Dirt Rag Magazine

First Look: SRAM Eagle 1×12 drivetrains, XX1 and X01


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That is it. The rumored 1×12 speed drivetrain from SRAM. Actually that is one of two. Above is the new XX1, which is aimed at cross-country racing. Below is X01, for enduro racing and trail riding (we didn’t get a nice drivetrain shot of this one).

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XX1 Eagle

Crank – $425

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The cranks get the lighter and stiffer treatment and a new tooth profile. The updated narrow/wide teeth are designed to retain the chain better as the chainring wears, and run more quietly. Chainrings options are 30-38 in two-tooth increments.

Cassette – $420

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The one-piece machined cassette now has 11 steel cogs, with the big 50 tooth cog out of aluminum. It certainly isn’t cheap, but now you can show off your blingy cassette with the optional gold finish. Tooth profiles are revised to go with the new chain, and promise better shifting. The 10-50 range is 500%, which covers the same range as most 2×11 drivetrains.

Shifter  $162

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Internal improvements promise better feel, durability and precision. You want Grip Shift? You can have it!

GripShift – $148

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Derailleur – $289

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A new mounting system, improved clutch and a 14 tooth lower pulley keeps things compact, smooth and tight.

Chain – $60-85

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There is a single chain for both X01 and XX1.  SRAM covers this well:

“It might look normal from the outside, but the engineering inside this incredible new chain design that makes possible a gear range previously found only in 2-chainring drivetrains. And it’s also the biggest contributor to the Eagle™ drivetrain’s ultra-smooth, precise, durable and quiet performance. The Eagle™ chain’s links have a smooth radius, with no sharp edges or chamfers, which yield a significant reduction in noise, friction and wear on chainrings and cassette cogs. This design also allows for a flatter plate, which means more consistent chain riveting and greater overall strength. HARD CHROME™ technology extends the chain’s optimal performance life, and a Titanium Nitride coating on the Gold and Black models decreases corrosion and further reduces friction.”

X01

Other than the foam core in the XO1 crank, there is little functional difference between the XO1 and XX1 groups. All parts interchange, and as stated above, they even share a chain. The foam core in the crank claims to increase impact resistance and prevent pedal pull-out. The XO1 crank is tested to SRAM’s downhill standard, so going big should not be a problem.

Crank – $390

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Cassette – $360

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Trigger Shifter – $127   Grip Shift $118

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Derailleur – $220

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Our Take

Does this really mean the death of the front derailleur for mountain bikes? Not really. It probably does put another nail in the coffin. Trying to cram suspension pivots, 3 inch tires and two chainrings into the same spot, something had to give, and the front derailleur was the most likely candidate. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to get all the bits needed to keep your double or triple crank drivetrain running for years to come, but when it comes to high-performance mountain bikes, the front derailleur is going the way of the dodo bird.

More info at SRAM’s website.

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SRAM launches new Level brakes


SRAM just announced Guide brake technology in a more compact, lighter package for cross-country and trail applications. Five different models of Level brakes will replace the SRAM XX, X0 and DB5, and Avid DB3 and DB1 models.

SRAM Level brake-1

All models of Level brakes feature SRAM’s DirectLink lever design with 2-piston calipers and reach adjusters hidden from the outside elements. The Levels also utilize the proven technologies developed for the Guides that we have come to love, including SRAM’s improved brake fluid reservoir, excellent modulation, ambidextrous lever placement, ease of adjusting lever reach and contact point for personalized brake feel, a reshaped bladder that better regulates and reduces air bubbles, and minimized time between when the lever is engaged and the pads contact the rotor.

The top four models purport to all offer the same braking power. The top two feature SRAM’s unique design for simplifying fluid management and maintenance.

SRAM Level brake-3

The Level Lineup

Level Ultimate: 318 grams, $297

The top-of-the-line Level brakes are distinguished by titanium hardware; carbon levers and blades; and a new, 21-millimeter, 2-piston monoblock caliper for superior heat management, consistency, control and feel. Fancy.

Other models:

Level TLM: 356 grams, $190
Level TL: 370 grams, $102
Level T: 410 grams, $82
Level: 430 grams, $63

Prices and weights are per wheel.

SRAM Level brakes-1

Weight weenies rejoice! Actually, everyone should rejoice. The Guides are excellent brakes and have helped us banish bad memories of the most infamous Avids. The Levels will actually banish some Avids. If they are indeed slimmed-down versions of Guides, they should be great brakes. We’ll try some and let you know. Meanwhile, read our long-term test of the SRAM Guide brakes.

More info: SRAM.com

 

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Inside Line – SRAM NX 1×11: 1x for entry-level bikes


SRAM has been slowly trickling down 1×11 tech to lower and lower price points over the last few years, but with the release of this newest 1x group, even those with a less-than-sizeable bike budget can get in on the 1x evolution that is taking over mountain biking. Read on for full details and our analysis.

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Pictured here is a basic group with only a few of the well-thought-out options: 11-42 11 speed cassette; crank with 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40 chainring options; trigger or grip shifter; a $14 chain and a rear derailleur that won’t make you cry if it gets crunched on some rocks. Let’s have a look at the specific components:

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PG-1130 Cassette

$79 | €89 | £68

Notice this is an 11-42 cassette, not the 10-42 range on the more expensive groups. This means it can fit a standard Shimano-splined cassette body, and is a hell of a lot cheaper than the 10-42 cassettes as well.

Claimed weight is 538 grams, substantially heavier than the GX 1150 10-42 cassette, and a little more portly than Shimano’s M8000 11-42 XT-level cassette.

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1×11 X-HORIZON™ Rear Derailleur

$74 | €76 | £58

All the same features as the more expensive derailleurs, just a hell of a lot cheaper and a bit heavier. NX comes in at 322 grams, vs the $115 GX derailleur at 265 grams.

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NX Trigger Shifter 

$27 | €28 | £22

The shifter may have the most stripped down feature-set of any of these components, missing out in the ergonomic adjustments and Matchmaker compatibility. But it is $27, which is less than a case of whatever craft beer you have in your fridge. At 142 grams it is only a little heavier than the 122 gram GX shifter which is $42. Also, SRAM still makes Grip Shift. Some people still ride them, I guess. If you want one, it is $33. Knock yourself out.

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1x X-SYNC™ Crankset

$116 | €120 | £92

These are pretty simple functional cranks, with a ton of options. So many options, I’ll let SRAM cover them all:

  • BB COMPATIBILITY: BB30/PF30-68/73mm, GXP 100mm/ PF GXP 121mm, GXP PF GXP 68/ 73mm
  • CHAINRINGS: 28t, 30t, 32t, 34t, 36t, 38t, 40t
  • CRANK ARM LENGTH: 155mm, 165mm, 170mm, 175mm
  • BB SPINDLE INTERFACE: 24mm, 30mm
  • CHAINRING MATERIAL: Aluminum
  • GUARD: Aluminum Guard, No Guard
  • BOLT CIRCLE DIAMETER (BCD): 94 BCD
  • CRANK ARM MATERIAL: Aluminum
  • CHAINLINE: 49.0mm, 52.0mm, 66.5mm
  • PART WEIGHT: 80-780g

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PC-1110 Chain

$14 | €14 | £11

A $14 chain that works with any SRAM 1×11 group. Will probably work with any Shimano 1×11 group, too. Includes a PowerLock connector. Strangely enough, if you want a PowerLock to connect your Shimano chain, because Hyperglide pins are kinda off-the-back these days, it will cost you $17. That $17 PowerLock is shiny, vs the matte-black connecter with the $14 chain, but you get a WHOLE CHAIN included at that price. I know what I’d buy.

The 1110 chain is claimed to weight 232-273g, which is LIGHTER than 258 gram X1 chain. I predict SRAM is going to sell the crap out of these things.


Our Take

All told, this is a $310 upgrade for a fully-featured 1×11 drivetrain that will work with your current wheels. Use your old crank set paired with a $20 SRAM steel X-Sync chainring and get that price down to $214. And long term cost from consumables (cassette and chain) is a lot easier to swallow as well.

SRAM was silent about the 11 tooth vs 10 tooth high-gear range. It will probably be noticeable to those of use used to 10 tooth cogs. But, in all honesty, on modern trail bikes, I only ever want slightly easier climbing gear, and almost never want something to go faster on the flats. Regardless of slightly less range, a $300 1×11 group is going to replace a lot of Shimano Deore level 2×10 drivetrains on complete bikes real soon. And I would expect smart companies to offer some interesting builds with high-end suspension matched to the NX group to keep price in check but performance very high.

This may be bigger news that the original 1×11 drivetrain release in 2012. And maybe even bigger news than the rumors of even wider range 12-speed cassettes waiting in the wings.

Some things to be excited about

  • 155 and 165 mm crank lengths are very, very hard to find at this price point. I know what my kids will be riding soon.
  • Fat bikes (with 4 inch tires) have another crankset option
  • Lots of chainring sizes that should allow this to be used on everything from all-mountain bikes to flat-bar gravel bikes.

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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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Dirt Rag Editor’s Choice 2015 – Katherine’s Honorable Mentions


Dirt Rag Editor's Choice LogoEditor’s Note: Katherine, our new web editor, wasn’t on staff when the 2015 Editor Choice Awards were being collected for Dirt Rag Issue #188, so her honorable mention list is made up of stuff she purchased during the past year on her own dime.

If you want to know what the rest of the staffers chose as their favorite bikes and gear of 2015, pick up the latest issue off a newsstand near you, or purchase a digital copy now.


Chromag Trailmaster Saddle – $96

Ed picks 15-1

The Trailmaster is my just-right saddle. It features a medium-sized platform, has a “medium” amount of padding (it’s not super soft, despite how thick it looks) and is neither too flat nor too curved nor too deeply channeled. Similarly to SRAM’s Guide brakes, I can ride my full-suspension bike all day and not notice this vital component because it just works. I usually ride wearing lightly padded liner shorts, but the saddle is padded and comfortable enough for a brief outing if and when I forget my chamois.

Ed picks 15-2

The perforated natural leather top wears a classy striped pattern and has aged admirably, with just a small amount of barely noticeable cracking on the rear after almost a year of rides. Otherwise, it still looks remarkably new and doesn’t feel as if it has lost any of its support.

The Trailmaster looks smaller than it feels under butt thanks to its padding and edges that are generously rounded off for ease in maneuvering off the saddle. At only 4 mm longer than Chromag’s dirt jump saddle, and featuring a soft nose, it might not be the best platform for people who spend a lot of time slid way far forward to grind out climbs, but I have been pleased with the Trailmaster on 99 percent of my rides.

The Chromag Trailmaster has chromoly rails, weighs 310 grams and measures 284 mm by 140 mm.

SRAM Guide RSC Brakes – $410/pair

Ed picks 15-3

SRAM’s Guide brakes have gotten so much love in the past year and have worked so well that they have nearly been forgotten, but they should still be on your radar whether you’re upgrading or building a bike from scratch. In fact, after choosing them for this list, I had to go for a quick pedal to think about how they feel; these brakes are so good that I have been able to ignore them, trust them and just ride.

Ed picks 15-4

The RSC Guides have impressed me with their modulation, reliability and adjustability. They don’t feel grabby nor do they replicate the unnerving, brake-pedal-to-the-floor-then-catch feeling of the old Avids I replaced. As a smaller rider with smaller hands, I appreciate tool-free reach adjust and true, one-finger braking that is always smooth. After many rides—not always in great conditions—these brakes have stayed true, quiet, powerful and proven to be very low-maintenance. Read Mike’s review if you want all the technical details.

Giro Wind Vest – $80

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Simply called “Wind Vest,” this is Giro’s least-expensive outerwear offering (price is the same for men and women). Despite the steep price tag for what seems to be a simple piece of gear, I have found it to be worth every dollar. On any ride when the temperature is 70 degrees or below, this vest goes with me. I never know if I’ll get cold on a long descent or end up sitting outside a coffee shop in the shade. It wads up small, stuffs into its own pocket (inside the vest) and can fit in the hip belt pocket of my hydration pack or a rear jersey pocket.

Giro Vest-4

Giro’s vest is made of Pertex Nylon Rip Stop fabric and features a perforated rear panel that means a less-sweaty back when riding with a pack. My vest shows no signs of wear after almost a year of abuse being worn under backpacks, stuffed into gear bags and rained on. It wicks moisture and is highly wind and water resistant. It’s an indispensable piece of gear with multiple uses that I’m never sorry I carried and often very glad to have.

The vest is slightly fitted but doesn’t have the upside-down triangle shape of hardcore roadie gear. It lacks grippers and still has room in the hips. It is comfortable enough off the bike that I also wear it running and hiking. The women’s sizes run almost a full-size large, especially if you want this to fit closely.

Surly Bikes Racing Sucks Hat – $28

Ed picks 15-5

Before you wave a rigid carbon pitchfork in my direction over my bad attitude, know that I bought this hat specifically to wear at a 12-hour mountain bike race. Since then, I have ditched my other baseball-style head coverings and reach for this Surly cap exclusively. It features fancy pinstripes, a high-qualty embroidered patch, Flex-Fit stretch, polyester and Spandex construction and a standard brim (as opposed to flat, bro-brah nonsense). The hat has even held up to multiple trips through the washing machine. Those are nice touches but, really, my favorite thing is that this hat says “Racing Sucks.”

Most people understand that the sentiment is supposed to be funny, and I can feel good about my day knowing that I made some people laugh. Even better are the ones who don’t know how to react to a woman wearing a hat that says “sucks.” I wasn’t allowed to say that word as a young child but we’re all adults now and, if you have a sense of humor, you should have this hat.

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Ladies, push yourself this August in the Mariposa Challege


Test yourself this August in The Mariposa Challenge, a month-long, digital, mountain bike event for women. Log your daily riding adventures on MapMyRide and measure yourself against other riders in your area and across the USA.

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It is free to enter and the first 50 women to sign up in each Mariposa Challenge area will receive a gift bag worth more than $75. At each location the top 3 top riders who bank the most miles in the shortest amount of time will win Troy Lee Designs Mariposa jerseys, and there will be a raffle at each participating location for a chance to win a SRAM 1X drivetrain and other great prizes.

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You can register here beginning August 1. Good luck!

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Trail Tested: SRAM X1 Drivetrain


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Until the very recent release of the new GX group (which also offers multiple chainring options if you go that way), SRAM’s X1 drivetrain was the company’s entry level, full mountain bike, 1×11 offering. Whether you’re a cross-country, trail or all-mountain rider, this X1 group is a great way to get a taste of wide-ratio 1x philosophy.

Since last fall, I’ve been riding both this X1 group and the top-tier XX1 in a combination of dry and wet conditions. There have been some winter rides with questionable trail conditions, but as guilt crept in, I told myself it was all for the review. The X1 group has fared great and despite the sometimes peanut-butter-like mud I’ve encountered, I haven’t noticed a distinct difference in performance between the two drives.

Although, there is a difference in feel because of the design of the shifters. The X1’s trigger and shifter body have a different shape than the more expensive X01 and XX1 models. The X1 shifter body is aluminum and slightly larger versus the more compact carbon body of the XX1 shifter. Every SRAM 1x shifter features Matchmaker compatibility to direct-mount on SRAM brake levers and ZeroLoss engagement where the shifter begins to move cable instantaneously as it is pressed. How- ever, the X1 does not have the trigger-angle modification for rotational adjustment of the larger downshift lever. Even though the larger X1 trigger sticks out farther than the XX1 trigger, it still feels smooth and quick.

I don’t think the shifting action is any less fluid, but feedback from the trigger seems softer. The X1 trigger is not as crisp and precise-feeling as the XX1. The input I get in action on the trail is different, but the function isn’t any less effective.

The cassette remains the most expensive item in the drive and the biggest hurdle for those looking to try 1×11. However, it’s hard to argue against the X1 X-Horizon rear derailleur and cassette. When considering price per grams compared to almost indistinguishable differences in performance, it makes the X1 rear components great options for those looking for more-affordable 11-speed options. There is about a 55-gram weight savings with the pricey XX1 cassette, but the reduced weight comes at a cost of almost $2 per gram. All of SRAM’s 10/42 1x cassettes require the XD driver body on the rear wheel. Mechanically there is little difference between the three SRAM 1x derailleurs other than cage materials.

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The X1 1400 hollow-forged crankset is where you’ll find the most significant weight difference. The aluminum 1400 cranks with a 32-tooth chainring are 800 grams. It’s roughly one third of a pound heavier than the XX1 crankset. There are fewer chainring options for the X1 spider as well (30, 32, 34, 36, 38), but most trail riders are going to be in the 30 to 34 range anyway, and they all feature the alternating tooth profiles we’re familiar with for 1x drives. The bolt-on spider system does allow you to use other chainring options, including the new Direct Mount chainrings from SRAM or any number of alternatives from aftermarket companies that cover a huge range from 26 to 40 teeth. There are two less-expensive X1 cranks as well, the 1200 and 1000, which are heavier but lack the bolt-on spider of the 1400.

So do I think X01 or XX1 are worth the higher price tags? I would pay more for the shifter. I like the trigger feel of the higher-end models; the ergonomics and crispness of the XX1 triggers are worth the investment to me. But as for the rest of the group, there isn’t a noticeable enough difference in performance to justify the other upgrades, in my opinion. The X1 group looks great and performs well. If you are looking to give 1x a try and don’t mind the extra grams, this drivetrain won’t let you down.

Vital stats

  • X1 1400 crankset: 800 grams w/bottom bracket, $262
  • X1 shifter: 121 grams, $81
  • X1 rear derailleur: 256 grams, $231
  • XG-11800 casssette: 315 grams, $313
  • PC-X1 chain: 258 grams (114 links), $37

 

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New 2016 goodies from SRAM: 27.5 RS-1 fork, new fork lockout, and Monarch RT3 updates


SRAM has made some big news in recent weeks with the launch of its new GX drivetrain group and the Boost series of components, but there are some smaller changes in the lineup that are worth noting.

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First up is the 27.5 version of the RS-1 fork. The unique inverted design brings all the performance of the 29-inch version to the smaller wheels. The dedicated 27.5 model with a 42 mm offset uses the same Predictive Steering hub as before and will be available in 100 mm and 120 mm options.

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Also new this year is a gloss white version for both 27.5 and 29-inch. It will retail for $1,865 when it goes on sale in June.

monarch-rt3

The Monarch RT3 shock gets a performance upgrade with a new compression piston, poppet valve and rebound circuit. The new piston reduces compression forces at high speeds resulting in more oil flow for a smoother feel at high shaft speeds. The new valve design creates a better seal for a more refined lockout feel. Finally, the rebound circuit allows for increased oil flow and a wider range of adjustment for a broader range of riders’ weights.

oneloc-1

The new OneLoc fork remote replaces the PushLoc remote. It looks a lot like a shifter pod, but can be mounted on either side of the cockpit above or below the bars. RockShox says it will fit with a Reverb dropper remote and a GripShift in both above and below options.

oneloc-2

 

There is a tall version and a short version to dial in a perfect fit. It is compatible with the SID, Reba, Recon Gold, Revelation, Sektor Gold and Bluto forks. It will retail for $75 when it goes on sale in May.

maxle-stealth

There is also a new Maxle Stealth axle available, essentially a bolt-on replacement for the popular 15 mm thru-axle. It weighs about half of what the stock axle weighs and does away with the bulky look of the lever. I could see this being a popular option for road and cyclocross bikes with thru axle forks. It will be available in 100×15, 150×15 and yes, the new Boost 110×15 for $39.

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Inside Line: New SRAM GX group offers 1×11, 2×11 or 2×10 versions


sram-gx-group

SRAM’s latest drivetrain component set not only offers an even lower price barrier to 1×11 shifting, it’s available in a new 2×11 shifting option for the first time, as well as a 2×10 version. The GX components are largely designed with trickle-down technologies pioneered in the XX1, XO1 and X1 groupsets and it slots in between X1 and X5 on the price scale.

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2×11

While the 1×11 option is plenty of gear range for most riders, the new 2×11 GX series will take things a step further. The 36/24 crankset is paired with the same 10-42 cassette that mounts to the XD driver body found on the 1×11 groups. The key difference is in the derailleurs, which are design specifically for the huge gear range—wider than any other two-chainring groupset on the market.

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Crankset features:

  • Open Core Technology AL (GX 1400 Crankset)
  • 6000 series AL (GX 1000 Crankset)
  • X-GLIDE™ 2×11 shifting technology
  • Chainring option: 36-24
  • Bottom bracket configurations: PressFit 30, BB30, GXP, and PressFit GXP
  • Chainring guard option
  • Crank lengths: 175, 170
  • Colors: Black, Red
  • 24 and 30mm options
  • Boost™ 148 compatible
  • Technologies: X-GLIDE™
  • Weight: 727g (GX-1400, GXP, 175mm); 774g (GX-1000, GXP, 175mm)

The GX front derailleur was designed specifically to work in conjunction with the wide range cassette, and will be available in all the different mounting standards.

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Front derailleur features:

  • Wide range 2×11 systems with X-GLIDE™ front shifting technology
  • High Clamp, Low Clamp, High Direct Mount, Mid Direct Mount, Low Direct Mount
  • Dedicated top and bottom pull
  • Technologies: X-ACTUATION™, X-GLIDE™
  • Weight: 123-153g

The rear derailleur is unique in that it is tuned for 11 gears and can still accommodate the difference in chain wrap from two different front chainrings. Unlike the 1×11 derailleurs, it uses a more traditional slant parallelogram design. It also features the clutch mechanism and cage lock now found in nearly all SRAM rear derailleurs.

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Rear derailleur features:

  • X-ACTUATION™ for precise and dependable 11-speed performance
  • Focused chassis design for all conditions and usage
  • 10-42 wide range cassette compatible
  • Colors: Black, Red
  • Technologies: X- ACTUATION™, ROLLER BEARING CLUTCH™, CAGE LOCK™
  • Weight: 289g (long cage), 286g (medium cage)

Both the 2×11 and 1×11 GX groups will also be available with either trigger shifters or Grip Shift. The trigger shifters use a new aluminum pull lever for more precise shifting.

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Shifter features:

  • SRAM 1x™ X-ACTUATION™ for precise and dependable 11-speed performance
  • Multi-position mounting
  • MatchMaker™ compatible
  • Aluminum pull lever
  • Discrete clamp
  • Colors: Black, Red
  • Full metal, 11-speed indexing keeps shifting crisp and precise with Grip Shift
  • Three rows of ball bearings provide zero friction or play—reducing the force needed to shift and promoting long-term performance under all weather conditions with Grip Shift
  • Once the Grip Shift shifter and grip interlock securely, forged aluminum clamps on either end reinforce the assembly by locking tightly to handlebar
  • Technologies (trigger shifters): X-ACTUATION™, MatchMaker™ Integrated
  • Technologies (Grip Shift): X-ACTUATION™, SPEED METAL™, ROLLING THUNDER™, JAWS™
  • Weight (trigger shifters): 122g
  • Weight (Grip Shift): 144g

The costliest piece of the 11-speed puzzle has always been the cassette. In the case of XX1 it is milled from a solid block of aluminum—an expensive, time-consuming process. For the new XG-1150 cassette, costs have been saved by using 11 stamped, steel cogs held together with 123 stainless steel pins. The result is a durable cassette that also sheds mud well due to its open design. If you’re looking for a lower-price replacement for your 11-speed cassette, the new XG-1150 should fit the bill. It will retail for $144, which is still a lot, but about half the street price of an XX1 cassette.

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Cassette features:

  • 10-42T range
  • XD™ driver body compatible
  • Technologies: FULL PIN™, XD™ driver body, JET™
  • Weight: 394g

1×11

The GX 1×11 group shares many components with the 2×11 group, including the chain, cassette and shifters—well, one fewer shifter anyway. However the rear derailleur uses the X-Horizon design found on the other 1×11 speed groups and is not compatible with a front derailleur.

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Rear derailleur features:

  • X-HORIZON™ design reduces shift force, ghost shifting and chain slap
  • 12-tooth X-SYNC™ pulley wheels
  • Large upper pulley offset automatically adjusts chain gap
  • Sealed cartridge bearings
  • Aluminum cage
  • Colors: Black, Red
  • Technologies: X-HORIZON™, X-ACTUATION™, X-SYNC™, ROLLER BEARING CLUTCH™, CAGE LOCK™
  • Weight: 265g

The 1×11 crankset uses bolt-on chainrings with the now familiar X-Sync design that holds the chain in place without a chain guide. There are two versions the GX-1400 with a hollow core crankarm and the GX-1000 with solid 6000-series aluminum arms.

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Crankset features:

  • Open Core Technology AL (GX-1400 Crankset)
  • 6000 series AL (GX-1000 Crankset)
  • CNC machined 7075, two-tone anodized X-SYNC™ chainring (30-32-34-36-38)
  • Bottom bracket configurations: PressFit 30, BB30, GXP, and PressFit GXP
  • Chainring guard option
  • Crank lengths: 175, 170
  • Colors: Black, Red
  • 24 and 30mm options
  • Boost™ 148 compatible
  • Technologies: X-SYNC™
  • Weight: 680g (GX-1400, GXP, 175mm, 32t); 720g (GX-1000, GXP, 175mm, 32t)

2×10

The final GX group is the 2×10 system, which essentially replaces the current x9 and x7 groups. It is available with various crankset and chainring options and works with the existing PG-1050 and PG-1030 cassettes that mount on traditional 10-speed freehub bodies.

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Crankset features:

• 6000 series AL (GX 1000 Crankset)
• X-GLIDE™ 2×10 shifting technology
• Bottom bracket configurations: PressFit 30, BB30, GXP, and PressFit GXP
• Chainring options: 38-24, 36-22
• Chainring guard option
• Crank lengths: 175, 170
• Color: Black
• 24 and 30mm options
• Boost™ 148 compatible
• Technologies: X-GLIDE™
• Weight: 799g (GXP, 175mm, 36/22)

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The GX 10-speed rear derailleur inherits many of the features found on the higher end SRAM derailleurs, including the clutch and cage lock.

Gear ranges

SRAM 2×11

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SRAM 1X11

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SRAM 2×10

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Pricing and availability

  • GX 1400 2×11 Grip Shift  – $677 – August 2015
  • GX 1400 2×11 Trigger shifters – $661 – August 2015
  • GX 1400 1×11 Grip Shift – $573 – July 2015
  • GX 1400 1×11 Trigger Shifters – $564 – July 2015
  • GX 1000 2×10 Trigger Shifters – $511 – June 2015

 

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Inside Line: SRAM releases new four-piston Guide Ultimate brakes


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SRAM went back to the drawing board when it designed the Guide brake series introduced last year. We tested and reviewed the RSC model and found they are vastly improved over previous SRAM/Avid designs.

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The new Guide Ultimate model takes the design a step further with a slightly revised caliper and carbon fiber lever arms. The S4 caliper gets changes to the seals and piston coatings that help with rollback and consistency that SRAM says will help with proper alignment to minimize drag. Each caliper holds a pair of 14 mm pistons and a pair of 16 mm pistons for both power and modulation. Heat management is aided by aluminum heat shields that break the thermal connection between the pad and lever body, insulators integrated into the pistons, and a large pad opening to allow more air flow.

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The calipers also features the new Bleeding Edge bleed port that simplifies the bleed process. A dedicated adapter plugs into the bleed port and seals the system to minimize air contamination and fluid loss.

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The lever body still features the adjustable reach and contact point of the Guide RSC model, but adds a carbon fiber lever and titanium hardware.

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The Guide Ultimate brakes will retail for $288 per wheel, in either black or Arctic Grey when they go on sale in May.

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Finally, the pair with the new Ultimate line is a new set of Centerline X rotors, a two-piece design that sheds weight over the one-piece steel models. Available in 140 mm, 160 mm and 180 mm, the rotors have an alloy center and steel brake track. They will be available in July in both six-bolt and Center Lock versions for $72 each (140 mm and 160 mm) or $78 (180 mm).

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Inside Line: RockShox and SRAM introduce Boost components


The new product news continues to roll in, with SRAM and RockShox releasing a pile of new parts related to the new Boost axle standards.

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Boost 110

Both the 27.5 and 29-inch versions of the Pike, Reba and SID are being made available with a new 110×15 axle standard. The wider forks will allow for the ever-growing tires that riders are using on ever-widening rims, and will make the wheels stiffer due to the spoke bracing angle.

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For those readers clamoring for 27plus news, RockShox says the new 29er Boost forks will fit a 27.5×3.0 tire, but to confuse things even further, the Pike fork will also be available in a “standard” 27.5 Boost version as well. All the traditional 15×100 forks will still be available, of course.

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The hubs at the heart of the new forks are designed around the Torque Cap, a RockShox/SRAM exclusive technology that uses a larger axle endcap interface between the hub and fork. It is not to be confused with the Torque Tube Axle from the RS-1 fork (though we don’t blame you if it is). It isn’t clear yet if these new forks will work with non-Torque Cap hubs, or if Torque Cap hubs will work with other manufacturer’s  110×15 forks. So much Torque! We reached out to SRAM to clarify and we’ll update when we hear back. It is also not clear if hubs are cross-compatible with the new 15×110 Fox forks announced last week.

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If you’re wondering if you can space out a 15×100 hub with custom end caps to work with the Boost forks, the answer is probably not because the brake caliper won’t line up with the rotor. You could possibly create an adapter to move the caliper inboard, but once you go down that rabbit hole who knows what is possible.

Boost 148

The Boost 148 standard was introduced last year on the new Trek Remedy and Fuel EX as a way to increase the stiffness and strength of a 29er wheel, improve clearance for chainring and suspension pivots and increase tire clearance, all without changing the bottom bracket or Q-factor.

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This is accomplished by spreading the hub flanges 3 mm each, and widening the axle by 6 mm. This pushes out the chainline an additional 3 mm, which is easily handled with a offset chainring for the SRAM modular crank system. RockShox says a 29er wheel built on a Boost 148 hub is as stiff as a 27.5 wheel built on a 142 hub.

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If you’re wondering why not just go with a 150mm downhill hub, it’s because those hubs actually measure 157mm with the flanges, and were deemed too wide to work with a standard 73mm bottom bracket spacing.

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We’ll see Boost 148 cranks at the XX1 and X1 level, along with Rise 40 wheelsets (with matching 110×15 front hub) in 27.5 and 29. Two levels of hubs will be ready this summer: XO or MTH 700, which uses the same internals as an X9 hub. Both hubs have the option of an XD driver or 8/9/10 speed Shimano splined cassette body.

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What’s next

SRAM was quick to support the fat bike market with drivetrain parts and the Bluto fork, and seem to be lined up the same way for the 27plus movement. While the new Boost products were not designed specifically for the mid-fat wheels, they certainly make it easier to work with them. But what bike(s) will they go on? Chances are we will find out soon.

And will Shimano come on board with parts to support the Boost standard? With the launch of the 2016 XT group at Sea Otter we should have an answer soon.

 

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Introducing the new Juliana-SRAM women’s mountain bike team


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From left to right: Sarah Leishman, Kelli Emmett and Anka Martin make up the new Juliana-SRAM pro women’s team.

Photos by Gary Perkin and David Smith.

Juliana Bicycles has announced the launch of the new Juliana-SRAM Professional Mountain Bike Team. Anka Martin (RSA) is joined by Kelli Emmett (USA) and Sarah Leishman (CAN) to complete a trio of female athletes who will be racing the Enduro World Series and select international events in 2015.

A gravity racer and mountain bike adventurer for over 13 years, Martin has been with Juliana since the brand launched in May, 2013. Emmett brings another 16 years of race experience to the team, beginning her career as a cross-country racer and successfully transitioning to the new breed of enduro events. Leishman completes the roster with downhill and enduro skills honed in the mountains of Whistler over the past six years.

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“It’s incredible to see how excited and motivated our partners are to support a women’s cycling team,” says Juli Furtado, founder of Juliana Bicycles. “Anka, Kelli, and Sarah are going to do us all proud at the Enduro World Series and look set to have a great time doing it… I’m quite envious that nothing like this existed in my day, to be honest!”

SCB December 2014, Juliana Bicycles

Furtado, known as “The Queen of the Mountain” during her race career, is also arguably the “Godmother of Enduro,” having raced both downhill and cross-country in the 1990s and claiming World Championship titles in both disciplines. With the launch of the Juliana-SRAM Pro Team, Furtado’s racing legacy continues.

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The Juliana-SRAM Pro Team is possible thanks to the support of Juliana Bicycles, SRAM, Giro, Lululemon Athletica, RockShox, Evoc, and Chris King.

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Trail Tested: SRAM Guide RSC brakes


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The long awaited change to SRAM’s brake line is finally here. Don’t look for the Avid name or the usual XX or X0 style designations, the new brakes are named SRAM Guide, and model level is identified by features rather than drivetrain family. We received one of the first sets available back in May of 2014 to begin long-term testing.

Because of issues with the TaperBore master cylinder design from previous brakes, SRAM now uses a cup seal and timing port to pressurize the system, along with improved sealing throughout. As a result, the recurring problem of air getting into the braking system and causing the lever to pull to the grip should be eliminated.

“Part of what led to an occasional increase in deadband with previous designs was the EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer rubber) bladder. As pads wear, fluid from the reservoir is pulled into the increased space behind the slave pistons at the caliper. The displacement of fluid creates a bit of a vacuum in the reservoir,” said Duncan Riffle, SRAM’s MTB PR coordinator. “The new Pure bladder’s flexibility does a great job adapting to this situation and minimizing the vacuum effect. Previous EPDM bladders had a bit more ‘spring’ to them which meant they were trying to ‘pull’ fluid back into the reservoir from the caliper when the pads wear, which in turn leads to inconsistent rollback at the slave piston and then potentially a change in feel at the lever.”

But the changes didn’t stop there. Our Guide RSC (which stands for Reach adjust, Swinglink, Contact adjust) is loaded with features. Starting with the Swinglink, a new cam shape at the lever lessens deadband for minimal lever throw before pad contact. It also changes the curve compared to previous Avid brakes for a very linear feel that ramps up strongly yet controllably. A new sealed bearing at the lever pivot also provided a silky smooth feel. Tool-free contact point adjustment and reach adjust allow you to quickly and easily personalize the feel and performance of the brakes before or during a ride.

The 4-piston dual-diameter caliper carries over from the Elixir Trail brakes, and is just four grams heavier than previous double-piston, cross-country-specific Avids. Total weight per brake for the top tier Guide RSC averages 375 grams, depending on hose length, making these ideal for cross-country, enduro and all-mountain riders.

Once installed, dialing in the feel takes minutes. I have found myself on occasion slightly adjusting the front brake’s contact point to keep it matching the rear—usually within the first half hour of a ride if the bike has been sitting for a day or two. It’s quick and easy (I don’t have to stop pedaling) but it is something I’ve noted.

On the trail, these are easily the best brakes the SRAM group has released. The levers are nicely shaped and pull is incredibly smooth, with a strong yet predictable initial engagement that continues to come on powerfully without ever being grabby, even at slow, poke-along speeds in rugged terrain where careful braking is required. High speed stopping is also strong and seamless with no tendency to lock up the rear wheel. This is how brakes should work—never having to think about what they’re doing or going to do. Adding to this is the new Centerline rotor that completely eliminates squawking with a new surface that keeps the pad friction point consistent throughout rotation.

After nine months of testing it’s becoming clear that SRAM has a brake that finally rivals or possibly surpasses its main competitor in both function and price—they’re going for $199 per wheel. We’ll continue to use and abuse our Guides (we have three sets among the staff)  to see if they maintain this excellent performance. Thus far, we expect they will.


Look for more disc brake tests in Dirt Rag #183 when it hits newsstands and our online store later this month. Or quit putting it off and order a subscription and you’ll never miss one.

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SRAM debuts its own direct mount X-Sync chainring


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Since the boom of single chainring drivetrains and the narrow/wide chainrings that followed, one item has been notably absent from bike shop shelves. SRAM’s high-end cranksets have long been equipped with a removable spider, but even with the introduction of the latest XX1 and XO1 groups, they retained traditional bolt-on chainrings.

The aftermarket has filled the void with chainrings that bolt directly to the arm, with options from Wolftooth, Absolute Black, MRP, North Shore Billet and others. Now SRAM has jumped in with its own direct mount chainrings featuring the X-Sync narrow/wide tooth pattern.

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The fully CNC’d chainrings are lighter than the spidered versions, and simpler to install or remove. They are compatible with all 11-speed XX1, XO1 and X1-1400 crankarms with GXP or BB30 spindles. The aftermarket versions of those cranksets will now ship with with the direct mount chainrings. SRAM also confirmed they will work with some 10-speed SRAM crankarms with removable spiders.

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The X-Sync chainrings profile is the original narrow/wide design, with tall, square teeth that engage the chain earlier and alternating, 3D tooth profiles to keep it in place.

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The chainrings will be available in 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38 and 40-tooth versions with weights ranging from 60 to 106 grams depending on size. The 30, 32 and 34 will be available in December, with the others following in April 2015.

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MSRP for the 30, 32 and 34 is $99.

 

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Bike brands sponsoring women’s mechanic scholarships


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Several brands including SRAM, Liv, United Bicycle Institute (UBI), Quality Bicycle Products, Pedro’s, and Park Tool have joined together to offer ten scholarships for women to attend United Bicycle Institute.

Recognizing the bike industry needs to reach out to more women, these industry heavyweights have collaborated to fund a scholarship program for women. Additional support for the scholarship is provided by Nuu-Muu and the Outdoor Industry Women’s Coalition (OIWC).

The scholarship was created for women who are aspiring or experienced bike mechanics wishing to increase their technical knowledge and actively pursue a career in the cycling industry.

“It can be challenging for women to join the bike industry, and it will take numerous efforts to create a talent pipeline,” said Alix Magner, QBP’s Distribution Sales Manager and QBP’s scholarship program manager. “This is one step, and we’re thrilled at the level of initiative from our partners to start leading change in how women are included in our industry.”

Recipients will receive scholarships to attend UBI’s Professional Shop Repair and Operations Workshop. Lodging will be provided for those attending the Ashland, Oregon campus. Travel and other expenses are the responsibility of the recipient.

Interested parties can apply at qbp.com/womensscholarship through November 15, 2014. Applicants must be currently employed at a bike shop, at least 18 years old, a U.S. resident, and must be available to attend the February, March or April sessions. Winners will be notified via email by December 19, 2014.

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New SRAM X1 group brings 1×11 to the masses


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There is little argument that SRAM’s 1×11 drivetrains work and work well, at least no argument among those who have ridden them And therein lies the problem, as both the XX1 and X01 groups are very expensive. But now the new X1 group trickles the 1×11 tech down to a lower price point, allowing it to be spec’ed on bikes at much lowe price points, and make sence as an aftermarket upgrade.

See the details here.

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Desert Dreaming with the Rockshox RS-1


Details are still scarce about the new RockShox RS-1 inverted fork, but today SRAM released this teaser video with Kate Courtney and Russell Finsterwald. They’re the future of XC mountain biking—in more ways than one. Courtney and Finsterwald are classic overachievers: She’s a NICA alumnus gone World Cup hopeful (and is a Stanford undergrad in her spare time), and he’s a former U23 National and Pan Am champ ready to compete in 2014 at the pinnacle of our sport. Stripped of team logos, and outside the boundaries of course-marking tape, however, both are simply mountain bikers with a passionate penchant for new trails and eye-opening adventures.

See more photos here.

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SRAM unveils completely new Guide brakes


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While much of the internet speculation as of late centered on SRAM‘s upcoming RS-1 inverted fork (more on that later), the brand unveiled it’s new line of completely redesigned brakes today, dubbed Guide.

There are three new models, a new four-piston caliper and new rotors, as well as a host of new design elements. Most notable is Swinglink, a cam inside the lever body that adjusts the power on tap – eliminating that on/off feeling. The Piggyback reservoir offers a super-simple way to manage brake fluid (DOT) and allows for a single lever body to be mounted on either side, simplifying production and the life of every mechanic who has worked a demo day.

See the new brakes here.

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SRAM unveils 7-speed XO1 downhill drivetrain


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With the drive forward to stuff ever more gears onto rear hubs, it is nice to see SRAM take a step back and create a group with less gears simply because that is what makes the most sense for the application.

The real key to this system is the new 7-speed X-Dome mini-block cassette in a 10-24 range. Most downhill bikes are equipped with road-geared cassettes with something like a 12-26 range and 10 speeds. While this was plenty of range for a downhill bike, the tight gear ratios meant often shifting two or three gears at once to get to the desired ratio.

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A similar range, with less gears means bigger jumps between gears and less shifting. Many riders of XX1 and X01 11-speed groups (with the 10-42 cassette) have discovered the same thing, that these larger jumps between gears is actually better suited to the way most people ride. This setup only works with the XD cassette body from the X01 and XX1 11 speed groups.

Read more about the new drivetrain here.

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