I was in a hunting store with a friend of mine a number of months ago. He was showing me the different cleaners and lubricants he uses for his guns. It was here that he lifted up the most plain-looking, non-descript bottle of gun solvent--I believe it was Hoppe's No. 9. He opened it up and said, "Smell this." I did. It smelled like some sort of oil/solvent/cleaner. "This is one of my favorite scents of all time," he said in my fuzzy memory/flash-back. "If they made a perfume just like this, I'd totally make my wife wear it."
My new rule for buying bike supplies/parts/accessories is simple: Throw in a tube for good measure. I recently placed an order for a new cassette and some helmets for my two oldest children. Of course, I threw in a tube.
I love new road tubes. Mountain tubes, I could care less. But road tubes are so light and compact; so easy to fit into a tiny seat pack or jersey pocket.
Also, I love the smell. Now, I'm not sure I want the woman in my life to smell like butyl rubber, but there's something about the smell of a new inner tube.
For this purchase, I decided to go with a Michelin AirComp Ultra Light tube. Now, fortunately for me, all my tubes are made of the same material, I've got a pretty good feel for the weight based on how compact it is. This one? Well, although it seems quite small, I've had smaller. So, is it light? Yes. Ultra? No.
Now, the cassette I got. It's just a plain old Ultegra (6700) 12-25 cassette. However, a new cassette--pristine, unspoiled, dry--is a beautiful thing to me. I mean, just look at it.
See what I mean?
And that got me thinking more about my love of bikes. Evidently, it goes beyond transportation or riding. For me, it's much deeper than that. If I can get excited about the smell of a tube or the clean, mechanical lines of a 10-speed cogset ...
Love the smell of that Hoppes No. 9.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
I've often wondered some of the product decisions that SRAM makes. I mean, first they came out with two road groups: Force and Rival. A year (or was it more, can't remember) later they introduced the real flagship road group: RED. Interesting that they didn't go after the top-end market first. Or, maybe they did and RED was just a plan B. Either way, RED is fantastic. (Of course, it is also interesting to note that the weight and quality difference between RED and Rival isn't nearly as big as the price difference would suggest.)
SRAM has had, for many years, a flagship moutain group: X0. X0 is really, really nice. Shifts great, super light. What more could you want? 10 speeds? Fine. So, SRAM launches XX. Ligher, 2x10 gearing. Even more expensive than X0.
Naturally, you'd expect X0 to also get a revamp a year or so later, and for the 2x10 technology (including the 12x36 10-speed cassette) to show up in short order.
Today, however, SRAM surprised the industry (well, surprised me, anyway) by launching a new X7 group.
Yes, X7. Not X0, not even X9.
What does X7 have? Lighter weight. 2x10 gearing. Exact Actuation technology. Here are some highlights. (Photos pulled from a PDF--sorry about the poor quality. We'll post better photos when we can get them.):
The biggest change here is the Exact Acutation 10-speed borrowed from The XX shifters. Even the front is strictly 2x10. Additionally, the X7 shifters are now compatible with Matchmaker (allowing you to use one clamp for brakes and shifters--saving handlebar space). Cable changes are also proportedly simple with the, I kid you not, "Top Cap Cable Change" system. Wow.
X7 Front Derailleur
No longer is there just SRAM front derailleur. This is specifically an X7. What's new? dedicated to just two rings. Most likely there's a different profile to be better suited to 2 rings. Slimmer and lighter body.
X7 Rear Derailleur
Okay, hold on. A carbon cage? In X7? Yes and yes. Again, this is a 10speed derailleur with their Exact Actuation Shifting. Compatible with 36-tooth cogs. Keeps the same nice-looking grey finish the whole group shares. Lighter and better-looking? What more could you want?
S1400 (X7?) Crankset
There still seems to be some strange confusion between TruVativ and SRAM. I mean, this thing isn't labeled X7, though it is clearly meant for this group. OCT Hollow Forged crankarm. Only 2 chainrings (duh!), which utilize X-glide technology. I admit that I don't even know what that means. Sounds good, though, right?
GXP Bottom Bracket
Again, this is TruVative. Whatever. This isn't the same-old BB, but has been redesigned. This bottom bracket utilizes a new Gutter Seal. To explain this, let me use their words:
"While other systems rely on side loading the bearings to eliminate play, which causes premature bearing wear, the GXP system is diferent. The GXP system captures the left side bearing between the spindle and the left crankarm while allowing the drive-side bearing to foat axially on the spindle, thereby eliminating the necessity to side-load bearings during adjustment. The simplicity of installation is refined: once it is tightened to the proper specifcations you are ready to roll with a worry free BB. The GXP system uses two bicycle specifc cartridge bearings and eight seals for a smooth and long lasting ride."
Available in Ceramic, Team and XR.
PG-1050 (X7) Cassette
10 speeds. Enough said. I'll say more, however. Available as 11-32 or 12-36. This isn't using the PowerDome technology found in XX and RED, but uses a traditional semi-spidered design. Steel cogs.
Other Odds and Ends
Tried and true Elixr R brakes painted to match the rest of the group (levers and calipers). Cartridge bearing hubs--supposedly the first hubs to use cartridge bearings at this price.
All in all, I'm excited to see SRAM bring this technology to the X7 price-point which is, according to SRAM, their mid-level XC group. Why they didn't put it in X9 or X0 is beyond my understanding. Unless the market is having mixed feelings about 10-speed on a mountain bike. I'm too much of an early-adopter to have such heretic thoughts. Hopefully, we'll know the MSRP soon so we can post it.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
I love Google Maps. Anytime I am heading somewhere I've never been, I look up the route on Google Maps and figure out the best route, how long it will take, etc. I love that I can drag the blue line--indicating the route--and make a new, more interesting route just like that (snaps fingers).
As far as I can tell the difference is that it takes hills and traffic in to account (attempting to route around them both). As before, that blue highlighted route is adjustable, just grab onto it with your mouse and drag it where you want to go.