Long Term Test: SRAM Force CX-1 Groupset

By: Brandon Aug 27

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652g. Racers and weightweenies alike spend gobs of time and money for 652g. Hell, they'll gobs for 50g. But 652g? Unreal. 652g is what I shaved from my personal Gaulzetti Carbon when I "made the leap" to SRAM's new CX-1 drivetrain recently from my all-but-perfect Shimano R785 drivetrain.

Why the switch? There are a couple of answers to that question, the most basic of which is that I was asked to try it out. Simple as that. And I love new stuff.

But the real answer is much deeper than that. Being in bicycle retail, I've felt burned a few times over the last couple of seasons by SRAM. First, Elixir brakes, their noises, air leaks, and crazy bleed procedures. Quite literally, more sets were sent in under warranty replacement than I sold. Not good. Then came Gen 1 Red front shifting, or lack thereof. Recently that's been readily addressed by SRAM's YAW technology, so we're getting somewhere.

Most recently, the straw on the camel's back if you will, was the HydroR recall. I commend SRAM for stepping up to the plate, admitting fault, and doing everything in their power to remedy the situation. As a retailer though, I had to go back and call numerous customers to let them know the drivetrain I recommended they use could now lead to serious injury.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, and I get a call. The voice on the other end of the line says "hey, I know you have a lot of time on Shimano's hydro system, want to try our new one out and see if we've done a better job?" After 6+ months of perfectly silent and strong braking as well as flawless shifting, I thought they were asking for trouble. How could SRAM ever compete?

Right on time, the boxes rolled in and I wasted no time yanking parts out. SRAM is known for pushing the weight envelope, so I knew I needed to pay attention here. I weighed every piece out of the box from SRAM that was going to find it's way onto my bike. Hoses were uncut, as was housing. When I pulled the R785 from my bike I kept every piece that was getting replaced together. Cassette and chain were not weighed since they carried over, though the chain was cut a couple of links shorter. The net result was a savings of 652g. 1.44lbs. .103 stone.

That's the difference of going from Aksium to Carbone Ultimate. CAAD10 to SuperSix HiMod.

Though, both of those upgrades cost you money. In this instance, CX1 is actually cheaper. $650 cheaper at MSRP than R785 for those of you counting.

Enough with that, what did I notice once the group was installed? Shifting is crisp, which I expect to remain with my full housing run setup. Not much room for contamination.

Also supremely important, the ergonomics are great. When SRAM first introduced HydroR last year, they were critiqued for the size of the front of the hood, myself being one of those people. It's a large hood, no doubt. But from the cockpit, it's not overwhelming and actually provides another measure of safety in rough terrain. Also a nice touch, you'll notice on the front of the hood, above the lever, is a groove cut that seems to fit my hands like I was used for the mold.

Of course we know braking is the real question here. I have to report that initially I was a bit let down. I had some of the turkey gobble that SRAM/Avid are known for. Though after closer examination of their setup instructions, I had only done about 15-20 runs on the bedding period, and SRAM recommends 30. I am THIRLLED (no joke) to report that after roughly 40 miles on the road the gobble is all but completely gone, and only barely noticeable under extremely heavy braking, such as avoiding disaster (cars). I have yet to really jump on the brakes off-road, though I don't know how much that will realistically happen since these brakes do have quite a lot of power. To grab enough lever to get the gobble I would have some pretty nasty wheel lockup offroad.

What does this mean? SRAM did their homework this time. Time will tell what happens in the cold, which will be the real proving ground for CX1. Until then, I tend to log as many miles as possible, flog this group and see where it's at come mid-season, or maybe even January.....

photos and words by Brandon Elliott


For Review - Mavic Cosmic Carbone 40c - Initial Thoughts

By: Brandon Aug 24

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Some time ago I was lured into a conversation about carbon clincher wheelsets. Having spent time on the ENVE SES 3.4, which we refer to as the Moka Parlour Ascent wheelset, I was coming around to the idea. I'm primarily over my fear of heat-induced failure, partly because I don't descend much and partly because I feel the research has been done to get it right, at least with the top brands.

So when Mavic came out with the "first reliable carbon clincher" I was curious. I've long been a custom wheel kind of guy, eschewing the "wheel systems" and more recently "wheel-tire systems" for something I piece together on my own. But, what if I could really get something from a single box that had the performance to match my custom wheels with a much shorter turnaround and the durability Mavic is known for?

A few emails go out, a week goes by, and a set of Mavic's new Cosmic Cabrone 40c wheels are at my doorstep. Out of the box I gathered the usual bits: brake pads, skewers, and Mavic's proprietary tools. I tossed my wheels onto the scale: 672g front and 877g rear. That's within 4 grams of claimed weight, so we're right on.

Mavic's 40c include myriad different technologies, they're a full-on alphabet soup. TGMax, FTS-L, FORE, QRM+, and MAXTAL. What does all this mean? Who cares. I'm much more worried about how the wheels perform than bragging about their technology. If you're curious, check here.

My first qualm came with the tires. The GripLink front and PowerLink rear tires are labeled as 23mm, mine measured a scant 22.4mm. I was assured by those inside Mavic the issue is being addressed. I did a handful of rides on the stock tires, and the narrow width was noticeable but not enough to warrant getting too upset. Regardless, I swapped to my Veloflex Corsa tires so I could have a better apples-to-apples with my ENVE wheels.

Now that I have the "right" tires mounted, what have I noticed? First, the 40c wheelset rides better than any carbon clincher wheelset has any business deserves. Only slightly stiffer vertically than a typical box-section wheels, it's hard to believe really. Laterally, there is plenty of stiffness to go around. I never noticed any brake pad rub during any level of sprint.

Braking is where oh-so-many carbon wheels really suffer, and while these wheels are better than most, you'll never confuse them with aluminum rims. I did have a bit of a squeal when first mounted, but a quick adjustment of the pads and that was eliminated. The provided yellow pads also left some residue when new, but quickly wore off and the yellowing was gone, 2-3 rides max.

I have yet to attempt to dodge anything in my path with these wheels mounted. Mavic is known for building wheel that will withstand anything, and I plan to put that to the test. Currently the wheels are just as true as when pulled from the box, but I'll be keeping an eye on that.

More miles to come from these, but initial thoughts are very positive. Wet weather, cold, gravel? Let's see what these things can handle.

photos and words by Brandon Elliott


Bespoke Builds - Moots Vamoots RSL

By: Brandon Aug 22

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We're visiting titanium again in our Bespoke Builds column, this time from Cyclepath out of Portland via Moots in Steamboat Springs. I somehow doubt we need to draw the line from Moots to our previous post containing JP's Eriksen.

Moots has long been a dream bike of mine, and with the introduction of the Vamoots RSL, Moots took their Ti to a new level. While known for it's ride quality and durability, Moots stepped up the performance of Ti by massaging, shaping, and machining the tubes from top to bottom.

This one was built with a wishlist of parts, from the ENVE 3.4 wheels to the Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 drivetrain, this build is worthy of it's own showcase.

Attention to detail is what will take a build like this and allow it to stop traffic. The perfectly appropriate custom Moots bar tape, titanium stem and seatpost, as well as the Brooks saddle make this bicycle fit the bill for it's rider exactly as intended.

Thank you to Cyclepath for sharing this incredible ride with us.

photos by Cyclepath and words by Brandon Elliott


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