Thursday, September 05, 2019

Some Eurobike Musings

Pivot's new Phoenix DH 29
 This week is Eurobike, the show in Germany all about bikes. Here following are some newsy bits and musings I have on what has been shown on the MTB side of things.

Nope! Never Happen In DH. 

Ten years ago EVERYBODY that rode DH or long travel mountain bikes were saying you couldn't do it. That "it" would NEVER happen and that 26" wheels would ALWAYS be the standard wheel size for DH machines.

Now it is 2019 going on 2020 and find me a currently produced 2020 model 26 inch wheeled DH bike. There might be one, maybe even two, but everyone knows now that 26 inch wheeled DH bikes are rarer than hen's teeth these days. But.....they said it couldn't be done! Let's review the current release of Pivot's Phoenix 29 DH sled.

First off, it has a mind boggling 190mm of rear travel! Try wrapping your 2009 mind around that. Your head would have exploded. But that's not all. This new bike Pivot is rolling out has a lower stand over height than the outgoing 27.5" model had. Mind = BOOM!

Pivot also says this in their press release for the bike:

"Without a doubt, 29er wheels roll faster, smooth out rough courses and carry a ridiculous amount of momentum. They offer improved tracking and braking in turns too. Short 17” (44.3mm) chainstays add ‘playful’, ‘flickable’ and ‘manuals for days’ to its repertoire. This makes it incredibly fun in a bike park, and extremely quick in tight, technical wooded sections."

Obviously that has to be a fabrication. Lies! There is no way a long travel 29"er can do these things! 

Unless it can. 

Surly Troll says, "I have the most braze-on warts!" Marin Pine Mountain says, "Hold my beer!":

Bikepacking has gone off the deep end. Well, in terms of mounting points, it has. Example: Marin's 2020 Pine Mountain. Sheesh! Don't clamp a hand around that down tube, you may get punctured! (Only kidding!) But yeah.....that looks ridiculous. 

And that isn't the only thing that looks ridiculous on what makes for a "modern day bikepacking rig". To my mind, many things about these sorts of takes on the load bearing, off road touring rig don't add up. For instance- Short chain stays. Not just short, but really short. Joe Breeze once told me that the longest, uninterrupted tube is the kind that gives the best ride. He was right too. Look at traditional touring rigs, or ride any bike with long-ish chain stays made from high quality steel. Smooth for days. But no- let's make these tubes as short as possible. Then the riders hindquarters will be right above the axle of the rear wheel.  Uh-huh. Yep..... Where do you get the bumpiest ride on the bus again? 

Then there is the whole bed roll on the handle bar deal. Or any loading up front, really. Let's see, who had that all figured out already? Oh! Yeah! Those randonnuer dudes and lasses, that's who. "Short trail" works best for front loading, but, ya know, let's slacken out the head angles to chopper-like status and put even shorter off-set forks on there. Yep.....just the ticket. 

Now lets buy ALL THE BRAZE ONS! We MUST use them!! (Sorry.......not sorry!

Anywho......Maybe I'm the one that just doesn't get it. That could be. 

New BOX Components 9 speed MTB drive train

Less Is More?

The whole down hill mountain bike gig is, perhaps, so far removed from the reality of riding mountain bikes, that any comparisons to "normal" mountain biking activities is sort of an apples to oranges one. However; one thing has come out of DH that is influencing more typical MTB styles and that is less cogs on the rear wheel. 

While the two "Big S" corporations chase 12 speed dominance and a little Spanish operation is pushing 13 speeds already, there are some companies looking at what less cogs on a system can do for mountain bikers. For one thing, the system can be more durable, longer wearing, and less expensive, theoretically. One company pushing this technology is BOX Components

It's a nifty looking system, and it is less expensive. It may not be lighter weight, but it certainly could be more durable. I mean, just look at the chain. If there is one thing that these 11 and 12 speed systems are really pushing the limits on, it is chain technology. I'm starting to hear about more snapped chains and quick links these days. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why that is. 

One other thing a lot of folks don't understand is the "margin for error". This is the concept that a cassette with less cogs, thicker cogs, and heavier duty chain is less prone to minor out of alignment/adjustment issues. I remember seeing folks with 7 speed MTB components that were running around, happy as larks, with slightly bent out of whack rear mech hangars and derailleur cages. Try that with you fancy-pants 12 speed stuff. Your bike probably won't even shift correctly, if at all. 

So, it is cool to see companies bringing more durable, less complex systems back into the fold. TRP also announced a 7 speed DH based system as well. I think there is definitely a place for such things. Less maintenance, less "margin for error", and it means more fun for a longer time. That's what it really is all about anyway, right? 

Stay tuned for more show related news....


Phillip Cowan said...

I really hope the "one more cog" madness is coming to an end. I know I'm a hopeless dinosaur, but there is very little in the world of cycling that can't be handled with a quality 3 x 7 triple set-up. Drive train evolution could have stopped circa 1989 and we'd be no worse for it. I just built a new set of wheels for my rando bike. I had to use an 11spd hub because quality 10spds seem to be extinct already. No problem just put the 10spd cassette on with a spacer,right. Well you know what, I really resent that wasted space. If it weren't there the wheel could have had less dish and been stronger.

Doug M. said...

I haven't ridden a 29" DH bike yet, but I've demo'd some long travel enduro 29ers and they're absolutely incredible for how 'normal' they feel. Technical climbing feels about the same (i.e. really good) as on a short travel trail bike, and it feels like nothing but skill & line choice is holding you back on descents. MTBs are so good these days!

Steve said...

I would really like to know how what cable pull is on the Box nine-speed shifter!
Would be awesome if it's the same as a Shimano bar-end......

Scott said...

Many of the top DH riders have already given up (at least for the moment) on 29er for DH and have gone back to 27.5 or switched to a mullet setup. The current DH World Champ and World Cup Overall series leader rides a 29er front and 27.5 rear. The 29er rear wheel seems to be problematic for a lot of riders under 5'10".

Regarding the weight of the Box 9 speed cassette I found this to be interesting:

Box One Prime 9 11-50T Cassette - 350g, $360

SRAM X01 Eagle 10-50T Cassette - 357g, $385

You'd have to spend $450 on the XX1 Eagle to beat the Box on weight.

S.Fuller said...

Late to the party on this post. The only reason for all of those triangle braze ons would be for a bolt in, strapless frame bag. Personally, I'm fine with straps. I take my bags off to clean them and wash the zippers. 5 velcro straps make that a bunch easlier than 25 M5 bolts.