As I’ve said before dropping a chain is one of this most annoying things when it comes to mountain biking, especially if you happen to be in the middle of a race. It may seem crazy to many of you, but in the early days of DH racing if you wanted something to help alleviate the problem then you’d probably have had to make it yourself. Even when production chain devices finally became available they left a lot to be desired, normally required lots of modification, and were incredibly expensive. Eventually though we got there, we had a product that put an end to the problem once and for all.
Even though I do love the added comfort that you get from a skinny regular grip, Lock-On grips definitely have to be in this list. The reason is simple, and it’s because they stay where they are meant to. Even on a normal ride a grip that moves about is bloody annoying, but if you’re in the middle of a DH run it’s downright dangerous. Yes you can try and glue and wire a regular grip on, but it’s never going to be the same as a Lock-On.
I remember at one race in the pissing rain years ago, before Lock-On’s were available, trying to get my grips to stay put. It didn’t matter what I tried it was never going to happen, so in the end I just took them off and in desperation for something that might feel at least a tiny bit normal I wrapped a roll of insulation tape around my bars. To say my hands were screwed at the end of the run is putting it mildly, and thanks to Lock-On’s I will never have to suffer that again.
1X Trail Bikes
It used to be that a single ring up front was only the preserve of a DH bike, but in the interest of not wanting to lose a chain many riders started to run one on their trail bikes. This in itself might not sound like it changed the sport much, but it marked the point at which people started to use what were deemed as trail bikes for doing much more than just pootling around on XC rides. DH bikes had got so extreme that they were basically only fit for one purpose, but at the same time trail bikes had become increasingly capable and many DH riders saw the potential of these bikes, especially if they had a single ring fitted.
Normally running a single ring up front meant a compromise in terms of gear ratios on offer, but the relatively recent introduction of SRAM’s 1×11 groupsets has meant that now there is no real compromise. This has opened up the very real possibility that we can ditch the front mech altogether, which in turn opens up a whole new world when it comes to suspension design, because you wouldn’t believe how restrictive a front mech can be.