Carbon Chainrings, Clever Tools, and a New Smart Trainer - Taipei Cycle Show 2019

Mar 29, 2019
by Mike Levy  
Taipei Cycle Show 2019
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.
Taipei Cycle Show 2019
See that grey coating on the narrow-wide teeth? That's said to prolong the 'rings life to match that of aluminum chainrings.



Taipei Cycle Show 2019
Taipei Cycle Show 2019
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.



Taipei Cycle Show 2019
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.
Taipei Cycle Show 2019
You can use the APX Pro with all the usual wheel sizes.

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.


62 Comments

  • + 95
 I'm the opposite with packs. With more than one bike I don't want to set off with one that may or may not have the multitool in it. Camelbak has my water and all the spares and tools I need.
  • + 39
 Couldn’t agree more. Not to mention my pack has saved my back on more than a few occasions.
  • + 49
 impossible to put a folding saw in your handlebar. yes, i carry a folding saw to clear trails, you're welcome...
  • + 20
 Ditto. I also dislike water bottles. Remember when Camelbaks first became a thing and everyone was like "oh this is so much better and more convenient than water bottles"... yet now everyone's trying to solve that solution with more gimmicks, clip-on crap and "innovative" ways to slide a tool inside anything and everything hollow.
  • + 5
 Yep. Either close to car trail rides with just a water bottle were you can walk back if needed or take it all with you in the pack for me.
  • + 2
 @Bikethrasher: That's the main reason right there for me!
  • + 18
 @Socket: Thats how I met my wife.
  • + 3
 @flipoffthemonkeys: Hey thanks for doing that, and pointing out that "why have I not been carrying my pruning saw?" I'm on it now - seriously - don't know why I didn't think of it before.
  • + 6
 "rather spend all day walking out of the bush than wear a backpack" == f**king ridiculous

you have such tender sensibilities...
  • + 7
 PS-i used to ride with a guy who strapped all his crap to his bike. i got so f*cking tired of watching that idiot faff about with his sh*t that i don't ride with him anymore. f*ck that guy
  • + 1
 These tools are for your best riding buddies. Let them carry all the cool tools so you dont have too.
  • + 3
 I spent a lot of money making my bike lighter. The last thing I want to do is make it heavier by adding a water bottle and a lot tools to it. But if you don't care about weight, the tools are cool.
  • + 2
 @FarmeR57: ya that was amusing.. I feel more safe with one on personally..
  • + 4
 i got a multitool to the ribs last year, i am try to offload my tools to my bike where they wont injure me if i fall on them. i like the protection of a Hydration pack and filling it with hard, pointy tools compromises this protection
  • + 1
 @flipoffthemonkeys:

hmmmmmm.... HMMMM. I may have to make one. LOL
  • + 1
 @flipoffthemonkeys That would be an amazing add on for One up EDC pump make a saw that fit there pump or steer tube
  • + 2
 @FarmeR57: a rider thats part of my group likes to yell at everyone "why do you have a back pack?, are you going to school?"
Slow prick thinks hes hot shit lol.
  • + 21
 "I'd rather spend all day walking out of the bush than wear a backpack". No, you wouldn't.
  • + 22
 'Ex Peado'
  • + 11
 Everytime I read it like that - what a dodgy name for a brand.
  • + 8
 @jlawie - you win 1627 internets. You just ruined it for thousands of living room roadies
  • + 13
 They're reformed characters, give them a chance!
  • + 3
 The pain of mounting your bike on this thing. Xtupid.
  • + 18
 Finally a replacement for that boat anchor aluminum chaining thats been bogging me down.
  • + 15
 ... If they developed carbon fiber underwear, could they claim it makes things 30% stiffer?
  • + 6
 Sure, but would they last longer?
  • + 5
 But riding too rough would lead to catastrophic failure.
  • + 2
 @jojotherider1977: It would last indefinitely as long as you don't hit it too hard.
  • + 12
 A "normal" ring gives you warning signs its on the way out - would this be more prone to catastrophic failure leaving me stranded in the middle of nowhere? Any one got some experience? Not bothered about the weight saving here.

Not a fan of adding stuff to the bike. I usually ride for 3-5 hours minimum and dont have a swat box - so i cant fit my sandwiches, spares, tools and big bag of stoke in the crevices on my bike. Would also prefer a larger tool for getting some torque on the bits, so happy to use my Evoc pack. I dont see the issue here, buy a good one and the fit is great. If youre riding the park all day then you dont even need bar end tools to be honest.
  • + 17
 my experience with alloy chainrings ended with me switching to STEEL chainrings... for 1/3rd the price of a single alloy chainring, it lasts 3 times longer... I'll happily deal with those extra *30* freaking grams
  • + 4
 Given how much horse power us humans can put out I'd put it at about zero as long it's been made correct. Racing/super cars can have carbon fibre drive shafts with no problems.
Casing it and landing on the ring would be better than a soft alloy one and about equal to a steel one.

Much as I like carbon and im a bit of a weight weenie I'd take steel rings everytime. The longevity of them is brilliant compared to alloy or these carbon ones.
  • + 1
 @f00bar: +1 right here mate
  • + 6
 a carbon chainring is almost as stupid as carbon brake rotors
  • + 0
 Carbon pedals man.
  • + 3
 They have them on top end high performance cars - but they just spin and not have to worry about taking a hit. .
  • + 4
 @neimbc: That's a sintered carbon-ceramic compound, abbreviated to 'carbon' brakes. The carbon brake rotors that have been released for MTB have quote literally just been cut out of basic 2x2 weave CFRP plate/sheet, like the chainring in the article, which for a braking surface is never going to be good.
  • + 4
 @gibbon-on-an-orange: Yup, you have roadies switching to discs en masse to escape the shit braking performance of carbon rims.

Meantime, the MTB industry: hold my beer.
  • + 3
 @CaMKii: Thanks. Didn't know.
  • + 5
 carbon brake and shifter lines...with carbon infused brake fluid to shed .6899th of gram to the higher power.
  • + 3
 lab grown diamond chainrings.


is the bike industry even trying any more?
  • + 4
 Xpedo is a terrible name, it sounds like a reformed child molester.
  • + 1
 I really like Granite's new chain tool. It’s simple yet effective! The ability to store tools in your bar ends, steer tube, crank axle, and in your wheel axles is mind blowing ingenious tup
  • + 2
 Just wondering if it's noticeable having a tool in one end of your bars? I know people who whinge that they can tell if their bars are a tiny bit misaligned.
  • + 1
 You talk about weight savings and then you need a chainguide anyway because X-Sync 2 is superior to normal NW profile. Good one , not.
  • + 1
 Carbon chainring Eek I feel like it would just splinter, even with that special coating!!!
  • + 1
 The answer, I was told, is a special metal coating on the narrow-wide teeth (...) or alloy chain maybe Big Grin
  • + 1
 How will that chaining do when I smash it into a rock?

Simple: you replace it
  • + 2
 Titanium chainring is a good mix of all.
  • + 1
 Titanium is weak. Vibranium. Yes, you heard me, dentists.
  • + 1
 Granite Designs Chain Tool = Not on their website yet. But, some other nice things are.
  • + 2
 Carbon rotor bolts - Let's go!
  • + 0
 @Konyp: I know they exist. Many Darwin Award Certificates are hanging on those bolts
  • + 0
 Death. And chocolate!
  • + 1
 Why don’t they just make vibranium drive train components?
  • + 1
 Can someone please make some Carbon brake fluid!
  • + 1
 carbon carbon carbon carbon everything.
  • + 5
 I had a carbon water bottle cage on my bik once... Used to fly up those climbs....
  • + 13
 @tigerteeuwen: but did you have a carbon bottle with carbonated water in it?
  • + 1
 @f00bar: That actually made me laugh out loudSmile
  • + 1
 Adamantium rings last more.
  • + 1
 Carbon fiber tires in the future?

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