Monday, October 17, 2011

Crossin' some country.

Over the past several years I've been fortunate to work directly with Devin Lenz on some of his amazing suspension bikes. And by 'work' I mean that I ride them in lots of different conditions--including some they were never designed to handle--and then give Devin my candid opinion on what worked, what didn't, and what needs to be amended before the bike goes into production.

My opinion is one of many that Devin throws into a collective melting pot before making the important final decisions. He needs to consider frame geometry, sizing runs, intended use(s), spring curves, leverage ratios, cable routing, finish options, and all of the other hyperanalytical nits that must be picked before he can push the 'GO' button and put each model into production.

I worked closely with Devin on the Leviathan, Behemoth, LunchBox, and PBJ platforms, and have happily owned, ridden, demo'ed, and sold all of these models to friends and friends of friends through the years. Hard to swing a dead cat around this valley and not hit a happy rider on their Lenz bike--no matter the vintage. But lately I've been so busy with wheels that I had to make the tough decision to stop building and selling Devin's bikes. Just not enough time in the day to do all of it, and Devin's name and bikes deserved a dedicated shop behind them. Which means that instead of working late every night trying to get folks out onto my wheels and Devin's bikes, I can work all day on wheels, then get an evening ride in myself.

It's been rare the past few years to get to spend quality time on a bike thinking about what I'm riding and how it blends with where I'm riding. But it's long been one of my favorite hobbies--and one that I love too much to turn into a 'job'. It's also something that I'm gratefully getting to do more of these days.

With that preamble I introduce you to 'what I'm riding': Devin's newest prototype, provisionally dubbed the Mammoth.

Getting the idea yet? It is a bike built NOT for hucking and chucking, nor bashing and banging. It is a *light* bike that happens to get better than 5" of travel on each end, whose intent seems to be to cross huge swaths of chunky country in the most efficient manner possible, and that happens to look dashing, elegant, and fast at the same time.

While collecting and assembling the parts for this build I knew that Devin went to great lengths to keep the chassis as light as possible while maintaining appropriate stiffness and durability. We won't know for a few months yet how well he balanced 'the big three'--my proto and the others out there need a few hundred thousand more stress cycles before any conclusions can be drawn. Thus far I can only say that it feels surprisingly light and uncannily efficient.

The parts spec pictured is my own personal idea of, um, ideal, for long xc rides in this part of the world. I like wide bars--hence the DH model pictured. I like durable, high volume tires, hence the bulbous, not-as-light-as-they-could-be tubeless versions shown. And I like climbing friendly gears, hence the real-world 21/33/bash paired with an 11/34 out back. All of these parts are subject (and likely) to change in the next few weeks. The idea is to ride the bike in as many different conditions as possible, and as much as possible, so that I can identify issues, ruminate on them while riding some more, then ultimately suggest solutions to help it morph from merely great to outstanding.

I'll share what I can as the process unfolds. But mostly I'm just gonna enjoy riding it.

Thanks for checkin' in.