Crime and Punishment, Dirt Style!|
DirtWorld Race Team
Sunday, September 10, 2000
Contrary to some publication's "reviews" the DirtWorld Team punished the SRAM drivetrain for a solid racing season. Our team consists of all types of riders. From the finesse riders to our demolition man who brutalizes and breaks just about everything he touches. As the season's end approaches we've assembled feedback from all our riders with their thoughts on the SRAM 9.0 Drivetrain.
9.0 "Half Pipe" Shifters ($70, 224g)
It's nearly unanimous - the SRAM 9.0 Half-pipe shifters rock! The 1:1 shift ratio (clicks to gear movement) is impressive. Of the 9 team riders using SRAM, 5 had not previously used Grip Shift. Each was duly impressed with the crispness of the shifting action. Those familiar with the system were vocal in their praise.
The "Half Pipe" 80mm grip length was a highlight. Somewhat surprisingly, inadvertent shifting was not the problem. One downhill team member did run SRAM utilizing only the rear shifter. "Gnarly technical sections and sudden drops will cause your wrist to move quite a bit. With time on the bike I began anticipating such movements and altered my grip by firming up the outside portion of my grip off the Half-pipe."
On the other hand, one of our cross-country guys said, "First off, before these shifters, I was opposed to the idea of Gripshift. I have totally reversed my stance. Now I always look forward to the reliability and stable feel the shifters provide ride after ride. Since setting up the system over 4 months ago, I haven't touched the system once and it still works flawlessly."
In a long cross-country race fatigue can be an issue. The ease and precision of the shifter was especially pleasing to the team. Any component that allows you to focus more on the trail is both a competitive and a safety advantage.
There was some initial concern over the lightweight GRILON composite construction. The Half-pipes have taken their share of hits but to date there have been no casualties.
9.0 Rear Derailleur ($55, 261g)
What a difference a year makes! Last year's rear derailleur design came up a little short in durability. For 2000 a complete top-down redesign was initiated. The result - one helluva a derailleur. Working in conjunction with the 9.0 shifters, the derailleur was magic. Last year issues with the pulley's durability led to multiple units being thrashed in a very short time period. No such shortcomings this year. A couple of our "bash brothers" have put the hurt on a derailleur or two but they were isolated instances.
The new direct cable routing is not only very aesthetic but improves functionality by reducing friction. This feature eliminates the need for a big loop of cable housing and cable from the frame to the derailleur and the friction that goes along with it. Instead, it creates a smooth and almost frictionless cable pull action. The available range of gears has been expanded as well (11-30 through 11-34). Add the strengthened pivots, links and knuckles and you've got a much improved rear derailleur. While the weight seems to be slightly more than last year, it's a worthwhile trade off to improve durability.
9.0 Brake Levers ($45, 140g)
The levers weren't a problem last year and aren't one this year. Having the ability to adjust lever reach is key. This allows individuals to fine-tune the brake feel to their comfort zone. Too much play or too little play - neither is good. The Control Cam allows this adjustment to be extremely easy to make. More braking leverage or less is simply a twist away. Again the Grilon composite construction allows for a light weight durable product. On more than one occasion a team rider went over the bars to test their durability. Each time the SRAM levers were up to the test. I can't say the same was true for our racer.
SRAM Power Chains ($20, 316g)
Chains are chains or are they? The SRAM chains do have some advantages over the competition. Maintenance is eased by using the PowerLink connector easily link or unlink the chain. Lubrication comes by way of a patented lubricant rather than being packed in grease. The result is a nice even coat across all the links. Now SRAM claims the specially formulated lubricant, (GLEITMO), is the finest chain lubricant in the industry. Let's just say we're not arguing with the guys in Chicago. It's a combination of friction protection and dirt fighters that are an improvement over animal products often used by other companies.
Summing up SRAM 9.0
It doesn't happen often that our entire team can agree on something. The DirtWorld team did. Without a doubt it was decided SRAM 9.0 drive train components are a highly desirable product suite.
"The SRAM 9-speed drive train is very smooth and precise. I would not change a thing about it." (Eric Coole, 30-39 Expert)
"Very responsive and much easier to maintain that Shimano XTR, although the grips give me blisters on the inside of my index and thumbs." (Mike Porchaska, 19-29 Sport)
"The pulleys show no signs of wearing out. I've got 4-1/2 months racing and they're going strong. Another added feature is the return spring. This is awesome. Shifting has never been so crisp!" (Steve Williams, 19-29 Expert)
"If SRAM sent me a questionnaire on my satisfaction I would mark "Completely Satisfied." (Craig Dillon, 19-29 Sport)
Who needs this?
Who rides a bike?
The crunching sound from your drivetrain is soothing