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Ultimate Budget XC Bike Parts List Selection Analysis Real World Effect While Riding
Approximate Total Cost (excluding frame + pedals): This is a compilation guide based on extensive (costly) experimentations to get the cheapest parts that perform as well as the most expensive stuffs. These parts have been analyzed throughly so if you want to go even cheaper than these, make sure you're still using light pedals, wheels, and tires as those are what really determines speed. With this compared to buying a fullbike at the same price or weight, you'll get optimized parts especially if you don't mind getting cheaper used parts. First, go measure your body in the Fit Calculator at www.competitivecyclist.com or www.wrenchscience.com. This gives a close estimate to the right frame + parts fitting for your body.
Rp. 15.310.000 (August 2011)
Approximate Weight (excluding frame + pedals):
8004 grams
Groupset Analysis:  
Shimano XT M780 Series 2012 Black (5.5jt 3195gr) Best deal groupset but for the sake of maximum performance at minimum cost we'll mix groupset parts instead of buying a whole groupset. If you follow this list exactly you'll have to sell the XT crank, chain, and rotors. But if you don't want the hassle of getting even lighter then just use the complete groupset. The Deore 10 speed Dynasys groupset is heavier but performs just the same, if the bike is an All Mountain type then the Deore might be a better choice.   Shifting speed and braking control but acceleration isn't affected much by groupset, rather it's the weight of the pedal, crank, wheels and tires and how efficient your rear shock is. Heavier non rotating parts can actually make a more stable bike so technically you can get a very cheap grouptset like a deore and replace the crank, rotor, and chain with super light parts. This way it'll be stable during rocky descends but climbs well.
Recommended Hardtail Frame    
Giant XTC FR 2011 (3.8jt 1.5kg) The XTC FR is probably the most advanced hardtail frame in the market. It's Giant's most expensive alum hardtail frame and since they make alum frames for almost all brands, makes sense to get theirs. Speed and acceleration are exceptional. This is the most you should spend on a hardtail frame. As with all Giant frames, the headset is included but the bottom bracket uses press fit model which may be harder to find. Handling during descending or climbing depending on the frame's head angle. Head angle of 71 degree means the fork is straighter which is better for climbing and sharp handling. Head angle of 69 means the bike is more stable during descends. Check the numbers on the frame geometry in each brand's website. This is up to each rider's skill and track preference. Frame size and setting to the body are more important than its weight.
Recommended Full Suspension Frame (100mm fork)    
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Giant Anthem X 2011 with Fox RP2 (9.8jt 2.4kg). - Alternative: Anything used or discounted for 13jt like a Pivot Mach 4 or Rocky Mountain Element.
The Anthem is the winner of the fastest fullsus bike out of 300+ bikes of 2010 in a British magazine yet it's cheap, uses anti-bob suspension, simple setup, easily serviced, and durable as tank so it's the obvious choice. With the Anthem frame and cleat pedals it's 10.5kg and 25.3jt cost. That's as light as the carbon Scott Spark 10 that costs twice as much! Besides head angle there is rear suspension design to consider. It is most preferable to get a rear suspension design that has anti bobbing properties or simply the ability to lock the rear shock completely as those what determine speed in fullsus bikes. As always choose a frame that fits the body perfectly as measured.
Headset:    
Token Omega-A3 (75rb 58gr) Headsets are frame dependent and styles differ so they often are included with the frame. If not included, you need to find out the specific size and type required for the frame which is a hassle because the brand's website usually doesn't list it. Headset weights are all similar so choosing a cheap one is fine. Ceramic bearings are highly overrated. Never seen a guy with a broken headset on track. Doesn't make any difference other than weight which is insignificant. Doesn't break often either.
Fork:    
RST First Platinum 100mm non-remote (1.5j 1535gr) Cheapest under 1.6kg fork but isn't stiff. Don't get the remote version as the remote is crappy. It ain't Fox or Rockshox in micro damping but super light for the price. Compression dive during braking is also minimal so great for racers. Get the stronger non-remote version. The alternative for heavier duty offroad are Suntour Axon-RLD (1.5jt 1.54kg) and Suntour Epicon (1.6jt 1.6kg) which are proven durable. Speed, handling, and damping. Damping obviously relates to comfort. Must choose a fork travel length within the range that is recommended for each bike model.
Crankset:    
Aerozine X12-SL-A3 42-32-24 rings (1.6jt 676gr) Here you need to decide whether to use a double crank that's biased towards maximum offroad performance and lightest possible setup or to use the traditional triple geared crank that can be used for touring as well. For all around bike, use triple. We want a crank that's as light as XTR but cost less than XT, so the Aerozine is the best choice since it also has the fastest bottom bracket bearings and can be adjusted from 170mm to 175mm without having to buy another crank. It also comes in 8 different colors to match your bike's style. The shaft of the Aerozine is short so when installing make sure the mechanic inserts the left arm all the way to the shaft. Speed. Obviously lighter is faster. Almost as important to wheels when it comes to weight.
Bottom Bracket:    
Aerozine (included 110gr) Included with crank but once broken just get any cheap but fast rolling one like Token's cheapest (165rb). Some frames use press fit BB or some other type so you may have to buy additonal BB separate from the groupset. Avoid expensive ones as the key in BB performance are the bearings... that you'll have to replace anyway at some point. Speed. Cheaper BB's are actually faster as their seal isn't as tight. Gonna have to replace them every year or so but they're cheap. Different BB has different feels, like FSA and SRAM feel very smooth, some grainy but fast. 
Cassette (Sprocket):    
Shimano XT CS-M771 11-36 (273gr) The best buy cassette for many years and this new 10 speed version still is. The 11-36 is preferred for newbies but 11-34 should be fine. Speed and shifting precision. Cassettes vary by about 100gr from the most expensive to the cheapest. Their effect relates mostly to how fast and accurate the shifting is.
Front derailleur:    
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Shimano XT: FD-M780 (153gr)
The standard of the MTB world. Weight savings from FD isn't significant so the proven SLX is the only choice. The FD type required is specific to frame model so check what your frame needs before buying. Shifting precision only which is why most bikes come with SLX FD. Most FD's are weighted similarly anyway.
Rear derailleur:    
Shimano XT: RD-780 (234gr) The standard of the MTB world. The XT FD is reasonably light but precise and durable. Depending on whether it's a short, medium, or long cage RD, the shifting feel will be different. Shifting speed depends on the shifter, not RD.
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Shifters:
   
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Shimano XT: M780 (255gr)
The new XT shifter has new XTR's feel and technology while only being slightly heavier. Shifting speed and feel. Weight of different models are similar. Get the one that shifts as fast as possible.
Chain:    
Yaban SL101-Ti (300rb 228gr) Shimano and SRAM chains rust and snap all the time! This Yaban is the same as the more expensive KMC and KMC actually is the OEM for those Shimano chains so it makes sense to use their ultimate model which is superior to the XTR chain. The SL101-Ti is titanium coated so won't rust and so strong they'll break your toolkit before you can remove a link. Best yet it's even lighter than the XTR chain yet stiffer so it's performance is superior during pedalling. You can use the cheapest groupset but you'll need this chain! Smoothness during shifting and torque on pedalling. Durability is the main issue here as getting stranded on a mountain is no fun.
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Wheelset:
   
Fulcrum Red Metal 3 (3.9jt 1685gr +125gr QR) UST tubeless This is where you try to get the lightest possible and any cost. You can have a crappy heavy frame but with light wheels you'll fly. Don't build wheels, get a WHEELSET with internal rim width of 19mm or higher. This Fulcrum has the fastest hubs, super stiff spokes for fastest climbing, and best yet tubeless rims. It's weight is acceptably light. Replace supplied QR with lighter titanium ones and save 70gr more. If you're feeling cheap and doesn't want a wheelset, you can build a Novatec hub + Alexrims XCR 100d rim combo that's not tubeless but as light as the Fulcrum for under 2jt. You won't get the same stiffness though. SPEED as rotational weight matters most than static weight. Get the lightest possible wheelset that's tubeless UST compatible for strength and uses tubeless tires. It'll make you go faster than upgrading to an expensive all carbon frame. However, a wheelset that's too light usually comes with weak thin spokes and suffers during climbing.
Front Tires:    
Schwalbe Nobby Nic Snake Skin Tubeless Ready 2.25 2011 (390rb 610gr) + sealant (30gr) Forget tubes! Forget UST tubeless tires! Use TUBELESS READY tires with sealants. Tubeless is flat proof since it uses liquid sealant inside to cover any holes. The Nobby Nic 2.25 is wider but as light as a 2.1 tubed tire. It's also a very stable tire at turns and has very low rolling resistance. Always use Schwalbe Snake Skin or Double Defense models as they have thicker sidewalls that prevent air from escaping. IF you must use regular tubed tires, then the Onza Ibex 2.1 and Kenda Karma 2.0 are the only recommendations depending on the application.  SPEED vs GRIP in tubed tires since grippy ones are heavy. So use tubeless and get rid of the inner tubes that get punctured and broken all the time. With tires always try to use the lightest ones for specific applications. Like wheelset, this is a significant upgrade to acceleration. Front tires always have to be the grippier but slower one as if they slip then disaster happens.
Rear Tires:    
Schwalbe Nobby Nic Pace Star 2.1 (570rb 495gr) + sealant (30gr) For all around any terrain functionality, the rear also uses the same tire as the front but most of the time a faster 2.1 is preferred. There is no Snake Skin version and the Double Defense is too heavy so use the regular model. Same as above. The rear tire is the one that usually is smaller in width and has shorter knobs to go faster. But if it's too slippery for certain tracks then use the same model as the front tires but smaller width.
Brakeset:    
Shimano XT: M785 (750gr) Same as new XTR Trail only heavier and without XTR's pretty cosmetics, so the obvious best buy. Safe mineral oil, great modulation, quiet resin pads, light weight. Brake pads spacing are wide = not touching rotors. Don't get Avid, too many problems with pads sticking to rotor. HANDLING + CONTROL. Must get brakes that can control the bike the way you want it regardless of weight and price. Resin pads are quiet with more control so avoid metal pads.
Brake Front Rotor:    
KCNC Razor 180mm (230rb 94gr) Front brake is the stopping power for descends so use 180mm or above. The Quads are cheap but lightest with consistent wet performance. Rounded edges are safer than saw style rotors too. The minus is the slight vibration due to the pads going through the huge holes which is the "ABS" effect. The rotors are a bit thin so they need realigning at times. Shimano ICE rotors are good too but super heavy. The real alternative is the KCNC Razor that looks cooler and made by Ashima the famous rotor producer. This is what stops the bike during furious descends. Rotors with holes are lighter and performs better when wet as they have the ABS effect but overall not as grippy. But this depends on overall weight and application. If it gives more control by having less stopping power why not?
Brake Rear Rotor:    
KCNC Razor 160mm (230rb 73gr) See above. Rear rotor is usually sufficient at 160mm for control without locking and sliding.  The primary brake for slowing down but not stopping. 
Handle Bar:    
Hylix Carbon 60cm Flat (465rb 115gr) Lighter than the 130gr 1jt Ritchey Prologic carbon but actually has better carbon (high modulus 3K) that allows the use of end bars (tanduk) and won't break when cut to shorten. There's also the Hylix riser version. Check Ebay. Note: The lightest flat bar is actually from Mortop (600rb) but it's scarily fragile. Handling. Lighter shorter bars are more responsive. XC short flat bars are usually 58-60cm and used by riders that like to bend forward a lot. All mountain bars are longer and usually bent inside for a more straight on saddle riding position. Really depends on rider's preference.
Stem:    
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Uno Grade 3 (360rb 86gr)
Here stem length is more important than anything else since even super expensive carbon stems weigh the same as cheap ones. Choose the right length then find the lightest one that's cheap. People usually start with 7-9 cm. The Uno is lighter than any other stem in the market but is hella cheap. Check Ebay. Handling. Different lengths + heights change the center of gravity and the body's ability react. This really depends on your body measurements and riding style.
Seat post:    
Hylix Carbon 13.6 400mm Setback (592rb 180gr) First choose either setback or standard depending on overall reach measurement. Then find the lightest one that fits the seat tube diameter. Only 10 cm needs to go inside the frame so if you put the saddle to the right height and it's more than 10 cm inside, cut it to save more weight (-40gr or more). Check Ebay. Weight varies by maximum of 100gr between cheapest to most expensive. Setback or straight depending on your saddle position.
Saddle:    
Specialized Phenom Expert 2011 (933rb 246gr), Format SL (800rb 235gr), Indie XC 143 (489rb 328gr) Depending on your sitbones width saddles range from 130 to 155mm. Choose a saddle that's wider than your sitbones. Start with a saddle that has plenty of padding with medium width like 143mm. Forget weight, choose the one that is most comfortable for long rides. Specialized saddles fit most people so they're a good start. Pain or comfort. A saddle that's too narrow will pinch the arteries creating numbness. Too wide and the saddle nose brushes against the thigh, robbing speed and ruins the shorts overtime. Measure your sitbones (sharp bones on both sides of the butt) and get a saddle that's wider than your bones but not too wide.
Seat Clamp:    
Zoom quick release (50rb 25gr) Replace the non quick release seatclamp that comes with the frame. This one is light and cheap but doesn't get loose when wet with mud. The lever design prevents accidental release. Cheap enough to replace if broken. Quick release ones are useful for quick adjusting before long descends or uphill.
Grip:    
Venzo Lock On Rubber (150rb 112gr) For true offroad always choose a grip that locks to the handlebar for safety but without the inner metal ring that scratches the bar like this Venzo. Rubber isn't slippery when wet. This Venzo grips well without the weight penalty or sharp metal parts. Foam grip is the lightest and more comfortable but more slippery and don't last as long as rubber. If you want the lightest use Scott 2011 foam grips that are 14gr a pair but only 115rb. Handling and security. Different diameter, grip material, shape, lengths… get one that fits best.
Bottle Holder:    
Zefal Wiiz (60rb 40gr) A side entry model is compatible for all fullsus frames and allow usage of taller bottles. This Zefal holds them tight and unlike thin carbon holders, it's safer since it won't be blade sharp when broken. How easy to remove and insert bottles during ride and whether you lose that water bottle during furious descends. Using a bottle water is better than Camelbak since the center of gravity is lower. But then a Camelbak is useful for back protection during a fall.
Steerer Spacers:    
carbon generic 4cm (30rb 20gr) Standard spacers doesn't do much in terms of performance enhancing. A 2cm high carbon spacer is 10gr. Carbon looks cool and is lighter by 10gr.
Bell:    
Cat Eye large (50rb 40gr) There are light ones that are only 15gr but nothing beats the loud sharp ring of the large Cat Eye's. This is a safety feature that's as important as a helmet. SAFETY!
Flat Pedals:    
Xpedo Traverse: XCF07AC (530rb 290gr) This standard flat pedal is light and has lots of screws for secure pedalling. Well built and the bearings are replaceable. SPEED because of rotational weight. Flat pedals are used only for rough offroad when using a cleat is downright dangerous, otherwise use cleat pedals. As important as wheels and tires to actual acceleration and speed.
Cleated Pedals:    
Shimano XT PD-M780 Race (600rb 343gr) Xpedo XMFO8AC is lighter for the same price but doesn't offer the same easy smooth in out which is crucial for safety. So the Shimano XT is recommended though heavy it feels similar to the XTR and is quite durable. The cheaper alternative is the Shimano SLX M530 trail pedal (455gr). SPEED and SAFETY. Cleated pedals are faster than flats as there's as much as 25% additional pulling power and reaction is much faster. Start by using the lightest release setting for safety. As important as wheels and tires to true speed.
Bolts:    
Titanium tapered head from Ebay ($3-5 each) Save even more weight by using titanium bolts. Just need to see the diameter (M5 or M6) and the length of the thread then order. Check Ebay. Lighter by 4gr per bolt. Can save about 50gr total. Worth the cost? 
ACCESSORIES
Helmet:  
Limar 575 (400rb 270gr), Giro Indicator (450rb 276gr), Cratoni Xenon (460rb 260gr), Kali Amara (650rb 300gr), Urge Endur-O-Matic (900rb 302gr), MET Kaos UL (1jt+ 260gr) Measure above your ears around your head in centimeter and check which helmet fits you on the brand's website. Most helmets sold in Indo are large size only that's too big for people with -54cm heads. Some helmets like the ones recommended here are universal size which may not fit tight with some people. If that is the case then you need to use a model that has different sizes. Choose a helmet that has plenty soft padding inside, a rounded back so nothing catches during a fall, and the lightest possible. According to tests, cheap cycling helmets are as strong as expensive ones but they do have inferior straps. The models recommended here are the ones that are either well designed for safety yet light and usually fit well. The best fitting are Urge and MET.
Authentic Jerseys:  
X-Bionic, Mavic, Pearl Izumi, Primal Wear, Pearl Izumi, Agu Get at least 1 authentic jersey that isn't designed to be stylish or with soft material but the one that would get you cool under the sun. You're gonna need it for those long hot trips as it can make a 30% difference in performance. Get jerseys that's form fitting to the body so the fabric can wick the sweat away from the skin. Agu is the best deal for around 200-300rb but the fabric is similar to expensive ones. Mavic has the most pockets and designed best for hot days. X-Bionic is expensive but made in Italy and has best cooling technology. Primal is stylish and fits nice. Pearl Izumi is similar to Mavic but the good models are mostly for onroad. Avoid fake cheap jerseys as they don't last long and feel really hot.
Authentic Shorts:  
Canari, Mavic, Bellwether, Endura Here the key is the quality of the padding. Canari is probably the best deal with its super thick G2 gel padding. Mavic's fitting and quality is superior though and good to get if there's a 50% discount but Mavic's quality varies between models greatly. A more expensive one may not be better fitting. Bellwether is like the Armani of shorts but expensive and the padding is as good as Mavic. Endura's expensive but said to have superior fabric and fitting.
Gloves:  
Pearl Izumi (250rb), Specialized (200-350rb), Mavic (150-250rb), Time (250rb) Specialized has the toughest material on the back of the hand and thickest gel. Mavic is more comfortable and ergonomic. Pearl Izumi is also very good. Time is similar to Mavic.
Shoes:  
Shimano, Mavic, SIDI, Scott, 661 (500rb+) Those brands fit well and are generally light weight. Shimano shoes get broken soles all the time so avoid. Exustar doesn't have good ergonomics. Mavic has best inner and outer sole. SIDI is expensive but fits very well. 661 is similar to Shimano.
Toolkit:  
Top Peak Mini 9 Pro (158rb 73gr) Super light but has all the functions you need including 2 tire levers. No chain removal but who needs one when you're using the KMC chains. Best yet, it's hella cheap.
Saddle Bag:  
Giant, Topeak, Ortlieb, Birzman (250rb+) Get one that has covered zipper so water can't get inside. These come in different sizes and materials from plastic, rubber, to canvas.