Product Review: BTB Sunglasses

A couple months ago, we got an offer from BTB Sunglasses to test out a pair of their sport-oriented glasses. BTB stands for “Be The Ball” – personally, I don’t WANT to be the ball since usually the goal is to HIT the ball, but I agreed to try the glasses anyway!

I chose the BTB 500 glasses, which have a 3/4 black frame with smoked lenses and according to BTB fit “medium to large” faces – a guess on my part, but one that turned out to be accurate.

When they arrived I wasn’t terribly impressed – the packaging was a bit rough and they just came in a soft liner, not even a box. However, they looked good and fit, so I started wearing them. As time went on, I found myself not only reaching for them when I went mountain biking (where I thought they functioned well), but also commuting, walking, running, and even driving (even though they’re not polarized!). They’ve quickly become my favorite sunglasses I’ve ever had, despite the modest $39.99 price tag – and actually, given my history with sunglasses (I’ve lost sunglasses in multiple states), that price tag is a big point in their favor, as I can actually afford to replace them. I liked them so much that I even returned the last pair of (more expensive) sunglasses I bought.

So what makes these so good? Well, the fit is good – but obviously that’s going to be different for every person, so I can’t count it as a plus for everyone. I will say though that they stay put really well – no movement on my face whatsoever, even over rough stuff. I like the light weight – yes they’re plastic, but it’s sturdy plastic. I also like the lenses – they’re dark enough in bright sun, but not so dark that going in and out of shade or biking early or late in the day throws me off. The lenses are also supposed to be ballistic grade – I haven’t tested that personally, but I haven’t damaged them yet! The frame design allows for a small amount of airflow across the back of the lens to ward off condensation – there was a small amount of fogging a couple of really warm, humid days when I wasn’t moving, but even walking-speed air movement is sufficient to clear them. I’ve also worn them for multiple hours at a time and still been pretty comfortable.

In sum: I can’t claim to speak for every pair of glasses BTB offers, but this model does everything it’s supposed to do. These were provided for test at no charge, but I would buy them again if anything happens to this pair (probability: moderate to high). For those of you unsure of buying glasses online, BTB offers a 10-day exchange/refund guarantee, so check out what they’ve got to offer next time you need sunglasses!

FTC Disclaimer

Ibex Maroc Review

Well, I have had and been riding the Ibex Maroc 26 hardtail for a few months now. Here is the introductory article with info on the bike. If you listen carefully, you can hear my favorite part about this bike… wait for it. Yes, it is quiet. Sneak attack quiet. It feels quieter than my SS in fact. I would tend to think that it due in part from a number of factors. One of the major contributors besides that a carbon frame cannot resonate like metal can is the internal cable routing. I came across an article recently (somewhere which I don’t remember now) that recommended using internal routing as a way to quiet down your ride. So I would image this contributes to the lack of noise.

Ripping up some single track.
Ripping up some single track.

The Maroc was on the small side of things for me frame wise, but not uncomfortable so. In fact, it kind of felt like a BMX bike. It love to be thrown around, stand up and mash, and had acceleration for days. Standing up charging up the hills made to bike just beg for more. Usually however, my heart-rate was the first one to give. Another good thing about the Maroc and this goes hand in hand with its lack of noise is the smoothness. Even through moderately choppy terrain it stayed smooth, on course, and lacked a good amount of trail chatter. While on the bike I never noticed any unduly amount of flex.

The even though the Maroc is a hardtail, it performed like a great all-around bike. Even though it is fairly light on the scale, it isn’t a super XC race machine, I would think mainly due to the geometry. The sit and spin up a big hills is where I had only the real point of contention. The bike climbed just fine, but it was not a put your head down and charge up the hill while in the saddle. The key market for this bike to me would be those riders who want a hardtail, but still want to to be able to handle the fun stuff. It is a very good all-around bike, and would do well for those who only have one bike, and don’t do any major DH. I even took it down some of my favorite AM trails, and they where definitely all rideable, but I was not able to carry the amount of speed I normally would through the rough parts and drops. The 69.5 degree head angle I would credit with the stability here. Even with the slacker HA for a hardtail the steering was not sluggish in the corner, quick the opposite in fact. The Maroc is still a hardtail and has limitations as such, but it is a fun bike.

Quick break in the rolling hills.
Quick break in the rolling hills.

The SRAM X9 2×10 drive-train was a solid as expected (I’m swapping my drive-train out to this, so I unquestionable like it). The Rockshox Reba RLT was great. Sometimes it felt like more of a 120mm travel instead of 100mm. I had a little trouble with the lockout remote, minor, but mainly just an annoyance. The cable with controls the locking has to have a lot of tension while in the lock position or the fork does not completely lockout. I kept having to re-tighten it. Personally, I would like to see Rockshox have a hydraulic option here, but that’s just me. The one thing I have have to change if I owned this bike would be the front tire. The WTB Wolverine 2.1 was just not enough meat up front for me and cut loose a few times causing me to quickly say hello to the dirt. The Wolverine was a descent XC tire in the rear, in the front I had to be cautious and aware to to rely on it too much.

Having a little fun.
Having a little fun.

My normal hardtail is a steel 29er, and the carbon Maroc was unquestionably smoother than the steel. The quick handling made me aware of the limitations of the 29er in tight quarters. I was able to carry much more speed through tight switchbacks. I did have one significant issue with the bike was that the frame cracked on the seat tube just about the bottom bracket underneath the front derailleur. I contacted Ibex and their representative simply asked us to continue riding the bike. This did not affect the ride-ability of the bike, but because of it the front derailleur would come loose and slide up the seat-tube just enough to disable shifting. I would have to assume this issue was caused by the derailleur crushing the tube and would be a warrantied issue. I never took it easy on the bike after this and the frame continued to hold up without issue.

In summary, the Ibex Maroc is a quick, light, smooth, and quiet bike. It has a great build with SRAM X9 and a Reba RLT fork. For the price it is a tough to beat option for those looking to step up into carbon. It held up well among the California rock and dust and also got a rare rain ride in. This is one bike I wouldn’t mind having in my stable.

Our Review Disclaimer

Airborne Goblin: Out of the box

Got a package this week!
Got a package this week!

I was out of town this week for work, and when I came home I had package waiting for me from Airborne Bicycles.

I was planning on meeting up with RL and several other riders first thing Saturday morning for a ride at Whiting Ranch, so I spent some time to get the Goblin assembled and ready for a ride the next day. For those of you out there who have never built a bike, here’s a quick look at how the bike came, and how much assembly was actually required. I took pictures of each part as I unwrapped it and it came out of the box. Upon opening the box, the wheels were on top and the first thing to come out.

Opened the box!
Opened the box!

As you can seen the the photo, the ends of each hubs had plastic guards to prevent them from damaging any other components in the box during shipping. The wheels were also zip-tied together to prevent any unnecessary movement while still in the box. The wheels are equipped with SRAM’s new 10-speed cassette. This is the number one thing I have been looking forward to about this frame is being able to spend some extended time with the 2×10 system. I have demo’d it before on several other frames, but only a ride here and there. The wheels both have 160mm Avid rotors. Having removed all of the protective packaging, I set the wheels aside for later.

New Sram 2x10 drivetrain
New Sram 2x10 drivetrain
Avid 160mm rotors
Avid 160mm rotors

Individually wrapped were a few smaller components such as the skewers and the saddle, already mounted to the seat-post.

Saddle & post
Saddle & post

The last and largest part left in the packing was the frame itself. This was definitely the longest part of the unpackaging process in that there was lots small pieces of wrapping attached to the frame. Each tube has its own wrapping to protect it from damage. The frame in its entirety was also attached to cardboard supports in the box to keep it from moving during shipment. The frame already had the fork, bottom bracket, cranks, headset, stem, seat clamp, grips and brakes installed as well as the the derailleurs mostly installed. The rear derailleur still need to be attached to the frame, but all the cables and hydraulic lines were already run and in place.

Goblin frame fresh out of the box.
Goblin frame fresh out of the box.

I attached the rear derailleur to the frame and straighten/aligned the front fork and the stem. While the stem was already install the bars were in installed on the stem, so the stem needed to be opened up to put the bars in place. Next the skewers needed to be placed in the wheels, so the wheels could be set into the frame. Once the skewers where in place, the protect plastic parts to keep the brake caliber from compressing needed to be removed. Once that was done the wheels were ready to be installed. FYI- Be very aware when seating your wheel that they are fully recessed into the dropouts. Losing a wheel while riding really sucks!

Almost complete
Almost complete

With the wheels installed that left the saddle and drive-rain as remaining parts in the box to be installed. I took a quick stab at the estimated saddle height and tightened down the collar. Then I completely removed the chain from the frame and wrapped it around the two largest cogs to confirm it was the appropriate length. I ended up taking a couple of links out. Once the chain was installed the rear derailleur needed to be adjusted. The only must have tool to put the bike together was really just my allen-wrench set. Two things that are not included in the box, were pedals and a water bottle cage. I stole those parts off another bike. I made some adjustment to cockpit of the Goblin to make it ready for me to ride. I moved the brake levers to the inside of the shifter and also moved both the shifters and levers much further in toward the center of the bars so that the brake lever is position so that I can brake with solely the index finger. I tend to do all of my shifting with my thumbs, and positioned the shifters accordingly as well. After spinning around in front of my house the final adjust I made was to the position of the saddle by sliding it futher back, away from the bars.

The Goblin was now ready for it first time in the dirt!

Fresh from its maiden voyage.
Fresh from its maiden voyage.

The full specifications and geometry for the Goblin can be found here on Airborne’s site. Stay tuned for for more pics and info on the Airborne Goblin!

Review: Liquid Exhaust

Product Tested:
Liquid Exhaust

Website’s MSRP:

Liquid Exhaust Sunglasses – Rumor has it you’re looking for not only a killer pair of shades, but one that provides functionality as well. Liquid Eyewear is all about lifestyle, YOUR LIFESTYLE. Sunglasses that provide protection from ANY element and still come out looking stylish. Product that is durable yet fashionable. The Exhaust offers a rugged hingeless design, no more looses screws or arms falling off. Made of Billet Aluminum, the Exhaust screams STYLE.
All Billet Construction
Durable Hingeless Design
Replaceable Rubber Nose Piece
Designed & Built in the USA
1 Year Limited Warranty*

About Me:
6’1” 210lbs, 30 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys rocking the 29er wheels.

Testing Grounds:
All over the Southern California Trails, Sea Otter 2010

The hingeless Exhaust make for a very comfortable fit and durable pair of shades

First Impressions:
Unique. The hinge-less design was something I had not seen before and I was a little concerned about the usefulness of this feature. They were also quite tight on my face. I immediately adjusted them outward, which was very easy to do. I was a little concerned that it would break as I did this, but the Exhaust has held up fine.

Style. The Liquid Exhaust are some styling shades. They worked very well on and off the trail. I was not afraid to take them off the trail and wear them as everyday wear type shades. Some sunglasses should remain as “active” wear, but these Exhaust shades moved from mountain biking to outings with the wife or family ease.

The Exhaust frame is a solid piece of metal. It is not wimpy and will not break apart if you take a bad fall. When I put them on my face, I knew that this frame could take some serious abuse. What surprised me though was the ease of adjustability built into this frame while still being a stout frame.

Out on the trail, the Liquid Exhaust does a great job staying on the face
When I received the sunglasses, I immediately had to widen the frame to accommodate my large noggin. After reading the directions on how to go about doing this, I was indubitably concerned that I might over widen the frame and snap it. After preparing myself for what might be a short review period, I realized that my concerns were unfounded. The Exhaust were easy to widen but had enough resistance which gave me the assurance that it would not widen on its own. Over a few months of use, it has continued to stay in the same shape.

Because of the adjust-ability, the frame can really stay tight to your face. Add to it the comfortable nose pad and the sunglasses stay on your face when you’re riding. Over the course of testing, I did not notice them moving around on my face as I rode.

Rolling with the Liquid Exhaust at Sea Otter 2010

Because of the hingeless nature, you take out a major failing point for glasses/sunglasses. I should know as I’ve worn glasses since grade school. Many glasses will fail here due to a variety of factors, but mainly neglect. Without a hinge, you take away that chance to fail and, in turn, make a more durable pair of sunglasses.

I got a chance to bring the Liquid Exhaust on a trip to Japan for a week. While there, I had them on and wore them constantly. The hingeless design began to show a flaw during this time. The flaw was that the sunglasses were hard to store. Without hinges, the glasses would not fold compactly and this limited where I could stash my shades when they were not in use. Normally, they had to go in the large pocket of my backpack where as hinged sunglasses could fold and be tucked into my shirt pocket or into smaller pockets of my backpack.

The Liquid Exhaust is a styling pair of shades that work very well on the trail. They stay on your face, are easily adjustable and the metal billet aluminum is durable. When wearing the Exhaust, these sunglasses do all that you want them to do but taking them off and storing them is a bit of a hassle due to their hingeless nature.

For more information about the Liquid Exhaust, click here.

Review Disclaimer

Review: Soul Cycles Dillinger

Over the past few months we’ve been lucky enough to test the Soul Cycles Dillinger 29er hardtail.  The Dillinger has been a fun ride and served as our test bed for the Powercordz cables, Geax Saguaro and Serfas Tegu reviews.

Beautiful construction abounds on the Soul Cycles Dillinger

Not only is the Dillinger gorgeous in bright lime green, the construction impresses too.  The Dillinger is a lightweight, versatile EBB (eccentric bottom bracket) frame. It ships with a derailleur hanger and singlespeed dropout, is disk and V-brake compatible and Soul Cycles even sells a rigid fork! We ran the Dillinger as a singlespeed 29er with disk brakes and a 100mm RockShox Reba. You can read more about the build here.
At first I was nervous about the Dillinger’s set screw eccentric bottom bracket and aluminum hardtail construction.  My EBB fears were dispelled as it was easy to adjust, stayed tight and never produced a creaking noise.  Very good job Soul Cycles!  As far as the aluminum hardtail, I’ve given up on 26″ wheels.  I’d switched to 26″ steel hardtails and have been loving it ever since.  They damp out that high frequency buzz that sends your hands and nether regions into a land of numbness.  Amazingly the Soul Cycles Dillinger does this as well.  I know a lot of the credit goes to the larger 29″ tires, but it is quite obvious some thought and engineering into the seat and chain stays on the Dillinger.

When they say Easton Ultralite Tubing, they mean it! (Weight w/ EBB and seat post clamp, 16″ frame size)

Overall the Dillinger has been a very fun ride, it is uber-light and plush for a hardtail.  Yet it remains efficient under power.  Compared to my Redline Monocog (26″ steel singlespeed), the Dillinger climbed with more authority thanks to the 29″ tires better contact patch and smoother rolling nature.  On descents, the Dillinger mobbed over the terrain and showed me why everyone is now racing 29″ wheels in the SS categories.

My dislikes (compared to my Monocog) include the slower steering (though it offered more stability) and the higher up in the air sensation.  The Dillinger has a nice low BB height however and this sensation was purely mental and can be adjusted to.  The slower steering is a common trait among 29ers.  I do not want you to have the impression that the steering is slow, it is just not as fast as on my 26″ race bike.

Chainstay yoke around a 2.2 Geax Saguaro tire.

A small concern I have is tight mud-clearance at the chainstay yoke, though this is not an issue in SoCal!  The last nit pick I have is the cable stop location resulted in me catching my baggy shorts on occasion, but is definitely not a deal breaker.

The Moe at work

Bottomline:  The Dillinger is a fantastic buy as is.  When you factor in the reasonable prices and quality construction, it becomes clear that the Dillinger is head and shoulders above most of the 29er field.  In fact Moe is thinking about forking out the cash to keep this bike in his personal fleet!

Review: Geax Saguaro Tire

Geax tires are relatively new to most of us here in the United States, however Geax has been around in Europe for quite some time and is the off-road brand for Vittoria, a company familiar to those roadies amongst us.  Geax Saguaro Sidewall

The Saguaro is another entry into the low rolling resistance, small knob XC tire segment.  One noteworthy feature is that Geax recommends mounting the tire in either rolling direction.  An unusual trait of this tire is the high recommended inflation pressures of 37 to 65 psi.  The Saguaro tire is available in folding bead and a lower cost wire bead version, both in a 2.20″ width.

Geax Saguaro Summary

Saguaro Rotation Direction & Inflation Pressure (Click on the image above to view larger size)

To test the Saguaro, we utilized our Soul Cycles Dillinger 29’r single-speed test rig and ran air pressures between 25 and 30psi.

The Saguaro, like most small knobby tires, excels in hard pack and loose over hard pack conditions.  In loose, silty dirt the Saguaro tread was adequate, however I feel this was due to the extra foot-print offered by the 29″ inch tire format [note: I am aware the tire’s footprint is mostly a function of air pressure, but tire size/shape is also a factor]. Fortunately on one ride a water leak resulted in some muddy conditions allowing me to find out that the Saguaro’s tread quickly filled with mud and were not effective.

The low-point for me in the Saguaro’s performance was in hard cornering.  The Saguaros exhibited a grip-slip-grip transition as the bike transitioned from the center knobs to the side knobs on flat and off-chamber turns.  It was a sensation most experienced riders could adjust to, but nevertheless affected my riding.  I tested the Geax in both rotation directions and found similar results in all areas other than trading a small amount of traction for lower rolling resistance.  I recommend mounting the Saguaro’s in the speed direction first and seeing how you feel about them.

Overall the Geax Saguaros are excellent value due to their relatively low price and long lasting (hard) rubber compound.  These are good tires and I would recomend them to most riders, the Saguaros are good for 90% of riders in 90% of dry southwest style trails.

Review: PowerCordz MTB Brake Cables

PowerCordz brake cables are not cables (intertwined) at all, rather they are synthetic fiber Zylon HM cords. These cords are stronger than steel in tensile strength and have a higher modulus of elasticity (meaning they won’t stretch). While I don’t have the technology or strength to test these claims myself, I did test them out on the Soul Cycles Dillinger, a single-speed 29er, by equipping said bike with Avid mechanical disk brakes.
PowerCordz Front
The results were fantastic. These cables gave a direct, solid feel at the lever, did not stretch and most impressively remained smooth in function despite a lack of maintenance. The feel was incrementally more accurate than I have ever achieved with traditional brake cables, I believe this to have not only been a function of the cables not stretching, but also the Kevlar-lined compression-less housing [compression-less housing is usually reserved for derailleur cables, because it is not able to withstand braking forces]. I attribute the smooth function to the cord’s smooth outer cover and that the housing is pre-lubricated with teflon. In fact the housing is so good, I would not recommend using the cable stops often found on many frames, rather run the housing uninterrupted from lever to brake.
Powercordz really market their product based on the weight savings they provide compared to traditional steel cables. For me the best selling point though is the smooth-operation and low maintenance. Are they worth it? Well, PowerCordz brake kit sells for $69, last three years (manufacturer’s claim) and are low maintenance. Good traditional steel cables sell for $20 to $25 and last about a year. So if you’re planning to keep you bike a good while, they’re worth it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be sticking with the current steel cables on the majority of my bikes, but when it’s time to replace those cables, I’ll be buying PowerCordz.

Installation of the cables is very straight forward, the instructions are very concise and easy to read. If you have installed brake cables before, this is a piece of cake! -Moe

Mr. UPS dropped off…

… a Kona King Kahuna!

Kona King Kahuna, 29er, 19″ frame

Here are the specs:
Frame sizes: 16″, 18″, 19″, 20″, 22″
Frame tubing: Kona Race Light Scandium Butted
Rear Shock: N/A
Fork: Fox 32 F29 RL 80mm
Headset: FSA Orbit DL
Crankarms: Shimano SLX
Chainrings: 44/32/22
B/B: Shimano SLX
Pedals: Shimano M520 Clipless
Chain: Shimano Deore
Freewheel: Shimano Deore (11-34, 9spd)
F/D: Shimano SLX
R/D: Shimano XT Shadow
Shifters: Shimano XT
Handlebar: Kona XC/BC Deluxe Riser
Stem: Kona XC/BC Deluxe
Grips: Kona Race Light
Brakes: Shimano SLX Hydraulic Disc
Brake Levers: Shimano SLX Hydraulic
Front hub: FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Rear hub: FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Spokes: FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Tires: Maxxis Ignitor 29×2.1 Kevlar
Rims: FSA XC-290 Wheelset
Saddle: WTB Rocket V Comp Cromo
Seatpost: Kona XC/BC Deluxe
Seat clamp: Kona Clamp
Color: Grey Metallic/Pearl White

Fox 32 F29 fork and FSA XC-290 wheelset

The King Kahuna is the top of the line Kona hardtail. It is spec’d to be light weight with a scandium frame and durable, yet higher end, SLX and XT shimano components. The rest of the cockpit are Kona spec parts save for the saddle which is a WTB Rocket V Comp.

The Kona components are definitely not the normal black, silver or even white color. It is a reflective grayish-blue that definitely sets you apart from the norm. I’ve only got a couple of night pictures of the bike. When I get out on the trail, I’ll post up more pictures, especially pictures of the Kona spec components.

Some cockpit components (stem, handlebar, seatpost, grips) are by Kona. Going to get some looks!

We’ll be riding this bike throughout the tame winter months here in Southern California to give you a complete review.

In the meantime, check out the Kona King Kahuna here.

First Impression: Selle Success RTM

We recieved the Selle Success RTM saddle recently. The RTM is a sweet looking red saddle with titanium rails and a carbon fiber under. It weighs in at a pretty competitive 206 grams.

Selle Success RTM Red

Saddles are a very subjective piece of equipment. My background in saddles are all WTB. I started off riding a WTB Pure V and enjoyed that immensely. I then moved onto a more slimmed down WTB Rocket. That is the current saddle that sits on my bikes now. The Rocket, in comparison to the Selle Success, is almost portly! It has quite a bit more padding and has a whale-tail design while the Selle Success is reminds me more of a Fizik Arione with the wings.

Installation onto a Thomson Masterpiece Setback seatpost was pretty easy, but I did run across one issue: the titanium rails on the saddle were a little bit wider than the rail guides on the seatpost. That was a bit weird. So I also pulled out a Ritchey Pro post and sure enough, the titanium rails on the Selle Success were a little wide compared to the rail guides on the Ritchey post as well. I was still able to easily install the Selle Success RTM seat to the Thomson post but I’ll keep this in mind if I have any failures from the seat.

Titanium rails

This past weekend I put in an 18 mile ride on the saddle and things were good. It did have significantly less padding than my WTB Rocket and that did cause my sit-bones to get a little sore, but that will just have to be something my sit-bones get used to. I do have a rather large derriere and I am solidly in the clydesdale category so I expect that if there are any issues it will be revealed during testing.

I am impressed by the red cover and the beautiful craftsmanship of the carbon fiber weave. It is really pretty. I’m looking forward to putting the saddle through its paces over the next couple of months and will bring you a full review later on.

Carbon Fiber base

The Selle Success website, is currently “Under Construction” and I have not been able to find any more information regarding the saddle via google search.

Review: Ay Up Lights MTB Kit

Ay Up Lighting was born over two years ago and has developed into a world beater. We supply the lightest and coolest looking lights on the planet. No corner has been cut to provide a safe, reliable lighting system to suit the average Joe and the Elite racer. With weight, functionality, long burn, light output and low cost at the top of the design spec it took many months to evolve into what we have today. It will not stop there. We will continue to evolve the system for ever more. With a lifetime of engineering design, manufacture and systems experience behind us Ay Up Lighting can only get better. Our light has been designed to be a multi purpose unit.

Product Tested:
Ay Up MTB Kit

Ay Up lights: Pink has intermediate beam, Yellow has narrow beam

Website’s MSRP:
$ 465

Twin light and helmet mount
Light neoprene storage belt pouch
Twin light and handlebar mount
Light neoprene storage belt pouch
One spare handlebar mount
Four spare light mounting bands
One 6hr on / off switched battery complete with neoprene mount anywhere pouch
One neoprene 6hr battery attachment strap, prevents movement
Two 3hr on / off switched batteries complete with neoprene mount anywhere pouches
One 110V – 240V Adaptor in neoprene pouch, to suit dual channel charger
One 12 Volt Dual Channel Lithium Polymer Charger – charge two batteries at once
One 12 Volt Adaptor (Cigarette Lighter Plug)
One extension cable 1200mm long, enables battery to be placed in backpack or pocket
One roll up pouch, all items fit snugly inside
One handlebar rubber packer kit to suit Diameters 25mm & 32mm bars
Handful of Ubeaut cable ties
Optional extra’s are –
Both sized batteries
Additional charger & accessories
Additional mounts

The whole MTB Kit

About Me:
6’1” 210lbs, 28 year old male. I’m a mountain biking enthusiast who enjoys XC riding.

Testing Grounds:
Local trails & streets of Southern California

First Impressions:
Small and a bit overwhelming. My first thoughts was: Would these lights be powerful enough to light up the trail? The lights themselves were small and they wouldn’t be putting out a lot of light power, 300 lumens to be exact. To give you some perspective of really how small these lights are, below is a picture of one of the lights next to my Motorola Razr, a universally recognized phone if there is one. The Ay Up light’s length about the width of my Razr!

Length of light about the same width as my Razr

I was a bit overwhelmed with the number of pieces involved in this MTB Kit. There are easily 30+ pieces including zip ties, spare mounts, chargers and various other pieces. Sorting them all out took some patience comparing pictures from the internet to what was being provided. But once I figured it all out, the assembly was a snap.

The first thing I have to start with is size & weight. The Ay Up lights are small. As I mentioned before, the length of the Cree light set is about the same width of my Razr. The width of the lights is slightly wider than my stem’s width. This is a small light system. The 3-hour battery is not much bigger. The battery fits comfortably on my stem with room to spare. Having a short wire between the battery and the light is also nice because it means that there is less chance of entanglement (from stem to handlebar) or getting ripped off by a tree branch (when mounted on the helmet).

Out on a group ride with the Ay Up lights

I mostly rode with the 2 x 3-hour batteries. One went on my helmet connected to the narrow beamed lights and the other 3-hour battery went on my stem connected to the wide beamed lights which went on my handlebar. Ay Up claims that the battery plus the lightest come in at about 130 grams (light – 60grams & battery – 70grams). And although this is a significant weight, it doesn’t feel like much once you get used to it. In fact, I normally just mount the light & battery to my helmet at the trailhead even if I know I might not have to use it until an hour or so into the ride. I found that the weight seems to disappear after a few minutes and never bothered me. You also have the option of running the extension cable from the light on your helmet to a back pocket if you don’t like the battery on your helmet.

I found the lights to be very tough and the finish to be excellent. I’ve done everybody a favor here and crashed hard with the Ay Up lights. When I got up from my crash I was expecting to see some damage to the lights. Afterall, the bike got a few nicks, even on the handlebar. To my surprise, the lights were shining as brightly as ever. There was not one scratch on the shell or the lens of the light. I was pleasantly surprised.

Not turned on, but already mounted to my helmet, the Ay Up lights are that lightweight

I’ve also been pretty harsh with these lights. I toss them in my bike stuff bucket after I’m done riding, taking only the batteries out for recharging. I keep a variety of bike stuff in my bike stuff bucket including a shock pump and an aluminum hand pump. My bike stuff has been rattling around with the Ay Up lights for the last three months and the Ay Up lights still look brand new, or in ebay terminology: mint condition.

Mounted via zip ties. Very simple design, and easy to fix if anything ever happened

The Ay Up lights are powerful. I never desired more light output from these lights. I’ve cruised up to 25+ mph on the trail and well over 30+ on the street with these lights and I never wished for more reach. The light is plentiful, clean and clear. In fact on just about every ride I went on someone complimented the Ay Up lights. Even when I was on a solo ride, I passed two riders who went gaga over them commenting on how the light output of the Ay Up lights was drowning out their own set of lights as I overtook them on the trail.

I’m impressed with the neoprene sleeves for the different batteries. The battery always stayed in the battery sleeve as this made them quick and easy to mount. They battery sleeves are soft, durable and the velcro is easy to use. The battery sleeve also has a loop on the back for a velcro strap to mount to your bike’s stem. I see the battery neoprene case lasting a long time.

Neoprene sleeve holds the battery and the wide velcro strap keeps it in place on the stem

The lights can be adjusted separately. Each light is able to rotate 270 degrees for more beam coverage of the trail or pointed along the same angle for more power. I personally went with the latter as I found the beam coverage to be more than adequate. But if you prefer more beam coverage, the benefit of the two lights is that you can point one just in front of your front tire and the second light can be pointed further down the trail spreading your beam out.

I am a bit underwhelmed by the neoprene packaging for the whole light system. The neoprene sleeves for the batteries are great, as I mentioned above, but my thoughts on the neoprene packaging for the whole light kit differ vastly. The neoprene packaging that you “store” the whole light kit is difficult to use. It is especially difficult if you do not remember where everything goes. I could not, for the life of me, repackage everything back together so that it looked as nice and clean as it did the first time I received the lights. After a while I ended up just storing everything in an empty shoe box.

I also didn’t particularly like the handlebar rubber packer. This is the protective sticky rubber strap that sticks to your handlebar so you can mount the handlebar mount. The handlebar rubber packer left a bit of residue and began moving around underneath the handlebar mount. After a while, I removed the handlebar rubber packer and took cut a piece of tire tube and zip-tied the tube to my handlebars. I then mounted the handlebar mount and this worked perfectly for the rest of the testing period.

Handlebar Rubber Packer replaced with a tire tube zip-tied to the handlebar

The Ay Up lights are an exceptional piece of equipment. They are light enough for the pro racer while also simple enough for the novice mountain biker to use. If you’re looking for an excellent blend of weight, simplicity, durability, beam output and price, then look no further than the Ay Up lights. They’ll be the ones for you.

For more info on the Ay Up MTB Kit, click here.