Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday News And Views

SRAM XX1 Cassette
XX1: The Future Of Drive Trains?- 

 I had the chance to actually handle some XX1 drive train parts yesterday at the shop. The XX1 group is the newest technical advancement in drive trains for mountain biking.

SRAM saw that a lot of racers were not using the inner ring on their 2X10 set ups, so they developed an 11 speed system with the "bail out" gear on the cassette instead of on the crank set. This eliminated the front derailleur, shifter, and cable and housing on the left side. That makes XX1 lighter than XX, but the actual component pieces are heavier.

SRAM put a lot of neat little details into this. For instance, the rearmost cog is actually dished to help it clear the spokes. The cassette carrier is threaded and screws onto the cassette. That carrier has two cartridge bearings on each end to support the massive looking cassette, which is incredibly light, by the way. The carrier reveals the free hub pawls, and since the cassette is removed with a Shimano Hyperdrive lockring tool, you can get in there to clean out things anytime you want to.

The derailluer is also quite interesting. It has a Type 2 clutch to arrest movement of the cage, which stabilizes the chain. Interestingly SRAM used a roller bearing clutch to do this with. Shimano uses a band clamp. SRAM claims a no maintenance use for the Type 2 clutch mechanism for the life of the derailleur.

Downside here is that the entire system with the derailleur, cassette, crankset, shifter, and chain is about $1700.00. So, it isn't for everybody. There also is no option currently for a fatbike, which I think this system would be great for.

San Marco Pirelli damped saddle
Engine Mounts: 

 One of the ongoing pursuits of the cycling industry has been how to design components to absorb vibrations. This is important, since any vibrations or shocks that reach a rider have to be absorbed by that rider, which causes fatigue and loss of power, and at worst can cause failure physically and failure with components on the bicycle. Several ways of taking care of this problem have been attempted in the past. Suspension on mountain bikes is a good example of this, but even the tires and the air pressure you run them at are important in combating vibrations and road shock.

Lately I have seen several seat post based solutions to this problem. A few new ones on me were witnessed at Interbike. Now another one crops up from Cantitoe Road here. Elastomeric isolation from the rest of the bike for the rider is nothing new. (Note the Pirelli designed donuts on the saddle rails of that Selle San Marco saddle I have pictured here.) However; it could be a very effective way to get the job done. Just like engine mounts in a car isolate the activity of the engine from the rest of the car, the Cantitoe Road design could be a great product. However, typically this sort of idea has been problematic in its applications in bicycle components. We'll see how this pans out, but I like the idea.

Whoops! Not yet....
Hydraulic Road Shifter/Brake levers: 

 First off- yes, they are coming. It is not a hoax, something that is being pushed off, or a teaser. SRAM was going to pimp these at Interbike, but for technical reasons in other areas decided to hold off on these. They are just now making the rounds at cyclo-cross races.

Of course, everyone is wondering what Shimano will do. I hadn't heard anything until just recently, and this article in "Bicycle Retailer and Industry News" confirms it. Shimano is coming on board with the disc brakes for roadies too.

A few points from the BRAIN article are worth noting. First, that Shimano is involved and plans on coming out with something. Shimano is primarily a research and development company. They likely have had a prototype road disc set up for several years and now can fast track it into production. Secondly- that the CEO for Formula's German arm is quoted as saying, "Shimano will be right from the beginning the leader of the market". That tells me the stuff will be dialed and will be spec'ed everywhere. Thirdly- That standards for road bikes are set for another sea change. You already have different head sets and bottom brackets across several different design standards. Now the wheels and wheel attachment standards will also change. I wouldn't at all be surprised to see road bikes get their rear axle spacing bumped out to 135mm as well. This means that road bikes from now back to the early 90's will become obsolete. Expect choices in wheels and other components to go the way of Campy Nuevo Record. (E-bay, Craigs List, and swap meets.)

A Few Words On T.I.V9:

Tomorrow the registration for Veterans will come to a close. I do not know how many spots the Vets will leave unclaimed, but I am certain there will be a fair number. These unclaimed spots, (if any), will be rolled into the pool available to the Rookies starting Monday. 

Look for a roster update later today and again on Saturday. I will then post what total number will be available to the Rookie Class on the T.I.V9 site.  Rookies will surely fill out their chunk of the roster in a few days or less. Things get kicked off for them on Monday. I have been getting a lot of questions and requests from individuals concerning the way things will work, which tells me interest is high. I am especially pleased to be hearing from several women who are considering jumping in. 

Could be a record year! 

I saw a few kind words were posted by T.I. Vet, John Karrasch on his blog. I admire John for his "never quit" attitude he displayed at last spring's Trans Iowa. You can check out what he had to say here, and read a few suggestions for those looking to attempt T.I.V9 as well.  

Fat Bike Summit: Last night on "The Guitar Ted Show" I had the pleasure of chatting with Jay Petervary and Scott Fitzgerald concerning the upcoming Fat Bike Summit which will feature seminars, information, group rides, a race, and demos of fat bikes in some awesome groomed snow trail country in Idaho. Jay mentioned that there is over 800 miles of snowy goodness out there to ride, so check out the links here and maybe get yourself out there come late January to enjoy the "Moab of Fatbiking".

3GR: It will occur again on Saturday at 8:30am at Gateway Park.


Ben said...

I love that TI pic on this post....

What about something like the new Kettle carbon rotors for rotors for the roadies? Lightweight, low heat...

RGB Nameless said...

хх1 can be easily used on offset frames, without cranks, of course.

And I'd like to see, what is fatbike capable of, if equipped with 20T front and 40T rear and Bud+Lou.

Guitar Ted said...

@RGB Nameless: But that crank, (and more specifically- the chainring), is one of the major keys to the system due to the special tooth profile. That's a compromise that makes running the XX1 kit pretty lame.

RGB Nameless said...

you can always use cranks with removable spider (surly, middleburn), and ask some CNC guy to made you a custom spider to fit 28T XX chainring.

Guitar Ted said...

@RGB Nameless: Yes- you could, but that sort of defeats the purpose of XX1 as a turnkey gruppo, yes/ that's my point, and you are already into it for well over 1500 bucks, and machining parts special above and beyond that?

SRAM has heard the call for a fatbike specific crank for XX1. If an OEM steps up for next year and orders this for a specific model or two, well then we're golden.

I for one think it will happen. either SRAM or an aftermarket manufacturer like e13, who have shown an interest in the fatbike/gravity community.

blackmountaincycles said...

While Shimano does have huge R&D capabilities, their forte is in their forging ability - hence, the continued use of aluminum cranks instead of carbon.

I don't see 130mm spacing going away completely. There will be, for a long time to come, rim brake road bikes. These will stay at 130mm. Disc hubs for road/cross will go to 135. Anyone going to disc brakes will have to go with new wheels anyway so I don't see the fact that there will be two road spacing standards as a big deal.

blackmountaincycles said...

And I think the best way to isolate road vibration is at the tires. Don't let the vibration get to the frame, dampen it with larger tires run at appropriate pressure.

Irishtsunami said...

I am excited about the XX1 but at $1700 I will have to wait a little bit for a more affordable option.

finn maguire said...

Great News & Views. Good stuff!