Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Spinning Out Of Control

Unless you've been pulling a "Rip Van Winkle" lately you've probably noticed all the goofy, cold, ice, and snow this winter, the strange weather in other parts of the world, earth quakes, political battling, and the rumor of 10 speed mountain bike gruppos from Shimano and SRAM.

I tell ya, it is a sign of the Apocalypse.

Well, really...........we all knew it was coming. We just wanted not to believe it. I mean afterall, SRAM came out with XX and did we really think that would be it? No, we didn't, and you know it. But we were all in denial, that's for sure. Even when Shimano brought out that 12-36T cassette at a Deore level, we were all thinking that someday there would be an XT level 9 speed version, and that all this goofy SRAM XX nonsense would just blow away.

Ha! In reality, Shimano was tipping its hand in that by offering that cassette at that level, they were really telling us everything above that would be 10 speed.

And guess what? It is! XTR, XT, and SLX will all be offered in 10 speed versions for 2011. Much of this will be 2X10 gearing too, just like SRAM's XX offering. Looks like that pesky granny gear will be a thing of the past!

(Speaking of which, here is my buddy Grannygear's take on this. )

<==pics from Hagoromo blog.

But this new Shimano stuff will also be available in a 3X10, making it the first 30 speed mtb group. Crazy! I guess that's good news for those wanting that low gear. (Reportedly 24 X 36T)
The 10 speed thing I was never really a big fan of, and to be honest, I wanted it to fail, but SRAM's XX stuff really works well. If Shimano's stuff works anywhere near as well, I think most folks will be fine with it. At least from a performance standpoint.
Costs to buy in and to maintain this stuff is yet to be determined, but I think the more important question is how often will it need to be replaced? Logically the components will by necessity be thinner, (chain rings, chains) and the force applied to those smaller surface areas will not be decreasing. Road 10 speed is not as durable as its 9 speed predecessors, so I can not see that this will be any different with 10 speed mountain bike componentry. Time will tell, but I have a feeling it won't be a positive outcome. Well.......unless you are a component manufacturer, that is.
Then there is the proprietary/new chain ring BCD's which will be another wrench in the works. No one wants this that I know. We are not asking for it, and it isn't "better". It is another way to "lock you in" and take away choices. Really, what was so bad about five arm 94/58 BCD cranks, or for that matter, why can't we have the old 110/74 BCD back? They use it like crazy on road stuff now. You'd think the component folks would catch on to the idea of making things more compatible/efficient not just for us, but for their bottom line.
Oh well. What can you do? Not much, it seems. They keep on rolling out the new "bling" and riders keep opening their checkbooks and using their credit cards. I suppose it will work "okay", but it could be so much better than "okay" and cheaper too.

Finally, I know a lot of riders are not using a big ring anymore anyway, and 2X10 may be seen as a huge step forward to them. If the gearing choices get low enough for those folks, and the stuff lasts a decent amount of time, with great performance, it will be a hit.
And 9speed will become the realm of Altus hybrid bikes!

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