Component of the Year Nominees
While a lot of how a bike rides depends on its frame design, the other half of the equation is the components hung on it. Without one or the other, you aren't going anywhere, and the components picked can help a good frame ride great or a great frame ride poorly.
Selecting a few standouts from the huge field of contenders is tricky, and involves plenty of lively debate and discussion. This year, there were four components that stood out from the rest.
Hayes, Maxxis, and Cane Creek, and Shimano all have new products that are exciting and bring something new to the market in 2018. Which one stands out the most?
Why it's nominated
Hayes was one of the first when it comes to mountain bike disc brakes. Back in the day, they were one of the best options, but it didn't take long before other brands came to market and quickly pushed them aside. Hayes put up a fight in the years that followed, but they had a hard time competing against the likes of Shimano, SRAM, and others who simply had a better product. For the Dominion A4, Hayes went back to the drawing board. Rather than simply building on and taking lessons from the past, they designed a new brake system from the ground up that delivers on all fronts.
The goal in development, according to Hayes, was to develop a best-in-class brake, free from past assumptions. The only timetable in development was to get it right the first time - something they had to do considering their history and other options on the market. The Dominion A4 is completely redesigned and offers a high level of performance. It has an excellent lever feel, plenty of power, and wonderful modulation. There is a unique crosshair pad alignment feature that helps center the caliper over the rotor and fine-tune the alignment between the two.
By disregarding conventions and starting from the ground up, Hayes has made a brake that is not only competitive with the other top brakes currently available but innovative as well.From the review:
Why it's nominated
Maxxis have long been one of the most popular choices when it comes to mountain bike tires, especially on the World Cup DH circuit. The Minion DHF / DHR II and the High Roller II are absolute classics, and have amassed an impressive number of victories between them. The Assegai is the latest tire from Maxxis. Designed by Greg Minnaar, the tire takes design cues from both the Minion and the High Roller and incorporates them into one aggressive tire.
Combining two popular tread patterns doesn't necessarily guarantee success, but in this case Maxxis got it right, and the Assegai was seen on racers bikes on both the World Cup DH and EWS circuits. In its inaugural season it was only available with a thick DH casing, but expect this aggressive tire to become even more popular once a lighter, more pedal friendly version hits the market.From the First Ride:
Why it's nominated
Cane Creek, the Western North Carolina based component manufacturer makes a variety of products including headsets, cyclocross brakes, seat posts, and suspension. Now, we can add titanium cranksets to the list. The uber-light, mega-fancy titanium eeWings crankset is built to take a beating.
The cranks are designed for trail and enduro riding and feature titanium everything, other than the preload assembly. The arms of the cranks are made from Grade 9 Ti-3Al-2.5V titanium, and the rest of the cranks are Grade 5 Ti-6Al-4V titanium. There is a hirth joint that joins the two ends of the shaft and can withstand high torque loads. The cranks weigh 400-grams - competitive with a high end set of carbon cranks - and come with a 10-year warranty. Where a carbon crank may crack or suffer a failure from repeated impacts, the eeWings are made to get hit time and time again.
The eeWings are both lightweight and durable, and a surefire way to stand out amidst the sea of carbon. Sure, that hefty price tag is going to be a deterrent for many, but they're built to last for years and years to come.From the First Ride:
Why it's nominated:
Shimano finally joined the 12-speed party with their new XTR drivetrain, which relies on a new freehub body design and has a 10-51 tooth cassette. If you're going to be a little late you might as well offer a bit more range than everyone else, right? There's more to the top-of-the-line gruppo than an extra tooth out back, though; Shimano reworked their derailleur design and the cassette's shift ramps in order to make it possible to shift at any time during a ride, even when you're putting the power down on a steep climb.
The biggest story may be how the new XTR drivetrain transfers power to the wheel by way of Shimano's Scylence freehub system. Two driver plates inside the hub fully disengage while coasting, which means that there's no buzzing or clicking to be heard; it's completely silent, as the name suggests. It's a big innovation for Shimano and puts it in a competitive place for a high-end 1x12 drivetrain that you won't hear coming.
It's the attention to detail that sets the new XTR apart, a level of refinement that earned it the nomination for Component of the Year. From the first ride:
All of these components offers a solution or advancement in technology. Which are you most impressed by?