5 bike essentials for all skill levels

If you're looking for mountain bike essentials, but feel dazed and confused by the countless opinions, BIKE has you covered.

GrindTV had the opportunity to connect with BIKE’s gear editor, Ryan Palmer, about some bike essentials that will suit riders of all skill levels.

RELATED: Exploring the trails of Central Oregon by bike

The Helmet: Specialized Vice ($85)

Specialized Vice. Photo: Specialized

Specialized Vice. Photo: Specialized

Sometimes you get what you pay for, but seldom do you get a whole lot more. Yet this is definitely the case with the Specialized Vice, a helmet that boasts an entry-level sticker price, and top-shelf quality.

This helmet is very comfortable. The retention dial offers tension adjustments in nice, small increments and is a middle ground between enduro and cross country. Despite the Vice's Swiss-cheese ventilation styling, however, the helmet passes Snell's very rigorous B90A testing standards–it can take a serious hit and then some. The price tag screams budget, but the construction, fit, feel, and ventilation are on par with the most expensive helmets on the market. —BIKE

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The Shoes: Giro Terraduro ($180)

Giro Terraduro. Photo: Giro

Giro Terraduro. Photo: Giro

The Giro Terraduro are durable shoes that will please most any trail rider, but will especially suit those whose rides often turn into adventures.

Out on the trail, the deeply-recessed cleat and tall outsole lugs provide a convincing amount of grip. The uppers breathe, and the EVA footbed stays put, conforming well to the shoe's internal contours, and can be swapped for Giro's Supernatural Footbed kit, which, for $50 offers three levels of arch support.

Giro earns five gold stars, a check-plus, and at least three high fives for the shank design on these suckers. And not because it's made of some uber-optimized hybrid of carbon and unobtanium, but because it's flexible in the toebox, allowing relatively natural foot articulation when walking. Giro also offers a 60-day comfort guarantee if you end up in the wrong size. —Jon Weber

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The Shorts: Alpinestars Outrider Shorts ($130)

Alpinestars' Outrider shorts. Photo: Van Swae

Alpinestars' Outrider shorts. Photo: Van Swae

The Alpinestars Outrider Shorts aren't your typical baggies.

Optimal in cold, wet conditions, waterproof material lines the entire back panel of the short to shield you from the direct hit of trail spray. These keep you cozy even though trail conditions are anything but. The front half of the short is indistinguishable from ordinary baggies with lightweight, stretchy material that allows them to ride like any other short, while they shrug off the muck below. Snag-proof, ripstop material is used throughout and other features include a weather-resistant leg pocket with rubberized zipper, two-sided pockets and a Velcro waist adjustment. —Ryan Palmer

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The Hydration Pack: Osprey Raptor 10. ($120)

The Osprey Raptor 10. Photo: BIKE

The Osprey Raptor 10. Photo: BIKE

The Osprey Raptor 10 comes with me on everything from all-day adventures to half-hour lunch rides because it fits impeccably, stays planted firmly in one place, and packs in loads of practical features in its 610 cubic square inches of space.

One of my favorite things is the sturdy yet unobtrusive hip belt. It's nice and wide around the waist, but narrow at the belly, and each side includes an easy-to-reach pocket for a phone or a multi-tool.

The pack comes with Osprey's proprietary 3-liter reservoir that has a nifty magnetic bite valve that attaches to the sternum strap. Every pack has a lifetime guarantee so any bag with any damage or defect, for any reason will be repaired or replaced free of charge–forever. —Ryan Palmer

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The Dropper Post: Specialized Command Post Blacklite ($275)

Specialized Command Post Blacklite. Photo: Specialized

Specialized Command Post Blacklite. Photo: Specialized

Fixed seatposts are a thing of the past. With a dropper post, one push of the hadlebar-mounted button lowers your seat out of the way for maneuverability on descents.

The Specialized Command Post Blacklite is a bargain when compared to the cost of other dropper posts.

Even though it’s been around for several years, it has undergone some significant changes and performance has been vastly improved with a significantly lighter lever feel and lower friction in the actuation. It's offered in 75-, 100- and 125-millimeter travel options. —Ryan Palmer

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