The cycling industry is being turned up to 11. Every major component manufacturer has now released or will be releasing an 11 speed group. For 2013, this is the story to watch. Compatibility issues will abound as riders scramble to get the latest and greatest. Have no worry though, these upgrades are worth the trouble, as every new 11 speed set up I have come into contact with has been stellar.
Shimano 9000 and 9070
The biggest splash in the road industry has been the introduction of Shimano 11 speed in both mechanical and Di2 options. We have had the chance to work on both here in the shop and both are incredibly impressive. These were a huge step forward for the Japanese component manufacturer, as the 7900 generation of 10 speed was disappointing to some. Di2 in its 10 speed form has been nothing short of revolutionary, and the 11 speed generation is just as impressive.
|The new 9070 group will ship in 2013|
Both 9000 and its electric brother 9070 are, at least for me, on the top of the heap when it comes to flagship groups right now. The shifting is phenomenal on both groups--which is standard operating procedure for Shimano. The front derailleur performance specifically is best in the industry for both mechanical and electric offerings.
|9070 boasts a hidden seat post battery|
The new brake design is a commendable rebuttal to Sram's new brake design earlier in 2012, though the Chicago based component manufacturer still takes the cake when it comes to weight. 9000 is still no pig though. Cannondale has spec'd their top of the line Evo with 9000, and it weighs in at a svelte 11.84 lbs OUT OF THE BOX.
|2013 EVO Nano. 11.84 lbs out of the box|
Sram XX1 and New Road Offerings?
Don't think that Shimano is taking over the industry in one fowl swoop though. Sram has released an 11 speed configuration of its own--this one for the dirt though. I recently had an opportunity to ride a bike equipped with the new XX1 and it is bar none the best MTB set up I have ridden. I have been true to Shimano for a long time when it comes to MTB components, so this isn't easy for me to admit.
|The new XX1 group. Notice anything missing?|
XX1 completely changes the way you think about MTB shifting. 1x11 offers just as wide of a gear range, without half of the components. No front derailleur and no front shifter or cable means a huge weight reduction and a more simple system. It's kind of a no-brainer.
The group runs silent. Sram's chainring and rear derailleur design make for an absolutely smooth and quiet shift with no chain-slap. I purposefully took the bike off of ledges and curbs to see if I could get some rattle out of it: Nothing.
Though I am still partial to Shimano's MTB hydraulic brakes, I think if I were going to plunk down the cash for a new group, it would no doubt be for XX1.
|The XX1 redefines "big" when it comes cassettes. A 42 big cog...|
As far as Sram's paved offerings for 2013, I think we can absolutely expect hydraulic road brake levers, which are already being ridden for cross use. This is a pretty big deal in my opinion, as it is another step towards making cables completely obsolete for road bikes--which is a good thing in my mind; hydraulic and electric are more dependable and easier to maintain.
|Sram Hydraulic Road levers on the pro cross circuit|
This is pure speculation, but I also expect that Sram will be rolling out an 11 speed road group as well. They clearly have the technology figured out with XX1. There is no good reason at this point to not match its competitors by turning it up to 11.
Formula kills the cable
While we are on the subject of doing away with cables, lets take a look at Formula road hydraulic/electric compatible road levers. Colnago is already spec'ing a road bike with them and it looks impressive.
|Hydraulic and Electric in one|
I wrote to Formula to see when these would be available to the larger public for aftermarket retail, and they said "stay tuned." That's it. I will absolutely tuned to this though, as I think these could be amazing for anyone who has the cash (it will be a huge price tag without a doubt) to drop.
Several of our customers are already running electric with mechanical disc brakes for cross use, and this is the next logical step. Huge performance gains are to be had. Self-adjusting hydraulic brakes are a huge upgrade compared to mechanical cable-actuated disc calipers.
Other than the price, I'm sure it will be another no-brainer.
|Cannondale Slice RS is part of their great 2013 line-up|
Personally, I can't wait to see what these innovations bring--from new shifting, brake or aero technology. They have potential to really change the way we ride in a great way--making riding more enjoyable for everyone, and hopefully getting more people out and riding bikes and turning it up to 11.