Saturday, January 5, 2013

Thinking about the mountain bike

Liza's righteous truck just got a lumber rack. which will become a light camper. More on that later.

I think of all the riding I did in 2012, I enjoyed mountain biking the most. Specifically, I enjoyed spending more time than ever at Riverside State Park. I like the option of riding for hours on mostly flat single track out there. I still am sort of lost most of the time out there, but I am much better now at knowing generally where I'm at in relation to the 7 Mile Airstrip and the Bowl and Pitcher.

But the mountain bike ride that keeps knocking around in my memory is a half day ride that Glen and I took on the Kettle Crest Trail in July. I posted a couple pictures in passing, but I didn't write about it. We rode just a tiny segment from Boulder to Taylor Ridge and popped out on South Boulder. But the bit we rode was everything I want as I think about mountain biking next year: it's long and it's difficult; there's tons of climbing; there's shade and open spots with great views; there's technical bits and flowy bits; there's multiple opportunities for camping; there's no one up there.
Kettle Crest Trail -- From our quick June recon ride.
How perfect is that?

I've talked to the hangers about doing a mountain bike road trip, but maybe the answer is a couple long days on the KCT instead. I'm not sure.

But the more I ride my mountain bike, the more I love it. I'm in the dying breed of those who still love 26" hard tails. It climbs like crazy and is super nimble and maneuverable. I like 29ers and I like 650b; and if I had a cool $3k laying around I'd be all over a full-sus Pat bike. But for cross-country, all day single-track fun, I can't get over how much I dig my mountain bike.

I like these tires. I'm leaving them on year-round: Maxxis Ignitor -- the XC option, which are pricey but they're super soft and supple and full of grippy knobs.
Deore triple crank with those funny outboard bearings: cheap and effective so far.
SLX rear derailleur. Deore would work just as well I bet.
The components that make this bike super fun for me are the ones that I resisted for the longest time: the suspension forks, the modern index mountain shifting and crank set (it's still 8-speed, so if that's "modern" in my book, imagine what I was doing before), and disc brakes.

All that said, of course there are things I want to change. Just a couple minor bits to dial in. For Christmas, Glen gave me the bitchin' SLX hydro brake upgrade. These are great brakes. That was the "must have" item on my list.

Super brakes. Right shifter is an 8-speed LX that works like a charm. Right is a modern SLX triple. I'm always amazed when I can shift to the tiny ring under load. No thought required. I used to mistake thought with skill. Now I don't think it's that simple. 

The other list items are nice-to-have, but I think I'll be selling stuff (anyone want to buy a fancy BMX race bike?) to make these niceties a reality.

  • Minor'est changes are to put my Thudbuster on there and put a plastic/non-Brooks back on. 
  • Wheels: these will fail at the hub at some point I think. The discs are attached in a non-compliant/ham-fisted way. The hubs are not-centerlock, but they have an adapter to make the 6-bolt rotors work with whatever they are. Basically: they're just weird and I don't like them.
  • Frame: I want a shorter rear triangle and a longer top tube. I think having a tiny stem (while still be stretched out) is the answer to single track fun. I might want a bit more slackness in the front end. And I want white.


alex wetmore said...

It's going to be hard finding a longer top tube in a production bike. Don't sell that one, I want it back when you upgrade because it's such a great fit!

The SLX hydros just rule.

John Speare said...

I won't sell it Alex. I dig this frame -- I'm thinking Spokane Bike.

Patrick Sullivan said...

Can't wait to see what the camping solution for the Toyota is.

Justino said...

Keep me in your mountain-bike-thoughts loop. Glen may just offer a 2fer deal at some point. The 22-year-old bike rides great, and I'm super into how it gets me from here to there, but this is kinda like my annual must-buy-a-new-car phase. Don't need it just want it. Plus it's dreamy to parts-obsess over an imaginary future bike.

Andy D. said...

Wow! The KCT looks terrific. I also rediscovered 26" mountain biking last summer via a super bargain 2006 Stumpjumper FSR. Discs and full suspension make for amazing fun. Risking the wrath of Grant followers, I have to say my '90 MB-1 pales in comparison.

Looking forward to seeing the camping rig on that great old Toyota.

Wileydog said...

Yeah I really enjoyed discovering more of Riverside last year, there's a great variety of trails out there. I didn't really think too much about tire size when I got my 29er hardtail in 2011 - it was on sale and not much else available. But I'm not entirely sold on the 29er size, they feel a bit bulky on the rocky, twisty trail sections of trail we have around here.