Friday, April 05, 2019

Friday News And Views

SRAM Force AXS crankset.
A Hit And A Miss:

SRAM's wireless road group has been a pretty big hit with the road going crowd. The new AXS has a lot of folks excited. The recently announced Red version was pretty stylish looking. But people were hanging on for SRAM to trickle down the tech into a more reasonably priced range. Well, their wishes on the pricing have come true. Too bad it looks like a department store group.

I mean, look at this. Could it look anymore bland and....plasticky? It's as if they were out to "out-Tourney" Shimano in the "Mart Bike" category. If this had a bolt on chain guard it would be a dead ringer for an entry level crank set.

But, it is "wireless", and there are no cables, and it shifts whenever, blah, blah, blah. I get it. But why does good design and high tech have to be mutually exclusive? It's as if they tried to make it ugly. Wait....... I hadn't thought of that. Okay, never mind.

But beyond its looks, there are really some limited gearing options if you want to have sub-1 to 1 gears, and that battery on the front derailleur is said to only clear a 40mm tire. Plus, it's hanging out there right where all the dirt, muck, and mire is going to bathe it, collect on it, and gum up the works. That said, I actually got a close up look at the Red AXS group (the GOOD looking one), on a bike with a 40mm tire. (Thanks SRAM Rep Dan!) The issues with clearances are there with big tires, so that still concerns me. However, SRAM has modified the mount for the battery somewhat which should make it so that heavy debris from off the rear tire will not dislodge the battery from its mount. I was also told that this system is imminently weather-proof. Well......we'll see. I still say the Force AXS group needs a re-do, and while you are at it, please put away your ugly stick. Thank you.

23mm inner rim width was once mtb territory. Now it is barely a gravel rim!
The Inner Width Story:

Several years ago mountain bikers saw a move from the old, narrow rim widths and road bikes followed to a degree in that move also. When "gravel" rims were hitting the shelves a few years ago, they started out being marketed as something wider, suitable for the bigger tires gravel riders wanted to use. Typically these were in the 21mm-23mm range. Funny......that was the old mtb inner widths. Anyway, it didn't take long for gravel riders to start seeing bigger tires, and wider inner rim widths. I built a set of wheels a few years ago with WTB i25 KOM rims, and I thought I was pushing the envelope. Now, that is considered about par for the course.

So, I have to shake my head when one of these smaller wheel companies hits me up about checking out their wheels for and the inner rim width is under 20mm. Really? That's road racing width from the 00's. That is basically antique, and the marketing is saying it is a "wider rim" suitable for gravel?

I don't know, but information is easy to find these days and I've seen a lot of it for rims. I'm not anybody special in regard to this knowledge- it's there for anyone to see, so I have to chalk that up to just plain not doing the research. Based on that marketing faux pas alone you have to question the company and the product. The story has changed and companies need to keep up on them, or get left behind.

Renegade Gents run amok.
Renegade Gent's Race 9.0:

Well, it is that time of the year again. The Renegade Gent's Race is Saturday. This has been something that is near and dear to my heart, as many long time readers here know. I really look forward to this event and I plan on having a lot of fun.

This will be my 9th time. Yep! I'll have been to every single running of this event. I guess I'll count my lucky stars too, because I easily could have missed any one of them. 9 times to an event without a break is an unusual thing, and I am happy to have seen this through. The event sure has changed, and now the scrum of folks it draws is a mighty throng. The Renegade Gent's Race is one of those things you can enjoy in many ways. I think that is what makes it work for so many folks. That and it kind of kicks off the "normal" season of gravel riding here.

The weather should be darn near perfect too. 70's? Are you kidding me? I better bring some Sun tan lotion. I'm likely to get burnt! This might be the best weather since the first Gent's Race back in 2011. I think there will be some wind out of the South, but whatever. This should be a great day on the bike.

Stay tuned for a race report Monday. Till then, have an awesome weekend! 


Tyler Loewens said...

The funny thing is when I first saw the Force AXS group I thought it looked stealthy. Then I saw all the "ugly" comments, and started to wonder what I wasn't seeing. It seems like most folks just don't like the crank which is fair I guess. IMHO the SRAM wireless hydraulic shifters - regardless of this gen, previous gen, Red or Force - has always been the ugly part. I consider myself a SRAM guy, but when it comes to a good looking hydraulic/electronic shifter, Shimano has it down.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tyler Loewens- Fair enough. Also- you should keep an eye out for the AXS versions of the Hydraulic levers. They have been tweaked for better ergonomics and look. They are a bit "softer" edged, lowered a tad, and have nice new covers which I really liked. While I still think Shimano has done the best job in keeping their hydraulic levers looking "normal", the new SRAM AXS levers are a LOT better looking than their original ones, in my opinion.

KC said...

I kinda dig the Force AXS aesthetic; I was getting tired of gloss everything and that satin finish looks good to me.
RE: wheel width, I was the oddball in my group that jumped to a "mtb" 24mm inner rim a few years ago. Apart from some tires not playing nice with a wider rim I love it. Now that's pretty much all I see other than a few roadie holdouts on 17mm rims.