ANSWER PROTAPER CARBON BARS
Even though carbon fiber has been readily available to the public for the past 15 years or so, it still scores high on our cool-fac-tor meter. Answer’s ProTaper Carbon SL bars sell for $230, which
is just a little cheaper than the B-1 Bomber—in case you were in
the market to buy one.
When we replaced our old aluminum bars with the new Answer
ProTaper Carbon SLs, we were pleasantly surprised by how much
the bars deadened the trail chatter and nearly took bar vibration
out of the equation. This is important,
BUYER’S GUIDE 2015
CONTINENTAL DER KAISER PROJEKT TIRES
The Der Kaiser started as a new downhill tread developed with
the help of GT’s superstar Atherton-family World Cup team. The
tread was designed to satisfy riders’ demands for aggressive
cornering and predictable braking without throwing rolling speed
entirely out the window. With the rise of enduro racing, Continental
saw a perfect chance to put the Kaiser on a diet with a lighter
casing and smaller width to match the needs of those who tackle
gnarly trails, but would rather pedal than use a chairlift to get to
the top of the hill.
On the trail, the Kaiser provided a ton of traction, especially in
corners. The squarish profile provides a consistent bite that only
gives way when the bike is so aggressively laid over that you’d
probably crash anyway. The feel is consistent, supple and very
predictable in corners. The rolling resistance isn’t fast enough to
measure up to the minimalist “cheater” tires in this category, but
the Kaiser strikes a balance between traction, rolling resistance,
and consistency with enough sidewall protection and stiffness to
keep you from feeling like you’re riding on eggshells.
The Kaiser is a well-balanced tire for the aggressive rider, but
it’s not the lightest, nor does it offer the most protection or stiffest
sidewalls. Downhill riders and racers will be better served by the
two-ply version of the Kaiser, and cross-country and lightweight
trail riders will appreciate Conti’s lighter-weight offerings like the
X-King and Race King. For riders looking for the ultimate do-it-all
tire, though, we’d be hard-pressed to recommend one better than
the Der Kaiser.
FIX IT STICKS
A rider in Appleton, Wisconsin, who managed to mangle his
front derailleur while riding on his indoor trainer, started Fix It
Sticks. Rather than reaching for a multi-tool to fix the issue,
he reached right for his trusty three-way wrench. He thought,
“Wouldn’t it be nice to have the torque of a three-way wrench in a
multi-tool?” It was there that the idea for Fix It Sticks was born.
Multi-tools are flat out difficult to use for many reasons. Many
of them include tools that will rarely be needed on a ride. Others
provide tools that nobody needs, like magnifying glasses, bottle
openers and chain-pin pilot breakers (if you don’t know what that
is, don’t worry, you don’t need it.) Fix It Sticks take the bulky and
uncomfortable-to-use multi-tool and makes it a shop-level tool.
They’re comfortable, easy to use and well-constructed, with an
elegant, simple design.
because when you have to fasten your hands to your grips and
manipulate the shifters, dropper and brake levers on your bike,
it eventually chips away at the strength in your hands, forearms,
biceps and shoulders. We think you get the picture here. So if
you could eliminate handlebar vibration, why wouldn’t you?
The Answer ProTaper Carbon SL handlebars are priced a
bit higher than some others on the market, but they are worth
their weight in…carbon fiber. ❏