Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Les is More
Well, the growing trend to ride big wheeled mountain bikes, has finally found it’s way to pixy. Let me introduce “Les”, my new 29er. Some may say, it’s about time and others may ask why, but here is my story of how Les can be more.
Over the past few years, 29ers have become very popular, particularly for racing, and it makes good sense. The bigger wheel rolls over stuff better than the little wheel eliminating some of the desire for full suspension, while keeping the platform quite efficient. During the early days of 29ers, little sizing was limited, but now many companies offer small sizes, and everyone was telling me to check them out.
What I found out is that most 29ers fit everyone else and not so much me, and then one day I saw that Lynskey was making one very close to my size, and I began to ponder about a possible big wheeled bike for myself, perhaps from Titus, since their bikes fit me well. Last November Titus went bankrupt, which blew the wind out my 29er imagination sails, and I quickly accepted the fact that this was not to happen for a good reason.
Then in January Industry Nine offered me sponsorship, and I knew it was time to re-open the big can of worms and find another custom frame builder to build a frame to accompany the new 29er wheelset. I was not sure if I should go steel or ti. Because the tubes would be small, I thought that ride quality per dollar would be better for steel. Plus I had never had steel and wanted to give it a try. I looked at a bunch of frame builders, but kept going back to Siren. The Siren had an intriguing bent top tube and beautiful curves. It just looked like it was meant for me.
I contacted Brendan, the builder to ask questions because I thought I could get by with a standard small frame. After some discussion, he assured me that I could get all that I was looking for in a custom frame. We came up with an in between medium and small geometry with more stand over height. For those interested, the materials used were as follows:
- Down tube 35mm 858 butted
- Seat tube 28.6mm externally butted
- Top tube single bend, True Temper OX Platinum
- Chainstays S-bend
- Seatstays S-bend
- Dropouts - Paragon windowed sliders w/ titanium hardware
The frame was built very quickly, but the paint process took several months because I had it powder coated at Spectrum Powederworks. The powdercoat job was outstanding, but I had to wait my turn to get that done.
The Ride: After a few weeks of riding all sorts of terrain, one race, and two festivals, where the bike acted like a guy magnet, I am giving this bike a BIG thumbs up. The overall ride is really nice, smooth and very solid with the big wheels. This is my first steel bike and I like the buttery ride. The big wheels DO really roll over stuff with ease, and the rear tire hooks up when climbing, like a goat. I have heard people talk about sluggish handling, but I do not get that impression at all. Last Sunday at Lewis Morris Race I was really appreciative to have a hard tail and the big surprise was that my back did not hurt afterwards from all those roots, like it usually does. I did not have a great day for my legs, but still finished 6th in the pro/open, which is a good.
I would like to send a big thanks to Industry Nine for making an outstanding wheel set that performs as well as it looks, and also for investing in me as a sponsored racer. Without this, I may not have ended up with this type of first 29er experience. I look forward to many more big wheeled rides down the trail.
Next stop ... National Championships in Sun Valley, ID. So now you have it, Les can be more.