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More to Say Down the Road...

Product Review Updates - Winter Edition

Words Cam McRae
Photos Cam McRae (unless noted)
Date Feb 19, 2020

E13 MOPO tires

I was very keen on these tires and for the most part they worked great. The rear wore out eventually, at an expected rate considering how soft they are, but the front still had lots of tread so I kept running it. But then it started to lose air. Eventually I realized the sidewalls had worn away somehow, likely due to riding in gritty and mucky conditions. This may have been an anomaly, since it didn't happen to the rear, but it seems worth noting.

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Some combination of factors wore away the rubber on the sidewall of the e*thirteen MOPO tire exposing the threads and compromising the air chamber. It would last the length of a ride but by the next day was quite low. This didn't happen to the rear however.

Switch Infinity Link on Yeti SB150

I continue to marvel at the ride of the Yeti SB150 I've been using as a test platform. It does everything I ask of it beautifully and I enjoy it a little more every day. It pedals as well as any fully capable, aggressive gravity machine I've ever ridden, and never feels unruly or outmatched.

The original Yeti SB 150 tester I received had been ridden. It didn't appear to be in bad shape at all, but I had no idea what it had been through. Part way into my test, when I had been riding some in sloppy weather, I decided to pull apart the Fox linear bearing that allows the main pivot on Switch Infinity bikes to move up and down ever so slightly as it cycles through its travel. What I found that first time around wasn't terrible, but it wasn't perfect either. There was a little scoring on both the rear stanchion and the bearing surface inside the shuttle device. The Kashima coating was worn off entirely in one small area. It still felt smooth but the recommendation from Yeti would have been repair or replace, and my understanding was this would have been covered by warranty. It was time to send the bike back so I did that instead.

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On my third try I think made a fender that will stay in one place and protect the linear bearing from excess mud bathing. It's held in place by three velcro strips.

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Note - this design was inspired by one of our readers in the comments thread of a previous article. I have used a more flexible plastic (from a cut up Marsh Guard) and covered more of the area between the vertical members of the swingarm.

Yeti recommends using a needle grease gun to push in fresh lube and squeeze out contaminants every 40 hours. Which probably means it should be done every 20 hours during a North Shore winter. Since I want to know what's going on inside, I pull out the mechanism, take it apart, inspect and clean it, and then put it back together with fresh grease.* I'd be shocked to learn it's been less than 120 hours since I last opened 'er up, and quite possibly the muckiest 120 hours I've ever ridden, but there was no obvious change since the last time. A portion of the difference may have been V. 2 of my homemade fender, copied from a reader. Muck still gets in there but much less than without the mini mudguard. Version 3 is pictured above and it provides a little more coverage.

*Fox strongly recommends never opening up the mechanism, but I can see no reason why not. You may void your warranty however so don't follow my lead without this knowledge.

asdf

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Despite riding more this winter than ever before, the condition of the Split Infinity mechanism was 100%. What worried me was my habit of spraying it off directly - with a hose on a jet setting - after most rides. This is a bad idea, which is why I do it. If you can avoid this practice you should, but bad care practices make for good test practices.

Shimano XTR M9100 Drivetrain

I took a couple of links out of the XTR chain recently and reset the B tension appropriately. Jeff Bryson noticed it was a little long and, even though it was shifting perfectly, this seemed like the correct strategy. The B tension needed a wee adjustment with the shorter chain and once it was done I didn't think much about it until the next ride. The already incredible shifting, particularly under power, became even silkier. I would have included the drivetrain performance even before those minor adjustments, but discovering it could improve blew me away. The good news is that the XT and LX shifting should be almost as good.

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Last time I did an update I was asked about the condition of the XTR cranks. Cosmetically they aren't great, thanks to winter use with flat pedals, but they are just fine with me.

xtr-9100-drivetrain.jpg

This is the best shifting drivetrain I have ever used. Under load it's a marvel and I shift in situations that would be unthinkable using most other systems.

Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier WXB Gloves

Winter gloves are a regular test item for those of us who ride year-round the Sea-to-Sky region, and I've been through many in the last five years. Surprisingly the ones I continue to turn to have been in use that entire time.

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Photo - Kaz Yamamura

Pearl Izumi's Pro Barrier WXB gloves aren't cheap, at 100 USD but right now they are actually on sale for 75 USD. It could be they are being discontinued in fact. Either way, in five years of winter use these have remained solid at keeping out the wet and keeping in the warmth. They won't keep you completely dry for a three hour ride, or keep you perfectly toasty when it's below -3º Celsius, but they'll still be decent by the time you are done. Most importantly to me, they perform this well without having too much material between palm or fingers and your bar or controls. They have mulitple layers but they are thin and they don't bunch so I can perform as though I'm wearing summer gloves.

Even more remarkably, they show no signs of wear and haven't torn or blown a single seam. If they do begin to degrade, you can be sure I'll be getting them repaired. Please don't stop making these Pearl Izumi!

7Mesh Revo Short and Guardian Jacket

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7Mesh's Revo shorts in use back in 2016. They work perfectly in this their 4th winter. Photo - Dave Smith

These are products that you may think should go into the Gucci category, but I've come to believe they are actually good value. This is winter number 4 for the Revo shorts and, even though I've got other waterproof shorts, I wear these 8 winter rides out of 10. I care for them terribly, washing them less than once a month* at most, which means every 15-20 rides lately, but the coverage and waterproofing they provide is second to none. I love the generously-sized slash pockets and the waist cinches and the long cut is great for keeping out the wet and cold. At 275 CAD or 225 USD I call these good value. They have no vents and they will be hot for some riders during April showers, but a dry ass, particularly beneath a chamois, is a beautiful thing.

I often spray them off post ride, but this is not recommended Gore-Tex care

More info here...

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The 7Mesh Guardian jacket keeps the wind out admirably on days when it's not raining on the North Shore. I grab it no matter what the weather on every winter ride. Photo - AJ Barlas

The Guardian jacket isn't the most waterproof jacket 7Mesh makes. That crown goes to the Revelation, which is full triple layer Gore-Tex Pro. It has 4 venting zips, a removable hood, cinches at the cuffs and all the features. The Guardian has no vents, no cinches and the hood stays in place, but it's been my go to every ride this winter. It keeps the water out so well that I've only found its limit a couple of times, in particularly biblical conditions, the Gore-Tex Active 3 layer fabric is also incredibly breathable so the lack of vents is never an issue. The pockets are well-placed and useful for stowage but you can't put your hands in them except to retrieve gear. The non-removable hood stays out of the way when not in use and the elasticized cuffs do their job perfectly. All this in a jacket you can stuff easily in a pack or fanny, or even a jersey pocket in a pinch. This is an expensive jacket, by any measure, but with 7Mesh's comprehensive warranty, I would argue the value is there at 500 CAD and 400 USD.

More info here...


f there are other products we have reviewed that you'd like updates on please let us know in the comments...

cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae

Age - (Is this really necessary?) 53

Height - 6'/183cm (mostly legs)

Weight - 165lbs/75kg

Ape Index - 0.986

Inseam - 33"/84cm

Trail I've been stoked on lately - Fifth Horseman

Bar Width - 770mm

Preferred Reach - 475-490mm

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Comments

Jenkins5
+2 Cam McRae Dan
Jenkins5  - Feb. 19, 2020, 8:33 a.m.

Interesting results on the tire. Think it might have been a one off. I’ve been running the same TRS Mopo  tire in the front for a year with no issues (and I ride Shore, Squamish, Pemby too). It still has good tread but I’ll probably grab a fresh one for spring. I did once have a Maxxis DHR do that to me though but chalked It up to wear and maybe a bit of a defect.

Reply

mammal
+1 Jenkins5
Mammal  - Feb. 19, 2020, 9:59 a.m.

I've also had that happen (but far less severe), with Minions, but it's rare. Just enough to let some sealant out the side wall, which starts to look pretty weird.

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cooperquinn
+1 Mammal
Cooper Quinn  - Feb. 19, 2020, 10:44 a.m.

The clear weeping!

Reply

D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - Feb. 19, 2020, 11:35 p.m.

I have sealed up weepy, porous tires with good success using Continental’s recommended method of rubbing the sealant into the full surface area on the inside of the tire. It has worked for me using regular Stan’s on multiple tire brands. Continentals are notoriously porous, which is likely why they recommend doing this.

I had an OEM Maxxis DHR II that was so porous that the sidewalls were peppered with Stan’s boogers and it wouldn’t hold air overnight. Rubbing some Stan’s into the sidewalls using a paper towel solved the problem.

Continental’s tubeless install video: https://youtube.com/watch?v=1HfULR0PnZE

Reply

Taz123
+8 pdxkid Bikeridenow Cam McRae Cr4w Jenkins5 Mammal Todd Hellinga Dan
Taz123  - Feb. 19, 2020, 8:38 a.m.

I like this format of review, short, sweet and clear. "Here is all the stuff I'm trying out at the moment".

Reply

JVP
+8 Beau Miller Velocipedestrian Jenkins5 Mammal Jerry Willows Metacomet Dan Niels
JVP  - Feb. 19, 2020, 8:40 a.m.

Cam, I love these long term follow ups!  For those of us who are frugal and ride a lot, this is what really matters. I'll happily spend more more on a reliable, longer-lasting product every time (except for tires, grip is king).  

On those e.thirteen tires, maybe try Orange Seal if the tread is still good and you want more mileage out of them. I like both Orange and Stan's, they're good at different things. Orange Seal seems to seal anything up! But also seals up my valves too often. So I use it when needed for extra sealing, and use that valve unplugger little plastic thing every few times I inflate them.  Every once in a while I need to pull the tire off to clear out the sealed up goo on the valve.

Stan's works great for normal use, not quite as crazy-good sealing, but also easier to live with.  It does dry out faster than Orange over the course of a summer. It's my preferred daily driver.

I'm guessing your sidewall threads wore quickly because you like fairly low pressures, if I recall right. Now that I run slightly higher, my side knobs die first. Back in my lower pressure days, it was sidewalls with all those X-marks showing through. And rims, oh so many rims.

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dan
+2 Cam McRae Mammal
Dan  - Feb. 19, 2020, 9:30 a.m.

RE XTR: interesting you note that the lower specs "should be almost as good". Late last year I replaced the OEM NX group* on my Slash and installed an SLX shifter and mech with an XT 11sp cassette, and I don't think this shifter is capable of much. There's a remarkable amount of slop in it fresh out of the box, especially for upshifts. I highly suspect it's engineered in to justify the jump to XT (because really, what else really separates these groups? Serious question.) I'm due for a dropper post service and I may as well install new shift cable and housing while I am at it because this SLX unit is a turd so far. I'll chime back in after the service is done. 

Also, another +1 on this format.

*While not flashy or remotely lightweight, the oddball 11sp/HG driver based NX group from '18 wasn't bad. Honest to goodness ka-chunk shifts, mech never failed, and it lasted two full seasons in the NW. Ultimately it was the mech that just plain wore out. I've wanted a Shimano bike from the start so I swapped when the time came. Guides were swapped out for SLX stoppers last year too.

Reply

mammal
+1 Dan
Mammal  - Feb. 19, 2020, 10:45 a.m.

For reference, I just bought a bike with current NX (still HG driver), and I find it perfectly fine. Hoping for the same wear as you had...

Reply

velocipedestrian
+2 pdxkid Andrew Major
Velocipedestrian  - Feb. 19, 2020, 2:21 p.m.

Upgrading the shifter a level or two above the derailleur is a great min-max move with Shimano (I'm sure with Sram too, I just haven't tried it).

I'm loving the old 10spd xtr shifter / slx derailleur combo, just slightly disappointed with the sunrace cassette - the extra range is great, but the shifts got slightly worse.

Reply

pdxkid
0
pdxkid  - Feb. 21, 2020, 7:07 p.m.

XT der, XTR shifter here.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Dan
Cam McRae  - Feb. 19, 2020, 3:25 p.m.

TBF I have fondled but not ridden SLX, but my experience on XT was very close to XTR and I assume the trickle is scaled equally between the groups. Are you saying you were using an SLX 12spd shifter with an 11-spd cassette? It seems you are talking about the previous gen. SLX though.

Reply

velocipedestrian
0
Velocipedestrian  - Feb. 20, 2020, 12:22 p.m.

Me?

No, 10spd right through, my shifters seldom get smashed, but dérailleurs sometimes, hence the SLX dangling off the back.

Reply

dan
0
Dan  - Feb. 20, 2020, 12:38 p.m.

Indeed, Cam, I'm using 11sp throughout. I didn't use enough words thought to explain my full thought - which was reacting to your hope/suggestion that there would be similar (high) quality from 12sp SLX and XT after experiencing M9100 XTR, as my time on 11sp SLX is that it's pretty far removed from 11sp XT. (Haven't sampled XTR since 10sp.) Took another look at my hbar layout last night and saw that the upshift trigger has enough slop that it even contacts the XT shifter perch and impedes shifts. BLERG. (I am not running iSpec but perhaps I should be. Crikey.)

Reply

D_C_
+1 Dan
DMVancouver  - Feb. 19, 2020, 11:30 p.m.

I agree, the 11 speed SLX shifter feels imprecise. XT is closer in feel to XTR, and SLX is a step down. I am not sure about 12-speed, though.

Reply

oldmanbike
+1 Cam McRae
OldManBike  - Feb. 19, 2020, 10:18 a.m.

I picked up a pair of the WXB gloves a couple years ago based on Cam's glowing 2014 review. I like but don't love them. I wear them around freezing, too cold for regular gloves but not cold enough for big insulated gloves, and don't use them in the wet much. They do the job and have held up pretty well, and I have no plans to replace them. But, unlike Cam, I find the layers between fingers and between palm and bar to impart enough of a sloppy feeling to keep me from loving them. (Also, the wrist velcro never worked well and now barely works at all, which is annoying but only on the coldest days.) Maybe this is the minimum glove that's effective in the cold wet, but a little bulkier than necessary for cold dry, so the fact that you're using it for conditions closer to what it was designed for may explain why you love it and I merely like it.

Reply

mammal
+3 Metacomet Agleck7 Bushpilot
Mammal  - Feb. 19, 2020, 11:22 a.m.

I love the Brisker MTB Glove from 100%. They're not waterproof, but quite warm, and the palm material is just a hair thicker than summer gloves which prevents bunch-up really well.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Feb. 19, 2020, 3:31 p.m.

The dreaded personal preference is most evident with hands; grips, lever angle and throw, glove thickness, bar height and sweep. I agree that the wrist strap isn't great, but I find it works well enough for me. Unless it's particularly bitter or torrential I just leave them open.

Reply

oldmanbike
+2 JVP Cam McRae
OldManBike  - Feb. 20, 2020, 10:57 a.m.

Yes, agree on personal preference, just giving another data point. Different princesses = different peas.

The Brisker gloves seem like a good design, but how do they fit the entire billboard on them?

Reply

troy
0
Troy  - Feb. 26, 2020, 4:22 p.m.

Based on the 2016 review I bought these and went a size up and use some thin Outdoor Research woll gloves as a base layer. Mostly used for commuting as I too don't like how the "layers" disconnect me from the grips, but I've never had cold fingers and I can't recall them leaking even on 20 mile Seattle winter commutes.

Reply

goose8
+1 Cam McRae
goose8  - Feb. 19, 2020, 3:11 p.m.

In terms of other products, hows the suntour durolux fork holding up? Any issues with the axle removal getting persnickety? I’d be interested to hear a long-term report. 

Cheers!

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Feb. 19, 2020, 3:27 p.m.

I believe that was Andrew's test? If he's still running it I'll pass that along.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 goose8
Andrew Major  - Feb. 19, 2020, 4:57 p.m.

It’s so funny to me that folks always zero in on the axle system when in my view - after some of the porosity I’ve seen in fork lowers - anything that makes the magnesium lowers simpler to manufacture is awesome.

Anyways, between my Durolux RC2, my wife’s Auron RC2 (purchased based on my experience with Durolux), and the Suntour forks I’ve ridden on Rocky Growlers for budget bike reviews I’ve never had an issue with the axles.

I prefer the simplicity of air systems with a coil negative spring (like all the pre-2013 Fox forks) whether they have a changeable spring like the Suntour (I run the heavy) or an adjustable preload neg spring like DVO uses it’s all good as long as there’s some level of adjustability. Bonus of these systems is travel adjust is cheap, simple, and infinite (spacers).

These are forks for the 90%’ers. They’re set and forget, plush, ride well, are easy to service, I (surprisingly) still haven’t made a crown creak, but they don’t have the bleeding-edge performance and adjustability of say a Manitou Mezzer.

They’re a seeker’s fork. If you’re looking beyond the key brands, trying to save a buck, want to do super easy basic maintenance, and don’t care about resale value.

Reply

goose8
+1 Andrew Major
goose8  - Feb. 19, 2020, 6:36 p.m.

Thanks Andrew! Perhaps I should have elaborated more. I bought a durolux after reading your review and also getting to ride one in person. I like the performance well enough and the service/travel adjustment is wicked easy, but I have had issues with the axle. Looks like it got scraped by a rock during a fall and now it's reluctant to get out. I generally have to smack it with the ball of my hand to get it to release. It's not the end of the world, but I'd much prefer a bolt-on axle. I was inquiring to see if you had had any issues of your own, but I think that my failure must have been solely because of the impact rather than because of a design flaw. Anyway, thanks for responding. No crown creaks here either, and that's been a chronic issue for me in the past with Fox forks. Cheers!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 19, 2020, 7:20 p.m.

I’ve seen one that Brett Tippie destroyed on his DH fork, otherwise I’d call it a fluke based on what I’ve seen. But yeah, I’ve smoked them plenty but it isn’t hard to imagine just the right impact doing some damage. 

I like a clean tool-required axle too and suggested Suntour make one. That said my new fork for my hardtail is QR -Thru-axle only, so I obviously don’t care that much.

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goose8
0
goose8  - Feb. 20, 2020, 3:09 a.m.

10-4. Any chance you could compare the durolux to marzocchi's offerings? Thanks for chiming into this thread btw.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Feb. 20, 2020, 5:38 a.m.

No problem!

No, I have nothing to say about the Marzocchi forks.

dorkweed
0
dorkweed  - Feb. 19, 2020, 8:27 p.m.

The Shimano 12 speed cassettes have a b-tension guide printed on the backside, so why deviate from that when setting b-tension?

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 dorkweed
Cam McRae  - Feb. 20, 2020, 12:19 a.m.

A. I didn't know there was a guide there. Will check. Thanks.

B. I adjusted the B-tension because I shortened the chain and the position changed.

Reply

dorkweed
+1 Dan
dorkweed  - Feb. 20, 2020, 10:06 a.m.

I think at least the XTR cassettes have a little line - it's very cool and nice little Shimano feature...

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dan
0
Dan  - Feb. 20, 2020, 12:39 p.m.

That's cool! I never knew that.

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JBV
0
James Vasilyev  - Feb. 20, 2020, 9:53 a.m.

hey Cam. curious as to how you experienced a performance let down with the Guardian jacket. i'm considering one and am hoping it's as good as i read and that it also performs during heavy rain if required on overnight backcountry trips.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Feb. 21, 2020, 1:58 a.m.

Did I say I experienced a performance letdown? I was trying to say the opposite! I haven't put any really long hours in downpours just yet but I've been pleased with how it handles 3 hours of riding in a deluge. I think I might be tempted to opt for the Revelation for the kind of adventures you are talking about. The added features and superior waterproofing would be useful and the stiffer hand feel might as well. You'd lose the packability and simplicity though.

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