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What We Ran—2014 Fat Tire Test

Junk salve: We weren’t kidding about the Chamois Butt’r. It’s an opiate. Once you start using, you don’t stop. We’ve tried nearly every brand, but the Chamois Butt’r Euro Style blend is our favorite for long lasting performance and value—also that pleasant tingling reminiscent of a spa in the Alps. Or was that the opium? Swami forgets. Check out their Sports Skin Wash for quick aprés ride cleanups—great before a long drive home. $20; chamoisbuttr.com

German engineering—in a saddlebag: A saddlebag failure once led to collarbone surgery for our most revered and exalted Swami. Leave it to the Germans to make a better version. The Ortlieb Saddlebag Micro is big enough for a tube and some tools, features the trademark Ortlieb dry bag style closure, and attaches to the bike far more securely than that chintzy stitched Velcro that nearly killed his holiness. $26; ortlieb.com

Got a grip: We’re big fans of Ergon’s (now classic) flared grips for marathon style riding, but for technical trail we opt for the GA1 Evo version. There’s extra traction by the bar ends and at your fingertips and less around your thumbs. The clamp keeps them in place in wet conditions. $20; ergon-bike.com

It ain’t too sweet: We like these stripped down hydration and recovery drinks from Osmo for two reasons. First, we’re mountain bikers and we eat food when we’re on the trail—no need to drink all your calories on fun rides. Osmo has just enough of what you need without that cloying bloat common with Gatorade and wine coolers. Second, they make different formulas for men and women—because both sexes actually prefer different levels of salt and sugar. $20; osmonutrition.com

Real world wheels and tires: You can spend a thousand dollars more (and then some), but for consistently fast, lightweight enough, and plenty durable wheels, upgrade to time tested Shimano XT (shown here in the 27.5 version). We mounted this test pair with the Michelin Wild Race’r 2.25s. Is it a full-blown enduro-proof set-up? Probably not, (see page 86 for that) but it turns an enduro bike into your everyday trail bike. We have 30 hard days of riding on this combo and there’s not a wobble to be seen. The Wild Race’r tire is top notch for hardpack and desert riding—if a little smooth for loamy dirt. Tire: $65; michelinbicycletire.com; Wheelset: $799; shimano.com 

From the Early Summer 2014 issue. Back to the 2014 Fat Tire Test.

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