gear shots - may 5 2022
GEAR SHOTS May 5th

Gear Shots: Tires, Flat Shoes, and Armour

Words Tim Coleman and Trevor Hansen
Photos Deniz Merdano
Date May 5, 2022
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POC VPD System Torso - Trevor Hansen

I tried the POC VPD System Torso before I got my hands on Leatt upper body protective gear, which I wrote about during my quest for good rib protection after a crash broke several ribs - not for the first time. POC's piece offers solid chest and back protection but it was lacking in the flank protection I was after for my ribs. I even jerry-rigged some flank protection using my elbow pads (photo below). After one ride I just couldn't do it. For those after most of the upper half of the front of the body and a full spinal protector, the VPD System Torso protective vest seems like it will work just fine. It is very comfortable to wear, easily adjusts and is light enough to make riding with it less cumbersome than some heavier chest and back protectors.

Made with POC's favourite compound, VPD or Visco-Elastic Polymer Dough , this 3D molded chest protector is certified to EN 1621-3, Level 1 standards, is well ventilated and molds to the back as the VPD softens with body heat. I have used POC's VPD elbows and found the fit, breathability and comfort excellent. I currently use their older VPD 2 hard shell knees as my go to on the harder more dangerous trail days. I do enjoy POC's designs, comfort and the protection VPD offers in those pieces, but the Torso armour just won't work for my rib-a-phobia.

-Trevor Hansen

320 CAD // 240 USD POC VPD System Torso


New Maxxis Shorty - Tim Coleman

Maxxis has quietly released a new version of the Shorty, a tire that is essentially a pre-cut mud spike to be used in softer conditions, but not in a full-blown muck fest (that’s what the Wet Scream is for). This style of tire was born out of World Cup DH teams cutting Wet Screams down to generate traction in soft conditions (sometimes even when the track is dry / dusty) but keeping some rolling speed and knob support.

maxxis shorty 2 tire 2022 2

I’ve been testing the Shorty II with MaxxGrip rubber in the DD casing on the front, paired with a DHR2 rear tire.

Although the intended use of the Shorty II is the same as the original, the knob profile has changed quite a bit. The knobs are a bit more spaced out, the center knobs feel a touch taller, and the large center block has been split in two. The side knobs feel slightly shorter and more supportive than the OG Shorty. The Shorty II comes in 27.5 and 29er wheel size, but only in 2.4” width. Double Down and Downhill casings are on offer with the MaxxGrip compound, as well as an EXO casing with MaxxTerra compound. As expected, the casings on the Shorty II feel similar to other tires in the Maxxis range.

maxxis shorty 2 tire 2022 3

The new Shorty can be easily identified by the II marks on the tire casing, which is why I’m calling this tire the Shorty II even though the hot patch on the side of the tire doesn’t differentiate it from the older version.

We’ve had a particularly wet March, which has made for great testing conditions. I like to ride a mix of trails, and I’ve found the Shorty II offered just as much grip in the softer conditions as the original version. That said I find the Shorty II is still more nervous than something like an Assegai across rooty sections, and on slick rock faces. This makes sense as the Shorty II has less knob contact area than tires intended for firmer / dryer conditions.

maxxis shorty 2 tire 2022 3

The II marks on the casing are intended to reduce mud packing in the tire.

As the trails have dried, I’ve been pushing the Shorty II in dry hard pack corners, and I've come away impressed with the support from the side knobs, and how they progressively loose traction. The biggest downside to the Shorty II is that it rolls relatively slowly compared to something like an Assegai, and in dry conditions it’s not going to offer the same support and ultimate traction. I think the changes Maxxis has made have resulted in the Shorty II being just as good as the OG Shorty in soft conditions, but more usable as the trails dry out and firm up. The Shorty II is an excellent choice on both ends of a DH or Enduro bike for a wet / soft condition event, or as a front tire for an aggressive wet season all rounder.

- Tim Coleman

$125 CAD // $100 USD // Maxxis Shorty

maxxis shorty 2 tire 2022 1

The Maxxis Shorty II Test Rig.


Dakine Drift Shoes - Trevor Hansen

When I was offered these shoes to test I was quite hesitant as I am a sticky sole shoe snob of the FiveTen-Specialized 2FO variety. I firmly believe the sole is the heart and underside of a bike shoe. If it isn't excellent I'm not interested. I have tried Shimano, Leatt and RCs but I always felt that no matter how well made, comfortable on and off the pedals and nice to look at each shoe was, the soles weren't sticky enough to inspire the confidence I wanted. With trepidation I tried the Dakine Drift shoes on and by goodness they were comfortable. The funky looking yet highly functional lace tuck-away pouch was intriguing and the shoes looked good (until Mr. Ryan Armani Walters burst my bubble by saying they looked like clown shoes). I tried a brief ride around the parking lot to check the stick between sole and pedal. I was pleasantly surprised; they felt as sticky as my Spesh 2FOs and close to my Five Tens.

deniz merdano trevor hansen dakine shoes 6.jpg

Ironic colourways: camo with bright yeller laces.

Dakine has two exclusive shoe features here: DK UltraGrip rubber and DK FlexRide shank technology. The DK rubber has a nice tread pattern that Dakine claims is made 'for on the fly adjustments.' I will say that it is easier to adjust my foot on pedal whilst moving wearing these shoes compared to my 5-10 Trailcross. Is that because the sole isn't as sticky on the Drifts as on the 'Crossers or is it the tread pattern or combination of both? I'm not sure how I would be able to figure that one out. As for the DK FlexRide shank tech, it's very noticeable and the shoes have a balanced feel on top of the pedals. The extra comfy Drift insole also helps with feel and it's probably the most comfortable riding shoe insole I have worn. I even pop it out of the Drifts and put it in the Five Tens on occasion.

deniz merdano trevor hansen dakine shoes 1.jpg

That toe box.

deniz merdano trevor hansen dakine shoes 2.jpg

Tread pattern works well for adjustments while riding.

The shoes fit a bit big and while I usually wear a 43.5, the size 43 Drifts I tested fit perfectly. The shoe is packed with high quality features beyond the two DK exclusives. The reinforced toe cap is beefy, fits well and looks very durable. It is also what caused Armani boy to label them clown shoes.

Other Features

  • Synthetic, durable PU upper features a perforated tongue for airiness
  • Tuckable lace pocket that keeps the crud off the laces but creates a lace bump hump which looks a bit strange but function over fashion I say.
  • comfortable padding on the collar
  • perforated tongue for cooling in the heat

The shoe has a pile of excellent features, it fits well in the heel, toe box, tongue and mid-sole while providing 9/10 sticky factor using my unpatented Trevor Tread-o-meter

Five Ten Contact 10/10

Specialized 2FO 9.5/10

Five Ten Freerider Pro 9.5/10

Dakine Drift 9/10

RC Powerline 8/10

Leatt DBX 3.0 7/10

Shimano GR7 5/10


Dakine Drift Shoes

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Comments

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
2 weeks, 5 days ago
+5 Alex Hoinville gubbinalia imnotdanny Pete Roggeman Tim Coleman

Shorty's like a Mary in my head that I can't slide out, got me grippin like na na na na everyday

Reply

Timer
Timer
2 weeks, 5 days ago
+1 Vik Banerjee

Rolls even more slowly than an Assegai? Oh lord.

Reply

rwalters
Ryan Walters
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Pete Roggeman

The notion of me as a fashion monger is the most ironic thing I've ever heard.

Reply

Tbone
Trevor Hansen
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Pete Roggeman

That's the idea

Reply

delusional
delusional
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 vantanclub

I'm sure I remember a time when running spikes in the Sea to Sky on any trail where they'd be an advantage was a significant faux pas?

Reply

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman
1 week, 6 days ago
0

Maybe a full Wet Scream would be frowned upon, but I don't think something like a Shorty should deserve any scorn. If anything it probably does less damage by providing more traction in soft conditions and reduces the amount of skidding / lock up.

Reply

kavurider
KavuRider
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Tim Coleman

Good lord that Norco is beautiful. Great lines and I love that color paired with the pistachio 38.

Reply

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman
1 week, 6 days ago
0

Thanks! I love how the colour combo turned out!

Reply

BenHD
BenHD
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

I don´t see where the Shorty has any advantage over an Assegai for an everyday application in the real world? I have the Shorty OG and it felt good in winter conditions in Germany. But then I think the Assegai is not that much different in terms of performance?

Reply

mammal
Mammal
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+3 gubbinalia Pete Roggeman Jerry Willows

One major difference is that Assegai's tend to get packed with mud really quickly, and don't have very good ability to clear that mud. Shorties are made to shed mud like crazy. Probably the biggest advantage I can think of.

Reply

gubbinalia
gubbinalia
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

I believe part of the design impetus for the tire was Minaar wanting a tire that felt (more) like a High Roller in the wet, but (more) like a DHF in the dry, IIRC from the video that Maxxis put out. I think they nailed that but, as Mammal says, it'll never clear mud *as* well as a dedicated mudspike.

Reply

Timer
Timer
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 gubbinalia

That sounds a bit strange.  The reason that the High roller works better in the wet than the DHF, is that the HR has more negative tread and clears mud better.

The Assegai has probably even less negative tread than the DHF.

Reply

gubbinalia
gubbinalia
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

You’re right, that explanation doesn’t quite make sense. Though, in general, the Assegai has an impressive range of conditions in which it’ll do “just fine,” IMO.  I’d personally take a Magic Mary or a Vigilante any day, but those are both more skewed toward wet conditions. 

I’ll have to dig up a link to that interview with Minaar about the development of the Assegai, clearly I’m doing a bad job paraphrasing the Goat!

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
2 weeks, 3 days ago
0

Here's what AJ wrote about it, in case that helps: https://nsmb.com/articles/maxxis-assegai-dd-exo-tire-review/

Reply

andrewbikeguide
AndrewR
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Define "not that much different" for riders that are interested in pushing as hard as possible to win (racing) or ride hard and don't like spending time injured if there a tool that helps them do faster but stay upright.

Reply

jt
JT
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Stitched toe box and sole? Interest has been piqued.

Reply

gubbinalia
gubbinalia
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Could we get a full Range bike check from Mr. Coleman? I know there's already been a review but I'm curious how Tim feels about bumping up from the Sight and living la vida high-pivot.

Also, stalking his IG it looks like he's been running the Mary/Betty combo for a while, so it'd be great to get a direct comparison of the Schwalbe combo to the DHRII/Shawtayyy combo.

Reply

mtbman99
mtbman99
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 gubbinalia

Assegai front Big Betty Rear is my go to combo. Not for those that need everything to match but it works so well on the trail I don't think I could care less.

Reply

gubbinalia
gubbinalia
2 weeks, 4 days ago
0

That sounds like a smart pairing. I'm not much of an Assegai rider (doesn't clear mud particularly well) but I've been loving the Betty as a rear tire -- between that tire and the (new) Nobby Nic, I don't think I'm ever going back to the DHRII rear for either a lighter trail bike or a heavy-hitting setup.

I would normally be an always-Magic-Mary-up-front rider (Addix casing for trail bikes, Super Gravity for big bikes), but I've had zero luck tracking any down in the past 4-6 months or so... Currently experimenting with the "new" Vigilante 2.3 Light/Hi Grip and Verdict 2.5 Tough/Hi Grip, but not totally satisfied with either. The 2.3 Vigi feels ~kinda~ like a Addix Soft 2.35 MM, but not as stable under braking, and the Verdict is just too wobbly on hardpack for my liking.

Not sure if the Shorty II would be a huge improvement over either of the WTB options but I'd be willing to give it a shot if it got the NSMB stamp of approval.

Reply

Timer
Timer
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 cheapondirt

Not trying to dissuade you, but I fear you might be a bit disappointed with the Shorty if the Verdict doesn't feel good on hardpack. 

There are surprisingly few true alternatives to the Magic Mary out there. The closest treads I can think of are the Michelins, Enduro Front or Wild AM2.

Reply

gubbinalia
gubbinalia
2 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 Timer

Great suggestion, I have not tried the Michelins at all. I have seen exactly zero AM or Enduro Michelins in my neck of the woods (though plenty of the DH series), so I might have to break some new ground and give those a shot.

I just looked at the WTBs I have and realized that the Verdict I have is in fact the Verdict WET, so that may account for part of the wobble factor. Going to swap it for a 2.5 Vigilante once we get into some sunny weather here.

Reply

LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
2 weeks, 3 days ago
+2 Pete Roggeman Tim Coleman

big fan of the T9 Butcher.  Clears mud better than the Assegai, rubber doesn't harden up below 7 degrees, cheaper, no wobble, etc

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman
1 week, 6 days ago
+2 gubbinalia cheapondirt

I'm also a big fan of the Magic Mary, and use that as my default front tire in Ultra Soft compound year round, it's just so versatile. That said I did really enjoy the Shorty 2 over the winter months though. I wouldn't run it in the summer, except for on very dry, dusty, loose tracks. 

I also found the Verdict to be scary on anything remotely hardpack. The Vigiliante is better as an all rounder front tire. In my experience I'd say the newer Shorty 2 is quite similar in feel and performance to the WTB Vigilante. The Vigilante maybe has a bit more supportive a side knob, but feels like a firmer compound tire, so doesn't offer up as much traction as the Shorty on roots and rocks.

gubbinalia
gubbinalia
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 Tim Coleman

Thanks, Tim, for the reply and laying out your tire assessments. I may have to give that Ultra Soft Magic Mary SG a try, crazily enough it's only 120g heavier than the non-Ultra Soft MM Super Trail!

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 gubbinalia

We don't generally do full bike checks on our personal bikes, but maybe we should put something together. Last year I was considering the Forbidden Dreadnought, keeping my Sight, Transition Spire, Specy Enduro, Specy Stumpy Evo and the Norco Range ... there might have been a few more. I was lucky enough to have a couple of those bikes in the stable to test at one time. The Range is objectively probably the worst one to have picked because it's the closest to my downhill bike in terms of feel / travel, and it was the heaviest. But it is so much fun to ride, it's the bike that kept getting pulled off the rack. It doesn't seem to need much more effort to pedal up than the other bikes, and makes me feel like Sam Hill going down. 

As for the tire combo, I really like the DHR 2 MaxTerra DD as a rear tire. Excellent all rounder. The Shorty as mentioned above, I really liked in the softer / wetter conditions, but wasn't ideal as the trails dry up and get firmer. The Magic Mary in Ultra Soft and Big Betty in Soft is my favourite go to all round combo, and like the durability of the Schwalbe casings, although this comes at a weight penalty. But I also really like a MaxxGrip Assegai / MaxxTerra DHR 2 combo.

Reply

gubbinalia
gubbinalia
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 Tim Coleman

Indeed, owning a Range as a trail bike, to sit alongside a purebred DH bike, seems like an exercise in pedaling futility! :-) But you're not the only person to signal that Norco did something special with that bike -- having owned a Druid and subsequently a Dreadnought, and ridden a few of the new crop of longer-travel HSP/HVP bikes, the Range clearly takes the cake in the breadth of its suspension capabilities.

I'm quite curious about the Spire as an option to sit between the Range-class quasi-DH bike and the Sentinel/Stumpy Evo/Sight-class all-mountain bike. Did you keep the Spire around after your review for long-term riding?

Reply

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman
1 week, 6 days ago
+1 gubbinalia

As I wrote in my review I really liked the Spire, I think it's a fantastic all-rounder. I love the aggressive / long geometry. If you're out for a long pedally day and wish you had a 150 mm travel bike, put a bit more air in the shock. I'd run a 170 mm Zeb / 38 on a Sight / Sentinel anyway, so the Spire isn't significantly heavier. Even with the same forks I think the Spire has a wider range of use where it's just as easy to pedal, just as fun on mellower trails, but has the capability to live in the bike park. I still have the Spire, and continuing to put miles on it. It's still been flawless besides a quick seat post rebuild. I'd ask to buy it had it not been for the Range. 

In comparison to the HSP bikes, I personally prefer the middle ground of the Range's axle path. I find you get almost all of the suspension compliance benefit of the HSP, but with less rear center growth, and the rear brake forces are more isolated. This makes the Range much easier to ride, and much easier to manual.

Reply

gubbinalia
gubbinalia
1 week, 4 days ago
+1 Tim Coleman

That's a high compliment to the Spire. And, I like that explanation of the axle paths advantages on the Range. Curious if we'll see that trickle down in Norco's line at all or if they'll keep it for the Range/Aurum exclusively.

Miss the days of your DH bike reviews, Tim! That series with the V10 was the stuff of legend.

Reply

Timmigrant
Tim Coleman
1 week, 4 days ago
0

I'll be doing more I hope. I really enjoyed writing that series, and want to do more. Your kind words and appreciation are motivating!

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