Salsa Timberjack MinMax NSMB Bean  (4)
MIN MAX

Min-Max: Bean's 2017 Salsa Timberjack

Words Andrew Major
Photos Bean-In-Washington
Date May 31, 2022
Reading time

Le Tour Du Monde

Thus far, Min-Max Your Ride is about as much of a 'world series' as the Super Bowl or MLB championship. Other than our friendly statistical anomaly, Daniele in Italy, all the submissions have been from North America. And even then, all of the readers rigs have been bikes that would be quite at home putting the North Shore in NSMB.com. Still, I think it's fair to say I have Jules Verne level hopes for this collection, Le Tour Du Monde En Quatre-Vingts Bicyclette.

Spinning a globe, the bike we're looking at today doesn't live a great-great distance from us here in British Columbia. Well, at least Canada. We share a long border with our neighbours to the south. Thematically however, it's very different from even the most Shore-XC, Upduro, or, if you're Cooper Quinn, 'Shore Country' rigs that we showcase here, while at the same time it's clearly more capable than a gravel bike and really just a tire swap away from being at home pretty much anywhere that mountain bikes are ridden, including in our locale.

If you're reading NSMB far from the Shore and your rig is min-maxed for local trails, or your own unique application, I hope this sweet Salsa serves as ample notice that we're lovers of all kinds of mountain bicycles. We have readers from everywhere mountain bikes are ridden, and we're curious about what makes your min-maxed-machine magnificent to you.

Salsa Timberjack MinMax NSMB Bean  (5)

While we're often writing from a bent that firmly centers around the North Shore, it's always nice to remember that our readership enjoys a wide range of mountain biking experiences.

Bean lives in Washington, DC, not to be confused with Washington, State, and this is their 2017 Salsa Timberjack. It shares a lot of features with the most-current iteration, including a nice set of swinging 'Alternator' dropouts that adjust the chainstays from 420mm to 437mm. These open a world of build options from 27+, to 29", to 29+ rubber or some mulleted combination. The Timberjack has long been an affordable aluminum do-it-all mountain bike with the current frames selling for 700 USD. There are some notable, and probably unsurprising, geometry changes that have happened over the years. Where Bean's rig sports a 68° head tube angle (HTA) and a 73.5° seat tube angle (STA), the latest models run a 66° HTA and a 75° STA and then bump the Reach up around 15mm per size to achieve a similar effective top tube length.

Compare for yourself:

I'm jumping right in with some links because the Timberjack is a great starting platform - frame only or complete - for an all around hardtail. At least it is for anyone who can get over the fact that the frame isn't steel. You'll have to adopt the maxim that "Steel Is Real but Aluminum Is Equal Fun." This particular aluminum frame is perfect for a budget min-maxed build and also worthy of future upgrades like Bean's high-end wheelset. A -2° angleset and a slight over-forking push a current frame into aggressive hardtail territory and the same treatment on this setup would bring the bike into the present, minus a slacker seat angle that some of us (me at least) prefer anyway. The sweet swinging dropouts let you experiment with rear-center and wheelbase measurements and also make for a cheap and easy foray into the world of single-speeding.


I was so excited to try a lightweight (1450g) wheelset, and I couldn't even f*cking tell the difference. They're awesome wheels and I'm glad I built them, but it was a bit of a let-down."
Salsa Timberjack MinMax NSMB Bean  (2)

For those looking to fill their Min-Max Your Mountain Bike bingo card, let's start with 'Angleset' and...

Salsa Timberjack MinMax NSMB Bean  (1)

then throw in some reference to suspension forks with room for 'Plus tires' or just go straight to 'rigid forks,' and...

Salsa Timberjack MinMax NSMB Bean  (3)

since the Timberjack has a really nice pair of swinging dropouts let's not forget 'Single-Speed.'

Used, this frame set them back 150 USD. That was clearly a bargain but what's most interesting is the psychology of considering the value of the frame related to upgrades. Eventually this bike is destined to sport a -2° angleset, currently it has a Cane Creek 10 headset with 40-level bearings. The ZTTO dropper remote is serviceable and, as with everything else on the bike as it currently sits, it is not destined to be upgraded until it wears out or breaks.

Bean calls this bike "a boring sleeper" but clearly there is plenty of interesting stuff to notice in the photos they submitted so that requires a bit of context. The whole package we're looking at cost about 1500 USD - more on the individual component details below - and, like Daniele's MDE, it's important to note that this build requires a minimum level of mechanical skill and experience for the costs to be considered accurate if we're discussing value compared to a fresh ride rolling off the shop floor.

This rig is fit for purpose and thoughtfully built out right now. "It's an XC bike. My intentions for this bike are to have fun on trails, but also open the door to all-day mixed terrain rides involving enough pavement to justify compromising the trail capabilities (slightly)." That said, swapping out the rubber is about all you'd need to do to adapt it for riding most places, including most Black-rated trails here on Vancouver's North Shore. Bean is on 29x2.3" Specialized tires (Ground Control & Fast Trak tires, both the GRID casing, both T7 rubber) for the solid value v. performance compared to other brands. Locally, I'd advocate strongly for at least 29x2.6" rubber (there's frame and fork clearance) and something more aggressive, like Specialized's Butcher. The Nextie carbon rims come in a wide range of internal widths, from 19mm to 40mm internal so the rim and tire combo would be the main location-specific choice here.

Every Piece Has A Story

Let's start with the RockShox SID on the front of the Salsa. Bean says, "my plan was to buy a brand new fork at the very beginning of its service lifespan (2020), because I was burned on that with a previous end-of-life fork. With the benefit of hindsight, I would've bought a Pike... but it's been totally fine. Not aiming for top quality performance here, but it's completely forgettable while riding and that's the goal." With RockShox announcing their new MY23 forks on May 26th, with essentially zero carry over between generations - chassis, damper, or air spring - it looks like the benefit of foresight may have been advantageous.

The Pike would have had two significant advantages over the SID on a bike where every 10th of a gram isn't being measured. The chassis has a significant increase in tire clearance and more tire clearance always means more opportunity to experiment. The Charger 2/2.1 bladder dampers house significantly more oil than the mosquito's bladder worth of fluid in the Race Day unit. The complete Race Day damper weighs the same as three Honey Stingers Waffles - without the packaging.

The wheels are also very light, combining carbon rims with a DT Swiss 350 front hub, DT Swiss 240 rear hub, and 28x superlight butted 2.0-1.6-2.0 spokes. With brass nipples for sensibility. They sound fancy, but the used 350 hub was a "cheap" eBay find and the used 240 hub came "even cheaper" from a friend. Again, this involves mechanical skills and experience to service hubs and build wheels versus factoring in the labour cost of paying a professional mechanic to do the work. As someone who isn't generally too focused on weight - with my Plus tires and CushCore inserts on i40 aluminum rims - I did have to laugh at Bean's wheel review: "I was so excited to try a lightweight (1450g) wheelset, and I couldn't even f*cking tell the difference. They're awesome wheels and I'm glad I built them, but it was a bit of a let-down."


I've found, for myself, over owning many, many bicycles, that I ride them less when they're precious and more when they're made from easily replaceable parts." -Bean
Salsa Timberjack MinMax NSMB Bean  (9)

The previous owner either liked a longer wheelbase setup or was using the swinging dropouts to tension the chain on a single speed drivetrain.

Salsa Timberjack MinMax NSMB Bean  (8)

There's a Salsa Bend 17* 740 bar, Ergon SM Women saddle (also my favourite Ergon saddle but I'd run the ML), ODI Longneck push-on grips, and a set of SQLab Innerbarends.

Salsa Timberjack MinMax NSMB Bean  (10)

The derailleur says EX1 but badging aside, it works with the same cable pull as SRAM 11 & 12-speed shifters and clears an Eagle-sized cassette. That knowledge scored Bean a cheap deal out of a bike shop's take-offs bin.

The TRP Slate EVO brakes are an interesting choice. They can use Shimano's finless 4-piston pads, owners are encouraged to use Shimano brake fluid, and they're easy to bleed. Power is good enough for most folks riding most places. Based on my experiences, turning wrenches part time in Canada, I didn't include TRP on my list of fully rebuildable brake systems. That said, I've heard from multiple readers and wrenches that stateside, TRP brakes have excellent small parts support, so as with many things your experience will likely vary geographically.

Where I prefer a slacker STA on my hardtails, it's clear from the way Bean has their saddle slid forward to the max, there's at least an argument that a forward-offset dropper post, like a 9point8, would be interesting to try, I'm still at a loss as to why every dropper post manufacturer doesn't have a reversible +/-25mm offset head. Heck, I know more than a few riders who'd be interested in +/-35mm because they're either trying to find their slacker-STA happy spot on a modern frame or trying to chase a 'current' fit on an older one. OneUp could combine their patented drop railed clamp with some offset options and sell it as an aftermarket upgrade with a semi-universal fit (hint, hint).

I ride flat pedals, and I'm already transporting some extra rotor bolts on my bike, but thanks to Bean I've been inspired to shove a wad of zip-ties into all my bottom bracket spindles. I was going to also provide some kudos for the idea of putting spare cleat bolts into the unused water bottle mounts on the bottom of the downtube but on second thought, every person I've ever helped with a missing cleat bolt failed to have their own tool to install one. Check your cleats once in a while team. Also, once you find your happy place for adjustment, it doesn't hurt to bust out the Red Loctite for that mounting hardware.

The drivetrain is an interesting ShiRAMano mix with an 11-46t cassette that looks to be on the way out, an XX1 chain that's certainly going to survive it, and a steel SRAM ring that costs about the same in pennies as it weighs but last a long time and retains the chain well for a minimal investment. As you can see the bike has a custom bag, alt-bar, push-on grips, nice hubs, and it's both ready to adventure and fully primed for some single speeding. And since it's the first hardtail we've looked at for Min-Max, I'll also mention throwing on a correct-length rigid fork, like RSD's 510mm, and a big fat 29+ tire up front. You know, for me it's staying on brand but also for you hardtail owners out there it's a totally different experience.

The follow up piece to Bean's Timberjack needs to be a properly slacked out freeride hardtail with a dual crown fork. Maybe single speeded, maybe not. Like a Honzo ESD with a -2° angleset, a full-travel Manitou Dorado, and 3" tires in a mullet configuration. It's all a balancing act and writing about XC bikes always makes me want to write about beastly bicycles. I was thinking the other day about a fellow I used to see riding his Trek Session 10 with a 13+ Monster-T up Mt. Fromme. If that thing was still in regular use it would be perfect.

I've had a few more interesting submissions for Min-Max Your Ride lately and they're much appreciated. If you have a project bike you've been min-maxing along and you're interested in sharing please fire me an e-mail and we'll go from there.

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Comments

fabaceaesp
bean plant
1 month ago
+3 silverbansheebike ElBrendo Alex Hoinville

Thanks for the writeup Andrew! Small correction if you made it all the way to the comments: Washington DC, the little one on the other coast.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
0

Hahahaha. I knew that. How did I get that so wrong?! Fixed.

Thanks again, Bean!

Reply

Polk
Polk
1 month ago
+3 Andrew Major kcy4130 silverbansheebike

Featuring this bike makes me happy, for a couple of reasons. First, I am more of an XC rider, and I like to see XC content (which, of course, brings up the question of why am I reading about North Shore riding? Because I am interested in most things MTB, and NSMB is typically well-written MTB journalism. Thanks for providing good content.).

Second, over the winter I bought a second generation Timberjack frame and built it up. The build is closer to an XC rig than a trail/enduro/all mountain bike, so this hits close to home. My build is only sort of min-max, but I did reuse some existing components, and mostly tried to spend where it counts and save where it matters less. Though the Hope stem is pure jewelry, and you won't convince me otherwise.

I appreciated the comment "Steel Is Real but Aluminum Is Equal Fun." My Timberjack is replacing a custom built, fillet brazed steel hardtail, which had some obvious advantages in aesthetics. But time, and MTB geometry, marches on, and my trusty Bob Keller frame was feeling decidedly dated, especially compared to my modern(ish) full suspension bike. While I expected to like my Timberjack, I have been surprisingly pleased with it. I did not expect to be saying that about an aluminum hardtail.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
+1 silverbansheebike

Did you hang on to the Bob Keller? Does it have a second life coming? I recently went through a purge and was really struggling to justify keeping my V1 Waltworks - I ended up paying to have it modded (rack and fender mounts) and it replaced my commuter. It’s long and slack for the application but any decrease in snappy speed is more than made up for in the emotional factor. 

I don’t doubt that when the term ‘Steel Is Real’ and all the associated myths were created that there was truths inherent. I owned some old Cannondale Aluminum hardtails and they were stiff as, especially with ~2” tires pumped up so they wouldn’t flat. Manufacturing has changed, bigger wheels with fatter tires with sidewalls that can handle lower pressures - it’s a different game.

The one place steel wins is in the custom works because it’s much cheaper and easier to work on - especially for garage builders. I live my steel frames but the same geo in an FTW aluminum frame would stoke my fire too. 

———

I’d say over the last year or two NSMB has had a healthy increase in XC (Tech-C) riding and even gravel content. Many of folks test writing here ride and enjoy many different types of bike (and getting places by bike) and the readership is diverse - as evidenced by the fact that I’m far from the only rigid single-speed type. Thanks for coming along!

That said, this/any Timberjack with the right pair of tires would be quite at home on most of our trails - maybe add an Angleset - as long as the rider is cool with not keeping up on the downs when riding with someone of equal ability on an Enduro-duallie.

Reply

cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
1 month ago
+2 Andrew Major Cr4w

Oooooh I might have something that interests Bean coming up in a review soon, if they're gonna replace that cassette!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
+1 cheapondirt

Unless if Shimano started selling the faster wearing aluminum sections separately while I wasn’t looking, that cassette, in my estimation, isn’t long for this world. HG gives them options!

Reply

fabaceaesp
bean plant
1 month ago
+1 Andrew Major

The cassette is definitely cooked! I have a spare M8000 11-46, and once that one goes on, I might never be able to source another one for a reasonable price.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
0

I see enough cassettes in this condition it does make me wonder sometimes why SunRace doesn’t sell compatible top sections. 

I get they want to sell a whole cassette, but they could sell a small piece for 1/2 that and be legendary. Anything under 12-speed HG+ compatibility would be fine.

———

Also wish that 12-speed SRAM Eagle cassettes had replaceable cogs like 11-speed did but apparently from a noise and reliability factor the new ones are better? I never saw any issues with good 11-speed XD cassettes.

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mrbrett
mrbrett
1 month ago
+1 Andrew Major

11-42 XT cassette with a 47t range extender kit worked a treat for me - I used the 42 for most of my climbing and the 47 as required for high gravity areas. Must still be able to get one somewhere? For a while barely used 11-42 cassettes were ubiquitous but I think gravel bikes took them all in the meantime.

Possibly worth a consideration as another option to keep an 11s drivetrain rolling longer without going to the Deore M-5100 11-51t that's available. I have bent a couple of cogs in those Deore 11s cassettes, where the reason for damage was not readily obvious.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
+1 mrbrett

I don’t have extensive personal Deore M5100 experience but a few people have told me the general quality/resilience of the M6100 stuff I tested/appreciated is much higher. 

For 10-speed/11-speed HG cassettes I’d had great SunRace experiences so that’s what I generally recommend. The more of the cogs that are steel the better (weight be damned).

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
0

11-speed 11-42t cassettes we’re snapped up. It’s like when gravel bikes went to 142x12 and the used market for those evaporated (pre-Covid). 

For a while you could buy extender cogs really inexpensively but not anymore.

This is where I always opine that having the highest of high gears doesn’t really matter unless you’re racing. Pairing an all-steel 11-36t cassette with a smaller front ring is always an option in my mind.

Reply

silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
1 month ago
+2 Andrew Major bean plant

Salsa owners (from what I've seen) always have really cool rigs. Decked out for the best combo of practicality and comfort (inner bar ends and MYOG frame bag!! Nice work Bean). They seem like a really solid platform for this (the seatpost collar with the rack mount is sick), and maybe that's a result of the absolute grip they have on gravel/bikepacking/adventure. An old roommate of mine had an older plus-tired salsa (can't recall the model), custom paint job, custom made front and rear racks, fully rigid of course, etc.etc... was a great year round only-bike. what a cool ride!

Has anyone seen one of these over-forked or aggressive-hardtailed?

Reply

fabaceaesp
bean plant
1 month ago
+3 Andrew Major ElBrendo kcy4130

Salsa makes neat bikes that appeal to a slightly different feature-set than most mountain bike brands... fitting two full size bottles and a pretty big framebag in the triangle is absolutely impossible on nearly any other production trail hardtail. The extra bend in the downtube, and well placed bottle mounts, are killer features for me.

I haven't used it much, but I have a Salsa-brand rack for the rear that gives me full use of the dropper with a drybag on top, and a Salsa anything cradle for the front. It was never my intention to have such a brand-loyal bike, but it's good stuff that works well together.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
0

I’ll give myself points for noticing the seat clamp that’s also a rack mount but I hadn’t thought about the inside the front triangle space relative to other hardtails. The new aluminum Honzo for example would be awful for this application.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
+2 mrbrett silverbansheebike

No reason it can’t be over-forked 20-30mm, especially combined with an Angleset. Handling will be good still and Salsa isn’t trying to win any lightest-aluminum-rig awards. 

I haven’t seen it done personally, just don't see many Salsa bikes around and the one I do are usually drop-bar rigs.

The MYOG bag is jealousy inducing for me. Sewing lessons are in my future?!

Reply

mrbrett
mrbrett
1 month ago
+5 silverbansheebike Velocipedestrian Andrew Major bean plant kcy4130

I bought myself a sewing machine and a bunch of various types of fabric/material to build bags. What I am producing isn't as nice as the MBB bag here but it's not that difficult to learn, and feels great to make exactly the right size thing. Every time I make one the final product looks a little more polished, and you can also use a sewing setup to repair/customize a lot of other things.

customizing tool rolls ... bespoke handlebar/frame bags ... fixing tents ... hemming curtains ... adding straps to existing products to make them work better

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
0

That’s awesome. For the thicker bad materials what sort of machine did you need?

Did you have sewing experience before?

Reply

snowsnake
Duncan Wright
4 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Andrew Major

My MY21 Timberjack has a -2 angle set, is (almost) overforked with a 150mm Pike ultimate and has TRP quadiems for max stopping power. I bikepack with it frequently, and the suspension, brakes, and big rubber work out terrifically for riding riding long chunky backcountry descents loaded with 10+ extra pounds.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 weeks, 1 day ago
0

That sounds wicked! Photos? Or if you email me a couple I could post them here. Would like to see it.

Which Angleset did you use?

Reply

silverbansheebike
silverbansheebike
3 weeks, 6 days ago
0

yes please pictures!!!

Reply

SomeBikeGuy
SomeBikeGuy
1 month ago
+2 Andrew Major silverbansheebike

RE: the TRP/Tektro brakes on this bike, having the ability to rebuild them, and geography playing a part in getting parts for them, my experience with TRP/Tektro USA has been amazing. They've answered every email incredibly promptly, had an easy, quick, and safe online payment system, and shipping to Canada was fast. Duty was a thing on one order but it was less than $20. 

Given the hype the TRP DH-R EVO and Trail EVO brakes are getting plus the fact that Tektro brakes are a pretty big OE supplier (particularly on lower-priced bikes) I'd say it won't be long until we see even more small parts support in Canada. It's probably also worth noting that TRP/Tektro seems to recently have made a switch to 5mm brake hose over their old 5.5mm brake hose, meaning that Shimano brake hoses and possibly olive & barbs are now an option for TRP brakes.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
0

Thank you for the post! Very interesting re. hoses. 

I heard very good things about TRP USA support and I think the brakes are great to work on. I'd really like to try the new DH-R EVO as the Quadiem was a beauty system that felt great but, power-wise, was under-gunned in the 'go up a rotor size' way. 

It sounds like maybe they need to consider a third-party warehouse provider for small parts/systems and running CS out of their USA office. Either that or I'm always surprised more brands don't force their distributors to fully support their product at a consistent level worldwide, right in their agreements.

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
1 month ago
+2 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian

There's a theme appearing, that most of the bikes in these articles are already somewhat min-maxed. Of course: you have to be like-minded to take an interest and submit your bike. I'd send my own bike in, but I like to think I've already channelled the spirit of Andrew. There are parts here and there which don't quite fit the philosophy, but I know what they are and why I have them. Needless to say, I'm enjoying the series immensely.

So anyway, what if you solicited a budget along with each entry? I have X bike and Y dollars to spend; what exactly would Andrew Major do and in what order? Could add an interesting specificity. Maybe Frame X doesn't really need an angleset, because the budget is only Y and the tires are awful.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
+6 silverbansheebike shenzhe Velocipedestrian cheapondirt Tjaard Breeuwer Lynx .

I always assumed that was going to be the case. Bikes ridden regularly, even if they're a just few years old, and either going to be totally cooked (and then I'd be surprised if folks would submit them) or maintained and updated ABAP. And chances are that folks who are keeping a rig running - rather than replacing it - are going to have a high-value mentality. 

The deeper theme I hope folks pull out of Min-Max Your Ride is that it's totally possible to have a great time mountain biking for a comparatively minimal ongoing investment compared to the experience that I feel the industry is generally selling. It's the same thing that motivates me to look a the lower pricing end of bikes.

Yeah, I ride a fairly fancy machine, but even aside from my long term value arguments around buying nice stuff (King hubs, serviceable brakes) and maintaining it, I think it's so important that we have an ongoing conversation about how much fun folks can have on a great bike, with current geo, from an investment between 1-2K CAD.

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cheapondirt
cheapondirt
1 month ago
+2 Andrew Major Lynx .

It's a really good theme, and I think your feeling is accurate. I can't blame bike companies for trying to sell bikes but a little contentment paired with careful spending can make an existing bike great.

I don't think you need to defend your nice bike stuff. It's your job and your passion. It's not the slightest bit hypocritical to help others save money whilst enjoying your own high end things that you prioritized. But maybe not everyone sees that.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 weeks, 1 day ago
+2 Lynx . cheapondirt

There’s always an element of practice what you preach to take into consideration. 

We min-max our bikes at home. Stay on top of maintenance. Keep them a while. Buy nice serviceable parts that last. But you have to have the capital up front to  buy stuff like XT/XTR shifters or fancy hubs, or rebuildable brakes even if they do last forever after. 

But it’s been a lot of years since I was a proper ‘dirt bag’ so there’s certainly an element of imposter syndrome that I’m juggling. So, thanks!

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
+1 cheapondirt

I'm with COD, no reason to appologise, you have experience, you spend the cash upfront for long years of use from said product. I don't like "wasting" money on ChiChi, light weight, fancy, smancy parts like XTR that save you 50g, but cost 3x as much, but I will and do mostly buy XT, which cost about 1/3-1/2 XTR for a slight weight penalty and maybe slightly less nice finish, but they work and work and work for years and years and mile upon mile. 

For me, or at least it used to be when I logged 5k+ miles a year, what I paid for my XT parts worked out to about what most people spent on Deore because of the mileage I put on them and the years they lasted - I still have my first set of XT M760 cranks I got in 2005, still going strong on my '08 Monkey.

These days, unfortunately I don't have personal experience with the new 12spd Shimano stuff, but just going by the 10 and then 11spd stuff, I easily and happily rec Deore level parts for their cost and longevity, only thing I'll bump up to XT for really is the shifter for the double push feature, I like it and miss it when I don't have it - I did go SLX for my 11spd shifter because Shimano screwed the pooch with the 11spd XT version, too damn stiff and hard to shift.

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joseph-crabtree
Joseph Crabtree
1 month ago
+1 Andrew Major

I installed a Wolf Tooth -2 angleset to my '20 Ti Timberjack that uses the same geo as this bike and combined with a 120 mm fork I ended up at about 75 STA & HTA 66.5 @ sag.

Reply

fabaceaesp
bean plant
1 month ago
+2 Andrew Major kcy4130

Nice! My previous Soma had geometry very similar to a Cotic Solarismax, longer chainstays and a longer front center made possible by a Works angleset. It was a bit more capable than I needed, and not as fun to ride on mellower trails and (gasp!) pavement.

I may eventually put an angleset on this bike, perhaps -1, but the geometry feels well balanced with the other limitations of the bike: limited standover, and fast (slippery) tires. It's something like 66.5* static HTA... slacker than my previous previous Honzo.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
0

Soma makes some really neat bikes - and I often love their colour choices - and I also have to say kudos to them for including sliding dropouts on so many bikes.

I've had the conversation with a few companies making hardtails that sliders aren't just (or even at all) about single speeding. It's awesome being able to play around with wheelbase preferences as part of everyone encouraging their inner bike nerd. And I mean, single speeding. 

Looks like yours had swapouts instead of sliding dropouts?

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fabaceaesp
bean plant
1 month ago
+1 Andrew Major

Yup, I replaced the swapouts with an eyeletted version (again, for rack mounting) right before I acquired the Timberjack and sold it. This frame was oddly specced with PF30, so I used an eccentric 24mm bottom bracket. Mostly to play with geometry, but I believe the current owner is using it as a single speed.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
+1 bean plant

I had two frames with PF30. The Niner used an eccentric to adjust chain tension and it was pretty awful. Creaking, slipping, it took a lot of experimenting to quiet it down. Also didn’t love the way the crank position / bb-height changed.

The other had sliders so the PF30 was just a BB. It was dead silent with nothing needed but some copper anti-seize (frame was titanium). But there still wasn’t any reason I could think of that BSA wouldn’t be better. 

It’s nice that most the industry is drifting back to settled tech with BSA.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
0

Neat! That’s pretty darn close to the stock angles of the current frames. Maybe a bit less Reach if we were comparing geo charts?

Did you ride it before the -2*? All positive differences after the change?

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joseph-crabtree
Joseph Crabtree
1 month ago
+1 Andrew Major

Dropping the fork and raking it out increased the reach a bit but still about 10 mm shorter that current geo. I run a 60mm stem with 16 degree back sweep bars and the position is almost identical to my XC bike, a '22 SC Blur.

I did try the bike with a standard headset for a bit but wanted the steering closer to my other bikes which are 65 to 67 degrees HTA to reduce the learning curve when I switch bikes and I do like the  change in stability with no downside when climbing.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
0

Sweet, yeah 60mm stem is still totally reasonable, especially with the extra back sweep. Where do you run the chainstay length at?

That’s what I was curious about - how slack is too slack? If it’s better in the descents and no worse anywhere else then that’s a perfect no-compromise upgrade. Thank you for sharing!

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joseph-crabtree
Joseph Crabtree
1 month ago
+1 Andrew Major

I run the drop outs slammed all the way back.

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craw
Cr4w
1 month ago
+1 silverbansheebike

Andrew must have seen this bike and gone full Step Brothers "Did we just become best friends??".

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer

Why, because it’s a hardtail with sliding dropouts? I mean, it doesn’t even have Plus Tires or CushCore or a rigid fork?! 

Actually, both stoked and a bit surprised this was the first/only hardtail I’ve received this far.

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Ncoulter
Nick Coulter
4 weeks, 1 day ago
+1 Tjaard Breeuwer

The quote about riding precious bikes less often is spot on, for me. Obsessing over every detail can be debilitating, also. You know it’s particularly bad when you choose not to ride until you have a part that you’ve ordered, or something of that nature. Switching to a hardtail has benefitted me quite a bit, in that regard. At the end of the day, if I have a bad day on my NS Bikes Eccentric, it’s because I didn’t ride it well. I’m faster and more comfortable on it, than I ever was on my full-suspension bike, here in the midwest, because I stopped spending more time on setup than actually improving my riding. 

Not knocking anyone on a tricked out fully, just saying that for me, the limiting factor has always been me.

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Tjaardbreeuwer
Tjaard Breeuwer
4 weeks ago
+1 silverbansheebike

Re. the inner bar ends:

I don’t think they are an ‘acquired taste’, I think they are just an unknown taste. I can’t think of many people who tried them and did not like them.

Now, since you only use them on fairly easy flat or climbing trails, there are plenty of people who have no need for them: if all your riding is engaging singletrack, you won’t get much use out of them.

But if you ride the road to your trails? Or climb a fire road? Of have sections of smooth, climbing singletrack? And you do some longer days? Definitely worth it.

Humans don’t do well in a single position, so being able to mix it up helps immensely.

Secondly, modern bars are wide, and set up for technical bike handling is keeping the cockpit short enough to ensure good range of motion. This is hardly the most comfortable position for sustained pedaling power. Bar-ins allow you to have your cake and eat it too, with the only price to pay the unusual looks.

I have tried the Ergon ones with customers a few times, and not found great succes. They are too shaped, so there really is only one way to hold them, and that way often doesn’t work for people. Mounting them on the opposite side of their intended side helps.

Better results, and fitting with the theme of this series, are had with an old pair of bar ends. If you don’t have your own, check out old Huffies being thrown away somewhere in your town.

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fabaceaesp
bean plant
3 weeks, 3 days ago
0

Innerbarends (and, I assume, spirgrips) put my hand in a unique position that I haven't been able to replicate. Unfortunately the product is sub-par... it's plastic, with a low-torque clamping bolt that does a poor job of holding them in place at specified torque, but cracks the item in half if you tighten any more.

I experimented with other barends-on-the-inside options but none really worked out. I'm on my third pair of sqlabs and they aren't cheap. But they're magic. Hoods on a mountain bike, and I can still use my brakes.

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kcy4130
kcy4130
1 month ago
0

Not a single Mr Bean joke! Come on Andrew. Just a few days ago I recommended the current timberjack to my brother in law. Also recommended the canyon stoic 2, which he's leaning towards mostly because it's available now. I'm jealous of Bean's frame bag making skills!

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cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
1 month ago
+2 Andrew Major kcy4130

I very much enjoyed my time aboard the Stoic 4. Sure its not *perfect*, but it was lots of fun, it has good geo, and.... what else do you need, really? 

https://nsmb.com/articles/2021-canyon-stoic-4/

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kcy4130
kcy4130
1 month ago
0

Yeah, that was my thinking, I'd only recommend a bike that I could enjoy riding myself. With a dropper added the stoic 2 build should be decent enough to not need anything immediately.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
+1 kcy4130

What are your BIL's wrench skills like? I think for many riders looking in that price range who'll regularly be using the bicycle there's a strong argument for the added value of picking a rig up at a good bike shop. 

It's a preview of something I'm working on now, but I like the Marin San Quentin 1 at $1350 CAD. Two colour options, great geo, lots of potential future upgrades but rideable now.

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kcy4130
kcy4130
1 month ago
+1 shenzhe

He's handy enough, not very mtb literate but he'd be fine with most things aside from not having specialty tools. I looked at marin, but found nothing decent on the low end. I'll strongly disagree with you on that san quentin: 141 rear hub is a deal breaker for me. And no reason not to get a 29. Also square taper bb, some major red flags there! He's 220lbs, so being able to get a decently strong stock wheel set, (i.e. 148 and 110) will very likely be in his future. He was looking at a truly terrible trek marlin 7. At prices like the san quentin and marlin 7 ~1k usd, you're just giving up too much. Spending ~1.5k dtc (or +2k in a shop) will get you a bike that's 2 or 3 times better and has current standards for upgradability. He can afford a decent bike. I haven't looked in detail at bikes that cost that little for many years, I was a bit shocked at how many awful bikes there are out there. I found it a bit disheartening.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
1 month ago
+1 kcy4130

I think the “disheartening” factor is why it’s important to review bikes at this price point - and capture only bikes under a max amount (I’ve decided on 2K CAD). Most the riders I regularly pedal with have suspension forks that cost more than an SQ1. 

There’s nothing wrong with the 141 wheel standard. It’s increasingly well supported and 141/148 is no different than 135/142. I’ve ridden the Marin-branded i29 rims on two other bikes and they’re heavy but tough. 

I like that it uses 6-bolt rotors as cheap+good rotors exist where with Center Lock there’s an initial investment required to ditch the ‘resin only’ stoppers and staying on good-enough rotors requires more money every time.

Square taper cranks are a knock, for sure. But again, there’s going to be compromises at this price level. I like the MicroShift drivetrain otherwise. 

Purposely started the series with 27” wheels - they make decent choices in 29ers down to about a grand CAD with the Bobcat Trail 4, but I think the SQ series is interesting.

———

Once you’re over 2k (+good pedals, +gear, +basic tools) there are a lot more good options. At 3K CAD in hardtail land there are some sweet rigs. If someone can spend more money on a bike I can certainly justify higher price points.

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Lynx
Lynx .
3 weeks, 4 days ago
0

Another good one Andrew. Bean, nice ride, really personalised to suit your terrain, trails and riding and as said, easy to "pump it up" with a heavier duty set of wheels and tyres. If I'm paying retail in that price range, I'm grabbing a Surly Monkey or Kona Unit, every time, best bang for your buck, frame and fork, but at the price Bean paid for this frame, no way I'd pass it up, even if it is alu ;-)

As to Beans' comment on the wheels and not being able to feel a difference going to 1,450g wheels, I have to ask what wheels he was coming off of, because if I dropped the assumed 600+ grams off my wheelset, I sure as hell can feel the difference. Now not sure if it's apples to apples here, since my weight drop is normally mostly in the rubber dept, i.e. outer most rotating mass, but cannot think going from your "avg" 1900-2000g wheelset to a 1450 set, you'd not feel an overall snappier and more responsiveness from the bike.

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fabaceaesp
bean plant
3 weeks, 3 days ago
0

I dropped a pound and a bit off the wheels, and I don't ride in a meaningfully different way before and after. Maybe I'd notice going back to heavier ones.

Maybe worth noting that the previous wheels were nice, but not light. DT 350 hubs, i23 team rims, double butted spokes, well tensioned.

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