Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Great Bike Swap

Recently, Chris and I decided to trade bikes for a few days - he wanted to try out singlespeeding, and I wanted to play around on his fancy-shmancy 5" travel 29er (some of you may remember this picture from springtime). And for the first time ever, I managed a bike trade without getting hurt or breaking some part of the bike.

That's probably because we didn't swap bikes mid-ride (or try to race each other). Last time I did that, I ended up on the side of the trail with the bike bouncing merrily along without me, with a taco'd front wheel to boot.

So it went well, for everyone. A few thoughts about long-travel 29ers:

-I can't imagine wanting much more than the 120mm of travel that Chris' bike has. I weigh about 20-30 pounds less than he does, but I didn't want to mess up his finely tuned (by the Push boys, no less) suspension, so I just left it alone. I think I was using 75-80% of the travel, at most, on even the biggest hits. And I was riding like an idiot.

-It's ridiculously nice to have a through-axle fork. I could pretty much just plow through even really rocky turns and not worry about losing my line. Crazy. The Rockshox 20mm axle system is great - no tools needed, and super secure.

-That thing is fast. I rode Picture Rock (very rocky and moderately techie for several miles) with my good friend Mike, who is no slouch - he was 2nd at marathon nationals last year behind Jeremiah Bishop, and got 19th at XC nats this year racing with a heart condition that limits him to 85% effort or so. Back in the day, neither of us could ever drop the other one on the downhills - but I finally managed it on Chris' bike that day. Of course, Mike was riding a hardtail with some pretty mediocre tires, but I'll take whatever I can get.

-A 12mm axle option on the Ventanas would be nice. They're wicked stiff as it is, but I certainly wouldn't be opposed to a beefier rear end (150mm, maybe, Sherwood?).

-This bike makes riding my own FS 29er (a bike I inherited after DHL ran it over and ruined it) feel like crap. Mine fits ok, but it was designed for the midwest (steep angles, high BB) and it's got a standard QR fork and cheapo parts. Chris' bike makes me want to spend the time to build myself something better...


Anonymous said...

Sounds great..but how does Chris like the single life??

Anonymous said...

Well.... There ya go. You've been wondering if you should replace the 5 year old one.... Don't replace the tried and true, build yourself a fully.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of new bikes, what ever happenned with that second bunch of 953 tubes you were playing with?

Walt said...

Hey Anon -

I got disgusted with the whole 953 idea and sold the tubes. Just don't see the point - I think stainless tubes would be great, but the compromises (cost, difficulty to work with, out-of-spec tubes all the time, etc, etc) make it not worth my time. To me, an extra $500 worth of materials isn't worth it to save maybe 100 grams of powdercoat. I think ti is the way to go if you want a non-rusting bike. Or you could just use some framesaver and not leave it out in the rain.

Anyway, rant over. I won't be doing any more 953 experiments. Waste of time.


Chris said...

I loved the single speed world so far. I need to pick a cheapie to see if it sticks before giving Walt any more of my money:)

Corey said...

Well, you were just saying you might want to build yourself a new frame, it's a good time to experiment!