Best Gear or Accessory: NomineesPinkbike's Best Gear or Accessory Award reaches beyond the bike to showcase some of the clothing, protection items, tools, and peripheral accessories that play equally important roles in the mountain biker's performance equation. Because this is a new category for the awards, we added a fourth nominee in an effort to showcase a wider range of products. Selections include a winter jacket that manages to keep its wearer warm and dry while powering uphill in a sub-zero storm, a helmet that can provide full-face protection and half-shell comfort, a carbon-friendly tool that should come with every bike priced over $5000, and our most unlikely nominee - an inner-tube destined to become a popular emergency back-up for tubeless riders.
Bell Super 2R HelmetA full-face helmet that does more than convert to a half-shell.
Enduro sprang into popularity without a dress code - which sparked a number of debates about proper protection, approved use of goggles and to what extent that a rider may be covered with Spandex. Helmet regulations vary between countries, with full-face lids mandatory for EWS events, while half shells are legal at many enduro venues. For most races that require a full-face, half-shells are approved for transfer stages. The Bell Super 2R Helmet
can do it all.
Bell Sports did not invent the convertible full-face helmet, but they did make the first one that is safe to wear at downhill speeds, attractive looking in both half-shell and full-face modes and more importantly, its engineers crafted simple-to-operate latching mechanisms
which allow the Super 2R's face protector to be installed or removed in seconds. The face protector stows flat on a hydration pack, so racers can easily carry one helmet that can fulfil both tasks - a full-face for timed stages and a lighter, cooler half-shell for climbing transfer stages - all for a reasonable MSRP of $200 USD.
Bell's Super 2R helmet's ramifications extend much further than the needs of enduro racers. Many riders probably need full-face protection for their most rowdy rides, but would not purchase one for comfort and expense concerns, and because a half-shell is the more appropriate choice for most of their trail rides. The Super 2R provides a gateway opportunity for trail or all-mountain riders to step up full-face protection without committing to a second, expensive full-face purchase - and if they did, it would probably be sitting on the shelf on the day when they need it. The Super 2R's face protector is handy enough to encourage riders to bring it along, just in case. Weight: 722g (complete), 322g (face protector), 400g (half-shell). MSRP: $200 USD.
Park ATD-1 Torque Driver Convenient pro-quality tool to protect your expensive carbon parts.
Frame and component makers have engineered the size and weight of every part to the absolute minimum - which includes shrinking the size and depth of every threaded connection. It is no accident that a torque value is etched next to every threaded part on a bike. Those same engineers insist that you to use a torque wrench, because designing to the minimums requires that assemblers use science, not conjecture, to tighten each fastener to its optimum value - no more, no less.
Park Tool's ATD-1
is a double assurance that home and shop mechanics will properly torque key cockpit, brake and drivetrain items - because it is easy to operate, and it eliminates confusion by offering only the five torque values commonly used on a bike. ATD stands for "Adjustable Torque Driver" and it is an ergonomically comfortable T-handle wrench with a five-way adjustable torque function. The business end has a magnetic driver that fits all commercial 1/4 inch bits. Turning the metal dial on the T-handle selects either 4, 4.5, 5.0, 5.5, or 6.0 Newton-meter values. Remove the cap on the opposite handle to find a 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and a Torx 25 bit - the bike's most common sizes.
Park tool designed the ATD-1 to last in a shop environment, with all metal internals and a unique over-riding clutch mechanism that breaks free when the selected torque value is achieved, so the mechanic cannot over-tighten the fastener. Park's adjustable driver costs around $70, and some may argue that you could buy three dedicated, single-value drivers for the same price, but in the real world, Park's ATD-1 is already in hand when you discover that you need a different bit or torque value, so you'll be more inclined to switch out the bit, choose the correct torque, and do the job right.
Endura MT500 Waterproof Jacket IIThere is no such thing as bad weather - just bad gear.
The best way to discover how well cold weather gear performs is to go for a long, hard ride on a the worst winter day of the year - which is exactly how Endura's MT500 jacket earned a nomination for Pinkbike's year-end awards. Endura builds mega durable soft goods and hails from Scotland, where winters are long and harsh. We expected a lot from their best waterproof jacket and that's what we received. Every seam is sealed, its ventilation strategy operates beautifully, venting enough air to keep its occupant dry, without throwing open the doors for Old Man Winter. The jacket's three-layer-laminate Exoshell60 fabric is pretty much the state of the art for breathable, waterproof fabric, which furthers its comfort levels under sustained efforts, and drawstrings are located in key places to customize the jacket's fit at the hood, waist, and lower seam.
The MT500 is cycling friendly in all aspects, with a drop down rear and a just-right hood that fits over a helmet without overly restricting peripheral vision or mobility. The pockets are all in the right places, and adjustable sleeves with thumb-loops and internal cuffs prevent the sleeves from becoming ram air intake pipes. Topping it all off are tough nylon patches intended to ward of abrasion from a pack's shoulder straps. This is the standout jacket from Pinkbike's 2015 cold-weather gear review,
which easily earned it a nomination for an award this year. Endura's MT500 Waterproof Jacket II retails for $299 USD. Colors: black or yellow. Sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large.
Schwalbe EVO Aerothan Inner-TubeOnly 72 grams, and so compact, you'll forget that it is in your pocket.
Before tubeless tires and Stan's latex sealant, riders could expect one or two flats during any fast-paced technical trail ride. Mountain bikers bought them like candy. The tubeless revolution, however, relegated the lowly rubber inner-tube from a staple product, to a rarely used emergency backup item that does little more than add 130 to 200 grams to your hydration pack or bike.
Schwalbe's EVO Aerothan inner-tube
addresses that fundamental shift in importance with an engineered material trade-named "Aerothan" that weighs significantly less (one half to two thirds less than a quality butyl rubber tube) and packs so small that it can be carried in an i-pod pocket. Much of the EVO tube's weight savings is derived from the Aerothan material, which holds air as well or better than Butyl rubber, yet is much thinner and more pliable. A significant weight reduction, however is made possible by switching from the Butyl tube's metal valve (required because the valve must be molded to the rubber using intense heat), to a feather-light polycarbonate plastic valve stem. Both use standard Presta internals. Schwalbe's EVO Aerothan tube weighs only 72 grams in the 27.5 inch size, compared to 130 grams for a lightweight and over 190 grams for a conventional-weight tube in the same size.
It's no secret that fashion-forward enduro racers have inspired a massively popular trend to eschew hydration packs in favor of frame-mount bottles and an unencumbered jersey flapping in the wind. Of course, that means stuffing a lot of essentials into nooks and crannies on the bike frame and in your pockets - which is where the EVO Aerothan tube pays huge dividends. Three will fit in the space that one Butyl tube takes up, so stashing an EVO tube in your super-cargo power panties can make room for important items like a Co2 rig, a useful-sized folding tool, or two extra energy bars. Schwalbe's EVO Aerothan tube is not cheap, but nothing lightweight is, and if you are going to carry a tube with you every ride for the rest of your life, why not carry one that weighs only 72 grams and takes up so little room that you'll forget it exists? MSRP: $25 USD
Click here for information about the judging and selection criteria for Pinkbike's Year-End Awards.