Component of the Year Nominees
Is it that time already? The end of the year means we're going to dole out some honors, with 2020 seeing different categories ranging from athletic achievements to photos and videos to anything and everything gear-related. And if you're like me and really
into the gear, I'd argue that it's the 'Component of the Year' crown that carries the most weight of all. To win this one, the new component has to combine some obvious performance benefits with an innovative design, and it doesn't hurt if it can manage that while also looking like a good value. Of course, 'value' doesn't mean inexpensive, only that it's worth the asking price.
This year's short-list includes BikeYoke's new Revive 2.0 party post that offers 213mm of drop, Shimano's impressive Deore 12-speed drivetrain, TRP's e-bike inspired DH-R EVO four-piston stoppers, and Specialized's do-everything, 1,240-gram wheelset. So, which one are you picking?
Why it's nominated
While the company might have a questionable name, there's been no questioning the reliability of their Revive dropper post. Despite that, BikeYoke has made a bunch of updates to the Revive for 2020, including a model with 213mm of travel to go with all the relatively short seat tubes out there. Now your seat post can have more travel than the rest of your bike! One thing BikeYoke hasn't changed is the release valve up at the head; if it gets squishy, all it takes is a hex key and ten-seconds to have the post be completely firm again. The new dropper also gets a smoother, CNC'd actuator, along with a new remote that can be had in two different lengths and that should work with most other dropper posts. On top of all that, riders who own a Revive 1.0 can send it in for service and get all the new bits installed at no extra cost.
The Revive 2.0 costs between $320 and $380 USD depending on travel, and weights range from 465-grams to 640-grams.
Why it's nominated
Here's what you need to know: Shimano's 12-speed Deore brings most of what makes XTR so special to an entire drivetrain that can be bought for $298 USD. That means you can pick up a Deore cassette, derailleur, cranks, shifter, and chain for roughly $40 USD more than what an XTR derailleur costs on its own. So, what does spending way more moola do for you? More titanium and carbon on pricier groups means less weight, but if we're talking on-trail performance it's hard to justify spending much more for something "better" than Deore.
Why does Deore make so much sense? Because Shimano used its Hyperglide+ chain and tooth technology that allows it to shift essentially the same as XTR under power. In other words, you can be on the gas up a climb and shift like a meathead without, well, without looking and sounding like a meathead as your chain jumps and pops under load. Instead, the chain hops onto the cog you're looking for without any fuss at all. Sure, you can upgrade to the XT shifter for multi-release shifting down the cassette (Deore is one click, one gear at a time), or to SLX cranks to save 130-grams, but the entire Deore drivetrain is simply impossible to ignore if you're looking for all the function without paying for fewer grams and a lot more flash.
Why it's nominated
The $2,650 USD price tag means they're probably not a realistic option for many riders, but there's no denying that Roval's Control SL Team Issue wheels combine some mind-bending numbers (aside from the cost, I mean) and performance. First off, they weigh just 1,283-grams (with valves), a hardly believable number that would be impressive for a set of road wheels. But they're mountain bike wheels meant to take a beating, and that's exactly the number my scale told me. They also sport a 29mm internal width, so the Rovals aren't some piddly little cross-country wheelset that won't work with meaty tires; I've been using them with 2.5" wide WT rubber from Maxxis. The rim design also sees 4mm wide bead edges, almost twice as wide as what's traditionally used; when you cut a tire, it's this edge that often does the cutting, but the Roval's wider edge is literally like a duller knife.
I've been beating the shit out of these wheels for months now and have zero issues or concerns to report. And the low weight is obviously nice, but I swear the 4mm wide rim beads have saved multiple tires on many rides. The Roval's Control SL Team Issue wheels are more than light enough to be your all-out race day choice, but also sturdy and wide enough to be used as an ultra-chic trail bike wheelset.
Why it's nominated
The very large majority of mountain bikers worldwide will probably never get a chance to ride a real downhill bike, but that hasn't stopped 200mm-travel, race-bred bikes from influencing many of the components that we use on our everyday enduro and trail rigs. The same thing has been happening courtesy of e-bikes as well, with TRP's DH-R EVO brake ($229.99 USD per wheel w/o rotor) being a prime example of a component designed for the higher demands of motorized use also making sense on pedal-powered bikes.
The four-piston stoppers use a rotor that's 2.3mm thick - normal rotors are 1.8mm - that TRP says offers a 47-percent increase in torsional stiffness and, more importantly, an 8-percent increase in cooling. More consistent system temperatures during hard use mean a more consistent brake feel, of course. The caliper slot is a bit wider to accept the new rotor, and they've also made changes to the lever body piston size to increase power. All that adds up to some impressive performance that makes TRP a serious alternative to the more common brands on the market.