2020 Pinkbike Awards: Value Product of the Year Nominees

Dec 4, 2020 at 17:44
by Daniel Sapp  

Value Product of the Year Nominees

This year, we have two drivetrains and two suspension upgrades that don't require replacing your entire fork as nominees for Value Product of the Year. MicroSHIFT makes the list for the second year in a row with their new 10-speed Advent X drivetrain, and Shimano's latest Deore groupset is also in the running. Marzocchi's Z1 coil upgrade and RockShox's updated DebonAir spring both give forks a noticeable upgrade for very little effort. There are a number of other value products out there, but these are the ones which we feel stand apart from the rest.

Why it's nominated

Last year, MicroSHIFT debuted their 9-Speed Advent drivetrain. At $125 for a cassette, derailleur, and shifter, the drivetrain was affordable. It also was functional, durable, and dependable. This year, they built on that and brought the range of their cassette up from 42 teeth to 48 with their 10-speed Advent-X drivetrain.

The derailleur, shifter, and cassette sell for $167 and it's compatible with any 10-speed chain or crankset. Shifting from the original Advent has been vastly improved, and the wider range of gearing works well. Setting up and dialing in the drivetrain is a straightforward process and it's proven to be completely reliable.

Compared to some drivetrains which cost quite a bit more, the Advent X offers plenty of gearing for most riders along with a price that won't completely deflate your bank account and may leave you enough left over to splurge on some other upgrades if you so choose.

Why it's nominated

Having recently updated their SLX, XT, and XTR groupsets, Shimano's new Deore 12-speed group takes inspiration from the higher tier parts while delivering an even lower price point. Not content with offering only one option, and with Shimano's love for product codes, the Deore name has accompanying 11 and 10-speed groupsets which retain many of the same features but in even more value-focused packages.

The drivetrain comes in at just under $300 USD for the derailleur, shifter, cassette, chain, and crankset and functions incredibly well. The 12-speed group utilizes Shimano's newer MicroSpline driver, keeping it compatible with the brands' other 12-speed options. That, coupled with the compatibility with Shimano 11 and 10-speed groupsets is a huge value in our eyes. Not to mention, it works really well with very minimal differences in performance from its lighter weight higher-priced SLX, XT, and XTR siblings.

Why it's nominated

The Z1 is a smooth fork with the air cartridge as is, but there were still riders out there riders longing for a coil version that beckoned back to Marzocchi's early glory days. With the upgrade, it's possible to convert an air-sprung Z1 or Fox 36 Rhythm fork to coil for just $175 USD.

According to the review, the new Z1 Coil hits the mark, delivering tons of traction and comfort at an attractive price. The coil conversion kit is also a welcome option, giving riders the ability to change the ride feel of their current Z1 or Fox 36 Rhythm without breaking the bank.

Why it's nominated

Many products incur updates from one model year to the next that aren't necessarily compatible, sometimes rendering an expensive component obsolete. RockShox' update for 2021 on many of the brands' higher-end forks was only the air spring. While the old spring (left) and the new spring (right) are quite different, the new spring will work in older forks. Riders with a 2020 fork only need an updated seal head and nut if they choose, which costs a mere $25 USD. Older forks which need an entire air spring assembly suffer a slightly larger, but still negligible, price of $42.

The review states, "With the new air spring, the fork no longer sinks into its travel when there isn’t any weight on it. It stays closer to the proper amount of sag on smoother sections of trail, which means there was more travel available when an obstacle was encountered. The fork was still nice and supple off the top, and its behavior at the end of the stroke was the same. The extra support is especially beneficial in steeper terrain, where the last thing you want is fork that's riding too low in its travel and steepening the bike's head angle.

Overall, I'd say that making the switch to the new air spring is a highly recommended upgrade. There aren't too many things you can do to your fork for less than $50 that will result in such a noticeable, and beneficial change."

Honorable Mention

There are four finalists in the running for the Value Product of the Year title, but we had an honorable mention that we haven't yet ridden but are very impressed by its price.

TranzX Skyline Dropper Post
The TranzX Skyline sells for $99, making it one of the most affordable dropper posts available.

Author Info:
danielsapp avatar

Member since Jan 18, 2007
476 articles

  • 78 3
 Value product of the year, micro shift drivetrain paired with a Race FACE NEXT R crank... well
  • 27 0
 It is like the picture I saw today, single speed with an AXS derailleur..
  • 8 0
 yep, and don't forget the carbon Reynolds wheels on the carbon Pivot bike...
  • 26 0
 @Serpentras: But it improves battery life by up to 10000%
  • 1 1
 I paired mine with Shimano Alivio with a SRAM Eagle 104 bcd 34T and a Shimano BB. Total was less than cheapest RF with no ring.
  • 9 0
 Oh. I get it now. Doh. Need coffee.
  • 4 1
 I am running that exact setup on my pivot and I am absolutely stoked on it. (advent x and Next R cranks and BB)

IDK who cares about cranks in a groupset as their are way more cranks on the market then drivetrains; I think matched groups is a Road bike thing, your spandex is showing.
  • 67 14
 SRAM airshaft doesn't belong on this list, it's primary features resolves a ridiculous problem that shouldn't be there to start with.
  • 9 6
 Take the sag markers off the fork and make the stanchions a bit longer, like Fox do. Tried a C1 airshaft, didn't like the feel at all, felt harsh off the top. B1 wen't back in.
  • 4 4
 Yep, prefer my last generation lyrik rc2 over my new lyrik ultimate.
  • 3 1
 Yup. Almost laughed when this came up at bottom of scrolling.
  • 3 2
 I have the B1 spring and the fork is...interesting. The fork is sitting close to the 10% mark (slightly more) and 162mm of available stanchion. I don’t believe the Lyrik uses 100% of the stanchion so I’m assuming I’m using about 155 of travel on a 170mm spring. That also impacts geometry and fork setup. Dirt Labs just rebuilt my fork an said the new air spring has pros and cons but it isn’t absolutely better. One thing I do notice over the 36 is that it tends to ride down in the travel but it is more supple off the top. So depending on your terrain and riding style, it may or may not be worth the “upgrade”, which really just a choice between 2 types of forks.
  • 1 0
 @sir-hc: I didn't realize there was a difference in the airshaft. I just bought the seal head and nut upgrade kits and then later on got a an older (what I assume is a B1?) air shaft to go 170mm in 2019 Lyrik RC2. What are the differences in the air shafts?
  • 3 0
 @sir-hc: best review of that upgrade to c1 I've read
  • 2 0
 The only problem it fixes is the people complaining about their shaft being 5mm shorter. It's literally going back to solo air but without the friction.
  • 4 0
 @Pavel-Repak: sir , my shaft is most definitely 10mm longer, I'll have you know...
  • 1 0
 @coletrane-mtb: The actual shaft is the same. Its the seal head which is deeper, which in turn puts the piston further up in the stanchion, closer to the equalizing/transfer port. Running just the new seal head would result in your fork losing 10mm in height, so they have a 10mm longer footnut on the airshaft to compensate.

IMO, Its to address a warranty issue, dressed up as a performance upgrade. I'm stockpiling old seal heads and foot nuts.
  • 45 3
 That Advent stuff is only so cheap because Bill Gates wants to use it track us all.
  • 20 0
 If it auto uploads to Strava I don't care
  • 43 1
 Deore. Gotta be.
  • 36 6
 RS defintiely deserve kudos for making so many of their fork air shafts backwards compatible. Contrasts with Fox not supporting some items that are just a few years old, or their UK importer price gouging when they do.
  • 4 6
 Whilst they may have the same air spring, their business model is make everything buy to order. Want a damper body for a current shock? Might be instock or might be due in 5 months. Want a seal kit? due in 5 months...

You can call Fox/ Silverfish and buy parts for a 10+ year old fork. With Sram i have condemned more shocks because they don't make bog standard parts than every other brand combined.
  • 3 1
 @Adam455: I can't speak about RS shocks, but my pal is having to write off a Fox 36 (2016 I think) because they don't offer replacement air shafts.
Silverfish wanted about £100 for a replacement shock body (what some call the stanchion) when my DPS had worn and wasn't holding air.
  • 2 0
 @chakaping: I have an spare 180mm air shaft and 2 10mm spacers that I don't need anymore for the fist Na model of the 36. i would sell it if your friend is interested
  • 1 0
 @dark-o: I'll ping you a message, ta
  • 1 0
 Backwards compatibility is great but the RS air spring is a downgrade from their previous system. Their marketing tries to convince otherwise.
  • 1 0
 Adam455 is bang on. Fox parts availability blows Rockshox out of the water. Want a part for a ten year old fork? It's not unlikely Silverfish will have it available. Not always, but often. Want a current part for a Rockshox though? That'll be a 5month wait. If they even bother making it..

And @Chakaping...
A Kashima damper body for a DPS cost about 50 quid. the non-kashima is 30...
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9: Mine was a rare model for the Specialized Enduro with a yoke fitment. Which was the reason it wore in the first place. Was quoted £96 iirc.
  • 1 0
 @chakaping: Those ones cost £57 and £32...
  • 1 0
 My bad, they do an even rarer one at £84. But as you say, rare bespoke design.
  • 30 0
 I vote Deore because the less SX bullshit we have on entry level bikes the better
  • 1 4
 I want this to happen, but shimano needs to unfuck themselves. I bet we don't see 12s deore gruppos till, like, september at this rate.....
  • 13 1
 I think "Value Products" as a category deserve the win in 2020. Affordable bikes and parts are SO FREAKING GOOD now.
  • 1 0
 Agreed. So good right now.
  • 12 2
 You mean Debonair FIX right? Because there isn´t anything it actually improves performance wise as every suspension tuner will tell you.
  • 1 0
 Everyone seems to have missed that this upgrade goes back for a long line for RS forks. It can update a 2014 Pike A1 to debonair and will make it a much better fork. RS also offers a charger damper upgrade, so you can take you old PIKE and basically bring it to the 2021 model for little money. RS should really be applauded for this but all the negative comments will make them think twice if they will offer it in the future! The price is only little more than what one has to pay for new o-rings when servicing the fork.
  • 12 4
 WTF is the rockshock fix nominated. worse performance than the previous airshaft yet they market it as an upgrade.
  • 5 0
 For specifically MTB, I think the clear winner is probably the Deore drivetrain. It's absolutely going to eat SRAM NX's lunch when OE demand can finally be met well enough to give sufficient retail stock to aftermarket dealers. I don't know if 2021 will be that year.

For cycling in general, the Advent X, and most of the Advent series, should be a shoo-in. It can update pretty much any commuter/recreational bike to a 1x system, and do it at a quality level that the majority of riders will be happy with. My experience wrenching tells me that most riders just want to ride and are not overly concerned with the nuances between groups, so long as it works. Advent just works. It isn't exactly the seconding coming of thumb shifters, as desired by retrogrouches, but it does simplify things a good deal at a fair price. That counts for a lot.
  • 6 3
 I was hoping for some more interesting "budget" stuff. That said I've been running the 9 speed advent on my hardtail all year. Apart from a couple of snall problems i was able to engineer away it's been great. I'd love them to make a more sophisticated 9 speed option, with a lighter cassette and more adjustable controls. Wide range 9 speed is the perfect solution if you've got tthe right problem.
  • 3 2
  • 1 0
 @nug12182: I really like the cog choices Box made over Microshift but price on Box is twice as much.

@fielonator: not much incentive for Microsoft to undercut Advent X.
  • 2 2
 Never heard of LTwoo, Sride, Sensah?

For 50EUR you get a mini-groupset:


Main negative point for Ltwoo is a lack of a specific "clutch", but it might come in the near future with a stronger spring.
  • 4 0
 I just bought the Advent 9 speed for my winter 50/50 bike (half gravel road half trail) and it is dam near perfect. When you shift each gear is actually different from the prior one. I told a friend it is like having the fancy Shimano shift 2 gears at once feature.
  • 6 0
 For value I’ve been very happy with Advent X to replace original spec NX.
  • 2 0
 Added the Luftkappe to my 2017 Yari. Second best purchase I ever made for my bike, as it resolved a long standing issue with the fork. Too bad I had to go aftermarket to make the fork behave like it should have. I don't consider the new airshaft a good value product, as it is extra cost just to make the fork not be terrible.
  • 3 0
 Deore will probably be product of the year, so perhaps they'll give value product of the year to something else. Or maybe it'll win both?
  • 7 2
 best value product of the year, a repair for a failed design.....lol
  • 1 0
 Am I the only person who thinks that a Lyrik is made obviously worse with the new Debonair 'upgrade'?

My own experience is that the new spring offers less sensitivity, less support deeper in the stroke, and a more unpredictable feel all because people complained about their forks 'sagging a couple of mm' when sitting static. I mean, the amount the new spring dives under hard braking is disqualifying on its own. So more pressure, more spacers, and make it worse everywhere else. Oh, but ride-height is a few mm higher. Fixed!

I remember reading Seb Stott's comparison of the 38 with the Zeb at Bikeradar and thinking that all the things he didn't like about the Zeb are the things I experienced when I tried the new Debonair spring on my Lyrik.
  • 1 0
 I actually prefer the new air spring to the old one. For the stuff I ride, having it stand up a it more in the travel is worth the trade off in small bump.
  • 1 0
 @Austink: Good to know. It does seem pretty subjective.
  • 2 1
 I'd like to nominate Deity Deftrap pedals. For riders with large feet, they are an incredible value, not to mention the rad color selections.
  • 1 0
 The entire dropper post category in general should win. 1/2 the price, same performance, seemingly better reliability, and only a few gram penalty? That's value.
  • 4 2
 Microshift AdventX. Gotta be.
  • 1 0
 Next year marks 100 for Shimano. I’ll have Deore with a cassette and shifter up spec.
  • 2 0
  • 2 0
 Z1 coil
  • 1 0
 Yes, Deore and Z1 for me.
  • 3 2
  • 1 1
 Pinkbike membership? Can I have my advent calendar prize no please?
  • 1 0
 Got to be deore

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