Your hands and feet and the points of contact they make with the bike are key to adding both comfort and control to your ride. Here we take a look at options from TRP, Ritchey, DMR and Ergon.
Words: Sean White Images: Dirt
Our favourite kit from the current crop of hardware we've tested can be found in the 2017 Dirt 100. These are products that we keep turning to, fitting to Dirt test bikes (and our own personal machines) and are a sure sign of a sorted product. The second rate stuff can be frustrating at times, compromising comfort and control. You tend to know when you've found a choice that works for you. The small details can make a big difference.
Brakes, cockpit and pedals are products that dictate the 'feel' of the bike. Here we take a look at hardware from four brands.
TRP QUADIEM G-SPEC DISC BRAKE
This brand may be a new to you but it certainly is one to check out when you're upgrading. This is TRP's gravity brake and the 'G' in the spec refers to Aaron Gwin. Yes, he rides with these TRP stoppers on his YT Tues race bike and has had input into the finer design details. These four piston brakes are for hauling up a DH bike, so they are not the lightest, with our samples weighing in at 317g (F) and 337g (R) without rotors.
The levers are a touch bigger than many equivalent brakes, with a moto influence to them and as with the caliper have a polished finish. The lever blades are longer than on many brakes too, and have a drilled and dimpled finish to potentially add control and grip. A hinged bar clamp and tool-free reach adjustment dial make fitting and tweaking easy but there is no 'bite point' adjustment. The four pistons are a steel/ceramic hybrid material and the brakes run on mineral oil as per all Shimano systems. Cooling fins on the caliper body are there to help with cooling.
A great looking pair of brakes that should be a genuine option to the SRAM Code, Magura MT or Shimano Saint. The Quadiems are left/right specific and the rotors and brackets are purchased separately.
PRICE: £200.00 each end (brake only)
DMR V-TWIN CLIP PEDALS
The first clip pedal for SPD use from DMR. This brand is well known for its sorted range of flat pedals, including the Vault, a Dirt 100 pick for many years. Plenty of brands are now offering a clipped pedal with a platform, with the latest designs from HT, Crankbrothers and Nukeproof having adjustable traction pins and/or shims.
These V-Twin pedals come with their own DMR cleats (with 5° of float) but they work well with Shimano's stock cleat so switching between these brands is no problem. We've been running Shimano AM9 shoes with these pedals and have not needed to add any of the supplied shim fittings or mess with the pins. They've been a spot on fit with just the right support.
Release tension is adjustable (as with most comparable brands except for Crankbrothers) and a sweet spot is easy to find. Weight is 546g, so not the lightest but acceptable.
RITCHEY TRAIL STEM and handlebar
Ritchey is a name more synonymous with the XC race scene but times are changing for this established US brand. With Tom Ritchey still heading the brand, he is involved with many aspects of both design and direction. We're seeing more of the Ritchey brand as standard on bikes (the Calibre Bossnut is a good example) and the 'Trail' range of hardware does what is say - absolutely ideal for this type of riding.
The aluminium Trail handlebar is bang up to date, with a 780mm width and a 35mm bar clamp diameter. The bars have a 'spot on for us' 9° back sweep and a low 15mm rise. They are not feather-weight at 290g but have a ride quality that is not too stiff or 'dead' feeling.
Pair this bar with Ritchey's matching Trail stem. Our sample is a 45mm length with a 0° rise and hit the scales at 131g. It is 3D forged from 2014 aluminium. The broad 40mm faceplate holds a wide bar steady and Ritchey claim that their 220°, extra-wide clamp improves stiffness. The 'stack height' of the steerer clamp, at 45mm, is a touch higher than many modern stems, especially examples from brands such as Deity. Not a big problem but worth a mention if you are trying to get you bar height lower on a 29er.
PRICE: Bar £66.00 Stem £89.00 (35mm clamp), £85.00 (31.8mm)
ERGON GD1 GRIPS
Launched in the summer of 2016, these DH focused grips have become a favourite of ours and we make no apology for featuring them again. We run them on both downhill and trail bikes with great success and like the shape, diameters (slim or standard) and compound. A 2017 Dirt 100 pick - you can read the full review HERE.
PRICE: £26.99, £31.99 (Factory version)