Fall ’12 Mountain bike setup

The 29er

The 29er


The stars have aligned to set me up with some new mountain bike gear. A bike shop employee discount, student loan check, and a filthy road bike that needs to be completely disassembled and cleaned has led me here. for the last year I’ve been running a single speed setup on my ’07 Gary Fisher XCal and enjoying it quite a bit. Still, I’ve encountered a few hills that were a bit too steep for me to get up in 32×18, and done a few road rides that had me at a laughably high cadence.

Drive Train:

My recent upgrades started out with the SRAM’s announcement of the new XX1 groupset. It’s an 11 speed setup designed specifically to be run as a 1X. I was holding out for this group until I realized I’d be waiting until October and that it would have XO level pricing. Instead, I set out to piece together my own 1X setup. At the center of my setup is the MRP Bling Ring. It’s a 1X chain ring intended to drop onto cranksets with a removable spider. Next up, I needed to choose the crankset that I’d be bolting it to. My initial thought was SRAM’s X9, but after comparing them to lower end SRAM offerings, I ended up with the X7/S1400 cranks. The weight difference was about 10 grams and the price difference was about $100. Both cranks are manufactured the same way, with hollow arms. Unfortunately, our distributor was out of the S1400 cranks, and the currently available X7’s didn’t have a removable spider. Then I turned to the Truvativ AKA. These cranks were pretty much the same thing as the S1400 at the same price point.

Now for the rear.. I had already decided to go gripshift, and I wanted as many gears as I could cram on a standard freehub, so I used the PG-1070 cassette in the widest range available, 12-36. As with the cranks, I started looking at X9 level gear, but sadly, SRAM isn’t currently offering a 10 speed X9 gripshift. I ended up going with an XO unit, even though the price was kind of ridiculous. All online accounts of SRAM rear derailleurs seem to say that they all shift as good as the shifter you pair them with, so I saved a little money by going X7. Once dialed in, the shifter feel is very soft, but the rear engagement is very hard – “KA-THUNK”. I don’t mind the loudness, and the shifting is pretty smooth regardless. The grip shift is going to take some adaptation in technique, but I don’t think it will be bad. After one ride I was already getting the hang of it. The only thing I really don’t like about it is the increased distance that my break lever is from my hand. Some adjustments are definitely in order.


I also decided it was a good idea to ditch my boat-anchor vuelta wheelset in favor of something more modern. I ended up going with the Stan’s Arch EX wheelset with Stan’s hubs. They are _considerably_ lighter and let me run tubeless. As my first tubeless experience, I had a little difficulty mounting my tires. (my old Specialized Fast Trak LK Control’s) The beads just didn’t want to seat properly at first. I think that my main problem was inflating with a floor pump instead of an air compressor. Now that they’re on, all is good. no burps or problems otherwise.

The future:

I think I’m pretty well set up for a while. The only other kit that might be on my wish list is a dropper seat post. I generally ride out of the saddle, but now that I have multiple gears, a XC seat height is more appropriate a lot of the time. Still, the $275 price tag of the Specialized Command post Blacklight is a little daunting. I might also throw some new brakes on. Traditionally, I only run a rear, but I’m probably missing out in by not having a front. Still not sure which way I’d go if I do get new brakes.

summer bike stuff

I’ve recently grabbed a part time job at a local bike shop. So far it’s been pretty cool. I think retail experience is really beneficial for someone studying Industrial Design, and I also like the discount on bike parts. In light of those discounts, I’ve been plotting some upgrades to my mountain bike.

The first upgrade in the works is a new wheelset. I’m currently running a set of  Vuelta Zerolites, ie: the cheapest 29er wheelset I could find at the time. [now there seem to be other29er wheelsets as low as $100] The wheels have done ok and the bike is a lot of fun to ride but the 2200g weight and stray aluminum shards I keep finding in my tubes have made me ready to look for something new.

Admittedly under-informed on MTB wheels, I was looking in all the wrong places for a new set. My first go-tos were the Specialized Roval wheelsets, but they were a little spendy for my super thin budget. I googled reviews of Crank Brothers wheels since I can get a team discount on them, but most bigger folks didn’t have much nice to say about them. Then I checked SRAM RISE wheelsets. They looked good, but aren’t touted as “tubeless ready”, something that I kind of wanted despite the fact that it doesn’t mean much. (with rim strips and sealant, I’m told that you can make just about any wheel tubeless) With the tubeless issue in mind, a coworker turned me on to the Stan’s NOTUBES wheels. They are designed specifically to be tubeless and the Arch EX model which best fits my weight seems to be as light as anything else, and has a nice wide rim, another feature I was looking for. The price is pretty nice too. I should be ordering a set in the next week. Stan’s also has a new cyclocross wheelset that sounds to be super tough, and are 400g lighter than the Neuvations on my road bike.

The other upgrade in the works for my mountain bike is the drive train. Since I assembled it, I’ve been running a rigged up 32-18 single speed setup. I really enjoy the single speed, but with collegiate Mountain bike season coming up, I felt like having some gearing options would be beneficial. The announcement of SRAM’s XX1 line got me really excited. It’s a purpose designed 1X groupset with 11 cogs on the cassette. Unfortunately, XX1 wont be available until October, and I also realized that it’s position in the upper levels of SRAM’s components mean it will be crazy expensive and will likely wear out quickly. My solution was to piece together a budget minded but still high performing 1x groupset of my own that is currently looking like the following:

SRAM x7 2×10 crankset

SRAM 1X conversion kit (32T)

X7 10sp short cage rear derailleur

X9 10sp grip-shifter

X9 1070 cassette 11-36t

1071 chain

MRP 1X chain guide