A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Truvativ HammerSchmidt launch in the beautiful town of Pemberton B.C. Pemberton was the perfect setup for this launch as the riding in and around town is tough to rival anywhere. Great ascents that rewarded you with even better descending are in abundance there and the terrain is what HammerSchmidt was built to excel on.
Here is my personal take on my experience with the Truvativ HammerSchmidt:
First off I have to say that this product is made for the mountain bikers that actually get out there and ride their bikes. I'm not talking about the person that rides the chair lift or shuttles exclusively, but the person that likes to pedal their bike all over the place. I ride my Intense SS pretty much all the time and I know that it would benefit from a product like this and here is why I say that.
There are so many genres of riders today that it's tough to classify a lot of us, but a growing class is the re-growth of the trail rider segment and the crowd that rips up everything on the 6x6 bikes. You know the guys and girls that you see climbing up the roads and trails you are shuttling and then bombing the descents with you-they are the people that will most benefit from this in my opinion.
Coming from Alberta and growing up in the Rockies, all I could think about was all the trails I'd ridden in my more XC orientated days and how they'd be more enjoyable with a drive system like the HammerSchmidt. I took my big ring off my bike back in '97 or '98 after being in Williams Lake and seeing all the riders running dual ring set ups with Black Spire Ring Gods
in its place. All of a sudden I had more clearance and could actually bash into things and not wreck my rings-it seemed revolutionary to me back then. I never really missed the 42T front ring but eventually found myself happy with 36t and 38T set ups on my single ring DH bikes and 22/34 in my All Mountain build bikes. Going to a 36T or 38T ring with a front derailleur was pretty much like asking for trouble and you never knew if the down shift was going to actually happen or just make a bunch of noise and rattle until you just accepted the fact that you're not actually gonna get that easier gear you were searching for under load. The story of HammerSchmidt:
Fast forward to today and we now see an even larger revolution in front drive systems-the Truvativ HammerSchmidt. The key points to this drive system for me are as follows:
1-I can now run a 22x36 or 24x38 set up with no front derailleur.
*bike companies have more freedom to choose pivot placements, although it may not benefit some designs, it will however open doors that where previously closed do to the front derailleur mount
2-Shifting ANY time-under load, back pedaling, coasting etc.
*really this at first seems odd, but one minute in and you are like hell ya! No more miss front shifts under load because your front derailleur isn't set up right or the spring simply isn't tough enough to pull it back into the granny while you mash on the gears in a climb. After riding it, you'll be blown away at this benefit.
3-Your chain can't pop off. The "sandwich" system keeps you clean too.
*seriously with this set up the chain is on the one ring and never moves. You can now run 22x11 and not be cross chained as it's centered. With the small guide plate at the top where the chain goes onto the front drive ring you simply will not see chains popping off this system. The chain ring is recessed enough that when carrying the bike you are highly unlikely to get chain lube on your clothes or body.
*one ring means that you can run a short cage rear derailleur with a taught chain and not have to worry about the extra links needed to make it into bigger front rings. (no need for a boomerang style tensioner)
4-Even more ground clearance for getting over obstacles.
*I realize that the pictures in our first article showed two different bikes going over the same object and some of you criticized that. But really you are taking the middle ring and bash ring off (that is what most 2x9 riders are running at least)
and replacing them with this new drive system that is smaller than a 30T ring would be. And for the riders still running 3 rings up front and finding they rarely/never use the big ring, well that will feel like you've gone to a trials bike for clearance.
Like I said these are the benefits that for me stick out the most, for others that will differ. But at the end of the day we've got a new product that is going to make biking more of a pleasure for a lot of riders. There will be two versions that come to market-one All mountain set up and one Freeride version. The big difference is in the heft of each system, obviously the Freeride will be for the burlier riders, while the All Mountain would be a dream for riding in places like Kananaskis Park just outside Calgary on a 6x6 trail bike. I can just picture rides in Jasper National Park and how this system would simple make the ride better.What makes up the HammerSchmidt:
Ok I realize that I'm throwing a lot of praise at this system and for good reason, but I will now take a moment to try to answer a few questions I've read on the net and to share a few of my own "short comings" with you in regards to the new HammerSchmidt.
-If you are a dedicated 3 ring rider-will this product be for you? Really it depends on where you ride and how often you use that 42T ring. Maybe you'd far better benefit from a 38T because the terrain you ride is more rolling and the 32T was always a little shy and the 42T hurts a bit. But if you spend tons of time in the big ring (say commuting in a relatively flat city), then maybe it's not for you. But if you have a buddy that picks one up, convince him or her to let you try it so that you know if you are missing out or not.
-I read DH riders saying that the current guide and single ring set up was all they need-chances are you are right and this product was never geared to you in the first place. Yes there are places where this would be nice on a DH bike, but let's be realistic here, when was the last time you found pedaling your 42+ pound DH bike fun? Freeriders on the other hand that have caught the grind up and bomb down bug, you'll be all over this set up. It has all the components you were missing in a good ride.
-That system was really loud in the videos. Actually it only clicks when you back pedal. Like a standard set up, you can hear the rear hub whir while coasting, but the HammerSchmidt only clicks while back pedaling.
-Weight weenies-despite the benefits, you'll never be satisfied by the weight increase. Go with the all mountain set up and lighten something else like your tires or hydration pack. It is heavier, but that's something we'll all have to deal with. Heck I could simple go lose some weight off my spare tire and consider it on par.
-Luc touched on this and I had a few instances too where the reverse front shifting threw me off. Yes the shifting on the HammerSchmidt is the opposite to what you are traditionally used too. At first it threw me off and I know that a few mistakes were made because of it, but at the end of the day we're creatures that adapt to things and I know that I can get used to it and then your hands will both be doing the same things in terms of feel at the pedals. Push the big paddle on either side or the smaller paddle and you will get the same harder or easier pedaling response.
-Will it fit my current bike that doesn't have tabs? Pretty much no. There will be mounting guidelines for manufacturers to follow (including facing or the BB and tabs to be even) and the ISCG tabs must clock to a certain position for optimal mounting. The ISCG take on a lot of load when in the OD setting, so flimsy tabs need not apply. It's unfortunate that a lot of older rides may not fit the bill for Hammer Schmidt but moving forward a lot more companies will have HammerSchmidt compatible ready tabs.Backing plate install to ISCG tabs:
-Can you use this on a single speed set up? Heck ya why not reap the benefits of this set up. Some die hards may frown, but you'll most likely enjoy that rip in the woods a little more thanks to this drive system. Just be sure that it'll mount to your new/current frame.
-It was brought up at the press camp and I read some concerns about sealing and contamination from the outside elements. To me, nothing is impervious to contaminants, but companies do what they can to reduce this threat by adding seals and lubricants. I to am leery to see how it holds up to a wet, muddy winter on the west coast as everything seems to get the beats out here. But at the end of the day if I can get in there and service it on my own, then I believe it'll last the test of time. This one only time and riding will tell.
-Price concerns. What can I say it is a Premium Product and they simply cost more for a lot of reasons. The research that went into HammerSchmidt isn't exactly simple, the system itself is unique, so until more are on the market you can expect the price to stay elevated. But sit back and think about what it is and what you'd be replacing in order to mount one up and you'll understand that this is actually priced accordingly for what it is.
If you want all the technical specs for weights, costs, the works, please check out the article that Luc posted prior to this on:Check out Luc's in depth preview here
More details and videos can be found at www.magicmechanics.com
-Tyler "Brule" Maine