Joe Cocker passed way December 22. Say what you will about his singing, but there is no denying that man put his heart and soul and body into his performances.
It was against that backdrop that I unpacked boxes this Christmas Eve, the help from our friends to get the XTR and Deore groups we have in for a side-by-side review. Check out the introduction to this project and the unboxing and comparison of the individual parts here.
First up, and the key to the project, a pair of size large Santa Cruz Heckler frames. Reliable, versatile, and well-loved around here, the Heckler is ideal for this project.
Up front, each has a new, 150mm Fox Float 36 fork. We reviewed the current fork in the pages of the magazine, and praised it highly, but unless it was being pushed hard, it could feel harsh compared to its main competition, the RockShox Pike. Fox has been listening to feedback, and the forks we have here have revised damping rates, and claim to offer more small pump plushness without losing mid-stoke support. At some point we’ll install the fork we previously tested on one Heckler to do some side-by-side comparisons.
I love Continental Tire’s Black Chili compound this time of year. Grippy for wet roots and rocks, but still firm enough to dig in when the ground is soft. We got in two sets of the Trail Kings, 2.4 for the front, 2.2 for the rear.
Cockpit parts are courtesy Shimano’s little known (in the U.S.) component arm, PRO. We’ve got aluminum Tharis bars, stems and clamp-on grips. I haven’t ridden them yet, but the grips feel awesome. Thin, tacky and no outside metal clamp to make my hands hurt. Saddles are Condors with the anatomic cut out, chromoly rails in 134 mm width.
Santa’s elf was getting tired by the time the bikes looked like this and gave up on getting better pictures. Those looking closely will see all four brake hoses need to be trimmed to length, and the proper front derailleur (top swing, top pull, 34.9 mm clamp) for both bikes are still in transit. And the dropper posts don’t match, which is the one thing I wasn’t able to source from a single company. Right now the green Deore Heckler has an X-Fusion and the black XTR Heckler has a Fox.
Stay tuned for weights, better pics and more detailed build specs. In the meantime, watch this video and have a safe and happy transition from 2014 to 2015. Cheers!