Bontrager Solstice Helmet Review

At the end of the year, I noticed my kids were constantly fighting with their helmets. The chin straps just didn’t seem long enough for them anymore … Looks like dad needs to step up and get them out of their Youth helmets.

The latest safety tech in helmet design is MIPS. It’s being integrated into helmets for all different sports. MIPS is an acronym for Multi-Directional Impact Protection System. The technology was created in 2001 by members of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. MIPS is a world leader in head and neck protection as a result of over 30 years of experience from its creators in the field of medical technology and research. MIPS technology mimics the brain’s protective structure by reducing rotational forces caused by angled impacts to the head. The helmet’s shell and liner are separated by a low friction layer which allows the helmet to slide, noticeably reducing trauma to the brain in the case of oblique impacts. These angled impacts are considerably more common in action sports compared to the blunt force impacts for which traditional helmets are typically tested.

When MIPS first started making its way into helmets a few years back, it was very expensive. But now, you can find it in sub-$100 range. When doing all of the research for becoming a brand ambassador for D&D Bikes, I learned about the Bontrager Solstice MIPS model. So the boys and I took a trip up to the shop to try them on.

Both boys (11 and 9) fit into the S/M using the dial fit. Should also allow extra room if they want to wear a thin hat under the helmet in the cold. I was surprised to learn that Bontrager has a Crash Replacement Guarantee which provides a free helmet replacement if involved in a crash within the first year of ownership. I wish I had that a few years ago when I wrecked and destroyed a Bell Super after only a couple months.

This helmet is the “enduro” style which gives more protection on the sides and back, but still allows for plenty of vents. I’m a fan of this type of helmet for its functionality and coverage.

10 things I wish I knew before becoming a mountain biker

I started mountain biking in 2012 at the ripe old age of 38. I won’t claim to be a know-it-all by any means, but here are my top 10 things I wish I knew before I started mountain biking (in no particular order).

  1. Even though you could ride a bike as a kid, doesn’t mean that you can ride as an adult. When you go on your first ride, don’t go all crazy fast right out of the gate. You’ll be out of breath VERY soon and wanting to puke your just-eaten hamburger on the side of the trail in front of your new friend (true story).
  2. You will need to learn how to eat to ride. Both on and off the bike. Nutrition is so important to any athlete. And it’s different for every person. What works for your buddy may not work for you.This is a huge challenge to me with my gut problems, and it even changes as the riding season progresses.
  3. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Strength is hard to build, but easy to lose. Stay active. You’ll notice the difference at the beginning of the season if you put in the work over the winter.
  4. Suspension gimmicks are no replacement for a actual bike suspension. Bouncy seat posts and other weird things exist. Some will like them. But if you are wanting a smooth ride, go full suspension. A good fork is WAY better than a cheap fork. Not only is an air fork lighter, but they work better. But don’t let a cheap fork stop you from riding (see #8).
  5. Yes, full suspension bikes are expensive, heavier and require more maintenance … but it is worth it. Ride longer and don’t feel so beat up. Your 40 year old back will thank you.
  6. Fat bikes are fun. Don’t over-think it. Get one for those weird days where you just want to ride and NOT go fast. They are great for riding with the kids.
  7. Just go clipless. It’s really not that scary. Even when you get used to it, you still will fall over randomly. Good stiff shoes make a difference.
  8. You don’t need an expensive bike to start mountain biking. Just start. Upgrade when the bug hits you. A shop once told me that I needed to spend a minimum of $1,500 on a bike to start. I walked out. Spent about $500 on a entry level bike. Rode the crap out of it and upgraded bits as I went. I learned how to adjust everything, and through upgrading, learned how to work on my bike.
  9. You’ll always want a new bike. – or you’ll be looking at ways to make your bike better. When you start, you have no idea what works or what doesn’t for you and your style of riding. Plus new and better equipment gets released. Do your research, ask questions, buy what seems right.
  10. Not only are there great physical benefits to riding, but there are also mental benefits. You’ll feel better. You’ll learn about yourself and your limits. You’ll get outside more. You’ll meet cool people.

So those are the big ones for me. I really wish I had started earlier, but looking back, it was the right time for me. Now get yourself on a bike. Find a trail. And ride.

Zoic T-Shirt Review

A good t-shirt can be so many different things: A memory, an identity, a statement, a function … I have so many t-shirts. Some I will never get rid of … old band T’s or the ones from my skate shop that I used to own. So at times it’s difficult to add new T’s to the army and retire the crusty ones.

A few years ago I purchased a Fox Tech T. It’s 60% cotton and 40% polyester. I’ve found that I don’t like 100% polyester jerseys to ride in. They either feel too hot in the heat, or too cold in the cold. This Fox Tech T came out unscathed after a crazy bad fall i had.

I’ve been a fan of Zoic since my first pair of Ether shorts when I first started riding. Since it was the beginning of the season, and I’m itching to get some new gear, I jumped on their site to see what T’s they had.

Two T’s jumped out for their design. And as a benefit, they are the same material blend that I like! Can’t go wrong!

The shirts feel and fit great. Tagless design so they aren’t itchy. The material blend is much softer than 100% cotton and absorbs sweat better. The fit for me was an athletic large. Meaning it’s a little slimmer than a normal large, but a bit longer too.

This year, Zoic has partnered with the MiSCA HV United Racing team my kids are on (which I’m helping coach). They are offering 20% off for our friends and family. Simply go to their site and enter promo code HVURFF20. When you do that, YOU get 20% off regular priced items and the HV United team gets a portion of the purchase price from Zoic!

So to recap … awesome T’s, awesome gear, 20% off, support kid’s mountain biking. Go now!