Despite a challenging year finding available mountain bike parts and accessories, the Singletracks staff managed to test a boatload of gear. Looking back, here are some of our favorite items from 2021.
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Bike Yoke Revive 2.0
There are a lot of dropper posts on the market, and all of them work pretty well these days. Even the bottom shelf posts are as durable as premium posts of the past. So what makes the Bike Yoke Revive 2.0 special? A few things.
For one, they just work and they work well. Yes, the Revive 2.0 goes up/down, up/down like other posts without a problem, but what sets it apart is the return speed, the stictionless feel, and the reliability. The Revive 2.0 lasts for rides and rides without problems, and when air does get into the system, the rider can burp it on the trail with nothing more than a 4mm hex key.
Bike Yoke also has a solid size range on the Revive 2.0, with 125, 160, 185, and 213mm posts in the standard 30.9mm and 31.6mm diameters, and also a 34.9mm diameter. The Bike Yoke Triggy Alpha remote also has a great lever feel complimenting the design. MSRP: $320 – $380 depending on length.
DHaRCO Gravity Shorts
DHaRCO’s Gravity shorts are designed for women who like to ride, period. Yes, the name suggests downhill, but these shorts really will do it all. Crafted from nylon and spandex using environmentally-friendly materials, the Gravity shorts offer a perfect blend of stretch and durability, not to mention the look is clean and sharp. The Velcro adjusters, zippers, and material feel as though they are indestructible and honestly, they might be. The little touches, like the party vibe on the inside of the waistband, the waist button design, and DHaRCO’s fun patterns and styling, are what really make these shorts stand out.
I’m not one to select snug, body-hugging shorts but these fit so well that I really enjoyed wearing them on trail rides and they transition to a casual post-ride pub crawl with the greatest of ease. I tested many shorts this summer, and the Gravity shorts were by far the best looking, best fitting, most well-constructed shorts of the bunch. Priced at ~$100 USD, these are also some of the most affordable mountain bike shorts available. So if you’re looking for “bargain” shorts with all the technical features, a snug fit, and fun details, that work well for enduro, downhill, and trail, these are the shorts for you. Bonus: DHaRCO also offers Gravity Pants, which are the same design and fit as the shorts, only longer.
Ergon SMC Core saddle
I tend to get along with most saddles, and over the years I’ve tested dozens that I’ve mostly forgotten. This year I tried Ergon’s new SMC Core saddle which uses a layer of running-shoe-like TPU foam for added cushioning, and it definitely stands out as one of the best. A lot of cushy saddles can feel mushy and unsupportive, but not the SMC Core. I mounted this one to a hardtail and have put in countless hours, including many all-day rides, and I don’t have a single complaint. The shape works well at full mast or dropped, and the cutout ensures no annoying pinch points. For saddle reviews, my standard disclaimer is that not every butt will work with every saddle. That’s true for this one as well, though I suspect more butts will find a comfortable fit with this one than many other saddles on the market.
Fizik Gravita Tensor Shoes
I strapped on a pile of trail shoes this season and came out with a clear winner in the Fizik Gravita Tensor. The shoes fit my narrow foot better than most, and there appears to be plenty of space to accommodate wider feet. The raised ankle cuff does an impressive job to keep the loam out while protecting my bones from frame and crank strikes, and the rest of the shoe is essentially a tank in terms of protection. For pedal efficiency and feel, the sole is stiff in all of the places I want it to be, and I have yet to feel any hotspots or discomfort on massive pedal days. The overall breathability could be better, but I’ll take that small compromise for all of the positive elements that these shoes include.
Sold at Amazon.
Garmin Enduro smart watch
“That’s one expensive watch!” It is, and if you can swing the cost this thing is amazing. It records all of the same info that the best handlebar-mounted computers do, with enough battery life to last through a full month of riding without a charge. The solar panel adds to that longevity slightly and will be even more effective under the rays of long summer days. Loading and following a route with the Enduro is easier than with other watches I’ve tested, thanks to the turn alerts and mostly clear breadcrumb lines that guide the way. Folks who get into multiple sports will have no trouble finding a way to track all of them, and the Enduro can navigate as many smartphone notifications as you need while in the forest.
Hunt Trail Wide MTB Wheelset
Wheels are likely the biggest area of opportunity for most people considering an upgrade to their mountain bike. Likely, the grail is a set of $1,800 carbon-fiber hoops with color-matching decals that will induce bike lust amongst your riding friends.
Hunt’s alloy Trail Wide wheels negate the need for wallet-draining wheelsets. The Trail Wides come in 29″ or 27.5″ pairs, or are sold as a mixed-wheel set. The retail price on their web store is $480. The rims have a 30mm internal width, a 28H spoke count, and are optimized for tires between 2.3″ – 2.5″. The hubs have 5° of engagement, and feature double sealed cartridge bearings.
We’ll have a full review on them before the year’s end, but these sub-$500 aluminum wheels are snappy under acceleration, offer a compliant ride, and feel great over rough trail, setting a new standard for metal wheels. If carbon is still a must, Hunt has an excellent value on their All Mountain Carbon H_Impact wheelset too.
ION Rascal Select Boa Clipless Shoes
The ION Rascal Select BOA provides the breathability of an XC shoe, is sturdy in its overall construction, yet is somehow stiff through the length and laterally flexible at the same time. I love these shoes for long and short rides. Though they are made for DH, they really shine while pedaling down the trail as well. The overall stiffness aids the pedal efficiency both ascending and descending and makes me feel completely attached to the bike. The large surface area of the soles, combined with the long cleat channel makes for a pretty fast pedal connection, and in the event you don’t connect right away, the SUPTraction sole allows you to securely stand on the pedal until a connection is made. In situations where hike-a-bike is necessary, these shoes make walking up and over loose dirt, large rocks, and really everything in between easy. The key feature, of course, is the BOA® Fit System L6 which ensures even pressure from both sides of the shoe and allows for effortless adjustability, resulting in a precise fit that also helps minimize pressure points on the foot. They are extremely well constructed and unbelievably comfortable right out of the gate.
Sold by Competitive Cyclist.
Öhlins RXF38 m.2 fork
I’m a small-size person, and benefits associated with the advent of 38mm fork stanchions are largely lost on me. While I may not be able to feel the shift in chassis stiffness between a 36mm and 38mm fork, I can undoubtedly feel the stellar trail-smoothing capabilities of this new fork from Öhlins. The RXF39 m.2 offers more mid-stroke support than any of the other fat stanchions I’ve tested to date and the infinitely adjustable ramp-up chamber allows you to dial in the end of the stroke to your precise preferences. The setup steps are easy, and there’s no need to mess about with volume spacers or adding oil to the air spring. Servicing the RXF38 is a breeze, which is good since the service intervals are slightly tighter than some other forks. Overall, if you’re looking for one of the best squishers on the market, I’d recommend placing this one high on the list of considerations.
OneUp EDC carrier and tool
The EDC fork mounted stash tool system from OneUp isn’t new by any means, but I’m a recent convert. Earlier versions seemed difficult to install so when the latest, star-nut-less carrier launched I was ready to give it a try. Installation was a breeze, and while the tool isn’t the most complete or robust, I love having it so easily accessible during the ride. I’m usually the quickest on the draw whenever anyone needs a multi-tool during group rides, and since it’s built into my bike I never forget it back home.
Shimano XT Brakes
The latest Shimano XT mountain bike disc brakes deliver a different feel than previous versions, and after running these brakes for more than a year, I’m definitely a fan. For starters, the 4-piston version offers tremendous stopping power that doesn’t seem to fade through heavy use. The levers feel great and I like how the calipers create a nice progressive bite throughout the stroke. I found the XT brakes easy to install and didn’t have to bleed them after cutting the hoses to length. Priced at around $200 per wheel, they’re a great value as well.
Available at Competitive Cyclist.
Showers Pass Apex shorts
We test a lot of apparel at Singletracks. Not many items can match what the Showers Pass Apex shorts provide at their cost. Now, $105 isn’t cheap for a pair of shorts, but for a pair of really good mountain bike shorts, it’s a dang good price.
The Apex shorts have a tailored feel, mesh venting below the waist band, an externally adjustable waist band, traditional pockets at the hips, and also zippered pockets along the things which double as vents. Showers Pass tops it off with high-vis accents, a DWR water repellant finish, and durable hardware. They’re flexible, fit and move great, and look great too.