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Pinkbike Awards: Best Value Product Nominees

Dec 1, 2014 at 17:36
by Mike Kazimer  


The cost of mountain biking can be daunting at times, but luckily there are still good deals to be found. We've selected five finalists for this year's “Best Value” award, products that perform as well (or better) than much higher priced options.

MTB Awards




OneUp Components Wide Range Drivetrain

The advent of 11 speed cassettes has made it possible for more riders than ever to ditch their front derailleurs, which saves weight, and frees up space on the left side of the handlebar for more important levers, namely the one that activates a dropper post. The trouble is, 11 speed drivetrains come with a hefty price of admission, and even the lowest priced 11 speed mountain cassette from SRAM retails for over $300. Luckily, there are more affordable ways to create a wide range drivetrain, and OneUp Components have been at the forefront of this movement by offering conversion kits to expand the gear range of your current 10 speed cassette. It's as easy as removing the 15 and 17t rings from the cassette, and replacing them with a 16 and a 40 or 42 tooth ring. Once that's completed, install a narrow-wide chain ring up front (OneUP makes those too), and possibly the company's RAD cage if you're running a Shimano rear derailleur, and bingo, a complete wide range drivetrain for less than $200. Making the switch to a 1x drivetrain is a highly recommended upgrade for nearly every rider, and OneUp helps make it easy and relatively affordable.




Specialized Butcher Tire

Top of the line tires usually have a price to match, often selling for $80 or $90. Sure, those tires may have a laundry list of features intended to make it easier to justify their price – magical sticky compounds, reinforced sidewalls, high thread count casings, but at the end of the day they're still a disposable item, one that needs to be replaced regularly for the best performance. That's where Specialized's Butcher Control tire stands out, with a $50 price tag that's well worth it. Predictable cornering, excellent braking traction, and a competitive fighting weigh all make the Butcher a highly recommended option, and that price is just icing on the cake. We're still waiting for a 27.5 x 2.5” option, but for now, the 2.3” version is still a worthy choice for all-mountain usage.








Spank Oozy Trail295 Wheelset

Durable, wide, light, and attractively priced, Spank's Oozy295 wheelset meets all of the parameters that define a good wheelset. No, there's no carbon fiber to be found here, but at $599 USD these wheels cost a fraction of what a set of carbon hoops goes for. The rims themselves boast a 24.5mm inner diameter, and use Spank's Bead Bite rim walls, a corrugated design that meant to keep tires from getting pulled off the rim when riders run low pressures. 28 straight pull spokes join the hubs to the rim, and thanks to the designers at Spank only one size of spoke is needed for the entire wheelset. When it comes down to it, this line from our review of the wheels says it best: “The Oozy Trail295 wheelset packs a load of performance and reliability into a very reasonably priced package.”






Shimano Deore M615 Brakes

Shimano's Deore hydraulic brakes are a prime example of technology trickling down to a more wallet-friendly pricepoint. For less than $120 per wheel, you get Shimano's proven mineral oil powered hydraulic brake technology, including the compact lever shape that's one of the best designs around. There's no tool-free reach adjust, and the cooling fins found on the pads of Shimano's higher end models may not be present, but those are small things compared to how well the brakes work, and feel. There's enough power on tap for all but the burliest of downhills, and if you do ever need to bleed them, it's a quick, hassle-free procedure. You'd be hard pressed to find another hydraulic brake out there that offers this level of performance and reliability at such a reasonable price.








Giro Feature MIPS Helmet

Giro's Feature helmet was already popular with riders who wanted niceties like extended rear coverage, an adjustable visor, and enough venting to stave off heat stroke, all at a fair price. The addition of MIPS adds even more value to this helmet, and even with the $20 upcharge the new technology brings with it the Feature is still a bargain at $95 USD. For those not familiar with MIPS, the premise is that the addition of a low friction liner that lets the outer shell of the helmet slide along it during an impact will reduce the amount of rotational energy that reaches the brain during a crash. Lab testing seems to support this theory, although data about what actually happens in the real world is much more difficult to come by. The thing is, since there's only a slight price and a minimal helmet weight increase, a MIPS equipped helmet certainly seems like the way to go, and Giro deserves kudos for working to make this technology more affordable.




Stay tuned for more PB MTB Awards nominees all month.

Author Info:
mikekazimer avatar

Member since Feb 1, 2009
1,753 articles

130 Comments
  • 78 2
 Thumbs up for OneUp!
  • 16 6
 Yeah there really is no competition for that one. The fact that a OneUpped drivetrain actually works better, costs WAY less and is cheaper to replace the fastest-wearing part than any dedicated factory 1x setup is incredible. Definitely the best product that's arrived on the market in the past few years.
  • 19 2
 Unsure on your claim that the OneUp "actually works better....than any dedicated factory 1x setup..."

Do you have experience on a factory 1x setup? I'm not taking a shot at you here, just wondering because I'm 2 seasons in on a SRAM XO1 setup and although it wasn't a factory setup per se, as I built the bike myself, the drivetrain has performed flawlessly without any hiccups that weren't created by my own lack of ability.

Your other claims are definitely valid--wear and cost. I'm dreading the day when I need to replace the ~$400 XO1 cassette.
  • 7 0
 Gotta back jimithng23 on this one, I've ridden a one upped bike, and while it IS awesome and WAY cheaper than something like a SRAM XO1 1x11, it's definitely not smoother (EDIT: Or at least the one I rode wasn't)


Sure, I don't look forward to a Cassette replacement (although XO1 looks like they can be found for ~275USD, which is still a little nuts) but I love my 1x11, and I definitely see places where it's better than a OneUp 1x10.
  • 5 2
 I run a OneUp ring with my sram X0 clutch derallieur and the shifting is very klunky. It actually worked better with my X9 clutch derallieur but I switched to the X0 because it has a stronger clutch and I was dropping my chain with the X9. I agree that they are better in value that the 1x11 drivetrains but I would not say that it is better. Sram's X1 systems actually shift much better than many 8,9 and 10 speed setups I've ridden. So in my opinion the OneUp system is a great way to remove a deralleur and a chainring for cheap but if I had the money I would definitely get a dedicated 1x11 setup.
  • 1 0
 Just purchased the one up components RADr cage for my zee setup 1x10 with hope trex 11-40 and shifting is significantly better than the standard zee. The offset top pully is not as extreme as Sram X1, but it does make a big difference. Shifting is now spot on for me. Highly recommended for any 1x10 setup!
  • 4 2
 Guerrilla Gravity and a few other companies are offering a 42t rear cog as well.

ridegg.com/wide-range-cassette-cog
  • 2 7
flag dk1996 (Dec 3, 2014 at 16:17) (Below Threshold)
 It may be a better deal then the alternative but I still think it's a bad deal. Keep in mind it's still a compermize. And $55 for a cage is just insane. I can find a zee mech bran new for less than that.
  • 9 1
 compermize
  • 1 0
 I run the North Shore Billet 32 t Narrow wide a one up 40t no 15 t substitute and a shadow plus xt rear Der. shifting is great i do find a huge diferance between in thumb effort when the clutch is engaged than when it is not. one thing of note as the drive train wore i had to run less b tension as there was not enough "chain wrap" when in that 42t ring.
  • 59 23
 my vote is for shimano zee derailleur, oh wait another great product you missed...
  • 7 1
 Yep bargain mech , about 20-30 quid cheaper than the lowest priced SRAM clutched mech and easily on par with X9 in performance and reliability.
  • 16 0
 Didn't zee win last year? I think maybe they wanted to change it up.
  • 8 1
 Especially with that new RADr cage made specifically for it(& Saint,) no longer do you have to find a new GS sized inner plate to run a 42t with it. Plus it's a bit shorter, bonus extra clearance!
  • 5 0
 The rad cage + saint derailleur is a very very nice and sturdy set up. The rad/radr cages may seem pricey, but they are very sturdy and do a great job regaining what is lost in shifting performance when going to a wide range 1x10. The cages really enhance the durability of whatever derailleur they are mounted to, and are transferable if the mech breaks.
  • 7 0
 SHIMANO
  • 22 1
 Are you guys freaking kidding me? Always a complaint... "oh boy, they missed the Zee mech, Pinkbike, what a bunch of losers!" .... they didn't miss it. They only pick a handful, items that made an impression on them, of course there are other good values out there.
  • 1 2
 The Zee shifter is worthy too! I have a full XT build (1x10), but didn't feel like paying the high price for the XT shifters, so I went the Zee route. Glad I did! Shifts are light and crisp, and the longer textured paddles are wonderful! I almost want to compare the performance of my Zee/XT to my old XO 9 speed, very close, but cant trust the shifting through the super rough stuff (yet) like I could with the XO. Ironically, my next upgrade will be a One-Up ring and cage.
  • 1 0
 Zee shifter is a hell of a deal at $30, but I feel like the Saint shifter for only $80 is a no brainer. Zee doesn't have multi-release(gives you multiple gear changes in either direction, not just up) which I consider a must for 10sp, it weighs the same as an XT, & I-spec lets you clean up your bar.
  • 36 3
 Deore m596 user here. One of the best, if not The best bang for buck brake out there. Stops my 100kg carcass on dh runs easily. Slapped some aftermarket sintered pads and holeeee sheit, modulation and power went through the roof!
  • 3 0
 shimano sintered pads or another company ?
  • 4 1
 M506 here.still great brakes. Upgrading to bigger ice tech rotors soon :-)
  • 3 0
 jimbsport: try CL brakes VRX pads. They aren't cheap but they works very, very well. I use them with SLX brakes, and I don't see why I would need better brakes.
  • 4 0
 @jimbsport i went with Zest Gold sintered pads. Simply because of the price. I got a 2 pairs for the price of shimanos one.
  • 3 1
 Shimano brakes rule.
  • 2 1
 Deore 615's are awesome. Mine came with the same stiffer housing that the SLX/XT/Saint come with, but with a thread in attachment vs banjo. I have a carbon frame and wheels and have no problem qualms about choosing and sticking with the Deore's with metal pads even after trying XT's.
  • 1 0
 Keep an eye out for deals and you can get the XT's for that price...you just have to be patient.
  • 1 0
 Deore for sure should win as a "value" item. Shimano trickle down is great, providing incredible performance for the price point in their lower end lines.
  • 17 1
 I'd say give it to OneUp Components. As a small company they really stack their head out and delivered a complete line of products that even decent companies like Hope or RF cannot fully match.

Deore brakes were always fantastic, questioning the need to buy SLX or even XT. As to Butcher, I am in love with that tyre for anything from XC to AM, light, probably best rolling/grip ratio out there and all this at the price of Schwalbe cheapest componuds.
  • 6 1
 Is it just me or do you keep moving to a different country every few months? One step ahead of the law (just kidding)...
  • 15 0
 Asian Twins stole my mojo, I am chasing them all over the world! I need to get it back before Xmas demn it!
  • 13 1
 OneUp!!!! or buy a xx sram cassette for only 400€
  • 5 0
 It weights more than 4kg when not completed Big Grin blog.freeflowbikes.com/sram-xx-10-speed-groupset
  • 3 0
 lol. The whole OneUp product line (including the KMC chain) is 1/2 the price of a single X01 cassette.
  • 4 0
 Holy ever living f*ckballs! I thought you were joking! That makes it nearly 9000% lighter when its finished. Dear god I hope they're recycling all that waste material.
  • 2 0
 SRAM could stamp the rings and put them on a spider like on the PG990 castte (290g) or do it like the PG1080 "Pin-Dome" (239g) instead of this long involved and expensive XDome single billet machining. Sure it would weights 2x as much as the XDome manufactured cassettes but either pinned or spider mounted manufacturing option would be 4 times cheaper.

I really don't get why they haven't done it. One up is in their filling the void with a product that is 1/2 as expensive as their own product. But SRAM could undercut Oneup by 1/2 again and recapture the market with a product that would work better than the Oneup conversion. Oh well.

Until then, yes the Oneup products are a total bargain.
  • 2 0
 the lightest x-dome casette is 185g, the pg-1080 is 239g, thats a 54g difference, not twice as much. Not calling you out, just pointing out that the weight saving is even smaller than you made out, and the price diff even more ridiculous
  • 1 0
 @gabriel-mission9 good catch.

I was going off of the weight stated in in nolimitsGatis's post after the final step "Weight: 126.07g". But its not the final step (just the final step in machining) as they then add the 42 cog and hub interface which brings it to 185g for the tightest range cassette as you stated.
  • 8 0
 There have been some really good deals coming out, especially in the Shimano brake line. While the Deore's may have retailed for about $120 an end, you can get a set (F+R) for only $95 or so online.
  • 1 0
 Really? I can't find them for under 120.
  • 1 0
 Thanks! That's a great deal
  • 1 0
 I have already seen these brakes with the cooling fins on the Specialized Enduro comp. Im sure they are for sale already .
  • 1 0
 here you find it for 47 euros and that's 66 dollars

www.probikeshop.pt/shimano-travao-traseiro-deore-br-m6aa5-preto/92793.html
  • 8 1
 Butchers. I know this will be shouted/voted down by all those who fancy themselves too "hard core" or the anti-Specialized crowd, but these tires are solid. Replaced my Minions with them. I've gone a total of a season and a half with both tires. The "control" casing I have has the same grip, same wear and less rolling resistance as the Minions at maybe 60 percent of the cost. Well worth it. Not as bullet-proof as the Minion downhill-specific casing, and maybe some of you need that. Turns out I don't. Great product.
  • 3 0
 And what's great about the Butchers is there are three casings available, depending on where you want to fall on the weight/sturdiness continuum. I'm running the Grid 2Bliss on my Nomad and love them (their current Grid casing is different from the retired, too heavy, too stiff Grid UST). If you're going to compare Butchers to the Minion DH, look at the Butcher SX.
  • 1 0
 Minions come in a number of different casings, as well. I ran the downhill-specific UST casing up front, and the lighter 3C MaxxTerra in the back, which is a little more like the Control casing for the Butchers I have now (maybe a little heavier). Comparing the lighter casing to my current Butchers, I'd say it's a wash in terms of performance. Factor in the price, and I go with the Butchers. Although maybe next time I use the grid casing in the rear tire.
  • 1 0
 I second the Butchers. Although for $5 and 50 grams more, I'd go with the Grid vs the Control Butchers after running the latter front and rear. I tore the sidewall in 2 spots at once, but it may have been a fluke because I rarely destroy tires. The Grid will have a more durable casing and dual compound with 42a corner rubber vs the single 50a on the Butcher Control. 50a is still softer than the Maxxis Maxxpro.
  • 2 0
 Love the Butchers. Heaps of grip and light too. Only downside - they stopped making them (and all their other tires) in 26" Frown
  • 1 0
 I rode these for a while and enjoyed them all the while, never any issues. But once I hopped on a Muddy or Magic Mary there is no turning back. I can ride the jagged edge and slide the front end with the Schwalbe, the Butcher comes close but doesn't quite have that extra magic on the edges.
  • 1 0
 I agree that something's up with the sidewall on control casings. They tend to burp in tubeless mode. But I am tough on my rear wheel/tires. The Minions didn't fare much better. Eventually the sidewalls wore down on those, too, just like the Butchers.

@jaydubmah -- are you sure they stopped making them in 26? The Specialized website still shows them in 26, and the SX model comes in 26 only.
  • 1 0
 @TheR - thanks so much for the heads up! When the Specialized Slaughter tire came out, 26" wasn't even on the table - just 650B and 29", and I was hearing all this talk that all their 26" tires were getting phased out. Super glad this isn't the case! Cheers
  • 11 3
 MIPS helmet for under 100! Winner for sure, I know what my next lid will beSmile
  • 2 1
 Guys, the Bell Stoker is a great helmet, kinda looks the same as this one, for only $70. Most comfortable helmet I have owned.
  • 1 0
 @n4st the MIPS equipped version is $95, so at 5 bucks cheaper the Giro Feature with MIPS wins. Really though its a dead tie as no one from pinkbike pays retails so it will all come down to the discount offered by the shop/website.
  • 1 0
 Does it have MIPS though?

EDIT: looks like the new one does. seems like a reasonable contender then
  • 1 0
 Bell and Giro are the same company with different inner shapes, I'd recommend trying on one of each to determine which one will fit your head better. Other than that, they share the same technology and aesthetics.
  • 4 1
 One up for sure, compare to the price of a regular 1x11 it's nouthing when only the castest of the 1x11 is 400 $ and I dont know about up but I wack my rear ended all the time and don't really want it to be a 1000$ plus se mistake
  • 3 0
 Deore brakes get my vote. Enough to easily stop my heavy ass and 22kg of Canadian downhill grade aluminium. Plus £63 for a front and rear set with mounting hardware, who could ask for more?
  • 3 0
 Nobody's commenting on the Spanks. They're beyond legit. Can't beat them for the price. Look great on my Reign too! Also, my OneUp groupo order is in. I just too cool... winky face.
  • 1 0
 Running a spank 295 rim and they are Legit! Looking at a 295 wheelset too.
  • 10 7
 There you go price whiners, an article focused on value-priced components. I'm sure we'll still find something to complain about though.
  • 18 1
 Well you started by whining about the whiners !
  • 7 1
 Bigburds right, you beat us to the punch. How's that haterade tasting?
  • 2 0
 Haha, awesome :-)
  • 3 0
 Mostly no whiners. Maybe the problem isn't the commentators every time?
  • 4 0
 Way better variety than the bike options. The brakes, oneup, and helmet all have my love and respect.
  • 1 0
 Great article! Really agree on the Deore brakes. (I have no personal experience with the other product, but the descriptions make those seem to be very good indeed).
Keep up the good work Smile


EDIT: Because of the low price and great quality of the Deore's (and my personal experience with them) I vote for those.
Very reliable and good working product for a very good price.
  • 1 0
 To be honest, the whole Deore lineup could be in here. There rear mech has a clutch now, and I'm not sure we could feel the difference with XT in a blind test. Cranks are great too, as are the brakes, chains, pedals. etc. Definitely the best bang for the buck out there.
  • 1 0
 I run Deore brakes and the rear clutch derailleur on my otherwise expensive bike. Performs excellently and I have had no need to upgrade those parts. Even the shifters feel very nice!
  • 1 0
 Gotta be the deore brakes. Iv been blowing stupid money on my bike, swapping and changing. But I still haven't ditched the standard deore brakes it came with with yet. It's just to hard to justify there so good. Been using them for everthing Inc Dh.
  • 2 1
 Was hoping to see the 4 sets of wheels you can buy for the same price as a set of enve carbon wheels. Thought this was a best value for money competition, pinkbike needs to read and take note of the users comments in their reviews Wink
  • 1 0
 I needed a new rear brake at the beginning of this season and I went with a Deore for $60 on CRC. I wanted to go with XT or SLX, but I am on a low budget and I couldn't pass up a deal like that. Deore is awesome. Plenty of power for anything I need, reliable, I haven't touched the brake since I mounted it and it is working like new. Great purchase.
  • 1 0
 Deore brakes have an amazing shimano brakes kinda feel to them, and yet the are such a low price. Definitely the best value out of this list!
  • 3 1
 Just replaced some old Juicy 5's with the Deore m615's on my Demo 7. They are awesome, couldn't be happier.
  • 7 0
 To be fair, anything would feel awesome compared to juicy 5s
  • 1 0
 They weren't that bad... but I agree. Wink
  • 1 1
 One Up win. I tried the Butcher SX ( heavier burly version), side nobs where literally gone after maybe 5 rides. So basically its a $300 Minion Front if you factor in life, not very good value at all.
  • 5 4
 The XT's are $90/ side, may as well go with those. And $120/ side incl. Rotor
  • 10 0
 Those are not MSRP prices.
  • 1 0
 Want really good MTB tire with small price? Here it is www.csttires.com/int/bike/mountain-bike-tire/rock-hawk-c1844
  • 2 0
 Also the Vee Fluids and Flows for 120tpi tires in high volume.
  • 1 0
 Shimano brakes, one up stuff, and derbys wheels...I'd proly go with brakes.
  • 1 0
 the deores are almost £80 a wheel now?! a couple of years ago i got one for £50 not reduced
  • 2 0
 UK/German store for keeping part prices low!
  • 1 0
 I like that my bike was less $ than a pair of rims, yet I still have so much fun on it, don't bite the hype
  • 1 2
 Mavic Crossroc XL wheelset is also $599.00 and comes with tires ,all possible adapters for the hubs,tubeless valves and quite possibly the best tubeles tape/straps on the business .
  • 2 2
 internal width 19mm, external width 21mm.....no thanks.
  • 2 1
 Read before you comment. XL Model has the wider rims.
  • 3 0
 E13 LG1+ and TRS+ are $699 and 23.4mm internal width, sub 500g scandium rims lighter than the Flow EX, adjustable preload angular contact bearings, tubeless tape installed, spare spokes, spare nipples, multiple endcaps, a loud freehub(if you're into that kinda thing), and the damn stiffest alloy wheels I've ever ridden.
  • 1 1
 Ok, 21mm Internal. Wow.
  • 1 1
 Tell that to Jerome Clementz . He seems to be doing fine with the 19mm on the back of his bike.
  • 1 0
 Well then you should definitely pick up a set.
  • 1 1
 I did ,put them on a deserving bike too,but not on a crapy Tracer .
  • 1 0
 I like you man, your funny. also, who's riding a tracer?
  • 1 1
 Sorry ,carbine ?
Potato,tomato ,all useless .
  • 1 0
 Check out my sold stuff. Now on a nomad 3. However, intense does make awesome bikes.
  • 1 0
 just updated my profile, just for you rico.
  • 2 0
 deore brakes are fantastic!!!
  • 2 0
 Shimano brakes win.
  • 2 2
 The reason for the butcher is a joke. Schwalbes top tires costs only 35€ = 43$
  • 8 0
 Not over here. Hans Dampf runs close to $90.
  • 4 0
 @limkilde, You would be buying the performance compound which is rubbish.
SuperGravity Compound would set you back $90 - $120 easy. Great tire but far to much money.
Butcher, FTW.
  • 2 0
 Nope its the Super gravity is only Ahh sorry 37 euro the trash is only 20 euro
www.bike-components.de/en/Schwalbe/Magic-Mary-Evolution-Super-Gravity-TrailStar-Faltreifen-Modell-2015-p40051
  • 2 0
 Lucky you!!! Need to check and see if that shop post to Australia!!!
  • 1 0
 shimano is the shit. great stuff and Butcher for rear wheel
  • 1 2
 Does anyone know who makes the Specialized tires? If it's Kenda, then bummer since I've had bad luck with snakebites with every Kenda I've owned due to the squishy carcass.
  • 3 0
 Specialized makes Specialized tires...
  • 1 0
 CST
  • 1 0
 Anyone know where to get the MIPS Feature yet?
  • 1 0
 Try your local bike shop.
  • 1 0
 I always do my best to get everything from my local shop but unfortunately they are not a Giro retailer. I'm really just wondering if the helmet is available yet at all?
  • 1 1
 I hate my butchers I would rather pat the extra 40$ for a tire that wont fail and last long
  • 1 0
 How do these Deore brakes compare to slx?
  • 1 0
 Deore brakes are a little less powerful (like having 10mm less in rotor diameter), and are significantly more prone to brake fading than SLX.
  • 1 0
 Thanks for the reply!
  • 1 0
 deore brakes !!!!
  • 1 0
 Deore brakes are awesome
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