FSA Gradient WideR 29 Wheelset (Pictured Above)
The wide-carbon-rim game just got another player. FSA’s Gradient wheels measure 29 millimeters across internally, and feature a 4-millimeter offset. That helps it achieve its matched spoke length and even tension between left and right sides. The straight-pull hubs feature FSA’s P.R.A. bearing pre-load adjustment and the six-pawl rear hub offers 6 degrees between engagement points.
The rim itself features 3-millimeter-wide hookless sidewalls and a 30-millimeter overall depth. Thanks to their lightweight build and 24 double-butted spokes, the Gradients are feathery enough to go on any bike, even though they’re the brand’s most gravity-oriented carbon wheelset. FSA makes no grand claims of heightened trail sensitivity or finely tuned trail feel. They’re just light, strong and stiff. There’s a two-year warranty against defects on the Gradients, but not the broad-stroke lifetime warranty we’re seeing one some carbon hoops. That said, they’re a pretty good deal at $1,350. They weigh in at 1,676 grams for the 27.5 version and 1736 for the 29er.
TRP G-Spec Trail SLC
The field of competitors in the four-piston brake market isn’t quite as narrow as that of, say, suspension or drivetrains. But look at the players in that market, and there’s no question third place is pretty far behind first and second. That’s why it’s so rad to see innovations coming from brands like TRP, which isn’t quite on the podium. But that’s not to say TRP’s brakes aren’t on the podium. The G-Spec downhill brakes were developed with Aaron Gwin, and they’ve just been scaled down to a slimmer package in the shape of the G-Spec Trail.
It still offers the same heat-shedding finned design on the caliper, as well as pistons with mismatched diameters for better modulation. But the lever body went on a bit of a diet, and the lever blade went to carbon on the SLC-level G-Spec Trail. Also on the SLC is a unique hybrid piston material. The pistons themselves are steel, but inside that piston is a ceramic insert that the pad sits against to help dissipate heat. It weighs in at 303 grams for a caliper, lever and front-length hose. Pricing and availability haven’t been finalized yet, but TRP has told us “soon.”
At any given time, there are likely to be several hangovers in Whistler’s main village. But none are quite like this one. Yakima’s new four- and six-bike rack clearly takes inspiration from the iconic North Shore Rack design. Your bike’s fork crown rests in the Hangover’s unique metal mounts. A pair of tongs designed to angle your bars so they don’t fight their neighbors. There’s also a rubber strap on each mount to keep it tight if things get bouncy, something that North Shore Racks have never included.
The only other strap is down at the rear wheel trays. There are multiple settings for the distance between the upper and lower bar so you can get it somewhere in the average range of wheelbase you’ll be using, but you’ll get plenty of fine tuning by rotating one of the lower trays to sit flush against your wheel. The Hangover will lean back at about an angle so the front tires clear the top of your SUV or van, but if it’s going on a car or an open-bed truck, it can sit vertical. It can angle back to allow access to your hatch or for easier loading, and stows up flat against the back of the vehicle. The four-bike mount goes for $550, and the six-bike will go for $700. Exact weights and availability is still a little up in the air, but we’re eager to bring one in to test as soon as possible.
Troy Lee Designs
The man himself was at the Troy Lee store in Whistler doing on-demand custom accents for starstruck onlookers. The brand has such a deep catalog of protectives, helmets and apparel that it’s easy to forget it started simply with ink and paint. But it makes sense. TLD products are rich enough in high-design features, it should come as no surprise that the man behind the brand is, at his core, an artist.