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Added a comment about product review First Ride: 2015 Specialized S-Works Demo Carbon 10/16/2014 3:38 PM
C50_92535430_1249143201

I had the exact same experience as Brandon on this. The bike is pretty linear in nature. On my test day I went up 3 spring ratings(read : 75 lbs) and was still using most of the travel(a scary amount) while going up some of the bigger faces on Dirt Merchant. I was bottoming the bike between 5-10 times per run despite running a spring rate recommended for a 210lb rider(I weight 180)...That said, it was still one of the fastest bikes I've ever ridden, and I've never held on to gnarly high speed drifts like I did on the Demo - at speed it was amazing. I just think the Ohlins tune may need some re evaluation and I would encourage people to err on the side of running firmer springs and less sag. After all, it's a race bike.

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This product_review has 25 comments.

Added a comment about slideshow Laying It On The Line - Red Bull Rampage 2014 Finals 10/1/2014 4:59 PM
C138_rampage_spot_a

Courtney with the best shot of Brendog for the whole event! So sick.

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This slideshow has 1 comment.

Added a comment about video Vital RAW - Best of 2014 9/20/2014 5:16 PM
C138x104

best vid ever

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This video has 36 comments.

Liked a comment on the item Gee Atherton and Manon Carpenter Win 2014 World Championships 9/7/2014 11:11 AM



Added a comment about product review Tested: SRAM X01 DH Drivetrain 8/15/2014 9:47 AM
C50_92535430_1249143201

Not sure. If I had to throw out a number I would guess about a 150-200 grams from what I previously had? I can't compare to original spec because I wasn't running a stock gambler

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This product_review has 7 comments.

Added a comment about slideshow Windham World Cup Race Insanity 8/10/2014 11:44 PM
C138_day4a

killing it boys....so so so sick...wish I could've been back home to shoot this - thanks for making me feel like I was.


Side note - anyone think it's weird that Sam was running cut spikes??

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This slideshow has 4 comments.

Added a product review for SRAM X01 DH X-Sync Crank 8/9/2014 2:17 PM
C138_sram_x01_dh_x_sync_crankset_red

Tested: SRAM XO1 DH Drivetrain

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Ian Collins

Ever since downhill grew into it's own discipline within mountain biking, riders have been tinkering and experimenting with their drivetrains, trying to optimize them for the demands associated with pointing bikes towards the bottom of the hill and all that comes along with it. This is in part due to the fact that manufacturers have neglected to build a specific group for the demands of DH. Until now : SRAM recently released X01DH - a fully dedicated gravity drivetrain. Some parts are ground breaking, but in all fairness, some have been around and may seem like old news. The cranks are basically your standard carbon cranks that come with an XX1 group or were labeled as X0 DH in the past. What's new and most exciting is the derailleur and cassette. One of the major complaints with DH groups in the past was that they don't need 9, 10 or 11 gears and require too many shifts to get to the correct one. The new cassette is available as a 10-24 tooth 7 speed drivetrain that takes advantage the new XD driver system. Each time you shift a gear it jumps two teeth (as opposed to one) every time. No more double or triple shifting and “seeking” for the right gear. Another big thing is the X-Horizon derailleur – like the XX1 and X01 derailleur, it moves differently to derailleurs of the past and is a bit tougher and more reinforced. The shifter and chain are part of the group but nothing there stands out as glaringly different. Let's see how this group worked on the trails.

SRAM X01 DH Trigger Highlights

  • SRAM 1X™ X-ACTUATION™ for precise and dependable 7-speed performance
  • Multi-adjustable trigger shifter
  • MatchMaker™ X compatible
  • ZERO LOSS™ Engagement for fastest shifting
  • Aluminum cover and adjustable forged aluminum pull lever
  • Includes discrete clamp
  • Colors : Red and Black
  • MSRP: $143 USD

SRAM X01 DH Rear Derailleur (7-speed) Highlights

  • X-HORIZON™ technology provides more responsive shifting and eliminates ghost shifting, a common problem on DH bikes
  • X-ACTUATION™ with more cable pull delivers optimized system performance and durability
  • Two cage lengths for various applications, including abnormally long chain stay growth
  • ROLLER BEARING CLUTCH™ with CAGE LOCK™ sets the industry standard
  • MSRP: $277 USD

SRAM X01 DH Crankset Highlights

  • Carbon DH racing crank
  • Lightest in class carbon construction
  • High strength alloy pedal lug
  • 7075 CNC alloy single ring, 94 BCD, 30, 32, 34, 36, or 38 teeth
  • Compatible with SRAM 1X™ 7- and 10-speed DH drivetrains
  • MSRP:$315 - $347 USD

SRAM X01 DH 7-Speed MINI BLOCK™ Cassette Highlights

  • Larger jumps between gears eliminate the need for double/triple shifts to get in the gear you want. (10-12-14-16-18-21-24)
  • Less cogs allow faster transition from starting gear to high gear. Half as many shifts to get from 24-10 versus a normal 10-speed 26-11
  • Larger gear range, 10-tooth cog opens up high end and allows smaller chainrings for ground clearance
  • Very lightweight cassette
  • More rear wheel clearance around spokes
  • 2-tooth steps are safer in shifting than 1-tooth steps under big loads
  • Currently fits any XD™ compatible wheel and driver body
  • MSRP: $303 USD

Initial Impressions

When you first pull the parts out of the packaging and start getting them bolted up you'll be impressed by the build quality and as per usual with SRAM - the crisp, snappy shifts. As mentioned before, the cassette and derailleur stand out the most. Each cog (and the disc that prevents the chain from dropping into the spokes) are all machined from one piece of aluminum. It's sleek, black anodized and just looks super clean. 

The X horizon derailleur is sturdy and once set up it executes silently...the clutch style cage does a good job of preventing chain slap and damping drivetrain noise. The pulleys are narrow/wide, which prevents the chain from jumping around and keeps it cycling without hiccups. 

The cranks are lightweight and well made – the ceramic bearings that grace their matching bottom bracket are a nice touch. 

The shifter is feather weight and the action of the levers is light but decisive. The ergonomics of the levers are spot on, and the thumb paddle's positioning is adjustable.

The chain is just that sad part of a bike that's supposed to shut up and do it's job, and as expected, it did...but lastly – the narrow/wide ring finishes everything off and ensures that whether you run a chainguide or not, the chain will stay put.

On The Trail

Once we finally got out and started knocking out DH runs on this group we have to say we were floored. It really is everything we would want in a dedicated downhill drivetrain. Where do we begin? Let's start with the most boring bits and work our way towards the more exciting parts - the chain held up and proved to be strong and durable. As many consumers know by now, a narrow/wide chainring does an incredible job of keeping the chain on, and this was no exception. The cranks, although lightweight were stiff and handled some rock deflections with aplomb. 

Now to the juicy stuff – having the right gearing out back was a gift. We can't emphasize it enough, this is the best part. It was refreshing that the act of shifting was no longer cerebral. When for the most part finding the right gear only took one click of a shifter (sometimes two) it allowed us to focus more on the riding and the trail at hand. Especially given the fact that the actuation was so sharp and spot on. It really was a relief to not have to bang through 3-5 vague and messy gear changes to get the right ratio.

Things That Could Be Improved

In our time spent on the group so far, we have absolutely zero complaints with how this system works. It is absolutely flawless. It's a bit of a pain that it requires a dedicated cassette that only works with an XD driver, but as more and more hub manufacturers get on board with the increasing popularity of SRAM's 11 speed trail group, there are really only a few fringe hubs that don't work with this system. Is that 1 tooth drop down from 11 teeth to 10 teeth a dire necessity? No. Could SRAM engineer a similar 11-25 tooth high end cassette in 2 tooth increments that isn't crazy expensive and would work with every normal freehub on the market? Yeah, they have the capacity to do so. In reality, the only gripe here is the price of the whole system and the fact that you have to dedicate to it. In SRAM's defense, most downhillers are a bit particular and either commit to SRAM or the other big S. So, once you're building up a new DH bike, screw it – go full in, this stuff works incredibly well. Chances are, you're going to be like all the other lemmings and jump on board with the new wheel size anyway. In this scenario, having to buy a proprietary freehub isn't a big deal.

Long Term Durability

During the few months we spent on this system we experienced ZERO issues and the whole group has held up well despite more than a few unplanned moments of contact between the cranks and derailleur with some wayside boulders and other various trailside obstacles. At this point, our group is a little banged up (as expected after some rowdy DH fun) but still works as good as it did when we first bolted it up.

What's The Bottom Line?

Is this a bit of a luxury that comes at a price? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Depends on how much you love downhill and want to invest in your bike. If you don't mind spending a few bucks to attain top notch performance, and spend a great deal of time on a DH bike, why not splurge a bit, indulge, and no longer have to think about the act of shifting gears on your bike? Albeit expensive, X01DH is worth the money. This group absolutely rules.

It's also worth mentioning that if you wanted to build up a 4X, dual slalom, or slopestyle bike this group would also serve as the cream of the crop drivetrain choice. We're excited that SRAM finally gave gravity drivetrains the much needed tip of the hat they deserve and have been lacking for so long, and as with the 11-speed groups, it seems likely that the technology will “trickle down” to lower priced offerings. We'd certainly imagine SRAM could get enough OEM spec to justify doing so.  As a side note, if you don't want to go full in, buy the shifter, derailleur, cassette and XD driver. We're reviewing the group as a whole here, but no one is forcing you to buy it as such. If you wanted the performance on a budget, save a few bucks and buy aluminum cranks.

For more information, head on over to www.sram.com.


About The Reviewer

Ian Collins grew up racing mountain bikes on the East Coast before moving to California in search of the never ending riding season. Although he's generally a fan of slick and steep riding conditions, Ian has gotten acclimated out west and loves its speed. Also an avid surfer, what's most important to him in a trail is flow. Known for being meticulous and borderline obsessive about bike setup, he aids in product development for local frame builder Turner Bikes when he's not out on a photo mission.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for SRAM X01 DH 7-Speed Mini Block Cassette 8/9/2014 2:17 PM
C138_sram_x01_dh_7_speed_mini_block_cassette

Tested: SRAM XO1 DH Drivetrain

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Ian Collins

Ever since downhill grew into it's own discipline within mountain biking, riders have been tinkering and experimenting with their drivetrains, trying to optimize them for the demands associated with pointing bikes towards the bottom of the hill and all that comes along with it. This is in part due to the fact that manufacturers have neglected to build a specific group for the demands of DH. Until now : SRAM recently released X01DH - a fully dedicated gravity drivetrain. Some parts are ground breaking, but in all fairness, some have been around and may seem like old news. The cranks are basically your standard carbon cranks that come with an XX1 group or were labeled as X0 DH in the past. What's new and most exciting is the derailleur and cassette. One of the major complaints with DH groups in the past was that they don't need 9, 10 or 11 gears and require too many shifts to get to the correct one. The new cassette is available as a 10-24 tooth 7 speed drivetrain that takes advantage the new XD driver system. Each time you shift a gear it jumps two teeth (as opposed to one) every time. No more double or triple shifting and “seeking” for the right gear. Another big thing is the X-Horizon derailleur – like the XX1 and X01 derailleur, it moves differently to derailleurs of the past and is a bit tougher and more reinforced. The shifter and chain are part of the group but nothing there stands out as glaringly different. Let's see how this group worked on the trails.

SRAM X01 DH Trigger Highlights

  • SRAM 1X™ X-ACTUATION™ for precise and dependable 7-speed performance
  • Multi-adjustable trigger shifter
  • MatchMaker™ X compatible
  • ZERO LOSS™ Engagement for fastest shifting
  • Aluminum cover and adjustable forged aluminum pull lever
  • Includes discrete clamp
  • Colors : Red and Black
  • MSRP: $143 USD

SRAM X01 DH Rear Derailleur (7-speed) Highlights

  • X-HORIZON™ technology provides more responsive shifting and eliminates ghost shifting, a common problem on DH bikes
  • X-ACTUATION™ with more cable pull delivers optimized system performance and durability
  • Two cage lengths for various applications, including abnormally long chain stay growth
  • ROLLER BEARING CLUTCH™ with CAGE LOCK™ sets the industry standard
  • MSRP: $277 USD

SRAM X01 DH Crankset Highlights

  • Carbon DH racing crank
  • Lightest in class carbon construction
  • High strength alloy pedal lug
  • 7075 CNC alloy single ring, 94 BCD, 30, 32, 34, 36, or 38 teeth
  • Compatible with SRAM 1X™ 7- and 10-speed DH drivetrains
  • MSRP:$315 - $347 USD

SRAM X01 DH 7-Speed MINI BLOCK™ Cassette Highlights

  • Larger jumps between gears eliminate the need for double/triple shifts to get in the gear you want. (10-12-14-16-18-21-24)
  • Less cogs allow faster transition from starting gear to high gear. Half as many shifts to get from 24-10 versus a normal 10-speed 26-11
  • Larger gear range, 10-tooth cog opens up high end and allows smaller chainrings for ground clearance
  • Very lightweight cassette
  • More rear wheel clearance around spokes
  • 2-tooth steps are safer in shifting than 1-tooth steps under big loads
  • Currently fits any XD™ compatible wheel and driver body
  • MSRP: $303 USD

Initial Impressions

When you first pull the parts out of the packaging and start getting them bolted up you'll be impressed by the build quality and as per usual with SRAM - the crisp, snappy shifts. As mentioned before, the cassette and derailleur stand out the most. Each cog (and the disc that prevents the chain from dropping into the spokes) are all machined from one piece of aluminum. It's sleek, black anodized and just looks super clean. 

The X horizon derailleur is sturdy and once set up it executes silently...the clutch style cage does a good job of preventing chain slap and damping drivetrain noise. The pulleys are narrow/wide, which prevents the chain from jumping around and keeps it cycling without hiccups. 

The cranks are lightweight and well made – the ceramic bearings that grace their matching bottom bracket are a nice touch. 

The shifter is feather weight and the action of the levers is light but decisive. The ergonomics of the levers are spot on, and the thumb paddle's positioning is adjustable.

The chain is just that sad part of a bike that's supposed to shut up and do it's job, and as expected, it did...but lastly – the narrow/wide ring finishes everything off and ensures that whether you run a chainguide or not, the chain will stay put.

On The Trail

Once we finally got out and started knocking out DH runs on this group we have to say we were floored. It really is everything we would want in a dedicated downhill drivetrain. Where do we begin? Let's start with the most boring bits and work our way towards the more exciting parts - the chain held up and proved to be strong and durable. As many consumers know by now, a narrow/wide chainring does an incredible job of keeping the chain on, and this was no exception. The cranks, although lightweight were stiff and handled some rock deflections with aplomb. 

Now to the juicy stuff – having the right gearing out back was a gift. We can't emphasize it enough, this is the best part. It was refreshing that the act of shifting was no longer cerebral. When for the most part finding the right gear only took one click of a shifter (sometimes two) it allowed us to focus more on the riding and the trail at hand. Especially given the fact that the actuation was so sharp and spot on. It really was a relief to not have to bang through 3-5 vague and messy gear changes to get the right ratio.

Things That Could Be Improved

In our time spent on the group so far, we have absolutely zero complaints with how this system works. It is absolutely flawless. It's a bit of a pain that it requires a dedicated cassette that only works with an XD driver, but as more and more hub manufacturers get on board with the increasing popularity of SRAM's 11 speed trail group, there are really only a few fringe hubs that don't work with this system. Is that 1 tooth drop down from 11 teeth to 10 teeth a dire necessity? No. Could SRAM engineer a similar 11-25 tooth high end cassette in 2 tooth increments that isn't crazy expensive and would work with every normal freehub on the market? Yeah, they have the capacity to do so. In reality, the only gripe here is the price of the whole system and the fact that you have to dedicate to it. In SRAM's defense, most downhillers are a bit particular and either commit to SRAM or the other big S. So, once you're building up a new DH bike, screw it – go full in, this stuff works incredibly well. Chances are, you're going to be like all the other lemmings and jump on board with the new wheel size anyway. In this scenario, having to buy a proprietary freehub isn't a big deal.

Long Term Durability

During the few months we spent on this system we experienced ZERO issues and the whole group has held up well despite more than a few unplanned moments of contact between the cranks and derailleur with some wayside boulders and other various trailside obstacles. At this point, our group is a little banged up (as expected after some rowdy DH fun) but still works as good as it did when we first bolted it up.

What's The Bottom Line?

Is this a bit of a luxury that comes at a price? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Depends on how much you love downhill and want to invest in your bike. If you don't mind spending a few bucks to attain top notch performance, and spend a great deal of time on a DH bike, why not splurge a bit, indulge, and no longer have to think about the act of shifting gears on your bike? Albeit expensive, X01DH is worth the money. This group absolutely rules.

It's also worth mentioning that if you wanted to build up a 4X, dual slalom, or slopestyle bike this group would also serve as the cream of the crop drivetrain choice. We're excited that SRAM finally gave gravity drivetrains the much needed tip of the hat they deserve and have been lacking for so long, and as with the 11-speed groups, it seems likely that the technology will “trickle down” to lower priced offerings. We'd certainly imagine SRAM could get enough OEM spec to justify doing so.  As a side note, if you don't want to go full in, buy the shifter, derailleur, cassette and XD driver. We're reviewing the group as a whole here, but no one is forcing you to buy it as such. If you wanted the performance on a budget, save a few bucks and buy aluminum cranks.

For more information, head on over to www.sram.com.


About The Reviewer

Ian Collins grew up racing mountain bikes on the East Coast before moving to California in search of the never ending riding season. Although he's generally a fan of slick and steep riding conditions, Ian has gotten acclimated out west and loves its speed. Also an avid surfer, what's most important to him in a trail is flow. Known for being meticulous and borderline obsessive about bike setup, he aids in product development for local frame builder Turner Bikes when he's not out on a photo mission.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for SRAM X01 DH 7-Speed Trigger Shifter 8/9/2014 2:16 PM
C138_sram_x01_dh_7_speed_trigger_shifter_red

Tested: SRAM XO1 DH Drivetrain

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

by Ian Collins

Ever since downhill grew into it's own discipline within mountain biking, riders have been tinkering and experimenting with their drivetrains, trying to optimize them for the demands associated with pointing bikes towards the bottom of the hill and all that comes along with it. This is in part due to the fact that manufacturers have neglected to build a specific group for the demands of DH. Until now : SRAM recently released X01DH - a fully dedicated gravity drivetrain. Some parts are ground breaking, but in all fairness, some have been around and may seem like old news. The cranks are basically your standard carbon cranks that come with an XX1 group or were labeled as X0 DH in the past. What's new and most exciting is the derailleur and cassette. One of the major complaints with DH groups in the past was that they don't need 9, 10 or 11 gears and require too many shifts to get to the correct one. The new cassette is available as a 10-24 tooth 7 speed drivetrain that takes advantage the new XD driver system. Each time you shift a gear it jumps two teeth (as opposed to one) every time. No more double or triple shifting and “seeking” for the right gear. Another big thing is the X-Horizon derailleur – like the XX1 and X01 derailleur, it moves differently to derailleurs of the past and is a bit tougher and more reinforced. The shifter and chain are part of the group but nothing there stands out as glaringly different. Let's see how this group worked on the trails.

SRAM X01 DH Trigger Highlights

  • SRAM 1X™ X-ACTUATION™ for precise and dependable 7-speed performance
  • Multi-adjustable trigger shifter
  • MatchMaker™ X compatible
  • ZERO LOSS™ Engagement for fastest shifting
  • Aluminum cover and adjustable forged aluminum pull lever
  • Includes discrete clamp
  • Colors : Red and Black
  • MSRP: $143 USD

SRAM X01 DH Rear Derailleur (7-speed) Highlights

  • X-HORIZON™ technology provides more responsive shifting and eliminates ghost shifting, a common problem on DH bikes
  • X-ACTUATION™ with more cable pull delivers optimized system performance and durability
  • Two cage lengths for various applications, including abnormally long chain stay growth
  • ROLLER BEARING CLUTCH™ with CAGE LOCK™ sets the industry standard
  • MSRP: $277 USD

SRAM X01 DH Crankset Highlights

  • Carbon DH racing crank
  • Lightest in class carbon construction
  • High strength alloy pedal lug
  • 7075 CNC alloy single ring, 94 BCD, 30, 32, 34, 36, or 38 teeth
  • Compatible with SRAM 1X™ 7- and 10-speed DH drivetrains
  • MSRP:$315 - $347 USD

SRAM X01 DH 7-Speed MINI BLOCK™ Cassette Highlights

  • Larger jumps between gears eliminate the need for double/triple shifts to get in the gear you want. (10-12-14-16-18-21-24)
  • Less cogs allow faster transition from starting gear to high gear. Half as many shifts to get from 24-10 versus a normal 10-speed 26-11
  • Larger gear range, 10-tooth cog opens up high end and allows smaller chainrings for ground clearance
  • Very lightweight cassette
  • More rear wheel clearance around spokes
  • 2-tooth steps are safer in shifting than 1-tooth steps under big loads
  • Currently fits any XD™ compatible wheel and driver body
  • MSRP: $303 USD

Initial Impressions

When you first pull the parts out of the packaging and start getting them bolted up you'll be impressed by the build quality and as per usual with SRAM - the crisp, snappy shifts. As mentioned before, the cassette and derailleur stand out the most. Each cog (and the disc that prevents the chain from dropping into the spokes) are all machined from one piece of aluminum. It's sleek, black anodized and just looks super clean. 

The X horizon derailleur is sturdy and once set up it executes silently...the clutch style cage does a good job of preventing chain slap and damping drivetrain noise. The pulleys are narrow/wide, which prevents the chain from jumping around and keeps it cycling without hiccups. 

The cranks are lightweight and well made – the ceramic bearings that grace their matching bottom bracket are a nice touch. 

The shifter is feather weight and the action of the levers is light but decisive. The ergonomics of the levers are spot on, and the thumb paddle's positioning is adjustable.

The chain is just that sad part of a bike that's supposed to shut up and do it's job, and as expected, it did...but lastly – the narrow/wide ring finishes everything off and ensures that whether you run a chainguide or not, the chain will stay put.

On The Trail

Once we finally got out and started knocking out DH runs on this group we have to say we were floored. It really is everything we would want in a dedicated downhill drivetrain. Where do we begin? Let's start with the most boring bits and work our way towards the more exciting parts - the chain held up and proved to be strong and durable. As many consumers know by now, a narrow/wide chainring does an incredible job of keeping the chain on, and this was no exception. The cranks, although lightweight were stiff and handled some rock deflections with aplomb. 

Now to the juicy stuff – having the right gearing out back was a gift. We can't emphasize it enough, this is the best part. It was refreshing that the act of shifting was no longer cerebral. When for the most part finding the right gear only took one click of a shifter (sometimes two) it allowed us to focus more on the riding and the trail at hand. Especially given the fact that the actuation was so sharp and spot on. It really was a relief to not have to bang through 3-5 vague and messy gear changes to get the right ratio.

Things That Could Be Improved

In our time spent on the group so far, we have absolutely zero complaints with how this system works. It is absolutely flawless. It's a bit of a pain that it requires a dedicated cassette that only works with an XD driver, but as more and more hub manufacturers get on board with the increasing popularity of SRAM's 11 speed trail group, there are really only a few fringe hubs that don't work with this system. Is that 1 tooth drop down from 11 teeth to 10 teeth a dire necessity? No. Could SRAM engineer a similar 11-25 tooth high end cassette in 2 tooth increments that isn't crazy expensive and would work with every normal freehub on the market? Yeah, they have the capacity to do so. In reality, the only gripe here is the price of the whole system and the fact that you have to dedicate to it. In SRAM's defense, most downhillers are a bit particular and either commit to SRAM or the other big S. So, once you're building up a new DH bike, screw it – go full in, this stuff works incredibly well. Chances are, you're going to be like all the other lemmings and jump on board with the new wheel size anyway. In this scenario, having to buy a proprietary freehub isn't a big deal.

Long Term Durability

During the few months we spent on this system we experienced ZERO issues and the whole group has held up well despite more than a few unplanned moments of contact between the cranks and derailleur with some wayside boulders and other various trailside obstacles. At this point, our group is a little banged up (as expected after some rowdy DH fun) but still works as good as it did when we first bolted it up.

What's The Bottom Line?

Is this a bit of a luxury that comes at a price? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Depends on how much you love downhill and want to invest in your bike. If you don't mind spending a few bucks to attain top notch performance, and spend a great deal of time on a DH bike, why not splurge a bit, indulge, and no longer have to think about the act of shifting gears on your bike? Albeit expensive, X01DH is worth the money. This group absolutely rules.

It's also worth mentioning that if you wanted to build up a 4X, dual slalom, or slopestyle bike this group would also serve as the cream of the crop drivetrain choice. We're excited that SRAM finally gave gravity drivetrains the much needed tip of the hat they deserve and have been lacking for so long, and as with the 11-speed groups, it seems likely that the technology will “trickle down” to lower priced offerings. We'd certainly imagine SRAM could get enough OEM spec to justify doing so.  As a side note, if you don't want to go full in, buy the shifter, derailleur, cassette and XD driver. We're reviewing the group as a whole here, but no one is forcing you to buy it as such. If you wanted the performance on a budget, save a few bucks and buy aluminum cranks.

For more information, head on over to www.sram.com.


About The Reviewer

Ian Collins grew up racing mountain bikes on the East Coast before moving to California in search of the never ending riding season. Although he's generally a fan of slick and steep riding conditions, Ian has gotten acclimated out west and loves its speed. Also an avid surfer, what's most important to him in a trail is flow. Known for being meticulous and borderline obsessive about bike setup, he aids in product development for local frame builder Turner Bikes when he's not out on a photo mission.

This product has 1 review

Added a product review for SRAM X01 DH X-Horizon Rear Derailleur 8/9/2014 2:15 PM
C138_sram_x01_dh_10_speed_x_horizon_rear_derailleur

Tested: SRAM X01 DH Drivetrain

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Ian Collins // Action Shots by Fred Robinson

Ever since downhill grew into its own discipline within mountain biking, riders have been tinkering and experimenting with their drivetrains, trying to optimize them for the demands associated with pointing bikes towards the bottom of the hill and all that comes along with it. This is in part due to the fact that manufacturers have neglected to build a specific group for the demands of DH. Until now.

SRAM recently released X01DH - a fully dedicated gravity drivetrain. Some parts are ground breaking, but in all fairness, some have been around and may seem like old news. The cranks are basically your standard carbon cranks that come with an XX1 group or were labeled as X0 DH in the past. What's most exciting are the derailleur and cassette. One of the major complaints with DH groups in the past was that they don't need 9, 10 or 11 gears and require too many shifts to get to the correct one. The new cassette is available as a 10-24 tooth 7 speed drivetrain that takes advantage the new XD driver system. Each time you shift a gear it jumps two teeth (as opposed to one) every time. No more double or triple shifting and “seeking” for the right gear. Another big thing is the X-Horizon derailleur – like the XX1 and X01 derailleur, it moves differently to derailleurs of the past and is a bit tougher and more reinforced. The shifter and chain are part of the group but nothing there stands out as glaringly different. Let's see how this group worked on the trails.

SRAM X01 DH Trigger Highlights

  • SRAM 1X X-ACTUATION
  • 7-speed
  • Multi-adjustable trigger shifter
  • MatchMaker X compatible
  • ZERO LOSS Engagement
  • Aluminum cover and adjustable forged aluminum pull lever
  • Includes discrete clamp
  • Colors: Red and Black
  • MSRP: $143 USD

SRAM X01 DH Rear Derailleur (7-speed) Highlights

  • X-HORIZON technology
  • X-ACTUATION with more cable pull
  • Two cage lengths for various applications, including abnormally long chain stay growth
  • ROLLER BEARING CLUTCH with CAGE LOCK
  • MSRP: $277 USD

SRAM X01 DH Crankset Highlights

  • Carbon DH racing crank
  • High strength alloy pedal lug
  • 7075 CNC alloy single ring, 94 BCD, 30, 32, 34, 36, or 38 teeth
  • Compatible with SRAM 1X 7- and 10-speed DH drivetrains
  • MSRP: $315 - $347 USD

SRAM X01 DH 7-Speed MINI BLOCK Cassette Highlights

  • Larger jumps between gears (10-12-14-16-18-21-24)
  • Half as many shifts to get from 24-10 versus a normal 10-speed 26-11
  • 10-tooth cog opens up high end and allows smaller chainrings for ground clearance
  • More rear wheel clearance around spokes
  • Currently fits any XD compatible wheel and driver body
  • MSRP: $303 USD

Initial Impressions

When you first pull the parts out of the packaging and start getting them bolted up, you'll be impressed by the build quality. As per usual with SRAM - shift are crisp and snappy out of the box. As mentioned before, the cassette and derailleur stand out the most. Each cog (and the disc that prevents the chain from dropping into the spokes) are all machined from one piece of aluminum. It's sleek, black anodized, and just looks super clean.

The X horizon derailleur is sturdy and once set up it executes silently. The clutch style cage does a good job of preventing chain slap and damping drivetrain noise. The pulleys are narrow/wide, which prevents the chain from jumping around and keeps it cycling without hiccups.

The cranks are lightweight and well made. The ceramic bearings that grace their matching bottom bracket are a nice touch and bode well for longevity.

The shifter is feather weight and the action of the levers is light but decisive. The ergonomics of the levers are spot on, and the thumb paddle's positioning is adjustable.

The chain is just that sad part of a bike that's supposed to shut up and do it's job, and as expected, it did. The X-Sync ring with it's alternating thick/thin tooth profile finishes everything off and ensures that whether you run a chainguide or not, the chain will very likely stay put.

On The Trail

Once we finally got out and started knocking out DH runs on this group we have to say we were floored. It really is everything we would want in a dedicated downhill drivetrain. Where do we begin? Let's start with the most boring bits and work our way towards the more exciting parts - the chain held up and proved to be strong and durable. As many consumers know by now, a narrow/wide chainring does an incredible job of keeping the chain on, and this was no exception. We experienced no drops with the addition of the chainguide. Some may consider eliminating the lower guide altogether in favor of less friction. The cranks, although lightweight were stiff and handled some rock deflections without issue.

Now to the juicy stuff – having the right gearing out back was a gift. We can't emphasize it enough, this is the best part. It was refreshing that the act of shifting was no longer cerebral. For the most part finding the right gear only took one click of a shifter (sometimes two), allowing us to focus more on riding and the trail ahead, especially given the fact that the actuation was so sharp and spot on. It really was a relief to not have to bang through 3-5 vague and messy gear changes to get the right ratio at a moment's notice.

Things That Could Be Improved

In our time spent on the group so far, we have absolutely zero complaints with how this system works. It is absolutely flawless. It's a bit of a pain that it requires a dedicated cassette that only works with an XD driver, but as more and more hub manufacturers get on board with the increasing popularity of SRAM's 11 speed trail group, there are really only a few fringe hubs that don't work with this system. Is that 1 tooth drop down from 11 teeth to 10 teeth a dire necessity? No. Could SRAM engineer a similar 11-25 tooth high end cassette in 2 tooth increments that isn't crazy expensive and would work with every normal freehub on the market? Yeah, they have the capacity to do so.

In reality, the only gripe here is the price of the whole system and the fact that you have to dedicate to it. In SRAM's defense, most downhillers are a bit particular and either commit to SRAM or Shimano. So, if you're building up a new DH bike, consider going full in - this stuff works incredibly well. Chances are you're going to be like all the other lemmings and jump on board with the new set of wheels anyway. In this scenario, having to buy a proprietary freehub isn't a big deal.

Long Term Durability

During the few months we spent on this system we experienced ZERO issues and the whole group has held up well despite more than a few unplanned moments of contact between the cranks and derailleur with some wayside boulders and other various trailside obstacles. At this point, our group is a little banged up (as expected after some rowdy DH fun), but still works as good as it did when we first bolted it up.

What's The Bottom Line?

Is this a bit of a luxury that comes at a price? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Depends on how much you love downhill and want to invest in your bike. If you don't mind spending a good chunk of dollars to attain top notch performance, and spend a great deal of time on a DH bike, indulge and no longer have to think about the act of shifting gears on your bike. Albeit expensive, X01DH is worth the money. This group absolutely rules. Just be cautious of smashing that rear derailleur...

It's also worth mentioning that if you wanted to build up a 4X, dual slalom, or slopestyle bike this group would also serve as the cream of the crop drivetrain choice. We're excited that SRAM finally gave gravity drivetrains the much needed tip of the hat they deserve and have been lacking for so long.

As with the 11-speed groups, it's very likely that the technology will “trickle down” to lower price points in the future. We'd certainly imagine SRAM could get enough OEM spec to justify doing so. As a side note, if you don't want to go full in, buy the shifter, derailleur, cassette and XD driver. We're reviewing the group as a whole here, but no one is forcing you to buy it as such. If you want performance on a budget, save a few bucks and buy aluminum cranks. SRAM also makes the derailleur available by itself for existing 10-speed users. Why upgrade from a clutched system? That horizontal derailleur movement is the key, and it really does make a remarkable difference on a DH bike.

For more information, head on over to www.sram.com.


About The Reviewer

Ian Collins grew up racing mountain bikes on the East Coast before moving to California in search of the never ending riding season. Although he's generally a fan of slick and steep riding conditions, Ian has gotten acclimated out west and loves its speed. Also an avid surfer, what's most important to him in a trail is flow. Known for being meticulous and borderline obsessive about bike setup, he aids in product development for local frame builder Turner Bikes when he's not out on a photo mission.

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danny's a NUTTER! - ol duncan almost got broke off by brendog's looseness

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Added a product review for VP Components VP-Harrier Flat Pedal 6/4/2014 8:38 PM
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Tested: VP Harrier Flat Pedal

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Ian Collins // Photos by Ian Collins and Fred Robinson (action)

VP has been quietly cranking away in the pedal market with various designs at every price point for quite some time now. Despite their efforts, it's fair to say that they have yet to carve out a niche for themselves in the race to deliver a truly iconic place to rest your feet. Recently, they released the Harrier – a fully redesigned flat pedal that contrasts dramatically in both aesthetics and mechanical execution with past offerings from VP. A few months ago, I got my feet on a set and I went about giving them a proper flogging to see what they were made of.

VP Harrier Flat Pedal Highlights

  • Cold-forged one-piece CNC aluminum body
  • Double LSL bearings
  • Forged Cromoly axle, heat treated
  • Forged steel pins, heat treated and replaceable
  • Colors: Black, Red, Silver
  • Size: 120 x 109 x 18 mm
  • Weight: 0 lb 12.8 oz (362 g)
  • MSRP: $120.00 USD

Initial Impressions

When I first pulled the Harriers out of the box I was beyond floored by how big they are, but I was also quite impressed by their nice low profile at only 12mm thin. Three massive cut outs indicate that mud clearance will be a non issue, and 10 well spaced-out, rather tall pins garnish each pedal in logical areas. 6 of the 10 pins thread in from the underside, which should make them easy/possible to replace even if they end up bent out of shape.

The hardware and axle are all nicely finished and the pedals are quite light, especially considering how massive they are. 362 grams is quite light for a pair of pedals this big that don't rely on a plastic frame or titanium spindles to get the weight down. The only feature that caught my eye as potentially problematic was how short the spindle is relative to the width of the pedal – with all the leverage the pedal has on the axle, that spindle better be well engineered.

Heat treated and forged Cro-Moly is a solid, dependable choice for the spindle though, and all in all the initial inspection of the Harriers revealed a pretty sweet looking pair of pedals both on paper and in the flesh. Let's see how they fared on the trail.

On The Trail

As expected the Harriers were super grippy right out of the gate. I had no issues with any of the pins getting bashed apart or snapping off too easily. That's a good start, and even if some pins went south, it would be easy to change them as noted previously.

Now for a couple of unique and notable aspects of the pedal: the lack of an inboard bulge near the crank was warmly welcomed. I have owned a few pairs of flat pedals that “featured” this bulge to house a larger bearing, and while we can argue whether or not it adds to a pedal's durability, it has a rather annoying feel when your shoe is resting on it. Instead, VP chose to utilize a teflon thrust bearing in lieu of a sealed cartridge bearing on the Harrier. This allows them to not only avoid the nuisance of having a bulge on the pedal, but also because a teflon bearing is lower in profile, they were able to make the axle larger and stronger as well...all while maintaining a low profile. One thing worth noting is that there is a normal, very small amount of play that comes along with this type of setup. After a ride or two this play became apparent, but throughout our testing it did not further worsen nor become problematic. When we asked VP about this, they suggested it's best to replace most of the wearable parts after a year of heavy riding, and they offer a $24 rebuild kit to keep the pedals running smooth. My experience with other premium pedals has often involved yearly rebuilds so I can't knock VP for suggesting that.

In terms of how the Harriers feel, aside from the pure traction standpoint, the biggest factor was size. I can't emphasize it enough. At size 11, I don't have huge feet, but I do feel that most flat pedals out there are undersized. When I initially saw how far these stuck out on my bike, I was concerned that clearance would be an issue, but once I rode them a few times, the fretting was put to rest. As someone who always feels like every flat pedal I've used was too small these were a welcome change. Many offerings I've used in the past have been solid, but often after blasting through mid sized chatter, my feet would shift to unfavorable positions. However, when this happened with the VP's I still felt the support from the body of the pedal, likely because there is just more material under my feet.

Lastly, the pedal profile was strictly middle of the road. Neither concave nor convex, the Harriers are dead flat but still feel great underfoot. Some manufacturers claim that the balls of your feet will settle into a concave pedal nicely, and while that may be true, it's not something that stood out as highly beneficial in my experience with other pedals in the past.

Things That Could Be Improved

To be quite frank the most important part of a pedal is feel, and the Harriers check out. If I had to quip about something it would be the slight amount of play, although there is one important distinction that needs to be made when mentioning this: there is no lateral play and the integrity of the pedal isn't compromised. It moves ever so slightly axially, which is not even detectable when riding. Aside from this issue, these are a perfect set of pedals.

Long Term Durability

When it comes to rock strikes and resisting abuse to pins, the Harriers are tough as nails. Their chamfered outer edges encourage rocks and other trailside obstacles to graze past the pedals without causing too much damage or even having the opportunity to grab ahold of something.

As far as the axle and bits the cage rotates on, we're a bit on the fence. In theory VP's execution makes sense, and in practice we've experienced no negative attributes thus far. The fact that the Harriers are fully rebuildable for a mere $24 plus some household tools and a brief gander at a web tutorial on the process instills further confidence and have us feeling like these pedals are in it for the long haul.

What's The Bottom Line?

If you're a size 8, this may not be the pedal for you. If you're someone like Mick Pascal and you have size 13+ clodhoppers, look no further - your prayers have absolutely been answered. If you're somewhere in the middle, you will dig these pedals and they will likely treat you well for a few seasons of proper use. In terms of price, the Harriers strike a solid balance between the average, budget flat pedal, and the top of the line sometimes wildly overpriced offerings out there. In terms of feel, I've owned and ridden dozens of flat pedals ranging from utilitarian to boutique, and these are hands down the best pair I have rested my feet on so far. The price to weight to feel ratio is tough to beat.

Visit www.vp-usa.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Ian Collins grew up racing mountain bikes on the East Coast before moving to California in search of the never ending riding season. Although he's generally a fan of slick and steep riding conditions, Ian has gotten acclimated out west and loves its speed. Also an avid surfer, what's most important to him in a trail is flow. Known for being meticulous and borderline obsessive about bike setup, he aids in product development for local frame builder Turner Bikes when he's not out on a photo mission.

This product has 1 review

Added a comment about slideshow Finding the Flow - Enduro World Series Tweedlove, Scotland Day 2 Slideshow 5/31/2014 11:12 PM
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Anneke's gopro is recording....the red light says so...sick

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Added a comment about slideshow Unexpected Gnar - Enduro World Series Tweedlove Recon Slideshow 5/29/2014 9:58 PM
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killing it! so much grain! #darkdarkdark

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Added a comment about video BLAST OFF! - Aggy's Reunion Highlight Video 5/22/2014 12:23 PM
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So heavy!!

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Added a comment about photo Battling the Sun, Fort William British Downhill Series 2014 5/13/2014 3:43 PM
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Hopefully all 6 of those flashes are linked to his camera.

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Added a product review for Troy Lee Designs D3 Carbon Full Face Helmet 5/8/2014 10:32 PM
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Tested: Troy Lee Designs D3 Carbon Full Face Helmet

Rating:

The Good:

The Bad:

Overall:

Review by Ian Collins // Photos by Ian Collins and Fred Robinson

The Troy Lee Designs Daytona series of helmets (that’s the "D" in D3) was originally developed back when mountain bikers wore skin suits and obsessed over ensuring that their 150mm 30-degree rise Ringle stem had the exact same color purple anodizing as their Cook Bros Racing cranks. The Daytona, D2, and D3 have had a few things in common - carbon shells, nicely sculpted vents, badass clean lines, and rad visors. Looks and functionality aside, TLD has also strived to be a class leader in safety over the years.

It almost goes without saying that the D3 helmet is the gold standard in gravity riding and racing - perhaps that’s what makes it the most popular gravity helmet. Since its inception it has been used by several racers and teams that aren't even affiliated with TLD, and in many cases are endorsed by other helmet manufacturers. These demanding athletes don't settle, so they repaint or cover up graphics with their own stickers and ride what keeps them safe and comfortable. We can't be fooled though, we know what they’re are actually wearing.

So what it is about the D3 that draws almost everyone to it? Let’s take an in-depth look at the features and on trail performance.

D3 Carbon Helmet Highlights

  • Aerospace carbon/composite shell construction
  • Dual density shock pad system
  • Exceeds bicycle and snow safety certifications: CPSC 1203, CE EN1077, CE EN1078, ASTM F1952, ASTM F2032, ASTM F2040
  • 20 high-flow intake and exhaust ports with injection-molded intake system and EPS channeling
  • Removable/replaceable/washable CoolMax and Dri-Lex padding
  • Adjustable visor with machined titanium hardware
  • Titanium D-ring chin strap
  • Quick-release cheek pads
  • Includes two visors
  • Includes helmet bag
  • Colors: Speed CF Orange, Finish Line CF Yellow, Gwin Replica CF Black, and Pinstripe II CF Black
  • Six sizes ranging from XS-XXL
  • MSRP $450

Initial Impressions

When you first pull the D3 out of its nice, softly lined travel bag, you'll definitely notice its weight - or rather the lack of it. At around 1,100 grams it's pretty light for the level of protection it offers. Aside from the obvious bold graphics and pops of color, your eyes will be drawn to the little things that speak volumes about TLD’s attention to detail. Finely machined screws that mount the visor and D-ring chin strap closures are both made of titanium.

As one takes a pulled back glance at the helmet, its aerodynamic-looking design and the overall intention it has for moving air become very apparent. This lid is designed to move fast and breathe well. It features a total of 20 vents – 14 up front and 6 out back - most of which are covered in a metal screening that prevents mud from entering the helmet. The sleek rubber molding nicely caps off the carbon shell and assimilates with the graphics all while protecting parts of the helmet that would typically be prone to getting banged up. The sum of these parts all lead up to a very nice package.

On The Trail

After putting the D3 on, the first thing a rider will notice is the plush padding and secure fit. Offered in six sizes from XS-XXL, it fits any head from 20.5 to 25.6-inches in circumference. The helmet fits comfortably, feels solid, and really hugs your head nicely – not to the point that you feel like you're in a sensory deprivation chamber though. It still lets in noises so you can hear your buddies telling you how slow you are, or more importantly, in the event of something catastrophic you won't be unaware because you're deafened by layers of padding and bulk. It's just right with no excessive movement yet it's not overly restrictive either.

As you move around in the D3, those with neck braces will notice and appreciate that the back of the lid is dramatically sculpted to work with all manufacturers offerings without limiting how much you can tilt your head up to look down the trail. The previous TLD D2 helmet wasn't particularly stellar in this department, and was a bit restrictive when worn with a neck brace. You will also love how well the D3 accepts just about every pair of goggles known to man and fits quite nicely with them. The plastic molding that accepts the goggles is tailor-made to ensure that they nestle nicely into place.

Once moving down the trail, as expected the helmet does exactly what it's supposed to. It breathes and ventilates well, doesn't move around under medium successive hits, or even big jarring ones such as fast G-outs. The nicely sized and shaped visor keeps the sun and elements out of your eyes and eyewear, the chin strap doesn't chafe, and the pads feel great. No strange howling noises come from the vents. To top things off, it looks cool and makes even gapers look as "factory" as can be.

Most importantly, it does a great job of protecting the most vital part of your body. In both small and large get-offs, the dual density shock pad system helps protect and absorb impact while transferring minimal shock to the rider's head. As a person who quite often finds himself off the bike unexpectedly, I can say the D3 does an excellent job of protecting and preventing trauma in a variety of unfortunate situations.

Things That Could Be Improved

While this helmet is virtually devoid of flaws, there is one small quip worth mentioning. In the picture below you can see the helmet's pad liner in two different states.

Attached to one liner there is a not-so-plush strip of black plastic that rests on the rider's forehead, and on the other it has been removed. Many users of the D3 complained that the helmet had a tendency to pinch the forehead in two different places just above the eyebrows. After snipping the plastic strip off and re-installing the liner the problem was gone. I was initially concerned that removal of this strip may cause the liner to unravel, but worry not, it's attached by its own independent set of threads. Some will prefer to have the strip installed as it feels more secure. As we all know, heads come in all shapes and sizes, so the fact that it’s easily removable is a nice customization option.

Long Term Durability

This happens to be my second D3 helmet. I spent two plus years on the last one, and the only difference is that this one has a louder set of graphics reminiscent of a custom lid Chris Kovarik had mocked up back in the day. In terms of durability and ease of use this helmet is top notch. TLD has all the bases covered. The pads are easily removable and washable, yet don't breakdown after repeated washings. The helmet cleans up nicely even after being ridden in adverse conditions, and as I stated before, the rubber moldings help protect the lid from getting banged up after being tossed around during day-to-day use. After multiple slide-outs and silly inconsequential crashes the surface coating remained tough and continued to shine. While the visor did crack after a handful of small falls, TLD thought ahead by including a spare visor that perfectly matches the helmet. In the event of a big crash, TLD offers a solid crash replacement policy that will save you a few bucks.

What's The Bottom Line?

If you're in the market for a new helmet and accept nothing but the best to protect your brilliant brain, then look no further. If you want the looks, ventilation, and protection but want to save a few bucks and don't mind an extra few grams, consider one of the composite models for about $75 less. Regardless of which D3 model you choose to ride, you won't be disappointed by it in any way. The smooth lines, killer style, and thoughtful consideration for safety make the D3 one of the best mountain bike helmets your money can buy.

Visit www.troyleedesigns.com for more details.


About The Reviewer

Ian Collins grew up racing mountain bikes on the East Coast before moving to California in search of the never ending riding season. Although he's generally a fan of slick and steep riding conditions, Ian has gotten acclimated out west and loves its speed. Also an avid surfer, what's most important to him in a trail is flow. Known for being meticulous and borderline obsessive about bike setup, he aids in product development for local frame builder Turner Bikes when he's not out on a photo mission.

This product has 9 reviews

Added a comment about photo They'd Have to Say it was a Good Day 5/5/2014 12:51 PM
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I could probably mock one up for a vital desktop if Spomer wanted to throw a graphic on a full sized pic...

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