Rethinking the Mountain Bike Helmet
Bern helmets feature a low, fully encompassing profile to wrap your head in protection with an urban style. This year Bern introduced the same style and safety-rated technology into a line of off-road helmets. The ladies’ Prescott and its brother, the Morrison, feature the same cranium-hugging construction found in Bern’s all-season snow, bike and skate lids but with more ventilation and a tapered shape catered to mountain biking. Sixteen vents keep air moving well under the rather close fit. Typically I wear a medium, but I could easily size up from the M/L to the L/XL, which is only available in the men’s line. Bern’s website admittedly suggests sizing up if you’re on the cusp. Folks who fall within a size range can crank down the BOA dial at the back of the moisture-wicking liner for a customized fit. The liner is replaceable and can be swapped out for a fresh one after a long, sweaty season. The large, overhanging visor is a nice addition without adding much weight, but it is not removable or adjustable. At thirteen ounces, the Prescott is fairly light. A PVC shell combined with high strength-to-weight ratio foam allows for less bulk while still meeting safety standards for bike and skate head protection. The Prescott/Morrison is not a super techy helmet, but it is a great option for those looking for basic style. $99.99
An Epic 29’er With a Secret Compartment
Specialized R&D takes innovation seriously, making incremental improvements each year to its S Works racing technology. The Epic World Cup 29 is a finely tuned endurance and racing machine with pioneering design. There are eight versions of the Epic, with the top tier World Cup model featuring all the latest bells and whistles, a low weight and a high price tag. If you have the means to test one out, I highly recommend it. If not, the basic Epic model offers a great ride, and a sundry list of features at a more reasonable price point. The S Works Epic World Cup is the first 29er to win a World Cup. It’s built to go fast. It’s also the first model to incorporate SWAT technology, which stands for Storage, Water, Air and Tools. The system stores emergency repair tools right on the carbon frame, eliminating the need to wear a pack in order to take these essentials along during a race or long ride. A tube, lever and CO2 cartridge fit into a box in a bracket. Meanwhile, a multi-tool slides into the a compartment just above the rear shock. Two water bottle cages also fit right inside the main triangle along with the rear shock.
Epic frames have full suspensions with a highly intelligent rear shock called the Brain. Specialized has been incorporating the Brain in its rear suspensions since the early 2000’s (the World Cup also features this technology in its fork). The Brain uses an inertia valve to distinguish the difference between inputs from the rider and inputs from the trail and adjusts shock rigidity according to surface conditions and pedaling. It remains firm during pedaling and softens to active mode on bumps. This makes the bike ride smoother, more efficiently and, ultimately, faster.
Several other differences make the World Cup an aggressive racing machine. The single trigger shifter moves between eleven gears smooth and fast – no granny gear here. The World Cup fork travels 95mm (versus 100mm on the Epic) and has an ever-so-slightly steeper head tube angle, slightly shorter chain stays, dropper seat post and carbon wheels. Women looking for a similar ride experience can turn to the Era, built with slightly different construction and components. The Epic World Cup runs $10,500. Epics start at $3,100 for an aluminum frame and at $4,200 for a carbon frame.
Lost Nation’s Summer Session
Lost Nation’s brews are on the lighter side by design. The Morrisville brewing company produces session beers with low alcohol levels so you can feel comfortable enjoying more than one at a time and at 4.5% ABV, their Gose is a refreshing choice in summer weather.
Gose (pronounced “GOH-zuh”) is a German style, brewed with wheat, coriander and sea salt. It is pale gold, with some effervescence and a thin lattice. Aromas are light and fresh with hints of yeast, citrus and malt. The saltiness, sour citrus and sweet malt flavors all come through individually but none are overpowering and the balance continues on the light, dry finish.
During the warmer months, you can enjoy this and other easy drinking varieties while lingering in Lost Nation’s beer garden or pair it with locally sourced pub fare from the tap room kitchen. Gose was recently released in 16 ounce cans so you can take a 4-pack to go and pack this summer sipper in your cooler or picnic basket.