Troy Lee Stage
The Troy Lee Stage helmet has been launching slowly since Sea Otter, and we finally got our hands on one. It's the lightest full-faced helmet those hands have held. The previous title-holder was the Fox Proframe. According to each brand's claimed weights, the 690-gram Stage is nearly ten percent lighter than the Proframe.
Like the Proframe, the Stage has a fixed chin bar. TLD realized that the reason we're drawn to convertible helmets is because traditional full-faced designs aren't just heavy, they're hot. The Stage's 23 vents and numerous exhaust channels should make it nearly as breezy as a half-lid. And its skeletal frame doesn't mean it's stripped of safety. It's constructed of a mix of traditional EPS and softer EPP foams to protect against both high-speed and moderate-speed impacts.
The Polylite shell is fiber-reinforced, the chin bar is EPP-lined and of course, the shell’s mips-equipped. It all adds up to the lightest helmet ever to be ASTM-certified for DH racing. But the real test will be when we bring it back to Southern California to see if it can take the heat. The Stage goes for $295 and will be available this fall.
Bontrager SE5 29×2.6
Bontrager tire names sound a little like sub-models from Honda or Lexus. There's probably an "XR3" or "G5" riveted in silver plastic on the back of countless Accord sedans out there. But Bontrager's alphanumeric code actually has some meaning. The numbers 0 thru 5 refer to the tread pattern, with 0 aimed at light-duty XC and 5 for deep, chunky enduro. The letters XR, SE, or G refer to the casing. XR has moderate reinforcement, SE gains additional plys and more puncture protection, and G is full on-downhill. The SE5 configuration is perfect here in Whistler, and Bontrager just introduced a 29 x 2.6-inch version. The relatively soft tread compound is configured with more aggressive side knobs that are aimed at forceful leanin' and slashin.' The thick SE casing is a perfect match for its 2.6 size. Hard chargers will have grip for days, while creepers will have the option to dip their PSI into the high teens. Look for the 29 x 2.6 SE5 this fall.
There are a lot of underrated brands out there. Brands made up of people who are just as committed as those behind sexy names like Yeti and Chromag, but that don't have the same rockstar public image. Saris is definitely in that category. The Wisconsin-based manufacturer is more known for turning family sedans into weekend war wagons than it is for outfitting us foul-smelling knee-padded trail rats. But something on the horizon might be changing that. The new MTR takes aim at the high-end rack market, and it's firing out some pretty cool features.
Each wheel gets held in by an arm that ratchets in to hold your bike in place. The arms are wide enough to fit 5-inch fat tires and 29×3.0 plus tires, but can also adjust down to fit your BMX bike. There's a 2-bike-2-inch and a 1-bike-1&¼-inch version, and each is compatible with a one-bike or two-bike add-on kit. Each successive tray cascades upwards to help with handlebar clearance on similar bikes, ground clearance on steep driveways. But this also makes possible what is almost the coolest feature of the MTR: Each tray is actually two trays.
Those half trays can swing out with the pull of a pin to allow you to walk right up to mount and dismount bikes that are one, two, or three trays in. The trays fold in over each other in a nice clean stack. It's also the ideal way to stow them when the rack is folded up against the car. You get a narrower footprint and better visibility around the back corners of your car. But I did mention that was almost the coolest feature. The MTR, like all of Saris' racks, is manufactured in Wisconsin, and from locally-sourced materials. Saris turns ore into bike carriers, almost completely on hearty Midwest soil. Pricing and availability hasn't been finalized yet, but we expect it to be worth the wait.