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Adventure Main | E-Mail the Editors | Adventure Customer Service | Subscribe November/December 2001

  Gear Guide
Breakthrough Designs: Hardware
Our picks for the gear of the year—just in time for the holidays
• 1. Ice ax: Black Diamond Cobra
• 2. Sunglasses: Carrera Arch Racing
• 3. Ski boots: Atomic Beta Ride 10.50 Carbon
• 4. Handlebars: SRAM Smartbar
• 5. Mountain bike: Christini AWD

All prices in U.S. dollars

Click to Enlarge.1. Ice ax: Black Diamond Cobra
Price: $300
Weight: 25 ounces (710 grams)
Telephone: +1 801 278 5533
Web: www.bdel.com

Any ice climber whose forearms have nearly exploded after a dozen solid strikes with an ice ax—and that's almost every ice climber—will 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.

Click to Enlarge.2. Sunglasses: Carrera Arch Racing
Price: $100
Telephone: 800 526 0327 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.carrerasport.com

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).

Click to Enlarge.3. Ski boots: Atomic Beta Ride 10.50 Carbon
Price: $595
Telephone: 800 258 5020 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.atomicski.com

The Atomic Beta Ride 10.50 Carbon, one of the best big-mountain ski boots in existence, has a safety twist—a 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 system—recently adopted by most major North American ski areas—is 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.

Click to Enlarge.4. Handlebars: SRAM Smartbar
Price: $350
Weight: 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms)
Telephone: 800 346 2928 (U.S. and Canada only)
Web: www.sram.com

Like the bumper on a '57 Buick, the new SRAM Smartbar is both sexy and utilitarian—all 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.

5. Mountain bike: Christini AWD
Price: $2,500 to $2,700
Weight: 25.5 pounds (12 kilograms)
Telephone: +1 215 351 9895
Web: www.christini.com

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.

—Paul Hochman

Photographs by Spencer Jones

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November/December 2001:
In the Magazine | Excerpts | 10 Ski Trips | ANWR | Dry Tortugas | Lost at Sea | Papua New Guinea | Forum | Junger | Camera Picks | GPS Tools | Mountain Hardware | Ghana Guide

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