Our Top MTB Components, Shoes & Apparel Of 2022
Gearhead Picks For Mountain Biking
Dirt season is finally here—we’ve rounded up our top picks for MTB components, shoes, apparel, and accessories to pedal through spring and into summer strong. We’ll cover everything from essentials like bike racks to our favorites for your riding kit, and even a few top components for refreshing your ride.
5 Top Mountain Biking Components
Ready for some new components, but not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered. We’ll loop you in on what sets each component apart from the competition, the compatibility requirements you should know about, and how these top performers enhance every ride.
First up, we have the NX Eagle DUB Groupset from SRAM. Situated in the middle of the pack in terms of price point, this 12-speed drivetrain delivers similar mechanical performance to Eagle’s pricier options, with only a slight weight penalty. Since it’s part of the Eagle family, each component is cross-compatible with all Eagle drivetrain components for ease of maintenance down the line.
The Nitty Gritty on the NX Eagle DUB Groupset:
- Included cassette, derailleur, shifters, crankset, chainring, chain, and shifter cables
- Compatible with HG freehub bodies
- Sold in Boost and non-Boost spacing options
- Slots in at second cheapest among the five mechanical 12-speed Eagle drivetrain options
Next in line is the cream of the crop when it comes to suspension forks: the bold and burly Fox 38 Float Grip2 Factory Boost Fork. Designed as a top-tier enduro race fork, the 38 leaves little to be desired on even the roughest descents. It ranges from 160mm to 180mm of travel, making this big hitter suitable for long-travel trail bikes, enduro machines, and freeride rigs.
The Nitty Gritty on the 38 Float Grip2 Factory Boost Fork:
- Intended for use with bikes ranging from 140mm to 180mm of rear travel
- Adjustments for high-speed rebound, low-speed rebound, high-speed compression, and low-speed compression
- Stock configuration is for direct Post-Mount calipers with 180mm rotor, but is compatible with rotors up to 230mm with adapters (sold separately)
From the current selection of clipless pedals, the Speciale 12 Pedals from Time are a standout pick because they merge the best of both worlds from clipless pedal design. Taking cues from Shimano’s classic SPD pedals, the Speciale integrates a micro-adjustable clamping system for fine-tuning release. And similar to the Mallet pedals from Crank Brothers, Time added adjustable pins that let you control the amount of friction the pedal has with your shoes to dial in your float (i.e., the amount of side-to-side play between pedal and shoe while clipped in).
The Nitty Gritty on the Speciale 12 Pedals:
- 5 height-adjustable pins let you control the friction between pedal & shoe
- 10° release angle with the stock cleats; 13° and 17° release angle cleats sold separately
- Includes ATAC 10° cleats and 20 spare pins
Customizing your cockpit is part of what makes a bike feel like your bike, and the Loam Lever from PNW is a great starting point. With its injection-molded pad, this dropper lever was designed in the wet and wild home trails of PNW’s headquarters outside of Seattle to provide ample grip in the most heinous conditions.
The Nitty Gritty on the Loam Lever:
- Compatible with cable-actuated posts
- Comes in sizes to fit Matchmaker, I-Spec, and other mounting standards.
- Adjustable lever throw
Speaking of droppers, is it time for you to replace that old post that’s always getting stuck? The Revive Dropper Seatpost from Bike Yoke is quickly becoming a favorite among our Herd thanks to its low-profile actuator that lets us fit the appropriately sized post into our frame.
The Nitty Gritty on the Revive Dropper:
- Available travel options: 125mm, 160mm, 185mm, 213mm
- Available diameters: 30.9mm, 31.6mm, 34.9mm
Best MTB Shoes & Apparel Of The Year
We’ve rounded up a handful of our staples that we just can’t ride without this season, from color-coded combos to our favorite footwear options.
Inspired by our backyard (an IMBA Gold-rated trail system) and leveraging the feedback of our MTB-obsessed Gearheads, we designed a kit that will dominate the season. Start from the top with our 3/4-Sleeve Enduro Jersey (available in men’s & women’s). We designed it with excellent ventilation, plus elbow protection for riders who like to play with gravity.
Pair either with the Backcountry Pull-On Ride Shorts (women’s only)—lightweight breathability meets minimalist design—or Patagonia’s Dirt Craft Short (men’s only; chamois included), which pack in water-resistance, breathability, adjustable waistband, and all the MTB kit specs you could want in a short. Finally, get a grip with the Backcountry MTB Glove—ultra-lightweight with a form-fitting design for maximum dexterity.
Footwear is probably the most hard-working piece of a riding kit, which is why we choose the ME702 Cycling Shoe (men’s only) from Shimano for its all-or-nothing design. This enduro race shoe is perfect for rough terrain and epic routes, because the integrated lace cover and ankle collar keep debris out, letting us focus on our line choice. Those of us who rock flat pedals consider the Latch Cycling Shoe (available in men’s & women’s) to be at the top of the pack, thanks to Giro’s Tack Rubber compound that strikes the perfect balance between pedal grip and long-lasting durability.
Top MTB Accessories Of 2022
Getting our bikes to the trailhead is something we take seriously—there’s nothing worse than improper transport causing damage to a bike.
With the Backcountry Getaway Tailgate Pad, those worries are a thing of the past, with integrated fork pads and straps that handle off-roading with ease. As far as bike racks go, we choose the NV 2.0 Bike Hitch Rack from Kuat thanks to its integrated Trail Doc system that lets us attach a bike stand to the rack, perfect for campsite repairs. Another long-standing rack favorite is the T2 Pro XTR Hitch Rack, which set the standard for tray-style racks and continues to impress, with a pivoting design for easy cargo access and the ability to carry up to four bikes with the T2 Pro XTR Add On (sold separately).
When it comes to on-trail essentials, the old “safety first” mantra tends to ring true. We trust POC’s Kortal Race MIPS Helmet for its tried and trusted MIPS protection system, plus the integrated NFC medical ID that lets us store our medical information within the helmet so first responders can instantly get the info they need. It also integrates perfectly with the Aspire Sunglasses from POC to keep our vision clear and prevent wind from sneaking in.
Another favorite for protection is the Fox Launch D3O Knee Pads, which eliminate the need for separate trail and downhill pads thanks to their protective, yet flexible design.
To travel light and fast on alpine epics, we count on the Stash 3L Hip Pack from Race Face. It even has an integrated 1.5L bladder for our hydration needs, and room for on-trail repair provisions like Crank Brothers’ Multi 17 Tool, which boasts 17 different tools to help us address mechanical failures on-the-fly.
We hope these highlights leave you better prepared for hitting the trails! Still have questions about getting ready for mountain bike season? Reach out to a Gearhead by calling 1-800-409-4502 or chat online.
Happy trails to you!
Kendall is a writer at Backcountry. Follow along @kzylstra22