It’s not often I get to a build a bike from scratch with the pure purpose of testing the components that create it. However, that’s exactly what I set out to do in order to continue testing Shimano’s XTR 11-speed group after its initial buildup on a Niner Jet 9 RDO.
With the groupset decided – along with matched Tharsis XC handlebar, stem and seatpost from Shimano – the journey started on finding the rest.
Below are the basic details on how the bike came to be complete. Detailed reviews on many of the components listed below are not far away, as I’m already riding the grease out of this build.
The frame: dialled Detritovore
A bare frame sits awaiting the build
Knowing I had an XTR groupset with nothing to bolt it to, the guys at SwiftCarbon happily handed over one of their frames. With a clear intention to create a race bike, Swift arranged a Detritovore (D-Vore) hardtail frame.
This full-carbon frame hasn’t changed much since we last reviewed it and at 1390g for a medium, it’s not exactly the lightest thing going today. However, given time spent on this and the Evil Twin dual suspension, I knew the geometry was well dialled and that ride quality wouldn’t beat me up on the local Sydney trails.
The fork: fit for the Epic?
Something a little different...
Right around the time of arranging the frame, DT Swiss got in touch following an article I’d done on the Cape Epic. I’d made a comment that just about every brand of suspension fork was being pulled apart on a regular basis in order to handle the hellish conditions. The guys at DT Swiss, wanting to prove that their product was up to it, sent out a fork for review.
I received an OPM ODL 100, which features new 2016 SKF seals for reduced friction and improved durability. I also got a Two-In-One handlebar lockout, although this will be fitted once I’ve suitably tested the stock three-position crown-mounted switch.
The drivetrain: creak-free claims
Sometimes things don't go as planned... we got as far as trying to connect a cable before realising Shimano does not offer a compatible 11spd front derailleur
This build was initially set to be a 2x11 configuration; however, it quickly became apparent that Shimano does not offer a compatible top-pull E-type front derailleur in XTR 11-speed. Sure, an older 10-speed could be made to work, but it just pushed me sooner toward my end goal – testing XTR in 1x configuration.
With this, Shimano didn’t have stock of single-ring chainrings at the time (I’ve now received one), and OneUp had just released its 45t expander cog and M9000 compatible narrow-wide rings. I've been toggling between oval and round rings for the past couple of months, and the weird-looking one is starting to win me over.
Shimano doesn't make any PF30 bottom brackets – quite amazing given just how many frames have gone that way
Based in Belgium, C-Bear had reached out regarding a humorous article in which I complained of creaking bottom brackets. C-Bear claims its bottom brackets – which do without shims or adaptors – are solution to the common issue. At an ideal time to this build, the brand offered a bottom bracket to be tested. I pressed in the all-metal PF30-Shimano 24mm bottom bracket with a light coating of anti-sieze.
The rolling stock: well rounded if a tad weighty
These XTR M9000 wheels are coming toward the end of their testing period
The bike is currently rolling on XTR M9000 Tubeless Race wheels as I complete my long-term testing on these. Next up is a pair of DT Swiss X1501 for review, something that should drop a little weight from the surprisingly weighty XTR wheels.
At the time of receiving the frame, Swift sold the Detritovore as a quick release frame, providing interchangeable 142x12mm dropouts in the box. However, with no thru-axle provided I decided to match it to the fork with a DT Swiss RWS E-type model.
Wrapping these tubeless rims are Specialized Fast Trak Control 2Bliss tyres in a 2.20in width, sealed with Stan's NoTubes sealant. Although now showing plenty of wear, in the past year they’ve proven totally reliable. While not the most traction filled over loose or muddy terrain, they’re well rounded performers for fast-rolling rubber.
The touch points: a mixed bag
The handlebar, stem and seatpost are from Shimano's own component brand, PRO
As already mentioned, PRO supplied the contact points when I first received the XTR groupset. These cockpit parts were originally designed for Di2, allowing seamless integration with the wires and battery. While I’m not using electronic components, this has provided a good chance to test the new parts – which share features we’re now seeing in PRO’s other top end offerings.
The PRO Tharsis XC stem is perhaps the most interesting component in that it features a threaded collar enabling external adjustment of headset preload without needing a star nut. The design keeps the steerer empty for a Di2 battery. Sadly, such a feature means you need a 36mm headset spanner to your stem.
A view straight through
Also, the stem's system doesn't play nicely with steerer spacers used on top. So before deciding on handlebar height, I used an expanding compression plug to achieve headset bearing preload. Since then, I've cut the steerer and made a little custom touch in replacing stem's plastic top cap with an anti cookie-cutter rubber sleeve, this way everyone can see the steerer is hollow.
New ESI Fit XC grips
Comfort points are a mixed bag, and have been selected based on a combination of personal preference and curiosity. I’ve been a long time user of ESI silicone grips and they’re my go-to on my other bikes. They’re lightweight, grippy and comfortable. Recently, ESI released the contour grip, which is designed to relieve pressure from the sensitive nerves in your hand.
The saddle is of course personal, and I’ve recently settled on a Specialized Phenom Pro in a 155mm width, which is far wider than i previously would choose.
Finally, an old personal set of XTR M980 pedals made it to this bike. Beyond a loosening issue I had when the pedals first came out, which resulted in a warranty, these have been ultra reliable and I’ve just about abandoned them in terms of the maintenance.
A weight weenie's breakdown
SwiftCarbon Detritovore, medium
DT Swiss OPM O.D.L 100, 15mm thru
Shimano XTR M9000 29in, 15mm
Shimano XTR M9000 29in, 142x12mm
Shimano RT-99 160mm
Brake rotor lockrings
Shimano XTR M9000
Shimano XTR M9000
Shimano XTR Shadow+ M9000
Shimano XTR M9000, with One-Up 45T expander (328g stock)
C-bear Ceramic PF30-24mm Shimano, MTB seal
Shimano XTR M9000, 175mm, OneUp 32T Traction ring
Shimano XTR M980
Specialized Fast Trak Control 2Bliss 29x2.20
Specialized Fast Trak Control 2Bliss 29x2.20
Shimano XTR M9000 I-Spec II
PRO Tharsis XC Flat, 700mm width
PRO Tharsis XC 80mm
PRO Tharsis XC 27.2mm x 400mm Straight
Specialized Phenom Pro 155mm
ESI Fit XC
Inner gear cables
Shimano SUS stainless
Jet Black Carbon Pro
DT Swiss RWS E-Thru
(Actual weight on Feedback Sports scales is 9.73kg)
A conclusion that's still TBC
Freshly built, the bike isn't as clean anymore
The build as listed above is how the bike currently sits, covered in crud. It's not the exact build that the bike started as, and it surely won't stay like this for long either. Stay tuned for future individual part reviews – there’s plenty of fast XC riding and associated component testing ahead.And in the meantime, be sure to scroll through the gallery up top.