Saturday, April 6, 2013

Wagon rolls

Whilst it may look like a coffee table, it is in fact... a bike.
I was so excited by my new bike I forgot to write about it on the internet... which just isn't right, so here it is. The hub for the back wheel arrived last week so I spent a happy lunch hour building that. The first ride was a lunchtime affair on Mount Seymour and was a pleasant surprise. The clown-size wheels didn't feel ridiculous and the whole thing felt surprisingly "normal". I was able to reinforce some stereotypes of 29ers as I found it really did have a lot of traction climbing up loose or lumpy trails, and it rolled up and over roots and other awkward things more easily than I'm used to. Overall... it just made things on the flat and uphill seem easier. The big wheels do take a bit of oomph to get them spinning, which to me felt a lot like having heavy downhill wheels and tires on a 26er.

I've now had the chance to get out on a few familiar trails which means I've been able to get a decent impression of how it all works compared to the Orange Bike. The downhill was of course much more interesting to me as it's no use having a bike that goes up a hill and then is no fun to get back down again. Fun comes in many forms, but I'm thinking here of exhilarating, disaster-courting, wind-blowing-through-your-clothes fun. I'm not really interested in clinging-onto-a-bucking-mule-on-wheels fun so much. To summarize the things I haven't written yet: it's pretty good.

You can stop reading now if you like.

I noticed it goes fast with the wagon wheels rolling over all obstacles in sight, but this allows fewer chances to control your speed using bumpy things on the trail. I found I was arriving places rather abruptly and needing to use the brakes more than usual. This is a problem I'm happy to learn to take advantage of. Going around corners needs a bit more commitment than the Orange Bike to get the beast to lean over, but lots of grip and less skipping around on rocks and roots makes the adjustment less intimidating.

What really surprises me is that 29ers have been so slow to make an appearance on our local trails. The most noticeable difference to me from a 26" wheel bike is that rough, rocky and rooty trails become much easier up, down, and along. We only have rough, rooty trails around here. The only logical reason I can think for the slow adoption of 29ers on the Shore is that there don't seem to be many sticky-rubber tires around for them. I'm using some cheap and not very grippy compound tires which are ok, but not quite what I'm used to. Actually the Schwalbe Nobby Nic on the front is pretty good, but the hard-compound Continental on the back is just "ok". Paul and I have some bargain-priced (and excellently-named) On-One "Smorgasbord" tires on the way, which promise to have softer rubber for the rainy(er) months.

I'm looking forward to riding this bike more and figuring out how to take advantage of the differences, though I've no doubt I'll default back to the Orange Bike eventually, because that's what always happens.

This is almost certainly where you'll want to stop reading.

For my future reference, and the reference of curious bicycle-enthusiasts, here are the minutiae:
Frame:  Medium 2012 Tallboy (aluminum)
Fork: OEM Rockshox Revalation RL dual air reduced to 110mm travel. Works Components -1.5 degree headset.
Wheels: Stans Arch EX rims, 32 DT Swiss Revolution spokes, DT 350 rear hub (with 240s internals - for reasons we won't get into), and a Hope Bulb 20mm front hub... which is about 15 years old.
Brakes: Shimano M775 with 160mm rotors (which need to be changed to 180mm)
Drivetrain: Random mixture of old and new SRAM stuff with 11-34 XT 9-speed cassette and 22/36 chainrings on Raceface SIXC crabon fabré cranks.
Other things: Gravity Dropper with the remote upside down under the left gripshift, Fizik Nisene seat, Answer Protaper 10mm rise and 740mm wide crabon fabré bar, Raceface Turbine 60mm stem, chopped down and wired-on BMX grips.