Showing posts with label 11 speed. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 11 speed. Show all posts

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tamland Updates: Part 2

Remember this?
In my last update on the Tamland seen HERE I lamented and, well........ranted,  about how stupid it was for Shimano to sell a basic chain ring that didn't fit the look of their new Ultegra 11 speed crank. I also lamented the price for that chain ring. In the comments, a reader going by the name "Mosquitos" suggested a part number that would work for this crank and chain ring combination. (Thank you, by the way.)

It took a while to chase down the part, but we did and I have the "bolts" and "Nuts" in hand now. In fact, I just got them home last night and have not installed them as of yet, but they should resolve the aesthetic complaints I had with the 46T ring swap with the original 52 tooth ring. I definitely am still flabbergasted and dismayed at how much this aluminum and composite composition costs though. It's a flat out crime for a set of fasteners.

Eight bits of metal and composite material.
Okay, hold on to your hats folks, because I'm going to give you the retail prices for the 46T chain ring and the 4 bolts and 4 special beauty "nuts" that make the ring and arm work together aesthetically. Ready?

Wait for it..........

$241.00!!!

Yes, really. Now- I will disclose that as a shop mechanic, I got a discount on these parts, and I paid with my own money for these. 

That said, this is what my Dad would describe as "highway robbery". It's incredible, and I just don't see where you get $241.00 of value here. I probably should just leave those old style "ugly" steel chain ring bolts on there in protest! Oh well, I decided to do it "the right way", but I am going to have a real hard time justifying this in the end, and on a rig that probably will eat that ring up by this time next year, given the amount of dust it will see.

So here's what I see as being really wrong here:

  • The chain ring isn't all that special. It has some machining, and Shimano's typical ramps and pins, but really- the MSRP on this ring alone is $190.00. That's price gouging, and when you check on-line, you'll see similar, but older series Shimano rings, running for way less than $100.00 MSRP, not to mention how much they are discounted now.
  • The "beauty bits" that make up the four chain ring fasteners should be included with the 46T chain ring! The fact that they are not is not only outlandish, but shows Shimano's lack of detail in marketing and lack of concern for how their products are perceived by end users. I mean, I could  just leave the ring as is without the proper bits, and have it remain very ugly, instead of a complete looking product that is still ugly. Not having the chain ring fasteners be sold along with the chain ring just smacks of more aggressive marketing without concern for value.
  • The original 52 tooth ring for this crank is a marvel of technology. It has this aluminum "skin" over a composite core and the female part of the fasteners are embedded right into that ring. Had the new, 46T ring been the same way and cost $241.00, I could have forgiven the price. Well, more so than for what I have here, which is an imposter of the 52T ring's "better" technology. While it will look the same, it ain't the same! 
  • I'll not just complain, but I'll offer this solution for Shimano: Obviously, the bits for the fasteners need to be sold with the chain ring, not as a separate product. Next, this product, at best, is a $60.00 ring with the bolts and nuts. Finally, do we really need a crank that integrates the chain rings into the arms? 
That's about it! End of rant. Next time I talk about this will be when I do a final take on the set up once I wear it out, which hopefully won't be for quite a while! 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

As Retro-Grouches And Spinal Tap Fans Groan...

SRAM announced Friday that a new XX1 group was being developed for sale later in the summer. That in itself isn't all that newsworthy, but the details behind it are. The one thing that seems to be catching everyone's attention is the fact that the cassette on the new group is 11 speed.

Image provided courtesy of SRAM
The obvious Spinal Tap references aside, this might be a concern for many who fear being "forced" to use less durable, more expensive, odd mountain bike components. I can see where the mere thought of 11 speed mountain bike componentry is going to ruffle some feathers and for good reasons. However; I don't think this is where SRAM is "sticking it to ya". Rather, I see this as something that might be good. 

Oh sure, I went and rolled my eyes a couple months back when an industry contact whispered the words "10-42 eleven speed" over the internet to me in an e-mail. "42 tooth cassette cog? Really!?", I thought, "That's nuts. That's insanity. It can't be for real, can it?"

Well, crazy like a fox......maybe.

You see, this new stuff is not meant to have a front derailleur or multiple front rings. It is meant to be only a 1X option with a wider gearing range. In many ways, this makes a lot of sense.

I've always said front derailleurs were the weak link in a derailleur drive train. They shift harder, and in the case of mountain bikes, foul easier than the rear does. Front shifting makes you lose momentum because the jump in ratio is not a close one, and probably will require you to make multiple shifts in the rear to get close to where you were in terms of cadence and speed. If a system has a wide enough range to climb your terrain without a front derailleur, why not use it? I think it makes loads of sense.

Then there is the aspect of full suspension design, and to some extent, hard tail 29"er design. Getting rid of a front derailleur allows designers a lot more leeway in terms of tire clearances, chain stay lengths, and suspension designs. The possibilities are enticing in this regard.

The 1X10 on this bike has been really good.
 Obviously, there are some proprietary bits. The shifter and derailleur are specific to this group. And really- do we need a 10 tooth cog? Finally, one has to wonder why we even have to do this with eleven speeds at all. Why not just stick with 10?

Durability is often brought up in discussions dealing with 10 or 11 speed systems for mountain biking. It is true that early 10 speed road stuff was abysmal as far as longevity. However; I've been finding that has improved. In fact, my 1 X 10 titanium Mukluk has been holding up rather well through snow, mud, sand, and dirt. This with a Shimano 105 10 speed chain, by the way.

Of course, an 8 speed, or heck, a 7 speed drive train would last far longer and may be all anyone would ever need. I still think an XT level, all aluminum 7 or 8 speed group "for the masses" should be produced with durability, efficiency, and moderate costs as design goals.

But this new 11 speed XX1 group might be pretty dang cool on the right bike. There will be several drive ring choices all the way down to 28T and Grip Shift and triggers will be supported. I may just look into it for By-Tor the Titanium Mukluk. I think a tad lower end on the range would be just what the doctor ordered here, sans front derailleur and shifter.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Chasing The Next Trends

Circa 2007 Haro Sonix w/650B wheels

So, a lot of folks are going to start to wonder, "what's next" in terms of mountain biking. Why? Because we seem to get bored with the latest and greatest at warp speed anymore. You know, "that was soooo 27 seconds ago!". That attitude scares the bejesus outta marketing wonks, and the general public. So....once the newest stuff hits, the next trend is always being looked for, and here is what is going to hit you all upside the head in the coming months and years.

29"ers, once the bastard chile of da mountain bike world, is now "normal". That's bad. Bad for marketing "cutting edge" products. Long travel 29"ers are very problematic, the short chain stays/tire clearance/triple crank clearance trifecta being nigh unto impossible to achieve with big 29 inch diameter wheels. So, the marketers have decided for you that 120mm-130mm is going to be the limit for travel on 29 inch wheeled mountain bikes.

What are you going to do if you want 5" of travel and beyond with "big wheels"? You will get the "compromise wheel solution" called 650B by their supporters. (I still like 27.5"ers, but that's just me.) Why? Because the marketing wonks have latched on to this solution big time. Trust me, you will hear a lot about this wheel size starting next spring for the 2013 model year. I can't even make any hints right now, but I have actually seen some things, and it is coming. Long travel 27......er, 650B- is going to be "the next big thing" in mountain bikes.

Plug In- Charge Up- Tune Out: The other "big deal" you are going to start hearing a lot about is electronic shifting for mountain bikes. That's right- you won't have to tune your bike again, and shifting will be by buttons that won't fail you......well, that is until the power goes out. The only two cables on your bike will be hydraulic lines to your brakes. Yeah, and by the way- that will be an 11 speed set up too. I expect that the range of gearing will stay constant- 11-32/36, but the jumps between gears will tighten up even further. Shimano is really big on the tighter gear ratios right now, so look for that to happen instead of a wider gearing range.

The death of 9 speed will be hastened by all of this with Shimano and SRAM dropping 8 speeds to bare entry level rigs, and 9 speed will be the realm of cheap "mountain bike shaped objects". Real mountain bikes will all be 10 speed systems, or the aforementioned 11 speeds.

Fat-bikes: More than just for snow.
Real. Fat. Tires.: You are going to hear a lot more about "fat-bikes". Not only that, but some are going to start showing up that will be designed for tasks outside of snow/sand riding.

I expect someone will crack open a box someday soon with a fat-bike specific suspension fork. I can see dual suspension fat bikes being sold, (tinkerers are already making convincing examples from 29"er FS bikes), and more materials technology is going to be thrown at this genre' of bike to help make wheels lighter, stronger, and more fun and capable.

There may be some drive train tweaks that will make the bikes work with wide range triples, 9-10 speed cassettes, and 100mm wide rims with 4.5" rubber. I also expect to start seeing someone offer a conversion, or an outright designed 170mm internally geared hub. Belt driven too. Accessories for fat-bikes will start to appear like fenders, racks, and components designed to work in a wide range of temperatures and severe conditions. Tubeless tire systems and tubeless ready tires may even be a possibility.

Those are the things you're going to start hearing a lot more about in 2012 and beyond.......