Best Value Product NomineesIt's no secret that mountain biking can be an expensive sport, especially if you've got your eyes on a brand new carbon speed machine, an exotic fork, or a set of ultralight wheels. The good news is that today's mid- and entry-level components are better than ever, allowing riders without unlimited funds to enjoy high-end performance without breaking the bank.
The three products nominated here all offer an excellent price vs. performance ratio. SRAM's NX 12-speed gruppo drops the price of a wide range drivetrain even further, the Marzocchi Z1 returns to form with the reliability and simplicity that first put it on the map, and OneUp's dropper post makes it even easier to upgrade to a dropper post with just the right amount of travel.
Why it's nominated:
SRAM's $375 NX Eagle 12-speed drivetrain hit the market less than two years after the top-of-the-line 12-speed XX1 Eagle group debuted with a price tag of over $1,000. That's a pace that doesn't really fit the definition of trickle-down technology – 'pouring-down' would probably be more accurate.
Sure, the NX drivetrain isn't exactly light, but it offers very similar shifting performance to its high-end siblings, with enough gear range to make the hardest hills much more manageable. The 11-50 tooth cassette also fits on a standard 10-speed SRAM or Shimano freehub body, which means there's no need to shell out the extra dough for an XD driver body. The price of the NX drivetrain, and the fact that it's compatible with the other Eagle groups already on the market makes it a very welcome addition to SRAM's flock of drivetrains.From the review:Why it's nominated:
I know, I know, the Z1 isn't a 'real' Marzocchi – it's not coil sprung, there's no open bath damper, and it's not filled with three quarts of oil, but don't let those nostalgic flashbacks take away from what the new Z1 brings to the table. It's stiff, strong, and easy to adjust, which just so happen to be the traits that earned Marzocchi such a loyal fan base back in the day.
The air sprung Z1 uses Fox's GRIP Sweep cartridge damper, a simple and effective design that relies on a spring-backed internal floating piston to compensate for the oil as the fork is compressed. In fact, it works so well that Fox ended up adopting a slightly more adjustable version of it for their highest end forks.
Our test fork handled hours and hours of hard riding without any issues, delivering a smooth and comfortable ride even when blasting through the tallest of brake bumps or dealing with the occasional mis-judged landing. More than anything, it's the Z1's $699 retail price that earned it the 'Best Value' nomination. That's not chump change, but the fact the Z1's performance is on par with forks that cost hundreds of dollars more is what makes it a great value. From the review:Why it's nominated:
Dropper posts post prices have become much more reasonable over the years, and the level of reliability also seems to be increasing, which is welcome news for anyone in the market for this necessary accessory (ok, there's that one guy who swears dropper posts are just a fad, and that tall-posting is going to come back in fashion, but he's also rocking bar ends and Power Grips, so...).
OneUp don't have any fancy name for their offering – it's simply called the Dropper Post, and it's available with either 150 or 170mm of drop. Pretty standard stuff, but what sets this particular post apart is the fact that the amount of drop is easily adjustable, and it also has one of the lowest, if not the
lowest, overall heights of any post on the market. That means that shorter riders and riders whose bikes have taller seat tube heights don't need to settle for a post with less drop than they'd like.
The features and performance are there, and the reasonable price solidifies the post's value - it's $199 USD without a remote, or $248 with the shifter-style remote included. From the First Ride: