The year is almost over and it’s time we look back and consider all the bikes, components and gear we’ve tested in 2014. It’s always tough to choose favorites, but choose we did, highlighting our favorite products of the year in the new issue of the magazine. We asked each editor to choose their favorite component they used in 2014, and these are their choices.
Over the next few days we’ll be rolling out our favorite Bikes, Components and Gear, as well as looking ahead to 2015 at some of the items at the top of our must-try list, so keep checking back to see the rest of the 2014 Dirt Rag Editors’ Choice awards.
SRAM X01 Groupset
Starting at $1,335
Chosen by Editor Mike Cushionbury
The age of single-chainring drivetrains is here, and the best value in weight to performance is unequivocally SRAM’s mid-level X01 group. The weight and performance is so close to the top-tier XX1 set that I’ve never wanted more than what X01 delivers. It looks great, provides perfect performance, and carries a decent price tag. The carbon crank is a mere 5 grams heavier than XX, and the X0 trigger shifter, with its aluminum backing plate, weighs the same as XX, which features a carbon plate. The biggest weight difference comes from the cassette: X0 is a “whopping” 15 grams heftier, but remains equal in performance to XX. Want an insider tip to save a little more cash? While I highly recommend using the complete group, you can try matching an X1 shifter and derailleur with an X01 cassette and crankset. You’ll be hard pressed to find a major performance difference save for trigger-shifter position; the X0 is adjustable, while the X1 is not.
WTB Vigilante tires
Chosen by Online Editor Adam Newman
You can have the nicest bike in the world, but if the tires connecting you to the ground aren’t up to snuff, it’s all for naught. The Vigilante is one of the most aggressive treads in WTB’s lineup, and while it won’t be winning any hole-shot sprints, it will more than make up for it once the trail gets rowdy. Available in three wheel sizes and two different rubber compounds‚ plus WTB’s idiot-proof TCS tubeless bead‚ these are my go-to tires for trail and all-mountain riding.
Thomson Elite Covert Dropper Post
Chosen by General Manager and photographer Justin Steiner
All of the dropper posts on the market offer something unique, and all have advantages and disadvantages. For me, Thomson’s Elite dropper has the winning combination. An effective, ergonomic, and tidy remote actuates consistent and predictable action with proven reliability. While conceptually I prefer three-position posts, the Thomson’s predictability provides enough consistency to keep me happy.
SRAM Guide RSC brakes
Chosen by Tech Editor Eric McKeegan
These are good brakes. In fact, assuming we don’t start hearing reports of Elixir-style bleeding issues, these are great brakes. Besides switching back to a tried-and-true timing-port master cylinder, a new SwingLink linkage reduces deadband, increases power, and improves feel. Top it off with a new quiet rotor design and this brake is ready to compete against the best in the business.
Read all our choices of the best new bikes, gear and components here.
The Editors’ Choice selections originally appeared in Issue #181. Pick up a copy here or better yet, order a subscription, and help support the independent mountain bike forum.