Outerbike opening this week in Moab

Organizers also planning 2015 events in March in Moab and BC in June.

Bianchi opens cafe and brand store in Milan – gallery

Almost 130 years after the Bianchi bike company was created in Milan, the Italian brand’s trademark celeste is again colouring the city thanks to the opening of a new Cafe & Cycles store.

Much like the successful Rapha Cycle Clubs, the Bianchi Cafe & Cycles includes a Bianchi bike and accessories store, a bike fit studio, restaurant, events lounge and cafe bar, all stylishly decorated with Bianchi bikes, products, memorabilia and huge images of Fausto Coppi who helped make the Bianchi brand so well known in the seventies.

The 570sq metre space is on four levels and was officially opened on Wednesday evening with a celeste ‘red carpet’, celeste cocktails and a huge celeste bike-shaped cake. Even the espresso cups were stylishly embossed with the Bianchi name.

The Bianchi Cafe & Cycles is in Via Felice Cavalotti 8, in the white marble Duomo and Piazza Beccaria. An inner courtyard offers a secure place to leave bikes.

The yellow and celeste Bianchi that Marco Pantani used to win the 1998 the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France in 1998 takes centre place in the lounge area, along with the bike Felice Gimondi used to win the 1973 world title. Gimondi is famous for taking on Eddie Merckx during the peak of his career and still managed to win all three Grand Tours, including three editions of the Giro d’Italia. Gimondi attended the inauguration of the Bianchi Cafe & Cycles the day after celebrating his 72nd birthday.

The Milan Cafe & Cycles is the sixth of its kind after the first was opened in Stockholm in 2010. Others have followed in Scandinavia and even Tokyo and Cyclingnews understands that Bianchi is currently searching for a location in central London.

Bianchi President Salvatore Grimaldi officially opened the store. He was born in Taranto, in the south of Italy but moved to Sweden when he was seven and has built up the Cycleurope group of bike brands that also includes Peugeot, Gitane, Puch and DBS.

“I’m a businessman and I’m pay attention to the detail on everything I do but I hope I also combine Swedish precision with Italian creativity and Italian style. I’ve never liked that Bianchi bikes – arguably the most beautiful bikes in world, are often on sale amongst other brands and that’s why we first created the Bianchi store in Stockholm,” Grimaldi explained during the opening party on Wednesday evening.

“My wife thought I was mad to open stores because its very different to all our other activities but I like being a little crazy. I hope this Cafe & Cycles become a much-loved part of Milan’s city centre. It’s for cyclists but also for anyone looking for a great place to eat something, have an informal meeting, get a good coffee or an evening aperitivo.”

Like many of the smaller bike brands, Bianchi is trying to take on the giants of the cycling industry such as Specialized and Trek. It hopes that the Cafe & Cycles concept is a way of showing off its products and 130-year heritage. Bianchi sells both road and mountain bikes in 60 countries, with its headquarters outside of Milan in the town of Treviglio near Bergamo.

Bianchi partnered with Belkin this season and will stay with the Dutch team in 2015 when it is sponsored by LottoNL. Cyclingnews understands Bianchi will also increase its involvement in its mountain bike team headed by former Under 23 world champion Gerhard Kerschbaumer.

Check out all the pics of this unique coffee shop in our gallery above.

This article was originally featured on?Cyclingnews.?Read it here.


Multi-day racing: mountain bike marathon training

As we discussed in our previous two articles on?multi-day mountain bike racing bike setup and marathon nutrition, it’s important to be prepared for such epic adventures. After all, you want to enjoy yourself out there, rather than getting stuck in the wilderness having a miserable experience.

In this three-part series, we’ve spoken to the riders, mechanics and organisers of the Crocodile Trophy, a mountain bike stage race held annually in far North Queensland, to gather some insight into bike setup, nutrition and general preparation. This third and final piece will cover some final tips and tricks for ensuring you’re up for the task and helping you get through it.

This is by no means a complete answer to the near-endless list of questions regarding training or race preparation. But with a focus on some of the world’s hardest multi-day racing conditions, and insight from two top international riders, every cyclist should be able to benefit from the information below.

For 2014, the Crocodile Trophy gains UCI S1 classification and moves to a truer mountain biker’s course, with plenty of singletrack. Because of their harsh conditions, previous events have been proving grounds for training techniques and race tactics; the general feeling is that what works for the Crocodile Trophy should certainly suffice in less extreme environments.

Training for a multi-day mountain bike event

What’s even more important than ensuring your bike is correctly set up? Making sure your body is up to such a physical challenge. It’s unlikely you’ll be able to replicate such back-to-back strenuous conditions in your training, but it’s important that you go into an event with the mental strength to know that you’re capable of it.

Cory Wallace, a mountain bike marathon professional, told BikeRadar, “Anyone can do a one-day event, but when it’s a case of five to nine days that some of these events go on for, there’s just no replacement for putting in the time on the saddle. I really believe no matter where you want to finish, you just need the time in your legs.

“Long tempo rides of four to six hours is what you want to be doing leading up to the event. I back that up four to five times a week and from that I know I have the distance in my legs.”

Martin Wisata, a co-ordinator and competitor of the Crocodile Trophy, countered Wallace’s performance-focused view, claiming that it’s possible to finish these events on much less training.

“While 20- to 24-hour weeks on the bike will no doubt get you well prepared for races like the Croc, it’s just not sustainable for the majority of entrants who have full-time jobs and/or families,” Wisata said.

“Sure, we see a lot of suffering from people who don’t come prepared – those guys are spending seven to eight hours on a bike every day, it’s a tough event that way – but they generally do get through it.”

Wisata’s recommendation is to ride as much as possible, whenever time allows and that consistency is the key: “For many, that will mean commuting during the week to work and getting a long ride or two in on the weekend.”

A massage after a tough stage is sometimes the perfect treatment, especially if you're starting to feel a niggle in a muscle : a massage after a tough stage is sometimes the perfect treatment, especially if you're starting to feel a niggle in a muscle

Being unprepared puts your body at risk to injury

Wallace added: “Injury avoidance is another big thing. If you’re under-trained, you’ll likely get hurt from abusing your body and over-reaching.”

Before you set yourself training goals, it’s important to understand the conditions you’ll be racing in. Some races will be more technically challenging, while others will be suited to riders who can just grind away on the road.

With this in mind, it’s a good idea to tailor your training to the conditions you’ll face – if you will be racing on lots of technical singletrack, be sure to practise your technique and work on your efficiency through corners and over trail obstacles.

Jason English, a five-time 24-hour solo mountain bike world champion and former Crocodile Trophy competitor, does just this in his training. “If I know the race is going to have lots of climbing, I’ll go out and find the longest, toughest climb in my area and repeat it until I get the elevation,” he said.

“The Croc can be really hot. I was training in arm and leg warmers, even when it was hot outside just to get a feel for how my body reacted in the heat. You need to get used to over-hydrating during your training and find out how you react to certain race foods after a few hours.”

In the thick of it

Once the racing starts, it’s too late to prepare your body – it becomes a game of survival as the race progresses.

“You need to know your fitness level, and pace yourself for that. Don’t go out too hard, if you’ve got it, save it for later in the race when your other competitors will be struggling,” said Wallace.

The camaraderie of these multi-day events is something special. martin wisata reccomends making friends during the race, they'll likely help you out at some point: the camaraderie of these multi-day events is something special. martin wisata reccomends making friends during the race, they'll likely help you out at some point

For many, the like-minded social side of multi-day events is a real draw

While the likes of Cory Wallace and Jason English fill the podium spots, guys like Martin Wisata are generally racing for personal achievement and the camaraderie among far larger groups of equally-minded participants.

“Races like the Croc are tough, no matter where you’re racing, so make friends in the peloton. It’s better to suffer with a friend, then with someone you don’t want to be around. In open sections of the race you can use each other for drafting and mental motivation. Find people you can work with, even if it’s with a friendly competitive nature,” said Wisata.

If you want people to ride with you and help you out when you're in need, never attack at a feed station: if you want people to ride with you and help you out when you're in need, never attack at a feed station

Just like in road racing, feeding zones aren’t a place to attack

He added: “Attacking at depots and poor group etiquette is not a good way to make friends. Also, if you’re a bad descender, don’t plug the trail on the descent knowing it’s the only way to stay with your competitors, that’s not fair and it won’t earn you respect in the group.”

“I’ve made some really strong friendships out of these events. While I take my racing seriously, there’s no point being ‘that guy’.”

Regardless of what event you plan to enter, knowing your bike and body are prepared will make the experience an enjoyable one. After all, when spending so much money and energy, why not make the most of it?

This is the final article in this series, which that focuses on general tips for marathon events.?BikeRadar?recently visited Cairns and rode some of the trails that the?2014 Crocodile Trophy?will go through, including the start at Smithfield,?Atherton?and the end at?Port Douglas, where the race concludes after nine days.








Novel Hirobel carbon-friendly repair stand clamp launches on Kickstarter

Leery of clamping that delicate carbon fiber frame in your repair stand? Well, you should be as carbon frame tubes should never be clamped directly. That said, clamping the seatpost isn’t always an option, either, and the folks at upstart company Hirobel have introduced their novel Carbon Frame Clamp adapter to fill the void.

Instead of directly clamping the bike – or any part of it – with some sort of rigid jaws as is normally the case, the Carbon Frame Clamp uses a combination of grooved soft rubber wheels and stout rubber straps that hold the bike at the seat cluster and head tube area. According to Hirobel, this distributes load across a broader area than merely clamping a seatpost as is the norm, plus the grooved wheels are meant to be positioned at the seat cluster and head tube area, where the tube walls are usually thicker and more durable than in the middle of a tube.

Hirobel says the carbon frame clamp's attachment method creates less stress on delicate composite frames:

Carbon frames should never be clamped directly, and it isn’t always best to grab the seatpost. Hirobel presents another option with the Carbon Frame Clamp

The attachment method is not unlike setups used on many automobile racks and is designed to be similarly gentle, plus it’s easy to mount bikes on to the Carbon Frame Clamp (which works fine on metal frames, by the way). Moreover, Hirobel has designed the Carbon Frame Clamp’s octagonal crossbar to work in most repair stand jaws.

“Our clamp takes the weight of the bike right away, so the mechanic is not holding the weight of the bike while trying to adjust the clamp to the seatpost,” said Hirobel co-founder Marc Bellett. “This has been a huge advantage for us not only in the shop where all sorts of different shapes/sizes come through, but also working rides/races where bike turnover in the clamp is very high.

We've been playing with the hirobel carbon frame clamp for a few days now and have been pleasantly surprised by how securely bikes and frames are held in place:

The attachment method is surprisingly sturdy

“By clamping inside the triangle, we are also able to eliminate the spin that can happen when the seatpost isn’t clamped tightly enough (at least for round posts). Clamping by the seatpost can be problematic as well when applying high torque. We have seen seatposts pop through seat tubes from the pressure of changing a bottom bracket when clamped that way.”

We just took delivery of one of Hirobel’s Carbon Frame Clamp prototype and it’s much sturdier and more substantial than we had expected given the written description. For sure, the system of relatively soft rubber wheels and straps has a bit more ‘give’ than more rigid attachments but so far, it’s proven stout enough for some hardcore wrenching.

Upstart company hirobel has designed the carbon frame clamp to more gently attach high-end frames to repair stands:

The Hirobel Carbon Frame Clamp is designed to work in nearly any repair stand

Although the system is primarily intended for carbon road frames (or any chassis with a fairly conventional front triangle), it seems quite adaptable to several full-suspension mountain bike frames we’ve tried, too. Notably, we’ve found it handy for some trail and enduro machines with dropper posts that we’d prefer not to clamp directly and despite our initial reservations, we’ve had no issues so far with flipping even heavier bikes upside down without having to reposition the Carbon Frame Clamp’s straps or rubber wheels.

Hirobel hopes to bring the Carbon Frame Clamp to market before the end of the year with a retail price of US$249. It’s still in the crowdfunding stage for the time being, however, but supporters can potentially get a Carbon Frame Clamp for US$200 through Hirobel’s Kickstarter page.

www.hirobel.com








Buyer’s guide to mountain bike groupsets

Groupsets are the collections of parts that makes up a bike’s gearing and braking. This comprises the shifters, crankset, front and rear derailleurs, chain, rear cassette and brakes.

Just like our buyer’s guide to road bike groupsets, this guide is designed to explain the components of a groupset, and the different options offered by the two main manufacturers:?Shimano and?SRAM.

Where its more common to see complete groupsets on a road bike, the multiple extra tiers in mountain bike components mean bike brands usually mix and match parts from various groups, and in some cases, different brands too.

Because of the wildly varying prices and mix-matched groupsets of hardtail and dual suspension bikes, we’ve decided to leave out estimated price ranges for this guide. With that in mind, it’s worth pointing out that a mountain bike is a technical product and we don’t recommend choosing a bike based on its drivetrain components and/or groupset. Rather, use this as a guide to help educate yourself on the key differences between the groups.

Components of a groupset

Crankset

There are three types of front crankset found on mountain bikes. Commonly, the type of crankset fitted will depend on the bike’s designed use, pricepoint and even wheel size, with bigger wheeled bikes (such as 29ers) often having lower gearing available.

The first is the triple – the old classic. It consists of three front rings, the largest often being a 42- or 44-tooth outer ring. The middle ring is usually a 32 or 34 and the smallest, inside ring, is often a 22- or 24-tooth. This setup offers the largest range of gears, but there is some noticeable cross-over of available gear ratios.

The second type of crankset and, and one’s that common on modern mountain bikes, is a double. This uses a smaller inner ring (24- to 28-tooth) to allow for a lighter bottom gear to make climbing steeper slopes easier, while the larger outside cog offers a gear that’s generally well-suited to faster riding, this is usually between a 36- and 42-tooth size. It’s lighter than a triple and offers a better angle for the chain in order to use all the gears. A double features less gear ratio cross-over compared to a triple.

There’s also a more recent trend toward a simpler setup, with just a single ring of the front. This was already popular in gravity-based mountain biking such as a downhill, where large gear ranges aren’t needed and chain security (that is, no dropped chains) is more important, but the trend has expanded and now even some cross-country bikes use a single chainring. This is generally between a 30- and 38-tooth chainring size and is matched to a larger gear range in the rear. By removing the front derailleur and relevant shifter, a single-ring setup (often referred to as 1x or ‘one by’), offers a greatly simplified, lighter setup.

The crankset spins on bottom bracket bearings that are housed or threaded into the bicycle frame. Bottom brackets are available in a staggering array of configurations – you might find our?complete guide to bottom brackets?useful.

Cassettes

Cassettes come in a huge range of sizes and speeds. Like the crankset, cassette choice is often determined by the bike’s intended riding style and price.

Aside from for downhill riders, who often use road bike cassettes, most mountain bikes favour a cassette with a wide spread of gears to make climbing easier. The most commonly found ratio range on standard bikes is an 11- to 32-, 34- or 36-tooth count.

Generally speaking, the large 36-tooth cassettes are reserved for 10-speed drivetrains; the 32 and 34t setups more commonly appear on 8- and 9-speed drivetrains respectively.

Recently, SRAM has released an 11-speed cassette designed to work specifically with single-chainring cranksets. This provides massive gear ranges – the smallest cog is a 10-tooth and the largest is a dinner-plate sized 42.

Chains

The groupset brand and number of gears dictate the chain. The more expensive chains often have smoother, more durable and corrosion-resistant coatings than their cheaper counterparts.

Additionally, some more expensive chains have the pins and plates drilled to remove weight. A chain is a wear item though, and is cheap to replace, so the one included with a bike isn’t worth stressing about.

Derailleurs

Derailleurs are the components that move the chain between rings at the front and across the gears of the rear cassette. Each brand offers its own design, but the principle is generally the same, with a cable connected to the shifters doing the pulling.

There’s an exception to this – Shimano now offers electronically-actuated derailleurs at the top level, XTR Di2.

Shifters

Mountain bike gears are changed using gear levers that sit next to the brake levers at the handlebar. Each company offers its own design, and while they all shift gears, they each have a particular way of doing it.

Current shifter types: left is shimano's rapidfire trigger system, in the middle is sram's trigger shifter, and on the right is sram's grip shift :

There’s three common shift options these days, one from Shimano and two from SRAM.

By far the most common is Shimano’s RapidFire – a design that uses two levers, one on top of the other.

Push the larger (bottom) thumb lever away from you on Shimano and the rear mech shifts the chain upwards on the cassette (to a lighter gear). When the smaller, inner lever is pulled with either your index finger or pushed with your thumb (it can go either direction), the chain is shipped down the cassette (to a harder gear). RapidFire is designed to allow multiple upshifts at one time, so the further you push the larger thumb lever, the more gears you’ll shift (to a maximum of three).

The left-hand shifter operates the front derailleur. The larger thumb lever moves the chain onto the larger chainring, the small lever moves it to the smaller ring. Cheaper Shimano shifters, such as those below Alivio offer a slightly simpler setup, in which the small lever only works by pulling it towards you with your index finger.?

SRAM offers two systems, trigger and Grip Shift. The trigger system is the more common, and features two thumb levers that sit in a similar position and work in a similar way to Shimano’s RapidFire. Where RapidFire gives you the option to use your index finger, SRAM’s triggers are operated by pushing of the thumb only.

The other system from SRAM is Grip Shift which has lost mainstream popularity over recent years, but still holds a loyal following in cross-country racing where multiple shifts without moving your hands are considered benefits. Grip Shift is a handlebar grip (or throttle) that twists in either direction to change the gears.

Brakes

Over a decade ago, brakes were simple items – cable-operated rim brakes were the common option, but now they’re a rare sight, kept for the very cheapest machines. Most mountain bikes now feature disc brakes, in either mechanical or hydraulic (fluid-based, like a car or motorbike) formats. Mechanical disc brakes are found at the entry-level, while hydraulic discs area staple on any enthusiast or performance-level mountain bike.

Disc brakes place a rotor (a disc rotor) at the wheel’s hub, with a brake caliper that clamps onto this rotor. There are many benefits to disc brakes on mountain bikes, such as improved stopping power (especially when wet), improved brake control (modulation), less maintenance and no issues with buckled or worn rims.

While most groupsets do offer brakes, it’s common for mountain bikes to have brakes that don’t match the rest of the groupset. This is occasionally done because of price or the perceived ‘best option’ from the brands.

Price vs benefits

Like most components, groupsets vary in price a great deal. So what benefits do the more expensive groupsets bring?

Weight?

Keith?Bontrager?famously once said of bicycle parts: “Strong.?Light.?Cheap. Pick two.” A lighter bike will always accelerate, climb and brake better than a heavier one, but without giving up strength, something has to give. Whether you’re looking at groupsets,?wheels?or even complete bikes, reduced weight is often the major contributor to increased cost.

Generally with mountain groupsets, the more you spend, the lighter they get. Often the performance of the groupset plateaus at the second tier, with reduced weight being the reason for the extra expense. For example, the difference between Shimano’s top two tiers, XT and XTR, is around 230g (excluding brakes), while the difference between SRAM’s top-range XX1 and second-tier XO1 single-ring options is closer to just 30g (excluding brakes).

These weight differences are the result of more expensive materials and refined, or more time-consuming, manufacturing processes. In addition to further machining, hole-drilling and high precision, more expensive components often use materials such as carbon fibre, titanium, lightweight aluminium and ceramic bearings to achieve the pinnacle in low weight.

Durability

If you’re spending more money on a groupset, you’d expect it to outlast a cheaper option. Durability does improve with price, but our experience is that durability also plateaus at the second-tier options, and in some ways, actually starts to decline at the very most expensive option.?

The more expensive technical components are built with greater precision, refinement and materials that lend themselves to greater longevity. This is apparent in derailleurs and shifters, where the cheaper options will develop play and slop overtime, whereas better parts often remain like new.?

Wear items, such as cassettes and chainrings, however, are often the reverse of this. Cheaper options are made of heavier, but more durable steels, while the more expensive versions are made with lighter, but softer, aluminium and titanium metals.

Performance

In addition to the benefits of reduced weight, more expensive groupsets find other ways of increasing performance. Most noticeably, higher priced options provide a smoother, more precise and quicker shift between gears. This includes reduced effort at the lever, something that becomes apparent once you’ve been on the bike for a few hours. It’s an area where electronic gears are going to set a new benchmark; ultimate precision and speed at the simple push of a button.

Another performance example is increased crankset stiffness to provide crisper shifting and more efficient power transfer from the pedals to the rear wheel. This is achieved with more complex designs and materials that increase strength and stiffness, but don’t add weight.?

Braking raises an entire new list of benefits as prices goes up. Simply put, the more expensive brakes are stronger, offer better feel and control, stop you with less hand force required and will be more consistent when used for long periods of time.

Additional features

Besides offering extra gears, it’s common for the more expensive groupsets to offer additional features, however subtle they may be. An example of this is the tool-free adjustable brake lever position on Shimano’s SLX, XT and XTR.

Both shimano and sram offer clutch-style rear derailleurs, these greatly reduce chain slap noise and the risk of dropped chains through rough terrain:

Both Shimano and SRAM offer clutch-equipped derailleurs – look for these on any performance-level bike

Clutch-equipped rear derailleurs, such as Shadow Plus from Shimano or Type-2 from SRAM, are another example. The clutch offers enhanced control of the chain, keeping the drivetrain quieter and with less chance of a dropped chain over rough terrain. ?

In reverse of this, gear indicators are a feature often lost as the groupset price increases. The theory being that more experienced riders use gears based on ‘feel’ and don’t need numbers or indicators to help them.

Discipline-focused options

With mountain biking spanning so many individual disciplines, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find that what works perfectly for climbing steep hills in cross-country may not be ideal for descending cliff faces in downhill.

This is why discipline -specific groupsets now exist for the more extreme riding styles. We’ll cover these below in the individual brand hierarchies.

The major brands and their groupset hierarchies

On the trails there are two major brands making these parts, the first, biggest and most widely used is Shimano, the second is SRAM.

Shimano

Japan’s Shimano offers the widest range of groupsets for mountain biking.

The range starts with the most budget?Tourney, which is usually found on kids’ and entry-level bikes. While it’s included in the mountain bike groupsets, we don’t consider Tourney to be off-road worthy outside of occasional and light use. Tourney is a 6- or 7-speed system (six or seven gears at the rear) combined with a triple crankset.

Next is?Altus, which is sold as a 7-, 8- or even 9-speed system. No matter how many gears are featured out back, this group is always supplied with a triple crankset.

Acera follows, and starts to introduce corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel on certain components.

Shimano alivio gets a total revamp for 2015. the 9-speed groupset offers hydraulic disc brakes, multiple gearing options and a lighter/more durable crank design. we're already seeing this dirt-ready group on some base-level dual suspension bikes:

For 2015, Shimano Alivio is looking like a respectable entry option in regular off-road riding

Shimano Alivio sits just above Acera and introduces a few performance features such as RapidFire Plus shifters with push/pull trigger action. Like Acera, this 9-speed group is available with a triple ring crankset only. We consider Alivio Shimano’s starting point if you’re seeking a focused mountain bike.

Next in line is Shimano?Deore, widely considered to be the Japanese company’s first performance-ready off-road groupset. It’s 10-speed and shares many of the designs and technology of the higher priced groupsets. Deore is offered in both double- and triple-crankset options and also spells the introduction to the clutch-style rear derailleur.

Long considered the workhorse group in Shimano’s mountain offerings, SLX is a third-tier offering from the Japenese giant. Generally speaking, SLX offers many of the features and function as the upper-end XT, but at a higher weight and marginally lower shift quality.

Just as shimano 105 is the workhorse of road groupsets, slx is the same to shimano's mountain bike groupsets. slx offers nearly all the features seen in shimano xt, but cheaper materials mean it carries some additional weight and a marginally slower shift:

The workhorse of Shimano’s mountain line-up, SLX is arguably the best value option

The first of the discipline-specific groups, Zee, is Shimano’s entry-level gravity groupset, a cheaper version of Saint (see below). Available only with a single-chainring crankset, Zee is designed for fast and rough downhill riding. It’s built heavier (and sturdier) than the similarly-priced SLX offering.

Shimano?XT?sits one below the professional-level XTR. This 10-speed group has nearly all the top-end design features as the range topping XTR and offers all the performance most riders will ever need, but at a weight penalty compared to XTR. XT is available with either double- or triple-ring cranksets.

Saint is shimano's top-level downhill focused groupset. built with professional downhill racing and extreme freeride in mind :

Shimano Zee and Saint are both designed for gravity-focused downhill and freeride type riding

Sitting as a top-level offering for those who race downhill is Saint. Saint, like Zee, is gravity-focused groupset that is built incredibly strong to handle the abuse of freeride, downhill and other extreme forms of mountain biking. Only offered with a single-ring crankset, Saint also has additional chain retention features.?

XTR?is the pinnacle of Shimano’s range and is often used for racing purposes. For 2015, it offers 11-speed gearing with either single-, double- or triple-crankset configurations. XTR combines top-end design with lightweight materials such as high-grade alloys, carbon fibre, and titanium. It’s common for XTR to offer features that no other groupset level receives, such as multi-shift release when downshifting.

XTR is split into two separate groupset offerings – Race and Trail, with the brakes, rear derailleur and crankset options being the difference. Race is all about absolute weight savings, where features such as tool-free brake lever adjust and Ice-Tech brake cooling fins are removed in favour of saved grams. Trail is the more ‘everyday’ and feature-packed option, where a few additional grams get you greater brake power, adjustability and even chain retention.

Shimano also offers XTR in its latest electronically-operated?Di2 design. This system does away with traditional cables in favour of a system that’s actuated by motor driven mechs powered by a battery, which can either be frame mounted or hidden within the seatpost, seat tube or steerer tube. The advantage of the electronic system is consistent gear shifts and very low maintenance. Another perk of the XTR Di2 is sequential shifting, in that both front and rear derailleurs are operated with a single control, and the system decides whether to shift at the front or rear for the next closest jump.

The downsides are mainly the cost, but there’s also a minor weight penalty and remembering to occasionally recharge the battery.

The Di2 groupsets shares the same crankset, cassette, chain and brakes of the respective mechanical groupset.

Shimano’s groupsets are designed to work with each other (providing they share the same number of gears), so for example, you can easily upgrade Deore with a mix of SLX and XT parts.

SRAM

SRAM’s mountain groupset range is split into two, with single-chainring groupsets (with a ‘1’ featured in the name) separate to the double and triple options. Currently SRAM’s highly popular single-ring options are only for performance-level bikes. Like Shimano, SRAM offers a discipline-specific option too, in the form of X01 DH.

While SRAM’s recent success story is its dedicated single-chainring groupsets, the brand was and still is a strong advocate of double chainring setups over triples. SRAM calls this 2X10.

Another detail to be aware of with SRAM is trickle-down technology. The cheaper components from SRAM are often the same as more expensive options from a few years prior. As well as to this reuse of technology, it’s common for SRAM groups to be very close in function, with material changes accounting for the weight differences. An example of this is that X9, XO and XX SRAM 10-speed shifters all feature identical internal parts.

SRAM’s mountain groups kick off with X3, a 7-speed gear system with technology that’s trickled down from the top. It’s comparable to Shimano Altus in price.

X4 is next in the line-up with 9-speed shifting. Compared to X3, the X4 components feature more metal for better durability. X4 isn’t offered as a complete groupset, and so it’s common to find SRAM X4 parts mixed with those from other brands.

X5 is sram's first full groupset and it's a high-value option for those seeking 10-speed gearing. sram introduces its 2x10 gearing at this level :

SRAM X5 is the entry point into 2×10 shifting

X5 is the first official groupset in SRAM’s line-up. This groupset is popular with bike brands as it offers upper-level features such as a double-chainring crank and 10-speed gearing.

X7 is a 10-speed group, and like Shimano’s Deore, is SRAM’s first groupset that can handle regular and proper off-road use.

Sharing many design and internal features as the top-level offerings, SRAM X9 is a popular choice on mid-priced bikes. A 2×10 groupset, X9 features plenty of alloy, giving it a substantially lower price compared to X0.

X1 is sram's new budget single-ring groupset. it shares much of the performance and features as xo1 and even xx1, but less carbon fibre and more aluminium means a higher weight:

It’s going to become a popular choice for 2015 – SRAM X1 is a new lower-priced single-ring option for all forms of mountain biking from cross-country riding to enduro racing

The entry-level into SRAM’s single-chainring groupsets is X1. X1 is an 11-speed groupset that will only work with a single chainring, afforded by the massive 10-42t cassette. Introduced for 2015, X1 offers nearly all the same features as X01 and XX1 but at a higher weight.

Long considered as SRAM’s best option if you don’t race, X0 is a 2×10 groupset that introduces carbon fibre for weight savings, among a few other small features.

Arguably the most popular single chainring groupset on the market, X01 offers all the features of X1, but more expensive materials and manufacturing processes substantially reduce weight.

X01 DH is a purpose-built groupset for downhill racing and is available as either a 7- or 10-speed setup.

SRAM XX1 is the groupset that kicked off the whole single-chainring phenomenon. It remains as SRAM’s pinnacle off-road groupset and is popular among everyone from gravity-seeking enduro riders to gram-counting cross-country racers. With approximately 30g separating X01 and XX1, it’s mainly for those who just want the best.

Sitting as a cross-country race specific groupset, XX is SRAM’s pro-level 2X10 offering. Since the release of XX1, XX isn’t used or seen as often.

Mountain bike groupsets by cost and discipline:

SRAM and Shimano groupsets by cost and discipine


Buyer’s guide to mountain bike groupsets

Groupsets are the collections of parts that makes up a bike’s gearing and braking. This comprises the shifters, crankset, front and rear derailleurs, chain, rear cassette and brakes.

Just like our buyer’s guide to road bike groupsets, this guide is designed to explain the components of a groupset, and the different options offered by the two main manufacturers:?Shimano and?SRAM.

Where its more common to see complete groupsets on a road bike, the multiple extra tiers in mountain bike components mean bike brands usually mix and match parts from various groups, and in some cases, different brands too.

Because of the wildly varying prices and mix-matched groupsets of hardtail and dual suspension bikes, we’ve decided to leave out estimated price ranges for this guide. With that in mind, it’s worth pointing out that a mountain bike is a technical product and we don’t recommend choosing a bike based on its drivetrain components and/or groupset. Rather, use this as a guide to help educate yourself on the key differences between the groups.

Components of a groupset

Crankset

There are three types of front crankset found on mountain bikes. Commonly, the type of crankset fitted will depend on the bike’s designed use, pricepoint and even wheel size, with bigger wheeled bikes (such as 29ers) often having lower gearing available.

The first is the triple – the old classic. It consists of three front rings, the largest often being a 42- or 44-tooth outer ring. The middle ring is usually a 32 or 34 and the smallest, inside ring, is often a 22- or 24-tooth. This setup offers the largest range of gears, but there is some noticeable cross-over of available gear ratios.

The second type of crankset and, and one’s that common on modern mountain bikes, is a double. This uses a smaller inner ring (24- to 28-tooth) to allow for a lighter bottom gear to make climbing steeper slopes easier, while the larger outside cog offers a gear that’s generally well-suited to faster riding, this is usually between a 36- and 42-tooth size. It’s lighter than a triple and offers a better angle for the chain in order to use all the gears. A double features less gear ratio cross-over compared to a triple.

There’s also a more recent trend toward a simpler setup, with just a single ring of the front. This was already popular in gravity-based mountain biking such as a downhill, where large gear ranges aren’t needed and chain security (that is, no dropped chains) is more important, but the trend has expanded and now even some cross-country bikes use a single chainring. This is generally between a 30- and 38-tooth chainring size and is matched to a larger gear range in the rear. By removing the front derailleur and relevant shifter, a single-ring setup (often referred to as 1x or ‘one by’), offers a greatly simplified, lighter setup.

The crankset spins on bottom bracket bearings that are housed or threaded into the bicycle frame. Bottom brackets are available in a staggering array of configurations – you might find our?complete guide to bottom brackets?useful.

Cassettes

Cassettes come in a huge range of sizes and speeds. Like the crankset, cassette choice is often determined by the bike’s intended riding style and price.

Aside from for downhill riders, who often use road bike cassettes, most mountain bikes favour a cassette with a wide spread of gears to make climbing easier. The most commonly found ratio range on standard bikes is an 11- to 32-, 34- or 36-tooth count.

Generally speaking, the large 36-tooth cassettes are reserved for 10-speed drivetrains; the 32 and 34t setups more commonly appear on 8- and 9-speed drivetrains respectively.

Recently, SRAM has released an 11-speed cassette designed to work specifically with single-chainring cranksets. This provides massive gear ranges – the smallest cog is a 10-tooth and the largest is a dinner-plate sized 42.

Chains

The groupset brand and number of gears dictate the chain. The more expensive chains often have smoother, more durable and corrosion-resistant coatings than their cheaper counterparts.

Additionally, some more expensive chains have the pins and plates drilled to remove weight. A chain is a wear item though, and is cheap to replace, so the one included with a bike isn’t worth stressing about.

Derailleurs

Derailleurs are the components that move the chain between rings at the front and across the gears of the rear cassette. Each brand offers its own design, but the principle is generally the same, with a cable connected to the shifters doing the pulling.

There’s an exception to this – Shimano now offers electronically-actuated derailleurs at the top level, XTR Di2.

Shifters

Mountain bike gears are changed using gear levers that sit next to the brake levers at the handlebar. Each company offers its own design, and while they all shift gears, they each have a particular way of doing it.

Current shifter types: left is shimano's rapidfire trigger system, in the middle is sram's trigger shifter, and on the right is sram's grip shift :

There’s three common shift options these days, one from Shimano and two from SRAM.

By far the most common is Shimano’s RapidFire – a design that uses two levers, one on top of the other.

Push the larger (bottom) thumb lever away from you on Shimano and the rear mech shifts the chain upwards on the cassette (to a lighter gear). When the smaller, inner lever is pulled with either your index finger or pushed with your thumb (it can go either direction), the chain is shipped down the cassette (to a harder gear). RapidFire is designed to allow multiple upshifts at one time, so the further you push the larger thumb lever, the more gears you’ll shift (to a maximum of three).

The left-hand shifter operates the front derailleur. The larger thumb lever moves the chain onto the larger chainring, the small lever moves it to the smaller ring. Cheaper Shimano shifters, such as those below Alivio offer a slightly simpler setup, in which the small lever only works by pulling it towards you with your index finger.?

SRAM offers two systems, trigger and Grip Shift. The trigger system is the more common, and features two thumb levers that sit in a similar position and work in a similar way to Shimano’s RapidFire. Where RapidFire gives you the option to use your index finger, SRAM’s triggers are operated by pushing of the thumb only.

The other system from SRAM is Grip Shift which has lost mainstream popularity over recent years, but still holds a loyal following in cross-country racing where multiple shifts without moving your hands are considered benefits. Grip Shift is a handlebar grip (or throttle) that twists in either direction to change the gears.

Brakes

Over a decade ago, brakes were simple items – cable-operated rim brakes were the common option, but now they’re a rare sight, kept for the very cheapest machines. Most mountain bikes now feature disc brakes, in either mechanical or hydraulic (fluid-based, like a car or motorbike) formats. Mechanical disc brakes are found at the entry-level, while hydraulic discs area staple on any enthusiast or performance-level mountain bike.

Disc brakes place a rotor (a disc rotor) at the wheel’s hub, with a brake caliper that clamps onto this rotor. There are many benefits to disc brakes on mountain bikes, such as improved stopping power (especially when wet), improved brake control (modulation), less maintenance and no issues with buckled or worn rims.

While most groupsets do offer brakes, it’s common for mountain bikes to have brakes that don’t match the rest of the groupset. This is occasionally done because of price or the perceived ‘best option’ from the brands.

Price vs benefits

Like most components, groupsets vary in price a great deal. So what benefits do the more expensive groupsets bring?

Weight?

Keith?Bontrager?famously once said of bicycle parts: “Strong.?Light.?Cheap. Pick two.” A lighter bike will always accelerate, climb and brake better than a heavier one, but without giving up strength, something has to give. Whether you’re looking at groupsets,?wheels?or even complete bikes, reduced weight is often the major contributor to increased cost.

Generally with mountain groupsets, the more you spend, the lighter they get. Often the performance of the groupset plateaus at the second tier, with reduced weight being the reason for the extra expense. For example, the difference between Shimano’s top two tiers, XT and XTR, is around 230g (excluding brakes), while the difference between SRAM’s top-range XX1 and second-tier XO1 single-ring options is closer to just 30g (excluding brakes).

These weight differences are the result of more expensive materials and refined, or more time-consuming, manufacturing processes. In addition to further machining, hole-drilling and high precision, more expensive components often use materials such as carbon fibre, titanium, lightweight aluminium and ceramic bearings to achieve the pinnacle in low weight.

Durability

If you’re spending more money on a groupset, you’d expect it to outlast a cheaper option. Durability does improve with price, but our experience is that durability also plateaus at the second-tier options, and in some ways, actually starts to decline at the very most expensive option.?

The more expensive technical components are built with greater precision, refinement and materials that lend themselves to greater longevity. This is apparent in derailleurs and shifters, where the cheaper options will develop play and slop overtime, whereas better parts often remain like new.?

Wear items, such as cassettes and chainrings, however, are often the reverse of this. Cheaper options are made of heavier, but more durable steels, while the more expensive versions are made with lighter, but softer, aluminium and titanium metals.

Performance

In addition to the benefits of reduced weight, more expensive groupsets find other ways of increasing performance. Most noticeably, higher priced options provide a smoother, more precise and quicker shift between gears. This includes reduced effort at the lever, something that becomes apparent once you’ve been on the bike for a few hours. It’s an area where electronic gears are going to set a new benchmark; ultimate precision and speed at the simple push of a button.

Another performance example is increased crankset stiffness to provide crisper shifting and more efficient power transfer from the pedals to the rear wheel. This is achieved with more complex designs and materials that increase strength and stiffness, but don’t add weight.?

Braking raises an entire new list of benefits as prices goes up. Simply put, the more expensive brakes are stronger, offer better feel and control, stop you with less hand force required and will be more consistent when used for long periods of time.

Additional features

Besides offering extra gears, it’s common for the more expensive groupsets to offer additional features, however subtle they may be. An example of this is the tool-free adjustable brake lever position on Shimano’s SLX, XT and XTR.

Both shimano and sram offer clutch-style rear derailleurs, these greatly reduce chain slap noise and the risk of dropped chains through rough terrain:

Both Shimano and SRAM offer clutch-equipped derailleurs – look for these on any performance-level bike

Clutch-equipped rear derailleurs, such as Shadow Plus from Shimano or Type-2 from SRAM, are another example. The clutch offers enhanced control of the chain, keeping the drivetrain quieter and with less chance of a dropped chain over rough terrain. ?

In reverse of this, gear indicators are a feature often lost as the groupset price increases. The theory being that more experienced riders use gears based on ‘feel’ and don’t need numbers or indicators to help them.

Discipline-focused options

With mountain biking spanning so many individual disciplines, it shouldn’t be too surprising to find that what works perfectly for climbing steep hills in cross-country may not be ideal for descending cliff faces in downhill.

This is why discipline -specific groupsets now exist for the more extreme riding styles. We’ll cover these below in the individual brand hierarchies.

The major brands and their groupset hierarchies

On the trails there are two major brands making these parts, the first, biggest and most widely used is Shimano, the second is SRAM.

Shimano

Japan’s Shimano offers the widest range of groupsets for mountain biking.

The range starts with the most budget?Tourney, which is usually found on kids’ and entry-level bikes. While it’s included in the mountain bike groupsets, we don’t consider Tourney to be off-road worthy outside of occasional and light use. Tourney is a 6- or 7-speed system (six or seven gears at the rear) combined with a triple crankset.

Next is?Altus, which is sold as a 7-, 8- or even 9-speed system. No matter how many gears are featured out back, this group is always supplied with a triple crankset.

Acera follows, and starts to introduce corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel on certain components.

Shimano alivio gets a total revamp for 2015. the 9-speed groupset offers hydraulic disc brakes, multiple gearing options and a lighter/more durable crank design. we're already seeing this dirt-ready group on some base-level dual suspension bikes:

For 2015, Shimano Alivio is looking like a respectable entry option in regular off-road riding

Shimano Alivio sits just above Acera and introduces a few performance features such as RapidFire Plus shifters with push/pull trigger action. Like Acera, this 9-speed group is available with a triple ring crankset only. We consider Alivio Shimano’s starting point if you’re seeking a focused mountain bike.

Next in line is Shimano?Deore, widely considered to be the Japanese company’s first performance-ready off-road groupset. It’s 10-speed and shares many of the designs and technology of the higher priced groupsets. Deore is offered in both double- and triple-crankset options and also spells the introduction to the clutch-style rear derailleur.

Long considered the workhorse group in Shimano’s mountain offerings, SLX is a third-tier offering from the Japenese giant. Generally speaking, SLX offers many of the features and function as the upper-end XT, but at a higher weight and marginally lower shift quality.

Just as shimano 105 is the workhorse of road groupsets, slx is the same to shimano's mountain bike groupsets. slx offers nearly all the features seen in shimano xt, but cheaper materials mean it carries some additional weight and a marginally slower shift:

The workhorse of Shimano’s mountain line-up, SLX is arguably the best value option

The first of the discipline-specific groups, Zee, is Shimano’s entry-level gravity groupset, a cheaper version of Saint (see below). Available only with a single-chainring crankset, Zee is designed for fast and rough downhill riding. It’s built heavier (and sturdier) than the similarly-priced SLX offering.

Shimano?XT?sits one below the professional-level XTR. This 10-speed group has nearly all the top-end design features as the range topping XTR and offers all the performance most riders will ever need, but at a weight penalty compared to XTR. XT is available with either double- or triple-ring cranksets.

Saint is shimano's top-level downhill focused groupset. built with professional downhill racing and extreme freeride in mind :

Shimano Zee and Saint are both designed for gravity-focused downhill and freeride type riding

Sitting as a top-level offering for those who race downhill is Saint. Saint, like Zee, is gravity-focused groupset that is built incredibly strong to handle the abuse of freeride, downhill and other extreme forms of mountain biking. Only offered with a single-ring crankset, Saint also has additional chain retention features.?

XTR?is the pinnacle of Shimano’s range and is often used for racing purposes. For 2015, it offers 11-speed gearing with either single-, double- or triple-crankset configurations. XTR combines top-end design with lightweight materials such as high-grade alloys, carbon fibre, and titanium. It’s common for XTR to offer features that no other groupset level receives, such as multi-shift release when downshifting.

XTR is split into two separate groupset offerings – Race and Trail, with the brakes, rear derailleur and crankset options being the difference. Race is all about absolute weight savings, where features such as tool-free brake lever adjust and Ice-Tech brake cooling fins are removed in favour of saved grams. Trail is the more ‘everyday’ and feature-packed option, where a few additional grams get you greater brake power, adjustability and even chain retention.

Shimano also offers XTR in its latest electronically-operated?Di2 design. This system does away with traditional cables in favour of a system that’s actuated by motor driven mechs powered by a battery, which can either be frame mounted or hidden within the seatpost, seat tube or steerer tube. The advantage of the electronic system is consistent gear shifts and very low maintenance. Another perk of the XTR Di2 is sequential shifting, in that both front and rear derailleurs are operated with a single control, and the system decides whether to shift at the front or rear for the next closest jump.

The downsides are mainly the cost, but there’s also a minor weight penalty and remembering to occasionally recharge the battery.

The Di2 groupsets shares the same crankset, cassette, chain and brakes of the respective mechanical groupset.

Shimano’s groupsets are designed to work with each other (providing they share the same number of gears), so for example, you can easily upgrade Deore with a mix of SLX and XT parts.

SRAM

SRAM’s mountain groupset range is split into two, with single-chainring groupsets (with a ‘1’ featured in the name) separate to the double and triple options. Currently SRAM’s highly popular single-ring options are only for performance-level bikes. Like Shimano, SRAM offers a discipline-specific option too, in the form of X01 DH.

While SRAM’s recent success story is its dedicated single-chainring groupsets, the brand was and still is a strong advocate of double chainring setups over triples. SRAM calls this 2X10.

Another detail to be aware of with SRAM is trickle-down technology. The cheaper components from SRAM are often the same as more expensive options from a few years prior. As well as to this reuse of technology, it’s common for SRAM groups to be very close in function, with material changes accounting for the weight differences. An example of this is that X9, XO and XX SRAM 10-speed shifters all feature identical internal parts.

SRAM’s mountain groups kick off with X3, a 7-speed gear system with technology that’s trickled down from the top. It’s comparable to Shimano Altus in price.

X4 is next in the line-up with 9-speed shifting. Compared to X3, the X4 components feature more metal for better durability. X4 isn’t offered as a complete groupset, and so it’s common to find SRAM X4 parts mixed with those from other brands.

X5 is sram's first full groupset and it's a high-value option for those seeking 10-speed gearing. sram introduces its 2x10 gearing at this level :

SRAM X5 is the entry point into 2×10 shifting

X5 is the first official groupset in SRAM’s line-up. This groupset is popular with bike brands as it offers upper-level features such as a double-chainring crank and 10-speed gearing.

X7 is a 10-speed group, and like Shimano’s Deore, is SRAM’s first groupset that can handle regular and proper off-road use.

Sharing many design and internal features as the top-level offerings, SRAM X9 is a popular choice on mid-priced bikes. A 2×10 groupset, X9 features plenty of alloy, giving it a substantially lower price compared to X0.

X1 is sram's new budget single-ring groupset. it shares much of the performance and features as xo1 and even xx1, but less carbon fibre and more aluminium means a higher weight:

It’s going to become a popular choice for 2015 – SRAM X1 is a new lower-priced single-ring option for all forms of mountain biking from cross-country riding to enduro racing

The entry-level into SRAM’s single-chainring groupsets is X1. X1 is an 11-speed groupset that will only work with a single chainring, afforded by the massive 10-42t cassette. Introduced for 2015, X1 offers nearly all the same features as X01 and XX1 but at a higher weight.

Long considered as SRAM’s best option if you don’t race, X0 is a 2×10 groupset that introduces carbon fibre for weight savings, among a few other small features.

Arguably the most popular single chainring groupset on the market, X01 offers all the features of X1, but more expensive materials and manufacturing processes substantially reduce weight.

X01 DH is a purpose-built groupset for downhill racing and is available as either a 7- or 10-speed setup.

SRAM XX1 is the groupset that kicked off the whole single-chainring phenomenon. It remains as SRAM’s pinnacle off-road groupset and is popular among everyone from gravity-seeking enduro riders to gram-counting cross-country racers. With approximately 30g separating X01 and XX1, it’s mainly for those who just want the best.

Sitting as a cross-country race specific groupset, XX is SRAM’s pro-level 2X10 offering. Since the release of XX1, XX isn’t used or seen as often.

Mountain bike groupsets by cost and discipline:

SRAM and Shimano groupsets by cost and discipine


EcoSpeed’s $75,000 Kickstarter campaign ends Sunday

PORTLAND, Ore. (BRAIN) — EcoSpeed, which has been making mid-drive electric bicycle motors since 2001, is in the last days of a Kickstarter fundraising campaign that would enable it to ramp up production.

Trail Tech: Advancements in post-ride hydration technology

Interbike was a bit of a letdown for tech editors like me, because most of the latest and greatest mountain bikes and components had already been launched. I shuffled about with several other tech-heads from other media outlets?snapping photos of the countless fat bikes that dominated the show, while trying not to get run over by swarms of under-powered, pedal-assisted electric off-road?motorcycles that some bike companies are vigorously attempting to market as ‘e-bikes’.

The show was not a total disappointment. Some companies are pushing the envelope with their 2015 products. There were a number of advancements made in the field of post-ride hydration technology. That’s right, much of the cycling industry brain trust appears to be bound up in finding new and more efficient methods of opening bottles of beer.?

“That’s it?” you ask. “Freaking bottle openers?

“So what about the next generation of dropper seatposts?”

“Bah, that can wait until 2016,” exclaims the industry.?

“Well, then, how about introducing a long-travel suspension fork with a ‘climb switch’ instead of a lockout lever of?dubious utility?”

“Not this year, bro.”?

So without further adieu, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, here’s a look at some of the latest ways to open your post-ride beverage. Cheers!

MRP Decapitator

SRAM’s XX1, X01, X1 drivetrains?— along with 1x conversions — are becoming ever more popular. As a result, the direct-mount for the front derailleur is becoming something of a vestigial appendage on many mountain bikes. Much like a stub-tail you try to keep hidden from your significant other, the Decapitator is intended to cover-up this useless, unsightly protrusion.

MRP's decapitator covers up unsightly direct mount front derailleur mounts : mrp's decapitator covers up unsightly direct mount front derailleur mounts

Not only does it cover it up, it gives it a renewed purpose

Selle Italia Butcher

This Italian saddle manufacturer has a new gravity saddle called the Butcher. The saddle, designed for gravity and slopestyle riding, has a handhold on the back to be used when loading bikes onto chair lifts as well as when “getting rad” in mid-air. The company had to add a metal plate to the underside of the saddle for reinforcement, so they figured they might as well make it useful by adding a bottle opener.

Selle italia figures the best way to re-enter the mountain bike saddle market is with beer-compatible seats: selle italia figures the best way to re-enter the mountain bike saddle market is with beer-compatible seats

Yes, that’s actually a twist-off, but don’t tell Selle Italia

Feedback Sports repair stand mount

Not every company was focused on improving your ability to imbibe post ride. Feedback Sports knows that mechanics also get thirsty. This bottle opener mounts to the top of their portable work stands.

For the thirsty mechanics on the go: feedback sports has a bottle opening add-on for its mobile workstands: for the thirsty mechanics on the go: feedback sports has a bottle opening add-on for its mobile workstands

Hopefully all the repairs will be done before you crack one open…

Park Tool BO-3

Like Feedback, Park Tool is firmly committed to beverage accessibility. The BO-3 is a compact opener that also has a 10mm wrench.

Park's bo-3 is a compact opener that has a 10mm wrench, so it's actually somewhat useful in a shop setting: park's bo-3 is a compact opener that has a 10mm wrench, so it's actually somewhat useful in a shop setting

Park seems to make a tool for every job

Nice, but not really necessary

Now, before you rush out the door with your wallet wide open, it’s worth noting that most mountain bikes already come equipped with state of the art bottle-opening technology.

#: #

Shimano SPD?pedals make excellent bottle openers. (Time/Mavic pedals will also get the job done)

Blackburn Design can crusher

Last but certainly not least: the award for the best can disposal method went to Blackburn Design.

This appears to be the result of engineers with too much time on their hands. The 3D printed contraption fastens to a dropper seatpost and can crush standard 12oz cans as well as tallboys with ease.

Blackburn design was showing off some cool pumps, racks and frame bags at interbike, but everything was overshadowed by its one-off can crusher: blackburn design was showing off some cool pumps, racks and frame bags at interbike, but everything was overshadowed by its one-off can crusher

Don’t expect this to make it to production any time soon








Trail Tech: Advancements in post-ride hydration technology

Interbike was a bit of a letdown for tech editors like me, because most of the latest and greatest mountain bikes and components had already been launched. I shuffled about with several other tech-heads from other media outlets?snapping photos of the countless fat bikes that dominated the show, while trying not to get run over by swarms of under-powered, pedal-assisted electric off-road?motorcycles that some bike companies are vigorously attempting to market as ‘e-bikes’.

The show was not a total disappointment. Some companies are pushing the envelope with their 2015 products. There were a number of advancements made in the field of post-ride hydration technology. That’s right, much of the cycling industry brain trust appears to be bound up in finding new and more efficient methods of opening bottles of beer.?

“That’s it?” you ask. “Freaking bottle openers?

“So what about the next generation of dropper seatposts?”

“Bah, that can wait until 2016,” exclaims the industry.?

“Well, then, how about introducing a long-travel suspension fork with a ‘climb switch’ instead of a lockout lever of?dubious utility?”

“Not this year, bro.”?

So without further adieu, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek, here’s a look at some of the latest ways to open your post-ride beverage. Cheers!

MRP Decapitator

SRAM’s XX1, X01, X1 drivetrains?— along with 1x conversions — are becoming ever more popular. As a result, the direct-mount for the front derailleur is becoming something of a vestigial appendage on many mountain bikes. Much like a stub-tail you try to keep hidden from your significant other, the Decapitator is intended to cover-up this useless, unsightly protrusion.

MRP's decapitator covers up unsightly direct mount front derailleur mounts : mrp's decapitator covers up unsightly direct mount front derailleur mounts

Not only does it cover it up, it gives it a renewed purpose

Selle Italia Butcher

This Italian saddle manufacturer has a new gravity saddle called the Butcher. The saddle, designed for gravity and slopestyle riding, has a handhold on the back to be used when loading bikes onto chair lifts as well as when “getting rad” in mid-air. The company had to add a metal plate to the underside of the saddle for reinforcement, so they figured they might as well make it useful by adding a bottle opener.

Selle italia figures the best way to re-enter the mountain bike saddle market is with beer-compatible seats: selle italia figures the best way to re-enter the mountain bike saddle market is with beer-compatible seats

Yes, that’s actually a twist-off, but don’t tell Selle Italia

Feedback Sports repair stand mount

Not every company was focused on improving your ability to imbibe post ride. Feedback Sports knows that mechanics also get thirsty. This bottle opener mounts to the top of their portable work stands.

For the thirsty mechanics on the go: feedback sports has a bottle opening add-on for its mobile workstands: for the thirsty mechanics on the go: feedback sports has a bottle opening add-on for its mobile workstands

Hopefully all the repairs will be done before you crack one open…

Park Tool BO-3

Like Feedback, Park Tool is firmly committed to beverage accessibility. The BO-3 is a compact opener that also has a 10mm wrench.

Park's bo-3 is a compact opener that has a 10mm wrench, so it's actually somewhat useful in a shop setting: park's bo-3 is a compact opener that has a 10mm wrench, so it's actually somewhat useful in a shop setting

Park seems to make a tool for every job

Nice, but not really necessary

Now, before you rush out the door with your wallet wide open, it’s worth noting that most mountain bikes already come equipped with state of the art bottle-opening technology.

#: #

Shimano SPD?pedals make excellent bottle openers. (Time/Mavic pedals will also get the job done)

Blackburn Design can crusher

Last but certainly not least: the award for the best can disposal method went to Blackburn Design.

This appears to be the result of engineers with too much time on their hands. The 3D printed contraption fastens to a dropper seatpost and can crush standard 12oz cans as well as tallboys with ease.

Blackburn design was showing off some cool pumps, racks and frame bags at interbike, but everything was overshadowed by its one-off can crusher: blackburn design was showing off some cool pumps, racks and frame bags at interbike, but everything was overshadowed by its one-off can crusher

Don’t expect this to make it to production any time soon








Ergon BX2 hydration pack review

Ergon’s BX2 hydration pack teams a sophisticated fit system with simple storage.

While different sized bags are common in hiking, Ergon is the only bike bag we know of that comes in both large and small sizes. A ladder system then raises or lowers the upper back panel and articulated shoulder harness. There’s a bendable metal bar to adjust curve and let air circulate between the four big back pads for a reasonably dry back.

The Hydrapak bladder gets a detachable hose with adequate flow and the zip lock top makes it easy to clean.

It does take a lot of adjustment to stop increasingly obvious top-of-pelvis pressure points when heavily loaded. The stiff fit and unbaffled reservoir mean it can lurch about irritatingly on steep, bumpy, hard braking descents unless you cinch it up super tight. There’s only one relatively awkward to reach hip pocket on the outside too so it’ll be coming on and off a lot to get to the side loading outer compartment or main top loading compartment.

A separate rain cover and clip-on bungee cord are provided but the latter gets in the way of the zip opening. There’s no key clip anywhere, which is disappointing given the level of fit detailing.

This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.