Colab Wolf Tooth and Giant NSMB AndrewM.JPG
EDITORIAL

Hidden Colabs

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major
Date Jul 1, 2020

Bike Industry X Collaborations

To avoid the risk of having some folks in jacked-up Ford F150s parked outside my apartment tonight blaring 103.1 New Country FM and crushing Budweisers. I'm going to start by throwing out an honourable mention to We Are One's Da Package colab with 77 Designz. Which I think would be really, really interesting in a 12° and 16° backsweep (hint, hint). Whether the 375 CAD Kamloops-made carbon bar and aluminum stem are in your wheelhouse or not, they're a great example of what collaborations can, and should, result in. Unique products combining both firms' talents and technology.

The bike industry, of course, has a long history of marketing collaborations. 99% of the time that's paying Troy Lee to design graphics for your frame, handlebar, cranks, or underpants. There’s also the occasional combination of some brand's logo printed on a limited edition colour of some other brand's existing product with results that look cool. For the most part though, these aren’t creating anything new or innovative.

But, some collaborations are not marketed at all, my favourite one appears to have happened entirely by accident, and occasionally I have a daydream I'm capable of merging myself. Here are two existing colabs that I think are awesome, and un(der)-reported, and one I had to made happen myself.

Wolf Tooth x Giant

I'm going to start off with my DIY effort as I'm still a bit giddy about this one. I've been truly enjoying the Wolf Tooth EnCase multi-tool and the 12° Fasst Flexx bars I've been using with the one issue that they are not compatible with each other. EnCase will not fit into bars with a narrower ID than 17.5mm and that includes the Flexx bar along with a fair number of other carbon options.

At the same time, I noted in February that Giant's magnetic Clutch Fork system would be a great place to house an inverted-EDC tool but as someone who never uses a CO2 inflator on the trail, I didn't feel it was living up to its potential.

It would be easy enough for Wolf Tooth to manufacture a beautiful beveled insert with a magnet that would interface with the Clutch cap but for my quick and dirty duo, the missing link ended up being an old ISIS-spline crank bolt that was exactly the right OD and length to thread into the EnCase rubber sleeve.

3 Fresh Things For Fall Giant Clutch NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

Giant's Clutch Fork system combines a steerer tube insert and a plastic cap, designed to hold a CO2 cartridge, that threads in.

Wolf Tooth EnCase NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

Wolf Tooth's EnCase multi-tool is a delight to use with 14x functions and a rubber casing to keep things quiet.

Starting from scratch, all the pieces are available to build this exact setup piecemeal. It isn't cheap but it works really well if carrying a great tool in your steerer tube is a life goal.

Giant sells the whole Clutch Fork tool for 40 USD | 55 CAD but it's also possible to buy the fork inserts and the threaded cap separately. From your local Giant dealer, it's 23 CAD for the steerer insert and 20 CAD for the cap. Whatever bike shop you regularly deal with will be happy to toss you a random crank bolt if they haven't recycled them all so I'm calling that a $0 add-on.

From Wolf Tooth the EnCase multi-tool on its own is 71 CAD and just buying rubber sleeves, without the end caps, is 29 CAD for a pair.

That's 143 CAD, or about 105 USD, to assemble the tool as seen. That sounds like a lot but it's comparable to buying a OneUp EDC once you add up the tool, top-cap and steerer plug, and tap kit.

This system is dead silent in both the Manitou Mezzer and Cane Creek Helm forks I've been using it with. Thanks to magnets, the tool sits to the side of the Clutch cap and being wrapped in rubber it doesn't make a peep. It adds a bit of time to remove the tool compared to running it in my handlebar but I don't mind taking an extra thirty seconds when I need a tool on the trail.

Inclusive to Fox*, RockShox, Manitou, and Cane Creek I have yet to come across a fork that Giant's Clutch Fork system won't easily install into and I've had no issues with their insert coming loose or popping out on the trail even having pulled it and reused it multiple times. I haven't used a nicer multi-tool trailside than the EnCase so this combo seems like a no-brainer production colab between the folks at Giant and Wolf Tooth.

*It likely does not fit the new Fox 38 due to the oval steerer

Crankbrothers Mallet DH x Shoes

Shimano has been pushing the benefits of using their shoes and pedals together as a system for a while now with the latest iterations of their trail and DH pedals offering a maximized interface. On paper, this adds confidence and watts through increased support without having any negative effect on clipping out.

I've used plenty of different shoes with Shimano pedals over the years and I think there's a solid argument that most companies closely match up with Shimano's lug heights in order to ensure SPD compatibility with their pedals. For those that aren't perfect, it's easy enough to add a cleat shim to find the sweet spot.

What strikes me as strange is that with other companies making shoes or pedals, but not both, that no one is combining with HT, Time*, Look, or Crankbrothers to offer a colab shoe & pedal setup designed to work as a perfect pairing.

*Mavic offered re-branded Time pedals but there was nothing special about using the shoes or pedals in concert.

Waltworks Drivetrain NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

Wider stance, pins down, soft flat-soled shoe, and cleats mounted rearward. I think the best combination of what I love about flat pedals and clipless pedals is achieved starting with the Mallet DH pedal.

Bontrager Rally Shoe NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

Bontrager's Rally clip-in shoe has been my best personal experience thus far but I have no reason to think running the right cleat height with a FiveTen, Leatt, RC, or etc boot wouldn't also deliver great results.

I both loveriding flat pedals and suck at it, especially on my single speed, but I have discovered my ultimate clipped-in compromise. I combine the float & feel of Crankbrothers winged eggbeater clip-in system (the wide stance and big body of the Mallet DH specifically) with a flexible shoe that lets me load into the platform of the pedal like riding flats. It works amazingly. I shim the cleats out just enough so my rear-mounted cleats disengage effortlessly when unloaded but I get as much support when pedaling as any combination of carbon soled XC-shoe and pedal I've tried.

The best shoe-pedal combination I've found could actually be called a colab. After all, Crankbrothers sponsors Trek's Enduro race team and that's who worked with Bontrager's design team to develop these shoes. Presumably, Bontrager doesn't push that point for fear of discouraging sales to the majority of clip-in riders who run Shimano pedals.

Crankbrothers doesn't make shoes. With the Big-S exception, companies making skate-style clip-in shoes don't make pedals. Not everyone wants that rigid standing-on-a-pedal clipped in feeling but it's nice to have carbon-esque support when pushing down on the pedals. This seems like such a great opportunity for someone to run with.

Magura x Formula x Hope

Either no one can explain how my favourite colab came about, or possibly no one wants to. Either way, most folks I talk to have no idea that there's actually, practically, a handlebar clamp standard in the bike industry that makes multiple brands clutter-reducing accessories interchangeable.

Magura, Formula, and Hope all share, at least in a close-enough-is-good-enough approximation, the same two-bolt brake lever clamp dimensions and I've taken advantage of this multiple ways. First, by buying Hope clamps to run Shimano I-Spec shifters with Magura brakes before they made their own system and most often by swapping my Wolf Tooth ReMote clamp between Formula and Magura brakes.

Formula Cura Brakes AndrewM

I've run the Magura ReMote with Formula Cura and Magura MT brakes. I've also seen one mounted to a, non-MatchMaker, SRAM Guide T brake.

Wolftooth_ReMote_NSMB_AndrewM_4.original.jpg

With variations of lever length v. clamp positioning it's nice that the ReMote has some side-to-side adjustment.

Currently in the immediate bikes I routinely service, mine, my wife's, and my brother CTK's, have a Magura ShiftMix clamp on a Formula Cura Brake, two Formula Cura MixMaster clamps on Magura MT brakes, and a lone Magura ShiftMix clamp actually holding a Shimano I-Spec shifter to a Magura brake.

The different clamps produce different angles and positions and it's quite lovely being able to optimize de-cluttering hardware for lever position. For example, I run my brake levers much more French than CTK does and that has a large effect on our dropper post remote positions v. having a dropper post remote clamped separately.

Lately, I've discovered dropper post lever nirvana with the inboard-but-forward position delivered by a Magura ShiftMix MatchMaker clamp, mounted to a Formula Cura 4 lever, with the new e13 three-position dropper remote that comes with their Vario dropper.

Formula Cura Brakes AndrewM

This 11spd GX shifter, with e13 12spd guts, on a Formula MixMaster clamp, spent most of its life mated to a pair of Magura MT 5 master cylinders.

Given the rampant incompatibility, I'm surprised that these companies aren't advertising the interchangeability of their accessories, and that more aftermarket brands aren't offering their takes on accessory mounts using this two-bolt standard.

The big takeaways for me are that quite often a company's decluttering mounts won't provide enough adjustment range - angle or side-to-side - to work as well as keeping separate clamps but mountain bikers are absolutely drawn to the clean appearance of combining brakes, shifter, and dropper levers into a single pair of clamps. By thinking outside a specific brand it's easy to optimize for the angle and position of your brake levers relative to your grips.

e13 Vario Dropper and Remote NSMB AndrewM (1).JPG

Lately, dropper post nirvana for me has combined the new, MatchMaker compatible, e13 remote mated to a Magura ShiftMix clamp.

e13 Vario Dropper and Remote NSMB AndrewM (22).JPG

I've mainly run it with a pair of Formula Cura 4 brakes with their longer lever blades. Paired with Magura's HC lever I prefer to the right-hand ShiftMix for the left lever.

No vaporware here! All these hidden collaborations are readily available or a crank-bolt away from a DIY package. From modifying frames to run stealth dropper routing to lowering forks for freeride-stiff, XC-travel packages, to cutting tires, to friction shifters that can run any drivetrain, and beyond, I think a huge part of mountain biking is about riders innovating using what they already have.

What have you drilled holes in lately?

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Comments

Reuben.Sandwich
+6 Tjaard Breeuwer JT Andrew Major Agleck7 danimaniac twk
Reuben.Sandwich  - July 1, 2020, 4:22 a.m.

A 230 x 65mm metric sized shock (RMB Slayer, Pivot firebird etc) is exactly 11mm shorter in both dimensions than a standard 9.5 x 3 DH shock. Jam an 11mm spacer in the negative chamber and away you go. I have converted two coil shocks thus far for my Slayer that have cost 5/8 of FA to buy and sold the first at 150% profit because it was "new" and "metric" and "so enduro".

I mated a Sturmey Archer 3 speed hub gear to a Shimano front shifter in 1997. My pub bike was dialled even though I couldn't legally go to the pub...

I'm also offering my angle grinding services to anyone that wants to shoehorn a Fox 36 internal into a 35mm Rock Shox chassis.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 6:11 a.m.

Should throw some props to Rocky here for making it possible by not going on-trend and swapping over to Trunnion Mount!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 6:23 a.m.

What’s are you trying to accomplish in making a FoxShox? Putting an RC2 FIT cartridge into a Yari?

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Mondoss
0
Mondoss  - July 2, 2020, 3:22 a.m.

This is a clever conversion for a coil shock, but it’ll cook an air spring curve pretty good.

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danimaniac
0
danimaniac  - July 1, 2020, 4:54 a.m.

Have you tried if the Formula/Magura Clamps are interchangable with the Hayes ones? It sucks how there's only a Peacemaker Clamp for the right side available from Hayes. That puts my dropper-lever too far inboard.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 6:12 a.m.

I would have noted it for sure if Hayes were also interchangeable.

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Shortyesquire
+1 Andrew Major
Andrew Collins  - July 1, 2020, 5:33 a.m.

Why not just use a Oneup EDC in the steerer tube?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 6:20 a.m.

I mean, lots of reasons. First reason to combine Clutch X EnCase is because I could. It’s a powerful motivator. 

Also, as noted, the EnCase tool is the nicest I’ve used trailside. It’s lovely.

I’m very fond of OneUp’s EDC combined with their (excellent) mini pump but I’ve never been into threading my steerer tube (not that I think it’s a structural issue or anything) and in use I’m less of a fan of their stem-preloader.

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andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - July 1, 2020, 3 p.m.

The fact that it voids the fork warranty is a good starting point. I have my OneUp EDC in my OneUp 100ml pump attached to my bottle cage.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 3:36 p.m.

On paper, that's true (modifications void warranty) but on the ground, I've never heard of a single brand denying a warranty of a CSU threaded for the EDC and I've been involved with plenty of people's claims.

And that makes sense, I mean, there's no link between cutting some threads in the top of your steerer tube and said steerer coming loose in your crown. 

Also, because I'm a cynical jerk, I'm suddenly wondering what the record is for most EDC installs for a single fork (due to CSU replacements). I guess at some point you'd just buy the (excellent) pump and store the tube in there to save the hassle.

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Vikb
+1 Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - July 3, 2020, 10:50 a.m.

The way most riders think warranties work and they way they actually do is pretty divergent based on what I read and hear people say.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 3, 2020, 12:53 p.m.

You see it all the time working in shops - especially with suspension - where riders wear stuff out and because it’s within a certain time frame they demand a free replacement despite warranties covering “defects in manufacturing or materials” only. No sympathy - companies have all put themselves in this position.

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mrbrett
0
mrbrett  - July 2, 2020, 3:17 p.m.

Specialized SWAT? Tool is $120 CAD and no tapping ...

Reply

jt
+3 Tjaard Breeuwer Dan Andrew Major
JT  - July 1, 2020, 6:20 a.m.

A buddy who works at a bike co-op at a local high school got a donated SB66 frame that he sold me for a song, a very short song. Problem with it was the 20" seat tube and it didn't have internal routing. With warranty thoughts no where to be had, I lopped off 35mm from the top of the seat tube and poked a hole through a spot in the BB forging (after consulting a friend who's a prototype machinist) to run a 150mm dropper. I wasn't looking to go back to 26 from my 27.5, but Yeti>Trek near any model year.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 12:44 p.m.

Aluminum SB66? I have cut down, and re-slotted, a couple of aluminum seat tubes now but I have yet to do a carbon frame.

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dan
0
Dan  - July 1, 2020, 1:19 p.m.

"BB forging" to me suggests to me that it's an alloy frame. ;)

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 1:38 p.m.

Totally, but truth told I can't remember how Yeti used to assembly carbon frames so I was thinking for a moment that maybe the SB66 carbon had an aluminum lug.

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Tjaardbreeuwer
0
Tjaard Breeuwer  - July 2, 2020, 5:26 a.m.

The first video I found online about cutting down your seat tube was a carbon frame. I think it was some online bike shop owner or such, can8t remember exactly.

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jt
+1 Andrew Major
JT  - July 2, 2020, 11:12 a.m.

Yup, the Al version. It was a helluva deal, but not THAT much of a deal :D

Reply

JohnC
+1 Andrew Major
JohnC  - July 1, 2020, 9:29 a.m.

Somewhat related to your article, how has the E13 conversion to 12 speed on your GX 11spd been working out?  Have been considering it for some time as the 42 top 11spd gear is just a bit large for long climb days.

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AndrewMajor
0 AndrewR JohnC
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 2:23 p.m.

I’ve had really good experiences with e13 11spd and 12spd cassettes. I really like the new assemblies with the pinch bolt. 

I think that shifter (GX + e13) is potentially the best non-AXS SRAM shifter you can buy. The cartridge bearing smoothness of higher end shifters with the long paddle and stiffness that has had a number of riders choose to run GX shifter with the higher level drivetrains.

Reply

andrewbikeguide
+1 Andrew Major
AndrewR  - July 1, 2020, 3:04 p.m.

Agree re the updated pinch bolt versions of the e13 cassettes. Reliable, silent and shift well. Handy to be able to buy the new upper cassette portion (the part that generally has the wear that leads to the change of cassette). That said I am looking at less than 0.25 wear on an XX1 Eagle chain after 1600 km and other than some cosmetic wear on the coating on the X01 Eagle cassette I am looking at a drive train that will last longer than I generally keep my bikes.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 3:30 p.m.

The top-end SRAM cassettes hold up really well. Still hard to justify the eye-boggling cost of entry though.

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kekoa
+1 Andrew Major
kekoa  - July 1, 2020, 10:28 a.m.

Ha! The TLD underwear colab comment made me laugh. Tried them in lieu of spandex last week and it was interesting. Need to play to with my saddle choice and angle a bit...

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 11:28 a.m.

Hahaha. This is awesome.

Hope they work for you! Definitely made me aware of saddles that suck (whether in general or just for me).

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blaklabl
+1 Andrew Major
blaklabl  - July 1, 2020, 12:20 p.m.

So Andrew, the crank bolt acts as the magnet draw to the base?  And do you need to pull out the aluminum bar end caps or just get a new rubber sleeve and push the crank bolt into it?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 12:41 p.m.

The bolt acts with the magnetic base & has the proper OD to fit tightly in the sleeve. It's not permanent by any means and it's easy enough to pop the stock aluminum bar end back into place. 

The aluminum bar end caps have a nice, tight, fit but they can be removed and installed by hand.

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andrewbikeguide
+1 Andrew Major
AndrewR  - July 1, 2020, 3:10 p.m.

@Andrew Major. Got to love your willingness to experiment! My latest experiment is plasti-dip on metal brake levers as I really dislike cold levers on bare finger tips and the electrical shock I get when passing under hydro lines. https://www.instagram.com/p/CB1s2VnntjF/

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 1, 2020, 3:28 p.m.

Do you notice a big difference in the cold? Negative impact to feel the rest of the time?

The difference between my carbon levers and aluminum levers is incredible.

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andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - July 2, 2020, 8:37 p.m.

It hasn't been very cold but one can feel the difference with a 5º drop so I imagine it will be even more noticeable in the autumn. It is nice to be able to ride Hot Dog Alley and any trail that passes under hydro lines and not get zapped too! 

They are also grippier for wet finger tips in the rain than the standard metal. 

I have dipped all my metal brake levers now and will continue to do so from now on.

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minotaur
+1 Andrew Major
minotaur  - July 3, 2020, 8:01 a.m.

Been drilling quite a bit of holes lately :)

https://www.instagram.com/p/CB8AFrRlBDf/

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - July 3, 2020, 12:56 p.m.

Look sweet!

How do you get both levers to be exactly the same? A jig of some kind?

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minotaur
0
minotaur  - July 3, 2020, 11:46 p.m.

These are made from scratch with CNC equipment :)

I found the levers of the Formula "Racing" models (pull master cylinder) were way too flexy.

It took a while but well worth the effort. They now brake as they should, without mushy feeling or delay.

The drilling is for grip: anodized aluminium is very slippery.

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