Mountain Gear of the Year: 2015

As the year winds down, it’s time for reflection—time to look back and remember all of the flippin’ awesome gear that came out in 2015!

This was a great year for mountain riders. There was so much amazing stuff, it’d be impossible to go over it all. So, we’ve boiled down 2015 to just six outstanding products that represent the pinnacle of mountain bike technology. This is far from a complete record of the year in mountain cycling, it’s just a list of some of the coolest gear that rolled through Art’s HQ in the last 12 months. If you’d like to share your favorite gear of the year, tell us all about it in the comments below. Now, without any further ado—on to the good stuff!

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Race Face Turbine Dropper Seatpost – Droppers have been around for a minute now, so it’s surprising that it has taken this long for someone to get it perfect. Mechanical droppers are durable and precise, but have a few downsides. Hydraulic droppers are smooth and versatile, but have a few downsides. Race Face has pulled together only the best aspects of both worlds to create a new high bar for the dropper market. The Race Face Turbine Dropper utilizes both mechanical and hydraulic technologies to make a dropper that smoothly sails to any position you want, then securely locks there without a hint of sagging. Race Face has even done away with the hydraulic dropper’s tendency to fail in cold weather! Just about every other dropper on the market has some sort of downside—the Race Face Turbine dropper has none.

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Schwalbe Pro Core Inner Tire System – It may not sound like the sexiest item on the list, but few products made more waves in 2015 than the Pro Core Inner Tire System. The Pro Core Inner might just be the “game changer” of the year. Ultra-low pressure tires have always come with the danger of pinch flats, bead burping, and rim damage. That all changes with the Pro Core Inner. It allows you to take pressure even lower than standard tubeless, without the risk of disaster. This high tech system basically turns any tubeless tire into a nigh-invulnerable high-traction powerhouse.

 

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HT X1 Pedals – With plenty of impressive offerings from Shimano and Crank Brothers, it’s been a really good year for clipless pedals. But no other pedal surprised us more than the HT X1. We’ve been guilty of sleeping on HT in the past, but after seeing what the X1 can do, we won’t make that mistake again. Aaron Gwin rode these puppies all the way to the podium at the Downhill World Cup, so you know they’ve got the goods. The X1 combines a Shimano-level fully adjustable clip with a Crank Brothers-level clipless platform. The result is devastating—a pedal that’s intuitive, durable, and versatile enough for even the most technical downhill rides.

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Bell Super 2R MIPS Helmet – Though Bell’s popular 2R helmet didn’t come out this year, 2015’s inclusion of MIPS pushed this year’s model over the edge into Gear of the Year territory. The Super 2R MIPS is a great example of how a few well-thought-out features can turn a quality product into an outstanding one. The base of the Super 2R is the is the mighty Super 2, which is a pretty wicked helmet in its own right. Add on a easy snap-on, snap-off chin bar, and you’ve got pure unadulterated enduro goodness. The MIPS is just the protective icing on the cake. With chin bar engaged, this has got to be one of the safest (and most versatile) helmets you can get your hands on.

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Five Ten Kestrel Shoes– We at Art’s HQ have been big fans for Five Ten for years. Their killer low-profile designs look just as home on the sidewalk as the do on the pedals—which is a definite selling-point in a market saturated with flashy (even gaudy) cycling shoes. Though Five Ten never fails to deliver a quality shoe, they’ve really outdone themselves with the Five Ten Kestrel. The Kestrel looks sleek and stylish, and it has plenty of punch to back up the awesome aesthetics. A carbon-infused shank makes the sole crazy-stiff, and the ratchet-action Boa system makes it easy as pie to get the shoe to stay exactly as tight as you want it to be. With an A+ in both form and function, it’s no wonder that the Kestrel is our favorite shoe of the year

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Enve M60 Forty HV DT Wheels – The wide tire “trend” hit big in 2015, and it’s showing no sign of disappearing any time soon. Enve is the crème de la crème of wheel manufactures, so it’s no surprise that their take on wide wheels— the Enve M60 Forty HV DT—proves that going wide is much more than a passing fad. The wide, deep rims lovingly cradle wide tires, and give them plenty of space to do their thing. The resulting ride is creamy-smooth, with a mind-boggling level of traction and superior stopping power. Aside from the high volume specialization, this set has the same level of Enve perfection that the cycling elite has come to expect. These wheels cost a pretty penny, but if you can afford them, they’re worth every cent.

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