Much like the Chinese zodiac has a different animal each year, I too like to shift gears as a new season begins. And 2022 is the year of the XC mountain bike. Past years have been for the gravel bike or the enduro MTB.
This year, I’ve got a few notable races on my calendar, and none more so than the seven-day Appeninica stage race in Italy. Even though it’s five months away, it’s never too soon to plan. So, I’m shopping TPC’s Start of Season sale to gear up. Like any red-blooded American, I want to max out my discount, so I picked an assortment of gear that rings up to just over $1,000 to get my $100 off, plus free shipping, plus whatever sale discount is already applied. Score!
[button]Shop the sale[/button]
Psst: Don't forget to use the code LETSRIDE at checkout!
Cross-country MTB kit on sale
You can never have too many pairs of MTB gloves. I routinely put holes in mine (that’s what they’re for!). So, how about a nice, simple pair of Troy Lee Designs Ace 2.0 gloves? No need for any fancy padding. I like my XC gloves stripped down and simple.
While I like having a visored, MTB-specific helmet for trail riding, a road helmet is better for XC because it’s lighter and better ventilated. I’ve always been a POC fan. They fit my gourd. They look different. Plus, this Octal has Spin technology built into the helmet pads, a clever, lightweight way to protect against rotational impacts.
Shoes make the rider, amirite? I’ve got a soft spot for Mavic shoes, maybe from all the years of watching Tim Johnson shred the national cyclocross scene with bright yellow togs. The Crossmax Ultimate combines super-light, well-ventilated construction with two micro-adjust dials and a stiff carbon-fiber sole.
White is faster, it is science. Okay, maybe it’s the placebo effect … But if it doesn’t actually affect you, then why’s it called an effect? This POC jersey has strategically placed white panels on your shoulders to keep you cool. Plus, all the traditional features you want for XC racing — pockets, zipper, and more.
For long days in the mountains with unpredictable weather, a vest is cheap insurance. Mavic’s Sirocco is especially enticing because it packs down really small to fit almost anywhere — pocket, hip bag, hydration pack, or even a SWAT box if you’re Specialized Stan.
Baggy shorts for XC… Whaa? Yes, I really prefer baggies for everyday riding, no matter if I’m on my Megatower or a hardtail. They just afford more abrasion protection, extra pockets, and they fend off the chill on early morning rides. TLD’s Skyline shorts are quite minimal, so they won’t get clammy once the sun gets cranking.
POC sunglasses are seriously underrated. These Do Blades have POC’s brown Clarity lens, which is perfect for popping in and out of the trees. I struggle with darker lenses, even when mountain biking on bright, sunny days, but this particular tint always works for me, pretty much everywhere outside of a tanning bed.
Parts & Components on Sale
Like gloves, tires are a consumable product that gives me a sense of comfort and security when I’m sitting on a healthy inventory of spares. Schwalbe’s Rocket Ron Evo is a killer XC race tire that has a momma bear level of knobbiness (just right). At 485 grams, it’s super-light, which is exactly what I’m looking for.
Yes, I’m the type of person who enjoys getting socks for Christmas. Brake pads are right up there too. The feeling of a fresh set is second to none — just try it, trust me.
Having raced the Haute Route road stage race and Breck Epic mountain bike stage race, I know I have work to do to get fit for Italy. Training is only effective if you’re doing it by the numbers. No more going off feel, I’m springing for a 4iiii power meter that’s discrete but plenty accurate.
Grand total: $1027.88
Wheels and Forks on Sale
You want to know the easy way to crack the $1k price point and get that discount? Yup, the big-ticket items.
First up is a high-end carbon fiber wheelset. Mavic’s Crossmax was the original system wheel for mountain bikes, way back in the ‘90s. I drooled over these in high school. And a couple of years back, I rode the latest and greatest at a number of major races — Whiskey Off-Road, Breck Epic, Leadville, and more. They live up to the hype and heritage.
Cross-country racing is gnarlier than it’s ever been, so why short yourself on travel? Fox’s 34 Step-Cast provides the right balance between control and weight, smoothing out all the rough stuff with 120mm of travel. The FIT4 damper has plenty of adjustability for a range of terrain, plus a lockout lever. And that distinct Fox Factory orange? Come on, you know it when you see it.
Questions or suggestions about XC mountain biking gear? Drop me a line in the comments!