The sub 100 quid challenge

I got really excited when Matt said that it’s about time that I started some product testing – a wish list of Turners, Yetis, Ventanas and Lapierres came to mind, but Matt soon brought me back down to earth by suggesting that I set my sights lower. So, we hatched a sub £100 challenge.

I got really excited when Matt said that it’s about time that I started some product testing – a wish list of Turners, Yetis, Ventanas and Lapierres came to mind, but Matt soon brought me back down to earth by suggesting that I set my sights lower.  So, we hatched a sub £100 challenge. 

The list will be made up of those products that will make a change to your riding, as well as pre and après ride, without blowing apart your wallet as the credit crunch looms on the horizon.  Matt and I will beg, borrow, and steal noteworthy products from FutureTowers, manufacturers, importers and distributors.  Of course, readers are welcome to make suggestions (sensible, please) that we’ll try and trial.

But, first, I’ll start with a few from the memory bank to get the ball rolling. The first of which stems from:  

My very own Disaster Move:

It was back in June that I last tried to pull one of those ‘look at me, aren’t I cool’ moves where our brain perceives that we are better than we actually are, with only our tired bodies holding the actual reality: Attempt to ride up vertical hump, holler “look at me” to your mates, then run out of speed and skill, don’t disengage feet in time and have comedic fall sideways, then down, said hump.  Comedy then turns to disaster as you realize that the attempted move has resulted in a very bent rear derailleur with a fair few miles still to get home. 

I run an almost totally Sram X9 set up (having Shimano XT cranks only).  I almost had heart failure when I saw that a new 2008 Sram X9 rear derailleur would be £64.99, with some shops even selling it at £69.99.  This was worsened by the news that the 2008 Shimano XT equivalent is only £54.99, albeit incompatible with my Sram X9 shifters.  As money is tight, I therefore had no option but to go for the Sram X7 rear derailleur at £39.99 instead.   

I contacted the Sram importers, Fisher Outdoor Leisure, as the X9 is designed to be the functional alternative to the Shimano XT.  But, for those of us on a tight budget, and especially with the credit crunch looming, why is it £10-£15 (dependent on where you get it) more expensive than an XT rear derailleur? 

Product Manager Kevin Nicholson explained that from 1st July the price of the X9 rear derailleur has dropped to a more competitive Recommended Retail Price of £59.99, which for me makes the price gap between it and the Shimano XT easier to accept, as I prefer the feel of the X9 over XT anyway.   

But, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised with the functionality of the X7 out on the trail.  Sram are renowned for allowing the lessons learnt from their top end components trickle down to the less expensive products.  As Kevin Nicholson explains: “Essentially the only difference between an X9 and an X7 is the materials used.  An X9 weighs 230 grams, an X7 270 grams. Both derailleurs have the same 1:1 actuation ratio and direct route technology.  In fact, brand new on the bike there would be very little difference in feel and response. The X9 however, because of the superior materials used, will be a lot more durable and will maintain a higher level of performance for longer.”

So, it’s a little heavier, but at 16 stone I don’t think a rear derailleur a few grams heavier makes that much difference to me.   What’s more, it’s got me to thinking as to why any of us non-racers choose to have super expensive rear derailleurs in the first place.  Sure, they look bling, but they’re probably the next most likely component to break in a crash (a close second to the rear mech hanger, that is designed like Swiss cheese for a purpose) and, as such, are expensive to keep on replacing. 

As Kevin suggests, the cheaper X7 may be less durable and performance problem free longer term, and I’ll report back if this is the case.  However, if I keep pulling my Disaster Moves out on the trail I won’t have it on the bike long enough to find out!

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