Gas prices are hiking and maybe as a cost cutting option, you’ve turned to your trusty bike to get to work. Our European friends laugh because gas prices are still cheaper in the States, in comparison with their astronomical prices.
Anyone who has tried to ride with a bag that is not a tight-fitting backpack knows how hard it is to get around without having the pack roll around and throw off your balance, having you eating a big chunk of pavement. So the safest thing to do is to get panniers. There are all sorts of brands out there (believe me; I’ve checked EVERY SINGLE ONE) and so I’ve put together a list with their main particulars and what kind of products they put out.
Unless you have a foldie, bike parking at home (especially in an apartment) can royally suck and if you have more than one, you are assed out. You’ve been there: rolling your bike into a room and then another, making sure that the pedal don’t catch in the spokes and the handlebars are facing away from the other bike. You have to practically stack them because they take up so much space. You risk scratching up your bikes and the hassle of getting one out is a pain. You almost have to ask yourself is it worth it?
With all the bike racks out there, it most certainly is.
So I’ve put together a list of options for all you bikers with very limited space and who don’t want to end up sleeping with their bikes (and I know some of you already do). The list is in alphabetical order so let’s start from the top.
Here we’ve got mountain bike component group at the entry level. Even so, the Alivio is down to a 9-speed cassette while the X5 on a 10-speed. No nonsense, not flashy and functional, the differences in the groups reflect on what is necessary for your biking needs. The three chainrings of the Alivio crankset as opposed to the two of the X5 offer a gamma of options of whether you need mountain-climbing abilities or just an all-rounder.
Sram still proudly waves the tech flag with the 1:1 Actuation (which means pulling the cable and the derailleur moves the same amount), Exact Actuation (for exact cable tension) and the X-Glide (chainring technology, paired to perform to perfection with the chain itself). Shimano’s Alivio 9-Speed offers quality to the recreational mountain biker.
If you are looking for components for your leisure bike, the Alivio and the X5 are great options. Accessible and practical, choose from either for the bang for your buck.
On to the lower tiers of the mountain bike component group hierarchy, we’ve got the Shimano Deore and the Sram X7. Reliability and sturdiness of the components that are synonymous with these two companies, the Deore is sitting at the 10-speed mark with the Sram also on the 10-speed option with titanium sprockets, which you can also pair with a 9-speed option, if you should so choose. Chainrings come in two- and three-ring versions in both brands for those of you looking for climbing capabilities in your components group.
This is the mix-n-match middle component group for both Shimano and Sram. Pick and choose your pieces for that ideal ride and you are sure to find biking perfection for a fraction of the cost of the higher end mech.
Shimano SLX offers a 10-speed component group that is versatile. The tech that you can find in this group is something incorporated with the higher end lot called Shadow Plus. This basically is a lever that you can switch to the “on” or “off” position. When it’s “on,” a steel band wraps around the clutch, creating pressure and therefore, resistance. Its purpose is to prevent forward movement on the derailleur cage. Long term, it’s to help reduce wear on the derailleur and prolong chain use. Ice Technologies for your disc brake rotors and an either 2x10 or 3x10 drivetrain can also be had.
Considering that the Shimano Zee is the “younger brother” to the New Shimano Saint (as well as a somewhat cheaper version and they don’t have a front derailleur), I’ve decided to pair up the Deore XTR and the X0. That way, it’s nice and even. All the same components in both groups, all good.
Deore XTR comes in either the silver or the black version. You’ve got a crankarm with Hollowtech II technology, which basically means instead of having a separate axel which you lace through the bottom bracket, you have a tube that is built into the crank and passes through to the other side, where you can attach the other crankarm. Ice Technologies are available for your brake cooling needs and ten-speed HyperGlide cassettes, with a 2x10 option for racing and a 3x10 set up for your trail riding needs.
When you nose around in the upper tiers in a component group hierarchy, you start to realize a couple of things. One: that components are a serious engineering feat that are years in the making. And two: there are some serious materials and components for the performance-minded biker.
The first thing off the bat that you notice is the graphics. The New Saint and the XX both have an edginess in their particular logos and they are what first draw your attention. You also have an abundance of tech that reminds you that somewhere on the planet, in a workshop, there must be a group of engineers who have probably spent a good deal of time on the design of a single chain link. And probably contemplating the mortality of a blue crab at the same time.
Now that I offered up the road bike components, here we go with a mountain bike comparative. What is pretty evident off the bat are the range and the technology of both groups. Shimano offers the XTR in racing and trail modalities while Sram ups the game with a 1x11 drivetrain. And nothing puts a bigger smile on my face than someone pushing the technology envelope.
This is where Sram is going to bow out for the night as this is its mix-and-match representative, the group that can offer components that can be used in the other, higher end groups of the line. As mentioned in previous posts, this is only a comparative of what these companies offer from top to bottom and by no means am I saying that they compare in form other than the fact that this is how their fall on the rosters of their respective makers.
That said, Campy steps down to the 10 speed sprocket range, Shimano is dabbling in the 9 speed and Sram has 8, 9 and 10 speed options, which includes a variety of aerobar options, as well as cantilever and hydraulic brakes. There are still carbon fiber options at Campy and Sram, whereas Shimano has its standard aluminum and alloy components.