On sunday I decided for a full on ride round the lawmonwealth in order to gauge the state of the trails and to test the new ten speed kit I’d put on the bike. Well, I knew the state the trails would be in but I thought it was good motivation to get myself out and actually do some riding instead of trail building. I also reckoned all the mud would give the 10 speed a proper test, my existing 9 speed set up seemed to clog up and get a bit rough in similar conditions so this should really push it. I was testing a 10 speed zee shifter, a HG62 11-36 rear cassette and an slx rear mech all for £73 bucks, so 10 speed on a budget. I kept my normal 9 speed 22-38 Double at the front although I’m humming and hawing a bit about just going to a single ring and the 11-36 tooth range on the cassette may hopefully help me make up my mind.
I started off heading out the back past the old graveyard and onto some grassy singletrack. This pretty much set the theme for the day. Instant wet arse,splattered with mud and some back tyre slippage. I continued on to bandit country and some old buckfast valley trails. The amount of rain weve had recently really began to show as my bike steadily began to increase in weight due to all the grassy mud being deposited around various parts of the frame and on to the drivetrain. As I started of the lawmonwealth trails proper the bike was already caked in mud and the drivetrain was about as full of cack as it was going to get. The lawmonwealth is mostly dirt singletrack so things weren’t going yo get any cleaner. The shifting was still spot on but you could feel all the crap on the chain, however I was quite surpsrised as it did seem not seem to feel as horrible as the old setup did under the same conditions. Trail wise the lawmonwelath was super muddy but all rideable albeit in somewhat of a speedway style. Far Far away needs some serious strimming as there are monster brambles at the bottom, as my shins will testify and far far far away needs the little river crossing repaired. The tramp also appears to have abondoned camp so his tent is now out the way.
The “big” stream jump on the new bit was mildly exciting as I struggled for speed due to the mud and just just made the landing with the back wheel right on the edge. All the other trails were slippy slidey but great, great fun. Have to say though three hours grinding through the mud took its toll on the leggy poos and I was feeling pretty burst all the way home. Still middle ringed it all but I think ill be keeping the granny on for any future epics!
So how did the 10 speed square up? The zee shifter is pretty decent although appears fairly basic in construction compared to the older xt. It has no gear indicator window but I’ll let it off for this as its really downhill biased. It also has plastic shift levers which combined with the very light shifting action possibly make it feel a bit cheap, but then it was only 20 bucks. The light and snappy shifting is not a negative though and feels a lot more positive than its predecessor on shifting gear up or down. The shift lever positioning is comfortable, the levers are just the right length and mate up not too badly to my xt brake levers althought they dont seem to fit as snugly together as my old xt shifter.
The low in the range HG62 cassette is not the lightest but is by no means a beast. It feels very smooth with the chain rolling over it unlike my previous sram970 cassette which always felt a bit rough. It doesn’t have the alloy cassette carrier though so folk with the standard hope hubs please note it will probably bite into the alloy freehub. Out back the slx rear mech just does the job. Shifts nice and crisp, feels solid and looks nice and pretty. Why you would spend nearly £20 more on xt is beyond me. On first impressions, despite my concerns over how it would cope in the mud I am pretty impressed with my “budget” ten speed set up. Shifter is good, cassette is good and rear mech is good. With the prices these days I cant see how you justify spending any more pennies. This 10 speed set up is definately worth more than the sum of its parts.