Review: New MTB Gear for 2015
Pearl Izumi Big Air Jersey$55 1 of 11
Even though it's long sleeve, we like this jersey during the warmer months of the year. The open mesh Transfer fabric is light and breathable, and the extra coverage on the arms and neck keeps the sun off your skin. Our favorite feature, though, was the built-in sunglass wipe—a smart feature that came in handy on the trail more often than you might think.
Pearl Izumi Summit Shorts$80 2 of 11
The Summit sports a relaxed fit and 14-inch inseam and works as a shell for your bib liners. The four-way stretch fabric is comfortable during the pedaling motion, and the DWR treatment used on the fabric wicks away sweat to keep you dry. The Velcro waist closure and zippered side pockets for storing gels and other essentials were nice finishing touches, too. But if you're looking for a single standout feature, it's the styling, which works just as well on the bike as it does off of it.
Pearl Izumi X-Project 1.0$320 3 of 11
The new X-Project 1.0 MTB shoes might be our favorite piece of gear we've tested all year. The updated dual BOA system is a big upgrade from the plastic ratchet closure used in previous models and allows you to fine-tune your fit in the forefoot and upper separately. The one-piece, seamless construction and the dozen or so mesh panels make the 1.0 extremely comfortable on the bike. The tapered carbon shank that's protected by a thermal plastic urethane sole manages to walk the fine line of high-end performance in terms of stiffness while remaining flexible enough to walk or run, should the need arise. Though expensive, the 1.0 should be at the top of your list if you're looking for a lightweight, breathable race shoe for summer.
Sugoi RSX Jersey$100 4 of 11
Ideal for hot days, the RSX is a race-ready jersey. Its Icefil material gives the jersey a light, silky feel that claims to be moisture reactive, cooling your skin temperature as you perspire. While we aren't quite sure how that works, the material, mesh and nine-inch zippered air vents kept us cool while testing the jersey in the heat of the Arizona desert. The material and cut does fit the body fairly tight, which we found similar to a road cycling jersey. And the large zippered rear pocket added a nice touch, making it easy to carry essentials you don't want to put in a hydration pack.
Cannondale Ryker Helmet$130 5 of 11
For the money, the Ryker is hard to beat. While previous models felt awkwardly shaped, the 2015 version provides an excellent fit and top-notch coverage on the side of the head and behind the ear—areas commonly overlooked but extremely important for protection during side impacts. While all helmets must meet safety standards, Cannondale takes safety to the next level by utilizing a dual-layered EPS foam of high and low densities to help disperse and redirect impact force should you crash. For that kind of protection, it's the best $130 you can spend.
Specialized Ambush Helmet$180 6 of 11
A common complaint with MTB bike lids is looks, which isn't a problem with the Ambush. It's stylish, comes in tons of cool colors and has a slim profile that's attractive and comfortable to wear. Aesthetics aside, the 18 air vents provide superior ventilation, and the dial built into the rear of the helmet makes adjusting on the fly pretty simple. But the coolest feature is the index adjustor on the visor, which allows you to push the visor out of view when not needed. It also stays in the up position on the roughest of trails, making the adjustor one of the smartest design features we've seen this year.
Specialized Mountain Bib Liner Pro Short With SWAT$150 7 of 11
At the moment, we're big fans of what Specialized is doing. These bib liners have all the ingredients of a solid short: mesh fabric to keep you cool, a well-designed and comfortable chamois and a fold-over leg cuff so things stay in place. But what separates these liners from others is the SWAT (storage, water, air, tools) design, which incorporates large storage pockets into the back of the bibs so you can get rid of cumbersome hydration packs. And because the position of the pockets is on the lower back, it doesn't jostle around while you're on the trail. This comfortable, efficient storage solution gets an A+ from us.
Kitsbow Rudy Jersey and Haskell Short$220/$165 8 of 11
An attractive alternative for cyclists looking to keep it classy on the trail, the Rudy jersey and Haskell short blend performance and aesthetics into a pretty cool kit. The jersey features a side zipper pocket for storing small essentials, and a mesh panel along the upper back improves airflow when it's hot. The shorts are a nylon/spandex combo that we found rugged, durable and good looking on and off the bike. Though expensive, the tailored fit, quality of the materials, and timeless styling make this an option that's versatile and built to last.
Fox Demo Savant Gloves$34.99 9 of 11
If you've ever hit the dirt, you know that a good pair of gloves will save your hands during a fall. But full-fingered gloves can be hot in the summer and not that comfortable. The Demo Savant is a good lightweight option that uses a flexible mesh on the top of the hand and a thin pad in the palm for added feel on the bike. The absorbent micro-suede thumb is durable and just what you need to get rid of sweat from your face. This is a solid option for racing or for anyone seeking a lightweight option for the warmer months.
Scott Genius 910$5,000 10 of 11
Are you looking for a fast bike that's versatile enough to race on cross-country, singletrack or trails? The Genius 910 might be the best we've tested this year in terms of versatility. The TwinLock suspension allows you to lock the front and rear suspension, which proves useful when climbing or when you're looking to fly on a flat section of smooth trail. The carbon frame is stiff and light, and the Shimano XT specs are the value buy in Shimano's lineup.