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Wrapping Up 2020

Best Of 2020 - Andrew's List

Words Andrew Major
Photos As Noted
Date Dec 30, 2020
Reading time

Déjà Vu

My fingers swarmed the keyboard like a nest of Bellinghamster Murder Hornets, unaware the BC-Washington border is closed, performing their biologically programmed duties. As fast as I could type, my stream of consciousness laid out my Best Of 2020 article. I had it all - over $2200 raised to build gnarly fresh wood on Karen's Boundary Trail, some strong support for rider driven companies, and some hearty pandering to the readership. Really, there was just one issue; that's my Best Of 2019 article.

Luckily, late at night staring at my computer screen, I noticed my case of Deja-Andrew before I'd invested too much effort in recreating last year's list. But it did result in going back to the ground and building up some fresh silver linings in a year that's been generally meh. Anyways, crack the tab on a can of Hoyne Dark Matter (the best beer of any year), or whatever your current beverage choice is, as I recount the slivers of joy I uncovered in 2020.

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The fresh wood on Karen's Boundary Trail actually was in my Best Of 2019 list. But if you rode it and loved it in 2020 you can still make a direct donation to get more of this! Photo: Deniz

Best Thing I Got

I hit the trails on plenty of interesting bike parts this year, and my absolute favourite is ProTaper's 76mm riser bar. Fit Before Fashion, my friends! And yes, on paper it's just an aluminum riser bar with fairly boring geometry numbers. Actually, on my bike, it's just an aluminum riser bar with fairly boring geometry numbers too. But as with many of the best things in life, it was an experience-changing object I wasn't even looking for.

With the bar rolled back 'just so' and cut to 780mm, with my stem flipped upside down for negative rise, and after a pile of rides to relearn body position, I adapted myself to a better experience riding my hardtail on technical trails and changed a lot of my thinking about bar height on all bikes at the same time. I'm loving the higher riding position for technical descents, I have no problem weighting my front wheel, and at the same time, I don't feel I've given up much on climbs. Now that I'm used to the position, I'm seeing Stack heights on many full-suspension bikes that would have me running a 50mm+ riser bar.

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I've ridden the ProTaper 3" riser extensively with both a 120mm suspension fork and a rigid fork. I love it on the trail, and I get a good chuckle out of other riders' reactions to it as well. Photo: AM

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The long chainstays - about 460mm in this photo - are the key to getting a great body position with the higher handlebar. It's not an original idea as downhillers will tell you. Photo: AM

I'm currently testing a large Banshee Titan that has a 130mm headtube length for a static Stack height of 644mm before I take into account my fork being 13mm taller than spec. Combined with a 1 cm spacer under my stem and a 25mm rise bar, I'm not far off being able to plug the ProTaper into any number of 29'er frames with stubbier headtubes. Like my hardtail, the Titan has long chainstays - especially once I installed the long dropout kit - and, as I'll eventually explain in more detail, this is the key to making the tall front end fly.

The other thing that's unique about the ProTaper is how offended a surprisingly large number of riders get about it. I've had significantly more unsolicited comments about the 3" riser than I have about the Fasst Flexx bar and that thing is a hate-magnet for the mountain bike fashion police.

Best Thing(s) I Bought

My custom Waltworks V2 hit the trails in December 2019 but I wrote about it in May 2020, so I've decided that on its first birthday it can still qualify as one of my best purchases for 2020 and beyond. I wrote an entire article about it so I'm not going to go into any great detail except to say that this is the first bike I've ever owned that was 'the one.' Every other bike, going back to my very first off road rig, has been the placeholder for my next bike. It probably sounds ridiculous to you, but it's bizarrely special to me.

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Every ride is beautiful on this bike. Photo: Deniz

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Even the chunky ones. Photo: AM

On a much smaller purchase note, I love my Kickass Cogs. It's not that there aren't other high-quality aluminum cogs available from other great companies - looking at you Wolf Tooth - but ever since I read this 2013 story about Endless Bike Co, and the woman who owns it, it's been obvious why so many single speeders are passionate supporters of Shanna Powell - company owner and prolific mountain bike coach.

The Endless rings and cogs are machined and anodized at Industry Nine - so you know the quality is tops - and the company is just one of those little outfits that are lovely to support. Even if it's just buying one of their sweet "I'd rather be rad than fast" or "Fuck yes, I ride like a girl... do try to keep up" sticker packs.

The cogs last surprisingly long for the terrain and conditions I subject them to and I never feel like they owe me anything when it comes time to upcycle them into shop-wall ornaments. And they come in a wide variety of sizes right up to a massive 25t in case you want to gently break yourself into some North Shore single speeding.

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I always smile when I see that anodized purple Endless Kick Ass Cog offset against the Cosmic Lilac paint. Photo: AM

Best Thing I Didn't Test (Yet?)

My Atlas cranks are currently spinning on a few-years-old Chris King bottom bracket with a Cane Creek aluminum bearing preloader and I think it's a premier package. But, that doesn't stop me from really wanting to try out Cane Creek's Hellbender Neo Bottom Bracket. The bottom brackets use SKF MTRX "solid oil" bearings, which replace grease with an oil-filled polymer matrix so there's literally nowhere for crap to get into the bearing assembly and oil can be released constantly.

Since Fox started selling forks with SKF Low Friction seals, around eight years ago, the company has slowly taken over high-performance spec on essentially every suspension fork worth owning. It will be curious to see if their cartridge bearings follow a similar trajectory.

This probably sounds silly given some of the amazing forks, bikes, brakes, wheels, and so on that, I've been privileged to test but this is the product I currently most want to put in my bike and murder. And then, assuming it holds up as claimed based on SKF and Cane Creek's reputations, I'd like to ask why Cane Creek is the only company on board with this system.

It makes my list because I WANT it to be awesome. The idea of a BB that outlasts my frame is beautiful. I'm living it currently with a King PressFit 30 BB, for which I own an install tool and grease adapter, but I can't help but feel SKF MTRX bearings have the potential to bring that forever-experience to a much, much, wider audience for significantly less money. Actually, I’d like to try MTRX bearings throughout my bike.

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The Hellbender BB looks great, as does most every Cane Creek product. Photo: Cane Creek

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Fancy machining aside, the heart of the system is these SKF "solid oil" bearings. Photo: Cane Creek

Best Riding Experience

I've mainly been getting on the trails pedaling from home. Often solo and sometimes I'll meet up with a friend or two. That aside, I've had some really great rides and also progressed my riding in a few areas. I'm very fortunate to live near some of the best trails in the world both in terms of feeding my mountain biking habit and in terms of being able to easily escape from other people for a long mental health break.

As good as all those rides have been, they've paled in comparison to the joy of riding with my six-year-old. Cycling is just something our family does so whether riding in our cargo bike, pedaling our trailer bike, or riding herself it was never a question of if she'd be getting around by bike. But, my wife and I left mountain biking entirely up to her. Well, okay, to be honest, we both love riding mountain bikes so it's not like there wasn't positive reinforcement of how great the experience can be, but the transition from simply going into the forest to going into the forest by bikes was driven by our kid.

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There were some beautiful evenings in November. There were potentially some cold torrentially miserable evenings too - but attitude is everything. Photo: AM

With my elbow pads for leg armour, a full-face helmet, a lightweight Early Rider 20" bicycle, and the right attitude we're out at least a couple of times a week experiencing North Shore single track, and it's wonderful. Smiles, crashes, successes, tears, celebrations, bruises - we've had it all. And I'm beyond jealous of the progression curve every time I'm watching her ride compared to last month, last week, and sometimes even yesterday.

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a hardass making her push her own bike up hills she can't climb or check her own bike in the stand to make sure the brakes and shifting are good but I suppose for me the beauty of mountain biking has always been the payoff for your individual effort and preparation. I know plenty of people who've capitalized on the opportunity to short circuit that these days, but I aspire to model the experience that brought my wife and me to the sport we met over.

Most importantly, we have endless fun, sleep well at night, have lots of bruises to tell stories about, and we eat plenty of sour gummy bears. I used to be all about the #EnduroPotato but these days a black coffee and some Albanese Gummy Bears are all it takes to make the wheels go round and round.

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Much the year there exists no such animal as a 'beginner mountain biker' on the North Shore. Either you can ride greasy roots, or you can't. And if you can, at any speed, then hold your head up. You can shred most anywhere. Photo: AM

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Attitude is everything. Mountain biking is fun, even at night in the sideways pissing rain, if you have the right gear and the right state of mind. And in many ways, kids' cycling gear sucks - so my six-year-old has to double down on the positive thinking. Photo: AM

Best Photo Taken Of Me

Maybe this is narcissistic - sorry if it is - but as someone who has never really been stoked on how I 'look' on a bike - uphill or downhill - this photo that Deniz took just makes me go "f*ck yes." Whether I'm slogging up No Quarter out of the saddle or walking back down the climb to attempt those switchbacks on R&R one more time, and even just powering up an FSR, or hitting the road home from work, this photo captures how I always see myself, in my mind, on my single speed.

Life's been so busy lately that sometimes I just can't get out for a ride when I need to and this is one of a handful of shots that I'll pull up on my computer when I need a little kick. It's that rush of damn, that guy knows what he's doing. That guy has power, grace, agility, perseverance. Anyways, thanks for the pick-me-up, Deniz! I think a lot of the time it's the small things that keep folks moving forward and this is one of them for me.

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I love this photo. I mean, I think it's a great photo. It also captures what I think I look like when I'm out throttling my single speed even though the reality is usually much lamer. Photo: Deniz

Best Value For The Money

Riding with my kid, a bottom bracket that will last forever(?), a photo that gets me stoked, a fresh Kick Ass Cog, and my Walt. I have a hotlist of things to be thankful for as 2020 pulls over and lets 2021 pass. Yeah, in many aspects it's been a shitty year but I'm very fortunate that in a lot of aspects it most certainly hasn't been.

One way I've been fortunate this year is to have spent hours and hours on the trails last spring - when school was closed - doing maintenance with my grom. Raking, pulling holly, building braid blockers, and generally giving back. I've also been privileged to get invited out to fetch & carry materials for a few good folks who give back hundreds and hundreds of times the hours I do.

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I was fortunate to spend many a day last spring - during the school closures - pulling out prickles on my favourite local single-track climb. Photo: AM

Whether you bought a membership to your local trail organization, donated to a trail you rode directly on Trailforks, left a gift card to the local tool store for your favourite builder, or carried some heavy sh*t so they can make it happen; however, you helped keep mountain biking fantastic - Thank You. You obviously recognize that the biggest assets in mountain biking are the folks who maintain the trails and I, for one, appreciate whatever way you've found to support them.

I wish you and yours all the best as 2020 rolls to a close and hope there is lots of mountain biking with friends and family to come in your 2021.

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Comments

Vikb
+5 Andrew Major Dan Cam McRae twk Pete Roggeman
Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 30, 2020, 5 a.m.

Yeah high rise bars with some decent backsweep and steel bikes! Maybe 2021 is the year I'll have the courage to really try shredding singletrack on a SS MTB?

All the best to the NSMB Crew for a great 2021 despite some continuing COVID challenges.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Vik Banerjee Dan twk
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 8:21 a.m.

If you get up to it then most certainly let me know how it goes!

Happy New Year!

Reply

craw
+1 Andrew Major
Cr4w  - Dec. 30, 2020, 11:16 a.m.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 12:24 p.m.

Milhouse bar is near the top of a short list of products I’d like to review in 2021.

Reply

solar_evolution
+2 Andrew Major Karl Fitzpatrick
solar_evolution  - Dec. 30, 2020, 6:31 a.m.

I’m liking the high rise bar look!

A bright spot for my pandemic experience has been more time with my 4 year old. Got her an early rider 16” bike for xmas and the transition from balance bike to pedal bike took about 5 mins. That was the highlight of my year!

Like you, I don’t push her, I let her find her groove and she’s loving it (you can’t tell her anything, but that’s a story for a different website, ha!) 

Thanks for the insight you’ve provided about riding with the kid this past year. Getting her some adult elbow pads for her legs today.

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AndrewMajor
+2 Dan thaaad
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 8:19 a.m.

I always say my only good piece of parenting advice is ‘go outside.’

That said, patiently watching my wee one triumph, and fail, at her own pace just being there to spot a new move or provide a hug after a scary crash has been an experience I’d wish for any parent. 

Her joy and perseverance are both inspiring. If you have a few minutes, and are interested, I’ve written a few pieces about riding with her: perfect ride / hardest challenge.

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solar_evolution
+1 Andrew Major
solar_evolution  - Dec. 31, 2020, 6:23 a.m.

Thanks for steering me to those stories. Really good stuff and some solid parenting!

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AndrewMajor
+1 solar_evolution
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 8:53 a.m.

Thanks! Happy New Year!

Reply

SteveR
+4 Andrew Major solar_evolution Cr4w kmag76
SteveR  - Dec. 30, 2020, 7 a.m.

This has me thinking that yes- transforming our just turned 5 year old granddaughter into a fully fledged cyclist this past summer was a 2020 highlight. Daughter and son in law were "too busy" with work and younger sibling, so it was up to grandma and grandpa. Trouble is- we've become the supplier of quality bikes as well! Looking forward to more of your thoughts on riding with the grom.

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AndrewMajor
+1 solar_evolution
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 8:09 a.m.

Sounds like a huge win for you - supplier of bikes and all!

Not saying it doesn’t require some tough financial decisions for our little family, but all the same I recognize how privileged I am to spend as much time with my daughter as I do.

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mrbrett
+2 Andrew Major Cr4w
mrbrett  - Dec. 30, 2020, 7:23 a.m.

The holly-pulling tool is pretty awesome.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 8:02 a.m.

Thanks! I broke my best rake being a dummy, so we had the handle already. It really helps her get the whole root and it’s fun - which is key. We pulled a lot of prickles off of No Quarter this year!

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blaklabl
+2 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee
blaklabl  - Dec. 30, 2020, 8:47 a.m.

High rise bars are where it's at!  My 100mm rise Oddmone Ti bars look the part and have pretty much eliminated the couple days' post-ride neck and back pain, and the flex certainly has helped my hands.

I too found my "the one" bike that has cured me of constant UGI and "what-if"-ing in 2020.  Now that it's completely dialed, I look forward to many years of shredding.  

A lot of the parts I put on it are directly related to your input and reviews Andrew, so thank you for that.  Cheers to a better 2021 for everyone.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 12:27 p.m.

The fact that I’m a year in and still fully into this bike makes it the best investment in a bike I’ve ever made!

Best wishes for 2021!

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rnayel
+1 Andrew Major
RNAYEL  - Dec. 30, 2020, 8:59 a.m.

Andrew, I can speak to the quality of the Hellbender BB. I mounted it on my Titan this summer and it's very nice for a fraction of the Chris King price. While I did get the Dub version that has the lower end bearings (not offered as part of the Neo line with SKF MTRX bearings), they still roll smooth.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 12:28 p.m.

My specific interest is with the SKF bearings v. single speeding. Good to know / not surprised the other BB’s are good quality as well.

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andrewbikeguide
+1 Andrew Major
AndrewR  - Dec. 31, 2020, 9:08 a.m.

I have that Hellbender Neo installed on my Optic. At 400 ish kilometres (I just keep choosing to ride my Sight) it is only lightly used (for me) and I would say they have only just run in. The initial drag/ stiffness is not intolerable but it is noticeable over a regular high quality bearing. All my BBs are the engineeringly challenging PF92 and it has been pleasantly trouble free.

That said I installed a BB Infinite Ceramic WS2 on my Sight last week and it is a total game changer. The crank really does just spin and spin on the bike (I had to replicate their install video after all).

I did a regular loop ride (so one I know well for pace and effort) on a damp trail and basically rode every uphill section in one higher/ harder gear than usual. Whilst not being able to quantify exact watts etc there appears to be less resistance in that low end effort area of pedalling that one spends a lot of time in when climbing technical switch backs. The short story is a better ride with slightly less effort (and frustration).

As my version of Santa (me) was being very kind I also threw a set of BB Infinite pulley wheels into the rear mech at the same time and whilst I won't make any power saving claims but they have further reduced chain noise in an already very quiet system (One Up chain guide, XX1 chain, STFU and 2888 tape), which for me is worth it.

I would say that the Hellbender Neo is worth every penny but if you want the one bottom bracket to make the single speed challenge then perhaps its worth looking at BB Infinite.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 11:27 p.m.

I have a friend, who used to single speed, who has spent a ransom on trying to quiet down his multi-speed bike - from mastic tape to Moto foam to STFU - and I always say, there’s an easier way... hahahahaha

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 11:27 p.m.

BB Infinite sounds like it’s worth checking out! Thanks!

Reply

craw
+1 Andrew Major
Cr4w  - Dec. 30, 2020, 10:26 a.m.

That bar is a bit of a surprise. Insufficient stack is something I'm well familiar with but your Walt V2 has a fair amount of stack so it must have come as a curious surprise to find a 76mm rise bar be so good!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 12:29 p.m.

It took some getting used to - in the name of science - but now I love it!

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Timmigrant
+2 Deniz Merdano Andrew Major
Tim Coleman  - Dec. 30, 2020, 11:50 a.m.

Awesome list. I'm loving how varied all our perspectives and "Best of" lists are.

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denomerdano
+2 Andrew Major Sanesh Iyer
Deniz Merdano  - Dec. 30, 2020, 12:17 p.m.

At least you both agree on one thing! ;)

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AndrewMajor
+2 Deniz Merdano Tim Coleman
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 12:33 p.m.

What?!?!?!?! Tim and I haven’t agreed on anything since Shimano 9-spd road derailleurs were the best thing to ever happen to shifting!

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Timmigrant
+1 Andrew Major
Tim Coleman  - Jan. 1, 2021, 9:20 p.m.

Shimano 105 short cage derailleurs were so good on the DH bike!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 3, 2021, 5:36 p.m.

Those metallic Shimano road derailleurs - YUM. I had an Ultegra short cage for a long time that would just do a 32t cog on a hardtail.

Reply

Hollytron
+2 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee
Hollytron  - Dec. 30, 2020, 1:23 p.m.

Your waltworks inspired me to build an off the shelf...well let's not call it a clone but somewhat close. Kona unit with a -2° works headset I kept it rigid and am running a 60mm riser on it. It's my mud bike while I wait for parts to complete the squishy bike. Fun stuff but I am BAD at it. I tried to post a picture to the ht forum but failed in all attempts it is pictured on my nsmb account.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 3:25 p.m.

A current Unit (last couple model years) with a -2* headset actually gets damn close to my V1 Walt in terms of wheelbase and HTA. 

In comparison, V2 is still quite a bit slacker and longer - both rear centre and front centre. 

If I needed to replace my bikes tomorrow I’d put in an order for another V2 right away and while I was waiting I’d build a min-max Unit like so. Love the Unit!

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LWK
+1 Andrew Major
LWK  - Dec. 30, 2020, 3:46 p.m.

Your Waltworks v2 also really hit the mark for me.  When my Stache dies or gets retired I want something very similar.  And then I'd also aim to ride it till it breaks.  I think its a cool spot to be in to enjoy a bike enough that you're not constantly eyeing other options.

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AndrewMajor
+1 LWK
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 8:53 a.m.

It’s the first bike I’ve ever felt wasn’t a placeholder for the next bike. It’s a strange place to be... if only I could figure it out with FS bikes.

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fartymarty
+1 Andrew Major
fartymarty  - Dec. 31, 2020, 12:06 p.m.

Progressive geo steel full sus bike?  Walt V3???

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 1, 2021, 4:30 p.m.

Been working on an article about this for over a year now. Walt builds some sweet FS bikes using Trek Remedy/Fuel/Slash linkages but I think if I was going to go custom FS I would buy the rear end of a bike I really like and have a front triangle made for it. 

For example, I could buy the back end from a Rocky Mountain Altitude and have my own steel front triangle build for it (a la Cotic). 

The problem - in the shortest way I can explain it - is that a custom bike is more than just a commodity to me and FS Bikes are a bit like bacon in that I don't really want to get too attached to them. I've only loved two FS bikes - my Balfa 2Step and my Titus El Guapo Titanium - and in both cases, I put way too much money into the bikes trying to make them ride like better bikes that came out after them. 

It's part of the reason I like my Marin Alpine Trail. It's a great bike, solidly built, well designed, and it rides as well as significantly more expensive framesets that use fancier manufacturing/materials. When it comes time to sell a frame like that on to its next home everyone wins - it's hard not to feel like you got your money's worth even selling it at a deep discount. 

That said, and this is maybe too much foreshadowing, but if I had the money for a new FS bike tomorrow the machine that truly has my curiosity piqued is the Banshee Legend 29. A usable seat tube angle, dropper post compatible, 473mm chainstays, dual crown compatible... put an 11-50t cassette on it and ride it everywhere.

fartymarty
+1 Andrew Major
fartymarty  - Jan. 3, 2021, 10:51 a.m.

Andrew - interesting Walt uses others rockers.  

One of the reasons I bought the Staring was the simplicity of the suspension design. Prior to purchase I spoke to some suspension tuners about the design (fairly straight rate) and they preferred it as they could tune the shock better to the frame if the frame wasn't doing anything silly. There are probably better designs (I'm thinking Yetis fancy sliders etc) but ill take the simplicity and fact I can change the bearings in 15 minutes at a cost of £20. I also like the simple aesthetic of Starlings - the old saying if it looks right it probably is.

It will be interesting to read your piece on custom FS bikes. I think I need to understand / mull over your logic. I guess there are a lot of very good off the shelf FS bikes to need to go custom.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 3, 2021, 5:32 p.m.

I like to pretend that Starling doesn't exist because I desperately want a custom 100mm/120mm travel Beady Little Eye with a CCDB Coil and an epic wheelbase but Rational-Andrew knows that all my full-suspension-single-speed experiments have ended poorly. Rational-Andrew is a total buzzkill.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 3, 2021, 5:34 p.m.

Do have to say, I'd really like to see Trek put out a redesigned Stache with a much slacker HTA (no one is competitively racing 29+ bikes), shorter seat tube, and longer wheelbase. I had a lot of fun riding the Stache.

Reply

Verskis
+2 Andrew Major twk
Verskis  - Dec. 31, 2020, 3:06 a.m.

I have the 2020 model Unit, and it was a nice bike as it is, but I have made all kinds of experiments with the setup, many of them inspired by Andrew, like trying a 29x3" front tire. Didn't end up loving that, it made the bike slightly more cumbersome feeling without making the ride that much plusher. However, the greatest experiment has been mulletizing the bike! I almost didn't want to do that because I would have liked the convenience of one wheelsize per bike, but the results are so good that I'm willing to tolerate three different wheelsizes across my two mountainbikes (the enduro full suspension is 26", I feel no need to "upgrade" to larger wheels). I always felt like the bike would be more fun if it was just a little bit easier to bunnyhop and manual, and the 27,5" rear wheel resulted in just the right amount of playfulness. I was afraid that the bottom bracket would end up too low or I would feel the worse rollover factor of the smaller wheel, but in real life those things have not bothered me in the slightest.

Currently running 29"x2,6" front tire with 27,5"x2,8" rear (big rear tire was chosen to maximize the BB height) . Once the rear needs replacing, I will try 2,6" width on the rear too, as I don't feel the BB is too low at the moment.

The side benefit of the smaller rear wheel is also the slacker head angle without any special headsets. Compared to the approximately 63-64 degree head angle on my enduro bike, I quite like the feeling of the steeper angle on a bike like the Unit, I don't have any urge to try to make it DH-bike slack.

This ended up being quite a long monolog about my own opinions, but maybe it might be interesting to some people. At least I enjoy reading Andrew's opinions on his own bikes and experiments, even if I sometimes disagree with them.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Verskis
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 8:52 a.m.

Cheers! 3” tires are tricky - have to get something with enough sidewall support to run low pressure but the tire will be heavy. I get why the industry has largely walked back to 2.6”. 

On my Walt I run a 2.8” Vigilante... because WTB doesn’t make a 3”+.

Adult Lego! Experimenting with setup is fun.

Reply

Hollytron
+1 Andrew Major
Hollytron  - Dec. 31, 2020, 9:44 a.m.

My experience has me grabbing the cush core instead of the big tires, also I couldn't get any big tires cuz well you all know why. They seem to add just enough squish. I can't figure out the long stays tho I tried them and it felt off. I have only ridden shorty stays for ever tho. Maybe the bb is too high to make it work.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 3:58 p.m.

Hahaha, after much experimentation I run CushCore in the big tires always on the rigid bike. If it was all my stuff (no tire/wheel testing) I’d run CC Pro or Plus with everything.

Long chainstays, in my experience, pair best with a long and slack front end as well. They aren’t a setup silver bullet by any means.

AndrewMajor
+1 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2020, 3:33 p.m.

Not sure what is going on in terms of sharing the photo off your account (I’m basically a Luddite) but here’s the bike and this URL you can post in the hardtail thread.

Looks good except for all those gears!? Hahahahahahahaha.

http://nsmb.com/images/Eq9JOIVLXeW3_0qBY9kd4PHMw_g=/47611/original/

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Hollytron
+1 Andrew Major
Hollytron  - Dec. 31, 2020, 9:45 a.m.

There's always a bigger luddite out there right? Happy New Year Andrew!

Reply

twk
+1 Andrew Major
twk  - Dec. 31, 2020, 4:21 a.m.

Heh... my Walt clone is a 26", 71° HA, short wheelbase bike with 60mm moto risers and a BMX stem and 2.2" tyres. It's got a modded dropper to fit a particularly pesky sized but lovely riding Reynolds 853 seattube, but I still suck at riding the thing. I'll post it when I get some proper shots of it. Seems like we need a rigid bike thread ;)

Am I doing this right?

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AndrewMajor
+1 twk
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 8:49 a.m.

If you’re out riding bikes in the woods and having fun there isn’t really a wrong answer equipment wise?!

I mean, wear a helmet. I probably would have skipped the dropper and just picked up a good QR.

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twk
+1 Verskis
twk  - Jan. 1, 2021, 1:39 p.m.

To be honest, I think the dropper was the single best decision in that build -- it makes switching from XC riding to anything more... fun ;) way nicer -- and it's one of those saddle-lever actuated things so no remote to maintain. The QR is built into the frame and less than amazing though.

I keep getting surprised by how versatile the frame is -- who thought ~10 year old XC bikes handle amazing for some trials-y jibbing around, loaded touring, and -- gasp -- XC riding.

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Verskis
+1 twk
Verskis  - Jan. 1, 2021, 10:43 p.m.

Any mountainbike will be fun with a dropper and a short stem!

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khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 30, 2020, 4:27 p.m.

I really want to try Hellbender bearings with that "solid" grease.  Thus far they don't make them in the right size for the application for which I needed a bb/headset (new DH sled) but I can't imagine why they wouldn't be superior pretty much everywhere.  Wheels, suspension pivots, you name it - if there's a need for a bearing that tech really seems like it should prove worthwhile.  

I'd pay more per bearing if it meant not having to replace it again - and if it meant I could wash the bike more easily, that's all the more a win!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 8:47 a.m.

Absolutely. I’d be keen to try them at suspension pivots particularly. Hubs too - especially ones with less dealing like my old I9.

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Timer
0
Timer  - Jan. 1, 2021, 10:52 a.m.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think you can get solid grease bearings with a full complement of balls (no cage)? That would make them less than ideal for stuff like pivots.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 1, 2021, 11:31 a.m.

I’d think that the solid grease bearing would be the next level of support/durability for pivots because they would better disperse loads - if anything suspension pivots would be a better application than a BB as a bit of drag is way more acceptable in a low rotation / high leverage application.

All conjecture at this point. I’ve not seen one in person.

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Skeen
+2 twk Vik Banerjee
Skeen  - Dec. 30, 2020, 9:10 p.m.

Awesome roundup. I think the high rise bars look sweet, I recently put a set of Surly sunrise with 83 mm rise on old 26er revival because I couldn’t find the pro tapers available. I’d still like to get the pro tapers on my more hardcore bikes. I forget where I read it, but I think I read the sunrise is only rated for something like 3’ drops... either way I love 800+mm width which works in CO thanks to a lack of tight trees on most trails. And cheers to shredding with groms, peace!

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fartymarty
+1 Andrew Major
fartymarty  - Dec. 31, 2020, 12:44 a.m.

I've had a pair of the Sunrise bars on my Krampus and man are they boneshakers - but do look very cool.  Ive also got a pair of Ergotec 70mm rise bars (there are links in Andrews original article) which are much more compliant and easier to get in the UK than the Answers.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 8:45 a.m.

Yeah, those Sunrise bars look like a sh*t kicking waiting to happen on a bumpy trail near you.

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fartymarty
+1 Andrew Major
fartymarty  - Dec. 31, 2020, 12:03 p.m.

And especially shitkicking on a bumpy trail on a rigid fork on 2.4" tyres...  makes you fast on the squishy bike tho.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 3:55 p.m.

#wristsofsteel OR #wristsofsand

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Skeen
0
Skeen  - Dec. 31, 2020, 9:48 p.m.

I put the sunrise on at the same time as a 4” travel recon in place of a 1” RST because I didn’t trust the old fork (circa 1996) anymore. Needless to say that wonked out the geo but it’s still a real fun bike for mellow days.

kmag76
0
kmag76  - Dec. 31, 2020, 8:27 a.m.

I bought the Cane Creek Neo BB when it first came out (about a year ago?) and didn't get to use it till spring 2020. 

It was part of a brand new bike build I put together, and the BB cup split on one of my first rides. It took forever to locate the problem, as it felt like a loose crank arm. Drivetrain and suspension pivots were pulled apart many times trying to locate the issue. 

Finally the cup split more revealing the problem. 

The BB was sent back for warranty, and I waited for months to have it replaced (this was before the big bike part shortage) I finally inquired about it, and was told they were discontinued. So obviously there is something up with the system not working. Maybe better luck with version 2 if it ever presents itself.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 8:42 a.m.

That’s bizarre. When you say the cup split was it a crack between the frame insert (threaded or pressfit?) and the bearing housing (sheered off at BB?) or was it the whole assemble opening up?

In terms of warranty, were you dealing directly with CaneCreek or an online store or a shop?

Unless there’s a bunch of superfluous machining, that sounds like a QC/QA issue with the cup itself rather than an issue with the system. I mean, it’s a bottom bracket. All that’s really fancy about it is the cool SKF bearing.

BBs still look to be available for purchase.

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kmag76
+1 Andrew Major
kmag76  - Dec. 31, 2020, 9:49 a.m.

It was a BSA, and it split at the end of the threads at the cup joint. When i was peddling the force would cause the cup to separate and wobble on every pedal stroke.

The warranty wa through Live to Play, if you look the hellbender Neo on their site, it says discontinued. I looked up BB's on the cane creek site as well, and it only has the hellbender 70 for purchase. 

And totally agree, this was definatly something with the cup itself. 

Not sure why I would be told it has been discontinued, and their is no other news out there that confirms this

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AndrewMajor
+1 kmag76
Andrew Major  - Dec. 31, 2020, 3:54 p.m.

Thanks! I’ve seen a few external BBs fail that way over the years - various brands - but never anything systemic. And you wouldn’t think the cups would be different between the Neo and the 70.

Maybe a case of rider’s not being happy or simple sending a lot of correspondence in with the initial drag from the Neo? 

Do you still have the replacement BB in a bike? Living up to expectations? 

If I had to put money down I’d bet the delay with warranty came down to LTP having no inventory v. CaneCreek taking that long to make a decision, but then what do I know...?

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kmag76
+1 Andrew Major
kmag76  - Dec. 31, 2020, 6:08 p.m.

I never did get a chance to properly try out the Neo, they offered me a 70 as a replacement. But by that time I had bought a wheels mfg BB. (Thanks for the reminder, I still have a credit at the shop)

I’m now waiting on Orange to get their CK supply. Gonna go that route! Although another poster mentioned BBinfinate... those do sound intriguing.

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AndrewMajor
+1 kmag76
Andrew Major  - Jan. 1, 2021, 4:20 p.m.

The Chris King bottom bracket is an awesome value - like an AWESOME value - if you ride a tonne AND have easy access to the tools.

We have a few of them chez Andrew. My wife's commuter bike houses one I bought maybe eight years ago that has found its way through a number of bikes and the one in my cargo bike isn't much newer and the one in my single speed is in its third frame with no signs of giving up. 

But, to make all that work economically, and on my own time, I own the 24mm and 30mm install/removal tool and grease tools for both. 

I know some folks who share sometimes-tools - including a headset press and seal drivers - and that could be a smart way to do it if you have a bunch of friends who also want to own/maintain a King BB.

TonyJ
+1 Andrew Major
TonyJ  - Jan. 2, 2021, 10:08 a.m.

AH, holly, the bain of my existence. 

Everybody should feel free to pull holly out (by the roots) whenever they find it in the forest. That would be a great help to any and all trail builders.

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jonas-dodd
+1 Andrew Major
Jonas Dodd  - Jan. 3, 2021, 1:48 p.m.

Hey Andrew, great bumping into you at the top of 7th today! Conditions were zesty!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 3, 2021, 5:26 p.m.

Cheers Jonas!

I hope you guys had a great ride. I thought traction was surprisingly good in the snow on 7th except when it wasn't (HAHAHAHA) but then we did get first tracks. 

By the time I got home after a solid loop I can say that's the coldest my hands and feet have been in some time!

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araz
0
araz  - Jan. 3, 2021, 8:04 p.m.

Hey Andrew, I'm not normally a big comments section participant, but I thought I'd sign up here because: 1. the comments here are generally super thoughtful, informative and seem to be based in real experience and not just internet-knowledge speculation; and 2. to thank you guys for the fabulous content. I really like your min/maxed approach -- I recently did a custom build from a frame only purchase for the first time (Banshee Pantom) and any part I wasn't sure about I just went with something you'd recommended (aeffect R cranks, PNW bar and dropper, look pedals) and I've been pleased with all those choices so far. I appreciate your and the rest of the NSMB team's nerdy deep dives that always focus on the end experience that we all love of being on our bikes, without being in thrall to the latest and greatest for it's own sake. Anyway, thanks and happy 2021!

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Jan. 4, 2021, 3:06 a.m.

Andrew, a BLE has your name all over it especially with 29+ capability and proper geometry.  That would be a killer bike.

It sounds like rational Andrew needs a good old fashioned kick in the nuts :)  Maybe you should try crowd funding one.... I would throw in £5 just to see how awesome it would look.

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