Instead, I chanced upon this Salsa. It had nice bits (Raceface cranks, XT derailluers, Juicy Three brakes) and straight-up hardtail geometry with nice steel (OX Platinum). Out the door for $475. I found new 80mm Fox forks on ebay for $330. All up: not cheap, but a great value, considering the Jamis Pro retails for about $2500 and it's pretty much comparable.
|The old 7-speed XT thumbshifters will index-shift 8 speeds. |
The best of all worlds: 8 speed, indexed, proper thumbies.
Here's what I dig about this bike:
- Hello descending. I don't have suspension forks on any bike. I learned this morning that suspension does make a pretty huge difference in that department. I always enjoy descending these trails on any bike, but on this bike, I was able to roll out farther onto the flats due to the speed I gained on the hills. Any time you're descending it's fun. But this is more fun. I look forward to doing some other standard HD loops.
- Climbing is not bad either. It's a different game on this bike. This bike doesn't want you to stand and grind, it wants you to sit and spin. And I found that following this rule pays off. I was able to climb all the hard little short steep twisty turny bits on this bike that I can do on my CX bike or the Rawland by standing and grinding.
- One-finger braking. Again -- this is really related to descending. But with super high-zoot hydraulic brakes, you can hang on to the bars while braking with a single finger. Lovely.
- More nimble than I thought. I was expecting to have trouble turning into tight corners and staying up -- both on the way down and the way up -- but by observing the "stay seated" rule on the way up, and by turning sharp on the way down, I hit all the same corners that I don't really have to think about on my steeper-front-ended bikes. So there.
- The tires rule. I sprung for some Maxxis Aspen tires, which I think are perfect for the HD trails: they like hard pack, or maybe hard pack with a bit of sand. They're not crazy about mud. But neither am I. They roll great for 2.1" mountain bike tires. The flat part -- by the RR tracks -- from Polly Judd to the electrical station was super fast and easy. I think, because these tires rule, and that dang suspension just soaked up all the rocky turds. Crazy, man! I'm talking like a mountain biker!
- This whole flat bar thing. For descending, it rules. And for climbing, I think I'm kind of getting it. But I really prefer having my wrists oriented so that they are vertical. I'm going to stick with these bars for a while though. Many months.
- That carbon post. Seems like a stupid place to have carbon. I may replace it with a Thudbuster, but the bike is pretty light -- by my standards.
- The front disc caliper. Man. It seems way too close to the spokes. It's about 2mm away. I ran into Geoff, of Two Wheel fame, on the trails and inspected his caliper-to-spoke-distance (CSD), and found it to be the same. So that makes me feel better. But man, I'd rather it were like 5mm.