1: 1 mm space for the front claw movement

S: Shot down the front mechanisum as toe in entry

TWlNS(6 Float)

Thrash test rating:

★★★★A Delivers above average value and performance ★★★AA Recommended for intended application ★★AAA Shows potential but has drawbacks ★AAAA Save your hard-earned bucks vthrash tests|

Designed to be light, strong and affordable

The Next XC 3/4 low-rise handlebar from Race Face was developed to allow for more aggressive riding by reducing cockpit height.

Tech features: Built for cross-country riding, the carbon fiber Next XC 3/4 bar has a three-quarter-inch rise, a 3.18-millimeter clamp size, is 27-inches wide and weighs seven ounces. Race Face claims their Next 3/4 handlebar ($110) has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any carbon bar available today. Race Face, (604) 527-9996.

After the thrashing: As we've tested various trailbikes over the years, we've made some observations. Our consensus is that a rider on a medium-sized trailbike with five to six inches of travel will greatly benefit from a 26- or 27-inch-wide handlebar. We recently raved about the 5.5-inch-travel Intense Tracer VP, but criticized the 25-inch-wide handlebar. The 27-inch-wide carbon fiber Race Face Next 3/4 low-rise handlebar seemed like the perfect solution.

Although it's widely believed that a wider handlebar will inhibit climbing performance, we experienced the opposite on this bike. The wider Race Face handlebar and 90-millimeter Titec stem distributed the rider's weight over the front of the bike and kept the 5.5-inch-travel front end from wandering. The improved climbing was an unexpected bonus, but on the descents, this Race Face bar significantly boosted the performance of this already incredible trailbike. Although only two inches wider than the stock bar, the Race Face Next bar slowed down steering, making the front end more stable on high-speed technical descents and enhancing off-camber cornering ability.

Entering the "Race Face Experiment," we had a hunch a slightly wider handlebar would improve the Tracer's already remarkable performance. Our hypothesis was not only correct, but the experiment reinforced our belief that today's trailbike rider can overpower demanding terrain while remaining in complete control.

The legendary performance continues

Maxxis offers their High Roller tire in a 2.1-inch crosscountry version, 2.35-inch trailbike version, and 2.5-inch and 2.7-inch downhill versions. We've been testing the 2.5-inch downhill race version featuring 3C Triple Compound Technology.

Tech features: Maxxis' 3C Triple Compound Technology is reserved for their high-end, competition-specific downhill tires. Perhaps you've seen their advertisements with Greg Minnaar and Sam Hill racing on 3C tires. What is 3C? There are three different durometers of rubber in the tread. The center tread rubber is designed to roll faster and hold

up to braking forces. The side knobs have a harder rubber on the interior of the knobs to prevent them from folding over under hard cornering, while the outermost side knob rubber is softer and tackier for optimized grip. Although Maxxis makes the High Roller in sizes from 2.1-inches to 2.7-inches wide, only the 2.5-inch downhill casing High Roller is available with the 3C technology, featuring rubber with durometers of 70, 42 and 40. The wire-beaded High Roller's famous ramped knobs are designed to keep rolling resistance low, yet provide enough biting edge for braking power. The High Roller 3C ($80) weighs 2.8 pounds and is designed for hardpack and loose-over-hardpack terrain. Maxxis, (770) 962-5932.

After the thrashing: The High Roller has received high marks ever since it hit the mountain. Designed for downhill racing, the 2.5-inch High Roller 3C is ideal for hardpack terrain or moderately loose trails. The 3C compound takes this legendary tire and improves on its versatility by improving high-speed cornering grip. It doesn't take a herculean effort to mount the High Roller to most downhill wheelsets, and we raced them numerous times on both Mavic and DT Swiss downhill wheels. You could poll downhill racers from Southern California, Vermont and Whistler, and they'd agree that if conditions are moderately dry, the High Roller is the tire of choice. Unfortunately, as is the case with most highperformance tires, the High Roller 3C is a race-specific design that would likely only last you about four races, and not even that long if you're a brake dragger. Downhillers not overly concerned with race-oriented rubber compounds will appreciate Maxxis' other High Roller models, which offer longer-lasting rubber compounds and lower prices. Still, if you're a serious racer or money is no object, Maxxis' High Roller 3C is at the head of the downhill class for moderately dry and loose terrain.

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