Which seems a bit of a waste really, doesn’t it?
The story of how this all came about has to do with a convoluted tale, whereby I originally acquired the bike off CreakyDave™. Around 2012 it was one of the many bikes which passed through his Multi-Coloured 29er Swap Shop and despite it being painted an uninspiring black, it caught my eye. So much so that when the time came for Dave to move it on, it came to me.
I knew exactly what I was going to do with it as well. Dave, ever the pioneer, had it in 1×10 mode with a 32T front ring and funny handlebars, but I am a spinner and not a grinder so I promptly fitted new gears. It ended up with an SLX M675 groupset with a 24/38 double and a 11-32T cassette with green vinyl highlights to funk it up a bit. It proved to be a decent, lightweight XC kind of machine and provided many enjoyable miles but if I was honest, there was always a slight feeling I was hunting for the right gear between those two front chainrings.
This long amble down memory lane finally ends when I needed to rebuild my venerable 2005 On-One Inbred for my ever-growing son. By then the On-One was in a pink singlespeed set up (to this day one of my finest creations), but the long and short of it is that the gears ended up on the Inbred, while the Kona became a pink-tinged beauty rocking just one gear.
That’s how the Kona has remained to this day, but as my back has slowly deteriorated following an unpleasant (but relatively painless) hip rotation at the end of 2014 and endless hours of office work, I’ve rarely used the thing. The garage has kept it warm and dry but not a lot else has been going on with it, until now.
Why have a bike that’s not used? It’s a good question, and if it’s not used because there’s not enough gears on it, there’s a very simple solution…
A new Deore M6000 groupset
So, gears! That sounds like a good idea!
While recent years have seen a big move toward 1x setups, I am just not convinced. As I’ve said, the past couple of years has seen me shadowed by the spectre of backache and just I don’t think 1x quite suits me.
I’ve tried 1×10 on my Orange and 1×10 on my Marin Pine Mountain (admittedly, I’ve never tried a 1×11 setup), but neither quite hit the spot. The Orange just didn’t go low enough in range, while the Marin, even with a 11-42T cassette, always feels like it has slightly too large a gap between the cogs that I want to use.
What really surprised me was that my YT came supplied with a 2×10 SLX setup (24/36T with a 11-36T cassette). Despite initial thoughts that this seemed a bit passe, I found I really liked it, with a closer set of gears and a suitably low bottom end. All that spinny stuff fits my natural cadence and my current state of health perfectly.
As luck would have it, Shimano recently announced the new Deore M6000 groupset – you can read about it in depth on this Deore M6000 article on Singletrack – and immediately I realised this was just what I needed for the Kona.
First off, it’s worth noting that many features that not long ago would be considered top end are available on the M6000. There’s a clutch-enabled Shadow rear derailleur, a wide range cassette option (11-42T) and a specific double crankset for a start, with the outer chainring sporting a composite construction derived from XT. All good in fact.
Second, it’s quite a good looking groupset, again using many of the styling cues from higher up the range.
And finally, it’s really cheap. Shop around and there’s places the whole drivetrain can be had for about £220 and it’s only just come out as well. I’ve always thought that SLX is the sweet spot for performance vs cost but this I think is the best part of £80 cheaper, minimum.
If 11 speed is where it’s at for you, then Deore doesn’t work. If weight is an issue, then Deore adds a few grams, but my money is where my mouth is. I’m currently awaiting the happy sound of the Kona’s next chapter being delivered any day now.
I’ll be sure to keep you posted…