Like many trends in the bicycle world, oval chainrings go through periods of dormancy and popularity. And while elliptical rings haven’t gained much traction in the on-road sector, there’s definitely no shortage of companies offering oval rings for dirt and gravel riding. On the surface, elliptical chainrings may look similar, but Wolf Tooth Components takes a slightly different approach with their US-made PowerTrac Elliptical™ rings.
I like quiet bikes. The last thing I want to hear when I’m riding is a noisy chain. And while I know the benefits of a properly lubed chain, I’d rather spend my time riding than cleaning and lubing my bike. Dry lubes promise sparkling drivetrains, but that often comes at the expense of longevity. Wet lubes offer long-lasting protection, but they can be messy. Finding a lube that combines the best of both worlds is a challenge, but Smoove’s universal chain lube ($14.95 / 150 mL) makes it easy to keep your bike lubed and mess-free.
Based in South Africa, Smoove designed their chain lube to withstand the brutal conditions faced by racers competing in that country’s Cape Epic off-road race. Unlike solvent-based lubes, Smoove utilizes a proprietary water-based formula that contains wax and special additives. Did you raise an eyebrow when you read the word wax? Don’t freak out, Smoove is nothing like those oldschool wax lubes that left your bike’s drivetrain looking like a wax museum reject.
When I decided to give flat pedals a try after 25 years of riding clipless, I knew that the right shoes would be a major factor in the flat pedals’ success. When it comes to shoes for flat pedal use, Five Ten pretty much wrote the book with their sticky-soled Freerider family of footwear (say that three times fast). I started with the company’s Freerider Contact model, and it’s served me well for several seasons. In the back of my mind, though, I found myself wishing for a slightly stiffer version with more traction on and off the bike. The folks at Five Ten must be psychic, because they developed the Freerider Pro ($150 MSRP) with exactly those features–and more.
Shimano may have been the first company to successfully develop and market an off-road clipless pedal, but Time’s ATAC has been a favorite of many riders for more than two decades. Known for its easy engagement and superior mud shedding ability, the ATAC design has remained essentially unchanged since its introduction. Designed for XC mountain bike and gravel riders, the XC 6 features a hollow steel axle, composite body, and adjustable tension.
Does Time’s ATAC XC 6 still have what it takes for mixed-terrain use? Stay tuned…