SRAM MTB 2013 – Sea Otter 2012

by Brian Mullin on May 3, 2012

SRAM has been busy lately, and at Sea Otter they were showing off new
and improved components. The new products included the 650B Rise wheel,
Avid X0 Trail brake, Grip Shift and Type 2 Rear Derailer and Reverb
Stealth, while the RockShox forks and Monarch RT3 shock got some hefty

SRAM introduced their Rise MTB wheel in October, and it comes in two
models, the carbon rim Rise 60 and the aluminum rim Rise 40. At Sea
Otter, they showed the spanking-new 650B, which joins its 26 and 29
brethren, although currently it will only be offered in the aluminum
Rise 40 versions. The Rise 40 is a budget conscious all around wheel,
which uses a lightweight welded rim for low rotational mass and a
durable hub with a chromoly axle and steel driver body, with cartridge
bearings for trouble-free maintenance. They have also added a size
indicator by the air valve (small red decal), to simplify
identification. All the sizes, 26, 29 and 650B, share the same specs, a
19mm inner width, 24 spokes in a two-cross pattern, and a variety of
quick-release or thru-axles. They are also working on a Rise
tubeless-kit, to make the wheels useful for a wide variety of tires and

Avid has an interesting new offering, the powerful X0 Trail brake. The
X0 Trail lever has an internal stack that improves permeability and
manages air better, and it uses sealed bearings at the pivot, for a
lighter and friction-free feel without any stichion. It uses a four
piston caliper, with new top loading pads, and it weighs in at 340 grams
with a 160mm rotor. The standard two piston X0 brake (call it XX
Junior), has been simplified, and loses the contact  adjustment, gets
organic pads with aluminum backing, and weighs in at 315 grams with a
160mm rotor. They added a 170mm rotor size, to the recently resized 140,
160, 180 and 200mm rotors, as they feel it’s a great middle size for
trail usage.

The big change at RockShox is the elimination of the Dual-Air from
their premier lineup, which includes Reba, SID and Revelation, in favor
of the simpler single air adjustment. The Solo-Air system uses one valve
to regulate both the positive and negative air chambers, for easier
tuning, and fewer chance for errors. This change decreases weight, has
less moving parts, and gives the forks a feel that is similar to the
Monarch spring technology, for a more balanced feel. They are also
adding a 650B to the Revelation model, which is good news for the middle
wheel size.

The cable-actuated Push-Loc system has been upgraded,
to mimic the hydraulic X-Loc lockout lever, so that it has a push-push
feel, and requires less cable sweep.

The Monarch RT3 has gotten a
complete redo, and now has three discrete setting, an open, pedal and
lock, and the compression settings have a 360 degree dial, for easier on
the fly adjustments. They have added a rapid recovery system, which
allows the rear wheel to return quicker over successive hits, so the
rider sits higher in spring curve, for a softer and livelier feel.

The Reverb Stealth adjustable seatpost, has the
internals inverted to allow the hydraulic hose to exit from the
bottom,  instead of the normal upper post connection. This arrangement
allows the hose to be routed internally through the frame, for a
cleaner, more durable and reliable setup. Previously, Scott and Trek had
exclusive rights to use the post, and now the general public can
purchase it, although RockShox offers no guidelines on drilling holes
into your frame to incorporate one!

Grip Shift
One of SRAM’s oldest products is the Grip Shift, and it’s perfect to
coincide with its re-introduction with their 25th anniversary. The
totally redesigned Grip Shift, comes in a XX 2×10, and X0 version in
2×10 or 3×10 models, and weighs in at 207 grams (cables and clamp), and
another 80 grams for the optional Lock-On grip. The system uses their
Speed Metal indexing for crisp and precise shifting, the Rolling Thunder
ball bearing technology for low twist force and friction-free movement,
and the Jaws Lock-On integrated grips for easy installation and a
secure and stable interface. I have used a set of the X.0 for several
rides, and I am suitably impressed, as they have a fast shift pattern,
which has a precise feel through the drivetrain. I really liked the
front shifting, as it only took a small amount of twist to get a quick
shift, and it was nice to have the ability to roll multiple gears on the
rear. In addition, the width of the shifting paddles, allow you to
place your hand in more positions on the grip, and still have access to
the shifters.

The new SRAM TYPE 2 rear derailer are designed for X0 and X9 families,
and it will deliver maximum drivetrain stability, even while riding
through brutal technical terrain and heinous conditions.
It uses
their Roller Bearing Clutch technology to prevent undue derailer bounce
and chain slap by providing resistance to the cages forward swinging,
without sacrificing precision and quick shifting. The system only adds
around 30 grams in weight, which is a small penalty to pay for better
chain management, a quieter drivetrain and more consistent shifting,
especially while in rough terrain. As a bonus, when removing the rear
wheel, you press a small lock button on the lower cage to disengage the
system for easy wheel removal.

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