gear & action table of contents

Foot Traffic | Pop Cycle Coolers | Auto-Erotica

Two Ways to Mount Hood | Backcountry Jammin'-boree | Mountain Climbers

Paddling-4-Dummies | Get Your Motor Running

It must be good to be rich, I think as I sit at the top of a rugged, mulchy track, squinting downhill. I'm wearing 600 dollars worth of gear--while straddling 2,600 more between my legs--and it feels damn good. So what if the descent before me is a pissant hill, and I've never ridden fat tires before? I'm dressed to shred, and hey: It's nice to be encrusted in toys.

rich MAN
Climb On This
: Hey, Croesus--just for you, I had a few experts show me the gear that sets their hearts a-thumpin.' Tim Wilder of Fat Tire Farm likes the Rocky Mountain Team Element SC ($4,569, Fat Tire Farm, 2714 NW Thurman St., 222-3276). Made of Easton Sc7000 scandium, this model is cross-country aristocracy. Carbon-fiber details will inspire the envy of your neighbors, while ultra-flexible Spinergy polymer-fiber spokes keep the wheels in true. Fox Float suspension can be turned on and off, while hydraulic disc brakes (a real boon in rain and trail mud alike) round out the mouthwatering package. Phew!

Ball Bustin': The Specialized Rockhopper FS is a hardtail machine that begs for balls-out, X-treme, drive-to-the-summit-and-come-down-in-a-hail-of-pebbles-type use; in short, it suits your Do-the-'Dew lifestyle, dude ($599, Fat Tire Farm). Full suspension may be the wave of the future, but purists prize the simplicity, light weight and all-out rigor of the humble hardtail.

Bike Nirvana: The Bike Gallery's Stephanie Koch names California bike guru Gary Fisher's Big Sur GS, with female-specific "Genesisters Geometry," as her dream ride du jour ($1,099.99, The Bike Gallery, 1001 SW Salmon St., 222-3821, and other locations). Another world-class outfit, Klein Bicycles, has a new alloy it calls ZR 9000: This stuff is claimed to be 15 percent stronger and lighter than aluminum. Get it on the Klein Attitude ($1,099.99, The Bike Gallery). Famous for high-fashion paintwork, Klein offers super-hot glitter jobs and two new glow-in-the-dark finishes for (k)night riders.

Thrills and Spills: Safety first! Oakley's easy-to-covet MTB Factory Pilot Glove has carbon-fiber knuckles and Kevlar palms to save your hands in a major spill ($75, Fat Tire Farm).

poor MAN
Summit Savers
: The entry-level KHS Eastwood hybrid ($300, CityBikes Worker-Owned Cooperative, 734 SE Ankeny St., 239-6951) is a bouncy, upright 21-speed ride suitable for cross-country trail riding and your morning commute. It even has a suspension fork--an unusual amenity at this price.

Re-cycling: Consider bikes with history: CityBikes recently had a Schwinn Mesa GSX with suspension for $325 (about $125 off the new price). Ultimate wheeler-dealers will want to follow my footsteps to the upstairs treasure trove that is CityBikes' used "Bargain Bikes" section. If you're willing to shower your rig with some TLC, you could find a gem. I spied several funky older models up there, including a Raleigh Mountain Tour for $125. All these hardtails are just begging to get out and remind some Lycra-clad yuppies about the scrappy joys of DIY. The Community Cycling Center (1700 NE Alberta St., 288-8864) and Sellwood Cycle (7639 SE Milwaukie Ave., 233-9392) also peddle (hah!) used 'cycles.

Just breathe: Way cheaper than Gore-Tex, O2 rainwear is made of waterproof, breathable 3M Propore fabric ($35 for a jacket, Fat Tire Farm). Planet Bike makes available-everywhere bike lights, fenders, tools and more, and donates 25 percent of its proceeds to organizations that promote riding.

skid ROW
Wheeling and Dealing
: Early June, when spring cleaning and summer sun overlap, is the time to profit from your neighbors' lack of follow-through. That sweet number they bought a few years back but never really used now has a ridiculously low pricetag dangling from it at their yard sale. More good news: Whatever you ride, Tri-Met will now tote it for free; those five-dollar bike permits are no longer required.