Dirt Rag Magazine

New: Shimano debuts Koryak dropper post


Shimano-dropper-post
Weighing in at 520g (including remote and cable) and available in 30.9 or 31.6 mm diameter options, the Koryak adjustable alloy seat post offers 120 mm of smooth non-indexed travel for on-the-fly adjustability. Cable routing is internal and set up using Shimano’s OPTISLICK cables for optimum performance in dirt and mud.

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Two lever options are available, a regular up/down lever which can be mounted on the left or right of the bars, or a Firebolt-style lever (compatible with Shimano I-Spec II) for those running 1×11 or a Shimano Syncronized Shift drivetrain, which takes advantage of the free left hand shift lever position for operating the dropper post.

A full complement of spares are available including air cartridges and new bushings to prolong longevity. The post will be available this fall.

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FOX launches new Transfer dropper post


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The all-new Transfer seatpost features an infinitely adjustable design with the choice of internal or external cable routing, three drop options, and two lever designs. Low lever force and great modulation make it easy to regulate return speed and small height adjustments.

Specs:

  • Low lever force provides consistent actuation pressure even with saddle weighted or unweighted
  • Two remote options: Left side below bar (for 1x) or Left/Right on bar (for 2x/3x)
  • Cable actuated with tool-free quick disconnect for easier installation and removal
  • 30.9 or 31.6 diameter
  • Drop options: 4 inches (100 mm), 5 inches (125 mm), 6 inches (150 mm)
  • Factory Series models feature Genuine Kashima Coat upper post
  • Performance Series models feature black anodized upper post

U.S. Prices:

  • Factory post only: $314
  • Performance post only: $264
  • Remote only (1x or 2x/3x): $65

 

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Editor’s Choice 2015: Our favorite components


Dirt_Rag_Editors_Choice_2015_WEBThis is Dirt Rag’s second year doing an official “Editor’s Choice.” With editorial staff of all shapes and sizes, spread out all over the country, we can’t just pick one product per category and call it the best.

Also notice our timing. While we could do this in the early spring, how much ride time do you think those early season awards are based on, if any at all? Waiting until the end of the year allows us to consider all the products we’ve used.

And finally, notice not all these products have been reviewed (some we’ve shelled out our own money for), nor are they all from our advertisers. We’re doing our best to be honest with our selections here, and each one is deserving of its award on its own merits. While you can buy us a beer, you can’t buy our editors.

Continue reading for products from Shimano, 9Point8, VP, Industry Nine and SRAM.


Shimano Di2 XTR

MIKE CUSHIONBURY
Editor-in-Chief

Di2 groupset

Electronic shifting? I can hear the purists and singlespeeders scoffing, pointing and cursing my name, but the unequivocal fact is this drivetrain works with absolute perfection. It’s been a few years since I’ve had a double chainring on a personal bike, yet with top-notch shifting from the auto Syncro Shift I barely notice it’s not a single—it’s that smooth, with no front shifter to fiddle with.

With almost a year of abuse, through the tail end of winter, a wet spring and a dusty summer I have never adjusted, tweaked or fiddled with it once. That’s the biggest takeaway: truly maintenance-free performance without frayed cables, corroded housing, water freezing the line or worrying about funky routing hampering shifting. Battery life is also longer than claimed, so I hardly think about that either.

Shimano Di2 XTR isn’t in everyone’s wheelhouse and it’s not meant to be, but the concept and performance is groundbreaking. Because of that it gets my choice and is certainly here to stay.

More info: bike.shimano.com
Price: Varies, but serious $$$. If you have to ask…


9Point8 Fall Line dropper post

ERIC MCKEEGAN
Tech EditorEd Choice components-2Other than good tires, a dropper post is the best upgrade you can make to your bike. The Fall Line is the best dropper I’ve used in 2015, and as long as it remains reliable it’ll be the best I’ve ever used.

The Fall Line is cutting-edge because its design is the first mechanically locking dropper with infinite adjustment. It also has a sweet remote that can be run horizontally or vertically on either side of the bar. And two offset choices: 0 mm or 25 mm along with internal routing with tool-free cable removal for packing or sharing the post between various bikes. And it never, ever needs to be bled.

All that, plus it’s made in Canada and costs less than most high-end droppers on the market. I hope 9point8 sells a million of these things.

More info: 9point8.ca
Price: $375


VP VX Adventure Race pedals

ADAM NEWMAN
Contributing EditorEd Choice components-1Aside from some early misadventures, I’ve ridden Time clipless pedals for what seems like an eternity. Sure, SPDs are great and they’ve been around forever, but once you commit to a pedal system and pick up a few pairs, it sure is hard to switch.

I signed on to review these SPD-cleat-compatible trail pedals from VP and switched over some cleats. With both the stock VP cleats and some old Shimano ones they have a positive engagement and a crisp, quality feeling when unclipping. I’ve moved them from bike to bike for the most part of the year, and they’ve never loosened, squeaked or complained one bit. The large platform is just the ticket for a secure feeling underfoot, as more of your shoe is in contact with the pedal.

I may not be ready to toss all my Time pedals in the recycling bin, but the VP VX Adventure Race pedals are good enough to find a permanent spot on one of my bikes and a pair of SPD cleats on my favorite shoes.

More info: vp-usa.com
Price: $130


Industry Nine Pillar Carbon Trail 29

MATT KASPRZYK
Former Art DirectorINine wheelsStrength, weight and price. That’s the trifecta, and it’s been said that you can only have two of the three. So with a $2,850 base price it should be no surprise which two are finishing first and second.

While the hubs and spokes are machined by I9 in North Carolina, the carbon rims are made by Reynolds Cycling, of Utah. Rim profiles and layups are designed to maximize lateral stiffness but maintain controlled vertical deflection. The 32 spoke holes are angled to minimize stress and promote long-term durability. The hookless bead walls allow for a slightly increased internal rim width. At 24 mm they aren’t super wide, but the bead walls are formed using a continuous fiber wrap around the top of the wall, which increases strength and impact resistance. Without a bead hook, it’s counterintuitive how secure and burp-free the tire is. Setup was easy, and I’ve had no issues.

This wheelset is ’spensive, but I9 hubs are my favorite. They’re precisely machined with a 120-point, three-degree engagement. They’re compatible with everything, and there are several colors for a custom look, but which will cost you an additional upcharge. I even like the freehub sound. There’s no need for a bell on the crowded weekend trails.

Price: $2,850
More info: industrynine.net


SRAM GX 1×11 drivetrain

JUSTIN STEINER
General Manager and Photographer

SRAM GX group

SRAM has earned significant market share and popularity with its single-ring drivetrains for good reason. These drivetrains offer enough gearing range for most situations, greatly simplify bike setup and perform incredibly well.

Last year, Dirt Rag Editor-in-Chief Mike Cushionbury awarded SRAM’s X01 drivetrain his Editor’s Choice honors because it offered similar performance to the flagship XX1 group at a reduced cost. With GX1, SRAM has again significantly cut the price of entry to 1×11 ownership.

Sure, the GX 1×11 group gains a little weight, but it retains all of the performance benefits from its pricier siblings. Shifting might be ever so slightly less crisp than XX1 or X01, but I wouldn’t bet on being able to discern a difference if blindfolded. If I were building a bike or planning to buy a new one, I’d be targeting GX 1×11 for certain. This is the pinnacle of the current performance-to-value ratio right now.

Price: $564
More info: sram.com


If you missed our Editor’s Choice bike picks, check them out here. And make sure to subscribe to the print edition so you don’t miss all of our reviews and gear picks throughout the year.

 

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The Rant: Genetic predisposition


Originally published in Issue #182

Some people claim there is a “wheelie gene” and either you are born with the innate balance needed to wheelie or you are doomed to a life of dull, two-wheels-on-the-ground riding. I’m not sure if I subscribe to that theory, but I do buy into the idea that some of us are genetically predisposed to seek change, even at the expense of dependability.

Rant droppers

Obviously mountain bikes have been on a steady evolutionary journey from the moment Gary and Charlie toasted the forming of MountainBikes with what I am guessing would have been a celebratory doobie of NorCal’s finest. Or maybe it was Mexico’s finest back then; Wikipedia probably doesn’t have an entry for dope-import stats from the late ’70s. Or maybe it does, but I refuse to go down that rabbit hole, because I am actually typing more than two sentences without deleting and starting over. This is progress and I am going to roll with that, bad joint pun and all.

Digression aside, I’m not talking about obvious improvements that were quickly adopted. I’m sure some will debate this, but things like double-wall aluminum rims, folding-bead tires, index shifting, and clutch derailleurs quickly became the norm on high-performance bikes, with little fanfare. Good technology that was reliable when first introduced and quickly adopted by the masses.

Suspension was the first real test to the mountain bike consumer. Expensive, unreliable and flexy—the increase in performance came at a hefty price tag in both money and time spent on maintenance. These days, if it doesn’t have at least 120mm of travel, I’d rather just ride a rigid bike. But back then 63mm of poorly damped travel from a flimsy fork was revelatory for some people, and thanks to those early adopters, even sub-$500 suspension forks today are impressive performers.

The 29-inch wheel faced similar issues, with limited tire choice, bad suspension forks, wack geometry, and legions of haters. But some people rode those early bikes, saw the positive aspects buried under those issues, and handed manufacturers enough money to drive product development and create some truly impressive bikes. A well-designed 5-inch-travel 29er is by far the most potent all-around mountain bike ever made.

The point? Dropper posts. There is no single item in the last five years that has changed riding as much as the acceptance of dropper posts. After a good bit of time on a rigid bike equipped with a dropper, I realize that, if given the option, I would give up rear suspension, gears, and front suspension (in that order) before I would give up my dropper. The problem? Droppers, even after what seems like years of development, are, with few exceptions, expensive, finicky, and prone to failure.

Is it because many of them have us sitting on top of a closed hydraulic valve as we bounce down the trail? Maybe it is the little shifter cable and still-janky remote levers? Is it some patent issue I don’t know about? There is a reason my favorite droppers use a mechanical lock: That mechanism will keep the post in place even if the air spring fails and becomes unsprung. But those two posts have some issues as well: The Fox remote is hideous if mounted above the bars, and the Specialized only comes in a 35mm offset, which messes with bike fit.

I have a feeling that if we hang on, we’ll see more droppers at better prices with better remotes and reliability. The big question is, when will Shimano join the fray? This seems like a real possibility now that Fox [is now in] Shimano’s OEM territory with its ownership of Race Face and Easton. It would be pretty sweet to have Deore, SLX, XT, and XTR dropper-post options to go with some of the best drivetrains and brakes made.

In the year 2015, if you haven’t ridden a dropper post, you need to beg, borrow, or steal one, ASAP. I guarantee it will make your riding better and more fun. If it doesn’t, I may have proof that being genetically predisposed to not seek change also exists.


 

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Inside Line: Magura introduces Vyron dropper post with wireless remote


While we’ve seen a few prototypes from other companies, Magura is first to market with a dropper post with a wireless remote. While the dropper itself uses a conventional hydraulic mechanism, it is controlled via a small servo motor at the head of the post. We haven’t seen it first hand so we’ll let Magura explain it:

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“The first of it’s kind, Vyron wireless dropper seatpost from Magura uses the proven eLECT, cable-free, remote with ANT+ wireless technology—the same remote already utilized on Magura suspension forks and shocks. The exclusive wireless remote operation adds significant functionality and user-friendliness. With a quick press of the button on the handlebar remote, the saddle height drops smoothly by up to 150 mm—another quick press returns it to its optimal position for pedaling.

Because the Vyron needs no cables—an exclusively unique feature—it is incredibly easy to install or even switch between bikes. The seatposts battery only needs recharging after approximately 400 actuations or typically around two months’ use. A motion sensor in the seatpost puts it into sleep mode to save battery power when the bike is not moving, and Magura’s engineers have ensured that even if the remotes battery or the main rechargeable pack in the seatpost are almost empty, there are still up to 20 emergency actuations. A full recharge from empty is around 3 hours via a micro-USB port.

The Vyron’s eLECT remote can be mounted to your preference on the left or right side of the handlebars, placing the operating buttons close to the grip for instinctive on-trail operation and maximum ergonomic efficiency. The Vyron’s remote can also be easily mated with Magura eLECT suspension fork and/or shock units. All three buttons can be used to remotely control each eLECT unit used. Vyron uses Magura Royal Blood hydraulic fluid for a particularly maintenance-free system—and if it ever becomes necessary, bleeding the Vyron’s hydraulic system is remarkably easy.

The Vyron will be available early 2016 in two popular diameters–30.9 mm and 31.6 mm. Recommended retail price will be $460.

Technical details

  • Adjustment via air spring, hydraulic clamping via Magura Royal Blood
  • Remote operation: ANT+ wireless radio transmission from the handlebar – via an eLECT Remote, either just for the dropper seatpost or as a combined remote for seatpost, forks and/or shock.
  • Power supply: Remote: CR-2032 button battery. Seatpost: NiMH rechargeable battery with micro-USB charge socket. Charge time approx. 3 hours. A full charge is sufficient for around 400 actuations of the dropper, or around two months.
  • Travel: 150 mm (stepless)
  • Length (overall): 446 mm
  • Installation height (top of seat tube to saddle rails): 57-207 mm
  • Saddle clamp: 2 bolt system
  • Seatpost offset: 0 mm
  • Weight: 595 g including remote
  • Diameters available: 30.9 and 31.6 mm
  • Color: Black with laser markings
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Inside Line: Easton and Race Face announce dropper posts


RaceFace-Easton Dropper

Two new players are set to enter the dropper seatpost market later this year. In a parallel move, Race Face and Easton announced the release of new dropper seatposts. Though the posts are mechanically identical, they will be branded independently as the Race Face Turbine and Easton Haven.

The infinitely adjustable post mechanism utilizes a licensed version of 9Point8’s hybrid hydraulic and mechanical system that’s operated by a standard shift cable. A spring-loaded mechanical brake locks the post in place. When the lever is actuated, brake tension is reduced to allow the post to move. In the event of a failure, the brake will remain locked in its current position.

Easton-RaceFace Dropper Lever

The internally routed cable offers a quick connector to ease shipping and potentially facilitate moving the post between bikes. The standard remote lever can be used on the left or right of the bars and an upgrade lever for use with single-ring drivetrains will be available separately for $60 in a variety of colors.

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Posts will be available in four lengths (350, 375, 415 and 440 mm) and three travel options (100, 125 and 150 mm). Expect the posts to be available in November for $470.

From an aftermarket standpoint, this announcement may seem a little strange due to the shared product platform. But, considering both Race Face and Easton are owned by parent company Fox Factory Holding Company, this seems like a wise move for the OE market. Now both companies can provide manufacturers complete cockpit spec within each brand.

 

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Inside Line: New Orbea Loki and a unique dropper post


The hardtail isn’t dead. At all. In fact, we might be living in the golden age of hardtails, with everything from fancy carbon race bikes to steel expedition bikes easily available. Most exciting to me is the trail hardtail market and the versatility that is becoming common with the addition of new technology. Orbea’s new hardtail is a great example of that.

orbea-loki-1

Loki

The Loki has a hyrdo-formed aluminum frame, Boost 148 rear spacing, Boost 110 fork, and room for 27×3 or 29×2.4 tires. The geometry is surprisingly aggressive, with a 67-degree head angle, 430 mm chainstays, long top tubes, and low bottom brackets. Match this with a 120 mm fork and a dropper post, things are looking interesting indeed.

LOKI H-LTD 16M -10 LOKI H-LTD 16M -1

LOKI H-LTD 16M -11 LOKI H-LTD 16M -9

There are three models to choose from:

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LOKI 27+ H30 – $1.499

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LOKI 27+ H10 – $2.099

orbea-loki-1
LOKI 27+ H-LTD – $2.999

Digit Seatpost

Normally a new (non-dropper) seatpost wouldn’t garner much attention. But the Digit is desigened to offer the most of the function of a dropper without the weight and complexity.

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This cut away view shows the internals of this post. Upper and lower bolts set the high and low points for saddle height, and a keyway keeps the saddle from rotating when yanking it up and down while still on the bike. The quick release uses a cam that “pops” open when released, making one handed seatpost adjustment a possibility, even while riding. Assuming you have a modicum of skillz.

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Will this replace dropper posts? Not a chance. But for those sick of maintain issues, looking to spend less, or keep weight down, the Digit is going to be an interesting option.

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As of right now, there are no plans for this post to be offered aftermarket, and admittedly many people don’t understand why this is any better than a normal post with a QR. I think those people aren’t paying attention.

We’ll have a full review of the Loki and the Digit in the future so keep an eye out.

 

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Move your dropper remote with the Lindarets ReMount


Dropper posts have dropped a bomb on the bike industry, with many riders (this one included) believing they are the most significant mountain bike innovation since the suspension fork. But while they can transform your bike and your ride, they have their weaknesses. Reliability has been an issue with many models, and the thumb remotes have traditionally been less-than-awesome.

lindarets-remount-1

Now that single-ring drivetrains have freed up space on the left side of the handlebar, dropper remotes are starting to take their place under the bars. Some brands have already adopted this style. If yours hasn’t, the new ReMount adapter from Lindarets is a simple and light way to move the dropper remote from many brands from its vertical orientation to a horizontal one where the shifter used to be.

SONY DSC

The adapter, which looks a lot like a mini bar-end, is made from Delrin, a thermoplastic that won’t damage your bars in a crash. It is 30 mm long, so you have ample space to adjust the remote’s vertical position. It weighs just 20 grams and costs $19 shipped.

SONY DSC

What’s your take? Think it will improve the ergonomics of your dropper remote?

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Review: 9point8 Pulse Dropper


9point8-pulse-review-1

I realize I’m in the minority here, but I seem to be one of the rare people who prefer the three-step dropper post style over the infinitely adjustable. With an infinite, the saddle is always too high or too low and I just find myself fiddling with it a lot. The Pulse combines the best of both with a unique “stepped” adjustment system. A soft tug of the remote lever lowers the post 5mm. Want to go 10mm? Give it two clicks. A little lower? Five or six clicks is a perfect “trail” position. If you give the lever a full-pull, it allows the post to move freely up and down its entire 100mm range, so you can slam it for that big drop that’s coming up quick. I know, when we first heard of this design we were thinking “wait, what?” too, but after using it for several months, it strikes me as a pretty brilliant idea.

Read on to see our full long-term review…

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