Test Platform Verdicts

150 days on Shimano XTR, OneUp, WeAreOne, E13, Yeti...

Photos Cam McRae (unless noted)

Instead of writing 15 articles about the components I've been riding since the spring (when I haven't been on a test bike), I'm going to do a big data dump. It's tough to write a standalone article about a saddle or a bottle cage on its own without torturing all but the most gearnerdly among you.

OneUp Bar, Grips and EDC Stem

A sturdy stem that looks good and holds everything together is all I ask for, and OneUp's EDC stem satisfies those criteria admirably. If you are so inclined, it will also hold your EDC tool without the need to thread your steerer. This is thanks to a clever wedge that preloads the headset from the bottom of the stem (see image below). A bonus for me was that because I wasn't using the EDC tool I was able to remove the conical wedge and lower my stem a few millimetres.


This is a solid good looking stem, but it does something extra. The Chris King headset and bottom bracket have been perfect as expected.


You can dispense with your top cap, star nut and bolt because the conical wedge in the EDC stem will provide that downforce for you. Another bit of brilliance from OneUp

The bars are also interesting. The flattened shape is aimed at improving vertical compliance for carbon bars which are notoriously stiff. But for me they didn't feel special for the first couple of months. As it turns out this was the result of user error.


Full width is 800mm. I cut these down to 770. Branding is subtle but colour decals are available if you'd prefer.


The flattened shape is easy to notice in person but difficult to photograph.

I have always rolled my bars back so that the grip and control surface is flat rather than swept up slightly as they are intended. It likely started out as an aesthetic decision or perhaps I was taught that way assembling bikes. Whatever the reason it was a fail in this case because the bar is designed around a particular alignment with a 5º upsweep. If it is rotated from this clearly marked point, the benefit of the shape is minimized, and it's even possibly this alignment makes the bar stiffer than a conventional round shape. When I rolled the bar forward so that the flattened structure was parallel to the ground, I immediately felt compliance improve. I was riding in the Silver Star Bike Park at the time and 2500 vertical accompanied by some modest braking bumps (the park was in amazing shape) made the difference extremely clear. My comfort on the next run improved dramatically. I can't say that I would feel the same improvement over another bar (back to back on the way) but I can say that the design works when properly implemented.


A diamond knurl pattern on the top of OneUp grips is contrasted by ribs underneath for more finger purchase.

OneUp's grips are nice and thin and they feature cut outs to provide more cushioning and grip, particularly at the end of the bar. The bottom has ridges that parallel the handlebar to help your fingers get more purchase while the top is knurled. I am a big fan of these with one proviso; in very warm weather they ends of the grips can twist to a degree that I initially found disconcerting. Once I got used to it, I didn't notice any decrease in performance or confidence but when they twisted the first time I didn't like it. In the end this wasn't a negative for me and it actually encouraged braaping. Sam Richards from OneUp told me the issue has already being addressed by minimizing the cut out of hard plastic inner structure at the end of the grip.

Shimano XTR 9120 (Enduro) Brakes


Pretty 4 piston calipers. Good looks are consistent throughout the XTR 9100 group, and even that trickles down to XT and SLX. One element of the excellent performance these calipers deliver is a result of the heat dissipation capability of the rotors. They are a sandwich of steel with an aluminum core that extends beyond the braking surface to further dissipate heat. The black coating (available on XTR only) is said to improve heat loss further.

These may be the best brakes I have used. I haven't had to re-bleed once, the bite point is consistent, lever feel is light and positive, heat management has been perfect and I haven't yet gone through a set of pads despite a lot of riding. And I've never once wanted for more power with a 200/180 rotor combo.

Pad wear is significant as expected considering how many long descents I've ridden, particularly up front, but performance hasn't suffered at all. Many other brakes stop performing at 70% pad wear or so (30% remaining) which often annoys me. SRAM recommends swapping pads when there is 2.5mm remaining because performance begins to suffer after that, but not here. I haven't noticed any performance loss at less than 1.5mm.


Lever feel is incredible and the light action contributes to the impressive braking performance.

Lever feel is improved by bracing the lever body against the handlebar. This is a simple thing that makes a big difference because it virtually eliminates flex. Feel is a tricky balance because of the finicky relationship between positive return and light and consistent pull. Shimano has mastered this here and it makes feathering easy in precarious moments when grip is tenuous. The light action and high power mean that even in heavy breaking situations, the finger force required is remarkably low. This greatly improves control and reduces fatigue. Only Hayes new Dominion A4s have action that is light enough to be in the ballpark.

Considering the riding I have done in bike parks and some very long and sustained descents, it would be normal to have experienced some sort of performance issue due to heat or contamination but I have had no issues at all. These are keepers.

OneUp 210mm Dropper Post


Whole lotta post

I honestly had no interest in a 210mm dropper, despite having almost 3 inches of post extending beyond the collar once it was installed. I was sure that 170 was my limit and my first rides confirmed it; I kept wiping my ass with my rear tire, something that only happens at inopportune moments. I typed, 'install spacers to reduce travel' on my to do list but long before it got to the top, I stopped bum scraping. This wasn't a conscious adjustment by any means and I was surprised when my body figured it out without any effort on my part.

And the inevitable happened when I went back to bikes with 170mm droppers; they felt too short. Not unrideable but not ideal either. There are times when 210 is too much drop, like when I want to pedal seated because of fatigue, but in those instances I simply raise the post a little until things get rowdy again.

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A slight film of grease is normal and if it gets dry it's time to unscrew the mid cap by hand and apply a thin coat of grease to the upper bushing. You can also install spacers to reduce travel using the same method. Either one is a quick job.

Dropper function has been great. There is very little play at the saddle and the drop and return are smooth. Return is on the fast side but that I like it that way for such a long drop. Since new there has been moderate lube on the stanchion, which is how the post is designed. If things get dry and sticky, lubing the post is easy. Simply unscrew the top and add some grease to the upper bushing and you are dropping smoothly once again.

OneUp uses a custom cartridge rather than the industry standard Wintek, because it allows for a shorter overall length. If your cartridge was to fail, a replacement can be had for 80 CAD/60 USD. In fact OneUp sells pretty much all the parts that may cause your dropper to fail in the future so you should be able to keep it running as long as you like.

Shimano XTR 9100 Dropper Lever


Shimano's tidy dropper lever does the job very well and it means you only need two clamps for the controls on your bars. Photo - Sterling Lorence

My current favourite dropper actuator is the PNW Loam Lever. The shape is great and it rolls on bearings for extra smoothness. The XTR lever isn't as smooth or free of resistance, and I don't like the position quite as much, but it's very good indeed. The position is a little tight to the grip, more in the position of the XTR trigger than the upshift trigger, and it isn't quite as natural to reach for at first. I was also using some grips with inboard flanges at one point and the lever is so close to the grip that I had to trim the flange. Now that I have gotten used to the positioning it has become intuitive and it works so well I see no reason to swap it out, not even for a Loam Lever.

Shimano XTR 9100 Drivetrain


Based on one season of hard riding, this is one hell of a drivetrain.

My initial impressions of the new XTR 10-51 were very positive. After a season's hard use there haven't been any hiccups at all and my feelings have an even more golden glow. I haven't had to adjust cable tension or limit screws, everything just keeps working. And I'm talking about working exceptionally well. It seems this drivetrain is less finicky than SRAM's Eagle, which, although also excellent, seems to require an occasional tweak to keep things ticking along.


The Shadow + rear derailleur shifts well and has proven tough after a couple of bangs. It's also nicely tucked out of the way, aside from the long cage. There is a lever that folds forward to disengage the clutch when you need to remove your wheel but it's not even close to as slick as SRAM's cage lock system.

Downshifts under load, with some moderate clutching, are sometimes so smooth they are almost silent, because no teeth get skipped. The lever push is so light, the result of a redesigned clutch mechanism, that it encourages shifting in situations where I'd normally suffer through until a less beastly moment.

Early on the trigger seemed a bit clunky, requiring too much effort to engage. I was told by Shimano reps that this may be an early production issue and indeed the replacement shifter is significantly better. Hyperglide+ is supposed to aid these upshifts but I have yet to note a performance difference. Perhaps if I was racing or riding less technical and higher speed trails I'd be able to experience the chain being guided more effectively to a smaller cog, but in my use, while upshifts are very smooth, I can't notice HG+ improving my life at all.


It's not possible to have too many photos of these cranks.

Chain retention, possibly because of the new extended inner link plate design combined with a narrow/wide chainring, has been similarly flawless. Despite rocky and rough terrain, crashes and hard use in general, the chain has never left the chainring, without a guide of any sort. I've been able to rotate and nudge all the levers into the perfect position (with the slight exception of the dropper release) while only having two clamps on my bars for a very tidy cockpit. Some of the best news about my longer term impressions of the XTR 9100 drivetrain is that virtually all of the innovations here have already trickled down to XT and SLX, so you needn't break the bank to experience this exceptional performance. I was unable to discern between XT and XTR on my rides on the former in Bellingham.

The rear hub was initially a disappointment after becoming enamoured with the now discontinued "Scylence" free hub I rode in Crested Butte, but things have changed. Nick Murdick, Shimano's MTB product manager, told me that in his experience the regular free hub starts off singing when first freewheeling and then becomes very quiet after a few seconds. Early on my rear hub didn't seem to stifle itself but now it that it's broken in the whine ends, and it happens very quickly indeed. It's not totally silent in my workshop but it's quiet enough to seem silent on the trail.

Shimano XTR 9100 Cranks


XTR is displayed in a recess that is offset to be protected from rub, so you won't be mistaken for someone who rides XT, TR, or X R cranks.

I only recently received the long-delayed XTR cranks and I can report they installed beautifully. Gone is the pinch bolt and dustcap design retained by XT and below in favour of a design that echoes RaceFace's Cinch system. The non-drive crank installs with an 8mm Allen and then a reverse threaded plastic spacer can be hand tightened to remove any gap that remains between crank and bottom bracket. The reverse thread means that a pinch bolt, like RaceFace uses, should be unnecessary. The cranks are now self extracting using the same 8mm bolt and the result is a much better system in terms of tools needed and simplicity. The direct mount chainring interface clamps down with a locking that fits a conventional outboard bottom bracket tool. Cranks, less bottom bracket, weigh 511g vs 631g for XT.

The low Q factor of these cranks has made me realize that I really appreciate a low Q factor. Intuitiively I assumed wider spaced feet would mean increased stability and confidence, but for me that hasn't been the case. Having my feet closer together allows me to angulate my knees in tandem more easily and at greater angles, which I didn't expect, and the bonus is that this makes for a more efficient pedalling position.

WeAreOne Faction Wheels w/XTR 9100 Hubs


I decided on Faction rims for a couple of reasons, despite the bike and trails I ride surpassing the intended use profile. I'm not very heavy at 165 lbs or so and it's been some time since I've smashed a rim and while the riding I do here on the Shore is often rough, speeds are generally low so rim damage is infrequent for many of us. To me it makes sense to try a lighter rim that I would be more likely to break so I can give an honest estimation of strength and durability. And finally, we hadn't tested these rims.


Faction rims have a relatively shallow profile of 21mm and are aimed at bikes at or below 140mm travel and for tires from 2.1 to 2.5" wide. This is WeAreOne's lightest 29er rim at 420g.

This has me on a set of wheels that weighs 1630 grams, including rim strips and valves (740g front and 890g rear) and with only a 27mm internal width. As luck would have it I've had a few opportunities to kick the shit out of these and they feel and appear to be undamaged. The video below was also embedded in my E13 tire review, for obvious reasons, and if you turn the sound on you'll get a sense of how hard I hit the Faction rim. I was off my line and realized I was going to miss the landing completely so I grabbed just enough brake to land on the wedge, with my front wheel barely catching enough of the rungs to keep me upright.

I was shocked to not flat and even more shocked to have a rideable and indeed undamaged (at least to the naked eye - and this was several months ago now) rim. In fact it wasn't even out of true. I wouldn't have been surprised to break a much burlier rim so this was impressive.


Despite the lack of 'Scylence' hubs, I've been thoroughly pleased with XTR 9100 hubs.

The faction has nice feel on the trail and hasn't ever felt overly harsh, but back to back testing is on the way so we'll have more feedback for you there in a month or so.

Performance of the Mircospline hub has been excellent. I'll break them open and overhaul them to see how they look after some crap weather riding, but front and rear are very smooth at the axle right now. You can't order XTR hubs directly from WeAreOne but you can get a Faction wheel set with Industry 9 Hydra hubs for 1875 CAD or ~ 1400 USD as part of the Revolution wheel series. Wheels from the Movement series start at 1275 CAD or ~ 960 USD.

Some SB150 Frame Details


She still looks pretty sweet after logging some rough descents.

Early on with this test platform frame I had a noise that I never heard on the original SB150 tester I rode earlier this year. It was a metal on metal binding noise that occurred during rear wheel impacts. It seemed to be more pronounced when the rear wheel was unweighted. I did some poking around and checked some things, but then it mostly went away on its own. I removed the rear axle catch bolt and the derailleur hanger subsequently and re-applied grease and thread locker in the appropriate places and, as you'll see, I have overhauled the Switch Infinity linear bearing. I heard a muted variation of the noise once on my last ride. I think. For the most part the bike rides very quietly now.


Speeder, a commenter on the site, gave me the idea for a fender with his design. Rather than spanning the vertical members of the swingarm, his mudguard sits between them. They are attached to the main frame with zip ties that are invisible under the mud in the photo. There is a lot to like about this approach.

After having issues with minor wear on theSB150 test bike, likely due to a lack of maintenance on my part, I decided to have a good look at the linear bearing on this frame after a summer of mostly dry riding. Things were a little mucky after some recent rain rides, but once I cleaned and inspected everything it looked great. There are signs of discolouration inside the carrier, but the stanchions are perfect.

Because of my earlier issues, I wanted to fashion a fender to protect the Switch Infinity linear bearing. I took inspiration from one of our commenters who displayed one under my article about the tester. His design sat between the vertical members of swingarm and was attached to the main frame using zip ties. I decided to instead attach to the swingers for a little more coverage and more robust mounting. I may adopt Speeder's approach in time because I'm not happy with the zip ties being visible, although I don't have to worry about the finish on my frame getting wrecked because of RideWrap.



This custom frame protection solution has been a homerun. It has prevented scrapes in a few spots and minimized damage in others and undoubtedly protected areas I haven't even noticed. I was even able to try out the self-healing function and it works great. A flap was peeled up after a crash and all I did was push the plastic down into the hole and leave the bike in the sun. When I came back the flap had partially adhered to the surrounding material. I haven't experienced any peeling in exposed spots and the film still looks beautiful – and much of the credit goes to Andy at bikeroom who did a stellar install.


A bonus of protective film is that you can apply the decals of your choice and it's like they are under a clear coat. #longlivechainsaw


This is certainly worth the time and cost.

My favourite things about RideWrap are being able to clean the bike without worrying about damaging the bike's finish and having peace of mind when it's in the back of a truck loaded by mouth-breathing barbarians (aka my friends). If you missed my article on the RideWrap install process, check it out here.

Other Details


Blackburn's Clutch bottle cage is a single-sided carbon fibre affair available in 4 colours. The cage bolts through slots so you can move the cage fore and aft to suit your frame by 30mm. It will set you back 50 USD - for a 22 gram cage - with a lifetime warranty.


Removing the bottle is a simple pull to the left (or right if you buy the other version) and re-entry involves stuffing the end of the bottle into the cage and slapping the bottle over. A downside to the left entry is bottle access when your bike is on the ground.


I wrote about e*thirteen's new tread pattern and rubber compounds (MOPO! recently. You can find that here, but the Cole's notes are that I'm sold on them.


I really want to like the Ergon SME3 Pro Ti saddle. It's light and well made and the absence of rear rise makes it easy to slide behind, and the two sizes improve fit. Unfortunately I don't find it comfortable on my ass bones. I'm not sure if it's too soft so I'm pushing through the foam or too hard, but it's absolutely not just right. I'd be happier on a WTB Silverado - but this perch might end up being your Goldilocks solution.


The Fox 36 Fit4 has kept me smiling. Each click of any of the four damping adjustments makes a noticeable difference, making tuning a little easier. Lately it's been feeling a little sticky though so I think it's in need of a lower leg service.

I continue to be impressed by the SB150. The sizing and geometry are bang on for me and the suspension is amazing. The bike's most remarkable trait however is its versatility. You'd think a bike with a 170mm fork would be grouchy and slow in janky terrain but instead it's remarkably nimble, without any penalty to pay on rough high speed sections. It can take a hit, (although it's not as cushy dropping to flat as a Santa Cruz Bronson) corner like like a border collie wearing spikes and it's stable and inspiring in the air. It's as at home on Grannies, an old school tech line on Mount Fromme, as it is riding Earth Circus in Whistler's Creekside zone.


Here I am on the world's smallest road gap - in the 3 Blind Mice riding area near Penticton. Photo - Cedric Burgers

Next up I'll be swapping bars (WeAreOne's Da package bar and stem) and wheels (e*thirteen) but it likely won't be long before most everything is replaced on this workhorse test platform. If you have any suggestions about product you'd like to see us try please let us know below.

Trending on NSMB


+1 Cam McRae

I've put about 1700 miles on my XTR setup.  Got ~1500 miles out of the chain which is a big improvement over the M8000 XT chain for me.  I would only get about 800 miles out of those. This chain swap was done in time with my rear cassette and Blackspire oval chain ring still having plenty of life in them. I have no creaking coming from the cranks-chain ring interface.  The only creaking I had was when I was running the rear cassette without the thin clear plastic spacer.

The brakes have been fantastic for me as well.  I also swapped out the brake pads recently and got closer to about 1800 miles out of those.  I did run them a little longer then I should have but my at home cleaning and bleeding of those calipers were fine to get them back to top notch braking again.

Cheers, Mike


+1 Cam McRae

I've been on the new XTR for a while, with a Praxis crank / ring, which sadly means an Eagle chain. 

It's been flawless, I'd warrantied 2 Eagle rear derailleurs in the same period last year. My experience with the brakes mirrors yours - they're standout. Better than the 8050 4 pot, saints, and Saint to XTR XC lever combos I've run.


+1 Cam McRae

I went for the 168mm on my XTR cranks which is still more narrow then the XT at 172mm. Felt better for my alignment and cornering.


+1 Cam McRae

Thats a nice parts selection right there, gets a pretentious knowing nod from me.  

I'd almost be bummed to have to take some of that stuff off to test other parts...


+1 Cam McRae

Great review on the XTR parts. It's excellent stuff. There are a few parts mixes that work very well with the new 12 speed group sets too.

You can run the new XTR or XT levers with Saint calipers. More power than they had before with better modulation.

XT and SLX rear derailleurs work with Sram NX and GX shifters, actually better than the Sram ones. 

Swapping the XD driver body on your DT 240 or 350 rear hub for a Shimano Micro Spline type, means you can run Shimano cassettes and save yourself 50% on the price of a cassette (in NZ anyway) compared to the Sram ones. An XT rear hub is also a viable swap alternative too. Costs the same as a DT driver body. You do have to rebuild the wheel though.



Great info Doug! A few things I've been wondering about. Looking forward to trying some franken-bike combos!



wow, that's a lot of info to take in! But I read it all, because I have questions. which still remain. notably regarding the cranks. I recently came >< this close to buying some of the new XT cranks. But I thought I'd wait to see if any reports of creaky direct-mount chainrings surfaced. 

I want to try shorter cranks. I currently run RaceFace Cinch cranks, and have experienced some creaking. So has every single one of my buddies that has Cinch cranks. It's not bad, but if I'm going to change cranks I want that issue gone.

So... can you comment about Shimano's direct-mount chainring to crank arm interface? Any sounds emanating from it? Also, any word on whether the 12-speed teeth will interface with 11-speed chains?

thanks for the in-depth reviews...!



You are welcome!

I’ve had no issues with creaking on either the XT or XTR crank/chainring interface. I tested another set of cranks between them though and I’ve only had the XTRs a few weeks so it’s not a long term opinion. I do have a fair amount of confidence in Shimano’s testing and manufacturing though so I’m optimistic about long term silence. It seems like a very snug and precise connection if that tells us anything.



I've found the cinch system to be a pain and have noticed friends having to adjust their cranks mid-day and/or get used to the creaks.

The 2 pinch bolt system has been bomber for years so I'm also very reluctant to give up tried and true.  Shimano does put a lot of effort into things, but they do flub things from time to time.


+1 Velocipedestrian

Why they moved away from that system I have no idea.



Did Shimano finally solve the crank finish issue? That is, several iterations of Shimano cranks throughout the years look very worn after only a few pedal strokes. This is of course due to shoes rubbing grit into them. Are those pix of the XTR cranks after they've been used? If so, they look like they are really standing up to abrasion, or you don't rub them at all. 



+1 pdxkid

I do rub and those are before photos. It seems to me the solution was to only clear anodize the surface that will inevitably encounter abrasion so the wear looks less noticeable. I'll grab a shot when I have a chance now that I have a few rides on them in sloppy weather.



After a couple of very muddy rides on flats, the cranks are looking a little worse for wear. Worse than I thought actually. I didn't expect the word mark to get so battered. I don't really mind it but others might. 



Doesn't sound like you've had any of the wandering bite point issues. How'd you bleed them?

Occasionally that happens to me and I'm contemplating a full bleed as up to now I've just added fluid and hopefully removed air at the lever.



I was actually expecting it, because I was told by an insider that, while better on these brakes, it's still something that can happen. But it hasn't. Even on long runs or cold days, they have been incredibly solid, and I'm picky about lever engagement.



Good to hear, when I get annoyed/bored I'll give them a full bleed and see if that helps.



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How about testing a coil shock? Compare to air? I recently put a coil on my HD4 and I'm interested in having my opinions validated. :)



That's a good idea and something I'm interested in. I'll have a sniff around. Thanks



from what oneup told me, the numbered degree markers on the handlebar are supposed to be aligned with the stem's "no gap" crease to ensure the bar roll matches the headtube number on the handlebar as a starting point. matching the flat part to the ground seems like a really rolled back position from what i remember, i'll have to check my oneup bar's flat part.



Cam, How are you liking the Ride Concepts shoes? I can’t decide between those and the bread and butter 5.10 Impact pro. I’ve been on clips for years and I’m looking to go to composite flats for the winter to see if that helps with the cold feet I get.



Winter riding got me back on flats after five years of SPDs actually, but because of snow clogging up my pedals rather than cold feet. I've been having a blast on them. 

The ones in the photo are the Powerline which I haven't reviewed. I believe AJ is reviewing them actually. They have a higher grip sole than the Livewire but I haven't noticed a big difference in that regard. I like the extra coverage on the medial collar and slightly burlier upper overall. Build quality and materials in each of the three RC shoes I've worn has been right at the top and the details, like the lace capture loop, are well thought out and executed. I would recommend them without hesitation.



I've been riding in the RC's Hellion all summer and to me they feel so much better than the 5.10s. They're a little stiff at first, but after a few rides I love them. I've tried riding in my 5.10s and can't stand them, they're too soft and my feet don't feel secure in them.

The Hellions have their 6 rating and on my very well used flats they slipped a little, but were fine after I gave the pins a little filing to flatten them again. I just bought the Powerline and the tread is softer which I think will be better in the wet. RC's seem more durable than the 5.10s too.

I highly recommend them.



"The low Q factor of these cranks has made me realize that I really appreciate a low Q factor" -> Did you with 162 or 168? Or are you saying both of these are low factors?



I don't believe the Shimano rings are steel teeth with an alloy spider on the XTR. Can you confirm this is true?



The chain ring is all alloy. The cassette has 3 (largest) alloy sprockets and 9 steel.


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