Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Ebay - hard way to build a bike?

A few years back I went through a series of stock bikes that did not suit me and had come to the conclusion that;

a) I could not afford to buy anything decent from stock.
b) If I wanted a quality bike then I would have to build it myself

Keep in mind that, at this stage, I thought £500 was a fortune to spend on a bike.

It was then that I started tracking stuff on ebay and within a short time I had bought a brand new Saracen Tufftrax frame for £35 which was the starting point for my project. I had great fun over a number of weeks/months finding the rest of the bits, XT Cranks, Mavic 519 rims, Marzochi Forks etc. It was so satisfying to end up with a really well equipped hardtail and in summer 2003 I completed the Coast to Coast ride from St. Bees to Sunderland on it without problem.

Of course, it was about this time I started reading the bike mags and in retrospect can see how easy it is to be drawn into the dreaded UGI, (upgradeitus)!

What I really needed was a quality lightweight XC frame! Originally the Kinesis Maxlight frame looked good, but was perhaps an unknown quantity. So back to ebay for a browse - where I came across an almost brand new Specialized S-Works HT frame in the US. Not sure I engaged the brain too much at this stage, but as the sale finished in the early hours I set my alarm and logged on to bid and won! Was well pleased to have a top frame for around £350 (UK retail £799) and it was shipped to me quickly without any charges. Even so 10 times the price of my slightly heavier Saracen frame!

There was no stopping me now - A pair of Fox Float 80RLT's from California, XT Discs from Colorado and so on. After the initial caution of buying from the States it turned out to be a very positive experience, most of the sellers were riders like myself and eager to help. All but one item came through without charge, so the savings on UK/New prices were massive. I guess because the new prices of bike parts are lower, used parts can be really cheap compared to the UK. Hard to estimate the total cost because I used some parts of my previous bike - but probably around £1000. Saw a similar built bike in a dealer's window for 3 times that price! It may seem like hard work, but I enjoyed the experience, not sure I would do it again though and it seems that import charges are more likely now.

This has become my most used bike, I ride it most days and it fits me well and I love it! Riding does tend to be road, tracks and easier XC. There have been a few changes over the last year, the main one being to convert to 8 speed and fit a shorter stem.

Specialized M5 S-works Hardtail frame 2004 Anodised Silver: Easton EA50 Bars
Kore 70mm Stem: Thompson Elite seatpost
SDG Belair saddle: XTR Crankset (8-Speed)
XTR Front Mech:. XTR Rear Mech
XT Changers : Mavic 317 Black Rims (Nov 2005)
Specialized Baldy Tyres(Nov 2005) : Shimano XT 4-pot discs
Fox Float 80RLT 2004 Forks.: V12 Flat Pedals

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Dalbeattie and New bike

Hello Dudes, the weekend ride didn’t go as well as expected. I had quite a few setup issues on the new bike (bike spec), also the forestry commission kindly cut the Dalbeattie course by 6miles, this was due to tree felling!!

I’ve been riding Shimano rapid rise for two years and that caused a bloody nightmare, couldn’t get my brain to switch, so I was changing up and instead of down, this really got on my nerves, also extremely frustrating.

The fox fork felt horrible; too bouncy, especially on drop off’s. The front would dive\dip horrendously, felt like I was going over the bars. I posted on bikemagic.com and got a couple of things to try (See thread).

I did notice that climbing over the rough stuff is easier (which I wasn’t expecting), also I could take rocky descents faster (Get in). Because this was the first time, I’d ridden a full sus bike, everything felt so unnatural, and I hated it for the first 5 miles!!!

Also because I've never ridden a full sus bike before, I've got no idea whether the rear suspension is working well or not. I did notice pedal bob whilst climbing and managed to get rid of that, by increasing the propedal. So more time in the saddle needed.

I had a strange feeling that the back wheel was dragging (dont think it's the brakes, because they're running fine), only felt this twice over 12 miles and it only lasted about two seconds?

Dalbeattie was good, a bit too much fire track, but the flowing single track and black sections were very good indeed. I’ve included photos of the slab at Dalbeattie; I’m the one in the blue top, blue helmet, half way down the slab. The chap in the red is my mate drew. Dalbeattie photos

By the way, my pictures don’t do it justice and it doesn’t look that steep, checkout this photo from a bikemagic post, it looks a lot steeper from the top.


Thursday, November 24, 2005

Master MTB Skills

Hello Dudes

I’ve been reading “master mountain bike skills” and its bloody brilliant, I’ve been m’bikng for 17 years and this book has taught me a great deal, also I reckon it’s improved me riding, mainly because you learn the theory of why you do certain things, its defo worth a look.


Also a review here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

FNC hits Woburn - Bedfordshire

Last night, the Westoning posse fancied a break from their regular, local FNC (Friday night club) rides so they tooled up and headed north west to the Magic Kingdom. The route is one of Farq's primary rides that starts with a twiddly route thru MK over to Aspley Heath. Then it's play time in and around the woods before gunning it back down the A5 and heading home.

Trail Head; CMK, 7.45pm
Stats; 21.7 miles, 1,443ft ascending, 2hrs 42mins

Posse; Darren (Cannondale) Dave (Specialized Endozer) Les (Spesh Rockhopper h/tail) Lee (Turner 5Spot) Rob (Cannondale Jekyll)

Injuries; nothing major although Les seemed keen to lie down wherever possible

Mechanicals; Les - rear mech woes, Lee - lost a cleat bolt

Weather; above freezing, dry, clear and windless...

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Cannock Chase - Staffordshire

The Northants posse broke cover and hit Cannock Chase for a pleasant guided ride taking in the Chase The Dog (CTD) trail. Little did we realise that the weather would be against us and suck the life out of our brakes from the off. This was one of those rides that makes you realise how much fun rides in good weather really are !

Trail Head; Milford, Barley Mo pub car park, 9am
Stats; 21.7 miles, 1,443ft ascending, 2hrs 42mins

Posse; Geoff (Turner 5Spot) David (Santa Cruz Chameleon h/tail) Lee (Turner 5Spot). A local guide failed to show up, so into the driving rain we rode...

Injuries; Geoff managed a full scale paratroopers roll less than 1 mile into the ride on a steep, rutted, baby head descent. With David and Lee doing well to ride around the flailing rider and bike as they parted company. Lee had a nasty tumble in one of the first sections of CTD, running wide he failed to clear a large stump and tumbled, hitting bonce on tree in the process. The lack of brakes also had him "shoulder" a tree later which then dumped him back onto the trail sideways.

Mechanicals; All three bike suffered zero pad life at the finish, x2 Hope Mono M4's and x1 Shimano 4-pot - all fried. Lee had the rear der cable snag on the seat post clamp a couple of times - that'll teach him for not running the cables thru the "taco".

Weather; Wet for the 1st half with a mix of light 'n' heavy drizzle. Kinda dried up (from the heavens at least) on the run back down to the cars. Wet weather clothing was indeed wet. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Bontrager ACX's

With the weather turning, mud starting to accumulate on the local trails and my 2.1 Panaracer XC Pro's rapidly running out of grip I turned my attention to some alternatives for the winter. As the Panaracer's had been much better than my earlier experience with WTB Motoraptors, I initially thought that a pair of the winter orientated Trailrakers would fit the bill. However, users reported a tendancy for them to be "sketchy" on asphalt which is no good on my local trails.

Whilst Chipmunk was enjoying a ride around Woburn on her new steed and I noticed that she was much more stable thru the pools of mud than I and that the Bontrager ACX's cleared the gloop from their treads muck quicker than my XC's. After taking a closer look at the tread, it's clear that there are fewer knobs which are also deeper that provide the extra traction. Better still, Chipmunk didn't report any adverse affects on hardpack or asphalt.

Looking at the specification, the ACX's were also available in a "tubeless ready" format (with a slightly heavier carcass) which'd be a good option for trying out the DT UST rim kits I'd just purchased. The 2.2 UST versions are light too and came in on a par with 2.1 XC's at 590 grams a piece. Better still they were typically cheaper than other manufacturer's non-UST tyres.

Fitting the blighters required a good wrestle around the garage and my fingers were sore for days afterwards ! However, once they were on they weren't going anywhere. It was just a shame that I'd chickened out and fitted tubes ! They're likely to be coming of again for the UST tests later, grrr.

In use, the 2.2 ACX's seem to roll well and are certainly no worse than 2.1 XC Pro's. On the loose stuff they're stable under drive, cornering or braking. I immediately noticed that they grip cross camber transverses with ease, which have always left the XC's hunting for grip and slipping to the low side. When the going gets really gloopy, they bite very well and don't clog the tyre or frame with cack either.

One area where they are "lively" is when you're coasting across muddy sections as they seem to like to wander around a little. However, as soon as you stomp on the pedals they dig in an fire you forward.