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Tech Report: SRAM Camp – No Pictures Please

This is crunch time for the tech’ guys in VeloNews editorial. Whilemost of our colleagues may dread the workload heading into July, Lennard and I are hard at work putting together the annual Buyer’s Guide. Still, Iwas lucky enough to sneak away from the office to spend two precious daysin the Northern Sonoran Desert with the folks of SRAM last week. On theagenda: two days of riding the latest SRAM, Truvativ, Avid and RockShoxproduct. Held a month before the official SRAM press launch, this particularcamp was designated for bicycle product managers intent of putting thefinishing touches on

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By Andrew Juskaitis, VeloNews technical editor

Herbolds riding skills were about the only thing we could document with a camera

Herbolds riding skills were about the only thing we could document with a camera

Photo:

This is crunch time for the tech’ guys in VeloNews editorial. Whilemost of our colleagues may dread the workload heading into July, Lennard and I are hard at work putting together the annual Buyer’s Guide. Still, Iwas lucky enough to sneak away from the office to spend two precious daysin the Northern Sonoran Desert with the folks of SRAM last week. On theagenda: two days of riding the latest SRAM, Truvativ, Avid and RockShoxproduct.

Held a month before the official SRAM press launch, this particularcamp was designated for bicycle product managers intent of putting thefinishing touches on their 2006 product lines, not for the press. So howdid I manage to gain access? Never you mind about that. Skip thethird degree, sit back and check out the good stuff.Held near the old west town of Oracle, Arizona (40 miles North of Tucson)the week-long OE (Original Equipment) camp showcased the company’svery latest suspension, braking and drivetrain developments. With a tightschedule ahead, and with SRAM’s Michael Zellmann and Greg Herbold as mypersonal tour guides, we cut the small talk and headed straight for thehills, with me on a fully 2006- SRAM-equipped Santa Cruz Blur.Upon arrival to camp headquarters, the rustic CODRanch, Zellmann encouraged me to get unpacked, get chamoised-up andhead out on a ride with him and Herbold. He agreed to address all (well,almost all) of my questions while out on the trail.What’s That In Your Hands?
After a brief suspension setup on the Blur, I was off on one of themany pre-planned off-road loops that the SRAM officials had laid out earlierin the week. Looking down at my hands it was hard to not notice the carbonshifters at my fingertips. Zellmann confirmed that these were SRAM’s 2006X.0 shifters. Photos were strictly Verboten, so here’s the infoin convenient bullet point form:The shifters are true X.0 level meaning every part of them has been engineered for maximum performanceShallower, lighter and more efficient than any previous SRAM trigger shifter (X.7 or X.9)The new X.O’s share the same general shifting principles as previous versions, but have been engineered from the ground-up for maximum efficiency and performanceThe key to the shifters is their adjustability. Two options exist: a two-position pod clamp allows the entire shifter pod to be moved in or out from a rider’s hand for perfect ergonomics. The second adjustment comes at the larger downshifting trigger (the lower larger paddle). The lever can be rotated 360 degrees (60 degrees of which is graduated on the shifter body) to achieve perfect trigger/finger alignment. Downhillers, Four-crossers and cross-country racers can no dial-in their shifter much like they would their brake leversThe X.0 triggers feature “Zero Loss” technology on both the downshift and upshift lever. Thanks to the trigger’s high tolerances, four internal bearings and improved ratcheting system, when you press either trigger, a shift is instantaneously engagedPart Gucci, part engineering, the new levers feature real carbon fiber covers to provide improved clamshell structural integrity as well as help lighten the overall pods to an impressive 110-115 grams (over the current X.9’s 130 grams)The pods will be technically entirely rebuildable (but more realistically “serviceable” at your local shopAsking price? About $225

What About The Rear?
Along with the new X.O trigger shifters, my Blur sported a veryupdated X.0 rear derailleur. Zellmann pointed to some significant changesthat had been made to the three-year-old X.0 rear derailleur. I had thechance to see an assortment of BlackBox racing X.0 rear derailleurs onan earlier visit to SRAM testing headquarters earlier this year. Itwas surprising to see how much of the “works” technology had made it toproduction.The 2006 X.0 rear derailleurs will feature full carbon fiber inner andouter jockey cagesThe carbon cages are backed and rimmed with a “carbon alternative” to protect the otherwise brittle carbon from chain rubbing and impactThe X.0 derailleur will come in three variations: mini cage (for gravity racers), mid-cage (for XC racing and general purpose riding) and long cage (which will be aluminum, not carbon fiber due to its long length)The 2006 X.0 rear derailleur chassis will remain largely unchanged except for a new painted Grilon knuckle section, a painted titanium return spring and polished outer links.The key to the new derailleur is weight savings-10 grams of weight saving through the use of the new carbon cages.Asking price? Again, $225What’s That There?
Above the new X.0 rear derailleur I couldn’t help but notice the cassette. Zellmann noted that this was a completely new SRAM cassette. In fact, SRAM will offer two new mountain bike cassettes in 2006 to complimentits X.0 rear derailleur and trigger shifters.PG-980 and PG-990 both utilize aluminum “spiders” to carry their cogs.The high-end PG 990 uses a full anodized red spiderThe more-affordable PG 980 uses a mix of a full and mini spiders to carry its cogs.Both were designed to carry SRAM’s improved PC-950, PC-970 and PC-990 chains more efficientlyBoth cassettes will be available in 11-32 or 11-34 tooth options (where the 11-34 will now feature a more mild 30 to 34 tooth jump instead of theprevious more aggressive 28-34 tooth jump)When Can I Get It?
So when might all this good stuff be available to the consumer? A goodquestion that always difficult for manufacturers to pinpoint.Look for SRAM-backed racers such as Steve Peat, Nathan Rennie and SamHill to be running the latest versions of the X.0 group at early seasonraces.Look to be able to grace your own ride with X.0 around Fall, 2005.Stay tuned for RockShox updates in next week’s column.