Saturday, March 16, 2013

Campagnolo EPS Shifting Problem

After an extensive web search I have not been able to find anything associated with a problem I am now having with my EPS system. I'll give a quick time-line and share the troubleshooting to this point:

  1. I've ridden the system for approximately 150 hours of flawless operation
  2.  Last week, about 40 minutes into a session on the rollers I started to experience multiple down-shifts, meaning that I would intend to shift down one smaller cog on my cassette, but it would jump 2-3 cogs.
  3. I could upshift 1 cog at a time.
  4. After finishing the ride I performed a zero-reset which is when you hold both mode buttons as the same time, and go through the process of letting the system know where the 2nd and 10th cogs are located.
  5. After performing this process, I could shift through the cassette twice, but on the third run (from either side of the cassette) it would not go into the last two cogs in that direction. So if I started the run from the smallest cog, I could not shift into the largest two. Or if I started from the largest I could not get into the smallest two.
  6. My LBS called the distributor and they suggested a factory reset. To do this, the magnet was inserted into the power source/brain and both mode buttons were held for 30 seconds and the zero process was then followed.
  7. This did change the behavior in that now I can get in every cog however, I still have a shifting problem. When in the largest cog, I have to hit the down shift button twice before it will shift and then it jumps down two cogs. I can upshift to get back to the 10th, but there is no way to shift from the 11th to the 10th.
At this point it looks like the system is going to need to go back. I will update this post to see what the resolution is, but I'm betting the brain/power source will need to be replaced.

********Update - QPB tested the group and said that the rear derailleur limiter screw was too tight. While I have seen that if the screw is too tight it will cause faults, I am VERY skeptical that this was the cause of my problem. Once I have a chance to test it I will update this post.



********After reinstalling the serviced group, I continued to have the same shifting problem. I once again did a hard reset using the "factory reset" and zeroing the system, it started shifting properly and has been fine for a couple of weeks. I feel like this problem will come back, but I certainly hope not.



-Tony

Sunday, January 6, 2013

TRP R960 Brake Review

Brakes are one of the components of a bicycle where we should probably focus solely on performance, but being the irrational creatures we are we tend to take less important things into consideration. This was indeed the case with my latest build. The logical choice would have been to simply use Campy brakes with my new EPS bike, but they are heavy, I don't care for the looks of them, they do not appear to be very aerodynamic, and did I mention that they are heavy and don't look very good?

I posted a review of the Planet-X Ultra-Light brakeset a while back and that set was a very solid performer (and excellent value) for well over 10,000 miles. The smart move would have been to go back to that set, but that would not be very exciting so I began the search for a new set.

If you are reading this review I will assume that the 960 is on your list so I won't spend a lot of time talking about why I went this direction, but in the end, I thought this breakeset would check more boxes than any other set that I was considering.

What matters to me:

1. Modulation
2. Functionality
3. Looks
4. Value
5. Weight
6. Stopping Power

Modulation:

This is one of those terms that I hear thrown around a lot like stiffness, that probably has different meanings depending on the rider. I'm sure there is some scientific quantification of the term using deflection, leverage, and many other terms that I barely understand so, I will share what it means to me. Simply put, good modulation means that I get a consistent increase in breaking power when I apply increased force to the lever. This does not mean a 1:1 relationship necessarily (I don't necessarily need to have the same force increase for every .5cm of pull), but that it is a predictable and consistent increase.

With this simple definition in mind, how do the TRP 960's perform? At this point in the testing I would say they are decent enough. With the stock aluminum pads I was very unhappy with the modulation. The brakes did not give me a lot of feedback through the lever and it almost felt like I would have dead spots in the pull where I would increase pressure on the lever and not feel much of an increase in stopping power. However, when using my Enve pads on a carbon rim (which typically perform a little worse than an aluminum rim) the braking was much better. Also, as the TRP pads wore a little, the feel became better. If I were to rank modulation on the last few sets of brakes I have owned I would rank them like this:

1. Dura Ace 7800
2. Planet X Ultralight
3. Campy Record Skelaton
4. TRP R960
1,396. BMC TM01 brake calipers

And I am not exaggerating on the TM01 brakes. While I have the TRP brakes low on this list in regards to modulation, with the right pads they are not bad, just not as good as some of the others out there.

Functionality:

I could list quite a few things here so let us start with setup. Installation of the brakes is very straight forward and not significantly different than most other brakes out there. I tighten the bolts on both sets so that I can still turn the brakes with a little effort. This is useful when you swap wheels often. The brakes are pretty simple to center, there is a grub screw on one of the brake arms that allows you to move the arms in or out making setup pretty simple. The cable is held in place by a 4mm hex bolt and secures the cable without any issues.

There is plenty of adjustability for the shoes/pad holders both up and down, but also with the angle of the pads (toe-in/out). I run mine flat, but I have had problems with other brakes where they were not adjustable.

  
Once the calipers are installed they are opened by pressing on a red plastic tab above the mounting bolt.



Much like Campy brakes, they are either in the opened or closed position, you can't hold them partially open like you can with SRAM/Shimano brakes. The mechanism is kind of goofy, but thankfully I run Campy shifters so this is a non-issue for me.

One thing I do like about the brakes is the adjustment barrel. It is very easy to get your fingers on and turn. I've had problems with this on other brakes that I have owned.

The springs are very sturdy and I think they could probably over power some cable rub to return to the open position. Again, I have not had good experiences in the past so this is not something to take for granted. It is one of the reasons that I did not go with Zero Gravity brakes as every set I looked at seemed to have really weak springs.

The brakes are wide enough to accept pretty much any rim in my estimation. I have tried it with 23mm rims and there is plenty of clearance.

However, there is a major problem with vertical clearance. 25mm tires on standard size rims simply will not work with the front brake, but I can run a 25mm tire on the rear. When I run the 25mm tire on wide rims (HED Ardennes) there is enough clearance to get them on.

For me this is unacceptable. This is the first pair of brakes that I have had this type of problem with and if I had known this there is no way I would have bought these brakes. I love 25mm tires on my Fucrum 1 training wheels and I have even run 25mm race tires on my Enve wheels, but that is not an option for me with these brakes.

Looks

I dig the looks. The finish is very nice, the color options are great, the machining looks well done, the only knock I have on them is the plastic release tab. The brakes also look to be reasonably aerodynamic. I have not seen any test data on them and I am sure there are better choices for aero considerations, but I think these would probably be better than Campy, Shimano, or SRAM.

Value

Meh, they are ok I suppose. The street price on these is probably going to be sub $300 for most folks. When you compare the to top-level brakes from the big 3 and most boutique brands, they are a fair deal. They can't touch the Planet-X brakes in the value department, but they are not out of the park either.

Weight

223 g was the actual weight with pads. Again, not too bad, lighter than the big 3, but heavier than a lot out there. Again, I have to compare them to the sub-200g Plant-X brakes. That being said, the fact that there is not a pinch bolt is worth a little more weight to me.

Stopping Power

This might seem like an odd one to have at the bottom of my list, but in my experience most modern brakes provide more than enough stopping power. If they do not, they are either a terrible design or the are not setup properly. At nearly 200lb, I am harder to stop than a lot of the cyclists on the road and I have only had two sets of brakes in 14 years that I felt do not provide enough stopping power. These are more than adequate.

Conclusion

I really wanted to like these brakes. They do have several nice features, but the tire clearance is a deal-killer. I simply can't comprehend why this would be an issue, now I have to adjust my tire selection to accommodate my brakes. The brakes are nothing special to start with, I would say they are 3-3.5 out of 5 star brakes, which is not bad, but there are a lot of better choices out there from both a performance and value perspective.


-Tony

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Michelin Pro Race 4 Endurance Review

Happy New Year!

I thought I would try to start the year off right and actually get an adequate number of reviews written this year. I have 10 in the queue right now, but finding the time it tough. Since we are in the early to middle portion of winter I have decided that the most appropriate topic would be endurance tires as most of us have the racing rubber hanging on the walls this time of year.

Context

As I normally do, here is what I personally look for in this type of tire so the review is set in this context. When I look for a training tire priorities 1 and 2 change with the seasons.

Priorities:
1. Puncture resistance
2. Ride Quality
3. Ease of change / Pliability
4. Wear Resistance
5. Weight

From late fall through early spring I am pretty set in this order. The reason that puncture resistance is so important to me is that I ride many rural routes and changing a tire on the side of a non-shouldered road with nightfall rapidly approaching in the freezing cold is something that I avoid at all costs. As the temperature rises I am a little less concerned about puncture resistance as heat and daylight tend to make this a less stressful situation.

For several seasons I have been very happy with the Maxxis Re-Fuse for winter training and the Maxxis Detonator as my warm-weather training tire. However, I was looking for a new clincher race tire this year and decided to give Michelin another shot. I  hated absolutely everything about the Pro Race 3. Puncture resistance was terrible, I could barely get the tire on Campy rims, the wear resistance was terrible and on top of that they were not light and had marginal rolling resistance performance. Anyway, I was looking for a new tire and my local shop got their first set of PR4's in and I made a leap of faith and gave them a shot. I love this tire! More on that in another review.

So it came time this fall to begin sorting out my winter kit and the venerable Re-Fuse tires were starting to wear a little so I gave the Endurance tires a shot.


My 700X23 Endurance tire came in a box about 50% larger than the Service Course. There are 4 or 5 tires in the Pro 4 line depending on what you count. I have not had a chance to mess with the Comp Service Course or the Comp Limited which I would assume would be best used for Time Trials where the value of low rolling resistance is at a maximum.


(Image from michelinbicycletire.com)

Weight:


This 700X23 Endurance tire came in at 236 grams. I threw away the box before writing this, but I think the claimed weight was 225g which is a pretty bad miss.


For comparison a 700X23 Service Course tire is 204g vs. the claimed 200g on the box.

Ride Quality

The first thing I noticed about the Endurance version of the PR4 was how similar the ride quality is to that of the Service Course Tire.


The big difference between the two tires is that the Endurance tire is a dual compound tire with a wear and puncture resistant middle section (black) with a softer, grippier compound (grey) on the sides to improve cornering. Overall, the tire has a really nice feel to it when using the Michelin recommended pressure. The softer compound on the sides is noticeable as the tire corners very much like the Service Course and far superior to any other endurance type tire that I have tried. I would be comfortable racing a crit on these tires. The tires have an almost tacky feel to them, even after  hundreds of kilometers they still feel much like they did out of the box.

Puncture Resistance

I've had these tires on through varying conditions (hot/cold, wet/dry), but almost always on roads with lots of sharp objects. I have a tendency to cut tires quite frequently, but the PR4 Endurance tires have held up incredibly well. In fact, I looked at the back tire and could not find a single cut. The only tire that I have seen work this well is the Re-Fuse. There is no doubt that the heavier center compound contributes to this great performance.

Wear Resistance

At this point in time I may have 1,000 miles on the tires. What I can say is that the tires I have been running are nearly indistinguishable from the new tire that I mounted for the review. The Re-Fuse has a proven track record with me so until I get a full season on the Endurance I am not ready to make a call on durability, but it certainly looks promising.

Ease of Change / Pliability

As I stated above, I primarily run Campy or Fulcrum rims which are typically tighter with tires than most rims which can make them difficult to change. The Pro Race 4 Endurance tire is fairly pliable for an endurance tire. It is a little more difficult to take off and put on a rim than the Service Course tire and similar to other endurance tires. However, it is much better than the PR3 which was a terrible tire for me. This may not matter to most, but it does come into play when you are forced to replace a tube on the side of the road. With the PR4 E, I had to use gloves to push the last bit of tire over the rim on the initial install, but after they have some miles on them I can get them on without gloves and certainly without the need for a tire lever.

Cost

Expensive. Yeah, these things are way up there for endurance tires and they are not tires you will likely find in the discount bin. I think retail for these things are somewhere between $70 and $75. As of this writing I saw a few on e-bay for around $55 plus shipping compared to $38 shipped for the Re-Fuse.

Conclusion

The Michelin Pro Race 4 Endurance tire is an outstanding tire for my needs. It has a nice supple ride quality, corners well, has good traction, and is both puncture resistant and durable. It has a really high price tag though. This is certainly the best endurance tire I have every ridden, but at the cost of a full-on race tire I am somewhat hesitant to recommend them. If price is not an issue, I would certainly put them at the top of the list. Below is a ranking of the tires I have tried recently with the lower score being better. I did not assign a value to weight since it is an objective rating while the others are subjective.



Next up, TRP 960 brakes.

-Tony

Friday, November 23, 2012

Campagnolo EPS installation on Specialized Venge


Long time no blog. I've been in a cycling rut for the last 9 months or so, I've started mountain biking and while I have continued to ride on the road, I have not really been inspired to train nor have I been interested in evaluating any new products. For some reason that malaise has worn off so I have my new project bike.
It is a 2013 Specialized Venge (Tom Boonen Limited Edition) built with Campagnolo Super Record EPS. At this point I only have a few hundred miles on the frame and groupset so this review will primarily focus on the installation. 


In researching this project I found very little information on the internet about compatibility and how to install EPS on this frame. When I settled on the Venge, this seemed like a no-brainer as Specialized offers an EPS version of the Venge. No problem then, right? Hardly....

If you are thinking of building an EPS Venge my advise to you would be stop and either go with another frame or go with a different build. In the long-run you will save yourself a lot of headaches. However, if  you are set on making this work I will share what I have learned and how I overcame some of the challenges you will likely face.

Specialized does not state on their website that EPS will not work with the Venge. I spoke with four different dealers and none of them had heard that EPS would not work on this frameset either. However, without modification of the frame, I do not believe it is possible to perform the installation. In fact, when I posted questions to the help section of their website this was the response that I got:

 At this point I have to make a point and express my disappointment in Specialized. They know this won't work without modifying the frame (and most likely voiding the warranty) so why would they not make this fact known on the website and communicate it through their dealer network? I think that is letting down their customers and might very well have caused me to buy my last Specialized bicycle.

If you are still reading I assume you are out of your mind and want to know how to do this so I will walk you through the install process. I'm sorry for the lack of photos, but I was so frustrated working through this that I did not have the energy to document it.

Step 1. Battery/Brain Placement- As far as I know, there are three places you can mount the battery. On the downtube, attached to the saddle rails, or under the bottom bracket.

I think in a perfect world I would want to mount the battery in the seatpost, but the battery is simply too big for that. I've heard a rumor that a redesigned battery with a smaller form will be available in the futures, but I have no idea if, when or even how small the battery would be.

The next best spot would be under the BB. It is out of the way and does not interfere with your cages plus you could route all of the cables through the under BB opening which is plenty large enough to accommodate these. The problem is that there is not a mount available that I am aware of. I think it would be possible to fabricate a mount that would be afixed to the BB cable guide mount, but this would make me very nervous. There would be a single bolt holding the battery on and it would be supporting the entire weight of the battery which would seem likely to fail after thousands of miles of road vibration plus the occasional jarring from pot holes. If you are curious about the LTD Edition EPS Venge mounting, apparently Specialized drilled mounts in the bottom portion of the downtube for this version of the frame exclusively.

Another place to mount the brain is under the saddle - specifically there is a mount that Campy makes to allow you to mount it there. I saw this posted over on weight weenies

Image

Here is the thread link: http://weightweenies.starbike.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=106268

To pull this off you need to purchase the EPS Under Seat Cable Set plus the EPS Non-Standard Power Unit Holder. Although I suppose you could place the battery in a seat bag and punch a hole in the front for the cables instead of dropping $75 on the mount.

The downsides to mounting here are as follows:
- You would need to drill a hole in the seatpost to get the cables inside the frame or route them externally which would be a mess. I will say that drilling a hole in a seatpost is not as scary as increasing the hole size in the frame.
-Another concern that I have about this position is that if the seatpost ever slipped suddenly, I could see it severing the cables.
-Finally, you would need to give up your seat bag which I count on in training. If you are an everything in your pockets type of guy or girl this may not matter to  you.

The final option is to mount the battery on the downtube using the standard EPS mount which attaches to the frame via the bottle cage bolts. To me the downsides of mounting here are:
- The existing hole in the frame is too small so you would need to file the hole to make it larger
- On a small frame, you could run into issues that may cause you to only have room for one bottle cage (this would be a deal-killer for me)
- Under the bottle cages insures that the battery will be constantly bathed in sports drinks.


***Regardless of where you choose to mount the battery I would suggest that you make sure the hole at the rear drop out is large enough to accommodate the cable. You can check this by taking any of the cables coming from the battery and sticking the plug in the hole at the dropout. If you can feed 3 or 4 inches of cable through you should be in good shape. If not, this might be a real problem. I have a size 58 frame and it was tight, but it worked. Specialized says that some of the smaller frames may not. You might be able to take a small round file and enlarge the opening slightly, but I did not have to do this. I would note that it is not an easy fit even on my large frame. I had to move the plug around quite a bit to get it to go through the opening and I also had to work it around quite a bit to get it to come out.

I decided to use the standard mount and go with the downtube mounting position. To get this to work I bought a small round file at Lowe's and began to slowly enlarge the internal wiring opening. I would suggest doing this first and as you take away a little carbon, take the three ends coming out of the battery and see if you can get them to fit in the hole as you want the hole to be as small as possible. According to the snippet above, it requires an 8mm X 12mm opening, but I did not have to go quite that large, if you work at it you can angle the leads in such a way as to not require quite as large of an opening. That being said, and oval shaped hole seem to work best as you can push the two leads you have through the hole into the top while the final round plug fits into the lower part of the opening.


Step 2. Cable Routing

If you go to the campy website there are 5 videos that do a really good job of walking you through the installation. The first thing they recommend it affixing the battery to the standard mount and then hand tightening it to one of the bottle cage screws. I would agree this is the smart thing to do as you can swing the mount out to the side and tighten the screw and it will be out of your way.

Two other recommendations that I would make would be to remove the seatpost and the fork. This will make your life quite a bit easier as it makes access to parts of the frame much easier.

I would suggest starting with the rear derailleur cable. This was by far the most difficult part for me. If you have the campy routing magnet, give it a shot. However, I doubt it will work because when you get to the bend near the stay the two magnets will pull apart leaving the plug a few inches from the opening and I don't know how you could possible pull it through.


After quite a bit of experimenting I was finally able to pull it through, but I would warn you that this could damage your cables if you are not extremely careful so proceed with extreme caution -

If you look closely at the female portion of the plug that you will be routing through the frame you will notice two small holes where the clips from the male portion of the cable attach.



These are located on opposite sides of the plug and if utilized properly you can walk the plug through the angled sections of the chainstay. I tried this using thread, but it kept braking so I ultimately ended up buying some 8 lb fishing line to use as my rope.

I cut two lengths of the line (long enough to go from the rear dropout opening into the downtube opening plus a couple of extra feet) and I taped these to one end of an old derailleur cable. I inserted the end that I had taped into the opening by the rear derailleur. I turned the frame upside down and let gravity keep the cable above the bottom bracket shell. This is one spot where it is handy to have the seatpost out as you can see into the frame to make sure the cable is routed properly. Once over the BB shell and while still upside down, you should see the cable go past the internal wiring opening on the downtube. At this point I used a small pick with a hook on the end to grab the cable and pull it through the opening.



I removed the tape and then tied one of the sections of line to one opening on the plug and repeated for the other side. I then pulled the derailleur cable out leaving the fishing line running through the frame. Insert the cable into the opening and gently pull the line through the frame. If you run into something in the frame that snags the cable, gently pull the cable backwards from the downtube side and pull the fishing line again. This works really well for getting around the BB shell and also for when you hit the S bend just before the opening at the drop out. When I could feel the plug get to the S-bend section, I separated the two pieces of line and I gently pulled first on one side then the other. I was able to walk the plug through pretty easily. Be extremely patient! The line is probably strong enough to brake the ring on the plug if you are not careful. If you have to pull really hard back up and try it again.

Once the cable is through you can cut the line off with a pair of scissors or side cutters being extremely careful not to clip the plug.

After the rear derailleur is through it is time to go after the front derailleur cable routing. I used the fishing line trick here as well, but the process was slightly different. Here is started out by routing the old metal derailleur cable first ( I guess a brake cable would work). Push one end of the cable into the downtube opening and let it drop out of the bottom bracket opening. Feed maybe a foot of slack through and then take the same end that came through the BB opening and push it back into the opening guiding it toward the seat tube. Keep feeding the slack through and it should pop out right in the seat tube. At this point you will definitely want a flashlight as you can see the cable clearly in the tube in relation to the hole in the seat tube. Again, I used the small hook/pick that I have to reach in through the hole and pull the cable through. This took a little while as if you have too much cable pushed through it become difficult to pull through the opeing. Also, this is where I would discourage using a brake cable as they are typically thicker and harder to bend through the opening.

(Yeah, I know I need to remove the original grease from the chain)

Once you have the cable through both openings. Tape the two sections of fishing line to the end of the cable coming out of the seat tube. Then simply pull it through. Tie these to the plug openings as you did with the rear derailleur routing and pull it back through. The biggest challenge here is the angle coming up from the bottom is fairly steep, but if you have both pieces of fishing line attached you should be able to work it through.

If you take the fork and headset out the final routing up to the EPS control unit is pretty simple as you can use gravity to feed the cable through and you can grab it when it gets to the headset and you can feed it through the opening on the left or right. I don't think this matters too much as I have seen them routed both ways. However, if you are routing your brake cables in a traditional manner, it might make for cleaner routing to go through the left size as you could attach the two cables.





At this point I still have a little work to do with the cable routing around the stem. I ordered some 1/8" spiral wrap that should give a very clean look once installed. I also may revisit the zip ties on the Nokon cables. Small sections of black electrical tape will probably work pretty well and will not stick out quite as much.

For the rest of the setup I would highly recommend viewing the videos on the Campy site as they are excellent and provide the torque specs for mounting the components as well as showing how to zero the derailleurs.

http://eps.campagnolo.com/en/technical-support/training-online

A couple of other notes from the installation:

1. Ring compatibility - I'm a crank based power meter user, but the Campy SRM crank is stupid expensive and quite frankly I think SRM has been surpassed by Quarq in useability. For this build I went with the new Specialized Speedzone ANT + Spider. This is basically a Specialized version of the Quarq that is now branded as Specialized. I am using S-Works SL rings and S-Works crank arms which are built on the BB30 platform. I have had no problems whatsoever with this combination. I was very concerned at first, but with the different trim options the front shifting is flawless with the non-campy cranksets and chainrings.



2. The only minor hiccup I had was that with the default settings, the front derailleur cage would not swing outward far enough for the chain to fit. So I had to run the zeroing process on the front without a chain (basically I estimated .75 mm from the inside chain ring). Once I set the zero here, I had more than enough room to get the chain on and then I set the zero again and everything has worked well.

After I get some time on this setup I will come back and review the EPS system, the Venge frame, the Speciailized Quarq, the TRP 960 brakes and the 3T Rotundo Ltd bar. For those that are curious, the entire build with pedals, bottle cages, Enve 45's and computer mount came in at 15lbs 2oz and that was with a Chorus cassette. Not too bad for an aero bike. Until then....


-Tony












Sunday, August 19, 2012

SRAM X0 2X10 Grip Shift review






My Scott Scale Pro came from the factory with SRAM X9 2X10 trigger shifters installed. The shifting was significantly better than I remember from my last stint owning a mountain bike nearly 10 years ago. However, there were some ergonomic issues that I ran into. I saw the X0 grip shifters installed on a bike at my LBS and immediately thought that they might be the answer to my problem. I remember not caring that much for grip shifters back in the day, but when I was shown the short throw to upshift the front derailleur I was intrigued enough to buy a set.

Weight and installation

The X0 Grip Shifters have a claimed weight of 287g versus 232g for the X0 trigger shifters. 55 grams is a fair amount of weight so there really does need to be offsetting benefit to justify it. That being said, if you do not use the stock SRAM grips that come with the kit, you can shave about 45g off of the weight of the set.

I did not perform the installation of the shifters as I normally would do. Instead my LBS installed them. In speaking with them the installation was very straight forward and not any more difficult than with trigger shifters. When I swapped bars, there was an issue routing the new front derailleur cable, but this was taken care of by pulling the barrel adjuster off of the shifter.

Cable adjustment is the same and managed through the barrel adjuster on the shifter and there is no incremental maintenance required to keep the shifters operating correctly.

Ergonomics

I purchased the Grip Shift set to correct an ergonomic issue I had with the X9 trigger shfiters.  My hands tend to fatigue after 90 minutes of aggressive riding and upshifting became a problem. If the shifters were rolled downward, I had a very long reach with my thumb to downshift. If I had the downshift trigger up where I could easily get to it, I had to pull my thumb up and around the top trigger to up shift. Also, when my hands would tired, it took more and more effort to actuate the throw when upshifting. Another issue that I had was getting my brake lever angled the way I wanted it. Even with the shifters and levers touching each other I still needed the lever pushed downward, but there was no where for it to go.

The Grip Shifters address both of these issues. The obvious one being that I do not have separate triggers to adjust and shifting does not require me to move my thumb at all. While my hands still fatigue, the simple motion of rolling the grips forward or backwards has not been a problem. Since the brakes are now clamped alone, I can set the angle without having to worry about it throwing off my shifting.



The Grip Shift product does have it own set of challenges as it relates to ergonomics and bike setup. The first being that the shifters and grips are very long and take up a great deal of real estate on your bars. My LBS suggested cutting down a set of EFI grips (which I was already using) to shorten the length and dump some weight. The stock shifters and grip are made of a medium stiffness rubber that allows for good traction, but for me they are too hard and uncomfortable.






With the shortened grips, it is 15 cm from the end of the bar to the lip of the Grip Shift.

The shifter is about 4.5 cm from lip to end (this is the part that rotates forward and backward around the bar).







Another challenge when using the grip shifters is that the brake lever adjuster requires about 1 cm of gap between the shifter and brake clamp. This means it is difficult to brake with more than one finger. While some may argue that with modern brakes this is all that is needed, I don't think shifters should dictate your riding style and if you have used two fingers for a long time, you should not have to relearn braking. I'm not sure how the shfiters could be designed around this, but I think it would be relatively simple to redesign the brake levers so this would not be a problem.





Another issue that I ran into was my remote lock-out for my Rock Shox Sid fork. As you can see above, this had to be located several centimeters from where my hand would rest on the shifter. It was easier to move my hand off the grip and hit the lever with my palm than to try to shift from the grips. I should note, I wear XL size gloves so I have larger hands than the average person. Since I use my lock-out very frequently, this was a real problem for me that I was only able to solve with a hydraulic lock-out which is really cool, but stupid-expensive.

Shifting Performance

After about 40 hours on the shifters I can sum it up like this, they are better and worse than trigger shifters.

Let's start with the worse part first; down shifting is not as precise as with trigger shifters. It's not that one click on the shifter causes an under or over shift, it is that the vibration coming through the front end of the bike can cause you to shift two or more gears at a time. It is awesome to have the ability to do this, the problem is that it is easy to do so when you don't want it to shift. With trigger shifters there is very positive feedback when you down shift and you can immediately tell that the derailleur has moved to the next slot. With the grip shifter it is a little more delayed and you can move two gears instead of one. The more I use the shfiters the less this happens, but there was nowhere near this steep of a learning curve with the trigger shifters. I have also had several accidental shifts where I would have an unexpected impact on the front end of the bike that would roll my wrist forward causing a shift.

The better part - Up shifting is much easier and crisper with the Grip Shifters. The first thing I noticed was how little effort is required to move from the small to large chainring. While I will occasionally have some lag and have to hold the shifter, the throw is very short and the response is quick. With trigger shifters there is a very long throw and what seemed like a lot of slop at the top. Rear shifting is not significantly better than with trigger shifters, but it does seem to be crisper to me and I am confident that I have had fewer mis-shifts.

One thing I really like about the Grip Shift product is that I can change multiple gears in either direction. Where this really pays off is when you run into quick transitions from high-speed sections to very steep climbs. You can rapidly move up half of your cassette with a flick of your wrist while maintaining momentum that you would lose dumping gears one or two at a time with trigger shifters. It also works well as you are going over climbs as you can be in the proper gear much faster once you hit the descent.


Conclusion

So far I am relatively happy with the shifters. Performance-wise I think what you get from the shifters is more than you give-up when converting from trigger shifters. I think ergonomics are somewhat better at least compared to the other SRAM offering.

I can't speak to durability, but I do think that the nature of the design will make them less vulnerable to damage in crashes than trigger shifters would be.

If you have trigger shifters today and are happy with them, I'm not confident it would be worth the money to change. However, if you do have ergonomic issues or ride terrain that would allow you to really benefit from the ability to change multiple gear rapidly, the Grip Shift product from SRAM would be worth looking into.


-Tony