Bike season is upon us, and we've been testing lots of 2012 product. From our test trip in Arizona to endurance races across the southwest, we've been beating up on lots of gear. Here are a few of our favorite new mountain bike products hitting the market.
Crank Brothers Kronolog ($300) This new five-inch dropper post looks to be a huge step up in design and function over the company's previous offerings (as well as other models on the market). It's mechanically operated, not hydraulic, thus very simple and durable. The return rate is easily adjusted from the post's base with a shock pump, and it returns in two stages so it's not harsh or jarring. It has infinite adjustability (not just one or two set tiers like other models out there), and locks in the down position as well as the up. I've been quite impressed on the couple rides I've logged on it so far; stay tuned for a full review in a few months.
Specialized Rime ($175) Mountain bike cleats that are capable of hiking are generally either so stiff you can't walk in them or so soft that long-distance pedaling kills your feet. But these new all-around shoes find a perfect medium. I've ridden two ten-hour races in them, and they're plenty stiff and transfer power super effectively. Yet they were still plush enough for long hike-a-bikes, like the 20-minute cross-country slog to the summit of Southern Arizona's Antelope Peak. The revised Boa system is easier to get on and off, too. Finally, a high-performance hike-a-bike cleat.
Smith Optics PivLock V2 Max ($160) Offering the same simple lens-switch system and massive coverage as the originals, these second-gen glasses add a grippier, adjustable-width nosepiece and do away with the fiddly rubber earpieces. The latter was my biggest gripe about the originals--I lost a number of them. I've logged hundreds of miles in these new ones, and I don't have a single niggle. Perfect. They also come in a trimmer version for slighter faces.
Lezyne Alloy Floor Drive ($80) Okay, it's not brand new for 2012, but it's new to me and as rugged and effective as it is, it definitely deserves a mention. After hassling with dozens of pumps over the years, most of which fell apart at the floor-shaft junction over time or were overdesigned with too many gewgaws, the Floor Drive is exactly what I've been looking for. The all-metal construction has put up with some serious abuse already and looks like it will last a lifetime. The screw-on valve with pressure release doesn't allow leakage. And the gauge is clear and stable. Absolutely simple, and absolutely bomber—love it.
Crank Brothers Pixl ($60) We didn’t believe they could do it, but with the Pixl, Crank Brothers has improved on their already killer line of multitools by adding indexing so the wrenches stay in position when you’re working. The only drawback is the gorgeous industrial design: It's so pretty that at first I hesitated to use it for fear of beating it up. (Took about five minutes to get over that.) The Pica and Pica+ have the same indexing feature with additional tools.