With the launch of SRAM XX last year it was inevitable that arch rivals Shimano would soon follow suit and launch their own 10-speed mountain bike groupset.
Industry rumours suggested they would introduce the extra gear on their top-end group, XTR. But instead they've chosen to debut it on updated versions of Deore XT and SLX.
Shimano are calling their new drivetrain technology Dyna-Sys, and insist they haven't simply added an extra cog to the cassette. In fact, they're calling it "a whole new way of shifting". Both groupsets will get new cranksets, chains, cassettes, derailleurs and 2-Way Release rear shifters.
Only a triple chainset will be available (42-32-24T) – an interesting decision, given that one of the main perceived advantages of a 10-speed cassette is that you can ditch a front chainring yet still retain an adequate number of gears.
The Big S say that having a wider gear range at the back, more closely spaced gears at the front, and improved rear mechs and shifters, creates smoother and more intuitive shifting, more efficient and powerful pedalling, and allows the rider to stay in the middle and largest chainrings for a higher proportion of the time.
"The larger the chainring size, the lower the chain tension, the lower the impact on rear suspension and ultimately the most efficient transfer of power," they say. It should also produce a straighter chainline, which will reduce drivetrain-induced suspension movement on bikes with rear shocks.
Shimano also reckon the Dyna-Sys setup with its smaller large chainring (42T rather than 44T) and larger small chainring (24T rather than 22T) will reduce the number of 'recovery shifts' needed at the rear when changing at the front, making it easier to maintain your pedalling cadence.
Cosmetically, the updated groupsets will look identical to the current XT and SLX, and brakes and front shifters will be unchanged. All Dyna-Sys components will be...
Victory comes in closest sprint finish in World Cup history
Nino Schurter (Scott Swisspower) won his first elite World Championship at age 23 in 2009, but it wasn't until this past weekend that he took his first World Cup victory. Along with the Olympic Games in 2010, winning a World Cup has been one of the young Swiss rider's major goals.
On Sunday, In Dalby Forest in Yorkshire, England, a new venue on the World Cup circuit, Schurter rode to victory, after a sprint finish with 2009 World Cup overall champion Julien Absalon (Orbea).
Among a lead group of nine, only Absalon and Schurter could answer Under 23 World Champion Burry Stander's attack. Absalon then attacked on the final lap, and Schurter was just barely able to hang on while Stander dropped off.
It came down to a replay of the 2009 World Championship final with Absalon battling Schurter to the end, but this time it was Absalon who came out of the final corner first for the sprint up the long finish straight.
Up until 20m to go, it looked like Absalon would get his revenge, but Schurter came around in the final meters to take the win by a mere 10cm, the closest sprint finish in the 20 years of mountain bike World Cup racing.
Schurter will get another shot at a World Cup win this weekend at round two in Houffalize, Belgium.
Massanutten Yee Ha! hosting round one this weekend
Defending Champion Neko Mulally will compete at the Gravity East season-opening race, the Yee Ha! downhill at Virginia's Massanutten Resort on May 1.
"I'm stoked to do a race at home," said Mulally, who hails from Reading, Pennsylvania, only a few hours away. The 17-year-old signed for Trek World Racing for the 2010 season, and while he'll be racing the full World Cup series, he's still got a soft spot for Gravity East events.
"No other race series would prepare me better for 2010 in the World Cup," said Mulally this past winter. In fact, Massanutten Resort is a former downhill World Cup venue.
The Virginia event will kick off the beginning of the fourth Gravity East season. Last year, the first under the direction and ownership of DHD Marketing and Promotion, the Gravity East series grew from a regional series to one of national prominence. Not only were rider numbers up, but so were the number of mountains wanting to be a part of the series.
The success of Gravity East has seen the return of gravity racing to classic venues from mountain biking's first golden age that hadn't seen a downhill race in years. Sugarbush, Vermont, reintroduced itself to the mountain bike community with a Gravity East race in 2008, and this year Killington, Vermont, joins the Gravity East Series as it hosts its first downhill in nearly six years.
Gravity East is introducing a new, non-championship, event following practice for the classic Yee Ha! downhill race on Friday, April 30. The skinny-tire asphalt racers typically call this kind of preliminary event a prologue, but series publicist Ken Getchell says the term doesn't really capture the true character of the festivities.
"It's not really a prologue in the sense of the Tour de France," said Getchell, "it's more of a schmo-logue where the big ol' Gravity East family can get together for the first time in months and let their hair down before laying all on the line for the first...
After competing for one day of last year's BC Bike Race, home grown World Cup rider Geoff Kabush will return to the event this season for the duration of the race.
Kabush's presence is a boost ahead of the fourth BC Bike Race, which will be held June 27 to July 3 and host almost 500 riders this year. With a route that covers approximately 350km and rises nearly 8000m, it's the 70 percent singletrack that attracts riders, Kabush included.
"People always ask me what my favourite trails in the world are and the answer is always easy: West Coast BC singletrack," said Kabush.
"The BC Bike Race is a unique chance to get a premium sampling of the best mountain biking in the world. Combine the trails with the great people, organisation and atmosphere and the BC Bike Race is the most fun event of the year," he added.
The event takes riders from Vancouver to Whistler over seven days, including much of British Columbia's renowned mountain bike territory such as the North Shore, Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and Cumberland.
Over the years many professionals have ridden the race; six-time world champion Chris Eatough, former world champion Tinker Juarez, Olympic medalist Alison Sydor and most recently World Cup winner Catharine Pendrel.
The BC Bike Race allows riders to compete as a team or solo, men, women or mixed; last year's winners in the mixed category were Kona pro Ryan Trebon and Luna women's rider Georgia Gould.
"We love having guys like Geoff here, they have so much knowledge and experience and they want to do this event just as much as the weekend warriors; everyone just wants to have a great ride on a great course," said President of the BC Bike Race, Dean Payne.
There's still room for 2010 competitors to register - for more information see www.bcbikerace.com.
Italian manufacturer ups the ante with lighter race offering
Marzocchi looks to be maintaining its recent upward momentum with a preview of a new carbon-legged cross country/trail fork that reportedly weighs just 1,600g (3.53lb).
Instead of the usual magnesium lower leg casting, the Carbon 44 will use a minimal magnesium shell with carbon fibre moulded over the top of it. Marzocchi USA director Bryson Martin insists isn't just cosmetic and considering the Carbon 44 will lop over 200g from the current 44 Micro Ti QR15, we're inclined to believe him.
The lower legs will also directly incorporate 15mm thru-axle dropouts and post-mount disc tabs while the upper assembly will feature a forged alloy crown and nickel-plated 32mm-diameter tapered aluminum stanchions.
Internally, the new fork will offer up to 150mm of highly tunable travel. The air spring will feature adjustable chamber volume to customise the bottom-out characteristics plus a titanium coil negative spring to minimise initial stiction and keep weight low. On the other side, the TST Micro damper will include compression threshold, lockout and rebound adjustments, all with anodized aluminum knobs.
Pricing is set at a lofty US$1,000 and Marzocchi hopes to have the Carbon 44 available by 2010 or early 2011.
New Slovenian Gravity UCI mountain bike team to debut in Houffalize
Some of the best Slovenian downhill and four cross racers will start their 2010 season in the white and blue jerseys of the new Unior Tools Team, a UCI-registered mountain bike team. They will be joined by the Greek women's downhill champion. Together, the squad's eight mountain bikers will race UCI World Cups and other international gravity events such as the iXS downhill series.
The excitement before the first four cross round of the UCI mountain bike World Cup in Houffalize, Belgium, this weekend is high. Unior Tools will be one of many teams from around the world participating in the four cross race on Saturday evening.
Maria Michalogiannaki aka "Lady M" is fast female Greek racer with good results in the European scene. Ziga Pandur won the junior iXS European Cup in Germany and was 10th in the European Championships held on his home track. Together with two-times national champion Jan Cestnik and the other men on the team, he will be aiming for finishes in top 80.
Four cross ambitions are even higher with hopes for top 10 positions in women's category while the men will try to improve on past performances and get into the top 20.
The new team reflects the growth of Slovenian mountain biking. Slovenia has hosted the UCI World Cup in Maribor, the European Championships in Kranjska Gora and it has its own national cup that routinely attracts more than 200 downhillers.
The first highlight of the season for the Unior Tool Team will be the downhill and four cross World Cup race at home in Maribor on May 15-16.
The team is managed by Tine Mahkovec and Bostjan Vizin. Mechanic Rok Jurca will keep the team's bikes in shape and Grega Stopar will serve as the team's media officer.
Other sponsors of the team are adidas Eyewear, Trek Bicycles, SRAM, Xenofit, Everyday Wear and media partner Mountainbikeslovenia (mtb.si).
The USA Cycling Professional Mountain Bike Gravity Tour (Pro GRT) kicked off on Sunday with Northwest Cup #2 on the trails at Dry Hill in Port Angeles, Washington. Both the elite men's and women's fields were stacked with world-class talent as the weekend's on-and-off rain made for a slick, fast course.
In the men's event, Bryn Atkinson (Transition Racing) descended to the win with a time of 2:34.39 compared to the 2:35.20 posted by second place finisher Justin Leov (Trek World Racing).
In the women's race, Tracy Moseley (Trek World Racing) clocked a 2:50.82 on the slippery course to beat runner-up Rachel Atherton (Commencal) by three seconds.
With the first of five events on the Pro GRT now complete, Atkinson and Moseley have the early leads in the standings. The Pro GRT will continue at Plattekill Bike Park in Roxbury, NY, May 22-23. Click here for more information.
Fundraiser hosted by Wiens, Overend, Rusch, DeMattei, Brown
A range of cycling celebrities will join Olympic and World Cup stars Susan DeMattei and Dave Wiens in an historic weekend at the inaugural Colorado CycleFest, on Saturday, May 1, and Sunday, May 2, in support of the Colorado High School Cycling League.
Included among the cycling stars joining DeMattei and Wiens are Jonathan Vaughters of the Garmin-Transitions cycling team, inaugural UCI mountain bike World Champion, Ned Overend (Specialized), 24-hour world champion Rebecca Rusch (Specialized), and Olympian Travis Brown (Trek).
Matt Fritzinger, head of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association, said, "It's great so see such a large collection of past and present champion cyclists rallying for high school cycling. Every one of these athletes understands the historical significance of introducing cycling as an organized sport for high school students."
Attendees at the Colorado CycleFest weekend will enjoy a gala dinner and silent auction on Saturday, May 1, in Palettes Restaurant at the Denver Art Museum. Then on Sunday, May 2, is a rare opportunity to ride with the two Mountain Biking greats, Susan DeMattei and Dave Wiens, when they lead a road ride from Boulder followed by lunch at the Bacaro Venetian Taverna, hosted by Fabio Flagiello.
A host of prizes for the silent auction are donated by Founding National Sponsor Specialized, as well as SRAM, Trek, Wheat Ridge Cyclery and Yeti. In an indication of the expanding support of the high school cycling movement, the League is thrilled to announce corporate sponsors Poudre Valley Health Systems and Yeti Beti.
CycleFest tickets are $100 regular, and $150 for Patron tickets, which provide admission to a special cocktail hour. Proceeds from the ticket sales go to supporting the Colorado High School Cycling League.
Lance Armstrong becomes part-owner of Honey Stinger
Honey Stinger, the manufacturer of honey-based nutritional foods, is fielding a mountain bike team for the second consecutive year. A mix of professional and amateur racers will compete in its distinctive honey-combed jerseys.
"We're excited to kick off the race season here in the Rockies, and we've got a strong team this season," said Len Zanni, Honey Stinger marketing director and team captain.
"We've grown the team and retained a core group of riders who also serve as great brand ambassadors. With riders competing in a variety of races - everything from shorter distance cross country lung burners, to multi-day stage races and 24-hour events, we'll have a great presence in the territory and beyond."
The 2010 team is once again captained by Zanni, who was the runner up at last year's Mountain States Cup race series and finished in first place at the Silver Rush 50 and fifth place at the Leadville 100. Sari Anderson, the 2008 US marathon national champion is also on the Honey Stinger team along with up-and-coming rider Colin Osborn, a member of the national Under 23 Cycling team, as well as 1996 Olympian and legendary road and mountain bike racer Tammy Jacques Grewal.
The complete Honey Stinger team roster includes Kelley Cullen, Kris Cannon, Sari Anderson, Ryan Dorsey, Nate Bird, Ben Portilla, Len Zanni, Max Taam, Bryce Gordon, Scott McCaimon, Colin Osborn, Tammy Jacques, Ryan Hamilton, Michael Hayes, Josh Cullen, Chris Tamucci, Brian Schaeffer, Ed Schultz, Ian Anderson, Peter Kalmes, Karl Fritzche, Rob Peterson, Rob Russell, Rose Alford, Bill Gamber, Rich Hager, Nathan Waldron, and Todd Kennedy.
The Honey Stinger Mountain Bike Team is supported by Big Agnes, Trek Bicycles, Alpina Capital, Boa, Mountain Flyer, Osprey and SOLE Custom Footbeds with product sponsors Smith, Giro, BAP, Smartwool, Bontrager and Paceline Products.