By Eric McKeegan
Every few months Problem Solvers comes out with a widget or two that makes me think, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Here are three quick ah-ha items they were showing off at Frostbike.
Cassette Cog Carrier
A stamped steel cog is cheap, easy to make, last for a long time, but its skinny base wants to eat your aluminum cassette body for lunch. There are plenty of more expensive cogs out there with a wider base that aren’t so hungry for freehub splines, but they cost more. You also end up wearing them out and tossing out (in the recycling bin, hopefully) most of the metal you paid for.
Problem Solvers matches up an unsplined steel cog with aluminum carriers that slide over any Shimano cassette body. When the cog wears out, you unbolt the steel part and replace. For those so inclined, the cog use the same 6-bolt pattern as disc brakes: easy fixed gear conversion!
Cogs are $15 each and the carriers are $30. Cogs will be available in seven sizes, from 16-22 teeth.
Years ago, everyone hated integrated shift/brake levers on mountain bikes. Since there was no independent adjustment, it always seemed you could either get the brakes where you wanted them, or the shifters, but never both.
Now, both SRAM and Shimano have very adjustable systems that make mounting your brakes and shifters on a single clamp per side a viable option. But some riders want to mix Shimano brakes and SRAM shifters, and now they can be mounted together with these little machined aluminum brackets.
At $50 these aren’t cheap, but neither is handlebar real estate. However it’s worth noting they are NOT available for SRAM brakes and Shimano shifters—I’m guessing the market isn’t demanding that combo right now.
With single chainring systems become common, the ChainSpy will help keep your chain where it belongs when you give up that front derailleur. A simple, single bolt system adjusts for chainline and angle. Two sizes are available, for 28.6 or 31.8 seat tubes. A solid deal at $35.
WB200 Fork Mount Tray
Whispbar is Yakima’s more modern roof rack design, using lots of brushed aluminum and hidden hardware for better match with newer vehicles. The WB200 is a new bike tray with compatibility with both 9mm QR and 15mm axles. As someone who is constantly switching bikes, this is a very promising development.
The aluminum lever and axle for 9mm axles removes easily, the front cover flips up, a little switch is pushed down, and two 15mm axle stubs extend as the cover is closed. When not in use the tray can be removed in seconds, using a simple lever and cam system called QuickDock. A single lock secures the bike to the tray and the tray to the roof rack. This $250 tray will only work with the Whispbar system, no word yet if we’ll see a similar design compatible with Yakima’s older round bar system in the future.
TRS Race Compact Double Crank
E*thirteen was showing off this new version of their TRS Race crank with a one piece double in a 20/34 chainring combo. The TRS line is aimed at trail riders, with the Race items targeting enduro racers. This super low combo helps to get the gearing down to 26” wheel levels on 29ers, a good thing for the heavier and longer travel big-wheelers we are seeing more of these days. Also available in 22/36 and 24/38, and single ring versions from 28-36.
The chainrings attach directly to the crankarm via e*13’s proprietary lockring, so any of their other chainrings or spiders can be swapped in for terrain, or a change to different bike. The cranks should be around $340, and the matching BB is around $70.
New Carbon Fiber Back Plates
Replacing the standard alloy back plate on one of e*13 chainguides not only lightens your bike and wallet, it also makes the part stronger and more resilient to impacts. Not a bad deal at all. These will be available in various single and double ring guide variations. Weight savings is a claimed 20 percent.
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