Best of Vital 2013 - Ten Products That Are Hard To Beat

Best of Vital 2013 - Ten Products That Are Hard To Beat

The mountain bike industry has impressive capacity for innovation, and produces a considerable amount of new equipment each year that allows us to get more enjoyment out of our sport. Lighter, stronger, and sometimes even cheaper, this stream of fresh bling seems to spring from an endless source of fancy molecules and clever engineering, ready to inundate the shop floors and leave our credit cards gasping for air. In this tidal wave of bike parts and riding gear, some products rise to the top. While only one product could be chosen for the coveted Product of the Year Shreddy Award, here are ten new heavy hitters that made a big splash in 2013 and certainly deserve extra recognition. These are all products we've tested in the field with great results.

RockShox Pike Fork

Best of Vital 2013 - Ten Products That Are Hard To Beat

The RockShox Pike is the best production trail fork currently in existence. It offers incredible damping characteristics and a ride quality that is second to none. Riding high in its travel it still manages to be very compliant, and the result is improved traction which makes you want to charge everything head on. It's a game changer.

MSRP $980 to $1,085 // Read the review // www.rockshox.com


Race Face Next SL Cranks

The Race Face Next SL cranks are among the lightest MTB cranks out there. With weights as low as 425 grams they would seem predestined for a life of XC racing - but not so. We rode these as hard as we could, and with stiffness and durability second to none, we wouldn't hesitate to run them on our downhill bikes. They are certainly not outright cheap, but if it's weight-savings you're after, the dollar per gram ratio is impressive. For new-school chain management without the need for a chain guide, pair them with Race Face's Narrow/Wide chainring for a killer setup.

MSRP $459.99 to $599.99 // Read the review // www.raceface.com


TLD A1 Helmet

The Troy Lee Designs A1 helmet is hands down the best fitting lid on the market, and with looks to match you are sure to be turning heads at the trailhead too. There's plenty of adjustment available to make sure it will conform to the most unusual of noggins, and the inspiring amount of coverage makes it perfect for the new wave of aggressive trail or e-word riding. If lightning bolts aren't your thing, the introduction of the A1 Drone means there's a more affordable AND more subtle alternative available too.

MSRP $139 to $185 // Watch the launch feature // www.troyleedesigns.com


Öhlins TTX Shock

The Öhlins TTX shock certainly knows how to make an entry, with its very yellow spring, gold body, and a distinctive twin-tube piggyback design. Even the name makes itself noticed with strange letters hailing from ancient times in its home country, Sweden. Far from just eye-candy however, the TTX backs up its brazen demeanor with impressive performance. The fruit of a collaboration between moto suspension specialists Öhlins and Specialized, the TTX is simply the best coil shock we’ve ever spent time on. It creates a bike that has a remarkable amount of control over all terrain, incredible small bump compliance, increased traction, and better braking characteristics. We really wish it was available for more bikes!

MSRP $799.99 // Read the review // www.ohlins.com


Scott Grenade Pro II Knee Guards

The Scott Grenade II kneepads are from the newer generation of emergency landing gear, made with that mystery molecule D3O instead of hard plastic for the main pad feature. Light and comfortable enough to work as trail riding pads, they are still sturdy enough to serve as full-on DH pads too. With time on all the major options out there, we can confidently state that someone finally did it - they made the perfect kneepad.

MSRP $139.95 // Read the review // www.scott-sports.com


Cane Creek DBair CS Shock

The Cane Creek DBair CS shock took the impressive adjustability and performance of the Double Barrel Air shock and added a little something extra for those pesky uphills - a "Climb Switch". Not a traditional pedaling platform, the CS feature provides a specific oil circuit for both low speed compression AND low speed rebound which is activated with the simple flick of a dedicated lever. When engaged, the CS redefines control when riding uphill, and combined with the near infinite adjustability of the DBair, it’s a package that can improve any Enduro/all-mountain ride.

MSRP $695 // Read the review // www.canecreek.com


Spank Spike Race28 Wheels

Just a few short years ago, a sub-2,000 gram wheelset would not have been up to the rigors of downhill or freeriding. Recently, fancy materials and improved machining have led to the emergence of several such options, but none that combine very high levels of performance with incredible value for money in the way the Spank Spike Race28 wheels do. These hoops have proven themselves at the DH World Cup as well as at Rampage, and they can be yours for less than $500. Strong, light, and cheap - we no longer have to choose just two.

MSRP $499 // Read the review // www.spank-ind.com


Five Ten Freerider VXi Shoes

The FiveTen Freerider VXi is a solution only FiveTen could pull off, incorporating the best of Five Ten’s innovations in a bespoke package designed specifically for mountain biking. The treadless innovation, when combined with the refined uppers and improved construction techniques, yields the best flat pedal shoe for trail and all-mountain riding that we've tried to date, especially in the new VXi Elements variety.

MSRP $130 // Read the review // www.fiveten.com


Teva Pivot Clipless Shoes

Lightweight, breathable, incredibly comfy, and for the most part very well thought out - we’ve yet to hear from anyone who doesn’t love the Teva Pivot shoes. Unfortunately they won’t be available for much longer. Teva, we thank you for your contribution to mountain biking, and here's to hoping it's just a rain check.

MSRP $150 // Read the review // www.teva.com


SRAM XX1 Drivetrain

No list of innovations would be complete without SRAM's XX1. While we already awarded it the 2012 Product of the Year Shreddy Award, it's wide-spread adoption in 2013 earns it a spot on this list. XX1 is simplicity at its best. With lots of clever improvements on almost every component included in the mountain bike drivetrain, XX1 offers wide-range gearing on a single chainring with far superior chain management to any other solution out there - on par with a chainguide in terms of chain drop prevention, while being much lighter, quieter, and without performance penalty at the pedals. If you are still not convinced XX1 is worth its considerable price tag, SRAM has recently introduced X01, a slightly more affordable solution that retains all the features its bigger brother but at a lower price point.

MSRP $1,449 // Watch our first ride // www.sram.com


That's a wrap! What were your favorite new products from last year?

This concludes our series of 2013 look backs. Best Of Vital will return monthly as we continue to bring you the best of the best MTB coverage on the net throughout 2014.

C50_johan_1385064431 iceman2058 1/10/2014 10:08 AM

32 comments newest first

Nice choices!
For me the winner should be Pike for its comeback! Today I have ordered second one for my girls bike...
XX1 is too expensive, A1 also in compare to other helmets (but it really fits perfectly! )
CCDB CS hope I should soon be on my Enduro and than maybe I will change my winner...
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Agree, the deville is certainly better but with reliability, availability of spares and servicing means the pikes take the lead overall. Anyone want to buy some devilles?
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MrPlow
Gweggy
By fanboy you actually mean fan and by ignorance you mean intelligence because I actually own a BOS Deville which I bought over top of the pike when I ditched my Fox Talas. Pike can match the Deville if you do enough valving to it, but straight out of the box... no competition BOS is the winner.
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tbox
"Pike can match it if you do enough valving to it" LOL. How do you "do valving" to something? Don't believe everything you read on the internet. congrats on buying a fork you like.
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Keep digging you two, you doin' great. especially deofour. Wow. Pro riders get specially tuned equipment? who knew???
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Well Scarface I guess you need a lesson in english, I looked up the definition on the internet but if as you mentioned you don't trust what you read on the internet you probably have a dictionary, If not check your junior high library. So when you are ready go grab it, sharpen your pencil and maybe go wewee just so we don't have any interruptions. A valve is a device for controlling the passage of fluid through a pipe or duct. In todays front suspension most forks are a combination of air on one side and oil on the other, thus necessitating (which means needing) valves to control the flow of both air and oil to dampen (absorb- sorry still too big a word.. slow down) the movement of the fork due to changes in terrain (sorry i know its tough for you but hang in there...the bumps in the trail). As I was saying and prestigemtb followed up with many serious professional (really good) riders prefer (in your world are "fanboys) of the pike but not without modification (there I go again with the big words..changing) the valves (if you need to review the above definition) inside the fork so that it has the feel they are looking for, most looking to have a curve progression that resembles the progressive action of the Deville. That being said I have to give credit where it is due Dirtbiker100 is correct that sourcing parts and labor on an exotic fork can be difficult. I have the advantage of knowing an importer of the BOS product so none of that is an issue. Not totally sure of the service interval on the pike but I know that not having to think about the BOS for a year or more without performance loss is plenty of time for me. If I didn't have that outlet I would probably do the pike with a "valving" now that we know what that is like what prestige mtb was talking about. I hope this helps you because I wouldn't want you to be misinformed and thanks for the congrats its a really great ride. I can't recommend it more: Mojo HD 650B Deville up front/ CC DBair CS in the rear. P.S. no thanks needed for the lesson, I just don't want you to be a troll-boy for any longer than you have to be.
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Put it this way:
Out of the box there is no better fork than the Deville. That includes reliability, now I agree it is pretty hard to come across spare parts and or bike shop which are able to service the fork on the spot.

Now for the pike, out of the box great small bump compliance but as soon as you dive into the travel there is nothing until you're about to bottom out...

Novyparts make a air kit called splug to help the issue but it does not stop there the prep on the fork also include a different piston and shim stack on the hydraulic side.

This actual prep is used by numerous pro riders like Nico Vouilloz, Nathan Rennie, and many more.

If you need more info about this prep please PM me.
Cheers
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tbox
thinkdrastic
Welcome back Pike, Ohllns meet my friend Avalanche!, White MTB shoes are for Liberace riders, bye Teva thanks for nothing, Welcome back Raceface, Sram XX1 designed in Germany has to be the shit. From now on please let Germany design all MTB parts.
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diego.bustillos
"Sometimes even cheaper." So nice when it happens, so seldom true. I wonder if any World Cup DH teams will ever speck a non chain guide system (Read narrow wide/ clutch) on their race bikes?
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I'm excited to see Ohlin, Scott pads and spank wheels as they are not normal ads I've seen here on Vital. I'm thinking they give credibility to the list. Great job VITALMTB keeping the choices real. I'm been thinking about some knee pads thanks
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Cheers, Christian. The proof for us was on the trail for all of these products. Advertiser or not, you can trust us when we say that they rock.
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ARaines
Lolwut? The TTX is basically a expensive, proprietary CCDB with less adjustment. I didn't ride it personally yet but the feedback from a few friends who rode the ccdb said it feels not much different. So not hard to beat. The pike is on it's own considering it's weight/performance/stiffness ratio but a game changer? You industry hyp-people just need to turn it down a notch or two...

Also: TLD A1 - "best fitting helmet" I think helmet fit is a individual thing. Or did you test _every_ helmet on the market on hundreds of people in all sizes? There are tons of more affordable helmets with the same features.
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You even read that in user-feedback. I never trust those rave-reviews here or on pinkbike. Just scroll down to the comments or a random forum and then it's #realtalk
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and you say this knowing full well that the concept is not original, ie, SRAM was not being original here...ho hum.
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LordTom
Gweggy, what you're referring to is known as 'prior art' meaning that since the technology is already known, no further patents on the same technology are allowed. Also, patents I believe expire after 20 years, this is an agreement between the inventor and the public (government). SRAM might talk big about 'protecting their idea' but clearly prior art exists and the companies that licensed the tech shouldn't have (waste of money in my eyes). Hence RaceFace not giving a damn and making them anyway. Yes, SRAM deserves credit for applying the idea to MTBs, but RaceFace was able to take that idea and make it cheaper. Free market wins.
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Gweggy
Capricorn
I never said anything about a patent, I just credit them for introducing it to the mtb world...
I've heard they couldn't patent it because the technology is so old, I'm not very familiar with how patents work, but as far as I know, you can't own a patent on something for ever. So because the narrow-wide stuff was first introduced decades ago, there is no patent on it by anyone.
I've heard the technology was first used with tractors, but I don't know that first hand, just heard it.
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i see you can't read either: i asked on what basis SRAM patented it, you initially seemed to know. An opinion on the subject is not the response to the question. But in case you missed it the first time: on what basis is the SRAM patent?

in fact, lets make this stupid simple for you: have YOU read SRAMs patent, and do you have a link to it?
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what?? did you read any of what I wrote? I know it's an old concept, and I know that's why they can't have a patent on it, but still nobody thought of using it for mountainbikes, even though it was out there for decades. You don't have to reinvent the wheel to make a great product. Most of the innovations that have been introduced to the mtb industry have been used in other (bigger) industries for years.
All I'm saying is, that even though the concept of narrow-wide teeth isn't an innovation by sram, they probably spend a lot of time looking for something like this and where the first mtb brand to recognise how useful it could be for a mtb drivetrain!
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prestondh
are you saying that SRAM's patenting the concept or the application thereof? I haven't read SRAM's X-Sync patent application, but you seem to know which one applies. What I was referring to, including the general concept of a chainring with alternating thick-thin teeth, as a means of power transmission without chain hopping, that's been done back in 1979.
http://www.google.co.uk/patents/US4174642
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I am not saying RF is not a good product, I applaud them for making it not as expensive as srams, although the x01 is decently priced relative to the quality. If the narrow wide or x sync concept is a top 10 product then it is SRAM who reintroduced it to the MTB scene and not RF
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Gweggy