By Joe Parkin
The invitation from SRAM read, "I really hope we can get you back to Santa Cruz. We all know how much you love it."
No doubt about it, I love Santa Cruz, California. With its magical dirt, sweet smelling redwoods trees and laid-back, beachy lifestyle, Santa Cruz is my favorite little town in the world. Sign me up.
This the second year in which SRAM has taken up a nearly month-long residence in my former hometown. This year, the company chose as its base a beautiful, five-bedroom Victorian home located at Seabright Beach, just a stone's throw from Santa Cruz Bicycles' HQ.
Along with product testing and the aggregation of both photographic and videographic assets for use in advertising and other marketing-type collateral, SRAM brings several small groups of mountain-bike journalists to the 'Trail House' to test and learn about its new wares.
And its most likely in keeping with its mission to be the most exciting company in the bicycle biz, the emphasis was on riding the stuff rather than non-stop barrages of marketing and/or technical speak.
First on the docket is SRAM's new Type 2 rear derailleur for X0 and X9. Though my initial reaction was to think of blood-glucose monitoring and insulin injections, the name starts to make sense when you consider that there are two (2) major points of differentiation between a 'normal' X0/X9 rear derailleur and the new Type 2 model.
A month or so before this launch,Bike magazine had the chance to visit with Ron Ritzler, SRAM External Drivetrail Category Manager, to walk us through SRAM’s new X0 Type II derailleur.
For starters, the Type 2 boasts a roller-bearing clutch that provides high-speed damping to the cage. Shifting feel is crisp and clean—characteristically SRAM—but during big hits and on bumpy trails, cage pivot is slowed considerably, which reduces chain slap and helps to keep the chain from falling off.
I have to admit never really stressing too much over the noise a chain creates as it slaps the chainstay until my first ride on Shimano's Shadow Plus rear derailleur last year. Now, I can't imagine having to deal with that noise—ever. SRAM's Type 2 is, as advertised, quiet.
Aggressive trail riders who are prone to dropping chains are still best advised to stick to a single-ring setup because, whether it was operator error or not, I still managed to throw my chain once or twice during the two days of riding in Northern California.
The second major point of differentiation for the Type 2 derailleur is its locking cage. Push forward on the cage to slacken the chain and then press the button. Voila, there's no chain tension, which makes removing and reinstalling the rear wheel a bit easier.
Both X0 and X9 Type 2 rear derailleurs will be available in short-, medium- and long-cage versions. The Type 2 is roughly 30 grams heavier than the current non-Type 2 rear derailleurs—roughly the same weight as four Oreos. Cost for the X0 Type 2 is $260- while the X9 comes in at $116-. The bad news is that we're going to have to wait until August of this year before we start seeing them in bike shops.