2023 XC Bike & Equipment Thread

There’s been a bit of chatter lately from some of us about having one bike, and riding a mix of XC stuff as well some “Enduro” type trails.

I’m curious what people are running for helmets? Trail helmets for rides where you know you’re going steep/more gnarly, XC when you’re not? Or one type for all?

I mark myself as one of the riders that doesn’t stick to XC trails, preferring Grade 4 trails mostly, but coming down some 5’s depending who I am with. It occurs to me recently that I’m really exposing myself to some risk with my current helmet on some of the trails I’ve been riding.

I currently have a (2014) POC Octal, which as far as coverage goes is pretty good for XC.

I’ve been searching for a trail helmet where I could remove the peak. Possibly the Ekoi Trail helmet as it’s quite light. The other obvious answer is the 100% Altis Gravel which is essentially a trail helmet with the peak removed but I am wondering if there are any other options I’m missing?


Both could be true, they might just rebrand the 2 models but I really don’t see Spec not having a downcountry bike given the popularity.

What makes most sense to me is replacing the HT with a beefed up diverge style soft tail and just having the normal FS epic converge with the Evo to default at 120/120 like the Scott Spark did.

Speaking personally, I kind of hate that Leadville will likely always be on my calendar (working toward the 1000 mile buckle) because other than that one race, all my other riding is ideal for a more aggressive XC bike. I’ve been racing it each year on heavier FS bikes because I so far refuse to buy a bike I’ll only really use for one event, but if Spec does launch these new models the frustrating thing is I really want both. Not going to happen though.


I have pondered that too!
Last year when I did some longer XCM in the semi wet, with creek crossings, I had terrible experience with the Squirt lube. Seemed like the wax would literally “wash” out. Drivetrain became loud, and could literally feel the drag, specially in the lowest gears.


If it is going to be wet I put Silca Synergetic on and accept that there will be some extra cleaning before the next wax. But that lube is incredible, I did a wet greasy XCO with it and the chain was still silent after 2 hours of nasty, lots of people had drive train issues during the race.


I use a trail helmet with good coverage when on the XC bike, and full-face when on the other bike. My thinking is that the few grams you can save with the lightest possible helmet is not worth the reduction in protection. I am not paid to do this after all! Besides, on training and fun rides, does weight actually matter?

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I only use a road type helmet for races, mainly for breathability and weight. They are a personal item like saddles and shoes so mayne nip into a shop and try a few.


Anyone got their hands on a 2023 Orbea Oiz yet?
Crashed my Epic EVO, and had a new frameset on order since september.
Decided to cancel the Evo and have now ordered a complete 2023 Oiz (delivery early april)…

Anybody running a Garbaruk cassette? Particularly 12s MicroSpline, but I’m also keen to hear from anyone running any 12s or other variety.

I’m very intrigued by the all steel construction (like the SRAM cassettes) and whether it would provide increased lifespan, as well as helping claw back some grams over XT 12s.

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I haven’t ridden one but I know someone who did. This was from sram axs but shifting was very clunky. You could hear every time he shifted because had a very loud “CLUNK”. He went back to sram cassette

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Was it significantly louder than the original SRAM clunk I’m guessing?

I can imagine the solid block construction would amplify any noises. That would be a frustration.

The MicroSpline Cassette appears to have some of the ramps/chamfers copied from the Shimano cassette so should be smoother ??

Easily 10x louder.

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I feel like the only thing that makes shimano better than sram IS the cassette, so it seems crazy to ditch the smooth shifting.


I know what you’re saying. The shifting experience with Shimano is head and shoulders above anything else I’ve experienced, but on paper the Garbaruk cassette is not quite as bad as going to a SRAM cassette.

At least that’s if you take them at their word and buy into the marketing speak about the tooth shape etc and the fact they recommend using Shimano chains with it.

I guess that’s why I’m looking for anecdotes and experience because I’d hate to pay that money and find the shifting is too terrible to live with.

I’d choose an XTR cassette over Garbaruk just becouse of shifting. Yes, the XTR is slightly heavier and pricier but it more than makes up for it when it comes to shifting quality. The difference in shifting is especially notable when shifting to a harder gear under heavy load. You only notice it when you’re missing it… :slight_smile:


I’m concerned about the wear rate of the XTR cassette. You’re 100% right of course the best option is to pick that.

It’s twice the price of the Garbaruk and I wondered if it might be 80% as good but last twice as long.

Out of curiosity and I don’t want to start a flame war: My experience is that SRAM is “more consistent” and Shimano is a little smoother most of the time.

I have an XTR M9000 11-speed drivetrain coupled to an XT 11–46 cassette (there is no XTR cassette that goes up to 46 teeth). Personally, when shifting I found Shimano drivetrains to be more sensitive to load than SRAM. So SRAM shifts reliably, but shifts are more “sporty”/less refined and abrupt. With Shimano shifts are smoother 90 % of the time, but especially under load, gear shifts can get very crunchy.

For the record, both work excellently. On the mountain bike side I have no complaints with either and would be happy with both. The only two things my Shimano drive train is missing is a native power meter option and a 12th cog :wink: Shimano has fixed the latter already, I’m just not willing to shell out ¥¥¥¥¥¥ for a new set of wheels (XTR M9000 hubs are not compatible with microspline) and a new drivetrain.

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Garbaruk will sell you a 12s cassette for your HG freehub :sweat_smile:.

I believe the hyperglide was improved upon between 11s and 12s. That may be one reason for your sensations.

12s vs 12s personally there’s no comparison between Shimano and SRAM for smoothness. SRAM seems plenty reliable, but is much more a deliberate thunk from gear to gear. That’s only from my experience mind you.


yes, this is what you read in most early 12 speed reviews, I seem to experience the same, but it’s a bit unfair to compare a worn 11 speed drivetrain with a brand new 12 speed :wink:


Shimano’s new “HG+” -system is only on the 12-speed cassettes. It may be just marketing junk but I found the new 12-speed cassettes to perform really well compared to previous gen 11-speed cassettes. Nothing wrong with Sram either but 3rd party cassettes, like Garbaruk, seem to be hit-or-miss.

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I reckon I could also use one of SRAM’s 11–50 cassettes. Still, my current gripe with the 11–46 cassette is that I am missing a tad of range on either end.

I haven’t tried any of Shimano’s 12-speed groupsets yet, so I can’t know for certain. But what I think is happening is that when I miss the ramps in just the wrong moment, hyperglide becomes anti-hyperglide and I need to wait another revolution of the cassette :wink:

(This also occurred with my old 3x10 XT drivetrain.)

I think this largely matches my experience (including with road groupsets). I reckon it is partly a matter of taste how you interpret the SRAM “thunk” (which is the perfect word for it! :slightly_smiling_face:).

I think some people are bothered by the thunk and prefer a smoother shift. To me this is akin to the exhaust note of a car to me, and I’m more interested in the performance of the engine. :beers:

It is probably an iterative improvement, and I reckon you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference when blindfolded. That’s not a dig, I’m really amazed anyway by how well drivetrains work these days.

I’m not going to replace my 11-speed XTR drivetrain for a few years. In fact, I am afraid that I am screwed, because it works so well and I wouldn’t want to “downgrade” to something as pedestrian as SLX. :sweat_smile: