I've had the Rawland built up for a couple days now. All up, I've probably ridden it about 30 miles. About 10 miles of dirt/trail and the rest on paved roads. I dig this bike. It's really the mountain bike I've been looking for. It takes stupid-fat tires (2.3"), has stoutish tubing, and disc brakes -- yet it handles quickly, and dare I say, nimbly. It handles, with 41mm tires, much like my RB-T. So it really is a perfect fat-tired-road bike.
As far as "road" bikes go, I'm not going to break any land-speed records on this bike, but it's perfectly suited for riding paved roads out to the dirt trails and roads and handling both terrains nicely.
As I mentioned in my initial post on this bike, the frame is made by Maxway. It's tig-welded and powder coated red. The finish is what I would expect of a $500 bike: all the threads need to be chased and if I were really anal I would've faced the bb shell and head tube.
Nice detail on a nice fork crown. That makes up for the lack of a real head badge.You can just make out the cable stop for the rear shift cable. That's one detail that I find sort of annoying. On the canti-version, they spec downtube shifter mounts.
The paint on one side of the forks is a bit faint, and one of the small frame decals was put on up-side-down. This kind of stuff doesn't bother me in the least.
The finished details that I *do* care about are good. The frame is straight. A quick check with the frame alignment gauge shows at least a perfectly straight rear triangle relative to the front triangle. All the braze-ons are in the right spot and the bike set up as easy as any other.
The welds are very nice. This is similar to other Maxway frames I've looked at closely. The welds are tidy and with the thick powder coat, they almost look fillet brazed from a distance.
Fillet or TIG'd?
I have some new stuff on here. New to me anyway. The obvious biggies are the disc brakes. They are a pain in the ass to set up, but not really any more of a pain than most cantilevers. I still need to fiddle with the front brake to get it perfect. I used mechanical calipers that were compatible with drop bar levers: medium-grade Shimano mechanicals.
For wheels, I'm running LX hubs laced to Velocity Blunt rims. These rims are disc-specific and seem pretty sturdy. Like all Velocity rims, they were easy to build up. Unlike any Velocity rims I've had, these had huge, ugly decals on them when I bought them. It took me about 3 hours of peeling and wiping with nail polish remover to get all the decal and sticky residue off. I'd do the same for the Ritchey post and stem if his logos weren't etched into the alloy.
I found the Rivendell Silver bar-end shifters online from some guy who didn't like them. I don't know how anyone could not like these shifters. I had high expectations and they were exceeded. These are the smoothest friction bar-ends I've ever used.
Tires and Ride
The tires I have on there now are the Rivendell Fatty Rumpkins. So far, the volume makes a huge difference in how I ride on rougher sections of trail. I don't have to be so mindful of the bike/rims under me, which is nice.
The tread doesn't help much for cornering or climbing on the sandy, dusty stuff we have right now on the trails. I expect, like most inverted tires, these will do well on hard-pack. But the money part of these tires is just the volume. They let me bounce and roll over sections that I would normally pick and finesse through. Both riding styles are fun. But it's been fun to do a bit of bombing on this bike and still feel the control I like with my RB-T.
The up-side-down-bike-shot: look at that tire clearance! Crazy stupid clearance, Clarance.
I plan on donning the crazy fat 2.3" knobbies this Friday. I'll to Beacon or Riverside State Park and play around for a couple hours. I'm excited to see how the bike handles with those huge tires and how it handles in more traditional XC mountain biking and trail riding.