Short of running heavy hub gears, singlespeed or one of those old Pro-shift
or Precision Billet rear mechs that a few tarts used to run in the anodised
glory days of the mid 1990’s, there’s no real alternative to that Shimano than
SRAM Gripshift. If it were a road bike we’d have the choice of Campagnolo or
Mavic, but it’s a very long time since either of them made off road kit.
So SRAM Gripshift it is, and thanks to Frank @ SRAM Europe we’ve got one of their new ESP 9.0SL upgrade kits in a nice shiny red box. This includes an ESP 9.0 rear mech, shifters (short or long barrel) chain and wide range 11-34 Powershift II cassette.Why?
We chose Gripshift because we hadn’t tried it in a while and like our frameset it uses a lot of composite parts to save weight. Shifters, much of the rear mech and even the carrier for the bigger cassette sprockets are all composite rather than metal.
Other plus points are a new improved “Rocket” shift that uses an assist spring in the changer to ‘fire’ the cable through. This combines with the 1:1 cable pull to mech. movement ratio of the SRAM ESP shifters to make shifting snappy, accurate and less dirt sensitive – a previous criticism of old Gripshift. The only downside is that the 1:1 ratio won’t work with Shimano which is why SRAM bundle shifters and mechs together in this upgrade kit.
Slide the shifters onto the bars – leaving enough room outboard for whatever length of outer grip you want to run – then tighten the clamp onto the bar. Then slide on the little plastic washer to stop the two halves of the grip binding. Spray some hairspray (I did have hair once) or something similarly sticky (paint, nail varnish etc.) inside the outer grip section and then slide that on as well and let it dry.
Now go to the far end of the bike and bolt the rear mech into the gear hanger. Go carefully and make sure the bolt goes in straight. Also make sure that the small cam or grub screw that controls the angle of dangle rests against the small lip at the bottom of the hanger – you might need to rotate the mech backwards to engage it properly.