Gear Mashers- Fresh produce.

Shimano Alfine rear hub

Been through the mill.

Maxxis Swampthing 2.35.
Initial thoughts: With only a few rides on the Swampthings and two of those in snow it seems that they live up to their mud tyre moniker.  Deep widely spaced knobs give great bite and the big 2.35 volume gives a floaty ride, they give out a predictable slide too when leaned over, possibly lacking the total bite of the benchmark mud tyre that is the Trailraker but a good alternative none the less. 
RRP neo-guard.
As the constant search for a mudguard that not only works well but looks good continues, along comes the Neo guard from Rapid Racer Products.  Quick and simple to fit it is made from neoprene and attaches via five velcro straps, two wrap around the crown and three around the brace keeping it securely in place.  The neo guard works well in use stopping the usual front wheel spray from coming up into your face, however it does need a wee bit of help in the form of a crudguard for that totally clean face look!
Overall: Works well in partnership with a Crudguard.
2008 Shimano Deore XT Ht II chainset & bottom bracket.
After a summer of riding the XT chainset is showing slight signs of being abused but functionally they are as good as the day they were fitted.  A midsummer crash managed to buckle and bend the outer ring which was easily sorted with an adjustable spanner, a few teeth on the outer ring have gone awol and there are the usual rock strikes on the arms.  Chainring wear seems to be good and the bottom bracket is still spinning freely.  The XT chainset is a good workhorse that doesn't cost the earth.  One good point for me is that if you do batter it you probably won't be as bothered as you would be if you were running a chainset twice the price.
Overall: Good dependable chainset, good value but could be challenged in that stakes by the new SLX.
Bontrager Big Earl 2.35 Tubeless ready.
What can be said about the Big earls that hasn't already been said by all the magazines?  Well nothing much really as the Big earls are simply one of those products that do their job and do it very well.  In near a year and a half i have not suffered any punctures, rips, tears etc when using the BE they have been totally predictable in all conditions from the Scottish Highlands to Swiss alps and Spanish rocks.  One thing to note though is the size of the BE, as listed they are a 2.35 but they come up pretty big almost verging on a 2.5 which could rule them out on a lot of frames.
Overall: A fantastic brutally tough all conditions tyre.

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