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TGR Tested: Editor’s MTB Picks

Story by Teton Gravity Research

Looking to up your style while out on the trails this summer? Take a peek at what we think are some of the best new products on the market for mountain biking. We're looking at apparel, protection, shoes, and accessories for all shapes and sizes and all kinds of riding.

Machines for Freedom Technical Tee - If you took your favorite stylish t-shirt and paired it with buttery soft sustainable fabric, then you’d get Machines for Freedom’s technical tee. Riding shirts don’t need to do all that much, except keep your skin feeling cool and dry while you ride. If you live in a humid place as I do, that becomes especially important. I’m based in New England, and sometimes it feels like all you need is a minute of pedaling to get gross and sweaty. Having a shirt like the technical tee is wonderful because it doesn’t cling to you as you ride. It’s also made with a micro modal fabric, which is the real selling point of this shirt. Micro Modal is a fiber that’s sustainably sourced from tree pulp, and is often used for luxury underwear and sheets. Why? It’s softer than a baby bunny's fur, that’s why. Jokes aside, Modal is also a sought-after fabric not only for its dreamy feel but because it wicks moisture exceptionally well. Unlike cotton—which just absorbs moisture—micro modal fibers pull your sweat away from your skin by drawing it to the surface of the shirt. Once collected there, that moisture evaporates away, meaning you won’t turn into a hot mess during that uphill section you hate. The last thing worth mentioning about this garment is the silhouette. It's a pretty refreshing design that feels inspired by the runway, not the downhill track at Crankworx—which is a nice change. I don’t need every piece of MTB clothing I own to feel ultra-sporty, and love that I can wear this top around town as a cute t-shirt as well.

- Katie Lo

Pit Viper DH Pants: Downhill pants are all the rage these days, and rightfully so! Gone are those heavy, stiff, moto-inspired pants of yesteryear. Now, we’re talking stretchy, breathable pants that give your legs full-length protection for everything from bike park and shuttle laps to riding on those chilly early mornings where a little extra warmth helps. This is Pit Viper’s first foray into actual performance apparel, and we have to say we’re impressed by what the tradition-bucking brand brings to the table. Not only are the pants functional, with a slim and anatomical fit and pockets in the right places, but the green and gold print on them is absolutely ridiculous – and we love it. I firmly believe bike park laps should be taken with as little seriousness as possible, so this is a great way to ensure success on that front. Stand out on the trail, in the lift line, and on the side of the road waiting for your shuttle driver this summer.

- Max Ritter 

Backcountry Covert Bib Shorts: It’s one thing to carry a bunch of stuff on your bike, but it’s an entirely different kind of freedom to carry the small essentials directly on your body – and that’s exactly what Backcountry’s Covert Bib Liner Shorts are designed to do…covertly. It’s a heavy-duty, yet surprisingly breathable chamois bib short that has pockets on both thighs and in the small of your back to carry things like snacks, your phone, and maybe even a multi-tool. Going out for a short lap or riding the bike park all day long? Pop your water bottle and a spare tube on your frame, and the rest fits directly on your body. Just don’t forget to take all the stuff out when it’s time to throw them in the wash! These have now become my go-to bibs for quick lunch laps on Teton Pass when staring at my computer becomes too much to handle and I only need to carry the essentials. 

- Max Ritter

Sweet Protection Trailblazer MIPS Helmet: Not all half-shell helmets are created the same, and you definitely wouldn’t want to trust your noggin to something that doesn’t quite stack up on the protection front. Luckily, Sweet Protection’s newest enduro-focused Trailblazer MIPS helmet checks all the safety boxes, with their pioneering multi-piece variable elasticity shell tech and a built-in MIPS liner to shield your skull when you partake in an unexpected dirt massage session. The helmet is stylish, with a big adjustable visor, well-ventilated for hot days and has a snug, low-profile fit. I was able to test this on all manner of rides this spring, and was impressed by how lightweight and ventilated it was. It fits true to size, and thanks to the dial on the rear, you can quickly and easily adjust the fit. The vents, both front and back, also serve as channels to slide your sunnies into when you don’t need them. If you’re looking for a do-it-all mountain bike helmet you’ll forget is on your head, look no further.

- Max Ritter

Dakine Bike Waist Hot Laps 5L - Hip packs have become one of the most popular ways to carry your things on the trail, but not all of them include hydration reservoirs in them. For folks who prefer to carry a fair amount of water with them, it’s a feature worth considering. At first, I was a bit leary of putting 2L of water right on my lower back, unsure if it would just annoyingly jump all over the place as I rode. But the pack stays put, even when you fill the reservoir to its max, and completely stuff the main compartment with all your trailside repair equipment. I wore it while riding my local bike park here in Massachusetts, and while I was getting knocked around by the chunks of schist rock and Jurassic Park-sized roots, my pack was mostly undisturbed. Having a hydration hose also makes staying hydrated pretty darn effortless. While grabbing a bottle from your cage isn’t that much more work, it’s nice to have the hose right at your waist when you need it at a moment’s notice during that soul-sucking fire road climb. There’s even a nifty little magnet on the hose that helps attach it back to your hip, so it stays in place when you’re moving around. The main compartment in the pack has ample space to hold an iPhone, some shot blocks, two Clif bars, tire levers, a multi-tool, two CO2 cartridges with the nozzle, tire repair strips, and a pair of wolf tooth pliers. Even with all of that packed away, I still had some wiggle room for additional snacks or my car keys—which there’s a nice little zippered pouch for the essentials you don’t want to lose. On the outside of the pack, there are a set of straps on the bottom that can cinch down a light jacket or a pair of knee pads. The Hot Laps come in a variety of sizes—1L, 2L, or 5L—and I’d recommend just going with the 5L because it’s nice to have the extra space if you need it. 

- Katie Lo

Mountain Flow Bike Wash and Chain Lube - It’s nice to avoid the look of disappointment from your mechanic when you wear down your cassette from an unlubed chain. Do yourself a favor and keep your garage stocked with a few bottles of chain lube, oh, and use it, please? While you’re at it, make sure to get MountainFlow’s eco-friendly chain lube, which is plant-based, biodegradable, and sure to keep your bike working smoothly and properly. MountainFlow has four types of lube to choose from—all-weather, wax, wet, and dry—so there’s a good chance they have what you need. Opting for a planet-friendly bike lube like MountainFlow’s is a no-brainer because it’s free from all the junk normally found in most chain lubes. Unfortunately, the majority of chain lube on the market contains chemicals like petroleum distillates and Teflon, which have a common culprit: complex perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). PFCs are troubling because they don’t biodegrade and are toxic to both humans and animals. It’s the last thing we want to accumulate in the environment. All it takes is one bike wash, a quick spin through a running stream, or a rainstorm to flush this toxic stuff into our water sources. That’s bad news for us, and the places we love to ride it. Avoid that mess altogether by supporting a brand like MountainFlow. The environment is at the forefront of their decision-making, clearly evident in the little details. like the packaging. For example, the chain lube bottle is eco-friendly and made from 100% Post-Consumer Recycled plastic. That's a win-win for your bike and the planet!

- Katie Lo

Dakine Drift MTB Shoes: Dakine has been making mountain bike apparel, packs, and accessories for as long as we can remember, but it wasn’t until now that they’ve decided to bring that expertise to footwear. With loads of great options already on the market, Dakine had their work cut out for them, but the brand-new Drift shoes are a promising competitor, with a sturdy leather construction, a super-grippy rubber sole, and a stiff but not-too-stiff midsole that balances support, sensitivity, and walkability. A note on the midsole: it’s made with very cushy impact-absorbing foam and takes a few rides to fully break in, but once it forms to your foot, it’s very comfortable. The shoes fit true to size, and have a relatively roomy toebox. If you’re tired of the usual suspects in the mountain bike footwear world, Dakine’s Drift shoes provide a refreshing breath of fresh air – and they ride really well too.

- Max Ritter

Return to TGR Journal Vol. 3