Praxis' Ten Speed Solution
Looking for a wider gearing range? There are all sorts of add-on solutions out there right now, but Praxis feels that these modifications can cause both less than ideal jumps in gearing and hurt shifting performance. The better answer, they say, is their new $129.99 USD ten speed cassette that sports an 11 - 40 tooth range with a 11-13-15-17-19-21-24-28-34-40 spread.
Praxis' mission to design and manufacture a cassette had a few rules: they wanted it to fit on a standard freehub body, be competitive in both weight and cost, and not require any modifications to the derailleur. That last point was especially important as they feel that forcing a derailleur to work with a 42 tooth cog is pushing it to its outer limits, and that add-on cages are not an ideal solution when you factor in the total cost of the system. That's not to say that they won't offer a wider spread in the future, though, just that, at least at this point in time, they firmly believe that an 11 - 40 tooth spread is the ideal range when talking about ten speed derailleurs and drivetrains. The cassette weighs 320 grams, which is slightly lighter than an 11 - 36 XT model, and will be available in early June.
KS and the Electric Dropper Post
Remember that electric dropper post from KS that we showed you last year? Well, KS is still working on the design, but it's not yet close to production. There's still no wires to be found - it employs a wireless remote that activates a piezoelectric motor within the post - but KS have been tinkering around with a more powerful battery since we last saw them. That added power means more size, with the brick-shaped battery clamped low on the display bike's seat tube, but the company is surely working on an integrated solution that will tuck it into the post or frame to be out of sight.
The post itself employs the same internal design as used within their other droppers, but instead of a plunger activated by a cable, a piezoelectric motor opens and closes a small valve to accomplish the same thing. There's the obvious possible tie-in with batteries that power electronic drivetrains, which means that KS might have the option of eliminating a battery altogether. Battery life is uncertain at this point in time, though, given that KS has yet to decide what they'll be using to power the post, but sixty or more hours of ride time is what we've seen out of suspension forks that use a piezoelectric motor to control its lockout function, so there's is no reason why KS couldn't come up with something similar to that. But what happens when the battery dies? This prototype automatically reverts to full extension if its battery runs out of juice, thereby allowing you to pedal out of the bush without wrecking your knees.
It's clearly a ways out, but it's easy to see how KS' wireless post could be a real headliner if and when it gets the nod for production.
WTB Goes Big and Bigger
The push for 27.5+ is coming from frame manufacturers, and it looks like it's going to be a hot topic in 2016. But what the hell is 27.5+ all about? If you take an extra-wide 27.5'' rim and mount a wide tire to it, one that's in the neighborhood of 2.8" or greater, the result is what's being called 27.5+. The height of the wide rim and wide tire combination is nearly the same as that of a 29" wheel, but with a larger footprint. The claimed benefits are greater traction and flotation, but without the sluggishness that a fat bike has. Is it a good thing? We don't know yet, but the frame manufacturers going ahead with their plans means that companies like WTB are asked to produce tires and rims to fit.
WTB's first two tire options are the 2.8'' wide Trail Blazer (shown to the left
) and the 3.0'' wide Bridger. The former has been in development for quite some time, even before it was obvious that there would be 27.5+ specific bikes, and the idea behind it is to have a large volume tire that will still fit in many 29er frames without rubbing the chain or seat stays. WTB hasn't thrown rolling speed out the window with these massive tires, though, with the Trail Blazer sporting a prominent center line and the company's Dual DNA compound to that end, as well as their TCS casing to make tubeless conversions safer and headache-free. Also, it's not nearly as heavy as you might suspect, coming in a 980 grams.
The 3.0'' wide Bridger is a much more serious looking 27.5+ tire, and it's also one that isn't likely to fit on many (or any?
) standard 29er frames that never had this sort of rubber in mind. The open tread pattern and massive, rounded profile should add up to predictable traction, and WTB is actually recommending it for pretty much any type of terrain and conditions. There are two versions in the works, with the lighter coming in at 1,207 grams and using their TCS Light casing and Dual DNA rubber compound. The big-boy option sports a TCS Touch casing and Gravity DNA rubber, with the total adding up to 1,510 grams.
Big tires mean big rims, and the Scraper checks out with a massive 45mm internal width. The 32 hole rim uses WTB's TCS inner profile, as you'd expect, and has a welded joint. The 27.5" version weighs in at 697 grams, while the 29er model is 735 grams.