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March 25, 2021, 12:50 p.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: 2021 - Full Suspension Bike Thread

You don‘t know how tempting that sounds, Henry! (I currently live in Heidelberg, Germany)

I had the privilege to spend three summers in BC and even got to go to the Chilcotins and the backcountry, I will never forget that! Thanks James!

The people were incredibly nice and welcoming. And the biking was spectacular.

With the pandemic it seems as far away as another galaxy and another life.

And we will have our first baby in September, too.

But someday...

March 25, 2021, 6:37 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: 2021 - Full Suspension Bike Thread

Well with that great of an encouragement, I am more than happy to oblige with a lengthy sort-of-review. (sorry for errors - I am not a native English speaker)

I absolutely love the Madonna! I owned a lot of nice bikes over the last fifteen years, but the Madonna is the best one so far.

The standout feature is the perfectly balanced geometry (front and rear centre).

At 6ft with 35.5“ inseam and apish arms I struggled with bike fit and finding the sweet spot with body position. Lots of tinkering with bar height, suspension setup,

you know the drill. Once I hopped on the Madonna, it just felt perfect and I have stopped wondering if there was a way to change this or that.

The Madonna is a bit different (and the Geometron fans will agree) in regards of chainstay length, stack height, seat angle. It is longer in the rear and has size specific chainstays, it has a tall stack height and a steep (although not TOO steep) actual seattube angle. It feels different than old-school bikes.

Cornering on this bike is next level. It is incredibly balanced/neutral and the sweet spot is bigger than on long bikes with short rear ends or short bikes.

You have to lean the bike instead of steering with the handlebars. Once I adjusted to that, things got better and better.

I have been riding since the late 90s and taking skill clinics now and then and while I am not a bad rider, I am not one of the natural really fast riders who are comfortable, confident and ripping any time on any bike and in any conditions. Little things sometimes throw off my confidence and flow to some extent. I do not rip on a sub par bike, my joints start acting up and I start to find excuses ;-)

I am fit climbing though.

The Madonna just absolutely boosts my confidence. It climbs great and is super comfortable, even though it is not light, but no part of my body cramps or hurts, even on long rides, NO back pain. I try features and jumps I never attempted before and have more fun at 37 on a bike than at 17. I started to learn new tricks and I attribute that to the fact, that the bike just fits like a glove and I feel great on it because of that.

For sure not only the geometry, but also the suspension helps with the confidence. It works fantastic. It is very sensitive so there is a little movement when your body weight moves. But it is also really offering great traction. There is good support through the stroke and ramp up is just right. If you are heavy, they offer a different rocker with lower ratio. For my 76kg the stock link is perfect. Headtube angle is perfect. I’ve tried different shocks (X2 Float, Super Deluxe Coil) but the DPX2 is my pick. It just works fantastic and the three modes help with climbing and traverses on flatter terrain.

The bike works on flowy and flat trails, but it is made for gnarly stuff. I got a slightly used 150/140 (Orbea Occam Carbon, nice and light build) 29er trail bike as a backup a couple of weeks ago, but honestly after the first couple of rides, I do not see myself riding it much. I will just grab the Madonna. It is not as snappy, but the difference in climbing efficiency is much smaller than I anticipated and I enjoy the long travel much more for the rest of the ride.

It is like everything is covered in fat powder like snow, the travel just takes the edge off and makes me feel like a better rider :)

Apart from all that, there is another aspect which I actually enjoy almost as much as the exceptional feel on the trail:

It is overbuilt and nothin is flimsy. It feels like it is built to take all the stuff a mountain bike should. Not just while riding but also loading it on/in a car, storing it in the basement, crashing it, just wiping all that mud or dust off and not babying it. There is a matte clear powder coat over the brushed finish, which looks perfect after two seasons. All frame areas (heel rub etc., cable rub, chain slap) are prepared and made with real world conditions in mind - straight from the factory. You don’t need to figure out frame protection and all that after your first rides. 

All bearings are the same 25mm size, except at the main pivot, which are 52mm like in a headset. The shock is running on four 25mm bearings. That is around 500g of bearings alone, but going into the third season with lots of riding in all conditions, all year long (even in three weeks of snow past winter) the bearings are absolutely fine. I swapped two at the upper shock mount and one in the drive side Horst link last year, more or less in order to test my bearing press. They were a bit rougher, but still worked. That was like playing Lego. The bearings have additional sealed caps over them and after a full season there was NO dirt under these caps. Just fresh, white grease. I haven’t had that on any bike before. They are also designed without having to damage the frame while replacing, no special tools required. Which surprisingly isn’t the way with a lot of expensive bike frames in my experience. A punch and a press in ONE size is all you need. Even just soft hammering them in could work. (The big ones work with a headset press)

Servicing all the hardware is incredibly easy and there is no problem with tolerances, pressing steel bearings in carbon parts etc. They also offer every part as replacement directly in their web-shop. Full external cable routing, done a tidy way. I love it when wrenching and don’t mind it while riding.

Nothing is perfect, so what is not to like?

Honestly not much, if you accept that everything in life is a compromise ;-)

-It is heavy, even with a bling build. A little below 16kg with proper tires. Frame weight size Large with DPX2 shock and all hardware (axles, seat clamp etc.) is 4,5kg so around 600g more than a Santa Cruz Megatower CC of the same size

-It is not cheap

-It needs a beefy rear tire, which makes it even heavier (I rarely flat tires since going tubeless more than ten years ago, but I destroyed five EXO tires even WITH inserts and am now on DD and Tannus tubeless)

-It needs proper terrain and trails (while it is fun enough on the occasional mellow trail, if you only ride blue stuff, get something else)

-Cable routing for the brake is tidy but TIGHT around the BB with DUB bb-shells, with Shimano BB no issues

-rear end might be almost too stiff side to side for my 76kg (but is solved with my „flexy“ wheels)

-needs powerful brakes

Build kit:

Braking: Trickstuff Direttissima brakes (fantastic, little pad clearance, bit of rub sometimes, but high leverage, incredible modulation, control and longevity - my favorite part of the bike) with Magura MDR-C-E-bike-budget rotors (great! Cheap and lots of material, no chirping)

Drivetrain: XX1 11spd cassette and chain, 28t steel chainring, XT derailleur and SRAM 11spd shifter (works great with dedicated shifter clamps, direct mount adapters on the Direttissima are not ergonomic)

Suspension: Now a 180mm Lyrik Ultimate, works great, easy to set up and DPX2 - also works great, also easy to set up. Bike originally came with Fox 36, which I killed 4 CSUs, but Fox was good with warranty, I got tired of that any way.

Seatpost: Vecnum Nivo 212mm - works flawless without a service since my first ride, 200g less than a One-Up V2 210mm post. Really good!

Wheels: PI-Rope, Vectran (textile spokes), Newmen hubs and rims. Really nice, no issues at all 1550g

Tires: DHF WT Maxxterra EXO or Conti der Baron 2.4 Protection on the front / DHR2 2.3 / Dissector 2.4 or something else on the rear, still struggling to find the perfect rear tire…

Cockpit: Syntace 20mm rise carbon bars with 31,8mm high-flex design, 40mm Syntace stem (my go to combination, works and lasts perfectly)

Saddle: SQLab 611 seat - fits my bum perfectly

Headset: Acros - comes with the frame, lasts perfectly, didn’t have to touch it once

Grips: ESI FIT XC (work for me)

Tubeless Valves: e13 - expensive, but don’t clog up all the time

Edit: Wow, this got TOO long.

March 23, 2021, 4:47 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: 2021 - Full Suspension Bike Thread

yes, one spare spoke. I don't know how tricky fitting one is, because they need to be stretched a bit. PI-Rope offer a quick and easy direct customer support though. Haven't needed it yet, but they are very quick and friendly with emails!

March 23, 2021, 1:03 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: 2021 - Full Suspension Bike Thread

I can absolutely recommend them so far. 

I have a full season on them with lots of rough trails, rocks, jumps, mud, dust, sun, rain, ice and even salt (I commute to the trails and the city puts LOADS of salt on the bike paths etc.). 

I haven't had to true them, care for them in any way. I weigh 76kg and don't regularly kill wheels, but a full season without any trueing or maintenance would be impressive for any regular wheelset on a 29er 170mm bike. If they last two seasons, they last longer than most of my alloy wheel sets with steel spokes. 

BUT:

The PI-Rope weigh only 1550g in 29" with 30mm iw. (verified weight on my kitchen scale) 

That is a noticeable difference to the 1800g of my DT EX1501 30mm wheels. You can ride DD tires and it feels roughly the same as EXO, weight and acceleration wise. (rims are the same weight, spokes are a lot lighter compared to steel, some of it is rotating mass, without having to resort to less beefy rims)

Their best trait for me however is their ability to smooth out vibration and flex a little. They still feel precise enough to me, but they really have a little bit of give and wiggle and noticeably increase comfort and grip on rooty, rocky and rough trails, especially on the very (too) stiff rear end of my Madonna. They take a little bit of sting out of square edged hits and I even find that I don't pinch flat tires as much (or have less KLOOONNG sounds on the front wheel without an insert, when I land on a root). 

I don´t notice any negative effects on flat-out bermed trails, but I am neither super heavy nor do I like or require the stiffest bike / setup. I bet there are riders who prefer super precise / stiff wheels. 

They interface with tires every bit as good as a regular Newmen rim with 30mm inner width (most rims work great nowadays). 

One thing to pay attention - they come with a little bottle with fluid which is to be applied occasionally to the spokes for UV-protection. (which I'll do in the next days)

So far I haven't damaged a spoke. 

They are more expensive than a really good regular alloy wheel set, but much less expensive than high-end carbon wheels. 

But in my experience they offer a real benefit over carbon (enduro) wheels, because they are lighter than most AND more comfortable. 

I am curious how they will hold up over the course of a couple of years. My fear of the spokes magically disintegrating at the same time is almost non-existent now =)

March 22, 2021, 9:05 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: Drivetrain replacement strategies

Actually, not all that much.

A good way to get a chain clean without removing the lubricaton is to take a cup of vegetable oil (sunflower oil works great) and either soak the chain for a while in it. Or apply generous(!) amounts of oil on the chain with an old towel. Let it sit for a bit and the old stuff will come of. Also works great for cleaning hands after cleaning a dirty chain.

The oil will solve most of the dirt/lubricant mix and the gunk will wipe off really easily with an old towel (better than underpants - the towel has lot more surface area).

If you do the same with de-greaser, your chain will be ruined. There’s almost no possibility to get the lubricant back in all the right places.

Once it is not messy anymore, wipe the chain dry and then just apply the Squirt stuff. The chain will get cleaner over time. I don’t keep my chains surgically clean. It is mountain biking after all.

As long as my silver cassette/chain don’t appear to be all black, it’s clean enough for me.

BTW: that’s not my invention, but good advice from an old mechanic at a LBS I used to work part time.

He also used to cringe and complain that there’s mainly two types of riders - ones who lube their chain to death with oil, then collect half the forest, resulting in steam engine like goo-levels. Or the ones who never do. Squeeeeeeeeeek, squeak, squeak.

„The chain only needs to be lubed on the inside. The outside should be dry“, he would explain to the customers.

For those who complained that they were being charged for chain lube, but appeared to actually receive a dry chain, he kept a spare bottle with the more sticky green stuff and applied it generously, but grumbling to himself.

@mrbrett

I find that the Squirt stuff lasts about as long as the Teflon Finish Line, maybe longer, but it doesn’t smell as chemical and collects even less dirt. Also it lasts better in wet conditions for me.

March 22, 2021, 6:47 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: 2021 - Full Suspension Bike Thread

Hi,

here is my fully ripened and nerded out build of a "Madonna RAAW".

There is not a single component left, that is "just" on there, apart from the pedals (wrong color, also blame COVID for the red fork lowers) and bar end caps.

Sorry for the shitty pics, more in my album.

https://nsmb.com/photos/user/3984/album/madonna-raaw/

Anyone up for a nerded out part-spec-list with some practical, yet arm-chair-engineer part reviews? =)

Tease: Textile spokes, Trickstuff brakes, special bottle, flexy bars.

March 22, 2021, 6:37 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: Drivetrain replacement strategies

nullHi Martin,

actually I never used Progold. The only other lubricants I regularly used to use were Finish Line Teflon(good, but not environmentally friendly, wears of FAST), Finish Line Synthetic (not environmentally friendly, dirt sticks and makes lots of mess) and Rohloff Oil of Rohloff (biodegradable but very sticky, dirt sticks like honey).

I tried Squirt two seasons ago and it works so good that I haven't used anything else.

**It has some advantages: **

If you do it right, you'll be rewarded with a silent, CLEAN and shiny chain, without having to really clean it. (take a look at my photo, the chain is a (muddy) season old and the cassette two, no cleaning needed, apart a little bit of wiping, without any solvents, degreasers etc.)

It's very thin and penetrates the chain rollers, so it actually lubricates where it is supposed to.

It seems to lubricate very well, the chain moves with noticeably less resistance, when applied. (compared to an unlubricated chain)

If you put on too much of it (I do this all the time, because it is so thin), just spin the chain for a couple of seconds and wipe it off with a rag. It is like water and comes of easy, as long as it hasn't dried.

If it dries and you got too much of it on the chain, it is just wax. Wipe it off with a rag, it's easy and even sprinkled with dust, it comes off and doesn't make that tar-like goo.

It is said to be bio-friendly. (can only take the companies word for it, hope it is true)

Some disadvantages:

It's very thin - if you don't apply it carefully, the bottle will be empty a bit faster than you'd like.

It is not cheap, get the big bottle and use something smaller to apply it.

You'll have to lubricate your chain after every long ride or after every two shorter ones. If you forget, it will start to chirp =)

You need to apply it AFTER your ride, so it can dry before your next ride. Otherwise it will dribble off.

I accidentally bought a bottle with their "cold conditions" formula. Honestly couldn't tell much difference, both worked great in winter and summer for me. As long as I applied it in my basement and let it dry there. That's also the way to go for wet weather riding (which I've had LOADS this winter). Wipe off the chain (so it is dry), apply the stuff, spin for a couple of seconds, let it dry (couple of hours). And it will work well even in rain, snow or swamp.

Chain two seasons...

Okay, I am too stupid to link my pic. 

https://nsmb.com/photos/view/20291/

March 22, 2021, 1:19 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: Drivetrain replacement strategies

I use Sram 28t steel chainrings with xx1 11spd cassette and chain. I try to swap to a second and third chain after a couple of hundred kilometers and then swap back to chain 1 / 2 / 3 after roughly the same intervals. I use wax lube regularly (Squirt Lube). They seem to wear very slow and in an even fashion. I get a lot of use out of the cassette this way.

My Shimano RD splices shifter cables around once a season, I even had to replace the cable housing after winter. The cassette is in its second season, which surprises me.

March 11, 2021, 2:56 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: Who the hell does fox tune their forks for?

I do find that the amount of travel and the wheel size seems to make a big difference on the FOX 36 series (at least for the 2020 or older models without air bleeders). 

At 170mm and 29" the pneumatic compression in the lowers is very dramatic. Loads of progression even without tokens. It might be less a problem for heavier riders, as pressure in the lowers isn't weight dependent, compared to the actual air chambers. That might give the impression of lots of compression damping and have an effect on rebound in the last 30-40% of travel.

March 9, 2021, 11:29 p.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: Assegai vs DHF and Dissector vs Aggressor???

Thanks! I'll try that!

March 9, 2021, 10:45 p.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: Who the hell does fox tune their forks for?

I find that both angles can work. I swap between 2020 Grip2 36s and a 2021 Lyrik Ultimate and 2021 Pike Ultimate on my two bikes with different travel amounts. 

I feel that the RS forks are a lot more active both in compression and rebound motions. The Fox ones feel pretty wooden, until you really start stuffing them in rocky and harsh terrain. Then they feel awesome.

Rock Shox 2021 feel awesome pretty much everywhere. But I need a little bit more bar height/spacers with them, like 5-10mm.

Where Rock Shox beats Fox easily imho - the forks practically don’t need dial-in sessions. Just set sag and rebound. Fiddle one, two clicks of compression from the middle setting. Feels like a dream.

Fox Grip2 needs much more fiddling and can feel shitty when set up not 100%.

Also, over here in Germany every equivalent fork from Fox will be 1.8 times as expensive as its RS counterpart. 

For chargers the Fox might be better though.

March 7, 2021, 10:41 p.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: Assegai vs DHF and Dissector vs Aggressor???

Thanks for the insight!

I happen to have an Exo+ Dissector in my COVID-Emergency bike part stash. I was hesitant to try it, because I don’t feel a big difference to the regular Exo. And I flatted the Exo twice WITH FCK Flats inserts, snakebite also. In very terrain on a particularly nasty rock, admittedly. 

But I’ve since changed to a Tannus insert and the wobbly tire held up so far. So maybe the new Exo+ will last. 

I’ll ride the wobbly one until it blows up and then try the new one and report back on that!

Cheers 

Znarf

March 7, 2021, 10:39 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: Assegai vs DHF and Dissector vs Aggressor???

How do these Dissectors hold up for you guys? I don't mean the knobs, but the carcass? 

I didn't flat my mtb tires five seasons in a row (after going to ProCore or foam inserts on the rear tire, DHR 2 WT EXO). 

Then I wanted to make my bike more "fun" and started to run the Maxxis Dissector 2.4 Exo Maxxterra tire on the rear wheel. (And my bike got more fun alright!)

But I killed three Dissectors in relatively short time. The carcass goes all wobbly, retains air though. The rim is true, but the tire REALLY wobbles to all sides. It's noticeably when riding on pavement and freaks my riding buddies out. Three Dissectors in a row. 

I really LOVE how the Dissector corners and rolls though. 

I'd buy the DOUBLEDOWN version in a heartbeat if it came in Maxxterra. But it is only available in Maxxgrip and the harder compound is wearing quick as is...

And I don't really understand in what scenario you'd run a Maxxgripp Dissector? If you need the grip you'd just go DHF or Assegai. If you want FAST you don't want super sticky rubber. But maybe I am mistaken...

I think I'll go to the 2.3 DD DHR2 next. Maybe this one holds up better? The Aggressor isn't bad, but I don't like the dual compound on wet roots or dusty chalky rocks.

I'd love your recommendations!

Feb. 8, 2021, 10:30 p.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: 2021 - Full Suspension Bike Thread

The new Hugene V2 is 65.5HA - it was just launched last week. Looks much more pleasing compared to the V1.

RAAW bikes have fantastic customer service in my experience. But shipping across the big pond (after Taiwan -> Germany) is another complicating factor for sure. With all this going on as well. 

Fingers crossed for your buddy. He will love the Madonna. Mine keeps me happy :)

Feb. 8, 2021, 6:51 a.m.
Posts: 828
Joined: June 29, 2006
Re: 2021 - Full Suspension Bike Thread

Raaw Jibb probably launches on February 18th.

I don’t know specific final travel numbers, but heard directly from the source that it is a bike that is pedally and nimble, much more playful than a Madonna, but still well at home in a bike park.

Maybe more a main bike for not extremely gnarly terrain than a little sister for your typical enduro beast? But that is just speculation at this point.

But we will see...

The Propain Hugene is also very interesting.

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