The Tuxedo Tactical Team

At the last Shimano Winter Series Downhill Race, the team decided to bust out their Sunday Best, Tuxedos!

Art, Corey, Bryan, RL and Neal.
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Yours truly.
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Neal Bryant
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Bryan Doney
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Art “Always Sexy” Aguilar
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Corey Pond
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Funny how different cameras pick up a different shade of pink on the jerseys…One of the best things about the Tuxedo jersey, we get a TON of compliments before, during and our race runs. So much so that I’ve even received orders from people at the race! The jersey definitely stands out and it has been a great marketing tool for MtnBikeRiders.com.

In Decline Magazine

We touched on this a few weeks ago when we first heard that some of us were scheduled to appear in the June 2011 issue of Decline Magazine. Well I finally tracked down my own copies, one to read and one to save. In the photo you’ll see (from left to right) team racers, Corey Pond, Art Aguilar and yours truly. The article talks about the Shimano Winter Series that Southridge Racing Company has been putting on the last 20 years. We really are blessed to have this organization and venue to ride. Big thanks to Mike Lord, photographer extraordinaire and of course Decline Magazine.

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The caption on the photo.
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Ride Report: GMR Downhill

This past weekend my friends and I headed up to Glendora Mountain Road aka GMR. We would be descending down a trail called Monroe Truck Trail or GMR East. There are several names for this trail but it’s commonly referred to just as “GMR”. I myself have been riding this trail several times the last two weeks, since my friend Perfecto showed it to me. It doesn’t seem to get old… It’s pretty hard to pass up a super fun descent that is SIX miles long.

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Big group gettig ready to hit the trail!

The way this works is we shuttle the riders to the top. We typically leave several cars at the bottom parking lot then drive up to the upper parking lot, next to the trailhead. The drive up is the only downside for this ride. If you easily get car sick / motion sickness, best to prep yourself as you will go up a winding road. GMR is also popular to many other users such as road cyclists, motorcyclists (fast guys who drag their knees on corners) and longboards (skateboards). The road can be busy so be careful. It’s about an 8 mile drive to the top.

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View from the trailhead. Pic by Nel Manimbo

Description of the trail – from the trailhead you will start on a descent. You will encounter a short climb, then the rest is all downhill. There is nothing technical with the trail, just a few exposures on the side of the mountain as you pick up speed. There will be short s-turns, switchbacks, loose rocks in some places, … but most of all FAST sections. If you are familiar with the Luge in Orange County, it’s similar but much longer. Talk about smiles for miles… (*There is an option off this trail for a more challenging downhill which has a real steep section).
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Area where we regroup

This group ride consisted of 21 guys. The plan was to do two runs. The first will be down the trail I described above and the second will be down GMR West, a two mile DH run. I myself haven’t been down GMR West and was looking forward to it. Heading down the mountain, the group split into two – 12 went with me down the route mentioned above and the other 9, Perfecto’s group, turned off at the *steep section. We stopped at the breakpoint to regroup. From here we would typically go down the switchbacks but decided to try a different route. It was supposed to be longer… little did we know what the bottom had in store for us. Water crossing after water crossing!!!
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One of the many water crossings. pic by Nel Manimbo

Just when we thought we were out of it, there would be more… not only that, some sections were impossible to ride through as the shrubs were overgrown. Needless to say we had to hike-a-bike through some of it. When we finally made it out, we regrouped at the exit.
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more water… pic by Nel Manimbo

While waiting for the others to exit we noticed a FD helicopter flying overhead and fairly low. Uh oh… we had a feeling something happened. From here was a short ride to our cars that were left behind at the lower parking lot. When we got there, there were more FD and paramedics. We asked what was going on and all they can tell us is someone got hurt. Not knowing the details, we suspected it was someone from the other group that split off. There were no other mountain bikers on the trail except for us that morning.
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Landing somewhere up in the mountain. pic by Flex Jamboy

We waited at the bottom for awhile waiting for the other group to come down. When they didn’t, six of us went up for another run down the mountain. Reaching the breakpoint we see Perfecto’s group – one less rider, Jay. Apparently there was a mishap and Jay crashed down the mountain. I don’t have the details of his crash but it required him to be airlifted out of the mountain. Perf’s group, now one-less rider, were taking turns bring Jay’s bike down the mountain.
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Securing Jay before the airlift. Pic by Flex Jamboy

My six guys finished the ride by heading down the switchbacks avoiding the previous water adventure. Almost at the bottom, our friend Dexter comes very close to rear ending Alan and had to veer off the trail. Fortunately there was a tree that kept him from going much further to the bottom of the mountain. We pulled him up and he walked away unscathed. Wow what an eventful ride!!!
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Dexter peeping out like an elf…LOL

Jay went home from the hospital the same day. From the pictures and posts on FB, he appears to be ok. Below is a video from our last run… Rescue Dexter is at the end of the clip 🙂

Leatt-Brace DBX Comp – Protection for your neck!

In our sport of downhill (DH), whether you are racing or just riding downhill trails, nothing boosts more confidence than having the right protection. Other than the obvious – helmet, you can now have protection for your neck. The Leatt-Brace DBX Comp employs the patented Alternative Load Path Technology (ALPT) which minimizes movement of your neck upon a crash.

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SRC Winter Series 2, Photo by Jason Cleghorn, www.cleghornphotography.com

The Leatt-Brace, maker of the moto neck brace has come out with a specific brace for bicycles – the DBX Comp (Downhill and BMX). Although similar in appearance as the moto neck brace, the DBX Comp is constructed with thinner pads, ¼” thinner vs. the moto. The DBX helps protect riders from head or neck impacts. The ALPT helps disperse the energy that is typically transferred to the neck, resulting from an impact to the head and assists in the transferring of forces away from the vulnerable neck structures to less vulnerable areas of the body and is pivotal in the design of all Leatt-Braces.

The DBX (and other Leatt-Braces) helps protect the rider from the following scenarios:

– Hyperextension: Extreme bending of the head in a rearward direction
– Hyperflexion: Extreme bending of the head in a forward direction
– Lateral Hyperflexion: Extreme bending of the head to one side
– Posterior Hypertranslation: Movement of the head relative to the neck, at ninety degrees to the neck.
– Axial Loading (when combined with Flexion, Extension and Lateral Flexion): Helps prevent axial loading when the axial forces act in combination with bending moments or shear forces. As an example, this typically occurs when your head is forced downward and forward (Hyperflexion) or downward and backward (Hyperextension).

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Specs on the Leatt DBX:

– Injection molded
– Glass reinforced
– Nylon neck brace system
– Designed by medical professionals and motorcycle enthusiasts to help prevent extreme neck movements upon a crash

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The DBX Comp’s key parts are the neck brace which are two pieces – front and back. The front includes the piece that sits on your chest and the back piece includes the thoracic member. The front and back are connected by “pins”, one on each side. A strap is included to keep the brace in place (optional).
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Side view of the DBX Comp

The most important part of wearing the DBX Comp is the fitment. It’s imperative that you are properly fitted to ensure you have the maximum protection. The DBX Comp comes with four pairs of pins to accommodate various sizes:

– Short Pin (0mm)
– Medium Pin (10mm)
– Long Pin (20mm)
– Long Pin (30mm)

Having the Leatt-Brace too big (loose) or too small(tight) can affect the way the brace protects you. The DBX Comp can also be opened or closed on either left or right side. There is a hinge closure that locks onto the pins.

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The extra pins; the medium is mounted in the DBX

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View from the back with the thoracic support

In the racing circuit, I’ve also noticed that the Leatt-Brace has inspired confidence to many riders of all levels. From Professionals to Beginners, they are no longer wearing body armor. Note that body armor is a personal preference, however if you do decide to wear it in conjunction with the DBX, you have to be sure that the thoracic piece is sitting flat on your back and is under the spine protector. Armors that have been in production with thicker chest padding and spine protection will not work well with the DBX… again, proper fitting is key. They now have body armor out in the market that is designed specifically to “fit” with the Leatt-Brace.

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Wearing the DBX Comp in the Southridge Finals without body armor.

Real life experience: Since wearing the DBX Comp, I’ve personally experienced how the Leatt-Brace can save your @$$! Jan. 9th 2011 Fontana Winter Series #1, practice run – I was following RL Policar down the DH course. At some point I bobbled at a technical section which caused me to stop and redo. At this point RL was long gone. I continued down the course with out anyone to follow. I came up to a section which was a roller/drop off. I should have stayed on the right side where it was a fairly easy roll. Not knowing which way to go, I went left and the rocks started to gap. End result – Over The Bars (OTB). Point of impact was the right side of my head and I rolled over, slamming my right hip onto the ground. I’d hate to find out what would have happened had I not been wearing the DBX. I walked away with bruises on my right hip, leg and buttocks.
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My crash in January. Photo by Tibor Fazekas, www.tibiphoto.com

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Not too long before my OTB, I learned that one of my friends, Perfecto (Perf), crashed while on a casual downhill ride. He was at a local secret DH spot in So Cal with a lot of jumps. Now this guy can hit the jumps… but sometimes we all have mishaps. So what happened – Perf crashed hitting his face first, shattering his helmet. A typical face-plant type accident without a Leatt-Brace, the force of the impact is typically transferred from the ground to the helmet; through the helmet to the scull and scull base where it is then transferred through the neck to the back (thoracic spine). With the Leatt-Brace, the force will instead transfer from the ground to the helmet, through the helmet onto the Leatt-Brace once impact is made. Some of the force will then be transferred to the brace and dispersed to the less vulnerable parts of the torso. If the impact is significant enough, the brace is designed to fail in crumple zones (similar to those seen in cars), thereby helping to absorb some of the energy of the impact.

See before and after pictures below. Had he not been wearing the Leatt-Brace, he would have had a serious injury.
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Perf’s helmet when new

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Helmet after the crash

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So does it work – YES it does! Both scenarios mentioned above could have easily resulted in a more serious injury. Able to walk away from it is priceless. We should always think safety first. Leatt-Brace DBX has other models available – The Ride, the Comp I or II and the Pro. The DBX Comp retails for $395.00. For more information, visit Leatt-Brace at www.leatt-brace.com.

Ride Report: Hummingbird Trail, DH in the Valley

Saturday group rides have been a staple to my schedule for quite sometime. My group of friends typically frequent the various Orange County trails… however from time to time, we’ll explore other Counties.

This past Saturday we ventured to Simi Valley (just past the Los Angeles area) to a trail called Hummingbird. From Orange County, it’s a good 1.5 hour drive… a bit far but definitely worth the downhill that was in store for us. For sometime I’ve heard how fun Hummingbird is… it didn’t disappoint!

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Early start, 6:00am truck and bikes read to roll

Our group met at the end of Hummingbird trail. There were about five other cars that met us there. From here we left one car, then doubled back to Rocky Peak (previous freeway exit) where we can catch the trailhead for Hummingbird. Getting there was a challenge on big bikes… needless to say, there were a lot of hike-a-bikes. A few of the guys that were on lighter bikes were able to pedal up.

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At the top of Hummingbird Trail

Below is a video of our first run. From the start until the end it was pure descent. There was maybe one short pedaling section but if you carried enough speed, it’ll carry you to the top. Hummingbird reminded me of Sedona, AZ but without the red dirt. There were tons of unique rock formations, several of which were on the trail and you had to maneuver through.

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A truck load of bikes!

Our second run was down another trail just before Hummingbird. It’ll remain nameless as it seemed to be a “secret” trail. I wouldn’t want to ruin it for the locals. Just to give you an idea – it’s filled with jumps, step-ups, drop-offs, plus more… If you like all of these and have excellent handling skills, this trail is for you. Unfortunately none of the guys were familiar with this trail and our ride did not flow as we were trying to get around the tougher parts. But for sure this trail rocks!

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Myles looking down the trail… pretty steep

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Exiting out of the tunnel

Hummingbird was a blast! Looking forward to the next trip to the Valley!

Weekend Ride and “NO” Race Report (OTB in practice)

This past Saturday my ride was at Turnbull Canyon in Whittier, CA. Since southern California has been pounded with rain and storm for the past several weeks, this would be the first dry weekend for riding… In addition majority of Orange County’s trails are still closed due to the rains. Needless to say there were a lot of mountain bikers that flocked to Turnbull.

My group of friends consisted of about 15 guys. On the trail we met another group of friends which had 10 guys… so we had a big group ride!
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Heading to the trailhead

One highlight of the ride was my friend, Dexter, invested in the Shuttle Buddy. This is a motor assisted contraption that mounts on the rear wheel of your DH bike.
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Basically this is a self-shuttle for those who can’t pedal up the mountain. This would be his first trial with the Shuttle Buddy. From where we parked our cars, it’s about 1/8th of a mile to the trail head. The Shuttle Buddy motored him like a mo-ped. For awhile it sounded like a lawn mower was following me. Unfortunately his Buddy crapped out on him halfway up the first climb on dirt so I never got any details on how it was working for him.
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An Intense 951 faster than a 19lb carbon bike???

Onto the trail… conditions were excellent! There were a few wet spots but nothing that would cause trail damage. As always, Turnbull is a fun trail. If you’ve been there, we made our way down the switchbacks to 7th Street. This is a fast descent after the series of switchbacks. From here we climbed up a different set of switchbacks and headed to a singletrack called A-line. If you haven’t been there, below is a video of the downhill sections we rode on Saturday.

On the same day was the first race of the Southridge 2011 Winter Series. As you read SSuper Dan’s race report (the post prior to mine), while I was making my way to Fontana, he was tearing up the course on his singlespeed. Congrats Dan!!!

For 2011 I decided to move to the Sport Class. Registered and ready for practice RL, Wes and I headed up for a run. This would be the first run for RL and I. Prior to riding we walked about halfway down to check out the course. Not too bad, although there were some steep, roll-able sections.
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Sport number plate for 2011

Making our way down I was following RL. At some point I wobble at a section where I stopped and we were separated. Now I was making my way down without anyone to follow. I reached a steep section where I should have gone right, instead of left. On the right was much smoother transition; the left were rocks that gapped. Into the drop, I knew I was going over… I hit the ground – lights out! I’ve never felt pain like this before. Immediate pain on my right butt cheek radiating down to my leg. Fortunately there were people there that assisted me. Photographer Tibor Fazekas (www.tibiphoto.com) captured a sequence of my OTB. They stopped practice until I got my bearings. They eventually helped me off the course and EMTs came up to tend on me. Fortunately nothing was broken, just got my bell rang.
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Coming into the section. Photo by Tibor Fazekas, www.tibiphoto.com

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wadding up with my bike. Photo by Tibor Fazekas, www.tibiphoto.com

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Photo by Tibor Fazekas, www.tibiphoto.com

While the EMTs were working on me, they resumed practice and guys started coming down again. A series of guys come down, then one of my friends comes through and does the exact same thing I did but slams his head onto a rock! Result – broken helmet and a couple of gashes on his head. This was not good… The EMTs started working on him to stop the bleeding. We eventually made our way down the course where they loaded us on the shuttle vans and took us to the bottom. I ended up going home, bruised and very sore. Needless to say, no racing the following day. Come to find out that there were a lot of casualties from this race. It was tough all around… 🙁

Another Weekend of Great Riding!!!

This past weekend was another fun filled weekend of riding. As you have read some of the previous posts from the other MtnBikeRiders’ staff, we’ve all had a fun filled weekend on two wheels. This past Saturday I took my friends, who I have been riding with on most of my Saturdays, to my backyard trail called Skyline trail. I’ve written a ride report in the past describing Skyline. It’s a six mile grind to the top, where we will branch off to another trailhead where we will descend back to our car. This downhill trail is called Skinsuit, which is 2.5 miles of steep and flowy downhill run. It’s has nothing technical…just steep. Imagine taking 6 miles to get up, then descending back to the car in just 2.5 miles – that’s a quick way to get down!

The group met at JensonsUSA’s parking lot in Corona as 14 of the 16 guys riding haven’t been to Skyline. From here we caravanned to the trailhead.
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one of the easier parts of our cimb

Going up Skyline was a tough climb. Majority of us, if not all, had 6” travel bikes. Climbing up to 1300 feet was no easy task on a long travel fork. Along the way up, we took several breaks to regroup and take a little breather. We also passed another popular DH run where many Pro riders frequent. As a matter of fact, there were quite a few of them getting dropped off on our way up.
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Getting closer to the top

Just a little over six miles later we reached the trailhead for Skinsuit. We took a few minutes to gather ourselves and strapped on the minimal armor we carried. After a brutal climb, now the fun begins!!
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Just before the trailhead, we stopped at our landmark – the giant golf ball

FAST – is the best way to describe it. The trail snakes down the mountain through solid dirt with some small loose gravel in certain areas. Now the last two times I’ve ridden down Skinsuit, I crashed, which one was an OTB (over the bars). I was a little timid coming down, but could not pass up the good pace we were riding. We regrouped a few times to let the others catch-up or if when a steep section was just ahead. We did this to warn the others guys who haven’t been here before. One of my friends was also riding a singlespeed and had the least travel on his bike. Although slow on the descent, he was riding most of the steep sections.
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Some of the guys looking back at a section we just came down on

Somewhere towards the middle of the descent, we approached another section where we needed to slow down. There were four of us upfront that were leading the pack. The first three started slowing down. It appeared that they started to bunch up; not wanting to stack-up behind Myles (3rd guy), I veered to the left a little bit. At this point, I must have hit something because OTB I went! As I was going over my bike I heard my front tire lose air. Fortunately I landed on some shrubs but I rolled on my left arm/elbow which pressed onto my ribs. I laid there for a few minutes to gather myself. I checked myself and my bike… all was good. Added air to my front tire with CO2 cartridge and off we went to finish the ride. Below is a video of my crash. All in all, it was an epic ride. There were two of us that went OTB, but we finished the run to laugh and talk about it. The long ride was rewarded with an awesome lunch at a buffet!
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Steep section towards the end of Skinsuit where most of us walked

On Sunday, Val and I headed back to one our favorite downhill spots. For about a month we’ve heard that it has been closed down… well we wanted to see for ourselves. Sure enough it was still open; no indication of the contrary. One thing that I wanted to do was look for the 3ft ladder drop on one of the runs. On our first run down we took a wrong turn and missed it, but were still on a cool run. This particular run ended at a playground at the bottom where there were jumps, doubles and berms. Sweet! Too bad I don’t know how to ride them yet 🙂
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one of the practice runs

On our second run we found the ladder. We stopped and examined it for a few minutes, trying to motivate ourselves. In reality, it was nothing, but there’s something about leaving the ground with both tires… yikes. Also if you’re like us who don’t normally jump things – 3ft is pretty high! Apprehensive but driven at the same time, we decided to make a go at it. Val went first and I wasn’t too far behind him. Having the video camera rolling, we were now committed… gotta do it! In total we hit it 4x. To tell you the truth, after going over it the 1st time, my fear quickly went away. The FUN-factor kicked in!

On our last run, Val and I went through the same section but hit every single jump along the way. Approaching the ladder, we flew over it as if it wasn’t there 🙂 During this ride, I was was using my Intense Socom DH bike where the two tires were the DIY ghetto tubeless. Safe to say it works!!! These last two days of riding were totally awesome!!! I can’t wait to go back to either of the trails.

Weekend Ride Report: Big Bear, CA

Two weeks ago, I headed up to Mammoth Lakes, CA to ride the big mountain.  I had so much fun that I was jonesing to go back.  On my last Ride Report, I mentioned that I was going back (this past weekend)… didn’t happen 🙁 Like most impromptu decisions things can quickly change.  Several of the guys backed out last minute due to obligations which was totally understandable.

Fortunately for me one of my friends, Neil Adams (single speed stud) invited me to go to Big Bear.  Big Bear is our local mountain getaway, approximately 1.5 hours away.  Back in the day when DH racing was on the rise, many races were held in Snow Summit (one of the two main resorts in Big Bear Lakes). This was no Mammoth, but it’s a lift assisted ride and it sure beats local riding.


Truck packed and ready to go!!!

Several friends met at Neil’s house and off we went at about 6:00am.  At Snow Summit, we met other friends from the bike industry such as 661 and Ellsworth.  Big group riding…


Our group on Saturday 8.21.10

Below is a video from one of our runs.  Unfortunately on most of the video I shot, the mouthpiece of my camelbak was infront of the camera obstructing the view, therefore many of the footage was not usable. Overall, it was a great trip.  I was with great company and at a good place to ride.

Xpedo Face Off XMX17AC Pedals

Xpedo Face Off

New from Xpedo are their Face Off XMX17AC platform pedals. These are the pedals that I am using with my new Intense Uzzi VP. Check them out… these are sweet looking pedals!
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The Face Off XMX17AC are aluminum pedals with a cromoly spindle. Although classified in their website under the BMX category, these are fully compatible for any type of biking – especially downhill (DH). As a matter of fact they have been perfect on my downhill runs! I’ve been using the Face Off XMX17AC for about one month now and I cant rave enough on how well my shoes grip onto them.
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There are ample pins – 15 on each side to be exact. Each set of pedals comes with a pack of replacement pins.

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The Face Off XMX17AC are low profile pedals that come in six cool colors to match your color scheme. For more information and to see their other products, go to www.xpedo.com. Specs from their site are listed below:

XMX17AC

Weight: 380g/pr

Body: Aluminum 6061 CNC

Spindle: Cromoly

Bearings: 1 Cartridge

Bushings: 1 DU

Pins: Replaceable straight pins

Seal: 1 Rubber

Color: Black, Gray, Red, Gold, Light Blue, Navy Blue