I have been doing battle for many years now, as a matter of fact since 1997 from one coast to the other I have gone. Way back when in that time I have been sponsored by few protective companies, but none has matched the fit, feel, and functionality of DAINESE.
Now I won’t compare other gear companies or tell you more history about DAINESE all I will say is they have been in the game longer then most and all others have taken what they have did and capitalized on it, but they will in my opinion never come close in comparison. Now I say this with the utmost confidence and I will get back to that later. I will “ALWAYS” test products on this site as a neutral party for you the consumer because I am one to, I’m not a PRO that get stuff for free all the time and as a expert racer I won’t lie to you we do get our perks , and why shouldn’t we, we paid our dues.
LONG TERM TEST: DAINESE COMMANDER, 3x ELBOW, and 3x KNEE For about four years now I’ve been using these three products with ZERO, I repeat “ZERO” failure. They have preformed time and time again with no slippage of the knee or elbow. The chest protector has also preformed great to.
LONG LASTING JUST LIKE STRIDER GUM
Now when I started racing downhill it was just becoming the premier sport. The bike were starting to get better and so was the gear and DAINESE was first on the market to make their protection with the thought of putting great emphasis on impact which all this trickled down from years of Road Racing experience, these were not just some plastic pads with foam in them, and cooling the rider in the process. I wore all my moto gear that I raced with back in the 80’s. I thought this would give me better protection then anything out there. For the most part it worked.
One thing though, DAINESE gear was pretty much unobtainable early on. Number one, no one distributed it here in the states very good, or two you were a World Cup pro and purchased it when you were in Europe (Rum0r was even they had to pay full retail for it.), and three it was a lot more expensive the any other gear out at the time, but you could see how good their stuff was. I only purchased some when I worked at a shop that got it on close out.
My first taste was knee guards because they fit like no others. Now by this time I was racing expert and had been sponsored by a few big gear companies and one of them made pads that came the closest to the DAINESE product in fit and function, but in time like all the others I was able to crack elbow, knee, and chest protectors. I never got into the suits due to the fact that I liked the MX style chest protectors.
Now I’m going to brake this up into three parts ELBOW, CHEST, AND KNEE, so lets go shell we.
THE 3X ELBOW NOW CALLED PERFORMANCE ELBOW
Now when it comes to the fit for my arms and knees I have had the hardest time finding pads that would fit. I could never find pads that would stay on my arms, now I’m not a skinny guy and I’m not this muscled out kind of guy either, so when I found a set of pads that fit I would buy two sets just in case they stopped making them.
Three thing I can count on happening with my elbow pads, 1. They WILL slip down my arm. 2. I WILL crack the elbow cup on a HARD impact, and 3. I would have enough strap to run around one and a half times ( “give me a break these are mediums!”)
OK out of the three thing I’ve listed only one came up, to much strap. OK I could live with this, not all body’s will fit the average size ( Whatever that is.). This is something I just deal with, no problem just take off the Velcro and cut down the straps to my size, “PERFECT FIT”.
The fit is top notch, no slippage out of the bag. The strapping system has three of them one on the articulated plate above the elbow, one at the elbow, and one on the forearm. This gives a great fit on the arm and allows the arm to move as it should. I have crash tested these as well as the knee and chest and I could say these have never been a bother compared to others.
Impact test “YES”!! I have nailed my elbows hard on the 3x and came up thinking “OK their toast!” To my surprise nothing, nothing at all. WOW!! (Cracked others.) The elbow and forearm are made of Polypropylene a soft plastic that in my opinion absorbs some of the the impact, again this comes from their Road Racing tech. The strength also comes from the way its molded on the inside, holes on the shells for breath-ability along with the foam padding “THAT BREATHS“. I have hit the 3x’s very hard and you can not tell. these pads have come out with only scratches on them.
OUT WITH THE OLD IN WITH THE NEW- W- 3X KNEE NOW PERFORMANCE KNEE
OK the new PERFORMANCE KNEE is a little different from the 3X. DAINESE changed the straps and the padding a little, but that’s all. The pads are just about the same as fit and performance goes. Which does go to show you “Don’t mess with a good thing.”
The first time I got my 3X’s the first thing I did was to put my 661 pad locker on over the knee pad to prevent slipping of my knee pad. Now this is always a hassle to me, I mean I just hate having to take my shoe off to 1.) slid my pad or pad lock on to hold my pads on and 2.) having to take my shoe off to slid my pad lock and pad off my leg. See where I’m going with this, the basic inconvenience of having to take your shoes off at all!!!! MAJOR PET PEEVE!!!
I went out for some quick DH riding one day and told myself heck with the pad locker and low and behold as I was riding I didn’t experience any “MAJOR” slipping of my 3x pads. This really blew me away I could not think it possible to find a pair of pads that did not do this , again “WOW”!! Not only the fit, but no slipping and the protection, and breath-ability to boot.
Now as the 3X elbow the knee are put together pretty much the same, same padding, strapping system, and polypropylene. The knee is thought of in the same way as the elbow is, to move in a natural movement, having the articulated top plate above the knee lets the pad move with the knee as you pedal. This is in my opinion is why the pad does not slip when pedaling.
THEY TAKE A LICKING AND KEEP ON TICKING The knee will always be that one part of the body that will be hitting the ground a lot and if you want to go to work put some pads on the knees. I have hit these things countless times and have always come out of it great, but one time. It was the 2009 SRC Cal-State Finals in Mammoth and the pro/ expert course had crazy rock sections, while at practice I went down hard on the rocks to the point that I thought I broke my knee cap. Now at this point the first thing that went threw my mind besides the pain was that my 3X were done and I would be throwing them away, well they were fine just another scratch, oh I didn’t race because my knee was now a softball, but the pads saved me.
Again as I said about the straps on the elbow pads I have to cut down the straps to fit me ( not the fault of the company, but the maker himself.), not a big deal to me. Here is another thing I encountered with the pads. While racing one day it didn’t dawn on me, but I noticed I had a broken buckle snap, again “WOW” ! In four years of use this is all that has happened.
COMMANDO CHEST & BACK PROTECTION
I have worn nothing but moto chest/back protectors and have cracked everyone of them, they are not built for impact in mind, but for roost deflection only.
If you have worn any of the DAINESE body suits in the last few years then you know how good these thing are made. The back protector has DAINESE’s WAVE technology which give the protector great lateral strength for impact, but that’s not all on the inside is a aluminum honeycomb to absorb the impact, plus padding. The chest also incorporates the aluminum honeycomb also, you have an articulated shoulder that moves with you. the shoulder wraps around to the back to give your shoulder blade protection also, you have a little padded rib protection to.
This is one well thought out chest/back protector.
Have I IMPACT tested it well yes and when I have hit the ground I have not felt it. “It WORKS!!” and works well.
LIKE STRIDER GUM
This is the short of it, the testing, thought, construction, function, fit, and the ability to build something that will last longer then bikes you keep is truly something to be said.
When you Italian you think Ferrari and Ducati, why they are the best, well for all us old guys when it comes to protection we think of the best DAINESE . This is a product that is built to last and it cost more then most which is proof that it is worth it to spend the extra bucks on something that will last.
LAST THING SAID
OK now you know when I said I would get back to something I was about to say earlier, well some of you may know who I work for as my full time job and for those who don’t time to let you in on a little secret. I work for DAINESE/AGV USA as the Warranty Manager and as I said while testing product I will not compare any one product to another ( unless we do a shootout).
The fact that I am the Warranty Manager gives me a great prospective on how things are put together and will help Mtnbikeriders.com to give you the riders the very best on product test.
So go out and buy “SOME SORT” of protection before you go and ride. Your body will thank you in the future, trust me I know.
OK the time is near, I feel it in my bones, like the birds that get the urge to go south for winter or the migration the whales do to baja, its time, time to make our trek to the city of sin, the city that never sleeps, the city where a beam of light shoots into the air and breaks into space never to be seen again. On the way we pass an old ghost, a road named Zyzxx, the worlds biggest thermometer. The pull, the pull its getting stronger. I start looking at the hills and mountains and think to myself how would I go down this hill, how would I climb it.
This place, this place in the desert that lights up so bright at night like a diamond waiting to suck the life out of some, but not me, not me for I’m on the way to my “MECCA”, my place of worship once a year where we gather, we the media, we the dealers, we the makers that give you the riders what you want.
Ohhhh I feel it, my place of worship, my “MECCA”, but the first stop at my “MECCA” is the place in the desert where we start our trek up and down the hills of this place that will torture our souls with dust, heat, beer. A place of tents with goods, but none to trade only to show, touch, and drool over, but this is only the start for their is much, much more to be had in the fallowing days. It is not just of feasting on what the makers bring for us to show you, but to also catch up with old friends, see new movies, go to feast, drink free beer, and more beer, and then some more AAahhhhhh, INTERBIKE is coming!!!!!
And in this time it is up to us the media to show you as much as possible to entice you as we get enticed by all that the makers bring to show us and the dealers what will be out in the coming months. You will start to see the pre spy photos and new lines of gear, parts, and bikes ( I have goose bumps just thinking about it.), and as we pass through the gates where only the chosen are allowed we will bring it to you through email, tweets, Skype, Youtube, and websites, and all manner possible.
So to give you your pre shot you need here is a taste of last year’s travel to my mecca, “INTERBIKE !!” Enjoy.
Friends come to share smiles, we walk along in the wonderful sunlight and ride all that is new to us, oh what a wonder time we live
There is so much to see while you are here you will surly miss much. One has to slow him or herself down to not miss anything, control, control, you must learn control.
If you love the things you do, do them to the fullest extent and never stop. I truly believe that you will remain younger at heart in your mind as well as your body.
While I’m here I make my peace with all that is cycling, from road to mountain, to BMX, cruiser, and yes even fixie ( The latest fade that has lasted for what over five years now, OK it’s not a fade anymore.)
LAST YEAR WAS TO BE THE LAST YEAR IN THE DESERT OF DECADENCE
Yes this was to be true 2010 was to be it for Interbike here in Vegas. The kegs were going off the parties were many, heck one group was doing it big by giving top notch whiskey shot as a toast fair well to the Vegas venue just about every hour and handing out mustaches to go with the toast. Now this is STYLE!!
And you would look for the popping open of the kegs of beer.
NIGHTLIFE IN VEGAS WE KNOW
As the show ends for the day it is time for us to venture out into the lands around us, to see the sights, the sounds, the smells, the people that walk about, ahhh it is quite the adventure here in our annul trek to our “MECCA” we call INTERBIKE. All that we suffer to bring you the newest pics of the the best bikes and products, the stories of things to be and the things that never will.
While at last year’s Interbike one thing that I noticed was the plethora (I have always like that word.) of new riding lights coming out, but it was not just the lights, its the technology behind them. All the companies out there are always consistently finding better technology for lighting in all industries where lighting is concerned.
As someone that has dealt with lighting in the world of electrical for industrial, retail, and residential LED lights are now being use on city, house hold, and in movie making applications as well as bicycle commuter lights and off-road lights. Now in the last few years the cycling industry has pushed the envelope with high output 300 to 1000 lumen and I thought my little 5w-10w was bright.
OK time to throw those old lights away and move over cool new stuff.
GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE BADDEST BOUNTY HUNTER IN THE UNIVERSE
OK at the time of Interbike last year the Baja Design’s both was toting Boba Fett’s helmet equipped with the STRYKR and you know if Fett uses it I’m sure as heck going to check this light out, and besides they were offering a cool Interbike deal at the time.
They were sporting three lighting systems, the STRYKR (700 lumen), StrykrPRO ( 700 lumen), and the smallest of the three the ATOM ( 350 lumen). This one may not be out seeing that it is not listed on there website.
TIME TO OWN THE NIGHT
After seeing all these lighting systems out there ranging from 300 to 1000 lumen ( That’s right 1000, talk about lighting up your surroundings.) I was literately blown away on the range they have now.
OK before I get started on how the light works and discuss the tech on the light you may wonder exactly what is a lumen, and it’s not a Las Vegas act, or a bunch of guys running around with light bulbs on their heads doing funny dances at Burning Man. A lumen is a measure of the amount of light passing through a given area per second. Now this is the short of it that I want to give you without loosing you .
Now once I got home I took the box and opened up my new toy. The light comes equipped with charger, light, Li-Ion battery, three different bar mounts ( two size zip tie mounts,and one quick mount), and two diffusers (One flood and one spot), as well as a carrying bag. The only thing you have to purchase extra is the helmet mount.
A couple of things you notice off the bat is the STRYKR’s light is a lot bigger than most out there and the second thing is that this thing looks very mil spec, which tells you this thing is very bullet proof.
OK charging time which only took 2.5 hours ( Yes fast charge and ready to ride.) I mounted the quick release O-ring bar mount and left the spot diffuser on the light. Now on my first ride test I did notice that on some big to medium hits the light did move downward and I was forced to stop my ride and pull it up a little. This can be a pain when you are really moving along.
The spot was really awesome and I loved how it put the light out there and the flood lens does just as well putting the light out as well, but in a wider area. I later mounted the better solid zip tie bar mount and this was by far better of course ( this comes in two sizes for the correct handle bars.), I also pick up the helmet mount kit which in a discussion with my college it was said that it would be to heavy, bulky, and just to big on your head. Well I’m here to tell you once I started riding I didn’t notice any light on my head really, and if you have ever mounted your light on the helmet this is the way to go. Point the STRYKR and see the trail. It was great to see “EVERYTHING”, even the monsters that are out lurking at night. I could swear I spotted a Bigfoot and a Chupacabra.
Now I did encounter one other small problem and that was after one of my rides was over as always I take my lights off and store them away till my next ride, like we all do right.
The next time I went out and I mounted my light I noticed that it would not get tight on the mount and it took me a few minutes to figure out what it was, I noticed that the small toothed washer was missing. This helps to position the light the way you want it. After checking my other mount and I saw that it comes out it must have fallen out when I took off my light, now this amazed me that this little washer almost killed my night ride. Keep an eye out for this little part.
THE TECH OF IT
The STRYKR‘s switch has four light modes ( High, med, low and strobe.), battery level indicator witch shows green, yellow, then red. The batteries run time is up to 12 hours depending on the mode your in. The light and battery are waterproof up to 33 feet, weight of the unit is 520 grams.
The STRYKR is run off a high tech closed loop microprocessor.
LIGHTING UP THE NIGHT RIDE
With the two minor little problems being the quick O-ring bar mount (Which to me isn’t a huge thing just irritating when riding.) and the little washer ( which could hinder your ride before it even got started.) I found that the BAJA DESIGNS STRYKR light rocked. I loved the performance it offered, both optic lenses lit up the trail so much it just killed my old light on lighting up the trail. The battery life was great and while using it the medium and low mode settings this was more then enough to light any trail and save on battery life.
This is a company that designs lights for baja racing and it shows in the construction of the STRYKR, also think about this BOBA FETT uses it.
OK so what is this baby going to set you back, well like any good lighting system out there they don’t come cheap and their are some that cost a lot more than this one.
The STRYKR goes for $ 298.95. You can contact Baja Designs by calling at (800)422-5292 or going to their website www.bajadesigns.com .
Is it worth it, well I would say yes it’s worth the investment to light up the night and find some Chupacabra’s and I give it the “ART SEAL of APPROVAL”.
Please click here to read our review disclaimer as required by the Federal Trade Commission.
If you have heard of AGV helmets it would be in the motorcycle end of it for this is what they are known for. AGV first started out just after the Second World War making leather seats and bicycle saddles. But in 1947 Mr. Gino Amisano the founder entered into the motorcycle helmet world and the rest is history as they say. Along the way AGV has come up with many innovations and sponsored many of road racing’s greatest legends , one of them you may have heard of today if you follow Motogp, AGV’s Valentino Rossi. INTRODUCING THE NEW AX-8 MX HELMET
Now this is a DOT approved motorcycle helmet with what AGV calls SSL shell (Super Super Light) which is comprised of Kevlar,Carbon, and fiberglass shell.
This makes for a very, very light shell. As a matter of fact the whole helmet weighs only 2lbs., that’s right “2lbs”. This is the same weight as the DAINESE Raptor DH helmet that we tested. Other features the AX-8 has is IVS (Integrated Ventilation System) which has channels formed directly in the outer shell to help in cooling the old melon, the fabric is breathable Dri-Lex with sanitizing treatment, also the top and cheek pads are removable for washing, and the retention system is the good old double d-ring strap. If you noticed the front chin bar it has in my opinion one of the biggest mouth vent ever, but in the end I like this it brings in a lot of air and it looks very Darth Vaderish. The top vents can be open or closed.
WHY USE A DOT HELMET Now this is a good question and it may seem like overkill for DH or Freeriding and this would be more of a personal preference, but awhile back one top Australain World Cup DH racer had a severe head injury that put him in a coma for several weeks. This did raise the question of are DH helmets strong enough to handle what we do, after all Downhillers and Freeriders do hit moto speeds and the terrain we ride can be a lot worse.
Now if you ask me wearing a DOT helmet verues a CPCS helmet that is a DH helmet will protect you no matter what, a DOT just has a higher safety rating for motorcycle riding then a CPSC rated helmet. Now how does she feel
The AX-8 feels great and has a great fit, but what would be the draw back to this helmet for DH racing and riding well it would be the venting and that’s the way it has always been when choosing a DOT helmet, and weight. Your typical Bicycle DH helmets have nice big vents to allow air to flow through your head and they are light in weight, this is the one thing I love about this helmet is the weight and with the big eye port and chin vent this brings the air in.
When racing with it on I have no issues with it that I can come up with, it just feels great and I do feel better wearing a DOT helmet ( Peace of mind.).
This is my new race helmet, my helmet before this was the DAINESE Raptor DH helmet, and before that it was my (and I loved this helmet) Troy Lee D2 helmet. DRESSING IT UP OK it was time to dress it up to make it mine and seeing that I do test and write for Mtnbikeriders.com I just had to see my friend Mike at Signit to make me some decals.
So I got my Mtnbikeriders.com decals done and had our bike sponsor AIRBORNE Bicycle’s decal made, and if you noticed my name “Oh yes!!” Now I’m Joe pro.
THE DOWN AND DIRTY
As we come to the end of it do you use a DOT helmet? Well, why not? This thing is 2lbs, it feels great and looks cool, besides the biggest thing it’s good enough for Travis Pastrana!
AGV has some cool color to choose from besides black and white. They have a Rossi replica and a Pastrana Nitro Circus limited edition.
What is the cost on this bad boy, Solids go for $349.95, Multi $379.95, the Rossi and the Pastrana $399.95.
One thing I saw out and around at Sea Otter was a dh bike that I saw at Interbike and I just knew it would be an awesome bike to ride.
It was the new COMMENCAL SUPREME DHv3.
When I was running around on the downhill course during sport- beg practice I spotted this beauty and I just had to talk to this racer, for he had something I thought only the Atherton’s were still testing.
Well I found out that this racer and two others were here with the only new 2011 or should I say 2012 Supreme DHv3’s from the Canadain Commencal distributor T2R distributors.
I got a chance to talk to Peter Amory director of T2R and he had informed me that the new Commencal Dh rigs are more or less available in Canada and will very soon be in the U.S. markets ( Give your local Commencal dealers a ring.)
The new rig is totally revamped for this year, now I got to test ride the 6″ Dh Supreme and was blown away on how it felt like a 8″ dh bike.
The new Commencal puts the rear shock lower in the frame for a lower center of gravity to futher improve handling.
One nice touch was the cable routing through the front headtube which was very cool.
Other new touches are taperd head tube, adjustable rear axle, and Fox equipted suspension.
Now don’t think I didn’t get a chance to ride this baby because the minute I saw it I had to try it out even if it was only about a 50 to 75 yard little downhill sprint, and I did find a little bump to jump this thing even if it was a foot off the ground and it felt nice. The one thing I asked was what size was it and was told it was a medium, but if felt like a small.
What could I say about it ” If the Atherton’s were involved with the making of this thing I need say no more.”
Thanks to Peter and Sean of T2R for the info on the Supreme DHv3.
One of the best things about Sea Otter is that you get to see not just prototype stuff, but 2012 products that are coming out soon. The one thing that will always bum me out though are the things I will never ever be able to 1.) AFFORD, 2.) only the “PROS” get.
We all want it, but can’t get it, We all like to touch it and some times can, and we like to see it which is free to us. So here are some pics from Sea Otter of a few things that pros have and things that we say “WHAT! IT COST HOW MUCH!!”, but it looks cool.
Avid had some cool Black Box brakes that were on Giant team racer Danny Hart’s bike that had his name on the levers. I would pay to put my name on my levers. “Its the little things.”
Customized brake lever…
Acros is a company out of Germany that makes some of the coolest headsets, seat post, bottom brackets, and now rims and wheelsets, but wait that’s not all. Their newest venture is drive train components that are lighter and cooler then anything I’ve ever seen out there.
Front, and rear deraillers plus shifters are all high quality cnc machined parts. The price, just over $2000. “wow!!” Did I mention that they are hydraulic?
One of the next things we saw while walking around was a new rim set from DT SWISS, asking price $4000. Was that right? Very cool lite set .
The 29er set weight is toted at 1200gr for the set.
Well this was just a few things and there was so much more to see. It gets overwhelming and this isn’t even Interbike.
OK I have been a downhill racer for a long time and if there is one thing I know its protection and protecting yourself from impact, my fulltime job puts me in contact with the best protection company in the world.
That being said, while at this year’s Interbike show I was wandering the countless aisles. While there you will see many cool things as well as the newest ideas that will never be.
While turning the corner of one said aisle I hear a loud bang three or four times, so as I see this tube and a man talking to the crowd he drops a bowling ball down the tube on a pad about an inch thick and the bowling ball is bouncing on the pad, next he pulls the competitors pad out and places their pad in place.
Now this thing is only about a quarter of an inch thick and he is going to drop this bowling ball on it. OK one word comes to mind “RIGHTTTTT!” Thinking this pad will be obliterated on the first hit I decide to stay and watch them go down in a crash of burning flames. I try to get close to the action so I could see this and as he gets ready to drop the ball I’m ready to see this thing blow apart or beat it to a pulp.
He’s ready, drops, and “BANG”, wait no multi bounce of the bowling ball”! What gives, is this the same stuff that 661 uses; it can’t be it’s not as thick as their pad.
Now this demonstration did what it’s meant to do catch your attention and that it did.
Time to talk to someone.
The name of the company is called G-FORM and you can go to www.g-form.com to check them out.
They make elbow, knee, and shin pads, as well as some other things. When I looked at these I thought they can be used in a number of sports and the first thing that came to mind was cross county riding as well as racing, heck these pads can have uses in cyclocross and shell I dare say road riding, and racing.
Now Tech Talk The pads are made of Poron XRD foam, a molded, rate-dependent impact pad. These pads will stiffen on impact and absorb the shock (remember the bowling ball not bouncing), but will stay flexible and soft while wearing them.
One reason for the flexibility is the ridges and hinges on the pads which create an exoskeleton and gives your arms or knees movement.
The XRD foam is attached to a Lycra compression sleeve with a strip of silicone on the upper part to avoid slippage on the arm or leg.
The elbows come in a short or long compression sleeve in sizes ranging from XS-XXL.
Legs come in sizes 2xs-3XL and are a short knee pad.
Shins come in sizes 2XS-3XL. All pads are priced at $39.99. These pads are made to wear outside the garment.
The Ride Test The first thing I liked about these pads is the fact that I could pack them in my pack, but really when you put them on their really is no need to take them off, they have great breathability and they feel light while wearing them and had no movement at all, which I love in a pad.
One thing that is great about the G-FORM pads is on a long ride I didn’t get hot in them and on a cold day they kept my knees and elbows warm.
On rough terrain or jumping with them again no movement, “love it”.Now all testing so far has been trail riding and I have yet to give them a race test or of course the dreaded crash test which I’m sure will come.
As I had said earlier these pads I believe can be used in cross country, cyclocross, and road riding as well as racing.
I do look forward to cyclocross in these pads as well as maybe an XC race, or Super-D. The Bottom Line Are these pads good for all occasions? Sure why not. To me they are good for XC, CX, Super-D, and those long trail rides.
They offer lightness and pack ability no other pad can offer, as well as fit, comfort, and protection that is not typically offered or found in a pad for the XC, trail riding crowd.
The price is not bad either at $39.99 I say go out and get yours today, so go on line and get a hold of the guys at www.g-form.com today and dress for all occasions.
And thanks to Ami at G-FORM for the test products.
Finally a light pad for the trails! “Yeah!”
It ended up being a great weekend and an even better race then I thought it would be for me.
The sun was out Saturday and Sunday and it was as hot as can be and it’s hot, windy, cold, or windy with the hot and cold on any given day when you race SRC races at Fontana.
My Saturday and Sunday practice were very light and I wish it would have been more, but as this story progresses I really didn’t need it; this was a day that that was just going to click for me.
This was the last of the Cal State races, as a matter of fact it was the Cal State Finals Championships, so points were on the line as well as titles for some, but for me the pressure was off I missed two of the four races so for me I figured I was out of the running for a top slot just do it for the guts and glory.
Course lay out was great if you ask me very flowing with a mix of a few jumps, great rock sections , nice fast turns, and mixed in with two of the longest pedaling straights I have ever encountered in dh racing one in which has earned the name “THE WALL”. This area separates the men from the boys.
Well with the pressure off I could do what I was looking forward to doing and that was race testing the AIRBORNE TAKA DH bike we had.
In the gate and just before the nerves will ramp up a bit, I will relax myself with a little breathing exercise, become calm, and “BAM” hit the pedals and start clicking the gears, heart rate rising I’m moving, but this time I’m riding with an amazing calm ( I guess you could say I was in my Jedi state.)
Everything just flows, you flow with the bike, and the course I was having a really good time on the bike and the course, and you hear your friends cheering you on to pump you up more it’s GREAT. The wall didn’t even get to me. I pedaled the wall sitting and standing pushing the last of it for that last little sprint. Oh man did I feel like heaving afterward. When I felt better I picked up the bike and went to go back to the group I was surprised to see I had a flat front tire, “WOW” I thought this race couldn’t have gone any better. I was in for more surprises.
ALWAYS THE BRIDES MAID NEVER THE BRIDE
That heading has always been in the back of my mind. Now I will always wait to see the standings when there posted I don’t know why I just do this, well as I was walking to go talk to a friend, and RL comes by to tell me,“Hey you need to go and look at the standings.” OK, the way he said it was kind of weird, so I go over and someone tells me “Good job”, I’m like OK as I look up and find my name and can’t believe what I’m seeing “1ST PLACE” NO WAY ,NO STINKIN’ WAY I did it, I really did it this is cool.
OK you got to know why I’m jazzed about this I’ve been racing DH since 97’ end I have never set a foot on that oh so elusive top slot on the podium and what a feeling it is to final stand up there as a 1st place winner, to top off the 1st place, I also ended up as the 5th place Cal State championship series overall. It was a good day.
All I could say is “Don’t ever quit, find your flow, and have fun doing it.”
Thanks to all of our sponsors: Evomo Clothing, Ice Toolz, Dirty Dog MTB,Serfas, Ergon USA and VIP Energy Mix.
OK, I could start by rehashing everything I talked about on the test and I will mention a few things, but this is about what the AIRBORNE TAKA could do when it is truly put through the paces for what it’s meant to do and that’s “RACE”.
The race was the Golden State Championships at Fontana Ca. Saturday was practice and Sunday was the race. I didn’t get as much of a practice as I had hoped, and bringing the TAKA out here and putting it through its paces would be by far different than just riding it on a downhill trail; you push your bike in a totally different manner, you may have to adjust your suspension, adjust tire pressures, or change tires altogether.
I did adjust tire pressure and I did adjust the suspension by slowing down the rebound on the Marzzochi 888’s. When this was said and done as in the trail test the TAKA was a point and shoot ride, no fighting, no fussing, just ride which allows you to concentrate on your race, its geometry shined on the course which was made up of jumps, flowing turns, and rock sections with loose to hard pack ground.
As I said the geometry with its DH angles gave the TAKA precise steering in the turns and was very stable at speed. The suspension worked in perfect unison with each other and if there was any brake jack I really didn’t notice it as I did on the trail test. Now the only thing left to do was the race.
Well I got one practice run out of the way and I would have like to do maybe one more, but time did not permit, so the time came and you’re on the start block for a brief second you think is there anything I could have done to make the bike run faster or better, but truth be told the TAKA was set up fine it was all up to me now.
I left the start gate and as I raced down the course I found myself flowing without effort only thinking of the course not the bike. This is a good feeling and as experts, or pros we demand a level of quality on the gear to win races and become champions.
I said this would make a great beginner , sport race bike, well I can also state that the AIRBORNE TAKA DH bike would make a great expert race bike, why because it took me to a “FIRST PLACE WIN” LAST WORDS
One thing that was kind of funny is that all my friends that race, saw me with the TAKA asked ‘What’s that?”, “Why you racing that.”, “HOW MUCH IS IT, YOU’RE KIDDING!” The end result comments “Hey Art it’s time to sell your high end bike!” I guess the truth is you don’t need a $5000 bike to win races.
So whether you want to just freeride or race and you are on a budget this is by far the best way to get into a DH bike. You won’t regret it, you’ll just have fun and win races too.
A big thanks to the guys at AIRBORNE for allowing us to test their TAKA.
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