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Reviews > The Breakage Report

The 2011 holiday season is well underway and I’ve been guiding for around 2 months now, pretty much constantly. Doing some very rough sums I think I’ve biked for 44 days out of the last 52, covering around 1100km and 44,000 meters of vertical.  Not a bad tally for a couple of months of mountain biking however it has meant that my kit has suffered a bit and, inevitably, there have been some breakages. This post isn’t meant to be a criticism of the kit which I’ve broken, stuff will definitely break given the number of rough and rocky miles I’m covering, this is meant to me more of an end of life review on my gear.

DHB Short Liners – About £17

I bought these liners last year from Wiggle and they have had a fair bit of use. Right from the start the fit was a bit off on the liners, I bought a medium and a large pair but both were tight, indeed there didn’t seem to be very much difference between them. Apart from being tight they were relatively comfortable and well padded, they washed well and didn’t become harsh against the skin after many (many) washes. Eventually the material around the padded area gave up so these are now for the bin.

Longevity Rating: Good.

Verdict: I won’t buy another pair of these due to the sizing issues.

Endura Coolmax Short Liners – About £12

These haven’t actually ripped but they have become so hard and “cheese-grater-y” that my nether regions are unable to sit on them for any length of time. They have lasted fairly well, with around a year of twice weekly use, however now they are for the bin! The liners were never the most comfortable, the padding is very crudely stitched into the shorts and chaffed a little bit. The elastic around the legs and the waist was also not great and the shorts rode up over a days riding, again causing chaffing. I bought them because they were cheap and they did the job for a year, however now they are so uncomfortable as to be unusable!

Longevity Rating: OK.

Verdict: If I was totally skint then I would buy a set of these, they are a lot better than nothing!

SRAM x9 Rear Derailleur, 10 speed, Medium Cage – About €70 if you shop around.

I have always found X9 rear derailleurs to last well, they are quite soft but seem to bend rather than snap so can often be bent back into shape. Eventually the bushings in all the linkages wear and they develop play which ends their life. The jockey wheels wear out quite quickly too and are fairly expensive to replace. With all this in mind I bought a X9 rear mech for my new Cove GSpot. After around 5 or 6 rides the spring that tensions the arm containing the lower jockey wheel failed totally, meaning there was no tension in the mech unless I rode in my biggest cogs. At least that let me get home but it was a pretty poor showing for SRAM I thought. I could probably have got a warranty replacement however I haven’t returned it yet.

I have bought another mech, exactly the same, and it has been on my bike for a couple of weeks now. I have had some issues with it bending; so much so that the chain was falling off the bottom jockey wheel however I have bent it back into shape and at the moment it is working well. I have snapped one hanger with this derailleur on it survived so lets see how it works out over the next few months. Longevity Rating: Poor but it remains to be seen if this was an isolated case.

Verdict: I have bought another one the same, lets see how it works out.

 

Shimano AM40 Shoes – New AM41’s are around €70.

As I have stated in another review, I love these shoes, so much in fact that I bought two pairs last year and have been wearing them constantly for the past 12 months. Sadly one pair has died and the other pair isn’t going to be far behind them. The sole has separated from the upper and is now held on by gaffer tape. This is a fairly good innings for a set of shoes I think, especially considering they have been used to “kick in” a few bits of singletrack! The soles lasted well, although for the past 2 or 3 months they have definitely been less grippy as the patterning on the sole has been worn away. I can only compare them to the 5:10’s I used to wear and they have definitely lasted a lot better than those.

My main problem is the fact that I can’t find another pair of these, or their successor, for love or money. I will have to stop recommending them and hope that their popularity falls!

Longevity Rating: Excellent.

Verdict: Great shoes, I will buy a set of Am41’s as soon as I can find them in stock somewhere.

Shimano XT Cranks and Superstar Bottom Bracket – I paid about £100 for the cranks and the BB was about £20.

I have put these together because their failures have been linked. I have been using the XT cranks for a couple of years now, but on my hardtail which only gets dragged out for fast guests. The BB has been on there for a couple of years too but, again, has only been used infrequently. In the last 2 years I have probably used the bike less than 20 times. On it’s penultimate ride, just as I was getting home, I noticed a noise coming from the BB, nothing serious but a definite creak. I ordered a new BB but the next day I took the bike out for a ride again. About an hour into the ride the creak became louder and suddenly started to really make a horrible metal-on-metal noise; having no other choice I continued the ride. On the last descent there is a little rise and I cranked on the pedals to make it up this and suddenly I was on the ground! The crank had sheared. On closer inspection the BB had totally disintegrated during the ride and had scored the crank, that was enough to weaken it and with my pedal stroke it snapped.

What is to blame here? Poor maintenance? Probably! The cranks? I don’t think so at all, the XT cranks have performed really well over time; I change my pedals frequently and have crashed plenty of times on this bike and the cranks are still unbent and all the threads and splines are perfect. What about the Superstar BB? The jury is out on that one. I don’t think that I’ve ever had a BB go from making a noise to a total failure so quickly. I wouldn’t have expected the bearing housing to disintegrate so rapidly, going from working perfectly to scoring my cranks in the space of a ride and a half.  Having said that the bike isn’t regularly used and little used bikes definitely suffer from sitting in the garage for so long. I have used a few Superstar bottom brackets and my experience of them is that they don’t last well, they are poorly sealed compared to a Shimano XT / SLX unit and although they are a bit cheaper I think it is a false economy.

Longevity Rating:Cranks are great, lots of use from them. BB isn’t so good, and this backs up my experience of other Superstar BB’s. Verdict: XT Cranks, I would buy again although I think the SLX are better. Superstar BB’s I wouldn’t buy again based on this and past experience.

Charge Spoon Saddle – About £20

I have written elsewhere about my Charge Spoon saddle, I got it as a Christmas present and have basically loved it over the last 15 months. To have a saddle last for so long with the miles I’m doing is unbelievable regardless of the price; to have one costing so little do it is a little mountain biking miracle!

Longevity Rating: Unbelievably good.

Verdict: Comfy, cool looking, cheap, long lasting… yup I’m buying another one!

Superstar Pedals (Pins Only) – Pedals about £40, pins €5

I have written a long term review of these pedals elsewhere, I have heard reports of mixed quality however mine have been exemplary. I realised recently that my pins had become quite polished. They could have been like that for ages to be honest, I don’t find it a problem for keeping my feet on the pedals, but after riding someone else’s similar pedals I decided to replace the pins. Searching on the web I couldn’t find the correct pins so I popped down to the local machine shop; 36 10mm M4 bolts with an Allen key head set me back €5! Fitting was easy, the pins all came out without any problems and the new ones seem to be the perfect replacement and are very grippy.

Longevity Rating: For the pins, good.

Verdict: Still think these pedals are a fantastic deal, they’re standing up to the miles really well!

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