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Liberating The Island Of Misfit Standards

Dear Santa - Andrew's List For 2019

Words Andrew Major
Date Dec 3, 2019

Dear Santa,

This year I'd really like you to go to the Island Of Misfit Standards and bring some back for the nice girls and boys designing the mountain bicycles I love to ride. They've been ever so good with bringing awesome geometry to lower price points and trying to be better at min-maxing spec*.

I know I'm asking for a lot here so if you'd prefer to spread these gifts out over the next couple years I completely understand. Or you know, just frontload me this year and give me (Merino) socks and (Saxx) underwear until 2025 - that's cool too.

*Except for the folks putting 3-pawl DT Swiss 370 hubs on 5K+ bikes. WTF? They might look like the excellent 350 on the outside but that spec choice is guaranteed to get you on the naughty list.

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Fair warning St Nicholaus: we're going to be talking about dual crown trail forks in 1997-99.

Pair Noel

I understand market pressures to cut grams and clean up appearances so Santa, please spare me the dirty looks and stocking full of coal. This is not a call out, it's a shout out, to one of the best conversations I've ever had about bike design, sometime in the later-noughties, with Noel of Knolly Bikes fame.

Noel's infamous for his beyond-in-depth e-mail responses and winding conversations so I'm sure it was a long chat; here are the two, brief, takeaways that I've carried as my strong opinion for over a decade thanks to Mr. Knolly:

1) Some riders want the shortest possible chainstays. Some riders want longer chainstays. Why not make everyone happy? In Knolly's case the V-Tach, Delirium T, and Podium all provided 20mm of chainstay length adjustment and let the rider decide.

2) 1.5" (49/49) headtubes are the most adaptable option. They fit every steerer size, there are external and internal headset options and heck St. Nick now there are reach-adjusting and angle-adjusting options too all in the straight KISS beer can headtube.

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I wish that every full suspension bike had an adjustable rear-center and the ability to take a 2° Works Components angleset with a zero-stack (ZS) upper cup.

How amazing would if my full suspension bike could have all the fun trail pep of 425mm stays, the downhill stability of 455mm stays, and a choose-your-own-blend in-between? Combined with the swap-out thinking of Banshee Bikes, it would be easy to offer different wheel spacings as aftermarket options as well. Companies don't have to give away the farm but I think it would be great to be able to purchase 142x12 dropouts for a Boost bike as an aftermarket option.

And Mr. Klaus, while you're giving the gift of adjustable wheelbase, it isn't going to be a big deal to pop-on straight 49mm headtubes with press-in headsets is it? I'm not saying the Trek folks are a bunch of ruiners for introducing Tapered headtubes, AND Boost spacing, and introducing their own slightly different T-47 bottom bracket standard, and popularizing Trunnion Mount shocks, but let's face it you've been letting them get away with a lot so how about we start with a fresh Slash that can take a zero-stack (ZS) reach adjusting or angle adjusting headset thanks to it's throw-back 1.5" headtube and while you're at it lets take those 435mm stays add some sliders so they'll stretch out to 455mm.

Dual Crown Forks

And that sweet new Slash won't need Knock Block to keep it's sweet looking straight downtube either Santa thanks to a plethora of sweet, light-ish weight, 29'er dual crown forks you'll be bringing to market. Fox 38 DC, Manitou Mezzer DC, Suntour Durolux DC, Cane Creek Helm DC - heck, let's get everyone on board!

Remember back in the nineties when RockShox and Manitou said that long travel single crowns didn't make sense, produced 100mm travel dual crown forks, and then Marzocchi said: "hold my beer" and the Z1 changed mountain biking? What if those companies were right but twenty years too soon?


Mount a dual crown fork on this Santa-red Slash and there's no Knock Block needed. Photo: Sterling Lorence via Trek.

Trek Slash 29 review

Fit-Santa, AKA Perry Schebel, looks badass delivering the goods in this photo but, imagine if the Slash had a Fox 38 DC up front! Photo: Dave Smith

Better stiffness to weight ratios, all that extra room to produce lower pressure air systems, replaceable stanchions in the event of a crash, direct mount stems, and no more creaking crown steerer units (CSUs). The time for the 160mm-180mm dual crown Enduro fork is absolutely here.

Take a page out of Ohlins' book and sell different offset crown options aftermarket and the twiddlers will jump on board with the product.

I see you and your 5° turning radius Manitou Sherman TPC+ DC! I see you Boxxer U-Turn! I see you original Fox 40 that could be lowered to 160mm travel! This is not a new idea by any means but it's an idea whose time has come. Again.


I have a fair amount of very positive, recent dual-crown experience riding a 100mm Lefty 2 and 160mm Lefty Super Max. Photo: Dave Smith


Modern bikes have long enough front centers that smoking my knees on the top crown was a non-issue even climbing hard out of the saddle. Photo: Dave Smith

ISCG Tabs On Everything

And that new Slash will of course come with beefy ISCG tabs so I can run a bash-taco! Trek gets it already where many companies do not. In a day when riders are spending hundreds of dollars to wrap their frames in 3M tape, I can't believe how many super-bikes come without the provision to run a protective skid plate.

I know I'm a bit of a hypocrite here having commissioned a few hardtails without tabs but to be fair my wife runs a Blackspire Grannie God and I'm still running Wolftooth stainless steel Camo chainrings so we've made other provisions.


Modern bikes are long and low and I smoke my chainring regularly. I'd be mounting a bash-taco on this Slash's hidden ISCG tabs. Photo: Sterling Lorence via Trek.

The gift of ISCG tabs combined with a bash-taco, like Blackspire's 45 USD Crusher, could save hundreds of dollars in chains, rings, and cranks not to mention allowing my bike to slide over awkward up-and-overs. I know a few companies had issues with their ISCG tabs breaking off of carbon frames in minimal impacts, and riders expecting warranty replacements for otherwise okay frames, but the simple solution here is to put those companies on the naughty list if they use sh*tty designs or manufacturing.

Bonus Stuff

Okay, Santa I know I've already asked for a lot and I haven't really been 'that' good this year but if I still have some karma left after sliding drops, 1.5" headtubes, dual crown forks, and ISCG tabs then let's talk about some stuff under the tree.

First off, how about a Kids Ride Shotgun seat for all my friends with tiny humans, or tiny grand-humans, under the age of five? It's a great way to have fun together and build memories while enjoying the forest, not to mention getting a solid work out while they yell "Climb Faster! Climb Faster!"

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Some of my most fun riding experiences this year were with my tiny human and the KRS saddle system. Photo: AM

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Easy to install, easy to remove, and carbon frame friendly at 150 USD / 200 CAD. Photo: AM

The perfect stocking stuffer for a lot of riders is the fresh PNW lock-on Loam Grips so I'll happily take a pair of those for all my friends who won't Ditch Their Lock-On Grips. My more in-depth review is pending but the shortest version is that the Loams are my new favourite grips-with-a-clamp. I think of them as an updated single-clamp version of my longtime favourite, the Sensus Swayze, with a bit of extra give at the palm and an average width of 30mm.

Five colours mean something for everyone and the 25a compound is quite delightful. You can't go wrong with fresh grips big guy, and these are the freshest.

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PNW is surely on the nice list delivering great products in 2019 like the Loam Lever, Range Bar, Bachelor dropper post, and the fresh Loam Grips. Photo: AM

What's that Santa, something under the tree for myself? Well, you shouldn't! Okay, there's a ton of life left in the ones I've been testing but if you could see your way to picking up a set of blue-on-blue 'nautical navy' Bontrager Rally shoes for me that would be fantastic - love the shoes and love that colour option. I'd love to try a Leatt DHX 1.0 Urban pad-fit helmet as well. Maybe some fresh knee pads?! Sweet!

Until that day, happy trails to all and to all some good rides.

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+1 Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - Dec. 3, 2019, 6:36 a.m.

I got a custom hardtail this year and made the mistake of not including ISCG tabs for a taco bash. I had a reason, but my logic was faulty. I got a MRP ISCG adapter and MRP minimalist taco bash. Works fine, but if I ever need to repowdercoat my frame it'll get ISCG tabs welded on before I do! Lesson learned.


Andrew Major  - Dec. 3, 2019, 7:40 a.m.

I have to be careful as my new frame - with no ISCG tabs - is still warm from powder but I also had reasons for no ISCG tabs (and wouldn’t be using them now) but then second thoughts re. future proofing.


+2 Skyler Andrew Major
Jan  - Dec. 3, 2019, 7:29 a.m.

I'm sure you're aware Andrew, but for completion in discussing dual crown 'enduro' forks lets not forget the not quite turnkey Mojo 36 MORC.


+2 Timer AJ Barlas
Andrew Major  - Dec. 3, 2019, 7:43 a.m.

A 180mm Formula Nero would be my first choice today but there are lots of interesting examples out there. 

Is the Mojo 36 kit actually available? I think it’s a cool idea and I’m surprised Fox didn’t go that way from the factory. Especially for long travel mountain mopeds.


+2 IslandLife Vik Banerjee
AJ Barlas  - Dec. 3, 2019, 7:51 a.m.

MRP are on it too and have had their Bartlett for a while now.


+1 Andrew Major
Cr4w  - Dec. 3, 2019, 10:50 a.m.

£650 for the 36 conversion kit! That's more than the fork costs.


+3 Ac Andrew Major AJ Barlas
JVP  - Dec. 3, 2019, 8:59 a.m.

Hell yeah to the 160 - 180 DC wish list!  I'm sick of destroying CSUs after a few months.  Some brands are worse than others, but they all do it on our modern XC-DH bikes that we're absolutely flogging with slack angles. Oh for the love of vectors.

Fox should do a 36 DC, no need to go 38, I fear that would be too stiff even for a medium-bigger guy like me. But it sounds like industry rumors are for a 38.  Whatever, I just want reliability.

I'm a broken record, but I feel like e-bikes are here to save us. The e-riders will eventually decide dual crowns look cooler and the rest of us will finally have options for forks that don't self destruct.


+2 JVP Andrew Major
AJ Barlas  - Dec. 3, 2019, 2:12 p.m.

The influence on more durable parts that e-bikes will have for aggressive riders will be great. Better brakes, sturdier forks, increased durability in drivetrains etc. We may end up with some added weight but if flogging parts is a problem, weight shouldn't be an issue in favour of longer-lasting products.


Timer  - Dec. 4, 2019, 5:31 a.m.

To be fair, the Formula Nero and MRP Bartlett have been available for a few years but I haven't seen one in the flesh. All the guys complaining about creaking CSUs seem to just buy a different model SC fork and hope that this time it will be different.

Without customers putting their money where their mouth is we won't see the big Oems jumping into the mid-travel DC game.


Andrew Major  - Dec. 4, 2019, 7:35 a.m.

The Nero is a premium, primarily aftermarket, product. I have it on good authority that there are a fair number of riders running these at 180mm travel but there never going to be legion. 

There is an OE 180mm Boxxer and its coming stock on Specialized’s mountain mopeds. I feel it’s only a matter of time before more options exist for that market, at lower price points, so it’ll be easy enough for folks to choose to go that route and then there’ll be an opportunity to prove the market.

OE on pedal bikes? I could see machines like the Rocky Slayer coming spec with DC forks. Why not?


+1 Andrew Major
Brad Sedola  - Dec. 3, 2019, 9:51 a.m.

I certainly miss the modularity of some of the old timer forks like Marzocchi, Stratos. If your steerer was too short for your new frame, get a new one. Dented a lower? Replace it. Fatter rubber? Custom brake arch. Granted, they all came with their drawbacks like premature stress fractures in the crowns, creaking, weight, etc. but those forks were on a whole different level when it came to user service-ability.


JT  - Dec. 3, 2019, 10:01 a.m.

In regards to the adjustable chainstays, 44 headtube, and ISCG mounts there is a small company doing just that. RSD out of Ontario with their Wildcat full sussers. I am mighty interested in the V2 version for much the same reasons, and the possibility of making a set of drops to run a dedicated 27.5 wheelset that's not plus sized and over-fork it. Tinkerer's daydream. Disclaimer, I own a RSD Sergeant, so if you wish to call me fanboi go ahead, I'll accept it.


Andrew Major  - Dec. 3, 2019, 4:50 p.m.

I don’t know RSD well (beyond being an Ontario brand with a Fatbike called The Mayor) and I’m a big believer in to-each-their-own.

I did get a bit of a shock over the STA on the Wildcat (and I’m not pushing the bleeding edge of STAs).  Also, 44-straight is fine for a headtube for steel hardtails (49 can look funny) but on an aluminum frame it has to be straight 49 (original 1.5”).


JT  - Dec. 4, 2019, 8:35 a.m.

They are mostly under the radar for sure, especially with west coasters. The V1 Wildcat was on the slack side, but that's been tightened up on the V2 (76 deg), bringing it to the modern age. Just may be looking at one for next summer. I've been on their V3 Sergeant for a few months now, rolling it as a 29er for summer and recently set it up 27.5x4 for the oncoming winter. Pretty versatile bike in that regards. I didn't want a dedicated fatty since the wide BB's bug my knees over long rides, but with our winters here in the north central states, pedaling outdoors in the woods means a fatty is mighty handy.


Matthias Wasmer  - Dec. 3, 2019, 1:37 p.m.

I am really thinking of putting a Dorado in my Norco Range. Changeable travel just by putting a pump on. And it is so much better on the downhills.

Or if somebody gives me 2000€: Intend Infinity.


swain  - Dec. 4, 2019, 3:44 a.m.



+1 Andrew Major
taprider  - Dec. 4, 2019, 10:30 a.m.

where do you get a Works Components angleset on the North Shore and how do you figure out what size you need?


Andrew Major  - Dec. 4, 2019, 10:33 a.m.

To the best of my knowledge they are only available directly from Works.

You need to know what headtube your bike has (most press-in headsets these days are ZS44/ZS56 but there are plenty of exceptions) and the length of your headtube (easy to measure).


taprider  - Dec. 4, 2019, 1:02 p.m.

2017 Rocky Mtn Element was spec'ed with FSA Orbit NO.57E headset and 105 mm long head tube


+1 Andrew Major
grimwood  - Dec. 5, 2019, 5:27 a.m.

I’m totally on board the the AM DC’s. Knowing you could ride all summer without replacing a CSU would be awesome. 

This might be a little off topic, but I would like some water proof shoes for Christmas. I like the look or the Fizik Terra Clima X2 and Terra Artica X2. Does anyone know a shop that has these in stock in the Vancouver area? Preferably near the shore...


Andrew Major  - Dec. 5, 2019, 9:14 a.m.

It’s funny, I was always chasing a great weatherproof trail shoe but since I started using weatherproof socks I’m happiest just using the same MTB shoes year round.

Commuting is a different story. Don’t know of anyone stocking Fizik other than MEC.


+1 Andrew Major
grimwood  - Dec. 5, 2019, 9:56 a.m.

Thanks for the quick reply, Andrew!  Yeah, I’m fine with good socks for mtb. I was looking for a decent set of shoes for commuting and the occasional mtb ride.


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