Wheels: Mavic Crossmax SL. New color, new reduced weight, new carbon front hub (on the rim-brake version, anyway), and still compatible with standard or tubeless tires. If youíre looking for an XC wheelset, you canít do better than this. www.mavic.com
Derailleur: SRAM X.0 Derailleur. Our $180 X.0 derailleur/$90 shifter combo has delivered crisp, authoritative shifts with excellent consistency ever since we got it. The system is cheaper and lighter than XTR, and the shifter cover has been slimmed down for a more seamless transition to thinner (are there really any other kinds?) grips. Itís not a whole group, but it managers to perform flawlessly all the same. Sram.com
Lights: Light and Motion ARC Cabeza HID. Handís down, this is the lighting system of the year. Itís light, simple and powerful, and its burn time is almost identical to its charge time, making it ideal for 24-hour racing; with a neutral charge station, you can get away with having only this and one spare battery. Bikelights.com
Brakes: Shimano XTR Disc Brake. Thereís been a lot of commotion about the new XTR Hollowtech II crank/bottom bracket and the Dual Control levers, but for me the brakes are the jewels of the group. The sleek one-piece caliper has plenty of stopping power for its intended use, and modulation is excellent. In typically savvy Shimano fashion, the hub/rotor interface has been redesigned (and improved upon) to save weight and facilitate fast rotor changes, but in a not-so-typical move, the brakes are compatible with traditional XT rotors and six-bold hubs. The only caveat: if youíre going to go with the new level, caliper and hubs, youíre going to have to part with some major bucks. Shimano.com
Chain: SRAM Hollow-pin chain. The chain world is usually a pretty bland place, but SRAM has managed to breathe some excitement into things through its new Hollow-pin riveting process. The holes shave about 20 grams from the conventional PC-99 (mountain) and PC-89R (road) chains, and through the weight benefits are modest (equivalent to shortening your chain by about 4 links), the Hollow-Pin chain adds a custom race look to any bike. The retail price is set at $44. Sram.com
Pedals: Shimano 959. I love the smooth entry and release of Time pedals, their easy-on-the-knees float and invulnerability to adverse conditions. The secure, locked-in feel of Shimano pedals appealed to me, but I could never really make the switch. Then the 959 came along. Entry and release was hugely improved Ė especially in adverse conditions. They had plenty of float and none of the rocking and lateral movement of Times, plus they still had that secure, locked-in feel. The Time is still smoother and superior in really nasty conditions, but the Shimano has won me over. Shimano.com
Brakes: Hayes Mag TI. Nobody has shown me a better disc package than Hayes: powerful, reliable, rugged, consistent, good feel and easy setup. Now that same package is even lighter and sexier. Maybe the XTR and Avid hydro brakes will change my mind, but the time tested Hayes is going to be tough to beat. Hayesbrake.com
Mountain Bike - Jan 02
Most useful products:
Mountain Bike - June 00
Shimano 636 pedals are 640 grams per pair. Speedplay Frogs are 250 grams for the steel axle versions, and 206 for the Ti axles. Even 545s are 570 grams. Save weight and get better mud performance at the same time.
(On disc brakes)
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Last Modified: March 9, 2008