Each week our editorial team does a lap of the proverbial test garage, making note of the best cycling gear and apparel we've been using lately. Some of it is brand new. Some of it is so old and beat up you can barley read the label. The common thread is that it's all earned a place in our regular use rotation due to quality, performance, durability and/or price. Here's this week's Mtbr Hit List. What's your current go-to gear? Tell us about it in the comments section below.

MRP Stage 160mm Fork

MRP Stage 160mm Fork

Full disclosure, I'm not a suspension geek. My eyes gloss over when people start talking about the nuances of high speed compression and such. But what I do know is the feeling of a lousy fork. And that's what I had on my Pivot Mach 6 before swapping on this stealthy-looking 160mm MRP Stage fork about four months ago. Since then I don't spend much time thinking about suspension - because it works and works well.

The Grand Junction, Colorado-based company's enduro-oriented offering with 34mm stanchions isn't the lightest or cheapest fork out there. But thus far it's proven both reliable and highly capable, deftly smoothing out small bumps and soaking up big hits with predictable control. More than once I've barreled way to fast into a chunky rock garden and still managed to emerge safely on the other side. Thank you very much, Mr. Fork.

The prominent feature of the Stage with QtapeR 15mm axle is what MRP calls Ramp Control, which allows on-the-fly adjustment of the ending stroke curve of the air spring via a knob at the top of the left fork leg. Dial it in to retain small bump compliance, but get a progressive big hit feel. Or open it up for a more linear stroke. The idea is that when cranked down it will help you maintain control on especially steep or fast trails by preserving the last portion of stroke for those true crux moments, while at the same time maintaining your trail bike's more stable slack geometry. There's also a magnetic blow-off valve that eliminates the possibility of spiking, further increasing control.

Along with Ramp Control, the MRP Stage fork has adjustment for rebound, 8-position compression and air spring pressure, providing lots of variability for riders who like to play around with settings. I'm more of the set-and-forget type, and thus far that's worked just fine, too. Thanks, MRP marketing man Noah Sears for getting me started in the right direction.

For 2016, the fork will be available with 10 different sticker kits, so you can match colors with your bike. MRP's also reduced some of the fork's "whoosh" noise, though frankly I kind of like the sound effect. It let's me know it's working. | Construction: Magnesium lower with oversized arch | Available in 140mm, 150mm, 160mm and 170mm for 26"/27.5"; and 120mm, 130mm, 140mm, and 150mm for 29er | Price: $989 | More info: www.mrpbike.com

Bontrager Foray Short

Bontrager Foray Short

Quick poll: How many pairs of black MTB shorts do you own? For me the answer is too many. For whatever reason, the fat tire apparel industry seemingly went through a period where color choices were black or black. Sure, it's easier to hide mud and muck stains on dark colors. But hey, mountain biking is supposed to be fun, not an outdoor version of a goth party. Of course bright colors alone doesn't make a good pair of MTB shorts. In the case of the Bontrager Foray Short there is form to go with the fashion. They are lightweight, have a semi-fitted cut, and the stretch woven shell is soft on the skin and moves with the body without getting hung up. There's also some expertly placed mesh venting, a small zip pocket, and the waist is easy to adjust. No, I wouldn't recommend these if you're going to be padding up at the bike park, but for regular trail or XC rides, they are my go-to pair of mountain bike shorts. And yes, they also come in black and/or with matching slip-on gloves. | Price: $130 | More info: www.bontrager.com

Michelin Wild Grip'R Gum-X 2.35 Tire

Michelin Wild Grip'R Gum-X 2.35" Tire

Like a number of companies, Michelin has gone the way of specific tires for front and rear wheel use. Shown here is the Wild Grip'R Gum-X, a 27.5 2.35" trail tire that's earmarked for rear end duty due to a slightly more robust rubber compound. (The Magi-X version is softer for more hook-up on the front wheel.) We swapped this all-arounder on this spring after the original rubber on these Mavic all-mountain wheels was well past its prime. Tubeless set-up was floor pump easy and they've been a solid companion ever since. Cornering traction is confidence inspiring, and they rarely break loose under hard braking.

They've also proven to be fairly durable. After a very hard summer's worth of use, including two trips each to the tire wrecking grounds of Grand Junction's Lunch Loop and Moab, the side knobs are still in great shape, while the center tread is only marginally worn down. At 1080 grams they're not the fastest rolling tire, but on our 155mm Pivot Mach 6 trail bike, weight is a secondary concern. PS: We love the Mavic wheels, too. More on them soon. | Tire weight: 1080 grams | Price: $65 | More info: bike.michelin.com

Bell Super 2R Helmet

Bell Super 2R Helmet

About two months ago, I moved off Colorado's Front Range up to a little mountain town called Crested Butte. If you're into mountain biking history, you've surely heard of the place. Things kinda got started around here back in the early 1980s. Well, if there's phrase to describe Crested Butte riding, it's straight up, straight down. Hallmark trails such as Doctors Park, Teocalli Ridge, 401 and Green Lake all start with punishing climbs, and then finish with extended often rough descents. And all these trails have another thing in common: They're the perfect scenario for Bell's Super 2R Helmet, which features a removable chin bar.

On the way up stash the chin bar on the back of your hydration pack (my go-to Osprey Raptor has no problem stowing it on the outside). When you get to the top, have a snack and clip on the bar, which attaches via three aluminum buckles that are borrowed from the ski boot world. The process takes about 30 seconds, and when you're done you have a lightweight full face helmet that offers a little extra protection for bombing these sickest of descents. Bell is quick to point out that the Super 2R is not a replacement for a standard full face lid. So if you're headed to the bike park, you'll want to grab something burlier. But for shredding in the backcountry, this is an outstanding option. | Weight (size medium) 430 grams without chin bar, 770 grams with | Price: $220 with MIPs | More info: www.bellhelmets.com

Continue to page 2 for more of this week's best gear and apparel »



Shimano PD-M785 XT Pedals

Shimano PD-M785 XT Pedals

Battle tested - and approved. That's the best way to describe this set of large platform adjustable Shimano XT pedals, which after about two years of hard use are seemingly indestructible. As you can plainly see in the photo above, I have smashed these pedals more times than I can count. Whether you blame the bike industry's increasing fascination with lower bottom brackets, or simply my inability to avoid trailside obstacles, these pedals don't care. I've also done almost zero maintenance (notice all that dirt), yet they just keep on working, click after reassuring click. At this rate, they may outlast me. | Weight: 408 grams pair | MSRP: $150 | More info: bike.shimano.com

Ergon GE1 Grips  and HA2 Ergonomic Gloves

Ergon GE1 Grips and HA2 Ergonomic Gloves

I roll my eyes every time I hear that something is designed, developed and/or intended for "ENDURO!" It's cliché marketing at its finest. But in the case of Ergon's GE1 Grips (which their website says are intended for enduro) there is at least a modicum of legitimacy. The German maker of all things ergonomic has designed these grips for use with wider bars where a rider is more likely to be hanging on at the bar ends with elbows cocked. To accommodate this more aggressive position, the grips utilize texturing that's oriented against the direction of hand rotation. Or put another way, your hands wont easily slip off the next time you gaffe your way through a chunky rock garden. Of course they also meet two other critical criteria for grips: They lock in place once installed, and they last. This pair has been on my daily driver Pivot Mach 6 trail bike for over a year and still are going strong despite the occasional high speed tree rub. And yes, they come in multiple color options, including enduro blue.

Complimenting the grips is a set of Ergon HA2 Ergonomic Gloves, which pass that same litmus test: They are durable. I've had a few high speed get-offs while wearing these hand protectors, and still have skim on my palms and functioning gloves. The HA2 is admittedly beefy (aka, hot) compared to some other gloves I wear, so I don't use them on balmy days when the ride plan is more intermediate than expert. But if carnage potential is high, the Kevlar insert inside the palms is nice to have just in case.| Price: Grips $35; Gloves $40 | More info: www.ergon-bike.com

Zeus Handy Tool

Zeus Handy Tool

From the wonderful (and sometimes) wacky world of Kickstarter comes the Zeus Handy Tool. At first glance you might think this is a multi-tool on steroids, and you'd be right - sort of. Yes, it has a veritable potpourri of tools. But at a chunky 411 grams this isn't something you'd want to carry in a jersey pocket or hydration pack. Instead we see the Zeus as a great option for the cyclist's road trip tool box. Highlight implements include a saw, mini-hammer, tiny flashlight, level, pliers, a knife, and a 16-bit screwdriver/Allen set. There's even a tape measure for setting saddle height. The Zeus Handy Tool Kickstarter campaign just launched. Also check out this video for more info. | Price: $50 (early bird price) | More info: www.zeushandytool.com

Pearl Izumi X-Project 1.0 (2015 version)

Pearl Izumi X-Project 1.0 (2015 version)

None of us particularly care to admit it, but the walkability of a mountain bike shoe is a fairly important feature. As much as we all like to channel our inner Hans Rey, two-steeping up - and down - tough trail features is inevitable sometimes. You might as well be comfortable. Enter Pearl Izumi's second generation X-Project shoe, which after launching in 2014 with a strap-and-buckle closure system, this year graduated to double two-way BOA dials.

The hallmark feature of the shoe is a unique carbon sole that's flexible in the center (for better walking), but stiff in the front and rear to maintain efficient power transfer. I've used these shoes for everything from cyclocross racing to aggressive trail riding, and have been impressed across the board. Save for a slight amount of excess volume for my decidedly average size 10 feet, the X-Project has worked as advertised. They don't feel overly soft when hammering, but don't leave your feet aching if you do spend extended time off the bike.

The micro-adjust BOA dials allow for a truly fine tuned fit, heel slippage is non-existent, and thus far the X-Projects have stood up to a steady barrage of rough trail riding. Yes, they're a bit scuffed and scratched. But all the seams are still holding strong (which for $320 they should be). Each pair comes with two sets of varus inserts (1.5mm and 3mm) and arch inserts (thin and thick) to help the wearer achieve a personalized fit. The only real hiccup has been a little BOA dial stickiness when the shoes get dirty. But this can be ameliorated with a little soap and water. And if you don't care for orange, Pearl Izumi offers them in a more understated black as well. | Weight: 390 grams per shoe with standard Shimano SPD cleat | Price: $320 | More info: www.pearlizumi.com