2020 Pinkbike Awards: Value Product of the Year Nominees

by | December 21, 2020

Value Product of the Year Nominees

This year, we have two drivetrains and two suspension upgrades that don’t require replacing your entire fork as nominees for Value Product of the Year. MicroSHIFT makes the list for the second year in a row with their new 10-speed Advent X drivetrain, and Shimano’s latest Deore groupset is also in the running. Marzocchi’s Z1 coil upgrade and RockShox’s updated DebonAir spring both give forks a noticeable upgrade for very little effort. There are a number of other value products out there, but these are the ones which we feel stand apart from the rest.

Why it’s nominated

Last year, MicroSHIFT debuted their 9-Speed Advent drivetrain. At $125 for a cassette, derailleur, and shifter, the drivetrain was affordable. It also was functional, durable, and dependable. This year, they built on that and brought the range of their cassette up from 42 teeth to 48 with their 10-speed Advent-X drivetrain.

The derailleur, shifter, and cassette sell for $167 and it’s compatible with any 10-speed chain or crankset. Shifting from the original Advent has been vastly improved, and the wider range of gearing works well. Setting up and dialing in the drivetrain is a straightforward process and it’s proven to be completely reliable.

Compared to some drivetrains which cost quite a bit more, the Advent X offers plenty of gearing for most riders along with a price that won’t completely deflate your bank account and may leave you enough left over to splurge on some other upgrades if you so choose.

Why it’s nominated

Having recently updated their SLX, XT, and XTR groupsets, Shimano’s new Deore 12-speed group takes inspiration from the higher tier parts while delivering an even lower price point. Not content with offering only one option, and with Shimano’s love for product codes, the Deore name has accompanying 11 and 10-speed groupsets which retain many of the same features but in even more value-focused packages.

The drivetrain comes in at just under $300 USD for the derailleur, shifter, cassette, chain, and crankset and functions incredibly well. The 12-speed group utilizes Shimano’s newer MicroSpline driver, keeping it compatible with the brands’ other 12-speed options. That, coupled with the compatibility with Shimano 11 and 10-speed groupsets is a huge value in our eyes. Not to mention, it works really well with very minimal differences in performance from its lighter weight higher-priced SLX, XT, and XTR siblings.

Why it’s nominated

The Z1 is a smooth fork with the air cartridge as is, but there were still riders out there riders longing for a coil version that beckoned back to Marzocchi’s early glory days. With the upgrade, it’s possible to convert an air-sprung Z1 or Fox 36 Rhythm fork to coil for just $175 USD.

According to the review, the new Z1 Coil hits the mark, delivering tons of traction and comfort at an attractive price. The coil conversion kit is also a welcome option, giving riders the ability to change the ride feel of their current Z1 or Fox 36 Rhythm without breaking the bank.

Why it’s nominated

Many products incur updates from one model year to the next that aren’t necessarily compatible, sometimes rendering an expensive component obsolete. RockShox’ update for 2021 on many of the brands’ higher-end forks was only the air spring. While the old spring (left) and the new spring (right) are quite different, the new spring will work in older forks. Riders with a 2020 fork only need an updated seal head and nut if they choose, which costs a mere $25 USD. Older forks which need an entire air spring assembly suffer a slightly larger, but still negligible, price of $42.

The review states, “With the new air spring, the fork no longer sinks into its travel when there isn’t any weight on it. It stays closer to the proper amount of sag on smoother sections of trail, which means there was more travel available when an obstacle was encountered. The fork was still nice and supple off the top, and its behavior at the end of the stroke was the same. The extra support is especially beneficial in steeper terrain, where the last thing you want is fork that’s riding too low in its travel and steepening the bike’s head angle.

Overall, I’d say that making the switch to the new air spring is a highly recommended upgrade. There aren’t too many things you can do to your fork for less than $50 that will result in such a noticeable, and beneficial change.”

Honorable Mention

There are four finalists in the running for the Value Product of the Year title, but we had an honorable mention that we haven’t yet ridden but are very impressed by its price.