Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ode to Halfpipes


I've only used two kinds of mountain bike shifters. Thumbshifters and gripshift. Way back when my first real mountain bike had those Black XT thumbshifters. Still have them in a crate. At a race SRAM was giving out certificates for gripshifters as prizes. My wife and I won some. That was the cool thing about SRAM, they were supporting the grass roots scene heavily back then. Later they even had a tech rep that posted regularly at the mtbr forums. Even as recently as a few weeks ago they returned an email within a day. Try that Shimano.

When the halfpipes came out I decided to try them and immediately fell in love with the telepathic shifting. There is a constant quest to be in the right gear. So I'm always always shifting up/down. The halfpipes make it so quick. They are not without their problems. Sometimes, rarely, if my wrists break plane on a rough downhill I'll rotate the shifters. Doesn't happen often but it can be disconcerting when it does.

There had been some improvements in the gripshifters since installing the halfpipes so I decided to try some newer Shorty gripshifts. They lasted all of about 2 days before I had to have my halfpipes back. I just could not stand having my telepathic shifting.

SRAM told me that the halfpipes are end of life this year. The only version sold now is on te 4.0s. That makes a true bike geek like me cringe. 4.0 is the lowest in the SRAM line. 9.0 is the highest. 5 degrees of separation between what I am on and the high end.

Everything I've read about the current XO triggers says they are the best thing since sliced bread. I go back and forth between scrounging some half pipes to keep on hand, or just letting these ones wear out and then get some triggers. I already crashed out the indicator window on the left side shifter. I think I'll let them wear out over the next year or two and by that time any kick butt XO technology will have trickled down to the X.9 and X.7 level shifters.

But I'll still have a soft spot for halfpipes


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