The Mountain Biking Essentials of 2015

(Michael Karsh)
Photo: Michael Karsh

Our favorite kit for trail riding and racing.
Aaron Gulley

Mountain Biking Essentials
(Michael Karsh)

Leatt 3DF Air Flex elbow and knee pads

Finally, guards made for all-day wear. The sleeves are so breathable, they feel like warmers, and the six-millimeter-thick gel pads are soft until impact, at which point they turn rigid. Elbow pads for $79 and knee pads for $99,


(Michael Karsh)

Sombrio Vagabond Riding shirt

Though it looks and feels like our trusty old flannel top, this long-sleeve jersey ($99) is cut from a soft, breathable woven synthetic that moved with us on the bike and shrugged off errant branches. The underarm vents dump heat nicely, while the hidden side pockets hold all the essentials.


(Michael Karsh)

Zoic Ether shorts

Everything you want in all-mountain shorts—knee-length inseam, room for pads, two cargo side-zip pockets for a phone and snacks, and a durable face fabric—with a chamois comfortable enough for all-day pedaling. $80,

(Michael Karsh)

Bell Super 2R helmet

The Super’s ($200) clever design crosses a high-coverage trail lid and a full-face downhill helmet with a removable chin piece. Throw the mouth guard in your pack on the way up, then snap it into place for the descents.


(Michael Karsh)

CamelBak K.U.D.U. 18 pack

More than just a hydration pack, the K.U.D.U. ($225) has an integrated foam back panel to protect you in a crash. The bike-tool compartment keeps things organized, while the rear pocket swallows pads and a helmet.


(Michael Karsh)

Bontrager TLR Flash Charger pump

You used to need an air compressor to set up a tubeless wheel. Not anymore. Though it works like a standard pump, the Flash Charger ($120) has a chamber on the shaft that can be filled to 160 psi and then released in a blast of air to seat and fill the rubber.


(Michael Karsh)

7mesh S2S shirt

This midweight nylon-poly jersey ($130) relies on smart tailoring instead of spandex for its trim fit, so it breathes and wicks moisture better. We like the zip side pockets, which keep gear out from under a backpack.

(Michael Karsh)

Assos T.rallyShorts_s7 bibs

These Swiss bibs ($419) have criss-crossed elastic shoulder straps that don’t chafe under a pack; abrasion-resistant fabrics and re-movable hip pads protect against tumbles.


(Michael Karsh)

MET Parabellum HES helmet

This lid ($230) offers the protection of a trail helmet, but at about half a pound it’s light enough for the Lycra set. Its 28 vents breathe better than Todd Wells at nationals, and the visor blocks sun. 


(Michael Karsh)

Vittoria Rock MTB shoes

With a stiff carbon sole and combo ratchet-strap and spin-dial closure, this flashy, lightweight Italian shoe ($399) is built for on-the-bike speed, though sticky rubber on the bottom added enough grip when we had to run.

(Michael Karsh)

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