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Breakthrough Designs: Hardware
All prices in U.S. dollars
Any ice climber whose forearms have nearly exploded after a dozen solid strikes with an ice axand that's almost every ice climberwill appreciate the Black Diamond Cobra.
The Cobra's carbon-fiber-wrapped handle (which naturally dampens vibration) is molded into an easy-to-grip lopsided oval, helping you save some of the energy you'd use clenching a conventional ax. The shaft then morphs and twists into a sideways oval as it approaches the blade, which keeps the shaft as far away as possible from the surface you're striking. You get astounding clearance.
Skiing can bring tears to your eyes. Literally. The featherweight, titanium-reinforced Carrera Arch Racing sunglasses offer a solution: six circular dimples routed out of the lenses' outside corners. The dimples dissipate the micro-turbulence that builds up behind standard glasses and curls around, tickling your eyes.
And the Arch Racing's adjustable nose pads are made of the polymer Megol, which gets stickier as you get sweatier, so the glasses won't bounce around and let air in.
They also have the exceedingly rare option of prescription attachments ($20).
The Atomic Beta Ride 10.50 Carbon, one of the best big-mountain ski boots in existence, has a safety twista Recco avalanche-rescue device riveted to the back of each boot. This is a thin, inert, plastic-encased circuit card that reflects the electronic signal of ski patrollers equipped with Recco transmitters. (The systemrecently adopted by most major North American ski areasis not compatible with your Ortovox or Pieps.)
The ski boot itself has an extremely comfortable toe box and tongue, and its carbon arch stabilizer flexes with each turn, giving you big, sweet rebounds in soft snow.
Like the bumper on a '57 Buick, the new SRAM Smartbar is both sexy and utilitarianall metallic fins and swooping accessory decks.
At 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms), it may be as much as two pounds (one kilogram) heavier than your old handlebars, but the Smartbar seamlessly integrates all your street-biking necessities. There are built-in brake levers and shifters, a bell, a slot for a wireless dashboard computer ($90), and places to install dual halogen headlamps ($135) and rearview mirrors ($40).
Made of a glass-nylon composite, the Smartbar is strong enough for off-road excursions, and its "flip-flop" stem allows for quick height, reach, and angle adjustments.
The world's first functional all-wheel-drive mountain bike, the patented Christini AWD weighs only 25.5 pounds (12 kilograms), boasts a shift-on-the-fly clutch, and has an aluminum drive-shaft that runs up from the rear hub, inside the frame, and down to the front wheel.
Power is transferred to the front whenever the back wheel slips, so the bike literally pulls you past the tree roots, off-camber slopes, and muddy rises that used to leave you in a quivering, ignominious heap.
Also available with dual suspension, the Christini comes with disc brakes and XT-level components.
Photographs by Spencer Jones
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