Monday, July 30, 2007

5Spot Evo

Following on from replacing front bouncer, I've now made some major alterations to the cockpit. Off with the original low riser bar, longer/lower stem combo replaced with a higher riser, shorter/higher stem.

Recent updates include;
  • Rockshox Pike 454 U-Turn (from leaky Manitou Nixon Super)
  • Hope ProII/DT 4.2d (Chris King bling/DT 4.1d)
  • Maxle (from std quick release)
  • Easton EA70 2" alloy risers, 27" (Maxm 1" carbon risers, 24")
  • Thomson Elite 90mm x 15 degree rise (100mm, 5 degree)
  • Spacers (shuffled)
  • Yeti Hardcore grips (slimmer Yeti Speed Grips)
Why ?
  • The Pike has a slightly shorter axle-crown length than the Nixon and I didn't want the front end to be any lower
  • A quick test ride of Uphilla's rig highlighted just how XC orientated mine was and opened my eyes to just how different the same rig can feel
  • A switch of riding style from XC to "trail", "all mountain" (or whatever you want to call it)
  • Rag's continued jabberin' about "balance"
  • Chipmunk's preferred ride position had me re-evaluate mine
  • A re-occurence of sore lower back and too much time off the bike to ponder such alterations :p
  • As I'm on the cusp between a medium and large frameset, opting for the compact and nimbler size meant I've always had a long post showing - low bars only served to emphasize this
All these "thoughts" contributed in some portion to my gray cells wondering if I didn't ought to raise my controls. The pic's attempt to highlight the differences although I couldn't find an older, low slung profile shot but the work stand snap goes someway to show just how low the bar used to be. The new bar position was a best guess after comparing the old/new components;

After a successful Woburn test I need to lower the bars a tad but overall the higher cockpit appears to be a winner. For instance;
  • DH's are now feel much more stable (a given)
  • Up hill control doesn't appear to be greatly affected (quite a surprise). Although no steep, rough off road sections have been tackled yet
  • The higher/wider riser;
  1. imparts a greater degree of control amongst the twisty's
  2. a greater lean angle in the open fast turns
  3. rearward bias seems work the rear shock better
  4. opens up the chest, improving breathing
  5. has loads-a-room for trip 'puters, GPS, lights, cup holders ;)
  6. alloy bar looks much cleaner than the chipped lacquered bar it replaced
  • I presume the shorter stem has also affected the steering affects of the wider bar (just don't ask me how :lol)
To be impartial I guess I'd have to balance the +ive's with a few -ive's and say that;
  • Sneaking between trees take a little more focus, I've clouted one already (Cannock should be fun - :O)
  • At one point, I founder the lighter front end wandered/step out more than usual during a tight, steep climb - but the Pike's U-Turn feature should be able to counter that
I still reckon some fine tuning is necessary as the bars might be a little too high. But then I may just need to get more familiar with the setup. I'll experiment after a couple of rides over a variety of terrain.

Just out of interest peeps, what is your bar/saddle height relationship ? Grab a tape and we'll see what the typical differences are, I'll start the tapes rolling;
  • Floor to Grip center; 41.5"
  • Floor to Saddle top; 40.5"

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bike UGI – Weight issue resolved

Hello Dudes

After I fitted all the new kit in March, my bike weighted nearly 33lb! The extra weight was due to the hopey, heavier rims & rotors and a wrong tyre choice (I should have checked the weights first! Doh). You certainly noticed the extra weight on the climbs.

Since March I’ve turned into an OCD weight weenie! The only things that I haven’t changed are the Frame, Fork, i9 Wheels and Chain set! Almost everything has been changed for a lighter version, without trying to compromise on performance. I’ve also ditched the hopey and Chain guide (might regret this) and replaced most bolts for Ti or alloy depending what they’re doing.

I’ve just had the final work completed; New 2008 RP23 (so I can run the correct way with push rockers), gravity dropper turbo, replaced the front\rear mech’s plus cables (rear mech was bent) and new brakes.

I went for Avid Juicy ultimate levers with code callipers; the codes aren’t the lightest!! But I can now perform an endo with my little finger, think they might be overkill.

Me and mark are heading up to Kielder on Friday, to try out the new red trail, can’t wait to get it muddy.

The weight is now down to 28.41lb, more photos here


Monday, July 23, 2007

CHILTERN 'KILLER' LOOP, 22nd July 2007

Dozer had mentioned his wish to ride in the Chilterns last year, so we got our diaries together and finally got a date sorted.

Some of us have done this MBR killer loop before, for me it was my fourth time in the last year, last time was in April when the sun was shining and the trails were bone dry, so I have to admit to being a bit nervous as I headed down the M40 this time flanked by flooded fields.

After a very wet week countrywide it looked like we might just get away with a few showers. It was great to welcome two new riders in the shape of Paul, Dozer’s old University pal and Rob from California complete with his home built 18lb single speed cyclocross bike.

First bit of the ride takes in part of the Ridgeway and this had us slipping and sliding a bit, but was nowhere near as bad as I had feared. We gave Rob a head start on the first climb and then settled in the long granny ring grind – the steep ups showed clear signs of heavy rain with much of the surface washed away and the chalk base showing through.

The reward for the steep ups in normally a long downhill blast, but as we set off on the first of these our fun was quickly halted by a fallen tree, but then it was all clear. Noticeably not as fast as in April, but all seemed to get a buzz out of this track and one or two even ‘got some air’ in places. New to me was a sort of natural berm towards the end, no doubt worn by people trying to avoid the washed away mid-track.

The valley bottom trail we now covered was muddy in places, but not too bad, with some blue sky above it almost felt like July!

The next sharp climb was very washed out and slippy, but most cleared it. There is a bit of road up to Christmas Common then the next long blast through the woods. I expected this to be a bit to be a bit treacherous, but it was again better than expected. It did however catch Sicknote out as his wheel slipped into a rut and threw him off hurting his wrist, (he was looking a bit worried as he had a warning from Tracy not to hurt himself before their holiday). In April we were hitting over 30 mph on this track, the Garmin shows top speed around 24 mph this time.

The exit to this blast saw me with a flat rear tyre – the first I can remember on the 5-spot. So long that the spare in my bag had also got a leak, thanks Les for helping out with a new tube! :blush

Some more ups and downs before we reached that “impossible” hill. This made Dozer determined and he certainly got further up than anyone else I’ve ridden with, most were walking much sooner, even this was hard work in places.

Russell’s Water brought a challenging bridleway chute, with a sharp drop-off – this was a real blast on the loose & wet surface, almost reminding me of Wales. Over too quickly though. Somehow we managed to lose Les & Rob at this point, which gave some the chance to have another go as we went back to find where they had got to.

The final downhill blast was again slower than remembered and quickly turned into a very slimy rutted track which saw myself take an acrobatic tumble into the undergrowth much to Dozer’s amusement and then claimed another victim in Rob, who was tiring at this point, (How had he got so far with no gears!!). The run up to the return leg of the Ridgeway brought the first big puddles we had seen and also more clouds in the sky with the threat of rain. The Ridgeway itself has some deep muddy sections, but all got through and after loading up bikes it was time for a much needed pint, the rain still holding off. A good ride, especially considering the conditions elsewhere.

Weather: Cloudy, but dry

Posse: Dozer (Enduro); Les; (Hardrock); Darren: (Ancient Cannondale!); Sicknote (Hardrock); Paul (Hardrock); Uphilla; (5-Spot); Rob: (Homebuilt Singlespeed–unknown frame).

Mechanicals: Les & Paul; Chains came off. Uphilla: Puncture-Pinch flat


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Coed Llandegla 22 Jul 2007

Mr & Mrs Dangerous get wet and dirty in Wales.

We'd not been riding together for a while so we decided it was time to get out on our bikes and go for a good ride somewhere... thought of Cannock "mudfest". I also thought of Afan and Coed y but figured this would be a bit of a bound too far for Anna as she's still finding her feet/pedals?

Finally settled on Coed Llandegla, not far from Wrexham. I was quite keen to see why so many people rate it - I'd ridden here earlier in the year for a mates stag do, but I hated every second of it. I was mis advised to bring my Gemini, as apparently "it was worth it" (it was not - lugging round a 38pounder with a 38th and a roadie cassette was not fun - no reward for carrying around the 8", by the time I came to use it I was too knackered to get it's full worth). However, I do remember it being quite smooth, and one of those places that is as technical as you make it, so I figured it'd be a good introduction of Welsh trails for Anna.

We left a bit later than intended - found some last minute mechanicals and I had to get petrol, but we made good time, getting there sometime before 1 o'clock, with a journey time of 1hr 45 mins. Our food took forever to arrive so we set out pretty late in the end so we opted for the shorter Red Run.

The heavens opened up and went to town with it just as we were setting off on our ride, but after driving 138miles to get here, we were bloody well going to ride! We'd not gone 100yards before my back tyre mysteriously deflated; pumped the blighter up but it kept going down. I couldn't be arsed to stop and sort it so we trudged on up the fireroad climb all the way to the top.

The climb isn't too bad, it is only a fireroad so it isn't the most exciting climb, but it serves as the climb for all the routes so it can't be as technical as say the new first climbing section of Coed y Brenin. It weaves its way through the trees with a nice amount of flow, and the surface is rocky enough at times to keep you from falling asleep at the bars. It's not to steep, doesn't take too long and gets you to the top with out giving you a heart attack.

We stopped for a quick breather and to examine my tyre - turns out the tubeless valve was loose and leaking air out through the spoke holes! I was running my "4x" tyres, Maxxis Larson TT's. Not my usual trail gobbling 2.35'' Super Tacky High Rollers but I couldn't be bothered to change them. And despite the relatively hard compound, they were awesome. They rolled so fast it made getting speed up for the doubles was a breeze, and gripped on all surfaces with no problems... only it made for stark contrast from the 2.5" equipped, 8" travel monster that I'd been riding for two weeks.... Might bring those to Afan, if I do, expect to see me - gone.

This is where the fun really begins: it's pretty much all downhill, with the odd climb to send you down the next awesome bit of trail. I cannot express just how fast this trail is, I found myself literally whooping on sections. Bermed corners in the middle of a thick plantation of ferns, berms that wouldn't be out of place on a Downhill course - the sort you can really lean the bike over and just rail it round, the sort that spit you out with more speed than when you entered it. Then theres the jumps - table after table, after table. All flowing into each other, no funny take off's that lob you off your bike, flat corners you can put you foot out on and just believe for that one moment you're the Sam Hill that shamed the worlds finest at Champery, then there's the odd boulder you gotta watch out for... all the while, just rocky, and rooty enough to feel your squidge earning it's keep.
Can't not mention the scenery - it's, as always, incredible.

Simply put this trail is just pure fun. It's always surprising you with just one more berm, or one more tight twist in the singletrack, and you can blast round in hardly any time, leaving you plenty of time to go again - because you'll want to. Definitely worth a visit, to get your adrenaline gushing, learn some new skills, and not murder yourself on a killer loop.

Route Distance (Red) 11miles - the black takes diversions off this and totals up 13miles, while there are other routes to suit families, or those still not willing to partake in the north shore/jumps. We even found big swooping berms on the end of the Blue route!!!
Posse: Dangerous (Chammer), Mrs Dangerous (smaller Chammer)
Mechanicals: Leaking tyres, Anna had trouble with her gears - new cables methinks. Weather: torrential downpours!

Anna managed to cope very well - only opting out of some of the northshore stuff, (she had a moment with her front tyre early on in the ride on a piece of northshore)And I think may have been a little scared by the size of some of the berms! Think Anna was a little surprised by the rocky surface but was soon happily floating over it - she's definatly got the bug!!! I was very impressed, and we'll be going back again, hopefully having more time next time.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

5Spot Fork#3

After a short (too short) holiday it became crystal clear that my 5Spot has been hanging in the rafters for far too long. After wrestling with suppiers (a whole different story) I'm pleased to report that my Nixon induced lay-off is about to end and that my knobbiles will once again roll.

I'm in the process of hanging a beefy Rockshox up front with a hoop courtesy of our pet wheel-miester, Rob - thanks pal don't drink it all at once;) To be wielding a spanner that's creating rather than repairing something feels soooo much better, although I do intend to fix the Nixon later on. Although it initially gave me some bother it has managed to cover 2k miles+ so I've grown fond of it's oddities. Besides it'll be handy to have as a spare.
"Do you like me new tubeless setup !"

It's not all be plain sailing tho as I found I didn't have many headset spacers, whilst chopping down the steerer found it's made from a thick, resistant alloy and the chunky steerer also had me wrestlin' the star nut into position. I've never had any bother with these before but the narrow tube had it twisting to all sorts of dodgy angles. As the numerous bent bolts will testify. It's still not perfect but it'll do and one thing is certain, it ain't going anywhere !

So my 5Spot is to morph for a 3rd time, into a full on all-mountain/Dozer muchin' rig :lol For those suffering "concussion" (Sicknote) I also ran a shorter Pace bouncer which is now more appropriately mounted on Rob's slender Flux.

I don't suppose that my replacement will appeal to DDave's RS aversion but if he disappears to Alpine mud fests, leaving us to fend for ourselves, then crazy thangs are bound to happen :p

Monday, July 16, 2007

Sh*t Fest 2007 (French Alps trip)

Hey gang, I'm back in Blighty and thought I'd write you all a bit of a "ride" report.

The Outward Journey
We departed from mine in Alex's new Ford "Mundaneo"* Mondeo Estate (2.0 TDCI Zetec) on Friday "some"time in the afternoon. Our house was in chaos as we'd stripped out all the rooms ready for the new carpets and of course there were 2 extra people plus kit to deal with. Unfortunately I had to leave before the carpets arrived so that pleasure of seeing our house turn into our house had to wait.
Some time later after navigating the nightmare that are the roadworks on the M1, we get to the M25. Guess what? It was usual M25, and we spent the best part of 2hours on it hoping the parking attendants wouldn't turn up and fine us for sitting on London's outer carpark for too long.

On the bright side, we got to the tunnel ahead of our departure time and were allowed to travel early.
Several amusing hours on French toll roads later and we decide to stop, so we could face the mountains in the daylight.

After catching 3hrs kip we head of into the French alps... we decided the only way to describe driving these mountain roads, on the wrong side of the road, in a fully laden car was: "death".

We arrived, greeted by gloriously scorching sun, about 7hrs early for check in at our apartment so we wandered around Morzine, with nothing to do, we found somewhere to eat breakfast, then at lunch found one of the many Burger bars and had our first of many beers of the day......

The Sh*Te fest begins....
We woke up Sunday morning weary from our epic drive, and eager to hit some dry dusty trails...
Dry dusty trails? Didn't happen to the last two days. It'd had been raining heavy previously and the trails were still soaked... rutted? You bet. It didn't get better - just worse. It rained solidly until Wednesday morning in the second week. Disgruntled but determined to ride, we hit up the gloop and I got extremely good at wet weather riding...

Unfortunately riding in the crap mean that we had to spend a day waiting for our kit to dry out... which kind of left us with nothing to do... eventually we found something to do... get hung over.

We did manage to get one good day of wet weather riding in, absolutely awesome, blasting down Le Pleny run at full speed with minimal grip but more than the rest of the holiday so it was a treat.
It dried up on Thursday so we hit The Kona Bike Park and Chavannes... and Mont Chery... they were complete crap fests still so we went back to Le Pleny and ripped the crap out of it.
Friday came and we met up with a guy called Sam who knew the Portes de Soleil area like the back of his hand (been going for SEVERAL years) who guided us over to the Switzerland to ride the Swiss National... an awesome short track near by then headed over to Morgin, to ride the most INSANE switchbacks I've ever done... steeper, tighter switchbacks that ran down a ridge so high in my life. Oh, and it was wet, and I was riding with summer tyres... To say I walked bits might give you an idea of it's difficulty... I did hit the northshore vertical shoot... though!

After narrowly avoiding "death", we headed back home, first we had to ride down to Chatel, then get the bus to and lift up to Avoriaz, and from there we hit this trail called "Russells Back Yard".
Now just to put you in the picture... Avoriaz sits on a cliff above Morzine. We rode along that cliff. Sam, our guide said it was a brilliant piece of single track that simply had to be ridden... well it was utter madness, rooty, cross camber, slippy, I rode most of it but couldn't get the fear of falling off this cliff.... I guess we should have known what it would be like, after we took a piece of "singletrack" off the Pleny the day before with this guy... it was an uber tecchy tight switchback section that was basically a rock garden with lots of roots thrown in to make things "interesting".
We got back to Morzine just in time for one final run on Le Pleny, and we knocked seven buckets of crap out of it... it had dried out and I touched the brakes once: at the end.

The holiday went out with a bang as there was some festival going on in Morzine, and we were treated to the best firework display that illuminated the whole of the valley... and my god, the noise of it echoing around the valley was simply awesome.

The Return
We left around 11ish on Saturday and made it back to mine for 12 midnight... my god French toll roads have dull scenery!

Trails Ridden:
Morzine: Le Pleny (Avalance Cup) + Variation.
Les Gets: Chavanes + all the freeride runs off it, Canyon, etc. Kona Bike Park, and Mont Chery
Les Linderets: Chatel Bike park and the single track down to it from the Super Morzine lift. French National DH.
Switzerland: Swiss National, and Short Course DH (Les Crosets) Morgins Freeride route
Various other random bits of single track, and LOTS of "uber fireroads of death" (50mph+ rocky tracks that usually involved large amounts of drifting)

Dangerous Dave (Gemini DH), Alex "Chasewai" (Specialized SX Trail with numerous pairs of forks depending on the weather) Lewis (Gemini DH), and John (Specialized SX trail with Z.1s with approx 3-4inch travel).

Numerous Boxxer failures (No pre -06 Boxxers next year, or even 888's to be double sure) My mojo Boxcart exploded (it's nitro charged). I fitted the stock internals and the plastic inside shattered. Lewis' Boxxers needed a service and pissed out black oil.
A few brake failures.
Wrong tyres count?
Things falling loose, and my bushings on the shock died.

Sorry, no pics as we spent so little time riding that we didn't have any photo shoot days.... some scenery so I will try and get those up at some point!

Thanks for reading and hope to ride the knobblies with you all again soon.

*He used to have a Focus (Now mine) which is an exciting gokart in comparison

Friday, July 06, 2007

Single Run Rear Gear Cable

There have been times when the gears on my 5-Spot have worked flawlessly, but mostly they have been unreliable.

I remember when I first bought the frame reading about people who drilled out the cable guides and fitted a single run of cable to the rear mech. This did seem drastic but after our Scottish trip and more problems :-( David suggested I try this solution by using disc hose guides.

The problem was that these were far too big for gear cable, but I decided that cable end caps with the ends cut off could be used to tighten up the fit.

So, the conversion was done, not the neatest looking run of cable, but it would do for now.

Just in time for the midweek trip to Cannock, a 20 mile trip with varied terrain and no doubt some mud after the recent rain.

Despite the fact that there had not been time for it all to settle in, for the first time ever I experienced clean and accurate changes, I could not believe the difference :-)

It would be wrong to say all was perfect as the cable guides were still not a good fit and with suspension movement the cable would sometimes pop out of its location. So perhaps a little tinkering to tighten things up, or maybe I will pluck up the courage to go the whole hog an drill the frame guides out. Certainly a worthwhile mod on a full suspension bike.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

MBR Chilterns Killer Loop - Again!

I have kept missing Uphilla's Chilterns Loop and was determined to give it a go now summer is here! :-) Have a look at previous Blogs for details. If anyone else is interested Uphilla and myself are going to give it ago on Sunday 22nd July, morning start. Just let either Uphilla or myself know if you are coming.
I'll have a word with the FNC crowd and an old friend of mine that lives quite local to that area.