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Canadian boutique brands making riding better through engineering

Solving niche problems with innovation and inventiveness

Mountain bike technology has changed significantly over the last decade. These changes have, generally, made riding easier and more fun. Some changes, though, have created niche problems for some riders.

A small fleet of Canadian brands are working hard to address these problems, or just make improvements of their own, through design and innovation.

Whether you want to make your new bike work better, fit better or feel better, or you want to bring your old “for life” frame or parts up to modern standards, these brands have your back in a way that the big might not. They’ll help you get those hubs you bought to last for life rolling on a new frame with a different standard. Or keep your new frame current when next year’s model is announced with slightly improved geometry.

A new bike isn’t always the answer. Sometimes, making the bike you have better will do more than any stock option out there.

9point8 – Slack-R and Trigger

Ever wonder what your bike would feel like with slightly different geometry? Wondering why everyone is so keen on slacker head tube angles lately? Did this year’s version of your bike come out with updated geometry? Well, Ontario’s 9point8 is one of the few brands offering a way to adjust your bike’s HTA via headset. The Slack-R kit provides 1.2 – 1.7-degrees of HTA adjustment, depending on which options you choose.

That’s not 9point8’s only innovative offering. The Ontario brand also makes the only Trigger style dropper post remote. If you can’t find a clean spot for a dropper post lever on your bars, or just don’t like using thumb triggers, the Trigger remote adds another way to actuate your dropper post. Which is either a problem that never crossed your mind, or a problem you’ve been hunting for a resolution to for a while, now.

OneUp Componenets – EDC Tools

Never leave for a ride unprepared again. EDC tools stay on your bike (or in a hand pump) so you don’t have to worry about forgetting tools when you leave for a ride. OneUp’s first version of the EDC required threading your steerer tube. The newest iteration, EDC Lite, lets you install a multi-tool into your fork’s steerer tube with nothing more than the tool that it will carry once installed. You know you’re onto something good when other’s start copying you. There are several systems that mimic OneUp’s design out there now but, as the first, you know this small Squamish brand has worked out any design kinks already.

Vorsprung Suspension

If you prefer the feel of a coil shock over air spring or want an air spring that feels better than a coil, Whistler’s Vorsprung Suspension has you covered. The suspension company’s Smashpot kits to convert your existing air fork to coil. It’s Secus Fork Air Spring Upgrade Kit attaches to air forks to improve the forks performance at each part of the shock stroke so that it will feel, Vorsprung says, “plush and predictable like a coil, bottomless like an air spring.” Either way, the Sucus and Smashpot system are an interesting way to get more out of your fork without replacing it completely.

North Shore Billet – Brake Adaptors and Fork Cable Guides

Standards change, frames can’t. If you like your current frame, but want to add more power and modulation with larger-diameter disc brake rotors, North Shore Billet has you covered. The Whistler-based machine shop offers a wide array of brake adaptors, for post and IS-mount systems. Each is precision machined to fit your frame precisely, and available in a range of anodized colours, for added style.

NSB also make anodized aluminum fork cable guides. These replace the stock plastic clips on Fox and RockShox forks to hold the cable securely, or to better match your frame.

Then there’s NSB’s exhaustive array of replacement derailleur hangars for all kinds and brands of bikes, some long discontinued, some dating way back to the early 2000s. If a long-lost derailleur hangar is the only piece holding you back from reviving your favorite bike, NSB has you covered.

Pinner Machine Shop offers Boost hub adapters to make older wheels fit newer frames

Pinner Machine Shop – Boost Adaptors

Just down the road, Whistler’s Pinner Machine Shop is equally invested in keeping your old parts rolling for as long as they’ll survive. Which, if you bought your “lifetime” Chris King hubs just before every frame manufacturer switched to the new Boost hub spacing standard, could be a long time. Pinner makes boost adaptors for several hub brands, including King as well as Hope, DT Swiss and Onyx. If there isn’t a ready-made adaptor for your treasured hub already, Pinner offers custom Boost adaptors, too.

Pinner also make precision suspension tooling and derailleur hangar tools for specifically for Trek, Devinici and Chromag frames.

Aenomaly Constructs – SwitchGrade [Coming soon!]

Dropper posts are a fantastic invention that have, almost universally, made mountain bikes more fun to ride. But they’re not quite perfect. It makes setting the perfect saddle more complicated, especially on longer drop posts. The saddle either points too steeply up for climbing or isn’t comfortable for rolling on flat or downhill terrain. Aenomaly Constructs, a boutique Vancouver brand, is trying to resolve this. The SwitchGrade, which is set to be released sometime in spring 2021, aims to resolve this. The three-position dropper post clamp lets you set your saddle angle up, neutral or down. Yes, it’s a niche product and no, not everyone will want one. But it is a promising way to make riding that much more comfortable. Especially if you live somewhere with steep climbs and steep descents.

Keep your eye out for more news about the SwitchGrade, as it becomes available.