Component of the Year Nominees
Components are, by their very definition, just one small part of the big picture. Sure, your bike's geometry, design, and suspension play a more important role in the ride than what kind of derailleur or dropper post you have, but all it takes is one poorly running part to ruin a day. On the other hand, a smoothly running drivetrain, a reliable dropper post, or brakes that won't let you down can all make the day just that much better.
This year's nominees pull at the heartstrings (goddamn, AXS is neat) and at our common sense (who needs anything other than XT), while OneUp has managed to improve an already impressive dropper post, and Trickstuff made a brake that might be able to slow the earth's rotation.
Why it's nominated
The price difference between an XTR drivetrain and an XT drivetrain? Around $1,000 USD depending on your setup. The performance difference between them on the trail? It's debatable, but practically nothing besides half a pound. The internet was understandably excited when Shimano released the all-new XTR system, but it turned out that a few parts of the group weren't quite ready for primetime, specifically the whisper-quiet freehub that's since been ditched. Very not Shimano-like.
From the review:Why it's nominated
Meanwhile, XT dropped in May and has been impressing us since with its action, most notably the shifting under power that matches XTR's abilities. RC's November review of the 12-speed group is glowing, so much so that some of his cons are a bit of a stretch; the derailleur's matte finish always looks dirty, he wrote, and the cassette is kinda heavy (470-grams), but that's prefaced with it being the "Best shifting cassette I've ridden.''
You get the gist of it. The new XT drivetrain isn't cheap - $622 USD is a good chunk of money - but the price-to-performance ratio is off the chart compared to the fanciest stuff.
SRAM's AXS technology doesn't come cheap, but it brings perfect shifts every. Single. Time. It's atomic clock-precise, and because there's no wires or cables, unlike Shimano's aged Di2 electronic group, it takes longer to strip your old drivetrain than it does to install the Eagle AXS components.
From the review:Why it's nominated
RockShox's Reverb AXS dropper post is also controlled via an encrypted wireless network, just like the drivetrain, which means you don't need to feed a length of cable and housing through some impossibly small hole inside your frame to set it up. Instead, you slide it in, spend twenty-seconds doing the pairing, and you're ready to party.
Okay, the eVerb costs $800 USD, and the 12-speed AXS drivetrain goes for $2,000 USD in XX1 guise (the derailleur is $700 on its own!), so I suspect that it's not in the cards for the majority of us. But if you're one of the lucky or hardworking people who can get their hands on it, SRAM's top tier drivetrain offers simplicity and consistency that a steel cable won't ever match.
The folks at OneUp are so clever that I'm sure they have solutions for problems that you don't even know you have yet. Their first attempt at a dropper post resulted in one of the go-to options for riders who didn't want to spend Reverb-money, and the revamped version is even better. If you're going to lower your seat and take the added weight that comes with a dropper, you may as well lower it as much as possible.
From the article:Why it's nominated
OneUp's $199 USD V2 dropper post has the lowest stack height at the collar and head of any options out there, meaning you can get more travel. A 150mm-travel post measures just 420mm long, and you can have as much as 210mm of party if you have the room. Better yet, you can change the travel by 10 or 20mm at a time with shims, so it can be set just right.
OneUp uses a $60 USD replaceable cartridge to control the action, and their remote (which is now aluminum instead of composite) is probably the most ergonomic feeling on the market thanks to how it tucks up under the grip.
Shimano's Saint brake not enough for you? Want more power than what the Code offers? If you're okay with spending three times as much as either of those costs and also with waiting six to nine months to get them, you probably want a set of Trickstuff's crazy Maxima brake. The German-made, four-piston brake is easily the most powerful stopper on the market right now, and Trickstuff says, “The Maxima doesn't help you by being able to lock up a wheel even stronger. It helps you by needing way less finger power to get there.”
From the review:
As Kazimer found out while testing them, they aren't lying.
''They don't offer quite the same level of modulation as the Codes, but they also deliver more power, more easily,'' Kazimer wrote back in September of this year. ''While the clamping force ramps up more quickly than the Codes, the Maxima brakes aren't quite as 'grabby' as a set of Shimano Saint brakes - there's a little bit more modulation before the pads really start to bite down on the rotor.'' Enough power to bring a train to a screeching halt, it seems, but with enough control to be useful. They're beautiful to boot, as they should be at 1100€ for a set. Yes, you read that number correctly.