Vernon Felton's Top 10 - Opinion

Jan 12, 2017 at 10:02
by Vernon Felton  
January—it’s that very special time of year when editors around the world get all navel-gazey and ramble on about the crap that mattered to them over the course of the previous 12 months. Keeping that noble tradition alive, here are ten things that struck a chord with me in 2016.

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Shimano XT 1x Drivetrain

At the risk of flogging the hell out of this dead horse, I’m starting this thing off with Shimano's XT (M8000, for the nerdier of you out there) 1x11 drivetrain. There are lighter groups out there, groups with more range, groups with greater overt sex appeal. I don’t care about any of that because I can buy an XT shifter, rear derailleur, chain, crankset and cassette—everything I need to make a bike go—for a bit more than $300 USD. To put that in context, you could spend more than that on a cassette or a pimped-out crankset. Or maybe you couldn't afford to, which is where XT enters the picture. But there’s also this: XT is more than just a bargain, it's also a stellar performer, banging off solid, precise shifts that stay remarkably precise after months of mud and grit and abuse.

In a world of grossly, perhaps stupidly, expensive components, this particular flavor of XT is a breath of fresh air.

Shimano M 8000 drivetrain review


Freehub's Snapshot Series

The guys at Freehub have been producing an astounding number of stellar videos of late. Their Snapshot series, in particular, impressed me. Each of the four videos in the series tells the story of an innovative photographer—who they are, what motivates them, why they’ve devoted so much of their life to capturing that perfect two-wheeled moment. The videos, however, also capture the essence of the places these photographers call home—I particularly liked this episode on Reuben Krabbe and Squamish. Check it out, it’s well worth the click.
Views: 14,827    Faves: 113    Comments: 8



Testing the Swoop.

Camelbak Skyline 10 LR

Strapping a mountain of stuff betwixt your shoulder blades is a crappy idea for oh so many reasons—it screws with your center of balance on the bike, and three or four hours into a ride it flat out doesn't feel good. Sure, you’re by now you're probably used to humping that load up there, but it could be better; that was my realization this year when I first donned the Skyline 10 LR. Suddenly I was asking myself why I'd been lugging all that weight on my shoulders for decades when this hydration pack lets you get away with bringing a ton of tools and a large bladder of water on your ride without feeling like you’ve got a house atop your back.

The key is placing the load low on your back. Instead of a tall, skinny hydration bladder running the length of your spine, the Skyline LR contains a wider, short bladder that rests just above your waist.

The Camelbak isn’t without its flaws--it could use a bit more storage space and the supplied hose needs trimming--but the Skyline is the one pack I reach for on every ride. It's like a fanny pack, but you can store tons of water and tools in it, and--bonus points here--it's not a fanny pack. And for the record, calling those things "bum bags" doesn't stop them from looking like something you found on the floor of your gran's closet.
Camelbak Skyline



Ibis Mojo 3 review test Photo by Paris Gore

Ibis Mojo 3

As an editor, you get to ride a lot of promising bikes. While there are plenty of solid rigs bumping around right now, this one really impressed me. Maybe the Mojo 3 stuck out for me because I wasn't expecting it to--certainly not in plus-size mode. You can run the Mojo 3 with either "normal" tires or anything up to a 2.8-inch tread, but this thing is amazing when it's wearing the 2.8 Schwalbe Nobby Nics--a grin-inducing combination of snappy, quick-footed handling and ridiculous traction. The Mojo 3 is the only bike I've ridden to date that I flat-out prefer in plus-bike mode. Is it perfect? Nothing's perfect. The Mojo 3 could use more mud clearance (there's scant breathing room with those 2.8s in there), but that's truly my only complaint. Here's Levy's review of the bike.


Top 12 of 2016 Vernon Felton

AeroPress Coffee Maker

The world can piss off until I've had my first four espresso shots of the day. At least that's how mornings unfold when I'm on the road. When I'm at home, the one thing I can't live without is this dubious-looking coffee press. Yes, it appears to be some kind of cross between a bong and a penis pump (note to the marketing people at AeroPress--I'm trademarking that slogan), but the AeroPress also bangs out the perfect cup of coffee, every damn time: It's thick, curl-your-toes stuff with a bit of crema atop. Think of the end product as something akin to a very strong americano.

The AeroPress is dead simple to use, worlds faster than a French press and--bonus points--it costs about $30 (USD). I've had this one for about eight years, during which time it's saved me loads (no paying for overpriced, barista swill) and brought me no small measure of happiness. Does pouring a ton of hot water into a plastic tube strike me as a good idea? It does not. Despite the fact that the AeroPress is made from BPA-free plastics, I harbor a strong suspicion that I'll grow a sixth toe or sprout a testicle from my forehead at some point in the future. The coffee it makes, however, is so damn good that I consider the spare teste a worthwhile tradeoff.


Top 12 of 2016 Vernon Felton

Specialized Boomslang Pedals

The Specialized Boomslangs have been around for awhile, but I only wound up getting a pair this past season. In a word, stoked. The Boomslangs offer ridiculous traction and a platform shape that simply feels right—regardless of which shoe I’m running. The thing fairly bristles with pins—nicely spread out—and should you shear off a pin or two, the Boomslang harbors four spare pins inside the pedal body. Ingenious. And did I mention bulletproof? The Boomslangs are absolutely bomber. True, it’s no lightweight (440 grams) and it costs a tidy bundle ($180 USD), but the wide platform, thin profile. and over-the-top grip and durability make this pedal a favorite of mine.

Top 12 of 2016 Vernon Felton

Cranked Magazine

The Internet is a magical, wondrous place. Is there someone holding a gun to your golden retriever's head demanding you drum up a recipe for shrimp tom yum goong in five minutes or else the dog goes to puppy heaven? Well, the Internet delivers the perfect blend of ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass and fish sauce in less than five seconds. Take that, dog-hostage-holding madman! Need to hone your understanding of the ethical implications of advanced stem cell research? The Internet has your back. Need to watch videos of cats fighting with light sabers? The Internet was designed expressly for that very thing!

So, yeah, viva the digital age and all that jazz. I am proud of what we deliver online every day. I am, however, also a fan of sitting down with a beverage and a good read. More often than not, Cranked magazine fits the bill. Sharp writing, great photography, a willingness to take risks and a dedication to telling the stories that too often get overlooked. Seb Rogers and a long list of other great writers populate these pages and take no prisoners. It's good, long-form stuff that stands the test of time. If you haven't checked it out yet, you should.


Trailforks app feature screenshots

Trailforks App

I hesitated including this app because it’s something Pinkbike produces and that sort of smacks of “Hey, guess how awesome we are!”, but Trailforks has truly blown my mind and saved my bacon more times than I can count.

The tagline is "70,000 trails in your pocket" and that is, in fact, what you get for the cost of…nothing. It’s free. Moreover, it’s the best trailfinding, route exploring, get-back-home trail app of its kind. There are still corners of the globe that aren’t included, true, but the database is constantly growing.

Rolling into some new territory and wondering how to get to the trailhead, which trails are the most popular, what the trail conditions are like today? Trailforks answers all of that. It is, simply, amazing. I’m still just skimming the surface of what this smartphone app can do, but it’s already proven a game changer for me.
trailforks




Santa Cruz Tallboy Hightower review

The Increasingly-Versatile, Short-Travel Bike

It’s long been an adage—you can’t pigeonhole a bike by its travel. Simply adding squish to a bike doesn’t make it a downhill demon. Similarly, subtracting a few inches won’t endow it with magical Everest-scaling abilities. Fair enough. That true-ism, however, has only gotten, er, truer, of late. I’m talking about the crop of short-travel bikes that are way more capable and fun to ride than you might guess.

The Santa Cruz Tallboy, Pivot Mach 429 Trail and Kona Hei Hei DL (to name just a few) are all models that are light and efficient enough to crush long miles at speed, but are also a blast on the descents. These bikes provide you with a lot less margin for error, of course, but pushing your limits and getting loose is obscenely fun on these bikes. Sometimes you don’t want to bring a gun to a gunfight. Sometimes you want the knife. These super-capable, short-travel bikes oblige. It’s a good thing—less compromise, more versatility, more fun.

Images from Joey Schusler s Flashes of the Altai article.
Photo by Joey Schusler

Getting Out There

My motivation for getting into mountain biking was never to schralp, per se. Radness wasn't my priority. I just wanted to escape. To turn circles in the dirt, get lost and then find the long way home again. Somewhere along the line, I lost sight of that. Most of my rides are of the short and dirty variety--a couple happy, frenetic hours snuck in every day, in between work and all the bills, broken water pipes and assorted bullshit that accrues with the years. I love my daily ride, but I have to admit that I'd like to get away for a week or so at a time. Long days, few to no other people, a tent, my backpacking rod....silence. While it's hard not to roll your eyes at the trend du jour in the bike industry, I'm genuinely happy to see more attention being paid on getting out there and pushing the limits of our maps, our technology and our bodies. If bikepacking is a trend, it's a trend I can wholeheartedly get behind. I want more of that for myself in 2017.




152 Comments

  • + 184
 Lol. Am I the only one who saw a bong when I first looked at the coffee maker.
  • + 19
 Dammit, someone already pointed that out! Hahaha.
  • + 2
 I accidentally downvoted you when I meant to up vote you - apologies.

Nope - not the only one. And when I scrolled past it, I thought, "aha, that explains that look on Vernon's face!" Looks like he just exhaled a big toob of goodness...
  • + 30
 A Yoda bong, no less!
  • + 9
 That bongs had some serious use, it may actually be Yoda's personal bong. That'll explain why he's got wrinkly green skin, always looks wrecked but is wise as fuck !!
  • + 9
 "The coffee it makes, however, is so damn good that I consider the spare teste a worthwhile tradeoff." +1 for this guy. And, oddly enough, perhaps just the type of convincing I need to give an Aeropress a go.
  • + 8
 @mikealive: I've got one and I must agree. Most consistent, and honestly best cup of Joe I've ever had from a home coffee maker. I'll never go back... and the 3rd teste comes in handy when hucking to flat.
  • + 6
 Best damn coffee maker I've ever used. I bought mine after seeing them being sold by the Pro Gold lube people at dirt fest. I couldn't figure out what part of the bike it could possibly be used on and they explained that it was a coffee maker having nothing to do with lubricants. I scratched my head and asked why they were selling coffee makers alongside pro gold products. Their explanation was that these coffee makers were so awesome that they wanted to sell some at Dirt Fest to spread the word to other mtbers. I was sold after that. I figured if the folks working for pro gold were so into it that they had to bring them to a festival full of Mtbers it had to make kick ass coffee. I picked one up as soon as I got home and now my wife won't get out of bed until I have the first cup pressed!! Heat the water to 180F, pour, press, and enjoy!! My other coffee makers hit the yard sale box.
  • + 4
 I've had my Aeropress for about 6 years. I use it everyday. I always wonder why I keep the other coffee gear in my cabinet? It's great to pull it out to a guest or at camping when they talk about fancy coffee machines that cost $1000 at there home. They taste the Aeropress coffee and I enjoy watching there faces in embarrassment of how much money they wasted...
  • + 2
 and when he said "broken water pipes" in the last paragraph
  • + 6
 If you smokers keep your bongs like that, Id hate to see your apartments
  • + 0
 @TheFunkyMonkey: that was the least funky story ive ever read
  • + 6
 ProTip- if you lose your AeroPress, a penis-pump CAN actually be used in a pinch. Fleshpresso.
  • + 1
 @FunctionalMayhem: I ask myself the same question. I could easily free up another full cabinet with all the coffee related junk that should have been relegated to the junk pile. Like 135 and 142 axles and their related parts, it's not like the stuff will fetch much money.
  • + 28
 AMEN on the Aero Press - the aerodynamic genius from Aerobie has almost made obsolete every corded coffee maker and french press out there (although I did have a lovely 25 year relationship with a very basic Braun KF 400). Pair it with the Hario manual coffee mill, and the world's dragons and your personal demons gonna get slayed right after coffee time, rinse and repeat as necessary... love it!
  • + 7
 Vernon is really like his when he learns to use it properly: plunger (inserted) side down, add grounds and water... then attach filter top and invert over mug and press. Much easier than using it shown in picture. And go....
  • + 0
 Just keep going with the Hario and get a V60. Might take longer, but makes far better brew in my opinion. I didn't mind the paper filters in aeropress, but the metal filter let to much grit through. V60 makes clean wicked coffee
  • + 14
 @CarlMega: Just thought I'd show people what the whole apparatus looks like. Trust me, after several thousand cycles, I have the insert-plunger-in-the-hole procedure down.
  • + 2
 @vernonfelton: haven't you found the rubber has deteriorated? Mine went "funny". V60!
  • - 3
 @vernonfelton: aero-press better than a french stovetop espresso machine? not even bro
  • + 5
 @JesseE: Mine has actually held up surprisingly well. My mother in law had a habit of leaving the plunger stuck halfway in the cylinder and that did lead to some deformation of the rubber and, no surprise, a generally crap sealing action on the downstroke (how's that for making something very simple sound waaay complicated?).

Anyway, I've since trained her to make sure that she's completely bottomed out the plunger, which keeps the rubber (actually a thermoplastic elastomer) bit from deforming permanently. I've gotten six years out of the second plunger with no ill effects, warping, cracking, etc. AeroPress has, it's worth noting for the coffee obsessed, changed the materials on their plunger body and cylinder three times since its debut. It's currently (according to the manufacturer) a BPA-free polypropylene.
  • + 5
 Everyone should own an aero press
  • + 2
 @vernonfelton: Good man. I had faith in you. Two more for the Hoi Polloi:

Yes, the aero press is better than the traditional french press. easier, cleaner and, IMHO, tastes better.

If the rubber stopper deforms, usually some hot water brings it back (at least temporarily) - just add it before doing the full deal-e-o to avoid a mess.
  • + 3
 @JesseE: yeah, my house gets about 18 months of twice daily use, or about 1,000 uses before the rubber starts slowing down. it gets transferred to the camping supplies and we just order a new one. at ~3 cents per cup, it's easily worth the money each time
  • + 2
 @JesseE: Been using mine for years.... no issues whatsoever. Coffee is amazing and super simple to use and clean.
  • + 1
 @caribooyj: I got about 2 years out of mine. When the paper ran out I grabbed the metal filter and was disappointed. Decided to switch it up and grabbed a V60 cone & papers and never looked back. Better "bloom" and the filters are great. Ceramic cone lasts forever provided you don't drop it on the floor or something.

back to my aeropress, I broke it out in a pinch a few months back and the rubber was hard as a rock and kinda sticky, it was weird. Had to use a lot of pressure and imagined an explosion. Next I might try a Chemex.

Happy brewing dudes!
  • + 2
 @JesseE: yeah, pourover can definitley make a better cup of coffee, but it can also make bad coffee. i keep going back to the aeropress because it's so hard to mess up
  • + 2
 @vernonfelton: That's what she said
  • + 1
 They also sell replacement rubber pieces quite cheaply. Very easy to replace BTW.
  • + 3
 @fattyheadshok: woah it's like we're talking about bike parts right now.
  • + 2
 I have over a thousand coffees made with my aeropress in half a year. I know that because the box comes with 900 paper filters, and I've since upgraded to a stainless unit.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: Hope the Missus doesn't know you're showing it off!
  • + 1
 @coney: I really hope you're being sarcastic
  • + 4
 I'm down w/ giving aero press a try. But I admit I have a hard time believing it'll make a better cup than my trusty 10-year-old french press. I"m open to to try, though.

Plus, props to VF for his use of the word betwixt. Well-played, sir.
  • + 2
 @vernonfelton: First world problemsSmile
  • + 3
 @coney: I'm willing to make that argument. I know, it doesn't look possible. The AeroPress looks like a bad idea--I was skeptical as all hell myself. Then I tried it. Haven't gone back.
  • + 2
 Been using areopress since over 10 years. Was given it as a gift. Thought it looked wierd, so did use if for about six months. But when I did, DAM it makes good coffee. So smooth.
  • + 2
 Late to the party but hell yeah Aeropress! I use two scoops of beans in my morning cup and am wired for the entire day!
  • + 1
 @BigLips93: What is a "scoop"? I have forever used a 1/8th cup as my measuring for beans or grounds. Always felt its was pretty close. Thoughts?
  • + 2
 @airtym: The AeroPress comes with a black scoop, which is roughly equivalent to two tablespoons. IN short, I'm using about four tablespoons of whole beans per cup. Never measured them after I ground them up and I never buy ground beans because they oxidize too fast and the flavor goes to shit quick.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: if a natural sceptic like you can be converted I'll give it a nudge...
  • + 1
 I meant to ask this a few days ago, but I'm curious how many of you "add water" to your Aeropress brew? I prefer a 1 : 3 ratio of beans to water, and just drink it as if it were a cheap and simple espresso. Love espresso, but unfortunately can't source a consistently good shot. And who wants to go out and face the day, searching for good espresso before you get caffeine coursing through your veins. Cart before the horse, I'd say.
  • + 1
 @kingsx: My personal preference is a scoop and a half of freshly ground beans (expresso grind), and a I fill the tower to the top, with a splash more after it settles. Generally it makes a perfect cup for me. The question is what beans? Galileo in Britannia(Squamish area) makes a great roast. And yes, no cart before the horse that's for damn sure! That's the tail wagging the dog.
  • + 16
 The reason it's called a "bum bag" in the UK is that fanny is a slang term for a ladies private parts. When I first heard the term "fanny pack" I imagined it to contain panty liners and thrush cream!
  • + 7
 Indeed. I was making the distinction for all the Americans I know who've told me that their fanny pack isn't really a fanny pack any longer because it's now "a bum bag". A rose by any other name....
  • + 18
 @vernonfelton: I vote for it to be renamed "ass bag" instead of bum bag.
  • + 8
 @vernonfelton: I love my fanny pack and have grown a hairy teste on my forehead therefore find these comments offensive and insist upon their removal
  • + 7
 @vernonfelton: "hey, your headset's a lil' loose? why don't cha come over here big fella n' search around in my ass bag a bit, think i gotta multi-tool in there somewhere"
  • + 25
 @vernonfelton: crack sack has a nice ring to it.
  • + 2
 @bogey: that's even better!
  • + 2
 @seraph: The Crack Sack?
  • + 2
 @bogey: You should trademark that one. It just flows off the lips...
  • + 9
 I miss the feeling of getting lost in the mountains. Lately I seem to get more lost in my thoughts or mental commentary, in anger and frustration by seen how they destroy trails, trees, plants and everything that have been there for ages, just to build houses for rich people. I wouldn't care if they just close the places, but before building they destroy everything that's on there. Still, from somewhere inside of me that joy of life shine sometimes, like when I see the city from the top of the mountain while the night falls in, or like when I'm resting sitting in a rock hearing the sounds of the birds arising from the silence of nature, or when I encounter horses and I stop so I don't scare them, and I sit there watching them just hanging out. God damn, beautiful moments haha. And of course that joy is pretty bright when I'm riding downhill, my ego wouldn't distract me with thoughts because my health depends on how focused I'm on the trail so there's nothing else in the world except you, the bike and the moment.
  • + 3
 I'm with you. Contractors destroying everything for a housing project just to plant a handful of trees afterward and then dare call it a "living space". Our trails are getting more and more threatened too. This is supposed to be progress?

I started hunting last year. Nothing like being 60km deep in the woods with nothing but a bunch of friends, a lake and a mostly untouched forest. I feel this is what MTB should be and the last picture of this piece got me dreamy.
  • - 7
flag blackthorne (Jan 12, 2017 at 18:37) (Below Threshold)
 @PLC07: you speak of trees and then go kill some animals. What a f*cking hypocrite.
  • + 6
 @blackthorne:
quit boohooing. hunting is the only way anyone should eat meat.
  • + 7
 @blackthorne: Nobody likes factory farming, which makes everybody buying their meat at the grocery store hypocrites, myself included. So unless you're vegan, you're one of us: an hypocrite. Get off your high horse.
  • + 6
 @blackthorne: I know right? I only eat non killed animal meat.
  • + 2
 @PLC07: I did not mean to generalize. I am with you as far as hunting for sustinence. But I have a deep hatred for sport hunters and pro-gun nutjobs.
  • + 9
 As much as I'd like to call out annoying self promotion, It is really hard to hate trailforks
  • + 7
 +1 for the Snapshot series. It's really cool to see some behind the scenes to the photographers putting out all the drool-worthy photos we get every day. Really inspirational and interesting.
  • + 6
 betwixt, adage, schralp.... reading Vernon Felton improves my English vocabulary more than reading NY Times or other "fake news" crap like that. Yeah, PB is better than going to school.
  • + 8
 I used to have a bong that looked just like that yoda coffee maker!
  • + 4
 180USD for a pair of 440g pedals? My straitlines amp are 150$CAD, weight 100g less and I've been riding them for 5 years of XC/DH and everything in between and aside from a bushing swap every now and then, I can't fault them. Due to how tough my current set of pedals is, I can't say I tried many but for 180USD you can get a lot more bang for your bucks.
  • + 1
 straitline amps are pretty terrible. the platform is too small, the center hump is too big, and they need service constantly. Find someone with a pair of boomslangs, atlases, vaults, or podiums and just stand on them. the difference in the quality of your connection to the bike is comical.
  • + 1
 @Nobble: rebuild time is an issue, although super easy.

Haven't had any complaints with platform width and the grip could be a little better but I found it is still better than most other pedals I tried. Not the best for sure but decent value for what you're paying. You'd pay what, 85$ extra for boomslangs and they're 33% heavier, at that price/weight, they better be the best pedals ever created.
  • + 1
 @PLC07:

You're paying extra for a pedal that runs on full bearings instead of bushings with a forged body instead of CNC.

33% heavier with probably 33% more platform, and a f*ckload stronger. My friend hit a rock right at the end of the pedal so hard that it snapped the end off a sixc crankarm. The spindle was only slightly bent.

You couldn't pay me to ride straitlines pedals. I have a pair with ti spindles that i got for free from a customer who was sick of rebuilding them monthly.
  • + 1
 @Nobble: I've actually had 2 sets of DMR pedals, I've broken the platform on both, bent a spindle on both and broke pins off the platform on both. My straitlines still look great 5 years, which surprised me since the DMRs were DH pedals and the amps are considered "All mountain".

I'm not saying they're the best, they're not. Yeah, bearings would be nicer but 150$ for a 336g pedal that lasted me 5 years so far is hard to beat in my book.
  • + 3
 I agree with the XT drivetrain and shorter travel bikes. XT just is solid. Also, shorter travel bikes are great because they just fit most trails. I never like having too little or too much bike on trails. It is nice when you have the right tool for the trail. Vernon, I think I may see a bump in your forehead. Haha.
  • + 2
 The Aeropress rules for home coffee making. I bought a very high end espresso machine and grinder for our office (you could buy a pimped Santa Cruz V10 with an Enve upgrade for what this shit cost) and I'll still take the Aeropress for simplicity and quality of coffee. Have you tried brewing inverted, Vernon?
  • + 6
 Sweet Yoda bong.. oh wait, coffee maker? Bah!
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton Pro travel tip: For the go or the field, use Bodums french press insulated coffee mug in combination with the filters from the AeroPress. Put coffee and water in the cup, wet the filter and stick it to the press down filter of the mug, insert and plunge.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton "My motivation for getting into mountain biking was never to schralp, per se. Radness wasn't my priority." This has always seemed odd to me looking at mountain biking from my filter. I, like many others came to mountain biking from a skateboarding background in the late 80's. As with skateboarding, I have always looked for new ways to ride things, new lines and ways to in fact, get rad. The escape and the exercise was simply a bonus. It's taken me many years to reconcile the fact that everyone finds their motivation and stoke in different ways.
  • + 3
 @hellbelly Isn't that also the coolest thing---that mountain biking can mean so many different things to so many different people. Right now someone is happier than a pig in shit because there's snow on the ground and great fat biking to be had, whereas I see the same conditions and get grumpy as hell about it. Something for everybody, which is pretty cool.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: Yesssirreee...100%. I've long lived by the motto that I will never begrudge anyone their proclivities, but I reserve the right to make fun of them. Wink As one of patients used to say, "Whatever turns you on, hon." Kidding aside, it really was a revelation that not everyone wants to go nuts and get rad-tastic on their bikes. I first noticed this upon rides with roadies that came to play in the dirt. It just was so foreign to me coming out of skateboarding and hardcore. Now I'm just an old schmuck that still likes to get sideways.

Meanwhile, regarding your weather conditions, another patient once told me that there is no such as bad weather only poor clothing choices. That said, I moved south in '98 and have not missed the weather of my previous northern surroundings (VA, DC, MN, NY) one bit.
  • + 5
 Is that a "bit more than $300" grey market or MSRP?
  • + 4
 "he" can get it at little more than $300
  • + 4
 @Tr011: lol. Bike shops cannot come close to the prices of Shimano components sold by the large online dealers.
  • + 2
 I bought my xt rear derailleur alone for almost $200... I believe when I purchased my xt cassette it cost me over $200. Mind you that is in CAD, but still close enough..
  • + 3
 @cdmbmw: MSRP for the parts shown is closer to $500 and not $300.
  • + 4
 You can get it all for just over $300 usd on crc.
  • + 9
 @jdendy: When XT 1x rolled out, the official MSRP (in USD) was $424.94. Online retailers immediately began selling it for between $300 and $350, which makes life hell for bike shops, but undoubtedly made a lot of online shoppers happy. At any rate, I wrote the piece reflecting the current street value of the group, as opposed to the official MSRP.
  • + 0
 @vernonfelton: dig those boomslangs as well
  • + 3
 You can order a full XT package from CRC for $330. Think Jenson, CRC and amain are pretty close to that as well
  • - 3
 @vernonfelton: then as a respected editor is there something wrong with having the msrp instead of online ballpark price? This is why bike shops get killed with pricing.
  • + 10
 @Tr011: There's nothing wrong with it and when I rolled it out in our 2016 Best Of article, I did include the MSRP. But I hear you, I could've done so here as well. Fair point.
  • + 4
 @Tr011: If the whole point of Vernon's article was how great and inexpensive it is, then shouldn't he show ho great an inexpensive it is?
  • + 5
 @UtahBikeMike: yeah, looks like about $320 on jensonusa right now.

have you seen how cheap the M7000 SLX stuff is, too? $75 for a 1x crankset without chainring, and i believe less than an ounce difference from XT. the SLX chainring is what adds the weight compared to an XT version
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: How are online dealers able to undercut bike shops by such a large margin? Is it because of the grey market or bulk purchases?
  • + 3
 @xeren:

When i was buying my xt m8000 stuff it was the same price or cheaper than SLX m7000 because it came out that week. I think the SLX crank looks better, too.
  • + 2
 @jdendy: bulk must be a factor but a buddy who runs a shop said it's because of the prices set by Shimano USA, who he has to buy from, vs. Shimano Japan (if I remember right).
  • + 3
 @BiNARYBiKE: So if an online USA company is buying products from Japan and not the Shimano USA distributor, wouldn't that be grey market? This is assuming the products were intended for the Japanese market. Same would be if a company is based in let's say Northern Ireland. In the digital camera world, this is grey market and the product is not covered under manufacture warranty. Another rumor I heard is the Shimano products that are bought by online dealers are intended to be OEM products; therefore, the prices are lower than even cost for bike shops.
  • + 3
 @vernonfelton: Well Vernon, according to the online January deals just posted by PinkBike, CRC shows an MSRP of $583.99 which includes a chain. lol. ; P
  • + 5
 @jdendy: I'm quoting the MSRP supplied to me by Shimano America at the time of the product's initial release.

At some point, though, I guess it's all moot--XT is supposed to be more expensive (whether you are looking at the original MSRP supplied by Shimano or CRC's most recent accounting of the MSRP) than what you will actually find XT selling for online. That's the bottom line.

Looking at our most recent Online Deals post, you can pick up the 1x XT kit for $330 USD (around $300).

My point in the write up was to reflect the reality that riders face when considering whether or not to buy the group. When I do reviews of products I always include the official MSRP and I suppose I could've in this case as well. Since this wasn't a review, I didn't feel it necessary, but clearly enough people at bike shops are bummed about my not printing the MSRP that I'll certainly keep it in mind the next time around. I hear you. Cheers.
  • + 2
 @jdendy: they don't pay expensive retail rates as they don't have "shops". They're savings are from not having stock on a shelf in a shop but on a shelf in a warehouse. Also, they pay a school leaver minimum wage to work in a warehouse. While bike shop employees aren't getting much more than that, any increase in costs in this environment makes them less comptetitive. Finally, they are the cash rich in this industry - not owned by the local mtb enthusiast who started a shop, but owned by a large bank or corporation simply spending money to make money - these companies have little "soul" and no relation to our sport apart from exploiting it to make money.

It's great for the consumer, and the online sites are increasingly winning market share as the LBS can't compete. The result will be big brand stores from the likes of Spesh, Trek and Giant. The other brands will increasingly move to the online stores as the independent LBS get put out of business.

The worry is that once the online dealers are dominant, they're pricing creeps up to normal LBS rates and we all have no shops, and no where to service our bikes. Think about the way supermarkets have closed small town and village stores through aggressive pricing. If we all think that the online price will stay keen when they have no competition then I think we are kidding ourselves.

The end game of this is probably a reduction in LBS, independent bike brands, and actually a net increase in pricing.

Hope I am proved wrong by it's been a developing trend from r the last ten years.
  • + 1
 @jdendy: I recently bought a full XT M8000 group set with brakes and rotors for $620 Aus dollars - delivered...so about $475 USD. That's over 50% off the MSRP. Pretty happy with that deal!
  • + 1
 @xeren:

I just looked at full SLX groupsets. They're 309. Why wouldn't you just spend $20 more and get XT?

I want a new crankset to replace my sram s1000 crank. SLX looks awesome and it's cheap. Problem is my s1000 crank has $18 steel replacement rings that last forever and the new SLX/XT has a new BCD standard.
  • + 1
 @UtahBikeMike: I'm seeing closer to 270 on jensonUSA
  • + 1
 Boomslang - you are riding a "tree (boom) snake (slang)" which is the English translation of the Afrikaans word. Its usually greenish, likes trees and is quite poisonous but its a back fanged snake so bites are not always as dangerous as other African snakes like the cobra, Puffadder and Mamba. Trivia 101.
  • + 4
 Combine all 10 for a helluva weekend. Hard to argue with anything on this list.
  • + 1
 Vernon: I've used the aeropress and think the good old melitta single serving cone makes a better cup. You really prefer the aeropress? Plus Melitta is $4 instead of $30 and filters are available everywhere (or roll your own from cafeteria basket filters.)

Maybe too far to the fringe but the big change I made this year to my road coffee was a $150 lido e-t hand grinder: Much better grind than the inverter-powered spice mill, silent enough, and you get the contemplation/anticipation time while turning out a grind.
  • + 2
 Lol. Have you tried coffee from a vacuum siphon? I want one to mix it up from my usual French press but don't want to raise suspicion of my actual meth lab.
  • + 1
 I have one of those Hario siphons. Looks beautiful and makes great coffee, except it's a major operation to brew and clean so I almost never use it anymore. Chemex pour-over is also great; but my everyday go-to is Aeropress.
  • + 3
 i like the Yoda bong. Pussy you are , if ligter than XT driveline you need.
  • + 1
 Now this is a relavant article. Honest perspective about the stuff that makes a difference in an everyday trail riders life. Really enjoying your articles and your opinions Vernon.
  • + 2
 Cranked is awesome, I was devastated when Privateer magazine folded and Cranked fills that gap nicely.
  • + 1
 Hario V60 with scale and Encore Grinder. JBC, Bird Rock, Olympic Rosters and Four Barrel beans. Vernon please start reviewing rosters
  • + 1
 Oops Roasters
  • + 2
 @vernonfelton So, if you were buying a 27+, would it be the Mojo or the Switchblade?
  • + 2
 +1 on the Aeropress - it's been my go-to coffee maker for the better part of 7 years!
  • + 1
 I have to think the 2.6 Nobby Nice in the pipeline with add'l sidewall support might be ideal for the Mojo...solve the clearance issue too.
  • + 3
 Great Article. Now do I choose a Mojo 3 or Tallboy3?
  • + 4
 Both are worth a test ride.
  • + 2
 Tallboy 3 with 650b+ wheels.
  • + 2
 Mojo 3 has been so fun. I have loved mine
  • + 2
 @vernonfelton: I actually own a Hightower already with both plus and 29er wheelset. I find them both to be fun.
  • + 1
 Or a Pivot Switchblade?
  • + 1
 Agree on the hydration pack. I recently bought an Ergon BE1 pack (fluid at the bottom, storage above it). Winced at the price but cant recommend that configuration enough.
  • + 2
 I am with you one the Skyline!! I love mine and we've sold a ton of them. No more back pain for this guy is a huge bonus!!
  • + 3
 Great. Another reason to buy a Scout or an Endorphin.
  • + 1
 Coffee press, bong, and penis pump all in one!!!! shut up and take my money!
  • + 2
 Boomslangs and Yoda Bongs....that's what I'm taking about
  • + 2
 @vernonfelton What's your aeropress technique?
  • + 5
 Grind coffee beans (burr grinder for uniform consistency) at medium fine setting (too fine and it's a bear to compress the sucker, too coarse and the resulting coffee will be weak). Install cap and metal filter (I prefer their metal filter to the paper ones...less hassle). Add grounds. Put the rig on top of mug. Pour in water that has just begun to boil in kettle. Stir thoroughly with spoon, knife or whatever I can get away with. Let steep about 30 seconds. Plunge away. Done. Instant awesome.

As tedious as that all sounds, it only takes about 45 seconds, max. Most of that is steep time.

Side note, my people are from New Orleans and we have a way of brewing coffee that is actually fairly labor intensive, but does make the finest cup of coffee in the world. You need a French Drip coffee pot (nothing like a French press) and chicory coffee and evaporated milk and some time and patience, but man.....it'll ruin you forever on any other coffee (my apologies in advance for insulting every other nation/culture and their coffee drinking habits). Since I rarely sit down and make a religious ceremony of my coffee making these days, the AeroPress is the next best thing.
  • + 1
 Looks kinda like a shake weight exercise routine... lol
@vernonfelton
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: How much grounds do you put in? How much water? Do you drink the concentrate it makes or dilute it with water?
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: We installed a hot water tap - makes Aeropress coffee even faster to make. Love it.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: I visited Hanoi in Vietnam and they brew coffee in a Phin which is a small steel drip coffee device for an individual cup (apologies if I'm telling something you already know). Similar to the french drip pot by the looks of things and often with Chicory in the roasts too. Its magic. I love black coffee but that stuff is another thing entirely!

I brought one home and its my morning drop now, albeit with a different roast. But I've been eyeing that Aeropress. Also this Minipresso thing .... www.wacaco.com (could be amazing on the trail!)
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: You do have a very Naw'leens sounding name by the way...

Thanks to this review I'll bite the bullit and pick up an Aeropress finally. I've been eyeballing them since forever, but could never seem to pull the trigger... Do get a percentage, lol!

Thanks, and great top ten list. You have been an entertaining and informative read this season.

Hangloose!
  • + 1
 Here is what well-respected Third Wave roaster, Blue Bottle has to say on proper Aeropress brewing technique. My guess is they have this process DOWN.
bluebottlecoffee.com/preparation-guides/aeropress

FYI @vernonfelton, what Aeropress makes isn't actually espresso, which technically requires circa 12bar of pressure to render effectively. What it does make is a highly extracted cup of coffee, which it is typically recommended that you cut with hot water. It certainly does make a far better cup than any drip machine, Keurig, or French Press could ever hope to.

Also check out the Chemex, which is another minimalist way to make a great cup of coffee. Typically Chemex brewed coffee comes out tasting more "bright" or "clean" relative to Aeropress. And unlike Aeropress, Chemex doesn't look like a weird piece of lab equipment. Can't go wrong either, though.
  • + 2
 @aldousfilcher: Agreed on the point that it doesn't make espresso--as I mentioned in the rant, it's closer to an americano (espresso diluted with hot water to approximate the kind of coffee americans traditionally drank). That said, it comes across as a nice, rich americano-style coffee (freshness of your beans and the actual bean variety, roast quality, etc. all having their own role in the final product as well).

Haven't tried the Chemex. Gotta look into that one.
  • + 2
 @yerbikesux: The Bialetti does make good coffee. Agreed. As for the AeroPress, you can get a little steel filter--big improvement over futzing with the paper ones.
  • + 1
 @ridestuff: We Feltons run pretty thick in New Orleans. We're 7th Ward.
  • + 1
 Excellent article. Thanks V.

What's the location of that last cool photo?
  • + 1
 That's one of Joey Schusler's adventures--this time in Mongolia.
  • + 2
 Coffee, bikes , and great trails... Awesomeness
  • + 2
 Love my Mojo 3..!!
  • + 2
 Amen
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton - Damn good read, thanks.
  • + 1
 How many beers does the camelbak hold?
  • + 1
 @owlie Isn't the answer to that question always "Not enough."?
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton So, Mojo 3 or Switchblade 27+?
  • + 4
 Very different bikes. The Switchblade is a more capable descender and is in the same general class as the Hightower. The Mojo 3 is a very capable and fun trail bike whereas the Switchblade is more of an all-mountain/enduro kind of rig. If I had to have just one bike and I was choosing between the two, it'd be the Switchblade because it opens up more ride options, but that Mojo 3 is pretty bad ass. I guess a lot of it, as usual, comes down to where you ride most.
  • + 1
 @vernonfelton: I got ya, thanks for that explanation. So I assume that puts this more in the class of the 429 Trail? If so, can you give a quick thought on how those 2 compare?
  • + 2
 @Pundy: 429 Trail can run 27.5 plus also, just can't go over 2.6 without clearance issues here in the U.K. - it's pretty muddy right now. I found the plus wheels more fun for hooning about and did give the sensation of slightly more travel. They're better suited to aggressive single track and the 116mm travel benefits from the extra volume.

Rode the 29er wheels all summer for long days on the trail and the way it climbs and pedals is truly impressive. I have two DW Link bikes and would need some convincing to look at an alternative.
  • + 1
 Better late than never
  • + 1
 "all navel-gazey"
  • + 1
 Great read Vernon.
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