2019 Pinkbike Awards: Component of the Year Winner

Dec 8, 2019 at 12:58
by Mike Levy  
2019 Pinkbike Awards

Component of the Year Winner

Components are, by their very definition, just one small part of the big picture. Sure, your bike's geometry, design, and suspension play a more important role in the ride than what kind of derailleur or dropper post you have, but all it takes is one poorly running part to ruin a day. On the other hand, a smoothly running drivetrain, a reliable dropper post, or brakes that won't let you down can all make the day just that much better.

This year's nominees pull at the heartstrings (goddamn, AXS is neat) and at our common sense (who needs anything other than XT), while OneUp managed to improve an already impressive dropper post, and Trickstuff made a brake that might be able to slow the earth's rotation.

So, will it be wireless technology, practical performance at a good price, an evolved dropper post, or pricey but enormously powerful brakes?


Shimano XT

Shifting that comes close to perfection.

It's pretty simple: XT's price-to-performance ratio is off the chart compared to other drivetrains out there. Yes, $622 USD is a lot of money to most of us, but it's still around $1,000 less than the best cable-operated drivetrains while shifting just as well. In fact, it might move the chain even better, according to RC. The penalty is just 250-ish grams and, if you care about such things, less clout at the trailhead.

The 12-speed XT drivetrain impressed us with its performance, most notably the shifting under power that matches XTR's abilities. Shimano's new Hyperglide+ chain and cassette design makes it possible to get away with shifting whenever you want, even in the middle of a steep climb.
Shimano Deore XT 8100
The new XT cassette offers top-notch shifting, even under load.

RC's November review of the 12-speed group is glowing, so much so that some of his cons are a bit of a stretch; the derailleur's matte finish always looks dirty, he wrote, and that the cassette is kinda heavy (470-grams), but that's prefaced with it being the "Best shifting cassette I've ridden.'' I guess it can't be perfect, right?

Nothing's perfect, of course, but Shimano's XT drivetrain comes oh-so-close.


  • 158 1
 First read this article title as ‘comment of the year’ which would certainly be something worth seeing
  • 51 3
 We should have best and worst comment of the year. The winner should be voted on by the users after a comprehensive and thoughtful discussion in the comments.
  • 37 4
 WAKIDesigns has entered the room
  • 59 57
 @Kimura: indeed! And I want to say that Pinkbike officially became a sitezine for dads, ex or future triathletes who can’t ride for shit. Two most prominent prices for drivetrains... Jesus... this is so boring I am getting erectile disfunction, like the target reader group... oh yes this sells so well, our algorithms are showing... bleh... Come Mike and Brian the hell...
  • 3 2
 I interpreted it the exact same way...was quite disappointed when I realized I had misread the title!
  • 43 17
 It’s not Pinkbike anymore, it’s Beigebike!
  • 7 1
 There's got to be a way to find the comments with the most upvotes and downvotes from 2019.
  • 6 3
 I've posted a few candidtates but they get deleted somehow!
  • 5 1
 Quit commenting on Pinkbike was my only resolution in 2019. Which I’ve just broken.
What do I win?
  • 6 1
 @iqbal-achieve: a lot more wasted time
  • 9 1
 @WAKIdesigns: don't blame ur ED on pinkbike Smile
  • 4 1
 @iqbal-achieve: Man, you came so far! Message me the name of a coffee shop in your area and I'll buy you a cup of coffee and a pastry. You can eat it while shitposting on here.
  • 1 0
 @caseytango: If only this data was stored on a computer or something... darn.
  • 4 1
 I definitely want to see the most downvoted comment of the year.
  • 1 2
 @WAKIdesigns: Then beat it look!
  • 4 1
 @WAKIdesigns: As a dad who can't ride for shit, let me just tell you that PB cured my erectile disfunction and has even gotten me interested in trying a triathlon or two. If I end up reading for longer than 4 hours I do have to call my doctor, and take my heart medicine, but it's worth it!
  • 1 0
 I'd love to know the pun-thread of the year.
  • 5 0
 @WAKIdesigns: So, what would you have liked to see winning? A dropper post that helps people comfortably sit down as they ride up the hill, a drivetrain that got batteries and antennas just like all other "innovations" recently even though both transmitter and receiver are a few feet apart, fixed on the same vehicle? Or a brake that does great in the hands of the greats and probably messes up the riding style of the not so greats.

Please give me your vote.

To be honest personally I care little for what's being released these days. Unlike a good couple of years ago, we aren't being held back from riding the way we want. Chains rarely drop, crank axles don't break in a hard landing, forks don't need a rebuild after every single run nor does the elastomer positive spring stiffen below 7degC. And whatever we typically ran into at the beginning of this year (mostly tire related) we still run into. Overall, there is probably more gain to be had following some practice and training article published on PB than there is to be found with any new product released this year.
  • 1 0
 @Kimura: AKA tool of the year, every year.
  • 1 0

You are a one-man weaponized filter bubble.
  • 1 0
 @Konyp: what happens if one of the comments in the ensuing discussion about best/worst comments wins?
  • 1 0
 @nsteele: If comments are nominated beforehand, the comments in the ensuing discussion can no longer take part. Then again such a discussion should therefore only be held in the new year. It ain't over 'till it's over.
  • 40 2
 I really think the I9 stem should have won. Everyone totally lost there shit over a milled out hunk of Aluminum that came in different colors. It really took innovation to a new level.
  • 19 4
 I loved the fact that you paid extra for the person picking the part off the shelve to move to the right and grab a different color.
  • 15 4
 @Dlakusta: That extra charge is all about inventory. You buy your color combo and now I9 has two mismatched stem halves that have to sell in another color combo, or wait until they make an extra matching half in the same color. Extra inventory, especially oddball extra inventory, costs money.
  • 5 0
 What about Racefaces newly anodized Turbine stems? Their marketing team was so dedicated that the Photoshop guy customized the program to turn saturation up to 11. That’s innovation!
  • 1 4
 @EvilBun: There are videos out there on factory tours. The parts are literally right beside each other, and theres lots of them made.
  • 3 0
 @Dlakusta: Doesn't matter that they're next to each other. Like I said, it's all about inventory. The color combo takes parts from sets that were made in batches to go together. eg 10 sets anodized silver and 10 sets anodized green. Someone decides to buy a silver and green stem, now there are two halves that don't have a matching part in the same color in inventory. 1 stem is sold, but in inventory there are 2 stems effectively gone since it takes parts from two color sets. Hence the relatively small upcharge for them to keep the oddball inventory that gets left behind that isn't as guaranteed to sell as a matching color set. Inventory costs money no matter what, especially inventory that doesn't like to move quickly.
  • 3 0
 @Dlakusta: You're not too hot at reading comprehension are you? @EvilBun is completely right on this.
  • 17 0
 If my SLX 11 speed ever lets me down I would almost be willing to buy the freehub body and switch to this. I've always preferred Shimano. Not for any logical reason but I've just felt that it feels better.
  • 10 0
 It's actually quite logical to prefer it if it feels better to you.
  • 2 0
 In the last few years I bought a stainless steel Chris King freehub body and more recently a White Industries hub with a titanium driver. I'm gonna be waiting a while haha.
  • 2 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: I have some WI hubs and I just looked at the cost of changing driver body. WOW, sticking with 11 speed for now haha.
  • 1 0
 @jesse-effing-edwards: What would it cost for you? The DT one costs 70€ which with all the machining, and probable fairly low production involved I would consider reasonable.
  • 13 0
 Agree, my 11*1 xt is unbeatable, 4 years and still shift like new. Just swapped three chains!
  • 21 0
 Must be a tandem recumbent.
  • 7 0
 Completely agree, I have bikes with Sram, and after I tried new XT, I have decided not to buy any new bike or drivetrain without Hyperglide+, the difference in shifting is so big that I want it on any drivetrain.
  • 1 0
 I have been riding Shimano + Garbaruk 11 for years and I am really looking forward going back to full Shimano!
  • 10 1
 Paul's stem got robbed.
  • 3 0
 Thumb shifters and U-brakes also robbed.
  • 6 0
 I really got convinced (though I haven't tried it yet) by the BOX's 9sp high range concept. Less weight (on paper at least), tougher wider chain. I wonder if it'll work
  • 8 0
 Well worth checking the chain test that pinkbike did an article on. SRAM's high end 12sp chains are waaay more durable than any other chains on the market.
  • 1 2
 @b3ans: If you wanted, you could always run an 11 speed chain with the 9 speed drivetrain if you wanted more durability
  • 1 0
 @thats-joe: yeah in the process of going from 11 to 10. I may keep the 11 speed chain and see how it does.
  • 3 0
 Agreed! Recently loaded up the full XT with XTR chain 12 speed kit. Best shifting, best value drivetrain I’ve ridden in my 27 years of slinging mtb gears. For the first time ever on a mountain bike I don’t have to change my cadence when shifting under load. Shift when you want! It really is the pinnacle of drivetrain performance. Good go Shimano. Glad you finally re-joined the party.

Now if you could just figure out the wandering bite point on your rear brakes, we'll have full Shimano satisfaction.
  • 1 0
 Hoping to try this on a demo bike to see what all the fuss is about and if the downshifting really is smooth under a sprint. I thought Shimano's 11spd sucked compared to SRAM but the new shifting on 12 seems to give a real reason to upgrade instead of just increased range. Im perfectly happy with SRAM 11spd, its super light and has the range I need, but right now if I were to get 12spd it would be Shimano. Hopefully SRAM can step up and offer a better shifting Eagle.
  • 4 0
 Not surprised. Best bang for buck anywhere.
  • 8 0
 Except where it's geoblocked
  • 4 0
 Always loved XT and still sticking with my 1*11.
  • 8 1
 Me too. 640K of RAM is more than anyone could ever need and 11 gears is too.
  • 2 0
 @plyawn: Chrome uses like 500mb of ram
  • 1 0
 @plyawn: You can actually buy a whole XT (cassette/derailleur/shifter/chin) for less than $300 on e-bay as we speak ... I am on XTR+Garbaruk, I just disintegrated a derailleur and I might just get a 12 speed derailleur and switch little by little.
  • 2 0
 I'm building a bike right now and chose to stick with XT11sp (actually, I guess I have a xtr shifter too). 100% sure the 12sp Shimano is a great product so I'm not knocking it one bit. But if you don't need the range, its hard to justify the cost of the new stuff when ol 8000 can be had for pennies on the dollar. If you don't use it, a 50T cog just adds weight. One thing did catch my eye in another article - claims that 12sp surprisingly has slower chain wear. That's pretty cool too as my 11sp XT stuff is surprisingly resilient to neglect so this new stuff might be bananas.
  • 2 0
 @duzzi: gonna need a new driveshell + cassette somewhere in there... Drivetrain upgrade sounds great until you price that new wheel(set)!
  • 1 0
 I just swapped over from 11 speed XT to 12 speed XT. The shifting quality of the 12 speed is legitimately better. There is no good reason to stick with 11 speed on a new purchase, unless you are t upgrading your free hub at the same time or found a blow out deal on the 11 speed stuff. This new 12 speed XT set is more than worth the price of entry. It’s the new standard.
  • 2 0
 @jimeg: Don't disagree. Seamless swap of wheelsets between my bikes was another thing I wanted and the microspline sort of blew that out even I was tolerant of swapping cassettes. The future proof money is on XT 12sp tho.
  • 7 6
 XT is the value product of the decade men, both with Ultegra for road, best bang for your bucks ! Shimano, decades ahead of their competitors.
  • 2 0
 I'm glad they gave it to a product that represents a great value.
  • 2 1
 completely agree with this, love my XT.
  • 2 1
 Can someone tell me who or what RC is?
  • 10 0
 Ricky Carmichael. I agree. It can be confusing. He often goes by GOAT.
  • 8 0
 Randy C., pinkbike‘s most promising EWS rider
  • 2 1
 Radio-controlled. He's pinkbikes remote controlled reviewer.
  • 1 0
 Richie Cunningham. a famous character from a legendary American TV show about the 50's. ever heard of 'the Fonz'? same show.
  • 3 1
 Shimano XT for the win!
  • 1 0
 Yup. This deserved the win. Can confirm. Is awesome.
  • 1 1
 Slx with an xt shifter and cassette is a better set up, so maybe it should have been Shimano 12 speed.
  • 4 7
 Wish I had it. I do have Sram x01 AXS but only because it got the bike before Shimano finally released the new one. Shimano shifters are much better to use than SRAM offerings especially the really crappy controller.
  • 8 0
 I'm pretty sure you could sell the AXS components used for what you can buy the XT components new. Wish no longer...
  • 1 2
 @mtbgeartech: I could for sure, but I won't. Nothing wrong with AXS I just wish I had the choice of Shimano 12x last year.
  • 1 1
 @mtbgeartech: And Shimano SLX drivetrain and brakes are the way to go for the best value.
  • 2 0
 @Dlakusta: True, the price is right but the weight of the cassette is pretty high.
  • 1 1
 Can i buy 4 smallest chainrings separately?
  • 3 0
 4 smallest cogs on the cassette? If so I 2nd this.
  • 1 0
  • 2 4
 Matte finish does suck! Forks, frames, parts anything matte looks dirty and awful with just a touch of dust. Give us shiny things for the dirt!
  • 1 1
 Agreed. Everything becomes matte with some dust so I get glossy.
  • 8 0
 I'll tell you my secret: if you don't wash it, you can't see the dust for the mud.
  • 16 0
 Yeah, it’s the worst! Mid-jump I often worry about someone seeing my dusty cranks and the shame makes me crash:\
  • 1 0
 @JohnnyVV: hate that...
  • 6 9
 2021 is not so long to wait for SLX...
  • 5 0
 Conventional groupsets getting one more gear and slightly better shifting won't have me checking my Marzocchi calendar SRAM will hopefully have launched 12 speed Hammerschmidt AXS by then
  • 9 0
 @silentbutdeadly SLX is also available with 12 gears... it has been avaiable on the same day as XT Smile
  • 6 0
 You living under a rock? My new bike has 12 speed SLX.
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
 @spqrtomas: clearly...yes!
  • 1 0
 @Bflutz625: clearly...yes!
  • 1 0
 @lognar: not what...why.
  • 1 0
 @andrew9: hopefully I can afford 12 speed by then.
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