Featured Image: Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort
When the FREESKIER crew isn’t daydreaming of cold, crisp powder days during the sweltering summer months, we’re getting out and enjoying the many warm weather activities provided by our home state of Colorado. Chief among them is the sport of mountain biking. Whether it’s a lung-busting Front Range climb, heart-racing descent at any number of world class bike parks across the state or a flowing cross-country pedal, you can find us tearing up the singletrack every day of the week—and we know many of you are doing the same thing. With that in mind, we’ve rounded-up some of our favorite pieces of mountain bike gear that we can’t live with out, which you can find below.
SB5.5 XT TURQ, by Yeti Cycles — $4,799
In today’s bike market, there are a lot of choices to be made. One of the first choices you‘re presented with is wheel size. It wasn’t long ago that 29-inch wheels were thought of as the primary choice of more laid back riders but Yeti’s SB5.5 shatters that thinking with an aggressive, long travel platform that wants to charge both up and down the hill.
As you blast through your ride, suspension is provided by a 160mm Fox 36 fork and 140mm (5.5 inch) Float X rear shock. The most obvious of features that set this bike apart from its rivals is Yeti’s Switch Infinity system, which was also developed with partnership with Fox. In laymen’s terms, this unique mechanism changes the direction of the main pivot as the bike moves through the rear travel. The result is twofold: improved pedaling performance and a plush feel as you careen through the gnarliest of terrain.
The pedaling performance is probably the most pleasantly surprising aspect of Yeti’s long travel SB models. While many people assume they have downhill prowess, which they do, the ability for the bike to navigate technical climbs is it’s secret weapon. And if all that performance wasn’t enough, the bike just looks damn good. A beauty that is a beast.
The SB5.5 is offered in two different types of carbon frames and five different build kits and to meet your budget. The XT build, the middle of the monetary road, will get you onto Yeti’s TURQ frame (an upgraded carbon chassis that shaves about 250g) along with upgraded Fox Factory suspension and XT components.
Drift 14 backpack, Gregory — $129.95
Longer days on the bike require not only greater preparation but also increased supplies. From snacks to tools to extra clothing, it’s essential to be sufficiently geared up and the Drift 14 is an excellent pack for the job. On a recent trip to the Monarch Crest Trail just outside Salida, CO, it proved its worthiness from the get go.
Before setting off, the vertically-adjustable hip belt allows you to dial in the fit just how you like it and once underway the “foam-matrix” back panel provides some much needed evaporative cooling when you’re grinding away on the pedals. The two main compartments provide ample storage for the aforementioned supplies but the nicer storage features include a padded pocket for valuables and a convenient, removable tool pouch for when things don’t go just right. Finally, a 3L reservoir hangs conveniently on a hook in it’s own compartment behind the back panel, keeping you hydrated from start to radical and all the way back.
AWAKE Chocolate Bars — $19.99/12-pack
Need a caffeine boost mid-ride? Want to try something extra delicious? Look no further than the chocolate bars made by the folks at AWAKE. Packing the same amount of caffeine found in your average cup of joe into a truly delicious chocolate bar, these delightful treats will perk you right up and satisfy your sweet tooth, too. Try the caramel flavor for an extra special treat—just be weary it doesn’t melt in your pack while you’re hitting the trail.
Cash mountain bike shorts, Flylow — $85
Flylow’s Cash is, dare we say, our favorite mountain bike shorts we’ve have ever worn. That’s due in large part to three aspects of its build: stretch, durability and breathability. While Flylow describes the garment as having “a touch of stretch,” we’d beg to differ. No matter if it’s a lung-busting ascent over rocks, roots and stumps or bone-chattering descent complete with drops and berms, the built-in stretch and gusseted fifth panel (extra diamond-shaped piece of fabric in the crotch) of the shorts ensures not a single bit of movement is inhibited.
Flylow also employs its own Intuitive IQ fabric in the build, which is extremely durable and resists snags from tree branches, falls on rocks (although your bones may not) and dust-ups with any other type of shrubbery you encounter. On the inside, the brand utilizes a special diamond-patterned fabric that’s both soft and provides a ton of moisture-wicking, keeping you from a soggy day during sun-filled rides. To round it out, a zippered side pocket with headphone router allows you to pump tunes and up your Strava times while a UPF 40+ rating helps protect your legs from the sun’s scary UV rays. These shorts are straight Cash, homie.
Tectal helmet, POC — $190
In addition to its aggressive, badass look, the Tectal has some supreme protective qualities included in its build. POC adds aramid (a synthetic fiber used in bulletproof vests) into the outer shell and then molds it together with the helmet’s EPS liner which produces a incredibly durable and lightweight dome guard. Nothing like barely noticing your helmet while having peace of mind that it’ll protect you if things go awry. The strategically placed, oversized top and back vents allow for a welcomed summer breeze and an adjustment dial in the rear ensures an optimal fit.
Joint VPD System knee pads, POC — $150
Protection is pivotal when you’re maching downhill because while you’re usually crushing every jump and turn, things go awry for all of us every now and then. The key part of the Joint VPD System is that it’s minimally invasive, meaning you’re not going to feel like a pedaling robot when you put it on. The pad conforms to the shape of your knee and almost feels like you’re not even wearing it. Additionally, elastic around the top means that it will stay above your knee while you ride and prevent the dreaded stop-and-adjust every 5 minutes.
Resistance Enduro boxer shorts, POC — $50
There’s nothing worse than a sore bum after a 20 mile ride over rocky, rooty, stumpy terrain. We’ve been relying upon the padded Resistance Enduro Boxer this summer after opting for un-padded compression shorts in the past, and we feel like idiots having not tried them sooner. The Chamois cushioning employed in the “taint” and rump are almost akin to riding with a pillow under you, but without any bulk. To further promote ease-of-mobility, the boxers are made with elastane for four-way stretch and also moisture-wicking properties for a drier ride.
Resistance Pro Enduro shorts, POC — $130
The Resistance Pro is a sleek, high-performance short that was made to ride all day in total comfort. From the moment you put them on, the stretch nylon allows you the freedom of movement that you need and want not only for riding but also climbing around while you load/unload your bike and take care of other ride-related chores. POC left the frills out but included practical features for aggressive riders: Abrasion-resistant patches on each side lengthen the life of the short while you buzz by bushes and branches, and a bit of extended length in the front keeps your knee pads covered up. If you’re seeking a functional short without that will last more than a few rides, look no further.
IOTA Roasted Sunflower Kernels — $23.34/6-pack
Sunflower seeds—delicious, but only once you break through that pesky shell. Iota does the hard work for you, leaving only a nicely roasted, sweet and nutritious sunflower kernel to enjoy. Conveniently packaged in recappable screw-top pouches for anywhere, anytime snack-ability, these small but mighty seeds are a prominent source of fiber, protein and taste great to-boot. Try the original flavor seasoned with Himalayan Sea Salt, which is known for its rich mineral content, halfway up that hill climb for an extra boost of energy and electrolytes.
Stars/Stripes Micro Crew sock, Darn Tough — $19
Want to be a true patriot while shredding you favorite single-track? Then slip into a pair of these lifetime guaranteed—no questions asked—socks. Darn Tough has mastered the ultimate bike sock with a double welt cuff, premium merino wool fiber, a reinforced heel and toe, forefoot mesh placement, ribbed arch support and a True Seamless toe. The most noticeable feature of these socks we noticed while ripping the brown pow is the True Seamless toe with an undetectable seam fusion for an ultra-smooth, invisible feel, which protects your digits from chafing and blisters.
XXX mountain bike shoe, Bontranger — $399
The XXX is built with a 50-percent carbon, 50-percent fiberglass outsole, which yields supreme stiffness and translates to incredible power transfer, something we covet on some of the brutal uphill climbs in Colorado’s Front Range. Those two materials also shed a ton of weight. These shoes also come equipped with Tachyon rubber in the toe, ensuring amazing grip on the pedal that will aid you on the up or down. As far as the fit goes, dual Boa dials on each shoe help dial the fit, whether you like ’em ultra-tight or a bit looser.
Charger S/S bike jersey, Dakine — $45
We love the Charger for its combination of stylistic flair and incredible performance. We rock the “Color By Number” print for its beautiful nature renderings featuring trees, mountains, bears and elk. In addition to style, the Charger utilizes ventilated underarm mesh panels to prevent overheating and promote stretch, while its polyester build dries quickly and works to fit off unwanted odor after those long, sweaty singletrack treks.
Derail bike shorts, Dakine — $75
The Derail bike shorts are meant for those bell-to-bell days ripping downhill at your local resort. The tough nylon build should withstand scrapes and nicks from trees and rocks, while also providing a bit of surface level protection for your skin. Built-in four-way stretch helps with ease of mobility and the long 15-inch inseam makes the Derail ideal for wearing with kneepads. As for the finer details, a stash side-pocket, located lower down on the pant, provides an out-of-the-way compartment to keep your keys, snacks, etc.
Nuttzo2Go Nut & Seed Butter — $75
Take the Nuttzo2Go pouch with you anywhere to reap the benefits of seven nuts and seeds blended into one delicious concoction. Combining cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds and pumpkin seeds, these squeezable snacks pack a big, nutritious punch and are ideal as an on-the-go into an overnight bag because of their small size. Add some to your campfire toast in the morning for added flavor and energy.