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Best Mountain Biking Flat Pedals | Tested and Reviewed

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Best mountain biking pedals

The Best Mountain Biking Flat Pedals | Tested and Reviewed

Pedals are the primary point of contact between the rider and the bike and one of the most key parts for retaining confidence both in the air and over gnarly sections. Different bikes have varying pedals for different uses, here we’ll focus on the pedals most suited to hard trail, downhill and enduro.

There are generally two different types of pedals: flats and cleats/clip ins.

The primary advantage of cleats is you can power the bike on the upwards movement of the leg as well as the downwards movement, allowing your legs to go for longer without tiring (due to more muscles being used) and giving faster acceleration as a result. They also offer more firm control of the bike due to more even application of power (no bouncing).

The primary advantage of flats is that they allow you to put a foot down if things get sketchy and give confidence as you can remove your feet in the event of a crash. This means that the confidence inspiring flats are often better for the novice rider as well as the more gravity focussed and give more scope for tricks. From the perspective of a notice they also will force a better riding technique – whereas clips give more of a potential to build up bad habits.

Mountain Biking Flat Pedals

Mountain Biking Flat Pedals

There are a number of considerations you need to make when buying pedals, we’ve summarized the ones we took into account here:

Weight – For the racers or more cross country orientated riders.

Durability – Key on the trail and is the main advantage of metal pedals over super light plastic compounds.

Maintenance – How much you need to do to prevent them from falling apart.

Platform Size – Will should match your shoe size for an optimal fit and so reduce the chance that they will strike the ground during a turn, larger platforms are not necessarily grippier – this is more down to the pins.

Pins – The main factor determining the grip of the pedals – also the most likely pieces to be lost as a result of being smashed out.

If you are looking to buy a new set of flat pedals here are our top picks.

#1 Chromag Scarab Platform Pedal

Image result for Chromag Scarab Platform Pedal

Grip – The pins of these pedals can be altered in height, allowing for a fully personalized setup, as the choice pedals of Brandon Semenuk it’s safe to assume the chromag scarabs will deliver all the grip and support you could want. The pins have also been designed with undercuts to give better grip than their counterparts.

Weight – 430 grams per pair.

Durability – These pedals are known for being able to withstand serious abuse and are shipped with 12 additional pins both for customization and replacement should any be lost. The frame has a slim design bearing in mind the large platform size which definitely makes it a better choice for people with larger feet.

Read more reviews, or buy this mountain biking flat pedal here:

#2 RaceFace Atlas MTB Bike Pedal

Image result for race face atlas pedals

Grip – the pins are shorter than those on some of the other pedals on this list, however this is compensated for with the superb and widely appreciated design of the concave platform, which also seems to clear of mud miraculously quickly. The pins are screwed in from the underside and are easy to add and remove as needed, with the only point of care being sourcing the exact pins themselves (these cannot be replaced with regular machine screws). Overall though the pins are a positive point for these pedals as if they are damaged you won’t need new pedals and new pins are cheaply available.

Weight – 365g

Durability – Some people seem to complain about the sealed bearings wearing quite fast, meaning lateral play in the pedals could develop sooner than you might expect – which would result in a less controlled, less stiff and ultimately less efficient ride.

This is not a huge issue as 1) the play that develops should not be noticeable and 2) RaceFace offer a great warranty system so spares or replacements will always be at your fingertips. Be sure to keep the bearings topped up with grease if you want to try and avoid this.

Read more reviews, or buy this mountain biking flat pedal here:

Discount code: Spend and Save on Autumn Essentials (Parts, Accessories & Clothing excluding Bikes, Garmin, GPS and Cameras) – Coupon: SAVE30 (enter at checkout)

#3 Swank Spoon [Enduro/DH/Slopestyle] Pedal

Image result for spank spoon pedals

Grip – The slim, concave body of the swank spoon has 10 replaceable pins on each side. Longer 14mm pins at the front and back of the pedal with the four 12mm ones in the middle.

Durability – No complaints here from us or anyone else it seems, these pedals are reliable enough to withstand a full season of aggressive riding with no maintenance whatsoever.

Weight – 420 grams

Even at the highest level you can expect pedals to come in one shoe size, which, if you are lucky will broadly match your shoe. Spank have created the Spoon in three sizes to eliminate the luck involved and allow you to get a pedal better suited to you.

At an intermediate weight of 420 grams and a very reasonable price, the Spoons are one of the cheaper metal frame flat pedals available, which was quite surprising considering the overall quality. We would suggest the Swank Spoon’s are the best flat MTB pedal you can get for under $100 and an excellent choice for someone getting into the sport – the price making the customization with the size even more surprising.

Read more reviews, or buy this mountain biking flat pedal here:

#4 DMR Vault Platform Pedals

Image result for dmr vault pedals

DMR have been making pedals since 1999, and their experience in the industry is clearly shown in the pedals they are producing to this day. Reliable, top end performance machines that have never been critically flawed (or indeed flawed to much of an extent at all) and would have made this list had it been written one, three or four years ago.

Durability – Their latest DMR Vault has made the rear of the platform slightly narrower than the front. The chamfered ends deflect impacts and allow the pedal to more easily slide between narrow gaps. As with the other entries on this list – you can expect these pedals not to attract or retain mud. There have been some complaints about the durability in terms of the anodizing on the pins and a couple of more serious localized issues (we’re taking about 1/100 at most) – however this is all covered by warranty so there is nothing to worry about there. In terms of the pins that is really not an issue to us (unless you really do care about blue pins) as this wear was always going to happen and is only noticeable due to the color.

Grip – The combination of a broad platform with concentrated pins means the pedal will grip your foot well even if you don’t get it perfectly on first time. The body is concave in shape, (in a similar way to the spank spoon) so you’ll have maximum grip and contact with your shoe. The Vault uses 11 pins, 7 of which are reversible, with one end a few millimeters longer than the other. The idea here being that you adjust the aggression of the grip in accordance with your shoes. This does seem to have contributed to one of the flaws of this pedal – being that the addition of this means that pins are more likely to become loose and be lost.

Weight – 420g (less with the titanium axels and magnesium body)

Read more reviews, or buy this mountain biking flat pedal here:

Discount code: Spend and Save on Autumn Essentials (Parts, Accessories & Clothing excluding Bikes, Garmin, GPS and Cameras) – Coupon: SAVE30 (enter at checkout)

#5 Hope F20 Platform Pedal

Image result for hope f20 pedals

Hope design, test and build their pedals in the wild, wet and muddy north of England, which creates an almost unique set of worst case conditions for parts like the pedals – which need to be as reliable and resistant to the weather as possible. Through this Hope have created some of the most reliable parts in the industry that for many users will never be tested to their real limits of durability.

Grip – This has been the biggest gripe most people seem to have with these pedals, the question you may find yourself asking would be whether the strongest, best looking grips are worth this shortfall. It can be increased by using the central pins at the expense of a less concave platform.

Durability – The grim northern conditions are counteracted by sealed cartridge bearings that should keep spinning smoothly for many years. The body is beautifully designed and has the slightly concave shape that you can expect from a top end pedal in this day and age. The F20s are certainly a great looking pair of pedals that seem to go especially well with bikes that have more ‘matt’ frames.

Weight – 416g

If you want to enjoy reliable class leading grip and performance for tame to aggressive trail riding at a fair price then these pedals are the place to go – as one of their class leaders that not only excel at their function but look good while doing it.

Read more reviews, or buy this mountain biking flat pedal here:

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Best Beers for Mountain Biking

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RadNut

Off the back of a somewhat amusing trend of bike and beer content appearing (and a completely unscientific survey of the reddit /r/MTB community) we decided to put together a curated list of beers summarising the outcome.

If you want a beer to be included then post on the thread and we’ll get to it shortly, in addition, if the beer here isn’t poorly rated enough – you could always try and brew your own.

The list will be updated periodically.

Mountain Biking Beers | The List

Roughly in order from most popular to least popular:

Dales Pale Ale

Dales Pale Ale - 12 x 355ml Cans - Oskar Blues Brewery

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Pabst Blue Ribbon

Ride or Die Beer and Bottle Opener

Bentspoke Crankshaft IPA

Hamms Pale Lager

Hamms

Fat Tyre Beer

Image result for Fat Tyre Beer

Downhill Double IPA

Hanging Hills Metacomet IPA

Image result for Hanging Hills Metacomet IPA

Woods Session IPA

Root Beer

Thomas Kemper Root Beer

John Smiths Extra Smooth (UK)

Bikes and Beer Videos | Reddit Collection –

This will also be maintained.

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Best Energy gels for Mountain Biking

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Energy Gels and Mountain Bikers

In our experience, as a community mountain bikers don’t tend to get along so well with energy gels on the whole, preferring bars and energy drinks as a rule. This might be to distance ourselves from road cyclists somewhat or may be for other reasons – such as their notoriously bad taste. In this article we attempt to give a concise but informative guide to gels, from a more relaxed MTB-orientated perspective. We will begin by comparing them to the more frequently consumed energy drinks and snack bars.

Energy Gels vs Energy Drinks vs Energy Bars

People often conflate energy drinks with energy gels, this is not the case. Gels often don’t contain caffeine at all (with the exception of a few brands) and provide you with ions and carbohydrates instead of sugary water. Gels tend to be far more performance orientated, whereas energy drinks focus on giving you a short lived, reasonably tasty kick (hence the addition of carbon dioxide and other chemicals that would have an adverse effect on performance).

Image result for energy bar

Energy bars are the more solid version of energy gels and a much more popular choice on the trails, the only general differences between them and their gel equivalent seems to be that they give more longer chain carbs (slower release energy), take longer to be digested and focus much less on ions. Before going any further we’d like to assert that having tried a good number of both energy gels and energy bars – it isn’t completely clear cut which is more disgusting, we certainly prefer a few of the energy gels below to the energy bars we’ve tried.

Another side point to note – energy bars can be a pretty sketchy choice if you have allergies, especially to nuts.

How do Energy Gels help?

There has been a lot of research done in this area. To understand this research and whether or not you should start using energy/carbohydrate gels, you should understand what they are made for. They are designed to be an efficient way to consume rapidly-absorbed carbohydrates and ions. These are needed as a result of the rapid loss of these essential carbohydrates and ions that occurs during exercise. In short the further from the optimal level of ions and carbohydrates you go, the harder it will become to perform at your maximum capacity.

Not many people realise, but the way in which you consume sugars and carbohydrates can have a significant effect. If you, as an elite athlete operating at peak performance, consume a standard energy drink, you’re likely to quickly get stomach cramps and pains. This is because your body has a tonne of excess liquid, minerals and chemicals to get rid of such as taurine, vitamin B2 etc…

We tested the most popular gels on the internet and documented our preferred gels and why, the results of which along with our expert survey can be seen below.

Summary Table

Gel / Gel Pack Caffeine Volume Per Gel Taste
Stealth Advanced Isotonic Gel No 60ml 7/10
NamedSport 4 Fuel Combination Yes 20-50ml 8/10
GU Energy Original Yes 32ml 9/10
Torq Gel No 45ml 7/10
Sis Go Isotonic Energy No 22ml 7/10
High 5 IsoGel Plus Caffeine Yes 60ml 7/10
OTE Isotonic Gel No 56ml 9/10

Considerations when buying Energy Gels for Cycling

  • Not all flavours give the same amount of nutrition.
  • Different stages of and different types of exercise will be best supported by different nutrients (different gels).
  • All gels should help somewhat.
  • Caffeine usage is good, caffeine reliance is bad.

Nutritional Information

Here are some of the terms you are likely to see written on energy gels and what they mean.

Potassium – Supports proper muscle function, works against cramps.

Magnesium – Fights fatigue and tiredness.

Creatine – During high-intensity exercise, stored creatine allows your muscles to produce more energy. 

D-Ribose – A sugar-like molecule that your body uses to make ATP. ATP is the body’s most basic form of energy and the fuel burned by the cells in all active organs, most notably including the heart.

Fructose – Quick release energy in the same form you get it from sugar.

Maltodextrin – Additive used to improve texture and flavour.

B-Alanine – Helps to reduce the acidity in your muscles during high-intensity exercise.

Palatinose – A compound synthesized from glucose and fructose – like sugar, but slower release.

Taurine – An amino acid that is the second most prominent in muscle tissue.

There are more, but since we’re keeping this concise we’ve kept it to the ones most commonly seen.

Recommendation for cyclists (mountain bikers and road) –

Of those that we tested, the NamedSport 4 Fuel combo pack was by far the best – the idea of having gels for before, during and after exercise works really well and has been executed perfectly. These gels should allow you to train harder with the additional bonus of a lessened impact on your day post – training.

The pack breaks down into 7 gels, each with a different set of nutrients for each stage in the workout. The gels in the pack include: Amino Gel, Strong Gel, 3x Sport Gel, Total Energy Carbo Gel and Total Energy Hydra Gel.

In terms of flavours, the gels use quite a wide range, including – lemon, cola-lime, argrumix, lemon and peach, lemon ice tea, and orange. Our favourites from which were lemon, orange and cola-lime.

Another point we’d like to raise would be the addition of a small straw to the top of some of the gels, this makes them not only much easier to consume, but allows them to remain much more self contained (so they don’t get stickyness everywhere) after consumption. It also makes it feel more like sipping a flavoured drink (the texture is very light and watery), as opposed to forcing some sticky chemical rice down your throat in yoghurt form.

On top of our own testing, we also performed a survey of experts and other cyclists (both road and MTB) documenting their responses below.

The Best Biking and Mountain Biking Energy Gels – Expert Survey

Fitness Expert Justin Jefferson (www.jayfitlife.com)

When it comes to an endurance sport like cycling (or mountain biking), the ability to quickly replenish energy is vital. As the body utilizes fuel, it pulls from two primary sources. Glycogen (Stored Carbohydrates) and stored Fat. While fat is typically available for the body to use at a given moment, it can take a bit longer to be converted into usable energy as opposed to glucose (carbohydrates in usable form) which are readily available to be used. Consuming a quick shot of a carbohydrate supplement during a race/ride can be very beneficial to a cyclist. 

Due to the non-stop, demanding nature of cycling, I would highly recommend keeping energy gel tabs in reach during the ride. As the long ride begins to take its toll and you feel you’re energy is depleting, replenishing your glucose levels is vital. Having Gel Tabs handy makes it quick and easy way to get a boost of energy without completely disrupting your stride. 

It’s is important to keep in mind that not all Energy Gel tabs are created equally. They can vary from calorie count, sodium levels and taste. The calorie count is important because it directly affects how long the energy shot can last. A tab with at least 20g of carbs should provide a noticeable boost.

The electrolyte, Sodium gets depleted through sweat during a long bout of physical activity. Consuming gel tabs with at least 100mg of sodium can be very beneficial to replenishment.

For an activity like cycling, a personal favourite of mine is the SIS (science in sport) Go Energy + Electrolyte Gel.

It packs a good dose of carbs and sodium along with be available in multiple flavours. Flavour matters because, let’s be honest who wants to consume something that doesn’t taste pleasant. 

Dr. Rob Bell – Mental Toughness Coach (drrobbell.com)

My gut could never hack typical energy gels. Way too much sugar for long rides and simply not healthy. So, I was on a quest to find the best.  My favorite is 33shake chia energy gels. It has long-lasting energy and it’s easy to consume and digest. You use your own liquid as well to make it, so
flavour can change if needed. Best ever!

Rob Jackson – Ironman UK and 2 x L’Etape Du Tour finisher (www.minimalfit.co.uk)

Having spent a lot of time riding my road bike for 6+ hours at a time, I have used many different types of gels. My personal preference would be the Zipvit ZV7 gel.

Why?
   – It is very tasty and comes in a range of flavours from kiwi to blackcurrant so you don’t get bored.
   – It’s larger than other gels due to it having more water so it’s not so sticky in the mouth and does not require water to wash it down.
There is nothing worse than a heavy, sticky gel when your mouth is already dry when pushing hard.
    – It contains 51g of carbs per gel which is almost enough for 1 hour of riding (I need around 60g per hour).
    – It contains some electrolytes which helps if you sweat out a lot of salt. I have more electrolytes, just in tablet form.
    – As far as energy gels go this has some of the cleanest ingredients that you can find without going for real food which is inconvenient and requires a lot of preparation.

Bethany Rutledge – Owner of Energy Lab and Author of Courage to TrI Website (http://bethanyrutledge.com)

As a triathlon coach and many-time IRONMAN finisher, my favorite gel-type produce is vanilla EFS liquishot. It comes in a handy 400 cal flask and has everything you need to go long except for water. During an IRONMAN, I typically carry a single water bottle for nutrition filled with EFS sufficient to fuel a 112 mile bike ride.

Health Expert Nick Pace (www.nooksnkindles.com)

Cycle energy gels are generally a gel or liquid-like formula that is easy to store (i.e. you are cycling and have very little storage on your cycle or attire), easy to consume while riding, and provide quick energy that is easily and efficiently absorbed into your body.  Some even have the aid of caffeine which can act as a mild stimulant, and help promote energy uptake, nutrient absorption, increase alertness, combat fatigue, and give the cyclist an overall boost.  Gels marketed as “Cycle Gels” of course are made for cyclists but any sport where an athlete would want fast burning carbohydrates and energy can benefit from these gels!  In the past when I did Crossfit competitions, I would like to “carb up” before an event and these gels would have been a great choice! 

When it comes to any product I prefer organic or at the very least, natural.  Anything with artificial colouring or sweeteners I try to avoid.  In my opinion, if you are going to take the healthy step to partake in athletic endeavour, shouldn’t you pick the best quality fuel?  Besides from having “clean ingredients” Organic companies often have such a positive, “do the right thing” corporate culture.  It’s not all about profit and greed, but oftentimes about the best quality, customer experience, lessening a carbon footprint, preserving the ecosystem, etc. One “cycle gel” that captures my attention is the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Gel, they come in 6 flavors and the athlete even has a choice of buying a variety pack to try them all.  Some also contain a small dose of caffeine for that overall boost I was mentioning earlier!

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Top 5 Best MTB Shoes for Enduro and Downhill Riding

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Top 5 Best MTB Shoes for Enduro and Downhill Riding

Here are our picks for the best Enduro and Downhill riding shoes.

Our ratings and reviews will reflect and depend on the following

Pedaling Efficiency – The force exerted on pedals directly influences the speed of the bike. Higher pedaling efficiency gives a better transfer of power while applying minimum pressure. It results in faster speeds while reducing muscle fatigue.

Support and Fit – Shoe support and fit are essential for a comfortable and safe ride. While the fit depends on personal foot dimensions, maximum support is imperative for reduced injury risk and better performance.

Durability – Your shoes should be able to take on rough trails and survive.

Flexibility and Stiffness – The flexibility of a shoe is vital for a comfortable fit. Stiffness is also required for better power transfer. The flex dampens power transfer and increases mobility while stiffness discourages movement and increases power transfer. The delicate balance between rigidity and flexibility is an essential aspect of a quality shoe, as it can shape the performance and experience of your rides.

Our top recommendations

Shimano ME7 SPD Shoe (750g) P-SH-ME700_15085_1_750_750

The ME7 has heralded one of the best attempts to combine cross-country power transfer levels with the armor and protection needed by aggressive (enduro and downhill) riders. With its carbon fiber midsole and reinforced upper, the ME7 provides the right amount of stiffness that increases pedaling efficiency while allowing flexibility. Providing enough ventilation with its tactile mesh, the reinforced toe guards and ankle cuffs protect against impacts. The ME7 enables an easily customizable and comfortable fit with its quick-draw lace system secured by ratchet straps. As an added bonus, the solid rubber sole also provides plenty of grip for when you get off the bike.

  • Its carbon-reinforced midsole offers the right mix of stiffness and flexibility.
  • The shoe feels tough while retaining proper ventilation.
  • The toe guard and ankle cuff protect against impact.
  • Riders with low-volume feet might struggle to get a snug fit.

The ME7 allows a comfortable riding and hiking experience for riders using clipless pedals. The designers appear to have judged the rigidity very well, as the ME7 efficiently transfers power from foot to pedal. Overall, the ME7 is an impressive blend of engineered comfort and functionality – being the favorite not only with us but more or less across the board wherever it has been reviewed.

Find out more about, or buy these shoes here.

FiveTen Freerider Contact Flat Pedal Shoe (780g)

http://chainreactioncycles.scene7.com/is/image/ChainReactionCycles/prod144873_IMGSET?wid=500&hei=505

Despite a partly treaded sole, the Freerider Contact provides immense grip. The synthetic uppers keep the shoe lightweight and significantly reduces drying time. Its stiff midsole ensures maximum pedaling efficiency while the wide rubber outer layer gives vast pedal contact and effective ride feedback.

As this shoe is only suitable for hiking and riding in dry conditions, it can get slippery when the trail is wet. Flexible near the forefoot, this shoe allows for rapid foot mobility. With its sturdy and robust build quality, the shoe is made of abrasion-resistant textiles and comes with toe-cap protection.

  • The robust construction ensures a durable and comfortable fit.
  • Due to its stiff midsole, it provides ample support and optimum pedalling efficiency.
  • The partly treaded soles offer ideal pedal contact, ride feedback, and grip.
  • The Freerider Contact is not suitable for damp or wet conditions.

Due to the bare mid-section of the sole, you can make small foot adjustments on the go. Lightweight, durable and grippy, the Freerider Contact is ideal for downhill and enduro riding.

Find out more or buy these shoes here.

FiveTen Impact VXi Clipless or Flat Pedal Shoe (840g) http://chainreactioncycles.scene7.com/is/image/ChainReactionCycles/prod118579_IMGSET?wid=500&hei=505

With its broad sole, the grip offered by the Impact VXi is firm. Stiff, comfortable and lightweight, the shoe provides plenty of support and improves pedaling efficiency. While it is not exceptionally breathable, the shoe is water-resilient and features toe-cap protection.

Cushioning feet against shocks, it has a robust build with a sizable rubber sole. While the ride feedback does suffer, it aids better power transfer due to increased levels of stiffness. Durable and hardy, the fit is spacious while providing adequate arch support.

  • The sizable sole offers firm grip while cushioning against shocks.
  • Due to increased stiffness, the power transfer is efficient.
  • With its synthetic uppers, it is lightweight and comfortable.
  • The shoe does not have proper ventilation.

With a roomy fit and stiff midsole, the shoe is comfortable and lightweight. With solid build quality and a secure grip, the Impact VXi is a suitable shoe for downhill riding.

FiveTen Sam Hill Impact 3 Flat Pedal Shoe (549g)

http://chainreactioncycles.scene7.com/is/image/ChainReactionCycles/prod144551_IMGSET?wid=500&hei=505

With its grip and stability, the snug shoe supports the foot despite weighing more. While flexibility suffers due to its rigid construction, the power transfer remains efficient. The reinforced toe-box and cushioned sole offer protection and shock absorption.

With the traditional lace system in place, it allows adjustability and ventilation. The arch support and slingshot heel are robust while its durability ensures all-terrain traction and use.

  • It provides grip and stability for all terrains.
  • The cushioned soles and reinforced toe-boxes protect and absorb shock.
  • It has an excellent fit and arch support.
  • Flexibility and ride feedback suffers due to stiffness.

The shoe provides high pedaling efficiency with a sturdy build. Due to synthetic uppers, it is water-resistant and dries quickly. Providing a firm grip and suitable protection, it is ideal for downhill riding

Find out more or buy these shoes here.

Giro Chamber Mid Clipless Shoe (536g)

https://www.giro.com/media/catalog/product/cache/7/image/479x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/g/i/giro_s_chamber_charcoalblack_34.jpg

The build quality is robust, with lace straps, cushioned heels, and appropriate arch support. For protection, it features padded ankle straps and rubber toe caps. While retaining sufficient flex, the stiff midsole offers ample pedaling efficiency.

While it weighs more, the shoe is durable, water-resistant, breathable and has an excellent fit. The secure grip is impressive despite little tread. The cleats are long enough and easy to use. The shoe also comes with an anti-bacterial lining.

  • Durable and sturdy, it provides optimal protection against debris.
  • The shoes consist of synthetic uppers, making it water-resistant.
  • It comes with an anti-bacterial lining.
  • Weighing at 536g, it is quite heavy.

Comfortable for hiking and riding, it offers both flexibility and stiffness in the right mix. It is grippy and provides a snug fit. Water-resistant and breathable, the Chamber Mid is a sturdy shoe that is apt for aggressive riding.

Find out more or buy these shoes here.

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