Here is a guest post from Cecilia ‘Ceal’ Potts who is a former professional cyclist. Her greatest cycling accomplishment was winning the Junior Cross Country Mountain Bike World Championships in 1997. She has made a list with 10 must haves for mountain bikers:
Mountain biking used to be a sport that we’d use the same bike, tires, and clothing for all types of riding. Today, mountain biking includes cross country, downhill, and all-mountain riding styles. And, of course, each riding genre calls for specific equipment.
My preferred riding is all mountain. The travel on the shocks is a little longer, component weight is less of an issue when compared to durability, and the ride is more focused on all aspects of mountain biking – climbs, descents, and single track — rather than just racing cross country or a winning time on a downhill run.
The following items are all things I think are “must haves” for the serious mountain bike rider. In most cases the brand of the product I’m recommending is also available for cross country or downhill applications. These are my suggestions based on my all-mountain experience and I am not sponsored by any of the companies whose products are listed below.
Mountain bike suspension, shifting, pedals, and tires
1.) Fox Suspension 32 Talas RLC FIT 1.5″ Forks 2012
The first time I rode with this fork, I realized how much my previous suspension fork had been holding me back. The trail I used to put it through its paces had a lot of wash board braking bumps and off-camber turns. The dampening was impressive and I felt like I was fully in control as I rolled over the bumps. When cornering, there was no compression lag coming out of the turn. Riding this Fox suspension fork with the 15 QR was noticeably stiffer on accelerations. Fox makes an excellent product and I had this fork serviced twice by Fox’s tech support at local events free of charge.
2.) Gravity Dropper Classic Seatpost – Multi
One of the most important technical skills on a mountain bike is the ability to get your weight back on a steep descent to maintain equilibrium. My friends used to call me a “high poster” and when I got off the back of the saddle, the saddle was in my chest — quite uncomfortable if things don’t go as planned. When I got my first Gravity Dropper Seatpost, the game changed immediately. With a quick push of a button I was able to drop the post and be off the back of the saddle in seconds. I was able to push my speed on the downhills much faster because the saddle was out of the way. On the climbs it was just a quick push of the button and the saddle was back in its optimal climbing position. I believe the Gravity Dropper Seatpost is one of the greatest mountain biking innovations of the last decade.
3.) Easton EC70 MonkeyLite CNT XC Riser – MTB
Like I said before, my all-mountain bike isn’t the lightest bike out there, but when I do have the chance to go lighter on things, I will. The thought of carbon bars on a mountain bike is a little scary; however, if there’s any brand that I trust, it’s Easton. I can feel the difference in the front end with these lighter bars. It’s more responsive. The slight rise gives me a more balanced stance on the bike and relieves some of the pressure on my lower back that develops when I’m riding a flat bar.
4.) SRAM X0 9 Speed Twister Shifter
Call me old school, but when SRAM first came out with the twister shifter almost 20 years ago, I was on board. Since 1996 I’ve only owned one mountain bike, briefly, without SRAM Twisters (that bike had SRAM Trigger shifters) and I wouldn’t have it any other way. With the SRAM Twister, you always have your fingers and thumbs fully engaged on the bar. You can quickly shift on the fly–even while standing up and sprinting–and the mechanism is quite light. The left shifter is indexed so you can micro adjust the front derailleur, and the right is indexed for a solid shift every time.
5.) Time Atac Alium Pedals
These aren’t the lightest pedals on the market, but from my experience they are some of the most durable and easy to use. I bash my pedals on rocks and roots sometimes and only once in 10 years did I break one side of this pedal. Fortunately for me, Time’s simple design allows you to clip in on either side of the the pedal’s platform. Another feature that I love is this pedal’s superior performance in muddy conditions. Even with a cleat that’s caked with mud, a couple mud-clearing taps and you’re able to immediately clip in without fear of spontaneous ejection.
6.) WTB Weirwolf TCS Tyre 2013
The Weirwolf TCS Tyre is built for speed and cornering. This tyre is the first tyre I’ve ever felt confident laying over in a corner and knowing that it would not break loose. The secret is in the design of the outside knobs are buttressed, which makes them stiff and able to hold their shape (not twist and break loose) in the corner. The other excellent part of this tyre is the fact that it’s a true tubeless tyre. When used on a tubeless rim, just put in two squirts of WTB TCS Sealant, seat the tyre, and inflate. The tyre will make a snapping noise when its seated correctly and then you an choose a psi that’s optimal for your terrain.
Mountain bike clothing, hydration packs, and lights
7.) Dakine Prowess Womens MTB Short With Liner
I’ve always felt a little more comfortable riding mountain bikes with a pair of baggies. Yes, spandex is good for race day, but something about wearing a full road kit while riding a dirty trail just doesn’t appeal to me. I like the fit of the Dakine women’s shorts (I haven’t tried the mens, but I’m sure they, too, are comfortable). The liner isn’t too thick and it stays in place under the shorts. Having a little extra durable fabric on my legs also appeals to me. I’ve crashed a few times with these shorts and have yet to tear them–they also do a good job at resisting cactus spines…not that I know anything about the business end of a cactus.
8.) Fox Racing Dirtpaw Glove
This is a repeat from my road recommendation. Yes, these are mountain bike gloves, and yes, I wear them for BOTH mountain and road riding. These gloves aren’t overly padded, which is something I really like about them. I have a solid feel for the handle bar and with their suede palms, I have great control when shifting my SRAM Twister Shifters.
9.) Dakine Amp 12L Hydration Pack 2013
I know when you’re racing cross country, the last thing you want is to wear a hydration pack; however, when you’re going for an all-mountain epic ride, carrying a hydration pack is key. I like the quality of the Dakine packs. There are built in zipper pouches for car keys, separate compartments for things like food, and room for a rain shell. Having the extra water capacity also is useful. I won’t go mountain biking without a hydration pack.
10.) Nite Rider Minewt 200L
Let’s face it, one of the fun parts of being a mountain bike rider is going out on a night ride. Even a trail that you know like the back of your hand can pose new challenges at night. I’ve used this Nite Rider system twice, and particularly appreciated the helmet light. The system is much lighter, weight-wise, than it’s predecessors and is a must have for anyone whose rides are cut short during the winter months due to waning day light.
I hope Santa Claus gets this memo because this is what I’d like under my 2013 Christmas tree!