It’s definitely time to look hard at the components and accessories you use every time you go out for a ride. I know that your helmet is permanently formed to your noggin’ and that you have to hold your shifters just right to keep the right gear… that’s just the way things are. And you’re OK with that. Well, we’ve found a few items that should prod you to upgrade your bike or gear right now. There’s still plenty of riding to be had for this season, so get on it!

DAKINE GLOVES
DaKine Ventilator Gloves

The Ventilator is the perfect choice for hot summer weather. Here in Utah, you not only have to worry about heat, but overall hand protection is key since the rocky hardpack or slickrock has a tendency to turn any exposed flesh into ground beef. DaKine knows gloves well and the Ventilator is a great overall glove for warm weather rides. Nearly the entire top portion of the glove is built from a highly breathable mesh material. An interesting feature is the double-sided Velcro attachment cuff. This is the only glove I know of with this feature. It’s great because it makes for easier on/off and offers quick adjustability from either side of the wrist. Overall quality and durability goes without question here. The Ventilator is my choice for summer riding.

DaKine Ventilator Quick Review
The Ventilator is my choice for summer rides. Keep in mind that with all gloves, they will stretch. Buy them a little snug initially and after a few rides, they’ll fit perfectly. They vent great for summer rides and offer great overall bike feel

DaKine Cross X Gloves

If you’re looking for the burliest gloves for DH and freeriding, look no further than the DaKine Cross X gloves. These gloves are built with overall durability and protection in mind. A super burly and thick top padding provides protection in all conditions. I’d have to say that unless you’re riding DH or hucking your meat, the Cross X may be a bit on the hot side for summer rides. If you are concerned with keeping your digits in tact–even if you fall apart on the trail like a bad taco shell–then the Cross X should be your top choice. The silicone gripper fingertips are a nice touch that keep you firmly in control of brake and shifting power. Many top freeriders use and trust the DaKine Cross X glove to protect their hands… I think you should feel comfortable that those guys trust their fingers to the boys at DaKine.

DaKine Cross X Quick Review
The burliest gloves out there… the Cross X is built to handle anything thrown in your path. I liked the Cross X gloves from the get-go, but found them a little hot for summer rides. When protection is key, go with the Cross X.

SRAM DRIVETRAIN

SRAM X.9 derailleurs & Shifters

SRAM is coming on strong with their trigger shifters. After a bit of a struggle with the man (ahem… Shimano), the SRAM 1:1 trigger shifters are now available in multiple flavors. The X.9 series represents the best overall quality for your hard-earned Jackson’s. The unique design of the SRAM X.9 triggers allows you to both upshift and downshift using your thumb. No more taking your fingers off the brakes to shift. The design is intuitive and works awesome mated to SRAM’s top-notch rear derailleurs.

The X.9 rear derailleur will only work with SRAM 1:1 shifting, but you shouldn’t have any gripes as you enjoy smooth shifting for years to come. Adjustability is key with the X.9 derailleur. The high and low screws are out in plain sight and well marked. One of the best features of SRAM rear derailleurs is the cable path as it enters the derailleur. Shimano cables require a big, arcing loop of cable behind the derailleur which gets caught on brush and can do some serious damage. SRAM has solved that problem by integrating an angled cable guide into their derailleurs. This allows you to run the cable directly from your seatstay and into the derailleur–no unnecessary loop to catch on brush, etc.

New for 2005 is the SRAM X-Generation front derailleur. In the past, you had to use a Shimano front derailleur with your SRAM shifting platform. Well, there’s no need to mix streams any longer–the SRAM X-Generation front derailleur works perfectly with SRAM shifting. A great feature is the ability to work out of the box with all clamp sizes and serve as both top and bottom pull changers.

SRAM Drivetrain Quick Review
In my mind, the SRAM X.9 components represent the best shifting technology available today. The accurate 1:1 ratio provides quick, accurate shifts every time. And, believe it or not, you can downshift one gear at a time–something that was nearly impossible with Shimano triggers in the past. After using both Shimano and SRAM triggers for years, I firmly believe that thumbs are for shifting and fingers are for braking… PERIOD. Knock your socks off with a new X.9 drivetrain today and you’ll understand what I mean. Shimano gives you the fingers, but SRAM gets the thumbs up!

MAXXIS TIRES

Minion DH

Maxxis Minion DHA long favorite of XC, DH and Freeride disciplines, Maxxis has a perfect tire for bike and riding style. Several years ago, I was blown away by the Maxxis Mobster tires I had on my 2002 Turner RFX. Since that time, Maxxis has introduced the Minion DH in front and rear-specific designs. The Minion is available in a variety of widths (2.35 to 2.70), durometers and standard or UST casings.

The Minion is available as a front and rear-specific tread and with the variety of widths, you’re bound to find one you like for your riding style. The tread design has been mastered over years of podium finishes by team Maxxis DH rider, Colin Bailey.

I’ve ridden the Minion extensively on the Yeti 575, Banshee Chaparral and other bikes over the past year and have found them stellar in all conditions along the Wasatch.

Maxxis Minion DH Tires Quick Review
Maxxis makes tires… plain and simple. Their tires are the best in the business because they can spend all their time focusing on tread patterns, angles, widths and rubber density. I’m completely sold on Maxxis tires and the Minion DH tires are the best handling tires in the business. Some may clamor for less rolling resistance, but the Minion is built for all types of DH courses where rolling resistance needs to be cut down while overall grip needs to be increased. The Minion’s are great all-around tires.

TITEC EL NORTE COMPONENTS

Titec El Norte Bars and Stem

Titec has come on strong to the freeride and downhill scene with their El Norte line of “Knock-Rated” components. Knock Rated comes from their no nonsense three year warranty on all El Norte components. These babies are built to withstand repeated cliff drops, beaters and thrashings without folding like a slice of New York pizza.

The Titec El Norte stem is available in two lengths and rises. The 0 degree rise is available in 60mm length and the 10 degree rise is available in 75mm length. Built from 6061 aluminum, the top-of-the-line El Norte stem can handle abuse with the best of them. Available only as an oversized 31.8mm clamp, the El Norte stem offers a high strength to weight ratio and is guaranteed for three years. .

The Titec El Norte 1.5 handlebar features 31.8mm clamp diameter for increased stiffness and clamp surface. This ensures a durable, long lasting bar/stem combination. Available in a 2.25 inch rise with 9 degree backsweep and 5 degree upsweep, the El Norte 1.5 bars are not for the XC crowd, but feel at home on any trailbike or DH rig. The 690mm width is about perfect overall for just the right leverage and feel.

Titec El Norte Bars/Stem Quick Review
Cockpit components are a key part to enhancing the overall feel of any bike. The first thing I do with any bike I test is get a feel for the bar and stem combo. Many times, the rise just doesn’t feel right, or the stem is too short. I’ve found that I’m very picky about the upsweep and backsweep of my riser bars. Once I find something I like, I stick with it. The Titec El Norte riser bars are just the ticket to enhance any ride. In combination with the El Norte 10 degree 75mm stem, I think it’s the perfect feel for any bike from trailbike to dowhnill rig.

About Author

A Seattle native, Jason developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 --sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

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