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Sea Otter tech

Cyclingnews tech writer James Huang made the trip to Sea Otter and filed three days worth of reports. Among the finds, these new MTB component groups from Shimano and SRAM.

First ride on Shimano's new XTR shifters and derailleurs - We told you about it, we showed you pictures of it, and now we’ve finally tried it ourselves. This year’s Sea Otter Classic offered up the first opportunity to not only lay our hands on the new XTR trigger shifters and Dual Control shifters, but also to ride them. Ok, I will admit that both test rides consisted of short little spin around the expo area, but it was enough to get an impression on how the actual production bits will feel.

The new Two Way Release, Multi Release, and Instant Release features of the new trigger shifter combine to deliver amazingly fast shifts, particularly when using the thumb to actuate the forward release trigger. Shifts can still be performed with the index finger as before, but the new ‘thumb-thumb’ Rapidfire Plus style of shifting is both faster and easier to use.

The new Dual Control shifters represent the biggest change from the current M960 generation to the new M970. Shimano obviously took note of criticisms of the current Dual Control levers and seem to have addressed all of them. The new radial master cylinder and hose routing produced a substantial improvement in brake feel and also results in a much more compact assembly. Shift action is enhanced as well: moving the lever up requires much less effort than before, and lever throws have a shorter and more precise feel overall.

Without a doubt, both styles of shifters are a definite improvement over their predecessors with much more tactile feedback, a more precise feel overall, and greatly enhanced ergonomics. More significantly, Shimano seems to have backed away slightly from its hard-line Light Action philosophy having incorporated a noticeably stronger return spring in the new rear derailleurs along with much more tactile feedback in both shifters. According to Shimano, the new kit will drop roughly three-quarters of a pound over the current XTR kit and will be available around October.

SRAM launches bevy of MTB products - SRAM introduced two complete road groups this year but clearly didn't want to ignore its off-road roots. There's therefore a heap of new MTB components from SRAM, including new trigger shifters and derailleurs, a new Avid hydraulic disc brake, and a brand-new line of carbon fiber cranksets from Truvativ.

The X.9 trigger shifter has been revised to not only offer near-X.0 performance, but also appearance as well. "Zero Loss" lever travel provides faster downshifts and the two-position adjustable clamp adds greater user adjustability. The new rear derailleur features a new forged aluminum B-knuckle and X.0 styling along with a full range of short, medium, and long cage flavors. A new X.9 front derailleur borrows heavily from the previous X-Gen version but with forged aluminum links and a cut-out cage to drop 18g.

Avid introduced a new lighter-weight Juicy hydraulic brake dubbed the Ultimate. The new top-level XC offering features a magnesium master cylinder, carbon fiber lever, and completely new one-piece forged aluminum caliper complete with a full complement of titanium hardware. Weights will start at 343g complete with 160mm rotor, but 185mm and 140mm (rear-only) rotor options will also be available.

Truvativ will make a lot of headway in shedding its somewhat pedestrian 'good value and solid performance' reputation with a new high-end carbon fiber line called Noir. The new line will feature unidirectional carbon fiber laid over Al-66 spines with integrated carbon spiders along with Truvativ's unique GXP bottom bracket system that minimizes lateral loads on the bearings. Mountain, road, and road compact versions will be offered, along with an ultrahigh-end HCT (HardCore Technology) road version that swaps the full-length spine for separate pedal and crankhead inserts that reduce the weight down to 750g, complete with rings and bottom bracket.

In addition to the component introduction, SRAM also introduced a new mounting option based on its Avid Juicy clamp. Special rear clamps incorporate mounting points not only for X.0 or the new X.9 trigger shifters, but can also simultaneously accept the new aluminum Rock Shox PushLoc remote lever.

To read the full Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 tech reports, just follow the links.

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