Issue #028 News

Hype This – 11 ride essentials to propel you into the season and beyond

With the riding season incoming, here’s our edit of 11 essentials to ensure you’re appropriately kitted out from top to toe – lids, shoes and snacks included. We’ve even featured a slick new multitool, functionally advanced knee protectors, and a first aid set to keep you not only safe but stylish too.

Specialized Tactic

When it comes to our skulls, a basic lid just isn’t going to cut it. Here’s where Specialized’s all-new Tactic helmet enters the scene with such swoon-inducing optics that it blows the notion of helmets being exclusively functional objects out the window. Up front the air vents double as a sunglasses garage without creating any pressure on your forehead, while the internal MIPS technology provides the gold standard in protecting you in the event of crash. The overall design is big on coverage, which is exactly the sort of protection you need when tackling the gnarliest descents. Sensible riders will appreciate the fact that the rear of the lid is compatible with Specialized’s ANGi helmet-mounted sensor, which works like an emergency beacon when it detects an impact. With every rider surely covered in its six size line-up, the helmet also features an easy-adjust fit system that’s integrated cleanly into the design. Size medium weighs just 375 g and costs 130 €.

Price: € 130
Weight: 375 g in size M
More info:

Melon Optics Kingpin (Trail)

The Melon Optics Kingpin are more than just a good-looking pair of sunglasses that are fit for the trails, they’re also engineered with ZEISS lenses for the ultimate vision and increased contrast. There are six choices of coloured lenses, or add an extra 35 € to go photochromic, meaning they automatically darken as the sun intensifies. For changeable light conditions in the woods, this is ideal. All the lenses feature the dirt- and water-repellent Ripel coating, so any future poor line choices can’t be blamed on smudgy glasses. Once you’ve picked your lenses, it’s time to select the colour of your frame, the nose bridge and branding. If it sounds like a lot of customisation, it is! In total there are 2,058 options so you don’t even need to worry about your whole crew turning up in the same pair. What else? Each pair also comes with a clear pair of lenses, a hard case and a protective microfibre pouch.

Price: € 150 standard, € 185 with photochromic lenses.
Weight: 28 g
More info:

SQlab SQ-Jersey ONE OX

As the temperature hots up, so do the demands we put on our jerseys. SQ Lab’s ONE OX jersey has heard our silent, sweaty cries and dropped on the scene at exactly the right time. Well-considered in its construction, the design has panelling in all the right places that do the right jobs, including breathability, stretch, and sturdiness. Lazer-cut air vents team with the breathable materials to help regulate your body temperature regardless of how tough the climbs are getting. Once you turn at the top and hit the descent, the V-shaped construction stays smooth over your hips, giving you full mobility so you can get rowdy on the bike without excess flapping. While SQ Lab have gone minimal with the black-on-black colourway – disciples of Henry Ford’s statement that “you can have any colour as long as it’s black,” – they’ve gone big on size options, offering this summer jersey in eight sizes from XS (164 cm) to XXXXL (196 cm).

Price: € 99,95
Weight: 220 g in size L
More info:

POC Column VPD Backpack 13L

The irrefutable champion of MTB backpacks, the POC Column VPD brings its a-game to any day-long ride, dishing out both comfort and safety. You can rely on the built-in backplate, which is activated by your body heat, to sit firmly, snugly and barely-there on your upper body until the moment it senses an abrupt force – that’s when this certified protector hardens to absorb impact. When it comes to securing the fit to guarantee stability on steep and rough descents, POC have sacked off a standard, often-irritating hip strap and opted for two adjustable straps covering your chest, plus two on the sides. It’s got a volume of 13 litres and is designed with sensible compartments, including two decent-sized ones on the chest straps and two zipped ones on the sides at the rear.

Price: € 169,95
Weight: 887 g
More info:

Topeak Mini PT30

In the same way your do-it-all Thermomix saves your ass in the kitchen, the Topeak PT 30 does the same on the trails. While standard multitools usually limit themselves to a couple of allen keys, a few torx keys and – if you’re lucky – one of each screwdriver head, the super-compact PT 30 combines a range more functions to equip you for every eventuality on the trails. Loose spokes or snapped chain? Need to break a chain pin or insert a plug into your tyre because there’s a big leaky hole? The Topeak PT 30 can do it all—and then some. It’s even got a little knife so you can cut down the tyre patch for size, or share snacks on the trail, before clamping the knife down safely on the tool. If you want to heat up your trail snacks, we’re afraid that’s one area that Topeak haven’t yet mastered, but it could be in development. At 170 g, this little trickster weighs no more than a smartphone, plus comes in a neoprene case.

Price: € 49,95
Weight: 170 g, 178 g with case.
More info:

Dirtlej Trailscout Half & Half Long

Anything but half-hearted, the Dirtlej Trailscout Half & Half Long trousers (yep, we know, the naming is confusing AF) brings together their most waterproof and breathable constructions in one pair of full-leg trousers. They’re watertight to a T in all the places where rainwater, wheel spray and kicked-up dirt is likely to land – all the underside and around your backside, plus the front of your thighs. The rest of the trousers are lightweight and high stretch, featuring two vents on the sides of your quads, plus a zip at the ankle that allows you to wear them over winter riding boots, if that’s your thing. The Trailscout Half & Half Long also have two zipped pockets and two on your butt. They come in sizes from XS to XXL and will see you through the changeable conditions of early-season rides and far beyond.

Price: € 169
Weight: 594 g in size M
More info:

Rapha Trail Knee Pads

The superlative style of a piece of gear from British brand Rapha is never lost on us, but they’ve now added protective qualities to that same repertoire. If you’re the sort of rider that likes the barely-there feel of a protector (while still benefitting from decent protection, of course), then these knee pads are just the thing. Rapha namely turned to the polymer experts at RHEON to engineer this super-soft equipment that delivers both comfort and performance by hardening on impact to give the require protection. Slim and breathable, they can be worn comfortably under riding trousers without turning you into a Michelin figure. The design is blissfully Velcro-free, instead utilizes rubber inserts on the top and bottom hems to keep them in place. Sizes XS to XL are catered for.

Price: € 95
Weight: 370 g in size XL
More info:


Sure, we get it: these shoes have a dazzlingly white upper, which could be an immediate turn-off for a trail rider. But wait, turn them over in your hand and check out the tread. Anyone that ever – and we mean ever – has to shoulder their bike for any hike-a-bike sections will have a deep appreciation for a tread profile like the Scott MTB Shr-alp Tuned Lace Shoe. These pretty formidable soles will neither slip nor slide, whatever is underfoot. On the pedals (where they belong), Scott’s signature Sticki Rubber outsole basically glues your feet to your flat pedals, leaving enough mobility so you can get wild and correct lines if needed. The shoes are well ventilated thanks to the 3D Airmesh upper and there’s a rubber tab on the tongue to tuck the laces out of sight. But going back to the slick white upper? Even if these good lookers do get caked in mud quite quickly, they have all the trademarks of Scott quality including a hard-wearing upper and reinforced toe box, which means you can rely on them to last a very long time.

Price: € 99,95
Weight: 930 g (pair)
More info:


Calling the SILCO EOLO III a lifesaver is no exaggeration. Super lightweight and compact, the CO2 cartridge pump screams quality in both design and construction, plus the ability to control airflow too. While often a gamble with standard CO2 cartridges, this offering from the experts works with the simple principle of the more you push on the spool valve, the more gas enters your tyre. At only 16 g and easy to slot in a pocket, it’s a tiny fraction of what a minipump and tube combo would weigh, plus saves you many drops of sweat. It’s compatible with standard 16 g cartridges with presta and schrader valves. SILCA also promise a life-long guarantee, but we question how many people will have to take them up on that.

Price: € 27,95
Weight: 16 g
More info:

High Above First Aid Trail Kit

In an ideal world we wouldn’t need a product like the High Above First Aid Trail Kit, but we’re glad it exists and personally rank it alongside a helmet when it comes to must-have equipment. It comes in a practical water-tight pouch that’s hardwearing and compact (12 x 20 cm) so you can fit it into your hip pack easily. Despite appearances, it contains all the necessities to deal with minor mid-ride injuries including disinfectant wipes, gauzes, a bandage, and plasters. If the situation requires external help, wrap the injured party in the emergency blanket for warmth. Main rule: look after each other.

Price: 40 $
More info:

Catch your Bug Insect-Protein-Bar Hazelnut-Mandarine

Nutrition is a topic we can rarely escape these days, and as riders, while we’re all about a quick hit of calories, we also rate the sort of bars that aren’t just loaded with sugar. Here’s where Catch your Bug caught our eye with their protein-rich bars made with insects. Judging by the rate the hazelnut-mandarin box emptied in the office, we can say that this flavour clearly has widespread appeal. The insects are packed with nutrients and are an eco-friendly meat substitute. The 40 g bar is 20 % protein, making it a viable refueling option that tastes good too. Individual bars cost 2.49 € and they also come in a multipack (10 bars for 22.99 €). They ship across Germany, the EU and Switzerland.

Price: € 2,49
Weight: 40 g
More info:

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Words: Julian Schwede Photos: Brands

About the author

Julian Schwede

Juli is used to dealing with big rigs. Besides working on his bike, he also tinkered and worked on buses after completing his training as a vehicle mechatronics engineer. Since the development of large-scale electric motors was too slow for him, he went on to study technical business administration while building carbon fibre tables on the side. Though his DJ bike is welded from thick aluminium tubes, his full-susser is made of carbon and it's already taken him to the top of numerous summits. Apart from biking, he likes climbing via ferratas or vertically on the wall. Nowadays, his personal bike gets ridden less as he tests the bikes that get sent to us, pushing them to their limits to see what they're capable of. In addition to bike reviews, Juli also takes care of the daily news and thinks of himself as the Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent.