Digidirt's carbon chainring weighs 25-percent less than a comparable alloy model.
Carbon fiber chainrings might look like they're from the future, but it's something that's been done before with limited success. As you'd probably guess, having a steel bicycle chain running over teeth made of carbon fiber doesn't end well in the long run, but Digidirt says that they have a solution. The answer, I was told, is a special metal coating on the narrow-wide teeth that's said to prolong their life to match that of an aluminum 'ring.
Coating carbon with a thin layer of powdered metal is being done in other industries and a proven tactic, but it'll be interesting to see if Digidirt has the answer for us mountain bikers.
Weight? It's low, of course, with the mountain bike versions coming in around 25-percent lighter than an aluminum 'ring of the same size. Cost? It's high, of course, but not as high as you might think. If you want a new one from SRAM, expect to pay around $100 USD, and if you want a carbon 'ring from Digidirt, it'll cost you about $150 USD, depending on the size. The version pictured here sports a SRAM direct mount pattern, but there are all sorts of other mounting options as well.
Granite's new chain tool plugs into the end of your handlebar until you need it.
I'd rather spend all day walking out of the bush than wear a backpack and judging by the number of tools (and bikes) with clever storage options popping up, I'm not alone in that thinking. Granite's catalog is full of small but useful items, and their new $24 USD chain tool slots right into that category. It's a pretty simple unit that slides into the end of your handlebar, with two different versions depending on the style of grip you're using.
It stays put via an expanding rubber section, the tool's handle slides into the anodized body, and an O-ring holds a spare quick-link in place until you need to be saved. You will need a hex key to operate it, though, and that's not part of the kit... Something tells me that Granite will soon offer another pint-sized tool. Maybe it'll go into the other end of your handlebar, too.
Pedal company Xpedo's new smart trainer works with mountain bikes and will cost $1,100 USD.
Xpēdo is probably best known for its massive range of platform and clipless pedals, not electronics, which might make the debut of their APX Pro direct-drive trainer all the more surprising. It's not completely out of left field, however, as Xpēdo first dipped a toe into the power game back in 2014 with their stillborn Thrust E power meter pedals. But with virtual training apps being popular with riders who take their fitness seriously, they're jumping right into the deep end of the pool with their new APX Pro smart trainer that will end up selling for $1,100 USD when it hits the shelves. That's a load of money no matter how you slice it, but it's also a bit less than many other options out there.
Before you head straight to the comment section to shit on smart trainers showing up here, know that the APX Pro is compatible with your mountain bike's thru-axle, as well as all the usual other setups out there. So yes, you can likely use your rig on this torture device, and because it's a direct-drive design, all you'll need to do is drop your bike's rear wheel out and replace it with the trainer that you've already installed a cassette onto.
The electromagnetic resistance will fight you all the way up to 2,000-watts if you want it to, or you can run it with manually adjustable opposition if you want. Xpēdo says that it's pretty quiet, too, emitting 68 decibels when you're holding 200-watts, which is about equivalent to having a loud conversation with a friend.
There's a sturdy looking aluminum base with legs that spread to 30'' wide, but more interesting is the 5-degrees of side-to-side float that the trainer is said to offer to make things feel as realistic as possible.