Thursday, April 09, 2009

36! 36! 36!

While I have been a 36" wheel mountain bike *builder* for a few months now, my only *riding* experience on the big huge hoops has been on unicycles (and that was pretty much confined to a driveway in East Montpelier, VT).

So when the sun poked out, in defiance of the crappy forecast this morning, and Marcus called me to play hookie, I couldn't refuse.

Here are some pictures, as well as some thoughts.

-I thought this bike would suck. I really did. I tried to talk Marcus out of it, even. I am rarely wrong about bikes. I was dead wrong about this one. It's one of the most fun times I've ever had on two wheels, and I only rode it for half an hour.

-There is really no question that on basically all types of terrain, up or down, this bike is slower than a 29er. It's slower than a 26er, too. It's probably slower than a BMX. But speed isn't everything - the 10% of your speed you give up repays you with at least 20% extra fun, IMO.
-Why so fun? Cornering is bobsled-like, in that the wheels provide so much gyroscopic stability that you are *literally forced* to lean steer the bike. At any kind of speed at all, turning the handlebars to make course corrections is simply a waste of time - the bike will simply scoff at your best efforts.
-Along with the lean-steering goodness comes a TON of traction. I didn't manage to make the wheels skid out while cornering *at all*, and they're basically the world's crappiest semislicks. If a real mountain bike tire existed, you'd never lose traction even on sand over rock type stuff, I imagine. So every corner feels like it has a berm. No joke!

-6 feet tall is probably the bare minimum to fit on one of these beasts. I barely fit, and I can't really imagine someone smaller having much fun. You never know, though. Marcus said I looked like a kid who had borrowed his dad's bike. I'll let you guys be the judges of that.


Dan O said...

Man - that thing is just plain loopy.

Karlos said...

LOL, awesome pic. Really looks Huge the bike does..

Anonymous said...

No, you look like an elf that found his way into regular-sized world and is disproportionately joyful.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for building me this beasty.

I think your impressions are right on, though heading down may be as fast as other bikes. You don't know how pokey I really am going down. And still with the 20%! :)


Anonymous said...

Holy hugeness Batman!
That is super cool. Nothing like continuing to push the envelope and making riding new all over again.
Team Dicky would love to have one... too bad he is about 5'7" though he does have a 32" inseam.

Eszter said...

You look like a goon on that bike. :) Somewhat like Mike on Taryn's...except in reverse.

Anonymous said...

Was going to ask you about the possibility of building a sand/snow bike w/ a narrow BB. Never mind. I'll wait to see the next 36er and then pester ya for a beast instead.

Walt said...

Next 36er? I don't see a stampede of people wanting these just yet - if you want one, YOURS is gonna be the next one I build, because there's no way Sarah would let me build myself any more bikes right now.


grannygear said...

Oh, man. I would love one of those. That HAS to be a huge grin factory.

taryn said...

Imagine what I would look like on it - and, no, I'm not asking to try it.


Anonymous said...

And where do you get 36" tires and wheels for this thing again?

Walt said..., baby!

Seriously, they have all the 36" stuff you could want.


Dutch Skater said...

Amazing, that 9 meezly inches on a wheel can make a the world crappiest semi-slick a top performer. So, size matters?
Walt, the slowness you notice (and I'll take your word for it lacking off-road 36" experience), would you blame that of shear "bigness", or the extra weight from the moped quality rims and tires? If one does the calc for a high-end 36"er, with good 3-32mm rims, thin but more spokes, wide hubs, just everything to the level of a 29" rigid, the weight really doesn't get all that strange. A kilo extra over 29" perhaps. I could do more extensive calcs when asked to. I suppose a 29"er with that level of rims and tires would suck pretty bad, en be slower than a modern 26"er also. We were relatively lucky to get the Nanoraptor as the first tire for 29". Apart from some understeer, it did quite well for me at least. But the step to today's Racing Ralph tires...night and day.
I'd be really interested to now hear your guess on how a high-end wheelset would upgrade the feel of your 36"er.
Some people are looking to make their own 36" tires from 29" ones, I really hope they succees. Rims would be relatively easy to make.

Never stop dreaming of a better bike,

J aka Cloxxki

Mike said...

I want one! I have wanted one since first seeing one on mtbr long ago. Build me one!

DavidHood said...

I ride a 36" KrisHolm Schlumpf (geared) unicycle. The Nightrider tire is too heavy but I use a Nimbus FOSS (1/3 lighter) tube. Rotational weight savings are important. I've been watching MTBR forums for a lightweight (under 1000g) 36er tire with a higher TPI. I will be first in line to buy one of those.