Thursday, February 15, 2007

Another Steed for the Stable

Dunno what it is, but I had a strange fetish all of a sudden for 'regressing' back to a hardtail. I'm perfectly happy with the old Liquid but - I dunno - I guess I was just bored one long winter night. Unlike Farqui, I don't ride enough on the Trek (plus the components aren't Hope) to induce weekend rituals of fettling and changing bits constantly ;-) I guess I just fancied some tinkering.

I fancied something a bit unusual in the frame department, and while I scanned eBay for the likes of a Pace 200/300 or maybe even a D'Dave Santa Cruz Chameleon two things became apparent. 1 - they were going for daft money. 2 - if I went the latter route, despite the frame being apparently excellent, I'd be labelled Dave's bitch boy forever. So that ruled the SC out.

I stumbled across a Merlin Dual DH/jump frame. Merlin call it a trials frame but that's a little over-generous. It was advertised with BB, chainrings, front der and cranks. And I like Merlins. They're sparkly, spangly, pretty things. So that sold it, really. To hell with whether it actually rode any good.

Frame sorted so the search for all the bits to bolt onto it. Once again, ebay re-enforced the fact that most of the mainstream stuff on there goes for silly money. I mean, why would I want to pay 90% of new price for a Hayes HFX9 front brake from some bloke called DafydBoy2020 in South Glamorgan, who probably hates the English and has rigged it up to fail catastrophically on the first big downhill stretch of Afan that I next come to?

I'm set on using the two sets of wheels from the Trek I already have, which will save a big portion of the build costs, but does mean I need to pick matching brakes so they swap easily. Which sort of ties me to Hayes HFX9's front and rear (8"/6") unless I wanted to spend some time looking into what other callipers were compatible. I couldn't be arsed; I love my Hayes anyway so happy to stay with them.

So between Wiggle, Merlin and good ole' Chad in Montana, I sourced enough spangly bits to make a bike out of it all. A 2007 Rockshox Revelation 426 DualAir goes up front. Deciding factors here were it's light, they have a good reputation for being bomb-proof, and the price was right. Well, the price was the biggest expense of the lot, but I reckon your fork makes or breaks a bike so I was willing to splash out a bit on that one.

Thomson provide an X4 oversize stem and an Elite layback seatpost, and I managed to snatch a Carbon Rizer Ritchey bar "half price" from Merlin at £50, which I was happy with. Selle Italia X0 seat to park the old schnifter on, and good old SRAM X9's all round for the clicky bits.

Merlin also provided the Cane Creek S8 headset, which I went with because of the good reputation the bearings have. Had a CC in the old Marin and it seemed to serve me well there. Would have liked some Hope bling but just too expensive and, if Farqs bikes are anything to go by, it would self-explode at the first sign of mud :-D.

Merlin had rear HFX9's on offer, so I nabbed one of them for the back, but no luck finding a sensibly-priced 8" Hayes for the front... until I spoke to good old Chaddyboy at Red Barn, who's turning up an 8" HFX9 for the front for me (actually a 7" rear as far as he was concerned, as levers are swapped over in the 'States compared to here).

A Woodman QR seat clamp, some Lizard Skins for the bars and a spare new hollow-pin SRAM chain I have kicking about complete the build, and I'll naturally keep my pedals from the other bike and swap 'em over. I was hoping the bottom bracket, chainrings, crank and front mech that came with the frame would see me through but it turned out the chainrings and square-splined BB in there were knackered, the cranks were old bits of pig-iron and the der was some old Shimano Alivo thing that had seen better days. Sod it if I didn't go and blow another £100 but, heck, I now have some brand new LX chainrings and hollowtech cranks, a decent outboard BB and a new X.9 SRAM front mech.

Built up she weighs in at a trim 26lb 6oz with pedals. The cockpit is compact and forward-biased (as per the frame's original jump/DH tendencies I guess). With a long seatpost she fits better but the riser bar isn't quite riser-enough so it might need swapping in the future. It'll do for now, but it's taxing on the back at the moment. First ride shows she's spritely compared to the Trek (well, duuh) and the relaxed head angle makes her a confident, sure-footed steerer. She feels like she'd fly well, too, but I've not got used to the lightness yet! She's surprisingly comfortable too provided you get your bum off the seat at the appropriate point. Still some fettling of gears and brakes to do to get her bang-on, but she'll get there.


Farqui said...

Good job Brumster man, everyone likes a new bike - esp. if you build 'em yourself.

To say that it's a trails rig, shes turned out fairly svelte.

Ah mrB Farqui has learned the error of his ways. I've gone all Hope-less ;-) and am a fiddler no more. Does anyone want some tinker-tastic British kit ? :blush

I'll be interested to hear how she rides. If it's a typical Merlin, then it'll be faaast.

Let's hope that Chaybo gets that brake to you before next Wed's evening blat around Woburn...

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