Today we’ll be looking at 10 products thateither directly relate to mountain biking, or provide utility for mountain bikers. None of these reviews are paid, but some productswere provided which I’ll disclose when applicable. With that, let’s get started. The first product is helmetor, which is ahelmet hook that I first saw in Syd and Macky’s van. The company saw the video, and sent me someto try out. I noticed that they look kind of like peacocks. In testing the helmetor hooks, they seemedto securely hold just about any helmet as advertised. The question is, why on earth would you needa helmet specific hook? Why pay $10 for a piece of plastic when youcould use a screw or nail to do the same thing? Well, it’s not exactly the same. Helmetor holds your helmet away from the wall,protecting your paint from trail grime. It also looks cool when there’s no helmeton it, which is nice if you have a bike cave that you take pride in.
But perhaps the most important benefit ofhelmetor is that it secures your helmet, which is essential if you’re using it on a door,or in a vehicle. So depending on your needs, helmetor couldeither be totally pointless, or the answer to all your hopes and dreams. I decidedly like it. On to these knee pads sent to me by Kali Protectives. I tested both pairs in the shop, and enlistedFelipe for a trail test since I can’t ride yet. Our findings were more or less the same: these Mission knee pads are slim and comfortable, but shift around once youget moving. Neither of us were that impressed. As for the Strikes, they might be the bestknee pads either of us have tried. This mesh rubber pad on the front of the strikesis sure to collect lots of dirt and mud, but that’s a fair tradeoff for airflow. Better ventilation cuts down on sweat, aidsin evaporation, and makes for an overall more comfortable experience. Despite being slim and comfortable the Strikesappear to have good padding and a very tough exterior. I also found that the shape of the knee caphelps keep them in place, or maybe it’s the placement of the straps. All I know is that they stay put. The Strikes cost $85 and seem to be worthit. They will be replacing my POC’s, which weremore expensive when I bought them.
This season, I’m going to be serious aboutalways wearing knee pads without exception. Now for a few car products starting with thisseat protector I found on Amazon. You throw it over your headrest, it staysin place with these little nubs, and contains trail grime with its absorbent terrycloth. There’s also an impermeable layer insideto keep out liquid. When not in use these covers are machine washableand easy to roll up. At $25 each I think they’re priced fairly,but it should be noted that you can also protect your seat with a towel. Still, the adequate length, grip, and impermeabilitymakes them superior to a towel, and worth the money if you’re serious about keepingyour car clean. The next product is the soft topper, whichis a foldable cap available for most pickups. The reason I bought this was so I could travelwith my family and keep all our stuff out of the weather. Knowing that I’d have it off as much ason, I chose the soft topper for its portability and ease of storage. It installs with these bed rails that fitexisting factory bolt holes, and from there you can pretty much drop it on and buttonit up. The quality is great, it doesn’t flap aroundin the wind, and it more or less works as advertised, but the Soft Topper isn’t afiberglas cap killer. There’s no way to lock the Soft Topper,nor would it matter since you can just slice it. So this isn’t a good solution for contractorswith expensive tools, nor will it keep your mountain bike safe. Starting at $700, it is an affordable alternativeto a fiberglas cap, that you can camp in or just use to keep your stuff dry. And by request from hundreds of you guys,I’ll give you a quick review of my honda ridgeline.
A lot of you were flabbergasted when I didn’tbuy a tacoma, and instead got a family SUV like pickup hybrid: The Honda Ridgeline. I’ll admit that my impulsive and adventurousside was craving the Tacoma, but my practical side won after test driving the 2017 Ridgeline. First of all it handled incredibly—way betterthan your average pickup. It also had a more spacious interior, andan impressive technology package. It had lane keep assist, adaptive cruise control,smartphone integration, and like 8 million cup holders. These may not sound like things I would careabout, but I’m on track to put 35,000 miles on this thing in year one. I knew I’d be spending a lot of time init so interior, comfort, and practicality were my top priorities. At the same time I didn’t want a huge pickup,or an inefficient one. But putting aside all of those things, I stillwould have gotten the Ridgeline for one killer feature. Under bed storage. Every compact pickup has a back seat fullof crap, except for this one. Everything I need from tools, to gear, totie downs, to those seat covers, can be secured in this water tight compartment, leaving thecab free for people and pups. So while the ridgeline is no tacoma, it easilytows 5000 pounds, has all wheel drive, and is packed full of features that suit me better—eventhough it has a honda emblem on it. On to the next product, the Matchstix. It’s a thru axle, it’s a multi tool, it’sgorgeous, it’s $145 dollars. But are you really surprised? It’s made by Industry 9. Now i9 will never be for everyone, as theychoose to design, manufacture, and distribute all their products in Asheville using locallabor. That means you pay for it, but it also meansthey employ people who ride the same trails as I do, it means they’re my neighbor, andit means I’m a little bit biased. But still it’s hard to make excuses forany product at this price point, so I’ll just give you the pros and cons.
Let’s start with the cons. The Matchstix is pricy, we covered that. It also doesn’t flip out like a normal multitool, you need to muscle these bits out of a tube, which doesn’t seem very i9. The handle doesn’t have the most leverage,and the tool is necessarily missing some of the larger bits that are impossible to fitinside an axle. So the Matchstix won’t be for everyone,but it does have some unique advantages. First of all it can’t get left behind asit lives in your bike. The Matchstix may also be the lightest multitool period, as unlike other integrated tools, it replaces part of your bike. So once you subtract the weight of your oldaxle you’re only carrying around an extra 25 grams. The matchstix also features an impressivearray of tools including a spoke wrench, a valve core remover, a chain tool, quick linkstorage, and your choice of bits which are also machined in asheville. It’s also great looking, and available inall the other colors you’ll find at the candy store. So for those of you looking for a beautifullymachined, lightweight, boutique multi tool that can’t get left behind, the matchstixis pretty friggin nice. If you’re looking to save money, buy literallyany other multi tool. The only way I’d buy the matchstix is ifI broke or lost a maxle, and was already on the hook for $50.
The next product is the Yi 4K+ action camera,which I was hoping would be good GoPro replacement. It costs under $300, can shoot in 4k at upto 60 frames per second, and features some pretty impressive image quality. In fact I used it to shoot a lot of this video. The touch screen feels like a smart phone—muchbetter than gopro, and the menu is more intuitive. The Yi4k+ also features a tripod thread whichmakes it super convenient. But as an action camera, I think it’s lacking. The stabilization is weird to say the least,the field of view doesn’t seem all that wide, and the microphone doesn’t do a goodjob of automatically adjusting to input levels—something that even older GoPros are good at. Although it does change exposure quickly I don’t thinkit does as smoothly as a GoPro, and note that the GoPro I’m comparing it with is two generationsold. Another problem is using it with a gimbal. If you place it right side up one of the micsis right against the motor which picks up the sound. If you place it upside down the top mic isthen pointing right at the motor. The low light is also really noisy, even atlower framerates and resolutions. It’s also worth noting that there aren’ta ton of accessories specifically designed for the Yi. So for me, the Yi4k+ is a good camera forthe shop, or to use for third person shots. But it’s not replacing my GoPros. The next product is All Mountain Style frameguards. These are universal frame guards made to protectyour downtube, fork, chainstay, and anything else that may take some pebble and rock impacts. Before AMS sent these to me, I had never heardof them, but Felipe instantly knew what they were.
I must admit, I was expecting a diagram toshow where all these pieces are supposed to go, and after consulting their website I wasjust as confused. I should also note that my bike already comeswith guards for the down tube and chainstay, which appear to be thicker and more functionalthan the ones from AMS. I found that to install the guards a heatgun comes in handy, but still on a brand new frame I was unable to to work out all thebubbles. Maybe these just aren’t for me. As for Felipe, he was surprisingly excitedabout the AMS guards and very happy to replace the vinyl camo tape on his bike with thistougher more refined armor. At $35 I think they’re priced fairly forthose who need them, but I wouldn’t want to experiment with them. I had the luxury of trial and error with thesesamples, but it would be kind of frustrating to spend $35 and then screw up the installation. The next product is a bike stand that screwsinto the wall. It looked a lot bigger on Amazon, and I admitthat I thought it was universal. I should have looked at the size. Yes it only fits road bikes, and $17 is steepfor a tiny piece of plastic, but I must admit I’m impressed. This review will be super short because there’snot much to say about these bike stands, besides that they’re really clever and work wellif you have skinny tires. I’d love to build a mountain bike versionof this into my work bench, as this is a really convenient position for making cockpit repairs.
The next product is not this Victorinox swissarmy knife, which is as beautiful as it is functional. This is the classic multi tool, with it’sunmistakable design and signature click. So I should be forgiven for expecting a victorinoxbike tool to be like—well, a swiss army knife. This is almost like the Matchstix, but notbeautiful, compact, or integrated. In fact, it’s like 3 times the size of anF10, which functions more like a swiss army knife than this does. Objectively speaking this isn’t a bad tool. In fact the quality is great and it has alot of leverage, but it’s poorly marketed. Victorinox could have made a swiss army knifewith bike tools in it. It would have been an awesome gift, and peoplewould have been happy to pay a premium for it just for the novelty. But this does not excite me. Sure with the tire levers it might be greatfor roadies, but I don’t know. There are too many other great products outthere to recommend this since it’s really not all that interesting or novel. And that concludes our ten mountain bike relatedproducts. If you want to know where to get any of thisstuff, just tap the little arrow below the video, or just use the Google technology. Also let me know what categories you wantto see more of. Integrated tool storage? Hydration? Put it down in the comments. Thanks for riding with me today and I’llsee you next time.