Goodbye Hammerschmidt!

4 12 2011

Last shot of my Hammerschmidt All Mountain in the wild...=-(

After a couple of seasons of test riding on my Santa Cruz Nomad mountain bike it was time to sell the Hammerschmidt All Mountain 2 speed crank set/BB and go back to the stock configuration.

Getting ready to pack the HS...

You can read my pervious HS posts here. The Coles Notes version of my review is that the HS is a quality product that has a bright future in mountain biking if SRAM can afford to keep developing and marketing it. The instant shifting, short chain, low profile and low maintenance features are pretty sweet. The cost, need for a HS specific suspension design and drag in the high range are not sweet and limit its appeal. The cost is a function of the low sales volume and high design costs so that can easily come down as the HS catches on. The drag in the high range isn’t an issue for all mountain and DH style riders, but for the HS to become popular with more XC orientated all mountain riders they’ll have to work on improving that issue – which I think is achievable. As for suspension designs being HS specific I think the HS has enough benefits that it’s worth offering a frame that’s optimized for this crank/BB.

She looks naked...!

Pulling the HS from the Nomad was really fast. The shifter and cable were zip tied to the frame so I was able to remove them all in one go – hopefully simplifying install for the new owner. Note that Bow Cycle faced the BB and ISCG mounts [visible above] when they installed the HS to get everything allinged properly.

Memories of Moab on my old SLX crank...

I found red dirt from Moab and Sedona still caked on my old stock Shimano SLX crankset. So I took a moment to clean it off. I really need to get back there and get the Nomad dusty again!

Checking big cog & big ring...

I wanted to keep the short cage SRAM X-9 derailleur for the fast shifting and because I’m lazy and it’s already on the bike! The limited amount of chain slack it can handle meant I had to really fine tune the chain length to be as short as I could make work. I would rarely use the big cog and big ring [in this case the middle ring as I dropped the outer ring in favour of a bash guard], but it’s nice to know the derailleur can handle it if I go there by accident in the heat of battle. One less chain link and the whole drivetrain would bind potentially causing damage – not good! So this is as short as I can go.

Checking small - small....

I’m even less likely to use the small cog and small ring…which is good as there is too much chain slack for the small X-9 to handle. I’m okay with that as I tend not to pedal once things get steep and gravity has its way with me – so accidentally using the combo above is a remote possibility. I’ll ride like this for now. If I have any issues I’ll swap in the stock longer cage X-9. I’ll also carry the other X-9 with me on road trips as a spare in case I rip this one off!

I love this bike!

Installing the stock parts was a breeze as the front derailleur was still adjusted for the SLX crank and double rings. I just bolted it on and ran a fresh cable. I went with red housing for some flair! Eventually I replace all the housing with red as the black stuff wears out. If I managed to thrash the rims she’ll get some red hoops as well. Time will tell if she becomes my lady in red…=-)

Testing the rebuilt rear shock and chain tension...

With a rebuilt Fox DHX Air 5.0 and newly installed SLX cranks/XT front derailleur the Nomad felt all minty fresh so I did some backyard test riding to ensure all was well. Please ensure you don’t try this at home unless you are wearing safety gear like I am.

Note the safety toque and Crocs...=-)

The bike is working great. I’m keen to head out on the trails and see how the conventional front shifting components feel after 2 seasons on the Hammerschmidt.

Wheelie time....!

I can’t tell you how much I love my Santa Cruz Nomad. Definitely my all time favourite mountain bike and although it’s my all time most expensive MTB as well it has been worth every penny. I’ve ridden it a ton and it’s needed minimal maintenance so far and looks like it could well be my full suspension ride for a decade or more. Given my bicycle ADD that’s unheard of. Based on my riding with Aaron and Scott I can see myself adding a hardtail mountain bike to the fleet for some variety, but the Nomad has nothing to fear she’s a keeper baby!…=-)





Hammerschmidt All Mountain – SOLD!

17 11 2011

It's Hammer Time!

Update: The HS is sold and off to a good home.

I’ve got a SRAM Hammerschmidt All Mtn 2 spd BB/cranks for sale. They give you instant shifting derailleurless 2 speed [high & low range] up front. You can shift while you are coasting or while backpedaling. You can also shift under full power.

My HS has been used lightly [less ~300kms] – never used for rain rides. It’s never been power-washed or anything silly like that! It’s in perfect condition other than a few cosmetic scratches.

Installed in my Santa Cruz Nomad...

You get: 

  • 170mm HS cranks
  • BB
  • shifter w/ cable and housing
  • original packaging & instructions

Cost is $450USD for everything ready to install + $25 shipping. I have the original packaging and instructions. Ordering new from the US this will cost you $800+….I bought it in Canada where MSRP was over $1K…ouch!

You can run a short cage rear derailleur with the HS...

I’m only selling so I can buy some new bike bling and I need to free up some $$$ to do that. If you’ve been interested in trying out a Hammerschmidt, but didn’t want to blow $800-$1000 this is a great deal.

Here is a link to the User’s Manual PDF.

Note – your bike will need ISCG tabs to work with the HS.





Hammerschmidt 1 Year Update…

27 04 2011

SRAM Hammerschmidt....

It’s been nearly a year since I installed a SRAM Hammerschmidt 2 speed bottom bracket & crank set on my Santa Cruz Nomad mountain bike. As a disclaimer I am not a great mountain biker nor do I trail ride 24/7 so please keep that in mind. I am a pretty average weekend dirt warrior!

Here are my thoughts:

  • HS has been maintenance and hassle free as advertised
  • shifts from high to low range are very fast and reliable
  • you can shift HS while coasting or back pedalling
  • low range is direct drive with no power loss
  • high range is not direct drive and there is noticeable power loss
  • HS provides very high ground clearance compared to a standard crank & chain ring setup
  • HS treats your suspension like it’s in the granny all the time
  • HS allows you to run a short cage rear derailleur to limit chain slap
  • HS is expensive
Dealing with the negative aspects first I will say that there is definitely room for improvement in this 1st generation product. The power loss in high range is enough you will not want to ever climb a hill in that setting. On the downhills it’s not noticeable as you pedal to gain speed so I basically keep my HS in low range for technical sections and flip to high range for bombing down a trail. This works fine, but it would be great to feel less drag in the high range. The high cost and the impacts on your bike’s suspension are things you need to consider before making the leap. Both will be solved in the same way – by having companies design a HS specific bike with the HS provided as OEM equipment. This will lower the cost of the HS for a rider and ensure the suspension design works well with a chain that’s always on the granny.

Hammering the Schmidt...

On the positive end of things I think the HS is a great concept and SRAM got it 75% right in this first generation product. That’s impressive. I think you’ll see the HS and possibly a Shimano equivalent on a number of high end all mountain/free ride mountain bikes in the next few years. In technical terrain I keep my bike in the 2nd biggest cog on the rear and just shift the HS to deal with the terrain going up and down. This is fast and easy. It puts me in a useful gear every time and is far more reliable/fast than trying to shift the front rings. When I’m on easier terrain I use the HS and cassette like a normal bike shifting both as needed to fine tune my gear. Given the high range drag I won’t use high range unless I’m pointed down at least a little bit.

I love a clean drivetrain...

So what’s the bottom line?
  • if you ride all mountain or free ride terrain the HS has a lot of potential
  • HS is expensive and probably will get better and cheaper in future product cycles
  • HS would be best on a bike designed for it and purchased as a lower cost OEM part
  • if you can accept the cost [ie. your kids won’t go hungry!] it is a very sweet after market upgrade
I’ve seen a lot of nutty bike products being flogged by manufacturers that are fairly useless and carry a high price tag.  SRAM must have invested a lot of time & $$ in the HS which is risky, but the result is great and offers game changing performance for a big segment of the mountain bike riding population. While the HS is not perfect the level of maturity in this product is impressive and SRAM deserves some kudos for their efforts. I’m quite excited to see what will happen for the Hammerschmidt in the next few years.




Santa Cruz Nomad + Hammerschmidt Review [Lite]

14 09 2010

Santa Cruz Nomad + Hammerschmidt

I added a Hammerschmidt All Mountain 2 speed bottom bracket/crankset to my Santa Cruz Nomad mountain bike in the spring.  I’ve been holding off posting a review until I got more miles on the bike.  Unfortunately my kiteboarding addiction has seriously cut into my dirt biking time this summer so I have’t racked up quite as many hours on the dirt as I would like, but I figure I’ll share my impressions so far and then post again later in the winter.

My Santa Cruz Nomad before the Hammerschmidt....

The photo above shows my Nomad with double chainring and long-cage SRAM X-9.  I replaced the big ring with a bash guard since it was rarely used. I liked this setup except that I found on technical terrain I was shifting the front derailleur up and down a lot which was sometimes a challenge and rarely using the rear derailleur since I needed a big jump in gear range fast.  This meant a lot of blown shifts and a lot of chain slap as all that slack bounced around in the small ring where I stayed a lot.

Click on the image above to jump to my post discussing the details of the Hammerschmidt and the pros/cons I anticipated before using the system.

All Mountain Hammerschmidt...

I got the All Mountain version of the Hammerschmidt because it provides the equivalent of a 24T [direct drive] and 38T [over drive] chain ring setup.  I chose the 170mm crank length to replace the 175mm SLX cranks on my bike because the Nomad sits very low to the ground and I thought shorter cranks would reduce the number of times I whack my pedals into rocks.

I want to thank Ken at Power in Motion for giving me a pro deal on the Hammerschmidt and wading through all the technical stuff so that we got in the right combination of parts.

SRAM X-9 short-cage derailleur...

I replaced the SRAM X-9 long-cage derailleur with the short-cage version since I didn’t need to take up nearly as much chain slack with a single front ring and to benefit from faster shifting and less chain slap.

Awesome ground clearance...

You need to face the BB shell and the ISCG tabs when installing a Hammerschmidt so everything is aligned properly. Not tools I have at home so I decided to let Bow Cycle do the install. They did a great job installing the Hammerschmidt, X-0 shifter and X-9 derailleur.

If you are keen to do your own install you can get a LBS to face the BB shell and ISCG tabs for you then follow the instructions in the video above.

SRAM X-0 Hammerschmidt shifter...

What do I think so far?:

  • I love the instant front shifting
  • you get a high and a low gear exactly when you want it
  • you can shift when stopped
  • you can shift when coasting
  • you can shift when pedaling backwards
  • you can shift when pedaling forwards
  • as a result you are always in the gear you want
  • HS shifts are fast and crisp
  • rear shifts with the short-cage derailleur are also faster and more reliable
  • nice chainline allows full use of rear cassette in high and low gear range
  • you get less chain bounce when bombing downhill and the chain can’t come off the front ring
  • no performance change in low range as it’s direct drive
  • some noticeable drag in high range
  • very loud angry bee noise when freewheeling or back pedaling in high range
  • extra weight over stock setup not noticeable when riding
  • tons of ground clearance for HS vs. a normal chain ring setup
  • no suspension problems or pedal feedback from running in the small ring all the time
  • no problems or adjustments req’d so far

Nice tight clean chain line...

Should you get a Hammerschmidt?

Leaving cost out of it I would recommend the Hammerschmidt to anyone who rides technical all mountain style offroad terrain as long as you are not bothered by the downsides noted below.  As the trail goes up and down again and again you’ll love the ease with which you shift the HS from high to low and back. It performs well and solves a real problem in mountain biking.  It seems robust and all reports I’ve read indicate its low maintenance.

Unfortunately the MSRP in Canada is ~$1000+install – yikes!  Although I love it so far I can’t say that there is a $1000 improvement over the stock setup.  I wouldn’t have given it a shot if I had paid full retail and even at pro-deal costs it was a big decision.  If your bike is working fine just stick with what you have.  If you need new cranks/front derailleur/shifter then it’s probably worth it if you can hunt around for a deal.

The best plan is to buy a new bike with a Hammerschmidt installed as an OEM component.  You’ll get the HS for the lowest price point and the bike will be designed with the HS in mind.  I think the HS works so well you’ll see more and more all mountain bikes designed for it.

Downsides

Since the HS is so expensive and so unique I wanted to tackle some of the problems it has in detail so you can understand how they apply to you better:

  • The HS weighs more than the parts it replaces.  I haven’t noticed this when riding so it’s not a problem for me.  If you really care about weight you probably have a spreadsheet with the weight of every component of your bike listed so you’ll be able to figure how much extra weight the HS adds.  Chances are if you have such a spreadsheet it’s too much and if you don’t know how much your bike currently weighs it won’t bug you.
  • ISCG tabs are needed to fit a HS. Some people have made the HS work without these tabs, but this requires more than your average DIY skills and may damage both your frame and your HS so be aware of this.
  • There is noticeable drag in the HS high range 38T ring setting.  I don’t find this a problem for my mountain biking since I’m typically in the 38T high range when going downhill and I don’t really care about 5-10% efficiency loss because I’m not really going full out and a lot of the time I coast downhill. If you think you’ll be in the 38T high range a lot and/or you race this will probably be an issue for you.
  • The HS compresses your suspension as if it was in the small 24T ring all the time [which it is!].  Some suspension designs rely on different size chain rings to change the angle of the chain relative to the cassette to account for changes in weight distribution when climbing/descending.  I haven’t noticed this, but I climb aggressively and descend more passively.  So my Nomad is working optimally when I need it to and is not affected when I start going down.  If you really attack the downhills and pedal hard going down you may notice a loss in suspension performance.  Note that if you buy a bike designed for the HS this won’t be an issue.




Hammerschmidt without ISCG Tabs…

28 04 2010

Photo: Cosmoworks @ MTBR.com

The Santa Cruz Nomad Mk1 doesn’t have ISCG tabs on the BB so you can’t mount a Hammerschmidt 2 speed crankset.  Well you can’t unless you are a super crafty DIY commando.  Cosmoworks the MTBR.com member who came up with an 8″ DIY mod for the Nomad also came up with this smart hack that allows you to run an ISCG adapter on your MK1 Nomad and then install a Hammerschmidt.

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

As you’ll see in the thread this concept can be used to hack other bikes without ISCG tabs like the Heckler.

Photo: Cosmoworks @ MTBR.com





Hammerschmidt

7 04 2010

My last post I talked about the idea of putting a Rohloff in my Santa Cruz Nomad.  That idea has stalled because of the performance issues associated with adding a significant amount of unsprung weight to the rear wheel.  Another thought is to add a Hammerschmidt 2 speed BB to the Nomad and swap in a short cage rear derailleur.

The Hamerschmidt is a 2 speed BB made by Truvativ.  It gives you a direct drive lower range and an over drive range that is 1.6 times the lower range.  The All Mountain version I’d be interested in would be like having a 24T granny and a 38T middle ring.  Shifting is instantaneous and can happen at any time – under load or while coasting.  I often find myself jumping back and forth between my two front rings [big ring replaced by a bash guard] as I go from steep uphill to steep downhill.

Hammerschmidt internals...

This has the following benefits:

  • no extra weight at the rear wheel
  • shorter derailleur and less chain to slap and move around
  • impossible to throw chain on front rings
  • instant front gear changes when coasting or under load
  • no extra drag in low range when climbing [BB running at 1:1]
  • weatherproof front shifts
  • access to all 9 cogs at rear all the time due to better chain line
  • very good clearance for obstacles
  • small amount of extra weight [200grams or so] is sprung on main frame of bike

The downsides are:

  • not cheap @ $900cdn+ for the All Mountain version
  • Nomad not optimized for running in 24T ring all the time
  • still have a rear derailleur
  • rear end of drivetrain not weatherproof
  • requires ISCG 03 or 05 tabs to mount HS

Photo: Pinkbike

I tried out a Santa Cruz Driver 8 with Hammerschmidt at Bow Cycle and I was impressed.  It shifts so fast you can respond to whatever the trail throws at you without having to pedal or wait for the chain to get sorted.

Hammerschmidt Info:

Photo: HS on Bliz2z' SC Nomad