I've demoed GX Eagle on two bikes. I can't get on with the shifter. Compared to the original XX1 (also on two bikes), it's stiffer with noticeably higher thumb effort. Feels like XT. Do you know if the X01 or XX1 Eagle shifters are any better?
I'm tempted to mix and match. 11S X01 cassette, X01 DUB cranks, GX Eagle derailleur, and X01/XX1 11S shifters. Even the lightest Eagle cassette is 100g over the 11S predecessor. If 10-42 wasn't enough, I'd be more likely to try Garbaruk's 11S 10-50: same range, same construction, but 40g and $150 under Eagle XX1.
As always, I appreciate the effort to do a deeper dive than what's in the PR.
While I'm all for better sealing, bottom brackets are cheap. The killer app here is weight reduction. As of now, SRAM has the lightest mountain crankset on the market, undercutting Next SL G4 by at least 10g. XTR is almost 150g heavier. That's immensely impressive from a major OEM with standards for durability above their third-party competitors.
The TAs on my current ride didn't come with QR releases. I wouldn't seek them out; what's the point? Why am I going pull the wheel off on the trail? The tires are tubeless and near-impossible to remove, they either work or the ride is over. Same with the wheel itself. If, because of ride duration or civilization proximity, I need the ability to do serious trailside maintenance, I'm bringing proper tools. Getting the wheel off the bike is it the least of it.
The calculus applies the same on a road bike. It took me over an hour to mount my Schwalbe tubeless tires, and that was in my garage with a full array of steel levers. No way I'm trying that roadside unless it's absolutely necessary; I'd sooner call an Uber.
Erm, I think I'm pressing down with the lower arm. ("Lower arm" here is of course the arm on the inside of the turn, not a forearm.) Working on bringing the opposing elbow higher. Phil gives a nice example of the posture.
I'm down to about 730mm on my XC ride at 6'1. Unless I'm missing something in the physics, the maximum lean of the bike depends on bar width relative to the length of your lower arm. With wider bars, I found I couldn't get the bike over far enough to best engage the side knobs on flat turns.
Ride quality is wildly better. The bigger tires filter a lot of the smaller cruft, enough that I can stay seated on most uphills if I want, and the Ranger doesn't hang up on anything on the downhills. Big confidence booster. Plus isn't a replacement for suspension, though; with my suspension locked out, big hits are still big hits. I don't yearn for a rigid.
Rolling resistance is higher, though I think as much from the wide rims as the tire width. This is unavoidable; a big contact patch rolls slower.
Acceleration isn't what it was. It's less about weight than the extra squish when I'm out of the saddle. Even with lockouts, the bike doesn't have the responsiveness it originally had, and this, I think, is also unavoidable. A friend's 27.5+ hardtail with 3" tires on both ends was much worse, much squishier. Keep the momentum up and the big tires flow beautifully, but sprints aren't as rewarding.
I like the split tire sizes. The smaller back wheel still gets hung up on hard edges on uphills, but that's about the only disadvantage (of this particular 2.5" tire) relative to 3" tire. I can unweight it on bigger obstacles, so I don't think extra rollover would outweigh the directness and reduced rolling resistance (on most terrain) from a smaller tire.
I don't like how much the 3" tire dulls the bike. I'm looking at switching the Ranger to a Nobby Nic 2.6 or a Tervail Cumberland 2.8 to get bigger side knobs and a more positive feel when I'm pushing hard. Absent that, I still prefer the existing configuration to the 2.35" and 2.1" tires I used previously.
I'm not sure if a smaller front tire would be faster. 29+ doesn't feel as fast, but that's deceptive when it's just rolling over things that smaller tires would hang on. TBD when the Ranger wears out enough to merit replacing.
This is one trend I can speak to directly. I've been running my Scalpel with 39i/WTB Ranger 3.0" up front and 29i/XR2 2.5" (2.35" claimed) out back for over six months. I couldn't fit anything bigger in the back with adequate clearance, so it's not a true 29+ bike. A byproduct is that the head angle is slacker by about half a degree.
The goal was to have more grip and better rollover. The bike came with 18i rims and Schwalbe 2.1" RaRa tires that measured out to 2", which made for a firm, unpleasant ride that required constant line vigilance even on mild terrain. I could rarely sit and spin. Front-end breakaway was abrupt.
I initially replaced the Ralphs with a Forekaster 2.35 / Ardent Race 2.35 combination. Not bad. Considerably better grip and probably ideal for XC, but still short of rollover. (I'm in the Southeast, it's just constant roots.) Hence the new wheelset (carbon, exactly the same weight as the original despite the width difference.)
Weight differences are marginal. The Ranger (and Chupacabra, a very similar tire) is 880g. The Forekaster, probably the lightest tread pattern I'd want up front in a regular size, is 735g. Bonty's XR4, more like 780g. The extra weight and inertia is noticeable, but modest.
Steering is slower. Not so much on 70mm and 80mm stems (with 780mm bar, 70.5D HA, 45mm offset), but when I went to 90mm to bring my weight forward (the bike came with ~110mm), it took a few miles to stop blowing turns. Very stable. Lethargic, even. It takes more body english to chuck the bike around.
Tire pressure is enormously important. I verify my Ranger is at 14 PSI before every ride. More pressure makes for a bouncy ride and less grip. It's still better on both counts than a smaller tire with a similar tread pattern, but (at suboptimal pressure) a smaller tire with bigger treads would be preferable. Undershooting by a few PSI results in autosteer that makes the bike totally unrideable. There's no question that some negative Plus experiences arose from poor setup.
Traction is way up in dry conditions. (I don't ride when it's wet.) I can brake whenever; the limiting factor is always weight balance and the Lefty packing down. If my body position is right, the bigger tire sticks like flypaper on most terrain. Dusty loose-over-hard flat turns are still challenging; it's actually better if there's some chunder for the tire to deform around and grab.
Excellent review, thanks for taking the time! I particularly appreciate the assembly notes.
I've made a worksheet of a potential build that brings the bike just under 27 pounds, though the bigger question is whether to go full-29 or take the plunge to a 69er.* How much flexibility did you have on the color scheme and logos?
I just realized the 34T thing could be a problem with a 69er. I run 32T with a 29x2.5" and a 10-42. If I downsize to 27.5 in the back, the ring has to come up to 32 to keep the top end. Hmm.