WZRD_Bikes_Rigid_NSMB_Em_AndrewM_6.original-majorbestof-header.jpg
WRAPPING UP 2021

Best Of 2021 - Andrew's List

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date Dec 27, 2021
Reading time

The Rise Of Rigid

If you listen to some folks, you probably think that every piece I write for NSMB is a thinly veiled attempt at getting you to join my single-speed and rigid fork cults. Plural. It's not true. I don't care if you ever ride a modern rigid rig, but it would be cool if you'd keep an open mind if you've never tried one. Think about all your friends who've switched back to hardtails, or discovered hardtail riding for the first time, after years of riding full suspension bikes. If a hardtail with current geometry can be unexpectedly awesome, then I don't think it's that much of a stretch to say the same for a modern rigid bike.

Rigid bikes? Top of my best of 2021‽ A bizarre thing has happened this year, which I think is very neat. Amazing even. I've received more direct reader correspondence about rigid bikes than any other topic. Often the messages are from people trying to dial in their personal frame geometry but there are also plenty of inquiries about trying rigid riding without the full-custom budget. I figured I'd take a minute to lay out some of my greatest hits when it comes to responses.

For those that already have a hardtail, the obvious choice is to track down a rigid fork that matches your sagged axle-to-crown height, plug it in, and ride. There are even many options now that have Boost 110x15mm axles. Surly is a great place to start, as is Kona, and both sell nice quality steel rigid forks that will cost you less than a suspension service - even after purchasing a reducing crown race and a new brake adapter, if required.

If you need something taller, then any solid custom builder can put a fork together for you. If going custom, consider a tapered steerer tube to maintain your bike's aesthetic. Expect to pay around 500 USD. Once you're in that price zone you can also talk to your local Trek dealer about picking up their carbon 1120 fork. It's tall enough to replace the suspension fork on the front of the Stache, so it will work for most 29" hardtails designed around longer forks and has plenty of clearance for 29+ rubber.

Also, while I'm spending your money, if you're riding technical terrain I'd highly recommend adding a Plus-sized tire (29" or 27") and a wide rim. An internal width of 35mm will work well with a 2.8" or 3" tire and is still awesome with a Maxxis 2.4 or 2.5" WT tread.

Stooge Dirtbomb NSMB Philip Rohrer (AndrewM) (1).jpg

This custom-painted Stooge Dirtbomb is Philip's fresh rigid rig and features jank-worthy geometry. Photo: Philip Rohrer

Stooge Dirtbomb NSMB Philip Rohrer (AndrewM) (3).jpg

He also contributed photos to a piece I wrote in 2017 called You Should Ride A Rigid Fork. Photo: Philip Rohrer

Going with a fresh bike? Stooge makes the most aggressive rigid bikes on the market (geometry-wise). If they'd been an option, my Waltworks V1 probably never would have existed. A Stooge MK5, or the Klunker-style and similar geometry Dirtbomb, are both around 900 USD for a frame and fork - when they aren't sold out.

My favourite production rigid frame & fork is still Kona's Unit. And this year it comes in a pink colour that makes me wish I could justify another suspensionless rig. Just slap in a -2° angleset, plug in a mean front tire, and let it rip. Why the Unit over a Stooge? Having owned multiple examples of both, I strongly prefer sliding drop-outs over an eccentric bottom bracket. I love the Unit's clean lines. And, for folks who don't dig the rigid experience, it will make a fantastic hardtail with a 100-120mm suspension fork installed.

While I'm playing the hits, this conversation isn't complete without a shout out to Surly's Krampus in their 'First Loser' build. The Krampus has been around a long time and I wish it would receive a significant geometry update. Also, if you're playing the used market, as hard as it is to believe, Niner actually used to build some interesting bikes, and their ROS 9 Plus was ahead of its time six or seven years ago. In both these cases, and talking about the Unit, you can go ahead and say it with me: "Angleset."

Fresh Cedar By Ken & Andy

All the great trails on the North Shore, and elsewhere, originated from people. People with jobs, and families, who also wanted to ride their bikes. People who had a need to create something in the woods for themselves and their friends.

People like Vic who built the first trails I fell in love with, at Burke Mountain. People like Digger whose name is synonymous with the kind of trails for which the North Shore became legendary. I'm going to stop there but the litany of names I could pull out of my simple head just for the lower mainland, is staggering. I'm certain wherever you ride there are some legendary folks who gave a lot of themselves for great riding to exist.

Ken on Pipeline and Andy on Upper & Lower Crippler, are two people working on classic trails in a classic way. They work full-time jobs and balance life's other responsibilities with a need to dig in the woods. They largely build alone, bringing in labour when they need it to move materials. Neither is a self-promoter and they derive no compensation or glory from what they do - if anything the opposite - as they buy their own tools and regularly hear entitled riders bemoaning the pace of their progress whether building new features or replacing old ones.

Best Of 2021 Fresh Cedar NSMB AndrewM (2).JPG

Pipeline has been my favourite trail since the first time I rode it. The teeter-totter and exit log are carried forward from Greg & Slawek's wonderful work years ago.

Best Of 2021 Fresh Cedar NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

The rest of the wood on this feature is all fresh work by Ken. He's put a lot of effort into keeping Pipeline what it is for over a decade now.

Best Of 2021 Fresh Cedar NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG

Yes, that fresh cedar smells as good as it looks. The whole feature just flows beautifully. The teeter falls a bit slower than I remembered though... "AHHHH!"

I don't say any of this out of a disenchantment with efforts to build more trails for everyone. It's amazing how much terrain there is here now that I can legitimately take my seven-year-old to ride. I think our local trail network is in amazing shape, as are our relationships with the various government land managers and that is all thanks to the hardworking folks at the NSMBA - support your local trail association. I also think it's very important to have a full range of mountain bike experiences in any trail network, just not by always cannibalizing what came before, and is still being enjoyed. There is plenty of recreation-grade front-country forest for everyone.

As such, I appreciate that both gentlemen build independently from the current pro-flow influence that permeates much of the local mountain bike scene, especially talking here about sanctioned trails you can find on Trailforks. They hold their permits directly through the District Of North Vancouver. My dream bike network includes Pipeline and Lower Crippler, ever-evolving but thematically true to their unique selves. My best of 2021, and every year really, includes all the folks giving their time and sweat building trails for us, and especially those maintaining a special make-your-own-flow experience that is mountain biking for me and a lot of my friends.

Thanks to you both, Andy & Ken.

Best Of 2021 Fresh Cedar NSMB AndrewM (1).JPG

Andy has built amazing wood and rock works on Lower Crippler. This fresh piece is called The New Feature. He also has a massive stack of cedar ready for his next build. I love how the trail is ever-evolving but the fresh work is thematically true.

Big Vigilantes Temporarily Escape Execution

The 29 x 2.8" WTB Vigilante is much more than a sum of its physical components. It's all of my traction down greasy spilled-out spaghetti dinners of shimmering roots. It's my suspension on the rock-armoured trails and old school jank I want to ride. It's the perfect companion on built-up cedar structures - both fresh and well-weathered. The first time I rode the 29+ Vigi it changed my rigid Waltworks V1 from a bike I enjoyed riding on selective Shore trails to my every ride rig. This tire makes riding my rigid mountain bike more fun, and it was a significant part of the motivation behind my Waltworks V2.

The big Vigilante's demise is easily the saddest I've ever been about a bicycle product - any product actually - being discontinued. It simply has no rival on the market, and no brand I've talked to plans to add 29+ rubber options. On hearing of its demise, I reached out to Wilderness Trail Bikes to beg for clemency for at least one SKU of this beautiful beast of a tire. They love the big Vigilante too, but when it comes to sales even the shitty old Velociraptor eats its lunch...the circa 1994 Velociraptor.

You can imagine my excitement on learning that, after being told the Vigilante was dead, it was suddenly available again on WTB's website. In my favourite combination even - High Grip rubber and the Light, but still tough, casing. It turns out, sadly, that this is only a temporary reprieve. An aftershock of inventory in our weird world. But, what about all these new rigid mountain bikes with modern geometry? Once all those Stooge riders start exploring just how capable a rigid bike is going to be, I think the 2.8" High Grip Vigilante is bound to be their only front tire of choice. If they can still get one.

Waltworks V2 NSMB AndrewM.JPG

I know it's not the only aggressive 29+ tire on the market but I think the 2.8" Vigilante is the best. In my mind, this rubber makes riding my rigid bike where I do, with my skillset, possible. Not to mention FUN.

Best Of 2021 WTB Vigilante NSMB AndrewM.JPG

I'm running a CushCore Plus insert combined with the TCS Light casing in the High Grip rubber option. It's a 60tpi casing with a nylon strip along the sidewall to prevent punctures.

Re-Anglesets

Whether it's taking a stock rigid rig and making it more janky trail friendly or repurposing your current rig rather than buying another, I think Anglesets are one of the highest value component upgrades out there. In addition to high quality press-in options from Works Components and Wolf Tooth, the various IS-standard SLACK-R options from 9Point8 make it so that almost any bike can be slackened a notable amount.

Sometimes this will breathe fresh life, and interest, into a bike you're thinking of flipping. Sometimes this will make a bike more fun to ride. Sometimes the only value is in the experimentation itself. Any way you look at it, Anglesets keep more bikes on the trails longer and I think that's a huge win.

9point8 SlackR Angelset NSMB AndrewM (4).JPG

The 9Point8 Slack-R isn't simple, but it's the best and only solution for Anglesetting an IS headtube like the one on my Yeti SB104BBR.

Works Components Angleset AndrewM

This Works Components -2° Angleset did time in my over-forked #1FG Honzo and also my Marin Rifty. What's the worst part of 2021? No teardowns with Jeff since he moved.

Banshee Titan Andrew NSMB Dentizt (8).jpg

Wolf Tooth Components' -1° Angleset was a subtle change to my Banshee Titan experience. I'm looking forward to getting some time on their recently released -2° version. Photo: Deniz Merdano

That "HOME" Feeling

Don't you despise it when your go-to product changes? The one helmet that really fits your weird-ass head gets changed to fit like every other helmet on the market and you're back to square one. Suddenly you can't squeeze your hand into a pair of gloves when for the last decade you've reliably been a medium in all of a certain brand's models. Maybe my medium-large hands and abnormal noggin set make this unique to me, but I doubt that. Lately, I've been having a lovely time with all things contact patch on my personal rig. Lately most of my rides have been on a pair of NSBillet Daemon pedals, with my sh*t-kicked Crankbrothers Stamp Lace shoes, wool Esker The Approach insoles, and some socks my mom knit for me.

As much as I love my 16° backsweep bar or the Chromag Wax push-on grips I've been using, it's the interface between the in-house NSBillet pedal pins and concave platform shape mated to the Stamp's Match rubber sole that's la pièce de résistance with my setup. I can reposition my feet without a second thought and at the same time, I've yet to slip a pedal even in the wet & cold conditions where my past aversion to super sticky soles becomes questionable. I ride other pedals and shoes with good results but nothing feels like 'home' the same way.

Best Of 2021 NSMB Crankbrothers Stamp AndrewM.jpg

My happy place: Daemon pedals by NSBillet. Stamp shoes by Crankbrothers. Inserts by Esker. Hand-knit wool socks by my mom. Photo: Jac

I could have written one of these pieces a week for the whole month of January without having to whip up any filler. I mean, I started this piece by automatically disqualifying everything I wrote about last year and then deciding that I'd written enough about my Banshee Titan experience and it could sit out an article. And wow. I'm beyond thankful that hacking down my potential best of 2021 list was like butchering a tyrannosaurus - I've carved up the left leg and we're all totally stuffed. Oh, you saved room for dessert?

How delicious is this? I've noticed lately that folks riding on the trails seem a lot more relaxed, dare I say normal - at least for a bunch of weird adults obsessed with riding expensive toys in the forest - than even a few months ago. Courtesy and an exchange of smiles dictate right-of-way again in a vibrant way that I hadn't really noticed had faded. Mountain bikers, hikers, runners, dog walkers, and all - be nice and earn it back twice. I really hope the vibe carries on through the smaller winter ridership into next summer and beyond. Best of 2022 material right there.

Happy New Year!

Related Stories

Trending on NSMB

Comments

Shortyesquire
+1 Andrew Major
Andrew Collins  - Dec. 27, 2021, 12:04 a.m.

Please tell me that isn't rust on the WZRD.

Also you try some of the big ass Vittoria tyres like the Mazza and Martello in a 29x2.6. The standard tyres are tough and the 2-ply enduro casing is just outrageously tough and heavy.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 bushtrucker
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 8:34 a.m.

That WZRD was part way through production. Em shared the photos on Instagram and I asked if I could use them.

I’ve ridden plenty of 2.6” tires on i35 and i40 rims and they’re not the same as running the 2.8” Vigilante. If WTB retires it permanently then running an aggressive 2.6” will be my only choice, but I’m hoping enough folks discover rigid bikes - and the beauty of the 2.8” Vigi - before I run out of spares!

Reply

dorkweed
+1 Andrew Major
dorkweed  - Dec. 29, 2021, 2:12 p.m.

Schwalbe makes the Nic in a 2.8 but only in the 27.5.  I'm a bit surprised they don't have a mid-high volume 29er tire.  I liked the 2.8 in the 27.5.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 29, 2021, 3:39 p.m.

They do… we had them on my wife’s bike but switching to a 27x2.8” Specialized Butcher was a notable improvement.

Also a tire not available in 29+.

Reply

Timer
+1 Andrew Major
Timer  - Dec. 30, 2021, 8:05 a.m.

Just to prevent a possible disappointment: Almost all Vittoria tyres are very fast rolling for their class but the rubber isn't terribly grippy. I wouldn't recommend any of them for riding the shore in winter.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Timer
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2021, 9:01 a.m.

Ha. I received a couple of messages saying the same. Maybe something to try in the summer. I have enough 2.8" Vigilantes to get me along for a while. 

The 2.6" Purgatory I run on the back of my Walt is pretty trashed (sidewalls). It's been phenomenal for the rolling speed v. traction but I may try something else high volume and fast-enough rolling.

Reply

oldmanbike
+1 Andrew Major
OldManBike  - Dec. 27, 2021, 6:48 a.m.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 OldManBike
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 8:30 a.m.

Thanks! Updated the link. Just a disconnect between when pieces were complete and went live.

Happy Almost New Year!

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 27, 2021, 5:07 p.m.

I will admit that when Chromag was out of stock on Wax grips earlier this year, learned as I had installed my last pair and was looking for a matching colourway (that sadly doesn't exist), I was concerned.  I did try a pair of Wolftooth Karv grips because they matched my DH bike - but while they feel nice, they're just as fragile as the ODI grips that my Wax grips replaced.  Thankfully stock has been restored - both at Chromag as we a at casa del Khai.

In terms of other (largely unheralded) negatives of 2011, losing the ability to comment on meat sucks...

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 6:18 p.m.

I have also added Push-On grips to my list of Covinventory along with chains, brake pads, and mineral oil. 

Thanks, Khai. I really hope that's rectified sooner rather than later. I was thinking of it today when putting together a little look at the fact that this (my Best-Of-2021) is the four-hundred-and-first article on NSMB.com with my name in the byline!

Reply

craw
+3 Andrew Major thaaad ManInSteel
Cr4w  - Dec. 27, 2021, 8:42 a.m.

Can we get some more detailed photos and proper backstory for those socks!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+13 kcy4130 Greg Bly Paul Stuart Cr4w thaaad ManInSteel Pete Roggeman fartymarty Mammal blackhat Karl Fitzpatrick Marc Fenigstein Natecher
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 9:22 a.m.

A photo I took would never really do justice to the love, time, and craft that went into these, but I've included one anyway. I selected a few colourful examples as I probably have a hundred pairs but most of them are single colours. Many different patterns and wool blends and different degrees of wear. 

Going back to when I was a teenager my gramma would knit me socks every year for Christmas. She was a knitting machine and I would get a few pairs as would my pops. I wear them a lot, especially in the winter for riding, hiking, around the house - life, and they generally last a freakin' long time although I've certainly worn out a few pairs over all these years. My gramma passed many years ago now and after that, my mom started knitting me a couple of pairs of socks a year - I guess we could call it keeping the tradition alive. So I have a mix of socks from ones I received last week to some examples that are probably thirty years old. 

My dad never really wore his but he kept them all for the obvious reasons - I mean, I think there's a little bit of someone's soul in everything they knit right? So when he passed I inherited all his socks too. Actually, I think hand-knit socks are the one thing anyone could accuse me of collecting. Maybe that and bike tools. I live pretty lite otherwise. 

Anyway, thanks for asking! 

Reply

Bikeryder85
+4 Andrew Major bushtrucker Cr4w ManInSteel
Bikeryder85  - Dec. 27, 2021, 11:32 a.m.

That is a lovely story, thank you for sharing!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 ManInSteel
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 6:20 p.m.

Cheers! I'm really glad Alex asked about them. I had never written anything about them before now (or at least before that caption) even though they're an important physical tie to my family/memories of my family.

Reply

Bikeryder85
+1 Andrew Major
Bikeryder85  - Dec. 28, 2021, 2:45 a.m.

Those ties are super important too...never loose track of that! Really enjoyed reading your perspective on things MTB this year, looking forward to 2022!

Reply

fartymarty
+2 Andrew Major blackhat
fartymarty  - Dec. 29, 2021, 12:57 a.m.

I think I got a little dust in my eye reading that one.

Andrew - hope you and family had a great Xmas break and I'm looking forward to the next 401 articles.

Reply

TonyJ
+5 Andrew Major kcy4130 Pete Roggeman nothingfuture Marc Fenigstein
TonyJ  - Dec. 27, 2021, 8:45 a.m.

Andrew,

I want to thank you for your unique outlook on the sport we all love. I always look forward to reading your article and enjoy following along in the comments conversation.

Your passion and quest for knowledge is inspirational. I can say it helps keep me going in these snowy/frozen trail days.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 kcy4130 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 9:01 a.m.

I'm not crying you're crying. 

Thank you, Tony, this means a ton to me. Thanks for all your work on the trails too, and to everyone whose volunteerism keeps mountain biking awesome! 

Reader comments on NSMB were in my Best of 2019 and really they should be on the list every year. The community here is awesome. 

The snow is going to be here for a while!? Making the most of it:

Reply

Vikb
+6 Andrew Major bushtrucker AndrewR ManInSteel Pete Roggeman Mammal
Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 27, 2021, 10:01 a.m.

Prototype rigid Docta. Purple. Backsweep. Two bottles. 29+. Fresh tracks in snow. Mudhugger fender. You know how to push all my buttons. ;-)

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Vik Banerjee AndrewR
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 10:44 a.m.

Hahaha. Merry Merry and Happy Almost New Year Vic!

Reply

TonyJ
+2 Andrew Major Vik Banerjee
TonyJ  - Dec. 27, 2021, 1:21 p.m.

Got in a ride on Christmas Day, it was still good, just a couple of CM's of fresh on top, it helps a lot.

Reply

Kenny
+1 Andrew Major
Kenny  - Dec. 27, 2021, 9:13 a.m.

The 1120 adventure fork looks like a winner. Was actually thinking the other day about pinging a locak trek shop to see how available they are, or not. Longest axle to crown around that I've seen.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 9:27 a.m.

The Orbea Spirit Fork is an interesting-looking suspension-corrected option as well, that is available separately. Not inexpensive but a custom steel rigid fork isn't either. I haven't had a chance to ask about availability on the 1120 fork so if you beat me to it please post up and let me know. 

Cheers!

Reply

LWK
+1 Andrew Major
LWK  - Dec. 27, 2021, 10:57 a.m.

I have this fork on my Stache for winter riding.  The axle to crown is 520mm per my notes.  Its called the "Bowie" and seems next to impossible to find on Trek's website.  Its not cheap - ~$600 at full retail by memory.  And it DOESNT come with the axle so make sure you order that as well!...  I dont have any frame of reference for rigid forks but I do like it.  It has lots of accessory mounts if you want/need and it has cool slots to slip zip ties through to tighten your brake line down.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 LWK
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 11:23 a.m.

Interesting, I thought the Bontrager Bowie (discontinued) was a different fork as the A-to-C was listed at under 500mm. I've reached out to Trek to get clarification!

Reply

Kenny
+1 Andrew Major
Kenny  - Dec. 27, 2021, 4:44 p.m.

Yeah from my research (been researching rigid forks a lot lately,  as nerdy as that sounds) the bowie is non-boost and listed as 500mm A-C.

The 1120 adventure is 510mm A-C and is boost spacing, longer than the whisky no 9 LT which is 500mm. 

The whisky looks sweet but at $550 USD it's definitely a "premium " option, the 1120 looks to be a little cheaper and I'll take any extra A-C I can get.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 5:11 p.m.

Doesn't sound any nerdier than researching anything else bicycle-related (they are all expensive kids' toys we ride in the woods), and you're far from the only person who is rigid curious - hence it making my Best-Of-2021! 

Boost spacing is a must for most folks if they're going to be going back and forth between rigid and a suspension fork or trying to swap wheels between bikes, so that's a good eye. 

...

Wolf Tooth does a ZS56 headset cup extender that may help if you're running a ZS44/56 headtube. It adds a centimeter. On a budget, if you tuck your head into any local Rocky Mountain dealer they can probably hook you up with a great deal on a lower cup as all the Instinct/Pipeline front triangles they swapped came with them. The RMB lower cup fits an FSA Orbit NO.57E bearing (MR019 I believe). 

...

Niner's last-generation steel rigid fork w/ thru-axle was 490mm A-to-C. I think it's the longest I've come across in a stock steel option. The new Unit forks come up from time to time as take-offs but they're only 470mm A-to-C.

Reply

Kenny
+1 Andrew Major
Kenny  - Dec. 27, 2021, 5:23 p.m.

I am on a previous Gen chameleon carbon, with slack-r installed. I want to keep as much slackness as I can, so something with an a-c thats dynamically similar to a 130-140 suspension fork would be ideal. 

With 29er dropouts, the slackr, mullet, and 140 fork it sits around 65 static and for the shore I don't like going much steeper than that.

AndrewMajor
+1 goose8
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 6:10 p.m.

That makes perfect sense to me!

I was looking at ways I could rigid the current-gen Chameleon I'm testing (for science!) and that's where I started thinking about the Trek 1120 fork initially.

A Whisky carbon fork is 500mm and readily available. I'm hoping that the 'rise of rigid' (HAHAHAHAHAHA) is such that someone jumps in with a 510mm/520mm option sooner than later. I have a few friends with Kona Honzos that I think would be interested in trying rigid if the A-to-C was tall enough and the fork was aluminum or steel - i.e. the price of a suspension service not the price of a suspension fork.

goose8
+1 Andrew Major
goose8  - Dec. 28, 2021, 5:57 a.m.

I'd certainly try out a rigid fork on my honzo if the a-c length was there. I'm currently mid-way through trying a rigid fork on my wozo. The longest I could find was 490, which climbed well, but felt weird descending. I ordered a spacer from reverse components to gain 10mm or so, but went back to the mastodon while I'm waiting on it to arrive. It's far more enjoyable going downhill and the pedaling position feels better (the unsagged a-c is more like 550mm). I have high hopes that the spacer will get the rigid fork into the right ballpark though. If not, then maybe a custom fork will be the ticket! (and yes I know that fatbikes aren't the same as hardtails, but the geometry changes are still relevant methinks). 

But seriously, I love tinkering and your posts have piqued my interests in lots of different ways, prompting me to experiment with things and rethink my riding. Thanks for all the hard work you do!

AndrewMajor
+1 goose8
Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2021, 9:34 a.m.

I would have loved to try the Wozo with an Angleset and a tall-enough rigid fork. Oh, and a more aggressive front tire - maybe a Maxxis FBR? 

I’ve really enjoyed my fat bike experiences. I mean, obviously in the snow but we had little of the white stuff the year the Wozo was up for review and I had a bunch of great solo adventures. One 7th Secret and Pipeline ride stands out.

I still follow Fat, and if I lived anywhere with a couple months of snow I think I’d own a fresh Rocky Moutain Blizzard. Add Angleset because - why not. Install my friction Thumbshifter and 1x6 drivetrain and go. 

I9 1/1 rear hub and carbon rims down the road… I’m not normally a big carbon rim pusher but in my experience they pick up significantly less snow. Also a bit of dent resistance for the win.

Cheers!

Kenny
+1 Andrew Major
Kenny  - Dec. 28, 2021, noon

RSD's forthcoming 510mm aluminum fork looks interesting as well

https://cad.rsdbikes.com/product/510mm-aluminum-fork/

At about 350 bucks so it splits the difference price-wise between the high end carbon forks and steel or sketchy noname carbon forks. 

That said, while I'm no weight weenie,  it's 1120g, so almost a pound heavier that carbon. An extra couple hundred bucks to save an entire pound, in some ways I'd be inclined to pay the extra money at that point. If it was $250 it'd be much more tempting.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2021, 7:05 p.m.

I don't care much (at all?) about the weight and I think it's très cool that RSD is making it. The price does include a thru-axle and it is likely a low-unit production where they're trying to cover all the tooling in the first batch so they don't get caught out if they don't sell awesome. 

A Surly Krampus Thru-Axle fork is 1180-grams (steel / 483mm A-to-C) and 235 CAD with an axle. Surly has a huge advantage in numbers (and QBP purchasing power) so I think with all that considered RSD has a case for what they're charging (including the axle).

I mean, the fact the product is going to exist is very cool in my mind.

goose8
+2 Andrew Major mikesee
goose8  - Dec. 29, 2021, 10:01 a.m.

That's an interesting point about the snow accumulating on the carbon rims Andrew. I haven't noticed it being too bad on my mulefats, but sometimes my tires pack up like massive donuts if I cross open water and then go back onto snow. Speaking of tires, I'm all for aggressive treads. I've tried the FBR and didn't care for it much. If you're looking for the best traction possible, check out the studded 27.5x4.5 gnarwhals. They've treated me really well.

I bumped the travel on my mastodon but haven't tried an angleset yet. Maybe that's my next experiment!

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 29, 2021, 1:06 p.m.

An interesting suggestion of the Gnarwhal. You find when you're breaking or turning down steep terrain that it digs in fairly well? My issues with fat bike tires were always related to getting the bike to change direction. 

If I have another opportunity to test a fat bike I'll definitely look into the Bontragers.  Thanks!

mikesee
+1 Andrew Major
mikesee  - Dec. 29, 2021, 1:32 p.m.

For mixed snow/dirt/loam/duff, the Gnarwhals might be the best thing ever.

I run 3.8's studded for mixed snow/dirt/ice.  Studded 4.5's seem overkill/invincible, until you hit wet rock...

Qamuuqin_Maxwell
+1 Andrew Major
Qamuuqin Maxwell  - Dec. 27, 2021, 10:58 a.m.

The 1120 fork is in stock in the US in the Trek Black colorway!!!

The other colors are ETA'd for April and Oct of 2022. 

Trek part # 564986 for the black color. Suggested retail in USD 399.99.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2021, 9:21 a.m.

Thank you!

Reply

mikeynets
+1 Andrew Major
mikeynets  - Dec. 28, 2021, 11:24 a.m.

I have a Whisky No. 9 Boost LT for my Cotic SolarisMax. 500 A2C for ~66˚ HTA. And it supposedly fits 3.0" tires, though the biggest I've run is 2.6 — a Vittoria Mezcal when the bike is in zippy mile munching form and Spesh Butcher in normal guise with a Marz Z1 swapped in for the rigid.

I haven't tried a 2.8 tire, but I'm curious to do so. The 2.6 feels great with the suspension fork, just so so with the rigid.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 mikeynets
Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2021, 11:52 a.m.

I like 2.6" tires on bikes with suspension forks. Just enough extra margin of error in technical situations without a ton of extra weight or roll-over. I've been running a 2.6" Vigilante on an i35 and i40 rim for a while for the application and I agree it feels great. 

With the rigid, again on the techy jank, the extra air volume and traction of the 2.8" makes a big difference - at least I notice it right away in back-to-back testing. That's both tires run as soft as I can with a CushCore insert while still being able to corner well. I played with it a bunch when I thought the 2.8" Vigi was dead - and knowing that the 3" SE4 is dead too - which meant finding the best 2.6" option going forward. 

I'm truly hoping WTB keeps the 2.8" Vigi - even in one SKU / light + high grip - until enough rigid curious folks have a chance to experiment with what works for them. It's not that I didn't ride a rigid bike plenty of places pre-Vigi (I've consistently owned a rigid MTB going back to my 2001 Redline Monocog) but it's only once I switched the Vigi that I felt I could ride it anywhere - or anywhere I wanted to ride at least. 

Please do let me know if you have a chance to try a 2.8" (or bigger) tire, whether it works great for you or not.

Reply

mikeynets
+1 Andrew Major
mikeynets  - Dec. 28, 2021, 12:12 p.m.

I live in Marin where WTB is HQd. There's a non-profit LBS that only sells used and/or donated bikes and parts and they always have a large cache of WTB tires. They're typically new, no packaging — not sure if they're coming straight from WTB as NOS or OE take offs. I've been needing to head there to scour the bins for short cranks for my kid's bike project (and just to scour the bins because that in and of itself is so satisfying!)  This convo just lit a fire to see if they have any big ol Vigis lying around. I've run the 27.5x2.4 flavor before and loved that tire. Thanks for the motivation!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2021, 6:57 p.m.

I don't know how many 27+/29+ Vigilantes were sold OE, but my fingers are crossed for you. Happy Hunting!

I very much like it in the 2.5", 2.6", and 2.8" versions I've tried.

Reply

fartymarty
+1 Andrew Major
fartymarty  - Dec. 29, 2021, 1:01 a.m.

Andrew, have you tried any if the Surly 2.8 / 3.0 tyres?  I had a DW a good while back and remember it was good altho probably not as good as a Vigi (my new fav all year tyre albeit in 2.3).  I wish more companies would go down the Bonty route - less tread patterns, very sensible naming and use categories.

AndrewMajor
+1 fartymarty
Andrew Major  - Dec. 29, 2021, 8:04 a.m.

The DW wouldn't be my first choice, it's like a lot of Surly products - simple and good but with superior choices available for similar amounts of money. The pattern is fine, the rubber is fine (48a), the volume is fine but not as big as an SE4 3" on an i40 rim. It is a bit bigger than the 2.8" Vigi on an i40 rim but with the casing support (WTB Light casing) and a CushCore Plus insert I'm running it soft enough to make up the difference. 

I do love that the DW exists mind you. Especially now that Trek has killed the SE4 (Stache owners can choose an XR4 / XR2 3" or switch to another brand) and there's no ETA (if ever) for Maxxis to do more 29+ rubber. 

Keeping in mind I'll take the Vigilante 29+ over any of those options as well. Excellent rubber, excellent casing, really solid longevity.

bushtrucker
+1 Andrew Major
bushtrucker  - Dec. 27, 2021, 1:15 p.m.

Love hearing ya rigid perspective Andrew so don’t ever stop haha. As far as a dual duty goes I was wondering what the A-C is on ya Waltworks rigid fork?

When I got my 130mm hardtail built I discussed the idea of a 500ish A-C steel fork with the builder and they were hesitant to give it a go. And I know most factory rigid forks (Surly, Kona, etc) max out at about 480-490 which really isn’t enough length to maintain the right geo IMO.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 2:01 p.m.

Thank You!

My Walt fork is 493mm. It matches my 100mm suspension fork with sag. 

Except, I run a 120mm fork now because, as we all know and I failed to account for, forks on hardtails are always significantly more sagged coming down steep trails. 

I can imagine that the builder couldn’t get butted blades for a fork that long. Not a big deal? My V2 has straight-gauge blades (and the corresponding hit to weight) in order to have the little fender arch installed. But, I don’t see why a 2cm longer fork would be an issue? With a thru axle and tapered steerer my V2 fork is stiff as… 

Hope that’s helpful! Remember your 2.8” Vigi on an i40 will add some height too! (Ha!)

Reply

cheapondirt
+2 Andrew Major ElBrendo
cheapondirt  - Dec. 27, 2021, 6:28 p.m.

Not to be a suck, but your articles have had an oversized influence on my bike in the last year. I don't think all the relevant stories were written in '21, but because of them this year I switched to a bar with more sweep and push on grips (though of a different flavour as previously discussed at length). My comfort has improved quite a bit so thank you, Andrew.

I recall a conversation with a Chilliwack bike shop owner who also enjoys your writing and finds your reviews credible, relevant, and valuable. I'm sharing that because a positive thought left unheard does nobody any good.

I even greased my Oneup Composites because of you. Soon afterward I gave them to a friend, but it's nice to have friends with quiet pedals too.

I've yet to be sold on harder soles though. My white Oakleys from 2005 formed my opinion on that topic.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 cheapondirt
Andrew Major  - Dec. 27, 2021, 7:14 p.m.

Cheers!

The most important part of your post, to me personally, is the last sentence. When I'm writing (and I'm excited to say this is the 401st piece for NSMB.com with my name in the byline - so I've written a little bit), I'm not trying to tell anyone the way things are - I write from a perspective of what works (and doesn't work) for me. And, hopefully, it comes across that I'm genuinely interested in the whats (and whys) of what works (and doesn't work) for other riders too.

Things that bring me joy (rigid single speeds for example) are often just a curiosity to other folks, I get it - but I really appreciate how curious many readers have been. Writing about my experiences with push-on grips, bars with more backsweep, and saddles - amongst many other things - has proven very rewarding for me in the number of riders who have experimented with them and then given me credit for their interest in trying different options. Goosebumps. Certainly more than a few of those riders are back on lock-on grips and 7-9° bars but the fact they tried something different at least in part because of something I wrote is amazing to me.

And the conversations - the comments - are regularly the highlight of anything I write anyways. This means I got to be the catalyst for exchanges of ideas between riders all over the world united by a love of riding children's toys in the forest. AMAZING.

---

I like shoes that let me move my feet around a bit (with awesome pedals that keep them in place when I want them to stay put), many folks like to have maximum grip on tap - cool. I'm 5'9" tall and generally wish most large bikes had longer wheelbases and some 6'5" ex-BMXer ripping smooth single track all day prefers to ride a medium - cool.

I'm so far from being the best rider at NSMB that there are a few folks here who could smoke me down double black trails using those '94 Velociraptors I derisively mentioned in this piece. Sometimes, I don't know how much I have to offer truly advanced riders anywhere in the world reading this site - apart from hopefully some entertaining content. But at the same time, one of my favourite quotes is: "just because you're fast, doesn't mean you're right" - anonymous. So, maybe even riders who shred way harder than I do could do to try some alt-bars or gluing on some rubber grips, or a 1x8 drivetrain, or a rigid single speed?! Who knows.

Reply

cheapondirt
+1 Andrew Major
cheapondirt  - Dec. 28, 2021, 1:28 p.m.

I don't even know what pedals I had back then, but today's state of the pedal art does appear to leave a more room for different shoe preferences.

Reply

scottanist
+1 Andrew Major
Scott B  - Dec. 27, 2021, 7:30 p.m.

I've still got a Surly Instigator 2 (discontinued) and love it rigid or with a 150 fork. I have a Unit on order though because you can't get (26 X 2.8 minions (discontinued) anymore and my stockpile is running out! Let's hope the 29 x 2.8's hold production.

Awesome that you shout out to Wizard too! I've got some Wizardry bits on my bikes and like following all the cool bike stuff designed and produced locally.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2021, 9:24 a.m.

Oooo… Pink Unit or Blue? Really keen to see what the pink one looks like in the flesh.

Really sad 26+ is ~ dead. 27+ and 29+ Apparently not far behind (2.6” is at best +/- but not plus).

Reply

cheapondirt
+1 Andrew Major
cheapondirt  - Dec. 28, 2021, 12:56 p.m.

I'm on my last 26x2.8 Minion as well. It is disappointing.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2021, 6:56 p.m.

Maxxis may produce them yet - I know, for example, that there are 24" and 20" Minions coming back into global inventory but maybe not until late spring as they catch up on production of their highest margin/volume inventory. 

It is a tire you're unlikely to find stashed in the back of a shop though, so if they're out of stock everywhere then they're out of stock everywhere most likely. 

Happy hunting!

Reply

Peabobryson
+1 Andrew Major
Peabobryson  - Dec. 28, 2021, 11:33 a.m.

miss you buds

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2021, 11:55 a.m.

#MyCommunity. Hopefully, see you soon. 

Reply

Vikb
+2 Velocipedestrian fartymarty
Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 28, 2021, 6:21 p.m.

Where's the MEAT 401?

The rise of the electric mountain moped is an interesting phenomenon. While I am not personally stoked about them or interested in riding one when I see a couple of fit 40 year-olds rip past me uphill on mopeds my heart warms that trails are being made more accessible to everyone.

I'll be sad when you can't buy a meat powered mountain bike in a local shop any more. I definitely see the wisdom of stocking up on an End of Days Rigid Single Speed Machine. With some judicious cog, ring and chain hording you can keep meat powered trail riding alive for a long long time. 

I do have a rigid SS machine, but not one I want to shred trails hard on. So I guess I better get on the hunt for a long rigid fork and appropriate angle adjust headset so I'm prepared for the e-pocalypse. ;-)

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 Vik Banerjee goose8
Andrew Major  - Dec. 28, 2021, 6:49 p.m.

HAHAHAHA, hopefully, I don't come across that hyperbolical!

First off, check out Stridsland - Ride Slow, Die Whenever. Where there's demand, there's a way - five-bolt rings, replacement forks for your 1-1/8" straight-steerer-specific hardtail to replace the toasted suspension fork.

It will be interesting to see what happens to drivetrain development once gearbox & motor integration becomes a thing. I guess it will depend on what % of riders end up riding motor-assisted mountain machines. As long as there are Deore drivetrains and friction thumbies I'm happy - so no worries on my end.

I know more than one person with the means to high-end ~e that has fully switched over from meat-powered mountain bicycles. This is to say, the means to ride a plug-in without having to take any hit to components spec and no concern about losses flipping bikes as technology and integration races forward. None of them sees any reason they'd own a regular mountain bike again. Most of them admit that riding uphills on their regular bike became really (physically and emotionally) hard after they started riding the assisted rig regularly.

Within a generation will non-e~bikes be solely the realm of the poor, eccentrics, back-in-my-nostalgics, and curmodegeons? If that's the case there are probably enough of us to keep the Kick-Ass-Cogs and steel frame/fork sets flowing.

Reply

fartymarty
+2 Vik Banerjee Andrew Major
fartymarty  - Dec. 29, 2021, 6:17 a.m.

I was doing an organised ride (Dirty Santa's 44km) a few weeks ago with a few riding buddy's.  Eebs came up and two (of four) seemed keen in the idea to allow them to ride more DH trails in a given time.  

I on the other hand don't mind the suffering that comes with climbing and see it as part of the sport - earn your turns and all that.  Also I'm only one of two I know who has / or rides SS.  Maybe that's just the case of having the ability and willingness to try it... or maybe its another form of suffering.

From this I see mtbs going two ways - long travel enduro eebs and shorter travel trail bikes (I was going to use the DC word - which I thinking useful as another descriptor).  There are those who like to pedal and those who are only in it for the adrenaline.  Maybe I'm over simplifying.

I think there will always be small builders building sweet HTs - and I would be good riding a HT for the rest of my days.

Another though I pondered is would you still ride if there were no hills around.  My answer would be yes.  My bike would certainly change but I would still get out for a pedal.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 goose8 fartymarty
Andrew Major  - Dec. 29, 2021, 8:14 a.m.

I actually don't think I'd keep mountain biking if the trails were shitty (and there was no terrain/opportunity to build better ones). Certainly, I'd not ever choose to move somewhere without good trails. I love to climb my bike and descend my bike, and I even love flat janky trails so it's less about the hills and more about the terrain. Luckily lots of places in BC with good (or good-enough) riding about that I don't have to worry about it. 

If there wouldn't good trails I'd still ride plenty but with a purpose. I love running errands by bike and getting out and exploring where I live by finding the paths less traveled - the kind of thing that's fun on a flat-bar gravelish rig. 

If I had a work commute I couldn't regularly do by bike or transit without impacting everything else in my life (too tired, too much time) then I'd consider a blender-bike certainly for that commuter application but for me, it takes the joy out of riding around the city (it's a means to an end) so it would be a car replacement, not a bike replacement. 

I think that's my disconnect with pedelecs, cost aside. I want to have a simple, fun in the woods, mountain bicycling experience - not a computer and motor-assisted plug-in experience in the woods.

Reply

LWK
+1 Andrew Major
LWK  - Dec. 29, 2021, 2:19 p.m.

Your comment on the bifurcation of MTB is interesting.  As I've watched bike prices spiral upwards the last couple of years I have thought the same just from a price perspective.  But adding the motor bit to the equation seems to make a bit more sense. 

So we get a market that is focused on the latest, greatest, motors, electronics, integration, non stop barrage of new "standards", etc, etc AND $15K entry level price tags.  I'd expect that to be the domain of large brands.  And a secondary market that is focused more on bikes as we think of them today with much less "development" but maybe more support for custom tuned suspension and that sort of thing.  I'd expect this to be more where smaller brands end up.

and pedal vs. adrenaline... to illustrate your point, you only need to go to a ski hill (or bike park) to see there are plenty of (very) good skiers, boarders and riders who are busy drinking (and sometimes smoking!) while taking a break!

Reply

fartymarty
+2 LWK Andrew Major
fartymarty  - Dec. 30, 2021, 3:46 a.m.

At least we are now at a good place with geo and good cheap reliable drivetrains on meat powered bikes.  Given interfaces don't change or become obsolete (headset, BB, rear hub spacing, shock mount / length, seat tube dia) you can buy bikes today that are going to last many many years to the extent I'm not overly worried what people ride as long as I can get the parts I need to keep riding.  It may end up that it's the small guys doing meat powered whereas the bigger companies have moved more towards eebs and reduce product lines to match reduced demand.

I guess we're seeing this already with HTs.  The bigger companies make them but I bet most high end HTs (or HTs ridden by enthusiasts) are from smaller builders.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2021, 9:05 a.m.

That's actually one of the weirdest things about my Walt V2. There are little things I'd change if I HAD TO replace it but it's the first bike I've ever owned where I'm not thinking about my next bike. So, short of breaking it and given all the standards are current, I could see legitimately riding it for decades. We'll see, but it will be fun to look back on all this 5-10 years from now.

AndrewMajor
+1 fartymarty
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2021, 9:21 a.m.

It's all a thought experiment at this point but it will be interesting to see where riding-bikes-in-the-woods is at in ten years. 

If I had had to put money down a few years back I would have bet that the kind of e~machines that would catch on would be the ones that provided just enough assistance to make climbing easier while still feeling like riding a bike (Levo SL style). 

Then a couple of years ago, last year even, I would have bet that more and more and more juice (Turbo Levo) would have been demanded until basically everyone was riding crank-throttle battery-powered mini-motos. I mean, at some point swap them for pegs and have at it. It's crazy with the big motors how many riders rarely even shift. Working in a shop it's crazy (MTB and commuter) how many e~bikes have totally worn out high gears while their low cogs are totally untouched fresh (the opposite of meat-powered bikes).

Then I talked to a fair number of folks with those almost-mini-motos and other than when they go screaming by me up fireroads they're pedaling around in the significantly detuned modes when they're actually riding on proper singletrack or else the e~rigs are too hard to handle. Like not even using MTB-Mode locally. So now I wonder if there's another generation of product coming that will add ~100-ish watts, a much smaller battery, and look like a regular mountain bike (Levo SL-SL-SL). Plenty of room in the 34.9 seat tube and stash boxes on some current carbon and now aluminum bikes to hide a much smaller setup. 

...

For all the back and forth, I don't think actual people-powered mountain bikes are going anywhere. Just look at Rivendell - Grant has found enough like-minded riders to sell his bikes for years the way he wants them to be. It's actually pretty cool to see what's left standing (thriving) after the mainstream moves on.

Reply

Vikb
+1 fartymarty
Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 29, 2021, 6:18 a.m.

I think you are looking at the last days of the Meat Tribe's glory. There will always be a few weirdos in the woods running/biking, but it'll go from normal to unusual to see someone go Full Meat in the span of 10 years.

One small consolation we have is that I think the reign of the Mountain Motorsports Machine will be short. VR tech is on the verge of exploding and will eat the MMM industry's lunch really fast when it does. VR provides all the benefits of motors plus a lot more without any of the pesky downsides of being outdoors in the woods.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 fartymarty
Andrew Major  - Dec. 29, 2021, 8:22 a.m.

I don't think the cost of motors/batteries will ever come down that low - but certainly, a lot can change in a decade. The culture has very much changed as you note. Some of the most vehemently anti-e~ folks I know have refreshed their legends and are now some of the most e~ curious.

At least for now an NX-equipped e~machine v. a Deore equipped hardtail there's no comparison in investment and that's for the most basic of e~bikes. 

[aside] remember when (many) folks were saying they wouldn't buy a bike from a company that also make e~bikes? How do Transition, IBIS, GG, etc hope to keep bikes in stock? HAHAHAHA [/aside]

I'm much less cynical than you about VR. I know it's exploding. But I see my kid playing in the forest with her friends or think about that 'forest bathing' experience when we go on hikes and I don't think VR is ever going to replace that. It will be much more convenient especially for families without access to forests or who "don't have the time" to take their kids out but I think the appeal of nature continues to win out.

Reply

SteveR
+2 kcy4130 Vik Banerjee
SteveR  - Dec. 29, 2021, 8:31 p.m.

"I think you are looking at the last days of the Meat Tribe's glory. There will always be a few weirdos in the woods running/biking, but it'll go from normal to unusual to see someone go Full Meat in the span of 10 years."

Hah! So, full circle for old timers like me. From lone weirdo riding bikes in the woods, to just another face in the crowd, and then back to weirdo. I'll take it! Or maybe not- as I enter my senior years I've slowed down for sure, and dialled back the risk taking, but thankfully still have the health, strength and fitness to still go Full Meat.  But in 10 years, who knows...

Reply

fartymarty
+1 Andrew Major
fartymarty  - Dec. 30, 2021, 2:03 a.m.

If nothing else this will be an interesting re-read in 5-10 years.

For this reason it would be interesting to do an NSMB piece on eebs and their future and various peoples thoughts on them and where meat powered bikes will end up.  We could document our thoughts for future reference (I like coming back to see how my comments have faired with time).

Steve - I think I'm with you on going back full circle to being the weirdo pedalling a meat powered bike in the wood where others have gone VR (some of my riding buddies are already doing this instead of riding UK winter slop) or eeb.

Reply

SteveR
0
SteveR  - Dec. 29, 2021, 8:31 p.m.

This comment has been removed.

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 30, 2021, 7:58 a.m.

On the VR front, I think smart trainers paired with apps like Zwift have really pushed this forward - at least for roadies.  I know they have some mtb content but I don't think it translates nearly as well.  Still, the tech is developing and they're getting into treadmills too.  It won't replace getting outside for many of us, but I do know some roadies/triathletes that do all/the majority of their training indoors in the off season, and even in season for critical workouts.  There's a key differentiator, however - most mountain bikers aren't doing "workouts" and don't have wattage/interval related goals.  And I can't quite wrap my head around how to simulate technical climbing on a trainer, much less descending...

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 khai kcy4130
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2021, 9:25 a.m.

Can we just take a moment to appreciate whoever named the product "Zwift" and all the fantastic (sometimes dirty) banter-potential stored within those five letters?

-"Go Zwift Yourself!"

-"I walked in and he was half-naked Zwifting in front of a mirror"

-"They take turns Zwifting"

So, so, so, much better than Peloton.

Reply

mikesee
+3 goose8 Vik Banerjee Andrew Major
mikesee  - Dec. 29, 2021, 8:38 a.m.

29 x 3" DHF's and DHR's are still being made.

There's some douchebag in Idaho that keeps hoarding them such that other shops don't believe the above statement.  ;)

But trust me -- they still exist.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 29, 2021, 12:43 p.m.

I’ve heard that what’s in the world is in the world but I’m happy to be wrong. I know a few folks who really like them. 

I didn't love-love the DHF 3” anyways to be honest. It’s a great tire in a 2.3” size but the gap between Center and sides is huge on the 3”. I mean, it was good until I tried the 3" SE4 and that was good until I tried the 2.8" Vigi.

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 29, 2021, 11 p.m.

This is an interesting option that Steve from the YouTube channel Hardtail Party co-designed: the Binary Maniak  It ain't cheap (ti never is), and has remarkably short chainstays (and thus is fairly short in overall wheelbase - though both do increase with each size other than CS between XS & S).  With that exception it's almost as if he's been living in very close proximity to your own headspace.  I've been watching his channel for a while and he's come around on slack geo (he used to not like really long/slack) and he likes short travel forks.  It's designed for his particular riding style and trails in Sedona, AZ and has a lot going for it: space for 3" x 29er tyres, multi-wheelsize capable (incl mullet), sliders for singlespeed, fairly slack HA @65deg, reasonably long reaches, short seat tubes, loads of brazes...  I'm not slapping down cash for a pre-order and am not sure if I'd dig riding a bike with chainstays quite that short for the rooty jank here on the 'Shore - but I'd love to give it a whirl.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+2 khai Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - Dec. 29, 2021, 11:20 p.m.

Yeah, I checked out what Steve/HTParty/Binary have cooked up. I love that they’ve split the sizing up by adding a M-L and I think every company should. As you note I’m also a fan of slack HTA hardtails with shorter forks. Maybe I’m being persnickety here but 65* @ 120mm static is becoming pretty standard. The Chameleon, for example, is an all around every-person production rig and is ~ there.

I can get behind the short stays for many places I’ve ridden. I get they’re more ‘fun’ in the right terrain too. Cool that they’re size specific. For small batch frames with a preorder deposit it would be neat to have some degree of choose your own adventure. Can’t be that big a deal to mount the 440 stays on a large. Like you say - rooty jank.

Regardless of the rear-centre, it would be right off my radar, no matter where I lived, for two reasons. The first is the STA, which is too steep for me. Obviously that’s personal preference/physiology.

The second is the T47 BB. Kill that shit with fire. Version 1, and the newer & narrower Trek-47 variety - whichever they’re using. Mountain Bicycles are going to be in a better place when everything is back to BSA standard threaded bottom brackets. We’re getting there, however slowly.

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 30, 2021, 8:09 a.m.

I don't have the experience to have an opinion on T47 - and really, nowhere near enough to really know what length chainstays I prefer.  I've ridden a bunch of bikes with different length stays, but I'd need to be able to compare those changes while everything else was more or less the same - which I certainly have not.  I've got an idea on the general trends I think I like, then I go and check the geo chart and realize that my '19 M/L Rootdown has 415mm stays...  Same thing with reach - I know what's too short and thought that the 457 on my Rootdown was pretty good, but I've never ridden "too long" - so I don't really know the boundaries of my sweet spot.  

I need to get on the reviewer train...

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 khai
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2021, 9:38 a.m.

This is just one reason that I'm such a proponent of sliding dropouts - especially on hardtails - and I think they add a lot of value (for example, to the Chameleon I'm testing). First off, some folks prefer shorter or longer stays for their riding style/background or the terrain they most commonly ride may dictate an advantage. Take two extremes - pump track, give me the shortest stays possible // DH track, I'll take the longer wheelbase. I mean, it's not really different from full suspension bikes in that regard.

But how does anyone know their preference without trying multiples and how do you isolate chainstay length from other variables. Personally, I find as bikes get longer in the front (Reach + slacker HTA) I like them to get longer in the back as well (hardtail or FS) but that's me and that doesn't mean it's necessarily better even for the trails in our shared network that I like best.

---

Nothing to do with reviewing bikes actually. I've just owned a fair few hardtails with sliding dropouts and experimented a lot with the available CS ranges. 

The way I came into my preference started with my Honzos. At first, I ran them as short as possible because that's what the trend was (maybe still is aside from some companies doing size-specific stuff?) but the thing with single speeding is to tension the chain they were never fully slammed. Then, experimenting with different gearing I ended up with a combination that had the stays ~ full long and I loved it. So, with my first Walt (V1) I started the CS length at ~ full-long on my Honzo, and ended up very happy around 450mm so for V2 I went even longer.

The way my current gearing works on V2 I can run the stays all the way long or almost slammed by adding/removing a chain link. I've been running them in the shorter setting (still a bit longer than 450mm) as I much prefer that over the longer setting. That way through multiple rigs I've found what works best for me.

Most folks will never have a chance to play around that much - but if you buy a hardtail with sliders at least you can see how easy it is to tell the difference between shorter and longer. It's quite impressive.

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 30, 2021, 10:59 a.m.

One thing that I wish could be brought over from the roadie world is the concept of adjustable fit bikes.  There are a number of platforms that allow one to quickly and easily adjust all manner of fit and geometry parameters while pedaling on an erg, allowing one to optimize pedaling efficiency, power output, aerodynamics, and long term comfort.  While significantly more difficult to implement in a rideable  platform (outdoors/on trail), it would be a massive benefit in learning what one prefers in a way that's really difficult to understand today outside of a few professionals with very strong factory support.  

CS/reach adjust wouldn't be super hard to implement within a limited range, but adding in adjustability for the other angles/parameters would likely make such a bike unrideable in the real world.

My DJ has horizontal dropouts but I ain't riding that thing on NS jank trails...

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 khai
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2021, 11:50 a.m.

Really? HAHAHAHA. One of my favourite rigs of all time was a Balfa MinuteMan with a rigid fork. I could almost (almost... sort of almost) get proper leg extension with a 410mm Thomson seat post. DJ/Pump bike with a slick in the back and a knobby up front?

I think it would be neat if more folks had the chance to try more different setups on their home trails; however, at the same time, I recognize how few people take advantage of the adjustability/experimentation options that are available. Angle adjusting and reach adjusting headsets are readily available for most bikes for example. Or making the purchasing decision to buy a hardtail with sliders rather than fixed dropouts if at all curious about playing with geometry. 

I'm not saying all hardtails should come with sliders. We chose the weight and cost savings and simplicity of fixed dropouts for my wife's bike for example because we knew what we wanted for the CS length. But, I know a fair few folks who are geometry curious who chose to buy hardtails with fixed dropouts and that's always seemed a bit strange to me.

Vikb
+1 Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 30, 2021, 8:23 p.m.

I was a bit concerned that I'd get FOMO when HTP released his new model, but not knowing the details or release date I wasn't going to wait. I watched his video and the geo isn't particularly interesting to me.

  • STA too steep
  • STL too short
  • HTL too short
  • T47 BB - nope
  • Reach too long

I built a custom shreddy 29+ bikepacking rig and there's nothing in the HTP rig I'd port over or change on the hardtail I had built. He obviously has some specific ideas about what he likes and he rides lots so I'm not arguing with his preferences. Different strokes for different folks. 

Binary will customize a frame for ~$500USD. It's not clear from the website how much the geo can be changed. Once you are up to that sort of price you could get a full custom steel frame from a Canadian/US builder or go with a full custom Chinese Ti frame. 

While it didn't tick my boxes it's interesting to see what other people choose when they build a custom bike for a similar purpose to something you've built/own.

FWIW - Steve at HTP has totally different body dimensions than I do so I'm guessing that drives a bunch of the different geo preferences we have.

Reply

khai
0
khai  - Dec. 30, 2021, 12:42 p.m.

Not sure why I can't reply to your last comment but I'd guess it has to do with limitations of the software around comment threading.

For clarity, it's the post below:

>>Really? HAHAHAHA. One of my favourite rigs of all time was a Balfa MinuteMan with a rigid fork. I could almost (almost... sort of almost) get proper leg extension with a 410mm Thomson seat post. DJ/Pump bike with a slick in the back and a knobby up front?

I think it would be neat if more folks had the chance to try more different setups on their home trails; however, at the same time, I recognize how few people take advantage of the adjustability/experimentation options that are available. Angle adjusting and reach adjusting headsets are readily available for most bikes for example. Or making the purchasing decision to buy a hardtail with sliders rather than fixed dropouts if at all curious about playing with geometry.

I'm not saying all hardtails should come with sliders. We chose the weight and cost savings and simplicity of fixed dropouts for my wife's bike for example because we knew what we wanted for the CS length. But, I know a fair few folks who are geometry curious who chose to buy hardtails with fixed dropouts and that's always seemed a bit strange to me.

===

I've idly thought about trying it just for laughs, but I'd need to drop some coin on rubber at a bare minimum to make it anything other than a guaranteed injury.  It would probably be far more capable than the mountain bikes we rode back in the early/mid 90s, but after losing ~6months to injury last year I think I'll pass.  ;p

I came to geo experimentation somewhat late in the game, having been steered VERY wrong a few years back and having to figure out why I didn't like certain things.  I'd happily take the weight penalty and slight increase in fiddlyness that come with sliders on any of my bikes but the lack of them wasn't ever a dealbreaker for me.  Something to consider going forward for sure.  It is one of the really appealing things about Geometron...  

Unless I'm wrong, no-one makes a reach adjust headset that will work on my [metal] GG (EC49/40 lower, ZS49/28 for tapered steer tube per the owner's manual) - if one exists, please inform me!

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2021, 1:08 p.m.

I think it's to keep the comment boxes from getting too narrow to be readable (as they are on some sites). If you just scroll up to the last REPLY button you see in a thread it will post that comments chronologically so it keeps to the conversation logic.

Works Components makes ZS49/EC49 Anglesets. Link to the -2° HERE.  

Yeah, Geometron/Nicolai bikes are the current winners in the nerd-friendly category. It's not just about the number of adjustments (Specialized Stumpy EVO has an impressive array of options as well) but also the amount of adjustment that makes them so cool. 

Not to be that egoist linking my own work, but there are a lot of more niche-brands/nerd-brands that are way behind the big companies in terms of the number of adjustments, range of adjustments, and frankly the usability of adjustments (who cares how adjustable a bike is if the other settings/positions suck?). Those companies aren't going to compete on weight, marketing, spec or (personal taste aside) sex-appeal so follow the lead of, for example, Banshee and add a simple and effective dropout system that changes geometry and wheelbase. Start with swap-outs or sliders, spec a head tube that's angleset friendly, and go from there. But, what do I know right?!

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 30, 2021, 1:29 p.m.

_>> Works Components makes ZS49/EC49 Anglesets. Link to the -2° HERE.  _

Thanks for that, but what I'm looking for is more reach, not a change in HTA.  I think the fundamental problem (unless I'm misunderstanding it, which is completely possible) is that the head tube diameter simply isn't large enough to allow for any meaningful reach adjustment.  There are a few options for reach adjust headsets but I've never seen one for ZS49...

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 khai
Andrew Major  - Dec. 30, 2021, 2:45 p.m.

Ah, yes. The only way to get anything meaningful with a 49/49 headtube is to switch to a 1-1/8" steerer tube, in which case you can get 7mm.

Maybe a, lowered, purple Formula Nero in your GG's future?! Scores you the advantage of a DM stem at the same time.

Reply

khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Dec. 31, 2021, 9:53 a.m.

That would be hilarious, especially as I most often I run it as 135mm in the back!

Reply

GiveitsomeWelly
+1 Andrew Major
Karl Fitzpatrick  - Dec. 31, 2021, 10:11 p.m.

I was never rigid curious but I've always loved simplicity (hence my recently acquired first full suspension bike in 6 years is a pure single pivot).

My single speed (NS Surge with a 26" rear wheel 32:18) has had a rigid fork and 29x2.8" front wheel only thanks to an absolute steal for the Hope Pro 4 wheel and my brother in law giving me (?!) his Surly Krampus fork. 

It is so fun and surprisingly capable if a little rattly on trails I probably shouldn't be riding it on haha. I really need to be a little more attentive with tyre pressure but meh.

Now that angleset idea could be an actual influence you've had on me though. Watch this space. 

Thanks for all the super nerdy yet ultra insightful writing Andrew.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Jan. 1, 2022, 9:48 a.m.

Cheers Karl!

I'll wear my nerd badge proudly, but, I don't know how well deserved it is... I know A LOT of riders way nerdier about bikes than me - including at least half the regular commenters in our NSMB community. I think my interest in chasing different experiences often gets painted with the nerd brush when actually, what could be less bike-nerdy then pursuing and promoting riding budget bikes with limited adjustments or ride-and-forget systems like rigid single speeds? Ha.

Anyway, there are few things more rewarding than being a catalyst for folks to consider other potential experiences, and maybe even rethink their experiences. So I'm stoked to hear more about your modern-geo rigid experience. 

Happy New Year!

Reply

rainozeros
0
rainozeros  - Jan. 9, 2022, 1:46 a.m.

I have just signed in on nsmb majorly because of your content especially on rigid singlespeed. We are about the same age it seems and have gone through all the rapid changes in mountainbikes since the early days when everything was rigid. So why would someone in our age who welcomed the invention of suspension and one-by drivetrains back then like the rain after a long draught go back to the unsuspended rattle in the woods? I get this question almost everytime I meet people on the trails. No one can understand. Including myself. I can only say that it got addictive since I started one year ago. It is a whole lot of fun despite the hurt ancles, hands and the sore back and thighes. It’s a whole new experience which I happen to enjoy for the most. And that is what it’s all about, right?

Happy rigid shredding from Austria!

Reply

Please log in to leave a comment.