Project DiSSent, West Coast: First Impressions

It was with a blur of activity and a keen eye that I moved the parts from the Karate Monkey to the DiSSent frame. Pretty much all the parts came over with the exception of the brakes. The Monkey used V brakes and the DiSSent is blissfully free of such things like canti brake posts.

Parts list as it stands:

Chris King H/S

Bontrager 100mmx6 degree stem

Easton Monkey Light carbon 1.5″ rise bar

RST M-29 fork @80mm

Avid BB7 brakes w/160mm rotors and Avid brake levers

WTB Pure V saddle and Thudbuster LT post w/Hope clamp

XT Hollowtech 180mm cranks with old SPDs, all well used

Blackspire 32 tooth non-ramped/pinned chainring, 20 tooth rear Surly steel cog

Maxxis Ignitors on DT Swiss 7.1 TK rims and Onyx hubs/QRs

Post build-up, on to the scale it went and down went my hopes of a lighter build. It was the same as the KM to the ounce! The frame is 12oz lighter than the KM at 4lbs 13oz but the extra weight in the BB7 brakes done me in. Oh well, 27 lbs 2 ounces is it for now. Heavy for an SS, but that will get tweaked a bit over time.

The top tube on the DiSSent is one inch longer than the KM was; 25.25″ instead of24.25″. The frames are about the same height. The cost is about the same for both frames, or at least both can be considered budget frames so I think they make a decent comparison. Inexpensive steel VS. inexpensive aluminum.

The DiSSent uses sliding rear dropouts for tensioning the chain where the KM uses track ends. I fought the axle slipping on the KM when under heavy pedaling pressure and finally used a Shimano old style QR and a driveside Surly Tuggnut to help remedy that. I still had slippage issues. Will the sliders on the DiSSent stay put?

So, a longer bike (cockpit wise and wheelbase), angles are relatively close, chainstay length about the same, parts mostly the same…should make for decent comparison.

Pedaling around the street I was struck by how long the bike felt. I put the tape to it compared to the Lev and it was only 1/4″ longer from saddle to stem. The Lev runs a 110mm stem and a 24.5″ TT. I felt like I needed to move the saddle forward but the aggressive offset on the Thudbuster would not allow that. Also, the bike was really hard to wheelie or manual. Back to the garage.

The tape showed a chainstay length of 18.2″. Ouch! I had added a link of chain during the build so now I took it out and moved the sliders all the way forward. It works, sort of, like a magic gear thingy cuz I have a chain tension that is higher than I would like, but the sliders are all the way forward. I may have to look into a different chain that uses a half link. Anyway, for now I have a 17.5″ chainstay length. Back out on the street, the shorter length helped but it is still not easy to get the front end up.

On Trail:

I took a 90 minute ride around a very familiar loop that throws a little of everything at you and is a good test ride for an XC bike. So?

– Pedals well. even with the cockpit needing some dialing in, I noticed I was remaining seated on a gradual climb that typically would find me standing on the KM and when I did stand, it was very responsive. Down, down, down went the pedal strokes…zip, zip, zip went the DiSSent. Very impressive. In times like this, when cadence slowed and the grade steepened, the KM would feel sluggish.

– The fast downhill singletrack was next and the DiSSent is very dialed-in handling wise. I do not claim to know how to design a bike to make it feel right, but it felt right, right away. It seems to be a very, very good handling bike and I can tell the frame is pretty rigid under cornering loads. Accurate. Also, it was actually much more calm than the KM in the fast trail ruts, very stable and planted feeling, but still turned better and quicker. How about that?

– Ride quality? Well, it was interesting. Overall it is very smooth, especially in the rear triangle, but there are times I really got whacked by some trail rut when I did not expect it. I wonder if the oversize front triangle is coming into play here? Still, I would not call it harsh. It begs for a nice, tubeless, high volume tire set and that will come along eventually.

Waiting in the wings are some alternate bend handlebars and another seatpost that will allow me to move the saddle up a bit more forward. Stay tuned as the DiSSent gets tweaked and ridden, tweaked and ridden. The Junkyard Dog is on the trail and ready for action.

Junkyard Dog In Repose

Junkyard Dog In Repose

Also check out the first post in this series here.

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2 Responses to “Project DiSSent, West Coast: First Impressions”

  1. Captain Bob Says:

    I had to use a 1/2 link to get the chainstay length I wanted. Worked well for me. Cheap too.

  2. Hal Says:


    Great review! I am waiting to hear more. The DiSSent is on my short list of new bikes to try.


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