Project DiSSent, West Coast: The Follow Up.

OK, you may or may not recall that this was a bit of an experiment in several areas.  I was curious about aluminum as a viable SS ride compared to steel, I wanted to see how a longer top tube affected the overall performance of the bike, and wanted to weigh the benefits of ride quality (smoothness, compliance, etc) VS. pedaling response and overall stiffness in the frame of an SS only bike.

This is what I found over several rides:

* Oversize aluminum is what it is. There is little magic going on here to make it supernaturally behave other than its nature suggests. The Dissent is a mixed bag of emotions when you point it into the bumpies. The back end is surprisingly smooth, in fact I would not be surprised if it is smoother than the Karate Monkey is (my last SS ride)or at least pretty darn close. The front end of the bike is very stout and therein lies the rub…I have not figured out how to ride only on the back wheel for every bump. Until I do, the DiSSent shows its oversize, gusseted nature quite plainly here. It may not be ‘harsh’, but it is certainly ‘abrupt’.

* It is a fine handling bike. Not only does it crush the Karate Monkey in overall handling prowess (except in one area), it is a better handling bike than my Lenz FS. Here I am sure the resolute frame is working for me. It turns, holds the line, and just is unfazed by whatever I can hang on through.

* The longer top tube length is a mixed bag. I went from a 24.25″ effective top tube on the Karate Monkey to a 25.25″ effective top tube on the DiSSent, pulled back the cockpit 1/2″ with a shorter stem, leaving me one half inch more to stretch out into. It feels great when I stand to pedal, really great. But I needed to move the saddle forward a bit, maybe another 1/2″ to get the feel right when seated, so what was the point? To run a shorter stem? That is about all I really changed, that and having a longer wheelbase. What I did lose was a bit of playfulness. The 19″ DiSSent I rode was not this way, so I feel that, at least for this bike and set up, the extra length needs to come from something other than frame length. However, it still turns like a guided missle, despite the size of it and I bet for a slightly taller person than I it would be killer.

* Pedaling perfomance Vs. Ride quality. So, I had a theory: Does the high demand for pedaling performance on an SS, and by that I mean the ability of a frame to take the high pedaling loads and transfer that into forward motion; does that allow for compromise on ride quality, what we call ‘suppleness’ or smoothness’ or what have you? At this price level, steel is often less than fabulous in that if it rides very smoothly, it will likely be flexy at the BB. If it is stiffer, like the KM, it likely will not be all that nice of a ride. And, cheap steel is heavy. Result? I think the DiSSent is absolutely worth the tradeoff with one proviso…can you take the beating that will result? The DiSSent is simply fabulous when it comes to surging forward under hard pedaling, steep climbs, fast charges, etc. It rocks. But, it ‘rocks’ me in other ways that, at my age and level of frailty, is just too much to enjoy over a long trail day. But, if you are not too concerned with that and are more bulletproof than I (not too hard), then the DiSSent, for the money, is ‘Da Bomb. It would be a fabulous race bike for XC duty.

All that likely adds up to a uncertain future for the DiSSent and I and it is likely I will not keep it as my one and only SS ride as I am pretty trail oriented rather than race focused.  That begs the question, “What is next?”. Not sure. But whatever it is it will be living in the shadow of the DiSSent, a flat black shadow of a mean and fast bike that does what it does very well indeed.  Think junk yard dog.



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2 Responses to “Project DiSSent, West Coast: The Follow Up.”

  1. John Says:

    I’ll post here since not many people are doing so yet on this site…

    Anyway, how can the Dissent feel so harsh when you are using a suspension fork and Thudbuster?

  2. Grannygear Says:

    Good question. First the Thudbuster. It was only on there for one ride (in the pic), But, my thoughts/impressions on ride quality are not related to how it deals with bumps when seated, rather it is all about how it feels when riding out of the saddle such as at speed on a fire road or singletrack. The Thudbuster makes anything seems smooth when seated.

    One would think the fork, would be pretty insulating of impacts and, of course, it is. But it does not override the general demeanor of a frame to the point where you cannot feel a difference in frame design/construction. Keep in mind that I am comparing it directly with a steel frame (Karate Monkey) that had the same parts on it, wheels, tires, fork, etc. I did go to the steel Groovy Luv Handles, but that was only recently.

    So, it is a valid comparison in that whatever the fork was doing for the KM, it is doing for the DiSSent.


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