Friday, March 02, 2018

Friday News And Views

New Alivio 9spd crank set
Shimano Upgrades Lower End MTB Range:

This was quietly announced this past week, but it could be a big deal for many who still feel 9 speeds are enough and triple crank sets are still a thing. (They are, but don't tell anyone!)

The new cranksets are available in Alivio, Acera, and Altus levels and all will finally be pipe spindle, outboard bearing type crank sets with removable chain rings (!!!). Ranges are 44/32/22 or 40/30/22 so you can tailor your gearing a bit there. I don't know if a trekking version of the crank set is going to be available in Europe, but if there is I bet a 48/36/26 or something might be possible to source. Sometimes Shimano does stuff like that for Europe.

In my opinion these cranks should present a great value. I was fortunate enough to ride a 10 speed Deore crankset on a mtb in 2014 which I reviewed in my past gig life. (In fact, it was the last bike I reviewed for that site). The newer generation of derailleurs and crank sets shift amazingly well. Far better than triples you might remember. So, for something along the lines of a bike packing bike, cargo rig, commuter, or for anyone wanting a triple, wide range crank set, these should prove to be durable, great shifting products, especially the Alivio version.

The Trek Reps Checkpoint SL6 at the shop yesterday
More Thoughts On The Trek Checkpoint:

Ya know, this bike got a lot of buzz going yesterday. It's funny, because reading things about it, and from speaking to our rep about it, it is obvious that Trek isn't sure what is going to happen with the bike. Things like, "Well, a Project One version could happen depending on how this sells.....", were giving me the distinct impression that Trek is holding back a lot here to see how sales go. Think about it....

No ISO Speed front ends on the carbon bikes, no ISO Speed on the aluminum bikes, no Di2 option, and on and on. This line might grow, or it may stall out, but if it gets to a point where the bean counters at Trek say it is making money, you can bet that 2019 will be bringing more Checkpoint heat.

Yeah, yeah..... Trek says the ISO Speed doesn't work with fatter tires. Whatever! They put it on a freaking 29"er, so what the heck! I'm not buying it. Nope. Trek is holding their cards close to their chest and being conservative here, and in this bike climate, who could blame them? 

What About Checkpoint vs Warbird Carbon? That's a great question, and here's the deal- Trek, by really looking at the market, went in for versatility and not just for a pure racing bike, like Salsa did with the Warbird. Try fitting your Wabird with fenders, or a rack. Yeah......not easily done. The Warbird is rated for 43mm tires and the Checkpoint for 45's. Okay, without getting into a pissing match with you commenters, let's call that a draw. Then there is the final straw.....Try turning your Warbird into a single speed without buying anything beyond stock parts. Yeah..... To my mind, a good rig for the longer gravel days, adventures, and definitely for longer gravel events, must have a single speed option to bail yourself out with. In my opinion, that feature, which the Checkpoint has, alone trumps the Warbird. But there is more, like water carrying capacity, which the Checkpoint beats the Warbird in, and fork mounts, which the Warbird lacks. Then there is price. The Ultegra SL6 Checkpoint is sub-4G while the Warbird eclipses that price by a fair amount. To me, the choice is clear.

What Is A Negative About The Checkpoint? Well, there is one main thing I am not liking about the Checkpoint, and that is that Trek, (and some in the media), feel that these sort of bikes must have sporty handling. In other words, they should feel and ride like a Pro Tour bike, or they get tagged as being "cumbersome", which in their vernacular is the worst thing ever. So, many bikes like this get stffer-than-all-get-out forks, because if vibrations are muted, the bike feels "dead" and that means it must be slow, right? The front end has to be able to be "flickable", so you can change direction in a flash, because.....it feels fast. But here's the thing, feeling fast and actually being fast are often completely different things. But without getting down this rabbit hole further, Trek decided to stick with a stiff fork and a steep-ish head angle to appease roadie tendencies, because they are playing to what is the current fashion with media and racers. Not what the general populace really would benefit from.

More on this bike in the future if it warrants it......

Okee-dokee, that's enough to chew on for one post. Have a great weekend and keep the rubber side down!

1 comment:

Rainier Wolfcastle said...

Flickable on gravel just means you're more likely to have to pick gravel out of your road rash.