XDS BOSS 3.0 (2018) BLACK
The 2018 XDS Boss 3.0 is perhaps the best value mountain bike that we have seen over the few years. That’s a big statement because we’ve seen thousands. The Boss 3.0 features the best-in-class aluminium frame and components (which we’ll go through in more detail below); perfect for the amateur mountain biker, or the quality focussed rider who is often riding a combination of dirt, gravel and rail trails. At this end of this preview, you’ll know everything there is to the new XDS Boss 3.0!
FRAME DETAILS AND SUPERB ATTENTION TO DETAIL
XDS is known for producing some of the best aluminium frames in the world and the Boss 3.0 frameset is produced from their range-topping X6 aluminium. For a bit of FYI, there are many different types of aluminium frames in our industry; the more heavily formed and butted frames deliver the best strength to weight ratio. Why is this important? Handling and efficiency. The Boss 3.0 uses a triple-butted aluminium frame; engineers use 3 different wall thickness in each of the main tubes to better handle frame stresses without adding excessive weight. The material is in the right amount at exactly the right location to handle that amount of stress.
The head tube is the front part of the bike and is the first tube you see when standing directly in front of the frame. The head tube on the Boss 3.0 tapers; a larger 1.5-inch diameter supports the base of the head tube and then tapers to 1.125-inch at the top. A tapered head tube not only increases the Boss 3.0 frame stiffness, it delivers a better front end steering response.
XDS do not stop at the frame material. It’s the overall finish that is also quite remarkable. Every weld junction has been smoothed out to ensure the frame looks sharp and clean, no other brands go to this level of attention because it costs too much money. Cables enter and exit the frame cleanly and all are externally routed to ensure the gear cables, in particular, do not get contaminated by dirt, grit, dust and mud - everything that affects smooth gears changes.
New for 2018, is the thru-axle used to clamp the rear wheel. In previous years it uses to be a normal quick release. Going to a thru-axle system has a huge impact on the bike’s handling; the rear wheel is secured to the frame better, increasing the Boss’ torsional (or twisting) stiffness. This can be felt when leaning the bike into a corner; the Boss’ handling is more precise, it doesn’t drift and the steering doesn’t feel vague - characteristics that are important for mountain biking.
A Suntour Raidon Air fork helps suspend the front of the Boss 3.0 and play a pivotal role in the Boss’ front end handling. Lower legs (the black part) is made from Magnesium which is lighter than aluminium. The mainspring is air, not elastomer or coil, again making the Raidon lighter. The cool thing about air forks is we can adjust the suspension for the rider’s weight; we add pressure for heavier riders and reduce pressure for lighter riders, delivering better handling over rougher trails and singletrack. The suspension fork (and wheels) is where the most weight is centred and by reducing the fork’s weight we’ve made the bike climb better and be all-around way more nimble for weight shifts.
Further adjustments include a lockout lever for when the ride takes you bike paths and smooth rail trails, and rebound - an off-road specific adjustment that controls the Raidon’s return speed.
THE DRIVE TRAIN
The other key feature that sets the Boss 3.0 apart is the 27-speed drivetrain. Everything is Shimano. No mismatch parts and no cost-cutting. The triple chainring delivers a broader gear range than double or single chainring setups. This is perfect for amateur mountain bikers who do not (yet!) have the fitness to ride up steep gradients. With these gear ratios, you might even enjoy climbing...No, not really.
Two key features we’d like to point out is the Shimano Alivio crankset and Shimano Deore Shadow rear derailleur.
The crankset is one of the most highly stressed areas of the drivetrain - you're putting a lot of power through those cranks, especially up climbs. So if there’s any weakness in the crankset (small axle or thin crankarms) then there will inevitably be flex. This not great because the power that should propel you forward is being absorbed and wasted in the flex of the crankset. That’s why the Shimano Alivio crankset is used; it’s a crankset that places the bearings outside of the Boss’ frame (called external bearing) and uses a much, much bigger axle to translate power.
Shimano’s Shadow derailleurs are called Shadow because they sit closer to the bike’s frame. This reduces the chance of the derailleur sustaining damage from tree branches, rocks and the inevitable crash. Shimano has also designed the linkages and pivots to be bigger so that the derailleur moves a precise amount and isn’t affected by constant vibrations and impacts. In other words, if you want a really good quality derailleur or you’re planning on mountain biking - go Shadow.
New for MY2018 is the complete wheel package. A feature we rarely, if ever, see at this price point is sealed bearing hubs and straight pull spokes. This is awesome because the bearings are fully sealed and their performance doesn’t degrade with use. Traditional bearing hubs need regular maintenance (although no one bothers unless there’s an issue) because the seals are not good enough to prevent water, mud, grit and dust from affecting the hubs. That’s why sealed bearing hubs are so good; they last for years and don’t need any maintenance. They also roll fast, so minimal effort is required for the wheels to start rolling and once they’re at speed, it’s so easy to maintain momentum.
Another feature is the use of straight pull spokes, these are stronger and lighter than traditional J-Bend spokes. The spoke has no bend and therefore has no stress concentration and is less likely to break, this also improves the wheels lateral stiffness; delivering more control on rough terrain.
SIZES AND WARRANTY
The Boss 3.0 2018 is available in 2 colours; Matte Black and Gloss Fluro Yellow. Frame sizes range from M (suits 168cm to 179cm), L (suits 180cm to 185cm) and XL (suits 186cm +).
XDS have a Lifetime Frame Warranty (only to the original owner), all Shimano parts have a 2-year Warranty, Suntour fork has a 2-year Warranty and everything else is 1 year.
XDS X6 Ultralight
Suntour Raidon Air, 100mm travel
XDS Alloy, Low Rise, 31.8mm
XDS Sport, 8 degree
XDS Sport alloy, 27.2mm
Shimano Alivio Shadow
Shimano Alivio M4050 hydraulic disc, Fr:160mm, Rr:160mm
Shimano Alivio M4050 hydraulic
Shimano, 11-36T, 9sp
Shimano FC-M4050, 40-30-22T
Shimano Alivio External Bearing
XDS Alloy, double wall
Alloy disc, 32H, Sealed BEaring
Stainless steel, 14g
Maxxis Ikon, 27.5x2.2’’