Monday, October 31, 2011

Bad leg protection

I just recently did a knee pad comparision, and concluded that there are some pretty neat options out there. I cant say the same however for full knee-shin protectors. Ive had 4 as of yet, and none of them have been particularly good. Infact, im utterly disappointed. Take a look at some of those knee-shin protectors ive been using so far:

The problem with the 661 Comp Knee is a lack of knee protection, the front has good cover, but the sides are exposed, definitely a no-go when riding DH or FR. I also noticed that they would slide in different
 directions, everytime I had a crash.

Granted the RaceFace Rally FR is best of the 3 mentioned in this post. But this RaceFace product fails on the comfort. Lower leg, and upper knee are badly irritated after some hours (4+) of use. The Rally FR rubs your skin, making it red and sore. And its not just me, other riders with this product are reporting similar problems.

The problem with the FOX Launch Pro Knee/Shin guard is lack of side protection at the knee. Its basically non existent. This really comes as a surprise, as the Fox Launch Pad Pro had left me with such a positive impression. What where they thinking?

All I want is a good knee-shin protector for bikeparks. Im looking for something comfortable, as well as something that covers a good deal of the knee, and stays in place. Am I really asking for too much? Im currently considering the 2012 POC VPD 2.0 Knee/Shin guard, or the more burly FOX Titan Knee Guard. Got a suggestion for me to try out? Or something to stay away from? Write me a comment, and I might just check it out (or keep away from). Comments does not require a sign-in.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Rock Shox Monarch RT3 2011 (2012)

My initial expectations for the Monarch RT3 shock where very high. Rock Shox promised a revised 2011 monarch, that had a competent midstroke, and factory set high speed rebound. This combined with a 3 way compression setting, sounded like just the right shock for me and my AM riding.

The first version I got was faulty, the shock had issues with compression and rebound, had to send it back in, and got a new version - faulty as well. You can imagine my frustration at this point. So had to send it back in, again, and I finally got a working version, and after 7 months of testing I can finally pin a review.

RockShox has stated that there is no difference between the 2011 and 2012 version.
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The RT3 has a 3 way compression tune, a low-speed rebound, and an internal pre-set highspeed rebound. I went for the high volume canister.
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Black and Pink line shows the official Rockshox spring curves. Green, Blue, and Red shows my impressions of the spring curve of a given compression setting.
So what you are looking at here, is a shock that takes a while to activate, as well as having a persistent tendency to stabilise on the hard-feeling sag. Small bump sensitivity is poor - I don't mind that actually, as my trails are very forgiving to such behavior. After the sag, the shock actually has a very good mid-stroke support, and ramps up nicely, but refuses to use all travel, as illustrated on the grapf.
All this is coupled with the fact that the 3 diffrent compression setting are actually giving 3 different shock behaviors, and for once ive actually been using the different compression settings - whereas I usually just set it in one place, and forget about it.

Blue: High compression setting
Green: Medium compression setting
Red: Low compression setting
(Grapf is simplified to better illustrate behavior.)
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Weight resembles a FOX RP23, size shown is a 216x63mm, with bushings:
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Set the compression to high, and enjoy a "firm" setting that makes you propel faster on pedally sections, but still allows the wheel to tracks the ground. Don't expect great small bump sensitivity tho'
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The Monarch RT3 does a great job sucking in well transitioned hits, small and big. Square-bump hits is another story, it feels inconsistent, and will sometimes give a kickback. Makes me wonder why the high-speed rebound doesn't kick in.
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The Good:
-Very competent platform settings, it really has 3 settings.
-Great mid stroke
-Handles big hits very well
-Different tune options
-You can get racy xc performance, whilst still being able to take hard hits

The Bad:
-High speed rebound feels inconsistent
-Does not use full travel
-Negative air spring problems in the High-Compression setting when riding flat sections.

Score: 3/6

As I stated before, I had somewhat high expectations for this shock, and it just didnt deliver what I expected. Its not a bad shock, it definately has its moments, but overall its nothing special. So once again I end up with a shock, that doesnt live up to my idea of a good AM shock. Funny thing is, that the best air shock I have been on so far, was a 2009 Fox Float R. Cheap, consistent, and just felt damn good. So, where do I go from here shock wise?

Friday, October 21, 2011

October AM 2

Been out riding some more, shot some pics along the way. Check it out.

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The pic above doesn't show this, but its been a quite a wet affair recently. Im usually a bit shy of rain, but it hasn't bothered me these last few rides, rain or not, ive been out riding.. Much credit goes to my Mavic rainjacket, good stuff.
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Wet terrain equals wet roots, and decreased traction. Its all good fun tho'
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Find Waldo:
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Henning dicking around a small natural drop.
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The Ritchey WCS C260 stem is still going strong, not that I expected otherwise. Note the saddle, its the Charge Spoon. Its  a multi award winning saddle, so I just had to try it. Its actually quite comfortable, considering I never use any inside padding in my shorts. Actual weight: 285g.
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Monday, October 17, 2011

661 Kyle Strait vs Fox Launch Pad Pro (updated)

Pretty much every rider that wears knee pads know the 661 Kyle Strait, its been here for years, and enjoys the title of being one of the best knee pads out there. It fits the knee well, and protection is good.

The relative newcomer to the "Kyle Strait'ish" knee pad segment is the Fox Launch Pad Pro. Fox is a well established brand, and they have a tendency to do things right, but getting into the knee protection segment, where the 611 Kyle Strait is dominating is definitely not an easy task. I have an impression that Fox took a really long and hard look at the Kyle Strait pad, and began improving upon it.

Let me say this right away; Both pads are very good. There, had to get that off my chest. There is a difference however, have a look:

661 Kyle Strait vs Fox Launch Pad Pro. 
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661: 5/6
Fox: 6/6
Whereas the 661 is less prone to cloth chafting, the Fox sits better on the leg, the Fox pad is also very resistant to unwanted movement because of a silicone strap. The Fox is also 25% lighter, this adds to comfort. Note that the Fox Launch Pad Pro takes considerable more time to "bed in".

661: 5/6
Fox: 6/6
Fox has a superior protection in the upper and lower front, the padding on the sides is a bit more thick as well. The front itself, and the sides is almost identical to the 661 offering.

661: 4/6
Fox: 4/6
I don't feel any difference between the two. I do however think that there is room for improvement, for both brands. They do get hot in the summer.

661: 5/6
Fox: 6/6
Both are pretty tough, I do however see that the Fox holds up a bit better. Its not as torn after months of hard use.

I have been using the 661 Kyle Strait for years, and they have served me well.
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The Fox Launch Pad Pro however is new to me, but im really surprised by its quality.
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382g.  Less weight, more protection, a win-win situation?
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The additional protection the Fox Launch pad offers is mostly in the upper and lower section of the pad. Pads in the sides are a bit more fat as well.
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Final conclusion:

The 661 Kyle Strait is very comfortable to wear, cloth chafting is very rare, and you are most likely to forget that you are even wearing them. The protections is there, albeit inferior to the FOX. You might get some issues if you walk around alot while, say, sessioning, as the 661 tends to slide down the leg a bit. It may, or may not annoy you.

The Fox Launch Pad Pro is more prone to cloth chafting, particular the first few months. But after that, they fit like a glove, and stay where you put them, partly because of the silicon strap. Protection is superior, and its more lightweight.

Should I choose between the Fox Launch Pad Pro and the 661 Kyle Strait, then I would have gone with the FOX offering.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Fall riding

Fall. Leafs are falling of the trees, and the colors of the forest change, its a beautiful time to be out riding. I took my camera and shot a few pics 

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Still testing the new stepdown. I really enjoy it, but hitting it full force makes for a mind bugling air time (in AM terms), im still a bit hesitant, perhaps I should go try it with a neck brace and a fullface helmet to get more confident trying it at full throttle.
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Wah, my beloved High Roller tire is finally giving in. Its been servicing me since 2009, so its done its share I guess. Anyway, you can almost see the tube sticking out. I made an emergency repair with the Parktool TB-2. Its actually holding up pretty damn good, im 3 hours in of active riding, lets see how long it lasts.
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Well well well, im starting to use the High compression setting more and more on the Monarch RT3, didn't see that coming. Shock  is review pending, stick around. 
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Review: Shelter Frame Protection

So after 7 months of use I can finally conclude my review of the Shelter frame protection. And before I explain what so special about this frame protection, you should see for yourself:

It contains two 55mm X 500mm strips, enough to plaster most of your bike, and downtube.
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I have been using this frame protector in obvious places like the downtube:
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..And on the chainstay as well (even tho its pretty hard to see in this pic). Holds up surprisingly well
despite the fact that this place gets smashes by the chain all the time.
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It comes in handy when using a dual crown for as well. My frame doesnt have an integrated frame protector for dual crowns, so the Shelter Frame Protection comes in quite handy here.
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There is not much to say really, it does its job, and Shelter sticks to the frame as it should, even after all this time, and after all the washing, rain, dirt, rocks and whatnot, it still sticks. So the durability is definitely there. I cant find any flaws about this frame protector, score reflects that.

Score: 6/6