Friday, March 25, 2016

Friday News And Views

SRAM Eagle 12spd 1X XX-1
Yes, It Is Real:

Remember those leaked images of a SRAM Eagle 12 speed 1X group I had on here a while back? Well, as you may know now, it was a real thing. SRAM introduced the "improved" group yesterday in XX1 and X01 flavors. Yes......they are way expensive. $1417.00 and $1193.00 respectively for all the parts. Which, if you think about that, are only the cassette, shifter, derailleur, crank set, and chain. You can bet that a big chunk of that expense is in the XDome cassette, just like it is for 1 X 11 stuff. And yes....the derailleur, chain, cassette, and chain ring are all proprietary and specific to 12 speed. So, barriers are there for sure.

I had a long chat online about the merits of this system with a friend yesterday. Here are my main thoughts on 1X in general: First of all, try thinking of any vehicle/powertrain combination that is seeking engineering and technology to find ways to make its powertrain have bigger steps between ratios. Yeah...... That would make the powertrain less efficient. So, why do we, as humans, think bigger jumps between gear ratios is a better way to do mountain bike drive trains? By the way, Shimano does not buy into this way of doing things, (bigger gear ratio jumps), and that is why they have resisted the whole 1X drivetrain thing from the beginning. It is not because they couldn't do this.

Secondly, the entire reason for going to the 50T low gear was to erase the complaints against 1 X 11's lack of a low enough gear to compete with 2X10 drive trains, and of course, now 2X11 drive trains. This makes the suite of parts more marketable, but again, not more efficient for "the motor" that drives it all. Other reasons for 1X drive trains are mostly about aesthetics and fashion. "Cleaner" looking, no front derailleur to "mess up" the looks of the bottom bracket area, and an "uncluttered handle bar". Shorter chain stays and suspension designs not possible with front derailleurs can also be touted as "benefits". None of that makes you go faster. Some claim weight benefits, but with a 50T cassette cog spinning back there, can we now start looking at rotational weight as being a negative for this idea? Maybe.... But the big deal here is the jumps between gears and that isn't the best thing for the rider, nor does it promote keeping your momentum up, since your cadence gets jacked with those bigger gear jumps.

The Renegade Gent's Race 6.0 flyer
Renegade Gent's Race:

It is happening again, and so the reboot of the Careless Whispers is going to happen again as well. The sixth running of the Renegade Gent's Race, which has been such a great event for me so far. It is responsible for new friendships and such great times that I never would have had if I had not been invited to ride with three strangers and a Trans Iowa vet back in 2011.

The Gent's Race has been a growing deal since the beginning. I'm not sure this year that it will be bigger than last year, but at about 300 folks, maybe it's big enough! That's not a concern for me though. It's kind of funny how you end up riding with your team, seemingly all alone out in the country, at least a few times during the afternoon. So, no matter how many teams do end up coming, I think that will still be the case again this year. Then there are the times when you are in a bigger group, and that seems to be okay as well. It's a weird dynamic, but it is fun.

So, as I alluded to the other day, I have to pick a rig to go with that day. I am sentimental, so the Black Mountain Cycles rig is high on the list of bikes I will choose. Maybe the Tamland with those big ol' Gravel King 40's. That's the only other bike I've ridden there, I think. Nope! I just checked, and I rode my Vaya one year down there. Oh well...... It isn't like it will matter a whole lot, so whatever I choose will be fine, I am sure.

Nothing "new" to see here..... Move along!

Have you noticed more chatter about "gravel this" and "gravel that"? Bigger magazines and websites are all over the "gravel bike" scene now. They are saying things like"do we need these new bikes", and "how to prepare for your first gravel race", like these sorts of things are so unknown and new that they need explanation.

Well, if you've been a long time reader here, you already know all about this stuff. Heck, just look above at my Renegade Gent's Race mention. Notice that it's version six? Trans Iowa is in year 12!! The Dirty Kanza is going on 11 years. I could go on. My Black Mountain Cycles rig is six years old now. My Tamland, a gravel specific rig, is going on four years old now. These things aren't new.

Plus, if you are really paying attention, you'll know that gravel roads were being ridden since gravel roads existed, and gravel events are not all that different from something like a long, 100 mile mountain bike race, or any other cycling competition. Bikes that work on gravel roads have been around a long time. What happened was that the industry forgot about those bikes and chased after the "F-1" style road bikes that the Pro roadies use. Those bikes pretty much suck for gravel roads. Well.....the thousands of miles of gravel roads in the middle of the country, and elsewhere. They just weren't the best idea, and still are not, unless you, know, do criteriums and actual paved, fully supported road races on closed courses. Nothing wrong with doing that, but bikes drilled in sharp focus for that pursuit flat out suck on gravel. No way to sugar coat that.

So, in those terms, we don't need a "new genre" of bike to do this "all roads" cycling, we need to get back to where we were a long time ago, and we are. This is good. isn't anything new. Neither are the events. Just keep that in mind when you see all these articles about gravel this and that pop up in the big media productions. I say....Welcome to the party! And...calm down! It's not that big of a deal, y'all. We've been here for years. 

That's all for this week! Get out there and turn some pedals, and have a meaningful and enjoyable Easter for those that observe that. 


Smithhammer said...

As we all know, how things look on paper and how they end up actually functioning in the real world isn't always the same. I'd be very curious to try the new 1x12 setup. I'm currently running a 1x11 on my mtn bike - 30t up front, and 10-42 in the rear, and it works great (and yes, I actually ride mountains on it). I haven't found that there are "big jumps between gears" - just a smooth shifting drive train that hasn't left me lacking for for the gearing I need yet. It's fascinating to me how strong the opinions are on these "1x" drivetrains, but honestly some of the strongest opinions I hear are from people who don't seem to actually have firsthand experience using them, and are just making assumptions about how insufficient they must be (that isn't a comment directed at you, Ted, but at many comments I've seen lately across the interwebs).

Guitar Ted said...

@Smithhammer: Fair points- I have actually used and ridden a 1X11, and I also have ridden and used Shimano's close ratio mtb cassettes and drive train. It is quite clear, once you can compare back to back, which is more efficient for the rider. Again- road racers, or anything with a motor that aims to be efficient, is NOT going to bigger jumps between gearing. It's like a three speed Turbohydramatic vs a six speed automatic.

I'm not saying XX1 is not good. It probably works really well. I'm am saying it isn't the most efficient answer for human powered vehicles that are two wheeled in an off road application.

Tyler Loewens said...

What i really like about my SRAM 1x11, is not having to worry about shifting the front when in a race. Click one lever for harder gearing, and one for easier. Really nice when you are 3 hours in and not thinking straight. I am actually extremely excited about Eagle for being able to run a 32 or 34 chainring all the time. Right now I have several ring options for gravel vs MTB.

All that said, Shimano sure does make a nice FD!

Guitar Ted said...

@Tyler Lowens: having issues w/front derailleur shift? Di2 XTR is the answer. it even figures out when to shift for you. Boom!

Shimano does have stellar front derailleurs AND a lot of patents on them. Part of the problem SRAM and others face when trying to compete with Shimano.

Tyler Loewens said...

Man if I had $3k for a MTB drivetrain, then I absolutely would do di2 with sequential shifting and a 2x. That would be awesome!

Granted if I had that money I would also have a house with more than 1100 square feet ;).

Guitar Ted said...

@Tyler Lowens: And you want to spend half as much for a drivetrain with worse efficiency and a cassette that costs almost three times as much as an XTR 11-40? ;>)

timm said...

I don't know about efficiency or asthetics. I ride a HEAVY FS trail bike. But. I converted my shimano 3x10 to 1x for the price of a 30t chainring and 42t cog - a little over $100. It's pretty sweet. Give it a try.

Guitar Ted said...

@timm: Already have. My Ti Muk was 1X10 for a couple years, at least. That wasn't enough gearing range for that bike. Now I run it 2X 10

Bruce Brown said...

I think a 40T up front would be about right here in Iowa paired with the Eagle 12 speed. How many frames would fit that - at least in terms of mountain bikes?

Rannier Wolfcastle said...

Finally, a cassette that changes the way a bike handles in a cross wind.

RGB Nameless said...

I don't know if I want 1x11 or 1x12 drivetrain on my bike or not. But we should thank SRAM for XX1, because now we can buy a wide range of 11-42 or 11-46 cassetes from Shimano and Sunrace, for example. Using expensive XX1 on the fatbike isn't a good idea, but 1x10 drivetrain with 11-42 Sunrace casette is. And no tire clearance problems.