yeti's lineup, and they're currently at the very top of my list when it comes to overall fit and comfort. Now, the 'Spice' color probably wouldn't have been my first choice, but it's starting to grow on me, and thankfully there's an all-black option too. The fit is relaxed without being overly baggy, which means there's plenty of room for knee pads, and a good amount of taper around the ankles to keep the fabric from getting sucked into your chain. The bottom cuffs have an elastic band along with a zipper to make getting them on and off even easier, a feature that's occasionally overlooked (I'm looking at you, Specialized Trail Pants). The zippered pocket on each side easily holds a phone, and the zipper-free hip pockets give your hands a place to go when you're standing around after a ride.
There aren't any vents in the fabric, but it's light enough that I've been comfortable on rides with temperatures reaching the low 60's F (16 C). The fabric has also held up well to all the mud I've subjected it to, a feat that's especially impressive considering my sub-par laundry skills. The $170 asking price is on the higher side – that's $20 more than Rapha's new Trail pants, and $50 more than TLD's Skyline pants, two options that offer a similarly lightweight, comfortable fit. Price aside, these pants are very highly recommended.
Giro Montaro Mips II Helmet
• 16 vents • Adjustable visor • Integrated Mips liner • Roc Loc 5 fit adjustment
Giro's popular Montaro helmet recently received an update in the form of a new MIPS liner. The liner has a slippery coating on the portion that sits against the helmet's foam interior, and is attached with four elastomers, two at the front and two at the rear.
The difference between the original and the new version isn't all that dramatic; it's more of a tweak to improve the durability and integration of the system rather than a complete overhaul. The shape of the helmet remains the same, and it has the same features as the original, including an adjustable visor, rubber grippers at the back to keep goggle straps in place, and a ratcheting dial to adjust the fit.
Despite the goggle grippers, the Montaro has what I'd call a cross-country shell profile – it doesn't extend quite as far down at the back of the head. My head is 58cm in diameter, which puts me squarely into a medium on Giro's sizing chart, but I'd be curious to see if a large was a better fit. Personally, I prefer the deeper fit and the extra coverage of Giro's Source helmet. The Source also happens to be 30 grams lighter and $30 cheaper than the Montaro Mips II. Of course, what works for my oval-ish head shape isn't going to be the same for everyone, so it's always worth trying before buying.
Gore TrailKPR Jersey
• 100% PES (56% recycled) materials • High stretch, abrasion-resistant fabric • $60 USD
I can already hear the clickety-clack of someone pounding out a diatribe about how $60 is too much to spend on a jersey, and how Hanes t-shirts are the pinnacle of MTB apparel. That's all well and good, and purchasing Gore's new TrailKPR jersey certainly isn't required to have fun mountain biking.
However, Gore does deserve credit for creating a super comfortable, fast drying layer that fits my lanky frame perfectly. The sleeves are slightly longer than usual, which means there's no constriction no matter what shape you're making on the bike (the stretchiness of the fabric helps with that too). The jersey is light enough to wear on warmer summer rides, or as a base layer on those cooler spring and fall laps.
Shimano AM903 Shoes
• Instep strap and lace cover • Speed lacing system • Price: $170 USD
The AM9 was revised slightly for 2022 with a wider upper strap, and a slightly thicker tongue. Other than that the basics remain the same – the enduro / DH-oriented offering has a speed lace system that's covered with a velcro flap to keep debris out, and the asymmetric cuff provides extra protection around the ankle. There's also a very solid toe cap to deal with the rocks and stumps that jump out into the trail sometimes.
I was a fan of the previous model, and that sentiment holds true with the newest version. Beta's Ryan Palmer wasn't as enamored with the size of the velcro strap, but it works just fine for me, and it sits flat and out of the way. The speed lace system does seem a little longer than it needs to be; thankfully there's a velcro portion that's used to stick the laces to the tongue of the shoe, and then the cover hides the whole mess from view.
The AM9's hit the sweet spot for me when it comes to stiffness. Shimano gives them a 5 (out of 10) on their scale, and I'd agree – they're not XC disco slipper stiff, but they're also not so soft that they cause any discomfort on longer rides. There's plenty of room for cleat positioning, and as you'd expect they work perfectly with Shimano's own pedals.