Sunday, November 1, 2009

Going down, getting up.

This past summer I got involved in a project with a handful of manufacturers, helping to develop a 29" wheeled downhill bike.

I don't know very much about DH bikes or DH'ing. Until this point I'd never owned one. Living where I do, there isn't much point in owning one--we have lots of vertical and chunk but no lifts, so you gotta climb if you wanna descend. I've always been perfectly fine with that arrangement.

Over the summer, I was able to get out and ride it a few times on the lifts at Winter Park and again in BC. It is simply boggling how quickly you can learn a new skillset, simply by intensive immersion into that skill and mindset. Downhilling and downhillers earn beaucoup derision for a lot of good reasons, but you have to admit that some of them can rip some amazing lines.

Anyhoo, I had a blast while downhilling, and also learned a lot about the bike and each component in so doing. Feedback and data went to the manufacturers, tweaks were made to some of their products, and the whole package has evolved as a result. Under the most scrutiny were the frame geometry and spring curve, followed in random order by fork tuning, brake pad compound sussing, tire compound and casing fiddling, and determining appropriateness of the hub/rim/spoke combo.

Then, about a month ago, all of the lift-served riding areas that I could easily get to closed down. Like, as in for the season. As in not reopening until next summer, some 7+ months away.

Without lifts I can't really ride this bike, right?

Well--that's not true. I can ride it plenty if I wanna become a shuttle monkey.

Hmmm... lemme think for a minute...
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...screw that crap.

I bolted on a front der, shifter, and a 20t granny.


Full 11-34 cluster out back.


Lighter brakes, plus a crisp set o' proto rims to suss out.


Flipped a bargain-bin offset seatpost the wrong way around.


Accepted a little hand-written mojo from someone in Wisconsin...



Hopped on and rode it to the top of the local loops.


Slowly, of course--it is ~39lbs after all.


Climbing wasn't important when the geo was considered, so of course it isn't ideal. Short cockpit, VERY upright, floppy front end, low bottom bracket, etc...


But all of that beats the hell outta shuttling or waiting 7 months to ride it again...


You do what you gotta do.


It ain't gonna become my go-to XC bike. Ever. But when the mood strikes, or when the guys wanna go to Moab, or St. G, or The Swell, or...

...well. It oughta work pretty good then.

MC