Hayes Disc Brakes sent in a set of their lightweight, racer ready Stroker Gram hydraulic disc brakes for mountain bikes for review on Bike198. These carbon bladed disc brakes round out the lighter end of the lineup for Hayes and provide xc riders and racers with a lighter weight option for their rigs. So after months of abuse on the Turner 5.Spot, how did the Stroker Grams from Hayes Disc Brake perform?
The Stroker Trail and Carbon were already tremendously capable across a range of applications, but we knew we could make an even better brake for weight-obsessed cross-country racers and pedal-up/ pedal-down all-mountain types. The result is the Stroker Gram. What sets the Gram apart from all the other models in the Stroker family is the removal of non-structural material from the master cylinder (confirmed by finite element analysis), leaving behind a form that is as strong as it is sexy. We’ve also dressed up both the master cylinder and the caliper in titanium hardware, and thrown in our lightweight aluminum-backed pads. Sure, there are lighter brakes out there, but none match the Stroker Gram’s combination of weight, power, modulation, serviceability, durability, and value.
Available Rotor Sizes: 140 (rear-only), 160, 180, 203, 224 (mm)
Master Cylinder: Radial Symm; Al.
Caliper: Two piece; Aluminum with Caliper Positioning Window; titanium bridge bolts
Color: Lucky Black
Pad Material: Semi-metallic w/Aluminum backing plate
Lever Blade: Carbon fiber with tool-free reach adjust
Out of the box the Hayes Stroker Gram disc brakes for mountain bikes are a solid, black set of brakes. At 355 grams for the system with 160mm rotors, you are looking at a weight that is on par with the Avid Elixir CR’s and lighter than most recreational, all mountain brakes on the market. So xc riders should like the decreased weight advantages at this price.
Stroker Gram: General Use
The install process is straight forward just like with any hydraulic brake install. The two bolt clamping mechanism on the lever allows you to install the levers without removing your grips or other components. The adjustable banjo fitting on the caliper end lets you fine tune your install for a cleaner look and better brake line routing.
The particular kit came setup with lines that were a little long for the large 5.Spot frame but not long enough to warrant cutting and re-bleeding the lines. Hayes does provide their own bleeding system that comes in a small case. The instructions are straight forward and if you are used to bleeding your own hydraulics on your mtb…you shouldn’t have any issue.
Reach adjust is handled through a knob internal to the lever blade. It is actually one of the easier to adjust (only the Hope’s have topped it) out of any of the brakes I have tested to date. It is easily done with or without gloves on to get the perfect reach for your hands.
Note: Silver rear post mount adapter is not Hayes brand.
Once everything was setup and properly functioning, it was time to hit the trail and see how these things performed. With Chad’s previous review of the new Stroker Ace’s from Hayes, I was expecting some pretty good results out of this brake.
The overall lever feel is a little loose. It is not something you notice right away, but when you jump from brand to brand, you can notice a little bit more up/down/left/right movement of the lever in your hand. This does not affect performance of the brake in any way…it just didn’t feel as solid as some of the other brakes on the market. I think this is because of how the lever mounts to the lever body with the extended arm.
Once on the trail and rolling, the first thing I noticed was that the Stroker Gram has a lot of power for its weight. The large braking surface and larger pads result in a powerful brake on the trail that still modulates surprisingly well. Typically, you get power but no modulation at this price level and that was not the case with the Stroker Grams. Overall braking was consistent and progressive through the Stroke with more than enough power for a 5.5″ travel mountain bike.
During the testing period, I did not notice any significant brake fade or loss of power under more extreme/downhill runs. The brakes stayed consistent throughout the run, but…for more extended, long runs…you are probably going to want a more dedicated for the purpose brake.
Overall Thoughts: Hayes Stroker Gram Disc Brakes
Hayes has a great product in the Stroker Gram. You get power and modulation at a price and weight that most riders can feel really comfortable with. There are lighter brakes on the market for dedicated weight weenies, but you are going to pay to play in that arena.
I would like to see some bite adjustment and a little bit more solid lever feel on the future versions of this brake from Hayes, but overall I was incredibly happy with their ease of use and performance on the trail.
What Was Good About The Stroker Gram
Respectable weight for a “lightweight” mountain bike disc brake
Stupid easy to use reach adjust
Great modulation and power throughout the stroke
Great price point for mountain bikers looking for a lighter weight option
With the introduction of 2×10 components from SRAM and Shimano, there has been increasing talk amongst mountain bikers about the benefits of converting their 3×9 drivetrain to a 2×9 drivetrain. This is something I have been doing for a long time now on all of my mountain bikes, so let’s get into the nuts and bolts of what you gain and lose by converting to a 2×9 setup on your sled.
2×9 Mountain Bike Setup
What does it take to run a 2×9 setup on your mountain bike? Well…if you want to be really simple about it, you can just drop your big ring and replace it with a bash guard. While this is the simplest way to get to your goal, there are other things that you can swap out to improve the performance of your shifting at the same time. Let’s take a look at my ideal 2×9 setup and why I think it is the best way to do it.
11/34 Cassette – Most bikes come equipped with an 11/32 cassette (where 11 is the amount of teeth on the smallest dog and 32 is the number of teeth on the largest). By switching to an 11/34, you can a wider gear range that will help with climbing. Since you are not running a big ring, it is easier to get away with a larger rear setup (even if it is small) because the largest you will ever be running up front is your middle ring. I run an XT 11/34 on my personal rigs.
36T and 24T Chain Rings – The typical stock setup is a 32T and 22T for your middle and granny rings. In a 2×9 setup, it is good to get a little bit of extra rang out of the front so your buddies don’t leave you in the dust with their big rings on forest service roads. In typical trail riding, you can get away with a 32T in most situations just fine. I like to run the 24T as a personal preference but a 22T works out just as well. Remember, you gained some low end by going to the 11/34 cassette in the rear. I run 36T and 24T Blackspire rings.
Medium Cage Rear Derailleur – Almost every bike on the market (unless it came to you as a 2×9 setup like the Specialized Enduro) somes with a long cage rear derailleur. You need the long cage on 3×9 setups because of how long the chain has to be and how far you have to stretch to get over the big ring. In a 2×9 setup, you no longer have that big ring so you can dial it down to a medium cage RD. You will get crisper shifting and less chain slap as a result. I run a medium cage X.9.
Chain Tensioner – This is not required, but it does become an option when you are running a 2×9 setup when you couldn’t use one with a 3×9. A chain tensioner (like the Blackspire Stinger) helps prevent the chain from dropping off the rings. It also heavily reduces chain slap and general sloppiness in the drivetrain. Remember all of those technical downhills where all you could hear is that chain slapping the chainstay?! Most of that noise is gone with the aid of a chain tensioner.
So Why 2×9 On Your Mountain Bike?
Now that everything is cleared up on how to setup 2×9 on your mountain bike, let’s run through why I run it and the situations where I believe 3×9 is still the right setup.
I like technical riding. Things like log crossings, rock gardens and technical trail is what I day dream about during the day. With a bash guard setup, I can through the bottom of the bike into trees and rocks without the worry that I will break a chain ring. Also, in most technical riding situations, about the only way to keep everything quiet on a 3×9 setup is to run in the big ring which can cause excess shifting and gearing issues in varying technical terrain.
In all honesty…big rings scare me. That’s right…I am scared of that 40+ tooth ring that is just begging to rip something up. I have good reason too…35+ stitches in my right knee because of a wreck where the big ring decided to let me take a look at those cool, yellow, finger looking fat bodies that they show you in high school biology. With a 2×9 setup, I feel a lot safer during unscheduled dismounts.
A 2×9 setup is also just cleaner, quieter and still give me the range I need for 99.9% of my riding. For me, it just makes since to simplify things down a little bit when I am gaining more than I am losing.
When Do I Use A 3×9 Setup?
There is really only two situations where I still like to have a 3×9 setup on my mountain bikes and both involve hardtails or short travel full suspension bikes.
Fast XC Racing
I do not do either one of these very much because when I race things my competitive edge doesn’t let me have very much fun, but…when I do…I’m on 3×9. You are not going to win either of these events without the aid of a 40T+ ring in most cases.
In fast XC races, I setup in the big ring and never leave it. You do not have time to be waiting on the front rings to shift and…in most cases…if you need to shift down to the other rings you are already going too slow to win.
In endurance racing, you spend a lot of time on non-technical, flat terrain. The only way to keep speed is to have a big ring like on a road bike. You are just going to be a hampster in a wheel otherwise.
When I was reviewing the Niner W.F.O. 9 and the Marzocchi 44 29er fork, I really got to thinking about what would be my ideal 140mm travel 29er suspension fork. This market is really gearing up to appeal to my riding style. I like to blast through rock gardens, hit bigger drops and still be able to pedal the bike to the top of the hill. I really want to be able to bury that suspension fork deep knowing it will pull me out. With 32mm stanchion suspension forks…that is not as much of a given.
On the 26 inch platform, a heavier 5.5″ trail bike or a lighter 6.4″ mountain bike typically does the trick in these situations. For example, my 160mm fork 5.Spot build or the new sub 30 lbs Specialized Enduro Carbon we just got in for review. For each of these bikes, I am running larger stanchion 26″ forks that can handle more abuse than their 32mm stanchion, 140mm travel suspension fork counterparts.
What Is The Ideal 140mm Travel 29er Suspension Fork?
Here are the specs I would like to see out of the next batch of 29er 140mm suspension forks.
140mm Travel (adjustable to 120mm via external travel adjust)
35mm or 36mm stanchions (like the 160mm forks)
Target weight of 5 lbs. or less
Basically, I want a 140mm travel 29er fork built off of the 160mm platform. With the longer travel, longer axle to crown measurement and increased leverage from axle to crown…I think this would be a much more solid platform for the guy looking for a 29er mountain bike that can handle the abuse that you can throw at a 140mm rear wheel travel 29er.
When I was testing the Marzocchi 44 on the W.F.O. 9, the 32mm platform just didn’t see to match. So…hopefully…the suspension fork manufacturers are taking note of the capabilities of longer travel 29er frames and will deliver a fork that will match the frame. Until then…the 32mm platform looks out of place on a bike of that size.
I’m sure you have already seen the spy pictures and specs. Shimano and SRAM are both making a push on the new 10 speed platform for 2011. So…it begs the question…do we really need 10 speed mountain bike drivetrains?
First off, I completely agree with a 2x setup on the front. I have been running this setup on my 9 speed stuff for a long time with the aid of a bashguard. There are a lot of benefits to running this setup when you go with a slightly larger middle ring unless you are riding a lot of forest service road where you need the big ring to keep momentum. So…simpler is better up front and I am completely on board. Bring on the two rings up front for production component groups…I am ready for it!
My Thoughts On 10 Speed Mountain Bike Drivetrains
Well…we are introducing another standard in mountain biking. With the industry moving towards the tapered headtube, we are now tackling the idea of all of our high end component groups making the switch to 2×10. My issues with the move are really several fold, but here are the highlights.
10 Speed Mean Tighter Tolerances
We are asking for adjustment issues on the trail with tighter tolerances between gears. Some would argue that 9 speed is actually too many, so why the move to 10? With tighter spacing between gears (remember, frame widths and cassette bodies didn’t change), any bump on the rear derailleur or gunk in the shifting cable can have more of a dramatic affect on your shifting performance on the trail. This is not a road bike. We are going to hit things along the way and we are going to run into dirty as hell trail conditions. It is just part of mountain biking.
With many riders still fiddling with 9 speed drivetrains, I believe that making the jump to 10 is asking a little bit much of the average rider. Do I think it will shift like a dream and perfect every time when setup correctly? Sure! Every drivetrain setup on a mountain bike works great on the stand and with the absence of debris and cable stretch. How is it going to do after I throw it into a tree or two in not so satisfactory conditions?
Price Is Through The Roof
The X.0 10 speed cassette is over 200 dollars and that is a wear item! All of these components from the chainrings to the chain and finally the cassette are all wear items that we are used to replacing for a reasonable cost over time.
With the introduction of the 10 speed drivetrain, we also see a drastic increase in price on parts that we are going to have to eventually replace. I don’t know about you…but I do not want to drop over 200 dollars to replace a cassette. That seems a little extreme…even for top of the line mountain bike components.
Once Again…Not Backwards Compatible
The industry is introducing more parts that are not compatible with each other. While we are pretty used to brands not being compatible (SRAM’s 1:1 vs. Shimano’s 2:1), now we have a whole host of new components that are not compatible with our current systems. Hopefully, both SRAM and Shimano will release 9 speed versions of their new components so you can go purchase a new x.0 derailleur if you want to without having to replace everything you own.
I am all for progression in the sport. I am even a parts whore who will justify even the smallest purchase because I just hope and pray for the UPS guy to show up early to my house. I am just starting to get confused on the thought process of going with 10 speed drivetrains on mountain bikes. Of course, we could probably rewind time and listen to everyone say the same thing about the switch to 9 speed. I might be eating my words several years down the road, but there are going to be growing pains in the process.
What do you think of the new 10 speed drivetrains for mountain bikes?
Marzocchi Suspension has the jump on RockShox and Fox. For 2009 (2010 model), Marzocchi released the 44 series suspension fork with the first, mainstream 140mm travel 29er fork on the market.
Until this point in time, those with big hoops looking for longer travel only really had the White Brothers to look towards. Now…with Marzocchi entering the ring, big time fork manufacturers are realizing the need for longer travel, front suspension forks for longer 29ers like Niners W.F.O. 9.
This Marzocchi 44 Mirco Ti came installed on the Niner W.F.O. 9 review bike, so we had the perfect platform to really put this new suspension fork through some rough terrain.
The 44 is the best representation of the all mountain concept in the Marzocchi line. As a racing tool all the components are made by precious materials like magnesium, titanium and alloy to keep the weight down! From 100 to 140 mm of travel combined with the different hydraulic cartridges in order to offer the best product for the needs of each rider and style starting from the lightweight freak with the Micro to the descent maniac that wants an RC3 cartridge and titanium spring on all his bikes from xc to dh! Yes, in 2010 Marzocchi will feature the first cross country fork with a downhill cartridge and titanium spring: low maintenance and low weight for high performance and lots of fun: your ride deserves it!
* Travel change to 140 or 100mm by spacer: 1 installed and 1 supplied in the box
Review: 2010 Marzocchi 44 Micro Ti 29er Fork
The Marzocchi 44 Micro Ti was on the perfect review bike, the Niner W.F.O. 9 with 140mm of rear, 29er travel. This monster of a bike was stiff and capable of hitting the rough stuff. To see the full review on the W.F.O. 9…click here.
General Use and Install
Using the Marzocchi 44 on a daily basis was a pretty easy task. Every knob and function on the fork is easy to use, self explanatory and works with gloves on while riding. The air spring chamber is found on the right fork leg. Also on that right fork leg, ou will find the dial for air volume control. According to Marzocchi, “By simply rotating the adjuster ring you can reduce the air volume, thus achieving an increased progressivity equivalent to an increase in the internal oil volume.” With a simple quarter turn or so, you can change how the fork reacts to the trail by increasing or decreasing the air volume.
On the left side, you will find the Micro Compression adjustment and lockout. The gold knob on the top controls your lockout threshold and the red dial gives you multiple, small click compression adjustments to dial the fork in to what you are riding at the time. Honestly, the system worked pretty well…for two days. On my second ride out with the 44, the Micro adjustment knob fell off (you can see it missing in the pictures) and…luckily…it was in the full, wide open position.
Rebound speed is adjusted under the left fork leg and I left that almost all the way wide open. Small adjustments clockwise really slowed down the rebound action on the fork.
Front axle duties were handled by an extremely easy to use 15mm thru axle. Much like the Maxle design, the Marzocchi front axle screws in and tightens shut. The only difference, you have to hold the nut on the opposite fork leg while threading the axle.
The Marzocchi 44 Mircro On The Trail
I really had hi hopes for this new entry into the 29r market. With a new series of bikes pushing what we consider normal in the 29er world, there is a specific need for this type of suspension fork on the market. Unfortunately…I do not think this 44 Micro Ti from Marzocchi is it.
The action on this fork was just not smooth and felt like there was a lot of stiction between the seals, components and stantions. Over the course of the test period, we could not get the fork dialed in correctly at all. If you set it up for small bump compliance, it blew through its travel. If you set it up for bigger hits, it hardly used any of the travel. It seemed like we were in a constant battle to find that perfect middle ground that just wasn’t there.
The volume adjust did little if anything to help the situation as I could not feel any difference in ride quality between the two settings. We ended up just keeping it wide open as well.
The 32mm stanchion platform was aided with the 15mm thru axle, but the fork still felt flexy in comparison to the stiff Niner frame. There were times in really rocky, technical, fast downhills that it felt like the bike was pushing past the capabilities of the fork. The Marzocchi 44 just seemed behind at all times as you kept expecting more.
Final Thoughts On The Marzocchi 44 Micro Ti 29er Fork
I really wasn’t impressed. For a fork in this travel category that is going to be bolted to bikes like the Niner W.F.O. 9, the 44 Micro Ti needs to be a plusher platform that is stiff enough to handle the bigger wheel size going through some rough terrain. This fork just wasn’t keeping up…
What I Liked About the Marzocchi 44
First Mainstream 140mm Travel Suspension Fork for the 29er Market
Easy To Use 15mm Thru Axle Design
Micro Compression Adjustment Really Worked When Knob Was On
What I Didn’t Like About the Marzocchi 44
Suspension Action Seemed Sticky and Not Plush
Flexy Platform When Bolted Up To Stiff Frames
Micro Knob Feel Off After Two Rides
Honestly…the fork just feels like it was rushed to market. Hopefully, Marzocchi can rework some of this stuff and hit it again next year with a revamp that feels more like their new 55 (which also had beginning problems but is now a nice riding fork).
A friend of mine, Jason Milliron, pointed me in the direction of this video late last week. Really shows the visual power of wattage recorders and video for training purposes and just general “hey…look what I did!”.
From the owner of the video:
I’ve been trying to do this on my own for weeks, but don’t know video or code. There are several software programs that auto racers use for video telemetry. Finally gave in and got the software.
I used Dashware by ChaseCam. it’s expensive though, $150 (glad I didn’t spend the gift card Santa gave me!). I’m sure the talented computer guys can figure out how to do this on their own for free.
The program is made to pull data directly from automotive track GPS boxes, but they really just download CSV files. I pulled an automotive file into Excel and put my Garmin data into the columns.
You don’t need GPS, you just need a time column delineated in seconds. Without GPS, the only thing you lose is the little animated map.
The software has a window which runs the video, and another that runs the data. once you find the sync point, you just lock it and that’s it. Since your video file has a time stamp and your workout data (srm, wko or garmin) has the same, you can do a rough link quickly. In the software, you can then adjust by frame or millisecond.
There’s also a gauge editor which you can play with to display your data.
The Shimano Deore XT lineup as been the staple for Shimano mountain biking since back in the early days. With it’s XTR couterpart, Deore XT has provided high quality components at a mid-level price that parts whores and budget minded riders can all get on board with. Over the years, Shimano has had incredible success with the Deore XT component group, so how does the latest reincarnation of the first mountain bike component group fair?
As Mountain Bikes continue to become more diverse, components must evolve. Deore XT addresses the needs of today’s riders just like it did when it was first introduced back in 1982 as the world’s first MTB group. Revolutionary new designs like the Shimano Shadow rear derailleur complement the the latest evolution of traditional designs to give you the right choice for your riding style.
Shimano Deore XT Cranks
Shown here in a 2×9 setup, the Shimano Deore XT cranks have a long history of providing dependable performance at a reasonable weight (claimed 853g w/BB). The 2009 Deore XT cranks keep the tradition alive with stiff crank arms and consistent shifting. Shimano went to a steel/carbon composite for the middle ring to increase durability and wear period and…throughout the testing period on multiple sets…we didn’t notice any premature wear or shark toothing. I would expect to see the middle ring wear in about the same amount of time as a typical steel ring.
The Shimano Deore attachment system should be the staple that every other crankset bases their design off of (including the XTR set). To this day, there is not an easier to install and setup crankset on the market than the XT’s. With two bolts and one outer, plastic preload cap, the XT’s go on right everytime and leave you with a solid install on the trail that doesn’t creak or loosen up. I have had small issues here and there with every other crank attachment method other than the XT’s. It is just too easy and I am not sure why Shimano changed the XTR’s.
Overall, the XT crankset is still my go to crankset for my personal rides. There are flashier and lighter sets out on the market, but the XT’s are such a great do-it-all set that you see them on everything from XC racers do DH bikes. It’s hard to beat the easy install and consistent performance combo.
Shimano Deore XT Shifters and Derailleurs
On test was the new XT Shadow rear derailleur, SL Rapid Fire Plus shifters and top pull front derailleur. New for 2009, the Shadow rear derailleur has a lower profile design than typical Shimano rear derailleurs.
SHIMANO SHADOW RD: low profile design intended for more aggressive riding. Quiet: will not contact chain stay. Super low profile design carries many benefits. Because of its low profile and single tension construction = no hitting chain stay in rough conditions.The result is smooth and silent performance.
Install and setup is the same as any other Shimano shifting system with their 2:1 pull ratio. Takes a little bit to get things dialed in, but once the cables have stretched and you have your barrel adjusters set, you are good to ride for awhile without adjusting. The Shadow rear derailleur does sit tucked under the chainstay as advertised and…while we really wouldn’t have known unless the regular version was installed…we didn’t have any issues with smacking the RD up against rocks and dirt walls. It seemed to stay nicely out of the way as you can see by the lack of scratches on the outer cage.
Shifting on the rear was crisp and consistent and the 2:1 actuation ratio gives a lighter feeling to the front paddle as you move up the cassette. While I didn’t notice any slap against the chainstay (something that Shimano claims doesn’t happen with the new Shadows over their traditional RD’s), there did seem to be a lot of chain movement on the longer travel bikes. A tighter tension on the cage, a slightly shorter cage or a chain tensioned on the bike itself would have remedied a lot of that.
What can you really say about a front derailleur? You want it easy to setup and you want to forget about it after that. The Shimano XT front derailleur has really become the go to option for mountain bikers as there are not really any competition on the market. It works, it works consistently and is about as easy to setup as a front derailleur can be.
The Shimano Deore XT shifters are Shimano’s 2way design with the front paddle (loosening paddle runs down the cassette or chainrings) actuating in either direction. We saw this introduction from Shimano shortly after the release of the SRAM shifters that only go in the push direction. While having the option to go in either direction is nice on the trail, it did make that front paddle a little bit too long. I found that the front paddle would hit my hand during riding, so I had to move the shifters inboard on the bars more than I would normally. As a result, the front paddle was farther away from my thumb which made quick shifting harder. I would like to see the front paddle get a shorter arm to prevent any interference with my hands during riding.
The shifting action was light and precise with the front paddle having a great ergonomic feel to it has you throw up the cassette or chain rings. The black and silver design matches the rest of the set nicely and blends into the rest of the chaos you have up around your handlebar area.
Shimano Deore XT Hydraulic Disc Brakes
The Shimano Deore XT hydraulic disc brakes got a complete redesign in this model year. The new mono-block design and lever design is stiffer and lighter (claimed 233g) over the previous models. The Shimano XT hydraulic brakes do use mineral oil over hydraulic fluid, so keep that in mind if you go to bleed your brakes.
The braking action on the XT brakes was smooth and consistent. There was accurate modulation throughout the stroke giving me plenty of braking control on the trail. With minimal noise or hassle, they also proved to be very reliable after numerous runs. With the 180mm rotor setup, I didn’t notice any significant brake fade over long downhill runs as the power remained all the way to the bottom.
However, it did seem like there was a little bit of a dead spot in the beginning lever stroke as the first 1/2 inch or so in pull had zero affect on braking. This was consistent across several sets, so I wonder if this has something to do with the way the master cylinder is setup in the lever body.
The calipers each have a direct line without the aid of a banjo fitting for install. In future revisions, I would like to see at least a banjo fitting at the caliper to aid with install and hydraulic line routing.
The Shimano Deore XT hydraulic brake lever has a nice feel to it. The actual lever has much of the same feel as that first time I laid my hands on the original XT v-brakes when they came out years ago. The lever allows for easy one finger braking with a light touch through the stroke. Reach adjustments are made through the black barrel adjuster found at the top of the lever body and adjustments can me made on the trail with gloves on. While Shimano does include a “free stroke” adjustment via a screw on the lever body, I didn’t really notice much of a change when messing with this setting. Having an external bite adjust that is similar to the reach would be a nice addition.
Shimano uses a single bolt attachment for the lever. While I would like to see a 2 bolt clamp for easy of setup and adjustment, I actually ran into a problem with their current design. The Shimano single bolt clamp comes out so far away from the bar that it interferes with adjustable seatpost levers (I actually electrical taped the bar to raise the Gravity Dropper switch above the lever clamp). With everyone else on the market going to a 2 bolt clamping design, this is something Shimano needs to take a close look at for future revisions.
Final Thoughts – Shimano Deore XT Component Group
Shimano has come to the table with another solid setup for mountain bikers. The cranksets are still the best in the industry and with the improvements to the hydraulic brakes and rear derailleurs, Shimano is stepping it back up and providing the bulk of the mountain biking industry with a solid, consistently performing setup. There are a few things I would like to see tweaked and updated, but overall…this upgrade to XT has been one of the best since its release.
What I Liked About The Shimano XT Group
Best crankset in the industry
Solid shifting with a lighter feel
Shadow derailleur actually does stay away from rocks and other trail features
Great braking modulation and power
Consistent, quality look throughout the group
What I Didn’t Like About The Shimano XT Group
Single bolt brake lever attachment dated and interferes with adjustable seatpost switches
Dead spot in beginning stroke of brakes
A little bit too much chain movement off rear derailleur
Front paddle on shifter too long…interferes with hand while riding
I am assuming you are all biking junkies. Hey, you found your way here, right? If you are a biking junky, then you have probably managed to collect an immense amount of crap over the years.
If you are lucky and over 25, you probably even have a couple of bikes in your garage. Maybe you got started on something you could afford a few years ago, and then got hooked. You then actually got a job that paid a few bucks and upgraded to a new ride to satiate the need to maneuver through the network of trails at your disposal in the most efficient way possible. But you never got rid of that first steed, did you? It is hard to part with your first lover, even thought you are in to someone hotter. And fortunately in the world of mountain biking, you don’t have to. You can keep the old girl around even though you found something faster or plusher. Or maybe, like Robb, you found that you just can’t commit. You need multiple mistresses to satisfy your compulsive pedaling. You took up road biking. You started cross racing.
Maybe this is just an indication of my perpetual state of adolescence, but at age 41, I found myself bumping up against Boulder’s unwritten law: That to stay married, you are limited to a 5:1 bike to spouse ratio. For some reason, I find it very difficult to part with old bikes. My father once asked “Why own more than one bike if I could only ride one bike at a time?” Then I asked him, “How many golf clubs do you carry in your bag?” You see, different bikes have different uses.
But there is a problem at the core of a bicycle’s more elementary parts. The pedals. Once upon a time, this was a non issue. But with the evolution of something as simple as a bicycle has come the development of a complex problem. We no longer throw on our Keds and go for a ride. We had to complicate it. First it was toe clips. Then someone came up with PowerGrips (kind of the 8-track tape of pedal devices). Then we went clipless. It started on road bikes. Then it migrated to mountain bikes. Before long, people had road bike pedals and road bike pedals. Each had their own kind of shoe.
The BMX riders, downhillers, and trials guys were pretty smart. They skipped the whole dilemma and rode the same set of Shimano DX pedals for 30 years with skateboard shoes. Brilliant.
But no one ever accused me of being too smart. I like road biking. I love mountain biking. And then things got kind of weird and I got into cross a little. No, not that — cyclocross! So anyway, I was a little irritated these bikes all came with a different pedal or no pedals at all. Now every time my life has felt overly burdensome, I have always found success in one word.
Ride one kind of pedal across whatever genre of bike I had most recently fallen in love with. This meant sacrificing a few well marketed benefits of specialization as there is no one pedal system that is going to be perfect in every situation. I needed a cross trainer. You know – that shoe they invented in the ‘80s that does everything pretty well, but is probably not the best at doing any one thing. Add in that different pedals are not just genre specific, but condition specific.
It takes about 1.3 seconds to eliminate any road biking pedal. Honestly, why are these even sold to the general public? Don’t tell me they are stiff. Unless you are riding in the Tour De Wherever, no one should own a set of road pedals with accompanying impractical shoes. The soles have little to no grip. They are made of carbon fiber ice. They remind me of those shoes people buy to learn how to jump higher — great for George Costanza, but not for mere mortals. Improperly mounted, these systems will turn your knees 80 years old in a matter of weeks. You can only engage the cleat on one side of the pedal, which is always facing 180 degrees form where your cleat is. This is the kind of crap that makes people hate roadies.
That gets you to some kind of mountain biking pedal system. And this is where being my being a geezer helps you. You see, there are a lot of systems out there. You have your classic Shimano. You have your old school Ritchey. Hell, I even rode on some pedals called Onzas (Note from 198: these were my first set of clipless back in the day! You actually change bumpers to change tension.). They used an elastomer sprung retention system. Just a word to the wise here, never buy anything that has elastomer in it for riding. It is all crap that will break down in a single season. And it has been proven by countless products in a bin of crap in my garage. If anyone is looking for a Manitou III or Girvin shock, please call me. The point is, I have bought and trashed them all.
Here is what I learned:
Never get a pedal that requires grease or another form of lube in the retention mechanism. These pedals are a mess. They are terrible in wet conditions. They are worse in dry conditions. This pretty much eliminates Shimano and Ritchey systems. They were cool in their day. They are not now.
Never buy a pedal that has a dainty spring mechanism or where the tension mechanism is in the shoe instead of the pedal. This may be fine on the road, but these systems break down quickly in cross and die on the trails. This is because you will encounter some walking or running in these endeavors and the rocks and grit eat away at the mechanism under the weight of your body. This eliminates Speedplays.
After you sort through what you don’t want, you get down to what you do want. To operate across multiple riding conditions and styles, you need:
A simple mechanism with very few moving parts
Plenty of lateral play
Something that is sturdy
Preferably a system that has multiple options such as a platform option as well as something sleek but will use the same cleat regardless of which version you are using on different bikes
Come in a variety of different versions, all which use the same cleat.
Are generally a little pricier, but they last forever.
Come in a variety of options. At the lower price point, you get an aluminum body with a cromoly spindle. At the top end of their line, you get a lighter weight but more expensive carbon fiber version with a ti spindle.
Have great clearance.
Shed mud better than any pedal out there and are indifferent to heavy dust.
No lube required.
Positive engagement and disengagement and are very smooth at both.
Time is great about keeping the cleat the same from year to year so you do not have to worry about them muddling your system.
I have used these for years and have never had one break down. I use them on my mountain bike, my cross bike, and my road bike. They have great clearance for road biking and allow me to use a stiff-soled mountain bike shoe that works well whether I want to use them on the trail or while cornering on sweltering pavement.
There is one caveat – these pedals tend to work better for riders weighing 160 lbs. or more. While the engagement is crisp, lighter riders sometimes have trouble creating the torque to exit quickly.
The second recommended pedal system is from Crank Brothers. Crank Brothers pedals share most of the qualities listed above for the Time ATAC, but they do have some advantages to the Time ATAC:
Anyone can get in and out of these pedals, male or female. They disengage a little easier than the Times.
Price. I do not know what it is with these pedals, but you can always get them for less than retail. I have seen them sold online at prices as low as $30 per pair for their base level Candy model (Acid Model Pictured).
They have a broader array of styles. They make a low end Candy with a 2-sided entry or a full ti race model in their Eggbeater model with 4-sided entry. They even have a Mallet model that you can use for DH. In addition, they have a road version if you want something with a sleek platform with very good clearance.
The downside to the Crank Brothers pedals is durability. This is just my experience, but their road pedals tend to lose aesthetic pieces over time. They still function, but they tend to lose the metal side plates by the end of the season.
Hopefully these suggested models get you to a place where you can simplify your riding life without running up too much of a bill. At a minimum, it gets you down to one pair of shoes. I have found a good Sidi mountain bike shoe will work across the board as well, but that is another tech review.
In his day job, Eric runs Integrated People Solutions, a full service executive search and HR Consulting firm. But after work and on the weekends, he likes to pack in as many miles as he can on the trails of Colorado and Utah. His passion for bikes goes way back to getting hooked on BMX racing as a kid in Michigan. Later, he got into road biking and doing a few road crits. In 1987, he bought his first mountain bike and has been hooked ever since. He has spent extensive time mountain biking in Colorado, Utah, California and even a little up in British Columbia. Older and slower, he has turned his focus towards pleasure riding and a few marathon events. He just finished is 11th Leadville 100 in as many attempts. He also enjoys a lot of road biking and a little bit of cyclocross. Always a tinkerer in his garage, he has tried a lot of bikes and countless parts looking for that perfect combination of strength, quality, weight, and value. All of this in the hopes of finding that perfect ride where it all comes together hassle free and fast with a few bucks leftover for a beer and a burrito. One step forward, one step back.
For 2009, Cane Creek Cycling Components introduced a new headset to compliment the growing popularity of their very successful Cane Creek 110. The Cane Creek 100 comes in at a lower price point (75 – 85 bones depending on where you look) but brings a high quality unit that you would expect out of premium headsets. The lower price in comparison with the 110 is brought by using a little bit different materials and not having that far out bling that has made the 110 famous. So…does this Cane Creek 100 headset stack up to the competition at this lower price point? Let’s take a look and see if the 100 can compete with the 110 and Chris King headsets…
Note: For those of you that do not already know…Cane Creek actually holds the patent that Chris King, FSA and the other headset manufacturers use to build their headsets.
We created the 100 headset as a more cost-efficient execution of the 110′s industry-leading design. So while the 100 emulates the intelligent configuration of the 110′s cups, bearings and compression ring, it does so with less costly materials and finishing.
The result is a headset that delivers on the promise of superior performance and durability and can stand with any other headset manufacturer’s best.
Captured Compression Ring
Friction-Minimizing Face Seals
Scalloped Interlok Spacers
Industrial, Minimalist Finish
The Cane Creek 100 Headset – Install
Cane Creek 100 Headset
Installation with the Cane Creek 100 headset is as straight forward as any other headset on the market. Cane Creek provided me with the necessary install cups that mate up with headset install tools, but…if you are careful with the pressing process, they are not necessary. The Cane Creek 100′s bearings are not pressed into the cups. During the installation process, you remove the bearings and install them during the assembly process. While you are probably going to be used to pressed in bearings, this did end up being a nice feature during install as you are not pressing directly on the bearings when you install the headset. I have never had an issue with damaging bearings on a King or 110, but the piece of mind knowing that I was not applying excessive pressure on the bearings was nice.
As you insert the steerer tube and assemble the rest of the front end, the loose bearings to create one more extra step…but honestly…it is not that big of a deal and something I am already used to with integrated headset designs on carbon bikes. With cartridge bearings, it is not like the old days of roller bearings with grease all over the place.
As you put together any of the Cane Creek headsets, you will notice that the spacers actually click together into one unit. This makes for easy install as you are only, technically, dealing with one other part to put together. For the riders that use a lot of spacers, this is a nice feature as you do not have multiple rings hitting your garage floor and rolling all over the place as you attempt to get everything together.
After a couple turns of the torque wrench, everything was in, lined up and ready to ride.
Cane Creek 100 Headset – On the Trail
Cane Creek 100 Headset
The headset on a mountain bike is an interesting component. Ideally, you want to never even realize it is there. The only time you actually notice a headset while you are riding is when it is not working correctly. Either your steering feels like there is resistance or there is an annoying creaking sound due to to loose or out of round cups/head tube.
During all of my riding with the Cane Creek 100 headset, I never even knew it was there. There was no creaking, the cups didn’t slip and I didn’t have to make a single adjustment. The headset just worked and allowed me to steer my mountain bikes through singletrack without worrying or annoying me. While other components on the bike provide instant feedback as you hit obstacles and trail features, the CC 100 just did its job and did it quietly. That is exactly what I want out of a headset.
Honestly…I wish I had more to say! But the reality is that there isn’t too much to critique on a headset that works. A headset that doesn’t on the other hand…is a completely different story…
Overall Thoughts On The Cane Creek 100 Headset
Cane Creek 100 Compression Ring
For the price, this headset from Cane Creek is hard to beat. There will be those riders who will think the headset is a lower grade due to the loose bearings, but the cartridge bearings are very high quality…they just aren’t pressed into the cups. This makes for easier replacement (even though I have never had the need to replace bearings in any of my King’s or CC 110′s), but it also allows for more tolerance if your head tube is not absolutely perfect. In talking with the engineers over at Cane Creek, they are seeing a small percentage of issues with pressed in bearings and out of tolerance head tubes on some mass produced bikes. While I have never run into this issue personally, I can see how head tubes that have no been reamed out can cause a problem with bearings.
For those of you that are looking to add more color to your rigs, the Cane Creek 100 is probably not what you are looking for. With the headset only available in silver and black (and not polished with any logos), the Cane Creek 110 or Chris King will probably be a better match for your needs. I actually really like the 100′s industrial look as it matches the blacked out look I was going for on my 5.Spot build. It is actually staying on instead of the black 110 that I put on the bike originally.
If you are looking for a high quality headset at a more affordable price and you do not need flashy colors…the Cane Creek 100 headset is exactly what you are looking for.
The Positives – Cane Creek 100
Incredible value for a high quality, premium headset
Removable bearings aren’t pressed during install
Didn’t notice it on the trail – Smooth steering and quiet operation
A couple of months ago, we got in a set of the GORE RideOn Sealed Low Friction System shifting cables in for review. This premium shifting cable has been around in the mountain biking world for quite sometime, but I never picked up a set to try out. Now was the time and here is how they did on the trail.
Ideal for mountain and cyclocross bikes, cables are completely protected from mud, dirt and the elements by continuous liners and GRUB™ Seals. Available for derailleurs or brakes, this patented cable coating technology is designed for low friction and durability.
The Sealed Low Friction system uses a clear, plastic inner sleeve to completely protect the shifting cables from the elements no matter of you are running full housing or the conventional multi-section housing setup found on most mountain bikes. Luckily, I had the chance to install two sets of these cables from GORE in both situations (the Turner 5.Spot requires full length cable routing). The idea is to keep that inner friction of the cable vs. housing consistent and keep the cable as clean as possible throughout the entire bike.
Install Process On the GORE RideOn Cables
GORE RideOn Cable System Parts
While the installation process does require a couple of extra steps outside of normal cable install due to the inner sleeve, they are not any harder to install than normal cables and take about the same amount of time. I have used other sleeve systems in the past (specifically Dry Cables) and the GORE inner sleeve is much more durable. As you feed it through the housing, you don’t worry about it snagging or ripping as the wall of the sleeve is stiffer. That said…don’t go shoving it in the housing. Take your time and everything comes out great.
The GORE RideOn Cables come with extra pieces to further keep the motion points away from dirt and grime that loves to mess up your shifting on the trail. Rubber boots (Grub Seals) slide onto the cables at the derailleur points to provide a seal between the exposed cable (to get routed through the derailleur) and wear the inner sleeve starts. While I used this and it installed easily on the front derailleur, I use SRAM rear derailleurs and that creates a problem due to the design of the SRAM system. If you install the rubber sleeve, it can bunch up in the derailleur interface. I just left it off completely, but GORE has attached instructions with the set showing how you can modify that rubber sleeve to work.
The First 2 Weeks with the GORE RideOn Cables
GORE RideOn Cable System
The first two weeks with any set of brand new cables can get interesting. Typically, you get used to adjusting the cable tension of your shifting cables to accommodate for cable stretch that is a normal part of the “breaking in” process of new shift cables. With the GORE cables, not only did I not adjust a thing in the first 2 weeks of use…but I haven’t adjusted anything to date. This is the first set of cables that I have not had to touch after install. When they say the cables were “pre-stretched” prior to shipment, GORE means it.
Riding With The GORE RideOn Cables
You guys know just as well as I do that a shifting problem during riding can be a huge annoyance. When you just want to get out and ride, there is nothing worse than a chain that is constantly clicking and jumping on the cassette due to stretch or junk in the cable housing. As of today, the GORE RideOn Cables are still working flawlessly. And I don’t mean they work with a couple of little tweaks…I mean that I have not had to think about a shifting issue at all since install. All of the shifts are quick, crisp and with minimal cable drag.
Quite frankly, these are the best performing set of cables I have ever installed on a bike. Having used Dry Cables in the past (the inner sleeve design actually ended up ripping and really ruining a day…twice) and Shimano XTR cables (which work great after you get through the stretch period), I can say…without a doubt…that these cables are a cut above the rest in performance…but you pay for it.
Overall on the GORE RideOn Cables
The GORE RideOn Cables is the best shifting cable system I have ever put on one of my bikes. Sharp, crisp shifting with basically zero maintenance makes trail-side shifting issues a thing of the past. However, this comes at a cost that is about twice what I am used to paying for shifting cables. One kit did cover a large Turner 5.Spot running full length housing with some housing left to spare, so you can be pretty confident that one kit will be more than enough for your needs.
Precise shifting from day one with zero adjustment
Easy install process
Durable inner shifting sleeve keeps cables away from trail grime
High retail price
Have to do minor modifications of you want to use rubber boot on SRAM RD’s
Some time ago, I go in the Manitou Minute Super 140 to review on MTB198. This lightweight 140mm travel mountain bike suspension fork with a 20mm thru axle is one of the many 140mm travel forks on the market today. With the drastic increase in 140mm travel full suspension mountain bikes on the market, every suspension fork manufacturer has a thru axle and quick release version of a 140mm travel fork in their lineup and this is the offering from Manitou (now owned by Hayes). For compete specs and more pictures of the Manitou Minute Super 140 review fork, hit up this initial, first-look post.
The Manitou Minute 140 Install and Setup
The Manitou Minute installs just like any other suspension fork, so getting it on the bike and ready to roll was a relatively easy process. My only real complaint during install was the enormous process you have to go through to get the front wheel on the bike. This review fork from Manitou came spec’ed with their 20mm thru axle. I find that a thru axle is necessary on 140mm travel mountain bikes to increase front end stiffness, but the install of the 20mm TA on the Manitou is one of the most complicated setups on the market. Not only are there 5 bolts you have to loosen and tighten down, but there are no catches for the axle in the fork lowers. You have to hold the bike at the right height to get the axle through the front hub. This makes getting the front wheel on your bike a real pain…especially with all of the QR TA’s on the market.
Initial setup on the Manitou Minute was pretty straight forward and easy. There is one air valve to control the air spring, the opposite leg controls the lockout and at the bottom of the fork let you will find the rebound adjustment. After a couple of runs back and forth on a small rocky section of trail, I had the fork dialed where I needed it and was ready to roll on. I did find that the rebound adjustment on the Minute was really sensitive. By turning it even just a little bit clockwise, it really slowed down the action of the fork. I ended up leaving it almost all the way wide open.
On the Trail with the Manitou Minute 140
Over the course of this several month review process, I took this fork to a multitude of different riding conditions to see how it could handle everything from smooth to super tech. The 140mm travel suspension fork has to be able to handle a lot of different terrain as the riders on 5.5″ trail bikes are the most diverse crowd in mountain biking.
Damping and Suspension Action
The suspension action on the Manitou Minute Super 140 was ok. As long as the trail stayed smooth, the fork kept pace and the easy to use platform/lockout mechanism did a great job of locking out the fork for extended, smooth climbing sections. When things started to get really rough and technical, the fork seemed to lose its composure some. I could feel the suspension changing directions through the stroke which tells me that the damping action needs some work. The transition between positive and negative movement is not a smooth as it needs to be. As mentioned before, the rebound setting was very sensitive to changes, so some of this feeling could not be taken out of the fork without really slowing down the rebound to the point it was packing up under multiple hits.
Small bump sensitivity and travel quality stayed pretty consistent when the trail was pretty smooth though…which makes me think that the suspension setup on this fork is more geared towards smoother cross country styled riding.
Stiffness and Trail Behavior
Again, if the trail stayed smooth…the fork behaved. But when things got rough…even the 20mm TA on the Manitou Minute could make up for the lightweight crown and brace. I could feel the flex in this fork through rock gardens and landing small drops. At 3.65 lbs. with axle, this is almost expected in a way. You can not get lightweight, stiff and affordable all in the same sentence so something had to give. With the Manitou Minute, they gave up overall fork stiffness in favor of having a lightweight overall package.
Overall Thoughts on the Manitou Minute Super 140
After riding this fork for several months, I really think it is geared toward the cross country end of the 140mm trail bike spectrum. For that reason, most of the potential purchasers are going to be more attracted to the even lighter QR version of the Minute. The fork seemed to work ok as long as I didn’t start really pushing the limits of a 140mm setup. In cross country, smooth riding conditions, everything seemed to work as planned but as soon as it got rough…things started to go downhill with suspension action and overall stiffness.
The Manitou Minute is a good, lightweight fork option for the rider that wants a 140mm bike but probably isn’t going to use it to the full potential. If you are really focused on overall weight and mainly ride more groomed sections of trail, the Manitou Minute will probably work within your weight requirements and budget. For those of you that ride more technical terrain, you are going to miss the stiffness and damping of the other forks in this market.
What I Liked About The Manitou Minute
Lightweight for a 140mm suspension fork (claimed 3.65 lbs. w/axle)
Overall good looks on the bike
Easy to use and adjust lockout mechanism (Absolute Platform)
What I Didn’t Like About the Manitou Minute
20mm TA Removal and Install Way Too Complicated
Not as Stiff as the Competition
Sensitive Rebound Settings
No Compression Settings Independent of Lockout
Overall, I think the Manitou Minute Super 140 needs some work. What I am hoping is that Hayes does for Manitou what SRAM did for RockShox by building back up the brand with a new life and new technologies. So far…I have heard fantastic things out of the new Manitou Dorado DH fork, so – hopefully – they start to reverse engineer the technologies found in that fork down to their cross country lines. If I was a betting man…I would bet that is the route they are taking and we will probably see some significant changes to the Manitou lineup of suspension forks in the coming years.
Over the past year, I have been doing a long term test on the Hadley Racing hubs. This review took a long time on purpose (even received emails from you guys asking how it was going). I wanted to get the chance to try this built wheelset on numerous bikes in as many conditions as I possibly could. Over the course of the past year, the Hadley/Notubes.com wheelset has become my go-to set and I am about to tell you why.
Total Weight – 1920g total (860g front and 1060g rear) (w/20mm end caps installed)
Hub Setup: 10mm TA Rear (Hadley 10mm Axle); 20mm Front; 15mm Front
Install, Maintenance and General Use On the Hadley Hubs
Hadley Axle Parts - 20mm End Caps/15mm Axle
The front hub on the Hadley Racing setup is convertible to accommodate the different axle sizes available on the market today. The review hubs came spec’ed with the 20mm TA end caps and 15mm TA screw in axle. Each of the setups only take about a minute to switch out and the process is stupid easy. I really like the 15mm TA screw together solid axle as it provides a solid foundation for mounting the front wheel. The 20mm TA end caps just set in the hub relying on the rubber rings to keep them put while you install your front wheel. While these did a great job in the beginning, after multiple uses…the rubber starts to become loose and the caps have a harder time staying in while mounting. Ideally, I’d like to see a screw together axle even if that means adding a little bit more weight.
Maintenance recommendations are pretty simple. Check the bearing preload periodically by tightening the lock rings and everything seems to go together with 21mm wrenches. For the rear hub disassembly process, you are going to need a 21mm wrench and a standard Park Tool SPA-2 Spanner. With a little Teflon grease on the seals, you are good to go ride. Honestly, I didn’t touch mine (other than to disassemble for pictures and axle swap-outs) during the entire review period as there was no reason to…they just worked.
For the purposes of this review, I spec’ed in the 10mm TA rear axle for increased stiffness at very little weight penalty. The Hadley 10mm TA rear axle is the easiest to use in the business because they machined the nut to fit into the dropouts. That makes tightening the axle down a one tool/one hand operation. It is almost as easy as a quick release and you don’t need to carry any extra tools on the trail (standard multi-tool does the trick).
Hadley Racing Hubs – The Mechanics
Hadley Pawl Drive
The Hadley Racing hubs use a 72 point, 4 pawl engagement system. The actual drive mechanism looks a lot like what you find in the Hope Pro II’s and Ellsworth wheels I reviewed previously, but with a lot more engagement points. 72 point engagement gets you 5 degrees of play which is fantastic for technical riding and overall pedaling efficiency. Each engagement point is controlled by 2 spring loaded pawls. In the past, this has made for a very loud hub, but this set of Hadley’s was no louder than a Chris King while freewheeling. That was surprising as I am used to the Hadley’s being one of the loudest on the trail.
As mentioned previously, this entire drive mechanism is easily serviced with a couple of tools, so with proper maintenance…they will last for a long time. After pulling apart this set, I saw very little wear and no sign of them giving up any time soon.
On The Bike and On the Trail with the Hadley’s
Hadley Rear Hub with 10mm Axle
The first thing that really surprised me with the Hadley hub set was how well these hubs freewheeled. As you can see with the video below, it is almost like you can flick these hubs and they will never stop rolling on their own. There is very little drag on both the front and rear hub which is a testament to the quality of materials and bearings Hadley uses in their builds. This stayed consistent from day one until this review was written.
The red ano on this review set is gorgeous. Being a little bit deeper red, it matched perfectly on my black and gray bikes and the ano job showed no flaws or discoloring. Both hubs matched perfectly and provided a great contrast on the bike.
John Kovachi handled the wheel build on the NoTubes.com Stans Flow rims. The stiffness of the build was spot on and the Flow rims provide a great, wide platform for larger tires at a weight that is respectable for numerous ride conditions. Basically, combined with the engagement and reliability of hubs…this is an incredible set to take just about anywhere.
While riding the Hadley’s, the buzzing coming from the rear hub is about as loud as you would expect from a Chris King with a little bit deeper sound. Just loud enough to know the engagement is back there but not so loud that you can hear the dirt ripping against the tires. Being a technical rider, I am a sucker for fast engagement hub drives and the 72 point of the Hadley really delivers in double clutch, slow tech situations. There is very little delay between moving your legs and power getting to the ground. Slower engagement hubs have a distinct gap during this process and the Hadleys delivered the power when you need it.
During flat and rolling sections, you can almost feel the freewheeling capabilities of this hubset. There is literally zero drag as you let gravity and the bike do its thing. With some larger engagement hubs, there is a break-in period where drag can become an issue and the Hadley’s just worked from day one.
The 10mm TA rear axle platform provided a stiffer platform than a traditional quick release which allowed for a more secure attachment and let the rear end of the bikes track better. Combined with the ease of use and minimal weight penalty of the Hadley 10mm, I actually ended up converting all of my hubs to accept that axle. It has too many benefits on the trail not to. As you can see by the pictures in the gallery below, there was very little scarring or wear on the freehub body even after multiple cassettes and harsh riding conditions. Even after all of the abuse, the cassette slides on and off easily.
Overall Thoughts On The Hadley Racing Hubs
As you can see, I have become a huge fan of Hadley Racing over the course of this review. The 72 point engagement pawl drive is dead on every time with literally zero drag and the buzzing of the rear hub is loud enough to hear but not so loud that it takes away from the ride. The flanges on the Hadley’s provide a solid foundation for a stiff wheel build which makes them capable for everything from cross country riding to downhill. The convertible front hub allows fork swaps and transferring from bike to bike a breeze, but I would like to see a more secure way to handle the 20mm TA duties.
If I had one other complaint other than the 20mm TA end caps, it would be distribution. Without a website or any serious marketing behind these hubs, they can be hard to find information on to make service and buying decisions. The crew over at Hadley really needs to ramp up the promotion aspect of their product so more riders can enjoy the high quality manufacturing of their hubs.
What I Liked About The Hadley Racing Hubs
Best 10mm TA in the Business
Easily Convertible Front Hub
Almost Zero Drag
72 Point Engagement
High Build Quality
Durable Enough To Use In Most Riding Conditions
Easy To Maintenance
What Could Use Some Work On The Hadleys
20mm TA End Caps Need To Have A More Secure Attachment
Better Distribution and Marketing
If you are looking for a solid hubset that can be used in a variety of riding conditions, these may be what you are looking for. I need a hubset that will perform in everything from occasional xc races to several foot drops and…to this point…these hubs have been able to deliver in all situations. They don’t have the brand recognition of a Chris King or the crazy engagement/colors of an Industry Nine, but – at the end of the day - they work every time and provide enough engagement to keep this tech rider smiling.