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Editorial

Why so Angry about SRAM DUB Crank/BB?

Words Cam McRae
Photos Dave Smith
Date Jan 23, 2018

People were livid. Furious. Losing it. 

I may be exaggerating some, but not much. SRAM introduced DUB, a new crank/bottom bracket interface last week, which on the surface had much to recommend it; one spindle size to fit all the major BB shell sizes, the (claimed) lightest combo available, claimed (and tested) durability that exceeds the best SRAM made previously (even for PF92), lots of price options and identical bearing placement for each bottom bracket. The masses were pissed all the same. It seems that most of the angst was aimed at the 28.99mm spindle size. Why not 30? Why not 24? Of course there were reasons why SRAM rejected both but the masses weren't buying it. 

I understand the 'new standards' anger, and I have felt it myself, but DUB didn't light my fuse at all. And it seemed to me, from my admittedly unique perspective, that the anger turned our usually sane and reasonable audience into partisans yelling TRUMP! HILLARY! BERNIE!*  At the same time I realized that the audience is always right, whatever that means, so I decided to dig a little deeper and get to the source of the furor.

*TBF this was mostly on our Facebook page but things on Pinkbike went haywire

To begin with I found some willing commenters (two from our site and one from Facebook) to describe what it is about DUB, or the way SRAM presented DUB, that had them breathing fire.* After that I realized that to some extent people were angry about what they didn't know so I tracked down Roberts Graudins, SRAM's MTB drivetrain product manager, to answer a few questions. But first let's establish a few things.

*for obvious reasons I didn't choose the angriest, most unreasonable types

nsmb_2018_gear_launch_sram_dub-1848.jpg

The claimed world's lightest crank. Pffft.

Why the Long Face?

You'd have to be completely out of touch to think there is anything unreasonable about mountain bikers getting upset about the pace of change. Riders are angrier than pus-oozing road rash because it's almost easier to identify what hasn't changed on mountain bikes over the last five to ten years. A by no means complete list includes wheel size (twice or thrice if you include plus), 15mm front axles, 142.5 rear axles, Boost axles, new bottom bracket shell sizes (press fit!), 35mm stem and bar interfaces, 1.5" head tubes, tapered head tubes, XD drivers, 1x drivetrains (11 and 12 spd), metric shocks... Of course there is more here but you get the point. 

Some of the worst instances involved terrible timing. Imagine you saw the writing on the wall and decided to opt in for some larger wheels early. You probably would have thought you were set for a few years, but then Boost arrived so even though you were dialled for tires, those carbon wheels you bought just lost half their value, along with your new frame and fork. The problem with all of this is that it didn't produce a widespread consumer revolt. Of course there are examples of riders who have avoided buying bikes during this turmoil, but others have tried to keep up, fuelling sales. While the backlash is real, I have yet to see evidence that standarditis has hurt sales in a meaningful way. 

Why Some Standard Changes Suck more than Others

Sometimes changes have limited impact on consumers, like 35mm bars and stems. You can still find both in 31.8, both fit on the same fork, and most riders get along just fine with the smaller size if they want to opt out. If you buy a bike that has a 35mm interface you're fine as well because most riders don't need to swap bars or stems often. Changes like this, that failed to piss many people off, are sadly the exception.

More often riders' anger is based on legit complaints. From where I sit there are four major issues that can accompany standard changes. (likely more - feel free to add in the comments)

  1. Replacement parts of the replaced standard become difficult to get. i.e. 27.5 wheels making 26" tires and rims hard to find. 

  2. Frames become obsolete causing resale value to plummet. Ie Boost. 

  3. Standards are forced down our throats and the previous options disappear. 15mm axles, Boost, larger wheels, tapered head tubes are all examples. This is the counterpoint to "nobody is forcing you to buy it."

  4. The new standard addresses a problem that doesn't exist. 15mm axles replaced 20mm axles which are stronger and can be made lighter. Why...?

nsmb_2018_gear_launch_sram_dub-1902.jpg

PF92 BB - with steel cups. What was wrong with plastic? What about cardboard?

From my privileged perch as a mountain bike journalist, I can't see how DUB fits into any of the categories above - except perhaps #1 but in the near term that won't be an issue. It also seems to me that the focus on the change in axle size is a red herring. Right now not all 24mm systems play together, so most can be seen as proprietary, and SRAM 30mm axles aren't offered to fit PF92 so something had to change. A few commenters have argued that the solution would have been to switch everything to 30mm (despite longevity limitations identified with 30mm axles and PF92 BBs). Assuming this was feasible, the resulting system could very well have been a proprietary one that didn't allow any cross pollinating of bottom brackets or cranks between brands. Based on complaints I have read, it seems likely the hullabaloo would have been vastly less with a 30mm spindle, but the situation would have been identical; a proprietary bottom bracket system that mixes and matches within brand only.

Beyond that most riders will likely only get DUBed when they purchase a new complete bike. It should be easier than it is now to find a replacement bottom bracket considering that now SRAM has multiple spindle sizes and systems that don't play together, and the cranks are likely to be ubiquitous; every Eagle equipped complete bike will have DUB cranks. So what exactly is the issue? 

Maybe it's a lack of information?

nsmb_2018_gear_launch_sram_dub-1889.jpg

Four bottom brackets that fit every crank SRAM DUB model. The nerve.

Some questions for Roberts Graudins - SRAM's MTB drivetrain product manager

Can you tell me if the bearings SRAM is using for DUB are a proprietary size made for this application or did this bearing size already exist?

It isn’t an off the shelf bearing size.  We worked closely with our bearing supplier to come up with a custom bearing design that would work in all of our BB configurations and provided us the performance we were after. This was one element of how we are able to achieve the same performance in each of the BBs we have in the DUB platform.

Are the balls used in the bearing larger than those that would be found in a PF92 BB used with a 30mm spindle? Can you tell me the ball size?

That depends on which brand of BB you look at.  There isn’t just one brand that is trying to make a BB that works with 30mm spindles on the PF92 BB frame shell standard.  I’d say in some cases it is certainly larger and some it might be pretty close to the same.  Every brand has a proprietary design when it comes to those design details.  One thing that is certain though is that ball bearing size is only one contributing element to making a durable high performance BB.  There are a lot of other factors that will ultimately determine how well your bearings work (ball quality, number of ball bearings, inner race thickness, inner race tolerance, outer race thickness, outer race tolerance, grease fill percentage, type of grease used, inner lip seal, outer lip seal, etc.).  And that isn’t even taking into consideration the BB cups or spindle interface factors you have to take into consideration when thinking about the full BB.  Ultimately every brand that makes cranksets (cranks and BBs) has their own proprietary design that is not published and isn’t shared with other companies.  All the existing cranks and BBs in the market are no different, even if some of them do fit in the same BB frame shell specification.  So to give the full picture of how the DUB BBs stack up would mean I would have to give you details on all the design elements we used on the BB, and unfortunately that isn’t something I can do because it would be giving away our secret sauce on how we were able to make such a good performing crankset system.  And if you asked any of the other manufacturers to tell you all those details as well on their BB design, I’m almost certain they would say the same thing.

People are puzzled by the fact that you were able to create a working seal for a 28.99 mm spindle but not a 30mm spindle. Are you able to explain that to me what didn't work with 30mm and why it works with 28.99?

It’s not as big an issue on all configurations, but certainly is most prevalent on the PF92 BB shell standard.  Just like I mentioned in the previous answer, a seal is just one of many elements that has to be taken into consideration when looking at the stack up of things you need to squeeze in between the spindle and frame shell.  Having that extra millimeter in that tight space makes a difference. 

If you want a crank that has the benefits of being light weight and stiff which you get form an oversized aluminum spindle, but have a bike that has the PF 92 frame BB shell standard, you are pretty limited on options that even come close to being as durable as other crank/BB/frame shell combinations. And that is where DUB doesn’t have to make that same sacrifice. DUB is able to take the best of both worlds and give you that durable/light/stiff crankset system to work in the PF92 frame BB shell standard.

The biggest criticism I heard was that your PR materials state this system has no new standards, but people point to the spindle diameter and suggest that is a new standard. 

I really think that criticism is stemming from the varying thoughts on what a “standard” actually is in the bike industry. And here is how we look at it. On all bikes and bike parts, there are endless specifications in the design.  These are the technical definitions of the product. Some are proprietary and some are not. Those specifications that are not proprietary are typically the ones that the industry has decided to openly share for the purpose of enabling interchangeability. These shared specifications are typically the dimensions and tolerances of interfacing geometry that link two sub-systems together and what we would call a “standard.” The following would all fall into that category; seat post diameters, head tube diameters, steerer tube diameters, front hub spacing, rear hub spacing, bar clamp diameter and yes frame BB shell specifications. But when you get to the detailed specifications within the sub-systems that the shared specifications help connect, this is where the proprietary specifications start. And that is where we feel a crank/BB subsystem falls squarely into the proprietary specification category. You don’t see any manufacturer openly sharing their detailed dimensions and tolerances of the full crank design or BB design with one another. For that matter, not even the details of the spindle design either. If you were able to convince all the manufacturers who make 24mm or 30mm crank spindles out there today to give you their detailed design specifications, you would see that they certainly aren’t sharing the design specifications. Nominal dimensions will vary, tolerances will vary and you will quickly see that nothing about those specifications is openly shared. 

Now you may ask “What about third party aftermarket BB manufacturer’s products?  Surely they must have gotten the shared specifications from the brands they are saying their BBs are compatible with?” Nope. Those BBs aren’t made from having information from shared specifications from the manufacturers who are making the cranks. Those aftermarket BB manufactures have spent a ton of time reverse engineering the crank/BB systems of other manufacturers to create something that from their perspective works acceptably without knowing the exact design specifications of the products they intend for it to be used with.

If you look at it from that perspective, then the new DUB platform is no different than the other crank/BB subsystems that are proprietary specifications. The crank/BB sub-system is not a shared specifications and in turn not what we see as a “standard”.  And with DUB being fully compatible with all the existing openly shared specifications (“standards”) of frame BB shell specifications, that is why we said DUB is not a new standard. 

In retrospect was the PR language a mistake?

No, I don’t think it was a mistake. Sure it got a lot of conversation going about what the definition of a “standard” actually is or should be, but that is probably a conversation that should be had anyway. So I can’t say I’m sorry that it just so happened that this new product started that conversation and hopefully will lead to its clarity. At least a better understanding for everyone on what the definition of a “standard” in the bike industry is might come out of it.

What do you make of the difference of opinion about whether it's possible to make a durable PF92 BB for a 30mm spindle? Enduro for example claims to already make a perfectly durable bottom bracket for 30mm axles with 2 piece silicone seals and double row stainless steel bearings. (link ). 

I haven’t spent any time on the Enduro BB so I can’t personally speak to its durability.  If it was truly that durable, I’d imagine it would be the default spec for that configuration and everyone would be riding it. Unfortunately that’s not what we see or hear in the market. I’m sure their BB is more durable than others out there, but is that good enough? Maybe for some, maybe not for others. One thing I’m pretty sure about is that if you asked their engineers if they had one extra millimeter if they could make a better performing BB like maybe some of their other designs for other shell specifications, I’m pretty sure their answer would be “yes.”  Or they might say that the extra millimeter would allow them to make a more budget friendly version below the current $90 MSRP. (SRAM DUB PF92 BB MSRP $43)

With the PF92 shell standard you start off with a shell inner diameter of 41mm. Then you put a 30mm spindle into that. This leaves you 5.5mm of radial space to stack up a bearing, inner race, outer race, BB cup and anything you might want between the inner race and spindle. With DUB we added 0.5mm to that radial clearance (+9.1%) which has allowed us just enough additional space to do what we wanted with the full BB design while still maintaining a light large diameter aluminum spindle. If you compare DUB with the solution that Enduro offers, you can see that they are very different. The DUB solution is more of a full BB design with center tube and cups, while Enduro’s solution resembles a more traditional BB30 style system where what you are getting is 2 bearings you press directly into the frame with no cups or center tube.

We didn’t make the decision to move to DUB lightly or as a knee jerk reaction. SRAM GXP has had about a 14 year long run in the market followed by our 30mm spindle platform coming up on 10 years. They’ve served their purpose over that time frame and we’ve exhausted pretty much everything we could out of them. In those 14 years, we learned a ton from those designs and decided that it was time to evolve to the next step by resetting to a new platform with DUB.

 Why do you think riders - or at least internet riders - are so pissed about this?

It’s interesting, I’ve read almost every comment in most of the forums that have published a story on our new DUB platform. And in reflecting on a lot of those comments I came up with a couple of theories. First is that there is clearly not a definition of what a “standard” means in the bike industry. It’s not just what SRAM thinks vs. the “internet riders” think, it’s even internet riders vs. internet riders. If everyone had the same definition I think there would be a whole lot less chatter. Hopefully some of that gets cleared up by my earlier answer on how we look at proprietary specifications and shared specifications (“standards”).

Secondly, I think some folks are frustrated because they just got a new bike or a new crankset system and now they see DUB. And they see us talking about how it is lighter weight and more durable than what they have now. Potentially making them think it was a bad decision to buy and SRAM should have released this new specification before they bought what they did. To that, I’d say the decision to buy something wasn’t bad. You probably still purchased a pretty good bike or crankset. But is there a better crankset out there now? Sure, that is what SRAM is about. We push ourselves to make the best possible products and systems in the market and we are never satisfied with the status quo. Our passion and profession is based on inspiring every rider by making the absolute best products we can in the market. It’s a never ending cycle to improve ourselves and continue to provide the best system solutions for bikes in the industry. Just like with computers, phones, cars, etc., they are constantly improving and you have to step back and look at it that way or else you can get frustrated. Bikes are the same. They are ever evolving and always getting better.

You have ridden DUB more than most. What do you appreciate most about the system? Which combo do you like best?

Yup, I’ve been on it since the first round of prototypes. And not just me, for the last 20 months we have been tracking 75 internal riders who have been on the DUB system and racked up over 70,000 miles and 8,000 hours of riding in all conditions throughout the world. On top of that probably just as many other internal riders who weren’t part of the ride evaluation tracking that have had similar experiences.

What I appreciate most about the system is that I know what to expect when it comes to performance and durability no matter what bike I am on. Because all the BB configurations work with a single light weight crank design, any combination of DUB BB and crank will provide the same high level of performance and durability. What this then allows you to do is choose your bike without having to think of the BB type. No more “I really love this bike, but I wish they used a different frame BB shell specification so I could use a better crank/BB system”, because you know the SRAM DUB system will fit and provide you the same durability and performance no matter the frame BB shell specification. That can’t really be said for any other crank/BB system out there. In pretty much every other case I’ve seen, the architecture is different depending on which BB frame shell standard it is being designed around which leads to performance and durability differences.


nsmb_2018_gear_launch_sram_dub-1940.jpg

The Kool-Aid came in Coors cans. 

Angry Riders Speak

First up - Cooper Quinn. 

Cooper

Reading and listening to the material, “A Single Solution... no new standards”, SRAM was aware of the likely response to change. Yet here is new spindle diameter; a new standard. The current crop of BBs at your LBS won’t work for you, proud new DUB owner. Servicing DUB will require more SKUs taking up precious capital and space on your shelf, LBS owner. From a consumer standpoint, it’s frustrating.

Key points:

  • DUB creates no new frame standards; it’s backwards compatible with most common BB shells on frames today;

  • DUB cranks and DUB BBs are not backwards compatible with existing cranks and bottom brackets.

Evolution is why bikes now are better than they’ve ever been and I believe SRAM about the engineering reasoning behind DUB's 27-five" crank spindles*. I can see the benefits of the system - I struggle to swallow that this was the only way to achieve SRAM's benchmarks. They disagree. I’ve no doubt DUB will sell well, but lets not pretend these are a standard killer, “backwards and forwards compatible”, and we didn’t make any new standards on the way.

Randall Munroe summed my thoughts up succinctly. 

*in fairness, 27.5"/650b isn't actually a "new" standard, just one with new life.


Alex Sinanan

Alex

I don't think it's a bad idea. I'm typically a 1 bike guy so every couple of years I get a new bike and thereby pick up all the latest standards - if next time that means I get a standard BB shell with DUB cranks and BB then great. But what if I own multiple bikes and am enjoying some level of interchangeability now my new bike can't share and shops need to stock yet another type of BB. These days I'm displeased by anything that makes running a bike shop harder for no reason.

Given how sensitive people are about new standards right now (and without going into what defines a standard) why introduce some new concept that's only marginally different from what else is available and will limit interchangeability and doesn't really solve the bearing life issue? We have to live with these so-called standards for years after they're introduced. SRAM hasn't consolidated two standard into one. It's added a third

If 24 is so bad and everyone is doing pretty well on 30 then why not just focus on 30? Everyone I know is on 30 and no one has suggested it's inadequate. So why not build on an established standard? It sounds like the real issue is bearing life. So why not set about consolidating all these insane BB standards into something like T47 that could be broadly shared? That would provide as much room as anyone could want to use bigger bearings or even bigger axles. 

We didn't need 15mm front axles. We didn't really even need Boost - we should have gone from 142 straight to wider hub flanges on the existing DH 157 standard. 


People get mad because companies keep taking infuriating half steps that don't add benefits commensurate with the hassles they introduce. We should be moving towards universalization and consolidation. 


Jamie Levett

Jamie

DUB has been designed to simplify SRAM's chainset and BB range, however, in total it has been reduced by one less chainset spindle diameter and created one new spindle diameter standard. While I sympathize with SRAM's troubles with BB92 and 30mm spindles, solutions (that apparently outlast SRAM and Shimano bearings 3X) like Enduro's insert-less BB86/92 4130 bearings do already exist. Ultimately BB92 was a proprietary design for 24mm spindles and seems to resist flex enough for Sagan to win 1400W sprints.... Does it really need fixing? 

I guess we'll have to take SRAM's word for it that bearing life, due to larger seals, has been increased as little data was released from the testing. However, I'm a little skeptical as existing SRAM BB's I own have a much larger seal size than most of the DUB solutions and the seal performance is disastrous. Anyway I'm pleased SRAM is offereing a 80% trade-in discount for people who purchased Eagle cranks within the last year.* Also the long awaited introduction of 160/165mm length XO1/XX1 Eagle options is greatly received. Something that will actually make a real difference to riding performance for many people...

*note - this is not actually the case


The people have spoken. Bike shops have spoken too and the mechanics and owners I have talked to scoff at the idea of four bottom brackets being a stocking issue considering how many BBs are floating around right now. They are also clear that the number of riders building custom bikes, piece by piece, or upgrading cranks, is smaller than ever, so they agree that most DUB cranks will arrive in consumer garages as complete units.

Now about that T47 bottom bracket standard...

Comments

niels@nsmb.com
+10 ExtraSpecialandBitter Kieran Merwinn Darryl Chereshkoff Cooper Quinn Allen Lloyd Geoffrey Hamilton Cr4w Prokop NVan ZigaK
Niels  - Jan. 22, 2018, 11:10 p.m.

At least they can't make my current cranks slower like Apple did with my iPhone!

Reply

trumpstinyhands
+1 Cr4w
trumpstinyhands  - Jan. 22, 2018, 11:26 p.m.

Are we ever going to see a sensible BB / axle size? PF92 doesn't make much sense so much as I am fed up of new standards, why design something new around something crap? At least T47 has some logic behind it. Hell, bring back Isis Overdrive with 48mm cups!

Reply

fartymarty
+6 Skooks Brumos73 Geoffrey Hamilton Tuskaloosa Prokop NVan ZigaK
fartymarty  - Jan. 23, 2018, 12:53 a.m.

I'm still on a threaded 73mm BB and am fairly happy with my Zee / Hollowtech combo.  After all I have heard about press fit BBs I think I will stick with threaded if I ever buy a new bike.

Reply

cxfahrer
+3 Jerry Willows CrashTestDummy Cam McRae
cxfahrer  - Jan. 22, 2018, 11:50 p.m.

I think the point is, that SRAM ist looking for "SRAM Total Integration" with their drivetrains. If there could be something like a proprietary chain standard, they would do it - just to kick Shimano, RaceFace, Suntour or Rotor out of the market.

DUB in itself ist great.

Reply

zigak
+2 Absolut-M Tuskaloosa
ZigaK  - Jan. 23, 2018, 1:59 a.m.

For f*** sake, don't give them any ideas.

Reply

Captain-Snappy
0
Merwinn  - Jan. 23, 2018, 10:06 a.m.

You think they haven't thought of that already?

Reply

Sethimus
0
Sethimus  - Jan. 24, 2018, 6:15 a.m.

that's the stuff they sell next year...

Reply

CrashTestDummy
0
CrashTestDummy  - Jan. 23, 2018, 1:07 a.m.

My issue is that my XX and X0 carbon cranks won't be able to be used if they stop making a 24mm BB. They will be just expensive carbon paper weights. They are still very valid cranksets and not outdated technology. 

Also, 28.99? Why not 29? The .01mm can't be of any significance. Seems quite amusing to me that they made it 28.99 mm. Maybe it was just to remember it easier.

Reply

niels@nsmb.com
0
Niels  - Jan. 23, 2018, 3:47 a.m.

There are other companies offering BBs compatible with GXP cranks, for example Wheels Manufacturing. Those have replaceable bearings too if I'm not mistaken.

Reply

CrashTestDummy
+1 Niels
CrashTestDummy  - Jan. 23, 2018, 6:36 a.m.

Yeah, true. However, I haven't had good luck with Wheel MFG BBs. I toasted two in just a few months. Not sure why because  they look solid with all aluminum cups but bearings didn't hold up. The SRAM one has been going strong for almost two seasons.

Reply

Vikb
0
Vik Banerjee  - Jan. 23, 2018, 5:30 a.m.

You can still buy 7 speed cassettes and nice square taper BBs. For 20yr old cranks. You are not going to be unable to use a XX or XO crank.

Reply

CrashTestDummy
0
CrashTestDummy  - Jan. 23, 2018, 7:42 a.m.

Can't fit square taper cranksets on new modern press-fit frames. Haha.

Reply

JLantz
0
Justin Lantz  - Jan. 23, 2018, 2:40 p.m.

.01mm is the class IV transition fit clearance for the bearing 29mm inner bore.

Reply

danielshiels
0
danielshiels  - Jan. 28, 2018, 10:17 a.m.

Loads of really good aftermarket bbs in that size that are probably better than standard, hope for example. I wouldn't worry

Reply

another_waki
+1 Niels
another_waki  - Jan. 23, 2018, 5:42 a.m.

Nobody ever needed 30mm axles. They came in with BB30. Suddenly we change everything to 30. 24mm works for every single thing even goes around BB30. So come on... you have something that works (24) and a light turd fitting lots of unnecessarily complicated toilets. Let's polish a turd then. Saving weight around BB... my gahwd... how about fixing those damn pedal inserts falling off their carbon cranks?

Other than that, Sram may have get together in bed with Trek again and make a new fatter BB shell using 40mm spindle for the crankset. I wouldn't care. Yeah it's a good thing, one spindle that fits all, except BB92 owners will need to change bearings more often, meanwhile every sane person will change other pressfits to outboard bearings.  

It's not that much about SRAM, it's about general principle of following "we adopted something non-optimal, but it is lighter, we won't pull back, we'll just make it more manageable" like it was done with 15mm axle. Who knows what will happen if more companies follow Knolly with 157. Will we get 152 Boost? As it could have been done when they did 148?

Written with a smile on my face. No office rage. Just cynical resentment.

Reply

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Jan. 23, 2018, 8:38 a.m.

Some background on 157. Its not new. ("Super Boost Plus" is sort of new. Its complicated and simple all a the same time.) 

https://nsmb.com/articles/super-boost-plus-better/

Reply

oldmanbike
+8 DMVancouver Brumos73 ReductiMat Esteban Todd Hellinga Absolut-M Cooper Quinn Brigham_Rupp
OldManBike  - Jan. 23, 2018, 7:21 a.m.

People are still Johnny-Cash's-middle-finger mad about Boost, so of course SRAM doesn't get the benefit of the doubt this time. This is not mysterious.

And now they come here and tell us the real reasons why people are angry are (1) they don't know what a standard is or (2) they just bought a new bike and they're just sad that it didn't come with SRAM's wonderful new innovation. Which shows how spectacularly, gloriously oblivious SRAM remains.

Ergo, I don't care all that much whether DUB would have made sense in isolation or not. I'm enjoying seeing SRAM get the public pipe-beating they've earned.

Reply

Brigham_Rupp
+3 ReductiMat Cooper Quinn OldManBike
Brigham_Rupp  - Jan. 23, 2018, 7:51 a.m.

Exactly. The backlash isn't really about the merits of DUB. It's about a community that has choice paralysis and change fatigue and views the industry askance, which is clearly grasping at ways to continue moving products by pretending that MTB tech is still progressing by the leaps and bounds seen in the 80s and 90s. It's time to accept that the tech progression is leveling off. But until consumers acknowledge that their on-bike performance isn't improving anywhere near equal the rate of marketing hype and product turnover, the industry will keep the floodgates open. We're annoyed enough to rant online, but apparently not enough to keep our credit cards holstered. Myself included*!  

*Walks into the garage to load the Sentinel into the Tacoma...

Reply

cooperquinn
+1 ReductiMat
Cooper Quinn  - Jan. 23, 2018, 8:23 a.m.

I agree with a lot of what @oldmanbike said, in succinct humorous fashion. 

But to your point, @Brigham_rupp, it speaks somewhat to the quality of what we're currently riding that SRAM feels the need to push 1.01mm changes to continue to progress. 

For me, this was never about hating on progression, or being angry about the lack of square taper spindles in my life at this point in time. 

*wheels current carbon-fiber, SuperBoost Plus wonder-machine into the driveway to put in truck.

Reply

oldmanbike
+4 skidrc DMVancouver ReductiMat Esteban
OldManBike  - Jan. 23, 2018, 8:39 a.m.

Step 1: SRAM releases a product that offers their customers little real-world benefit and significant real-world downside.

Step 2: customers raise hell, to no effect because OEM alone can drive the market.

Step 3: SRAM explains to their customers that they are stupid and afraid of change.

Step 4: more customers root for SRAM to fail.

Step 5: return to Step 1.

Reply

Kieran
+1 Darryl Chereshkoff
Kieran  - Jan. 23, 2018, 7:51 a.m.

SRAM suck for the most...

Brakes that fail.

Forks that need servicing constantly.

Seatposts that often don't work.

I could go on. Instead of trying to fix something that isn't really an issue. Fix the ones that are.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Merwinn
Cam McRae  - Jan. 23, 2018, 10:03 a.m.

No point in arguing about brakes or seat posts, although my experience with both has been better than most, but I think you are incorrect with forks (and Codes have always been good). The Pike however, in my experience, is the most trouble free and durable fork I have ridden. And others that have followed it have similar attributes - like the Lyrik. 

Eagle, which you may not have tried, is remarkable. Long wearing, smooth, quiet, great range and I think I have lost my chain twice riding Eagle in about four years.

Reply

Kieran
0
Kieran  - Jan. 23, 2018, 11:28 a.m.

Never tried eagle, I'm sure its awesome! But I find grunting my tweaked Shimano 1x10 just fine for me.

I heard the Codes are good, but it will take my buddy's all using them for 3 years without complaint before I'd even consider dropping my XT, Zee, Saints etc

Forks I was kinda referring to their fork seals in general (especially on Boxxers). My old 888s were fully serviced 3 times in 4 years... of hard hard freeride abuse. My old Boxxers needing servicing almost after every other Whistler trip. Not good enough IMO. Fine if you are a racer but 99% of us aren't. I seem to go through fork seals at an alarming rate whenever I used a SRAM fork. I guess its an easy way of making cash.

When you said 'From my privileged perch as a mountain bike journalist*' it got me thinking that if you are given new parts to test over and over you aren't going to find too much to complain about in the long run? I'm probably wrong here but its strange that from what I've read so far that the bike industry peeps are rushing to smooth things over for SRAM?

*I'm just probably just jealous ;)

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 24, 2018, 1:55 p.m.

Hey Kieran, your point about mtb editors and product durability is a good one, and one we're certainly aware of. Yes, it's true that we all cycle through bikes semi-regularly which means we don't give everything as much durability testing as we would sometimes like to. However, this stuff is important to us and the last thing we want is to write that something is durable when that isn't the case.

On the other hand, a few things worth mentioning:

1) Sometimes we keep bikes for longer than normal for long-term testing (on those reviews, we usually put "long-term test" in the title). We do this primarily with bikes that are more interesting or coveted in the marketplace, or when a manufacturer agrees to let us keep it longer than normal. FYI, a regular test for us usually spans 2-3 months minimum, and that usually means at least 3 rides per week in that time frame - which is longer than most publications' test periods. In a perfect world, though, we'd keep and test every bike for a year or more - but that just isn't realistic, of course.

2) We ride more than most of our readers. Yes, we have a lot of very, very avid riders in our community, and some of them ride more than 4-5x per week, but not most of you. 

3) Only 30% of our readers are from Canada, let alone the North Shore, where conditions are severe. If you're from the UK or another really wet climate (PNW, naturally), you'll be in a similar boat, but the conditions we ride in daily are more punishing than most.

4) We don't only ride test bikes - sometimes we get to ride our own bikes, and those are usually laced with some of the latest and greatest, so we do also have some bikes that are kept for longer periods of time and get proper durability testing.

4b) Sometimes test bikes see use under more than one editor, which means more abuse and a greater cross-section of riding styles and opportunities for something to go wrong. One rider may shift more, or ride in shitty conditions, while another one may be heavier or more abusive to wheels and components. It all helps.

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pete@nsmb.com
+1 Cam McRae OldManBike ReductiMat
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 24, 2018, 1:58 p.m.

5) The durability issue is especially tough with wheels because we are sent a lot of test sets, and we don't believe a wheelset's durability can be commented on in anything less than 6 months of very intense use - this is particularly so for more expensive, carbon wheelsets. There are two ways to deal with this issue: 

First, we often release a wheel review, and then a long-term version at some point later. 

Second, we've started giving test wheels to acquaintances to put miles on. Their mission is simply to ride those wheels as much as possible and report any problems. 

I still think your point is fair but I hope I've addressed it up above. With regards to what you've seen about the industry trying to smooth things over for SRAM, I can't speak for others, but I can comment from NSMB's perspective.

First, SRAM doesn't advertise with us. We have partnered in other ways, though. In past years they supported our freeride team with drivetrains, brakes, and suspension. They were also a great partner with us when we were involved with the NSMBA's TAP program. Despite that, we haven't shied away from telling it like it is. When Eagle was released, Andrew Major compared the unique shaping on the chainrings to "grandpa's drunken whittling". That was not meant to be disparaging - and we left that in the article because we thought it was funny (it still is). SRAM did not agree with us and let it be known, but we sure as hell didn't remove it. There have been other similar incidents, too mundane to name, but the point is, we're not beholden to them, nor do they expect us to be.

Second, in the case of dub, I think it's been covered up above by others, but some/most of the furor has to do with SRAM's past behaviour - or at least perceptions of it - and not with dub specifically. I also believe, like many other mtb journalists, that the pushback is way overblown.

Where I do agree is that SRAM hasn't always done the best job of controlling the message. 

Be skeptical about their durability claims for Dub, by all means, but let's not pretend this introduction is causing big problems. People love to complain on the internet. Mountain bikers are worse than most. And when SRAM's involved, it's like a perfect storm of bitching. 

We don't see SRAM as a faceless entity trying to steal all your money, because we know some of those faces, and we also know that the people that work there care a hell of a lot more about making great bike products that they want to ride than they do about profit margins. (Except the sales guys - because that's their job.) It's hard for us to transmit that message sometimes without it looking like we're biased - but we're also not claiming to have zero bias, because no one can claim that.

We'll keep asking questions, and being careful what to digest and what to chew more thoroughly. And we'll keep trying to answer your questions, too.

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UFO
+1 skidrc
UFO  - Jan. 23, 2018, 9:55 p.m.

But:

"And not just me, for the last 20 months we have been tracking 75 internal riders who have been on the DUB system and racked up over 70,000 miles and 8,000 hours of riding in all conditions throughout the world. On top of that probably just as many other internal riders who weren’t part of the ride evaluation tracking that have had similar experiences."

Sorry, but given SRAMs track record, I can't accept any claims on product durability until they've proven otherwise. Kind of like the early Race Face X Type bearings, took them years to figure those out.

Reply

rigidjunkie
+1 ReductiMat
Allen Lloyd  - Jan. 23, 2018, 8:20 a.m.

My issue is trying to remember what is on my bike to try to order replacement parts.  It used to be you could just order stuff and it worked.  Now you have to know the specs on everything or you get incompatible stuff.  Then once the new stuff catches on the old stuff is hard to find.  My favorite bike is a steel hardtail with a straight steertube and a seatpost with minimal dropper options and old ass non-boost wheels.  If I could find a decent fork for it I would be happy, but I am stuck with a 10 year old Zokie that is next to impossible to find rebuild kits.  That bike is just as fun as my modern full squish with all the new standard boxes checked.  So the new stuff is "better" but 90% of wouldn't notice the difference so is it really all that much better?

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pete@nsmb.com
-1 ReductiMat
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 24, 2018, 2:08 p.m.

I don't disagree, but you either gotta embrace all the spec and learn all those things, or let someone else worry about it for you - classic conundrum.

Ever tried to buy aftermarket wheels for a car? Not tires - wheels. Huge pain.

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cooperquinn
+1 ReductiMat
Cooper Quinn  - Jan. 23, 2018, 8:28 a.m.

I don't feel very angry. 

Like, on a scale from 0 to Uncle Dave.... I'm at like a 3 here? Somewhere around "Mild Pedantic Annoyance"

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davetolnai
+1 Cooper Quinn
Dave Tolnai  - Jan. 24, 2018, 2:20 p.m.

Hey.  Don't use me to prove your points!

I said elsewhere I don't really care about this one.

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 Pete Roggeman
Cam McRae  - Jan. 24, 2018, 11:38 p.m.

You are powerless to enforce this. The Uncle Dave annoyance scale may become a thing.

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pete@nsmb.com
0
Pete Roggeman  - Jan. 25, 2018, 10:30 a.m.

I support this.

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andrewbikeguide
+2 ReductiMat Absolut-M
AndrewR  - Jan. 23, 2018, 9:26 a.m.

@Allen Lloyd And don't even get me going on trying to find replacement axles! I have two new bikes (which sit next to each other the product range and are both 2018 designs) from the same brand (tough problem I know) and "tickle me with a cheese grater" they have different rear axle specs and different hanger systems. They are both 148 Boost but one bike runs a TA12/L174/TL20/M12x1.75 and the other a TA12/L171/TL20/M12x1.0. From a parts/ inventory point of view there are four SKUs (two axles and two hangers) when their could, from an engineering perspective be two common parts. As a rider I have to buy two spare hangers rather than one. 

You need a PHD in inventory management to keep track of headset permutations these days and the industry should have collectively moved to T47 bottom brackets years ago. Pressfit bottom brackets, which compromise bearing size and number (PF92), on a mountain bike are a stupid idea anyway (unless you are a shop). I cannot remember the last time I actually wore out a threaded XTR or XT bottom bracket anyway. 

And all those trail side conversations that started with "I don't think this 24mm crank spindle I am running is stiff enough......"

The industry needs a rocket up its arse and unfortunately, as consumers, we are collectively too disorganised (someone will always want a new bike or parts) to say "f&*k you" and not buy anything for 12-24 months.

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blackfly
+1 Jimothy.benson
Peter Leeds  - Jan. 23, 2018, 5:59 p.m.

Easy fix:  buy all your parts online from "other sites" or whatever your search turns up and buy older (IE:  3 year old or more) parts NOS or gently used and perhaps after a couple of years when no new gear is bought they get the idea.  I was unaware that buying bike parts was a high turnover deal, anyway.  Not like most buy new cranks or forks every 6 months unless they break (from legit reasons, crashes) or they are real gear heads whom MUST have the latest.....I bet with a bit of work most riders could find at least 5 years of gear that wear on a regular basis online with no issue.  Just imagine what would happen if that was the case for just 2 years.

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Absolut-M
0
Absolut-M  - Jan. 23, 2018, 10 a.m.

You recognize  a bad design when it's based on none existent ball bearing sizes!

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toodles
0 Kieran Mike-E
Trent Blucher  - Jan. 23, 2018, 1:39 p.m.

When I bought my new bike, I got the shop to change the stock SRAM cranks to XT before it even left the shop.  Problem solved.

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doug-hamilton
0
Doug Hamilton  - Jan. 23, 2018, 5:58 p.m.

Total marketing hogwash from Sram yet again. Are XX1 cranks noticably stiffer than XTR that use a 24mm spindle? Never heard anyone complain that was a problem. Never even trying the Enduro BB is such a ignorant attitude to something that works pretty damn well. Do your home work before bagging others products that try to fix a problem that should never have been created.

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cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 25, 2018, 7:17 p.m.

I don't believe stiffness is the issue. A larger spindle allows you to drop grams. That's not important to many but it is to some.

Reply

UFO
+2 ReductiMat Skooks
UFO  - Jan. 23, 2018, 10:16 p.m.

After thinking about this just a bit, I come to the realization I really don't care since I won't be moving away from Shimano, for the sole reason of the superior pinch bolt system of attaching the crank. I won't notice  the stiffness of a large diameter aluminum axle. And I'll gladly sneeze over the 100g weight difference at the level of components I ride.

From a purely business POV, DUB is good for SRAM. One expensive crank SKU accompanied by 4 cheap BB SKUs. Their driver is OEM, and from what we've heard OEMs don't really care since Eagle needs to be bought as complete anyways. 

For buddy to call out Enduro's quality bb, citing "it must not be that good since not everyone is running it" as well as its high cost, fairly ignorant to the economies of scale IMO which is what SRAM is about really. SRAM could have worked from the Enduro's blue print on the pf92 30mm axle and produced the same bb for significantly cheaper, and better, if you believe what the guy is saying.

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Jimothy.benson
-1 Cr4w ReductiMat Absolut-M
Jimothy.benson  - Jan. 24, 2018, 8 a.m.

"...those carbon wheels you bought just lost half their value..."

That extract I think speaks volumes about the nature of riders' anger.

It is a privilege to be able to have the fun we do on children's toys, not a right. 

You don't need the latest. A good bike ought to get you at least 3 years of good use, or longer if you don't replace it until the cost of replacing parts start approaching the cost of a new bike.

And if something on your "outdated" bike breaks, the fact that new standards now exist should be a good thing - the used market will be flooded with people getting rid of their ... investments ... in order to keep current. 

Just my thoughts anyway.

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craw
0 Pete Roggeman Jimothy.benson ReductiMat Absolut-M
Cr4w  - Jan. 24, 2018, 8:52 a.m.

Agreed. I wear out a lot of parts so there's really no need for me to go out of my way to get my fix of near gear. Stuff wears out often enough that it sends me researching interesting replacement parts every month or two, which usually sends me down a rabbit hole where I conclude a new bike is the only answer. Then I do an ayuhuasca journey to realize all I really needed was a new tire and some brake pads and maybe I should stick with that.

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JVP
0
JVP  - Jan. 25, 2018, 11:24 p.m.

This whole thing about the resale value of wheelsets or whatever component is just weird.  I ride my stuff 2-4 years, at which point it's all just worn out garbage anyway.  Even after a year even the latest and greatest wheel standard or fork I've used is ugly, haggard and has little resale value. Ride your bike moderately hard and none of this will matter.

My theory is the weather sucks for biking right now, people are starved of light, grumpy, and just need a way to entertain themselves until they can reload on vitamin D.

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skooks
-1 ReductiMat
Skooks  - Jan. 24, 2018, 2:06 p.m.

I still have a hard time understanding why people are whining about this. It will have zero impact on your life unless you buy a new bike or replace your cranks, in which case it lets you swap your cranks across different BB standards. Shimano has had this feature for years. Nothing to get very excited about.

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cam@nsmb.com
-1 ReductiMat
Cam McRae  - Jan. 25, 2018, 7:18 p.m.

Because the internet...

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CrashTestDummy
0
CrashTestDummy  - Jan. 24, 2018, 3:53 p.m.

Anybody know how to turn off email notifications for this article? I like the website and articles, but not fond of the 30 email notifications for this article.

Reply

niels@nsmb.com
+1 CrashTestDummy
Niels  - Jan. 24, 2018, 10:40 p.m.

I unchecked the followup checkbox on your comments - looks like you can't do this yourself. We'll work on that. Thanks for your feedback.

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lister_yu
0
lister_yu  - Jan. 27, 2018, 12:14 a.m.

same problem here - thx for looking into it

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kain0m
+1 ReductiMat
kain0m  - Jan. 24, 2018, 10:35 p.m.

I think the main problem is SRAM. They are so happy to swamp the market with proprietary tech and they have the OEM share to force it down our throats. Combined with over-zealous marketing lingo, this makes for a toxic combination. Fool me once, fool me twice kinda thing - I don't trust them with any promises anymore.

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lister_yu
0
lister_yu  - Jan. 27, 2018, 12:20 a.m.

deleted

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