Sunday, 3 February 2013

29 er . Errrrr

                                                      " Edit that bit out ..... "

OK , Today's local spin . Mostly a ' local ' woodsy affair . I'm on Alan's new 29er . I've never ridden one before , so |I did'nt quite know what to expect .
I've read a bit about them here and there . Basically , if you dont know , it's a regular MTB , but with bigger wheels than the standard 26" . The science behind it says it will ride smoother over bumps and hollows , as the wheel hits at a less severe angle . Whatever .

First impressions are good . This is a ChargeBikes "Cooker Hi " . Decent spec bits and bobs , fastened to a nice , classic looking Tange infinity steel frame . Thin tubes .
I can see why Alan got it . People of a certain generation are suckers for skinwall tyres .  At a squint it definitely has a look of a big BMX cruiser about it .

 So , local woodsy . We've had some rain and snow , and allsorts , since forever . Last week was the week of the great flood . The ground is pretty soggy and the going is tough . Its hard to say if the big wheels are any advantage at these slower speeds , but , the first climb or two it felt OK . The WTB tyres , in keeping with the theme , are a version on a classic MX style blocky tread . Seemed to work well enough .
At the top of these short sharp climbs , there's the inevitable drop in . Hanging off the back , hiding behind the big front wheel felt good.
We headed over to some local woodland trails . Its a mini trail centre of sorts . A winding singletrack , punctuated with some logs across the trail every so often, and some troll bridges . The front end feels very " XC " , - planted , compared to my regular bikes , taking a bit more of a heft to get over the obstacles . No big deal once you get used to it . Bunnyhopping the odd one seemed really easy though .
The bars are pretty wide . 700mm ish . A bit wider than I'd usually ride, especially through the trees . I guess they'd be superb on a faster downhill , but on the more techy stuff , seemed a bit too wide . A little wallowy . Nice grips . Classic BMX Oakley stylee.
The Charge saddle is quite comfy , as I didnt notice it .

If I was nitpicking , the seatclamp arrangment is not so good . Out of the box it comes with an Allen key clamp . You know , it might look neat and clean , and all that , but a quick release is 100% absolutely required kit . So , on Saturday before I left the shop I fitted one . Whether it's a bit of a shit one , or whether it was a brand new seatpost/frame issue , I dunno , but I was suffering from some slippage . Bit of a wind-up, as its such a small, cheap , yet inversely important part.  
Moving on .The rest of the ride was kinda more of the same really . We had a little play on some rocky drops . Semi steep , in places . Hard to say if it was any better at this than my 5" forked hardtail , this is a 4"er , but certainly no worse.
Forks are a Rockshox Recon with a lockout . Due to bike switching , I inadvertantly did about half the ride locked out . The handle is opposite handed to my fork . I suppose its a compliment to the big wheels then , that I really didnt notice .

The above video was in some more local woods . The fact that I got my feet wet was no reflection on the bike . The stony riverbed was superdooper slippery , and honestly could have provided some much more entertaining footage if we'd stuck around.
After a cuppa in the local Haigh Hall cafe , we headed down through the trees , but first there's a killer little uphill on cold legs . It didnt end well .
 Now , less of a nitpick . For 25 ( + ) years I've ridden a triple chainset . A few bikes nowadays are coming with this 2 x 10 setup . Just a double up front . Throughout the ride I'd not really got on with it . Shifting up the cogs at the back , in the big ring , when you get near the top few cogs the chain isnt in a happy place . You either know what I mean , or you dont . It's a chainline thing . So , to keep it happy , and my legs, I needed to shift lower at the front .At the risk of getting all ' Sheldon Brown ', the tooth difference between the two is quite a bit , causing a jump that the legs dont like either . Too low , too soon .
At the risk of getting all 'Jens Voigt ' , " shut up legs ".

I just cant see any benefit at all to the 2 ring setup , apart from the miniscule weight of one chainring . It still needs a mech and a shifter . The outer ring is taller than my regular middle ring , but , not as tall as my regular outer . I suppose , mathematically , you could theoretically get all the same gears, but in practice it means quite a bit of shifting jiggery pokery . With the 10 spd at the back , and a regular triple up front , it'd be great . I think .  It was also a little undergeared on the road , where a taller triple would again help.

Back to the killer uphill . As we crossed the boggy field , I shift up the cassette . I'm bogging down quickly , and as I get to the top cogs its not happy again ,and I'm running out of leg, so , my only course of action is to shift the front down . It's instantly too low spinny , and I zip the back wheel and spin out to a stop .
If I'd changed the back down first ( harder ), I might have muscled it through , then changed down , but I doubt it . If it was a one-off I'd dismiss it , but a few times I found myself suddenly in between gears .
OK , in its defence , the conditions were super boggy , mostly flat , with sudden steep ups . Ordinary people would stay indoors. I'm sure carving around a trail centre it would be fine . The big wheels are probably happier at a higher rev , just flicking between the middle few gears in top cog, but this is the real world in Orwells northern winter. Also , these are SRAM gears , and I'm used to Shimano , which work a little differently at the shifter , which might have been subtly significant.

So , all in , really good , looks superb , rolls along great , downhills well ...... just not sure about the gears .


1 comment:

  1. Ok , I realise that cyclists MIGHT get what I'm saying about the gears.
    " I changed this here , that there , etc ..."
    In my defence , I read a test in Singletrack mag today on another 29er, WITH the same gear setup , and he didnt get on with them , saying he preferred Shimano.