Under Test: SRAM CX1 Components

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder SRAM CX1 cross cyclocross cyclo-cross cyclo cx 1x11 1x10

SRAM’s CX1 groupset blends the best of SRAM’s XX1 mountain bike and road technologies to form a high-performance 1×11 cyclocross drivetrain. The single-ring setup is designed to be lighter, simpler, and tougher than conventional double- or triple-chainring drivetrains.

Stay tuned…

 

Under Test: Compass Barlow Pass & Stampede Pass Tires

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder Grand Bois Panaracer Barlow Pass Compass Stampede

Compass Bicycles‘ tires are known for their supple casings, light weight, and classic aesthetics. The Washington-based company offers a variety of models to fit 26″, 650B, and 700C wheels. Jan Heine at Compass Bicycles recently sent GRAVELBIKE samples of their 700×32 Stampede Pass (standard casing, pictured above), and Extralight Barlow Pass 700×38 tires for testing on Colorado’s roads and trails.

Stay tuned…

First Impressions: MKS US-B Nuevo Pedals

Mikashima Industrial Co, LTD–aka, MKS–is known for their track, quill, and platform pedals. The Japanese company, which has been manufacturing pedals for more than 60 years, now offers clipless models as well. One of their more recent designs, the US-B, gained attention due to the pedals’ ATAC-like design and triple-sealed bearings. MKS will be releasing an updated version–the aptly named US-B Nuevo–later this year, and GRAVELBIKE had the opportunity to test prototypes of the company’s new pedal.

GRAVELBIKE.com gravel grinder MKS clipless pedals NJS US-B Nuevo MTB 29er mountain bike

The white cleat guides will be replaced with black guides on production models.

The Nuevo shares the original US-B’s reinforced composite body, chrome-moly axle, adjustable release tension, and triple-sealed bearings. To make clipping-in easier, the Nuevo features additional cleat guides, which attach to the pedals’ rear retention loops. These guides add approximately 50g, and bump the Nuevo’s weight up to 424g for the pair (with the cleats and mounting hardware adding another 48g). According to MKS, production models will be available in black, blue, or red (all featuring black cleat guides), and retail for less than $100.

For our testing, we paired the MKS pedals with Louis Garneau’s T-Flex MTB shoes. This combination proved to be extremely stable, and didn’t require any modifications or additions to the shoes’ soles. Depending on how you install the Nuevo’s cleats, they can be configured for 12° or 15° release angles. We tested both options, but preferred the 12° configuration. If the MKS cleats look familiar, it’s because they’re compatible with Time’s ATAC clipless pedals. Mechanics will rejoice in the fact that the Nuevos can be installed with a 15mm spanner or 6mm hex key.

Clipping info the US-B pedals was immediately followed with distinct tactile–and audible–feedback. With the MKS pedals, there was no guessing if we were clipped in or not. The pedals’ front retention bars are slightly taller, and that made it easier for the cleats to engage, or catch. Once the front of the cleat was engaged, stepping down was the only action required to fully clip-in. The Nuevo pedals feature adjustable release tension, and even on the lightest setting, we never unclipped unintentionally. Adjusting the tension is easy with the included 10mm spanner (an open-end wrench also works), but we’d like to see MKS add markings to indicate the current tension.

In use, the US-B Nuevo pedals felt much like Time’s ATAC system. This comes as no surprise, however, as the MKS and ATAC cleats are interchangeable. While rotational float was similar, the MKS pedals’ retention had a slightly stiffer feel as you approached the release angle. Mud proved to be no problem for the MKS pedals, even with the cleat guides blocking portions of the retention bars’ openings. We didn’t detect any slop or rocking as the cleats wore, and the pedals were squeak-free during our test period.It’s too early to comment on the bearings’ long-term durability, but the pedals are easily serviced with a 6mm hex key and 9mm socket.

We rode the Nuevo pedals with and without the cleat guides, and found that the guides did make clipping-in easier. After five or six rides, we noticed that clipping-in required slightly more effort. Inspecting the pedals, we discovered that the guides’ mounting bolts had become loose, and the guides had shifted position on the retention bars. A few turns of a 2.5mm hex key later, and the guides were back in place. We did make it a point to periodically check the bolts’ tightness, but we’d like to see MKS add split washers or locking compound to the bolts at the factory.

With their sub-$100 price tag, the MKS US-B Nuevo pedals are an outstanding bargain. Whether you’re an experienced rider, or are looking for your first pair of clipless pedals, these pedals deliver a level of performance that’s well above their price point. Replacement cleats are affordably priced, and we like the fact that you can use ATAC cleats if OEM cleats aren’t available.

Disclosure: Merry Sales/MKS provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.