Archive for the ‘BigWheel Cyclist’ Category

Lynskey Ridgeline 29″er: Final Review

July 2, 2009

It is time for the Lynskey Ridgeline to head back to Tennessee, so here are my final thoughts on this gray metal, single speed wonder-bike. If you want to catch up with my thoughts so far on the Ridgeline, check out my First Impressions post here.


The Ridgeline still has me awed by a few things. First off, the weight, which I don’t think I’d ever quite get over, is approaching road bike lightness. This isn’t reflected in an overly flexy, uncontrollable ride though. Quite the opposite. It actually has a very composed, stable feel on downhills and the bike does technical, “pick your way through”, and slow speed maneuverings without getting that wiggle that spells disaster. I really enjoyed descending on this bike even though it was a lightweight. It didn’t “ping” off stuff, and rode downhill a lot like a heavier rig. Of course, the climbs were very nice. Yes, you notice the lack of heft in the chassis, and don’t let anyone tell you to “just lose a few pounds” and live with your current steed. While losing body weight does indeed make a difference, so does a lighter bike.

The ride quality is very nice as well. I suppose I should mention the Lynskey titanium seat post here. The combination of the seat post extension and titanium frame was really nice. Trail chatter was definitely muted. Now it isn’t a soft tail feel, nor suspension by any measure, but I would liken it to the carbon stays of Salsa Cycles Mamasita/Selma frames, as a reference point. Of course, the test rig I rode had a White Brothers Rock Solid fork, but with a plush Reba up front, I think this may approach perfection in hard tail ride quality. That would be something I would definitely try if this were my own rig.

Of course, the mere fact that this is titanium is the icing on the cake. It won’t rust, and if it were to get scratched, I could refinish it myself to look practically new. Nice! Now if gray is too depressing, you could get it painted, but the silvery gray color was pleasant enough for me. Would I keep it for my lifetime? That’s always one of the benefits touted when titanium comes up in conversations. Hmm…….maybe. It is that smooth and the handling is pretty decent as it sits with this fork. A longer offset fork like the 46mm ones now being proffered? (Note: The Rock Solid is listed on White Brothers site as having a 42mm offset) I don’t know if I could do that for a lifetime, but I would give it a shot!

 lynskeyridgeline09-039There were some things I had issue with on the Ridgeline. First of all, the flex in the frame’s bottom bracket area precluded me from using anything wider than a 2.2 inch tire. I could get bigger rubber to rub the chain stays. <em>For me</em> that would be a down side. I am a bigger guy though, and some have said I have a pretty powerful pedal stroke, (Not my words), so take that with a grain of salt. Still, there is a bit of flex that some folks might find objectionable, especially if you crave fat rubber on your single speed. If you don’t need such fat tires, and/or are not such a masher, this likely will not be an issue with the Ridgeline. Secondly, the drive train was subject to popping on extreme power strokes up steeps. Every time it happened, I would find the chain slack. The chain line was spot on, the tensioners were locked down, and I never could ferret out just what it was that was happening. I’ve never experienced this with sliders on any other single speed. (Many of them with designs identical to the Ridgeline’s sliders) My only guess is that it was chain related. The Ridgeline as sent to me was set up with a 9 speed SRAM chain. If this were my rig, I would swap out to my typical 8 speed chain set up, or a 1 1/8th chain set up. Lighter riders might not ever see this happen, but if you are like me, I would definitely think about using a heavier chain.

Conclusions : The Lynskey Ridgeline is a “budget” titanium frame with exceptionally worked over, shaped tubes, fine welding quality, and a great ride. Calling it “budget” is really a misnomer. I would say more like a “custom production bike”. Of course, you can get a custom steel frame for this price, and that is a consideration here, especially if titanium’s non-rusting, easy care finish holds no sway over you. That said, the ride feel of titanium is different than any steel rig I’ve thrown a leg over. That would be a tough question to answer: custom steel or “custom production” titanium. That said, the Ridgeline is a high performance raceable bike that can be geared or set up single speed and will likely be under the weight of any steel frame out there. Considering these facts, The Ridgeline looks hard to beat, if the geometry suits you. If you are a bigger, more powerful rider, you may experience some unwanted frame flex in the bottom bracket, so beware. Otherwise, the Lynskey Ridgeline is an impressive titanium 29″er on many fronts.

Thanks to Lynskey Performance for supplying the Ridgeline for this review. Check out there website for more

Continental Race King 2.2″ Tire: Midterm Review

June 24, 2009

The Race King tires are still being ridden here and I now have a Midterm Report  ready for you all on these new shoes from Continental. First off, a big change was made since the last report in that I have set these up as tubeless tires on Stan’s Flow rims using the CaffeLatex sealant I have been testing. The process was easy and so far the Race Kings have had no issues being run tubeless, much like the experience I had with the Mountain Kings last year.


Because of this change, the width measurement has gone up from the 51.3mm I got in my last report to a whopping 56.5mm! (That is 2.22 inches, so it made the claimed width) Continental’s 29″er tires seem to stretch quite a bit, and even more so as tubeless tires. This is interesting and not necessarily unique to Continental; however, their casings seem to stretch more than others I have converted or tried tubeless.


With that in mind, the Race Kings continue to be an eye opener in terms of traction. Climbing, braking, and cornering traction are all above expectations with this tire. Especially considering what we have for knobs here. That said, there are a couple of downsides I want to point out with the Race King tires. First, the lack of anything substantial for side knobs means that lateral traction is not good. If these tires let go, you won’t save it in a corner. Ruts, off camber, or loose rocks and wet roots reveal this weakness as well. Secondly, any “extreme” situation will quickly overwhelm the Race King. Loose rocks, steep pitches, mud, or loose over hardpack will make you wish for more aggressive tread. (But that is what the Mountain King is for) Still, you won’t be disappointed if you use these as an “all rounder” tire, or specifically as a racing tire. The performance on dry, rough to buff single track is awesome.

The Race King also impresses as a tire that is cushy. The casing seems to be a very supple one and rides similarly to a Schwalbe Racing Ralph in that you seem to be excused from dealing with small trail chatter and the odd branch or small stone with the Race King. I believe it has a lot to do with how fast these tires roll as well. Between the plush casing and low rolling resistance, the Race King might just be the best single speed, rigid fork tire for racing that there is for 29″er freaks. Obviously, it makes your suspension rig feel that much better as well.

The comparison to a Bontrager XDX has come to mind for me here. The two tires are very similar in profile, width, and in how they perform. The only big difference between the two is that the XDX is stiffer feeling, probably due to the “AR” casing that Bontrager uses to beef up the XDX tire with. Otherwise the XDX and the Race King are tires with much the same performance characteristics. My choice would be for the Continental in most situations just because I prefer the nicer ride quality. If I lived in more severe terrain though, the XDX would win out due to its burly construction.

That’s it for now. I will continue to put the race Kings through their paces and I will chime in with a Final Review in about a month.

Origin 8 2X9 Crank Set: First Impressions

June 18, 2009

Twenty Nine Inches has been fortunate to have J&B Importers “Origin 8” brand let us try some of their new 2X9 mountain cranks recently. This is my report after several rides on the cranks.


The Origin 8 2X9 cranks are mounted to my Dos Niner, as shown and are mated with a 12-34 SRAM cassette. The bike was ridden on a combination of fast cross country type trail, single track, gravel/broken rock strewn climbs, and fire road climbs.

Shifting performance was excellent after my slightly worn chain got happy with the new teeth on the chain wheels. As long as your front derailluer is adjusted properly, I can not see any reason why your shifting wouldn’t be at least as good with these cranks. If you were to use a brand new cassette and chain, it should be trouble free from the get go. By the way, I adjusted out the low gear setting on my X-9 trigger shifter and I had excellent results with this.

On rolling single track, I found that the 44T ring was the way to go. I could use the entire cassette out back, and shifting performance was normal. The interesting thing I happened to find was that I could attack the hill in the big ring, then shift down to the 29 tooth ring and find myself either in, or a click or two at most from the perfect gear to finish off the climb with. Get over the top, shift once with the left thumb, and I was in a hammering gear for the down hill. It is easy to see why a racer might like the 2 X 9, or new 2 X 10 drive train option.

The 29 tooth chainwheel was sufficiently low enough to mimic granny ring climbs for short steeps, and medium length fire roads were done quite nicely here too. However; if your climbs start out steep, and last for anything longer than a football field, you may be wishing for some lower gears. (Unless you are in really great shape!)

 origin8crank09-073As this crank set is sold, it may not work quite as nicely as it did for myself. The gearing is specific to a more rolling, shorter climb sort of terrain, to my mind. If Origin 8 would offer options, or aftermarket rings that matched the look of the originals, one could tailor the gearing to their locality. For instance, it might make more sense for a Rocky Mountain rider to go with a 37 X 22, as an example. Or perhaps a 34T X 22T set up.

The cranks do work well as they are, and shifting has been normal. I will continue to flog these and report back later with how they do in the long run.

Cannondale To Introduce Carbon 29″ers In 2010

June 16, 2009

The Cyclist has learned that Cannondale plans on introducing a carbon hardtail 29″er to it’s current line up of aluminum hardtails for 2010. The line, which will be introduced at a sales meeting in Park City, Utah next week, will include two versions of the bike. Dubbed the “Flash”, the hardtail will be offered in a “Flash 1” version and a presumably lower spec’ed “Flash 2” option. We also have learned that one of the versions will be white, the other red.

Cannondale apparently will continue to offer its four aluminum models as well, but at this time there is no word on whether the Scalpel 29″er we have heard is roaming the planet as a prototype will be offered as a model for sale to the public. Stay tuned as more information becomes available.

West Coast First Impressions: Continental Race King 2.2 29er tires

June 15, 2009


After the Out of the Box report, I have had some time on the new Conti Race Kings now and it is time for a follow up. After weighing them and all that, I mounted them up onto the Stan’s Flows wheelset that I run on the Lev. They are replacing the Captain Control 2.2’s that have been happily living through all kinds of conditions so far.

The first test was mounting them up tubeless. I never ran the Conti Mtn Kings tubeless, so I was not sure what to expect as far as getting them to mount-up and inflate. It took a bit more work than the Captains did, but after a bit of massaging, they caught and pumped up nicely with a floor pump. I saw no signs of leakage in the sidewalls and the Stan’s goo quickly sealed up the bead juncture. Good to go.

I settled on 25lbs front and about 28lbs rear and measured them with a caliper. The Captains, a 2.2 tire, measured at 2.215″ wide (knob to knob) and a combined height (rim and tire) of 2.35″. The freshly mounted Race Kings measured to 2.135″ wide, but in this case the casing was wider than the tread, so that number is sidewall to sidewall. They were 2.88″ high. That is a pretty tall tire, and though it looks narrower than the Captains (which I consider to be a pretty plump tire), it is actually the lack of side knobs that fool the eye. So while it may not be a true 2.2, it is pretty good sized and will likely grow over time.


If the size leaves you wanting more, keep in mind the name on the side of the tire: Race King. This is no freeride tire. It also looks fast. Lets have a show of hands…who likes fast rolling tires? One, two…three hands…yep we all do. The knobs are all the same height and are small, not too tall, and spaced fairly close together. It has a very round profile and I bet it is a smooth turning, predictable tire. We shall see.

The first ride was up a paved road to see how they spin on tarmac. 30 minutes of climbing later and I was sure of one thing; they are a fast rolling, sure cornering tire on pavement. Is that important? It may be if your training rides include road sections as mine often do.

The dirt test was to come, a 4 hour out and back on pine tree lined singletrack, 8 miles or so of climbing and lots of elevation gain. The soil was dry and dusty, but pretty hardpacked and generally ‘buff’ with good sections of firmly planted and square edged rocks to bounce over. I would say it was typical mountain trail conditions.

The tires simply impressed me. They did everything well that day. I never felt like I was pushing the limits of the tire. If they did drift, they never let go or scared me into thinking they were about to. I really like a round profile tire that feels the same at different lean angles. On this type of terrain, it let me decide what line to take with no arguments.

One very interesting thing…I noticed it on the Mtn King 2.4s and again on these tires. Over rocks, they have a unique feel to them. I am not sure how to describe it. Remember how it felt the first time you went tubeless and the ride over rocks and stuff was just more muted and yet lively? That is the way they feel to me. I have a feeling these tall but not too wide tires would be a very good choice for rigid riders and would be a fast SS tire.

The testing continues and I have a feeling the tires will be meeting their match as I get into sandy, loose conditions. If I was a betting man, I would wager they will be less than stellar there, but we shall see. Stay tuned.


Salsa Cycles Fargo: Conclusions

June 13, 2009

Normally after this long a period with one bicycle I would be giving a “Final Review”. The thing is- I’m not done with this bike yet. The Fargo is just too versatile a rig to put a final word out on it already. That said, I am going to give you readers my thoughts on the Fargo and tell you where I’m going with the bicycle after this point.


Two single trackin’ Fargo rigs.

The “Big Question”:  First of all, the Fargo elicits a strong reaction from folks. Often I get a “Just what is that bike for? Is it a______” (Insert any one of several specific bicycle types here.) The “Big Question” really should be the “Big Clue”. It means that the Fargo is, if nothing else, a very versatile bicycle that could do many tasks well. I can not possibly call out every one of the Fargo’s possible uses, but I can tell you what it is<em>really good at</em>. The other question about the Fargo has to do with its “drop bar centric” design. I’ve covered the drop bar thing in great detail, but if you have not seen any of those posts, you can check them out here: Part I Part II Part III Part IV  Part V.

 The Fargo blends in well, no?

The Off Road Fargo: The Fargo off road is a wonderful rig. It really is a fun single track shredder. One thing to remember though: The Fargo is a rigid bike with a non-suspension corrected fork that has a specific offset designed to work with the geometry of the frame. Okay, what does that mean exactly? Well, it means that you shouldn’t put a suspension fork on this bike. You really should stick with the stock fork as it comes with the Fargo. The good news is that this is a fantastic steel fork. The bad news is that this is a fantastic steel fork! The “rigidness” of the Fargo imparts a certain riding style and technique, a certain use that will not be suited to, oh let’s say…..<em> all mountain riding</em>. (Although, once upon a time mountain bikers rode all over the place on rigid steel rigs, ya know.) I think that the Fargo is best suited to buff single track to maybe some light technical trails. I rode it on several occasions where there were rooty, rocky descents, drop ins, and tight, twisty ascents. The Fargo can do this, and it shreds in fast, flowy trail settings. However; the Fargo has a lower bottom bracket height that may, or may not, be a problem for you. I liked it, and yes- I got ejected out of my pedals and struck things with the pedals from time to time.

 Designed in Minnesota, Made in Taiwan

The Back Roads Fargo: This is where the Fargo starts to come into its own. The Fargo absolutely shines on fire roads, dirt paths, gravel roads, and the like. Anywhere a road bike starts to become a liability, the Fargo starts to really make a lot of sense. Of course, if you are putting the Fargo to touring duty, and you have to traverse this sort of terrain, there are not many other choices in 700c wheels that can do what the Fargo can. One thing I found is that the heavier the load, the comfier the Fargo gets, just like a nice steel touring bike for the road. Gravel road riding and dirt road riding, for fun, adventure, or racing is tailor made for Fargo owners. Call it “multi-terrain”, or whatever, the Fargo is the right tool for the job here.

 Back roads are the Fargos forte’

The Pavement Fargo: Here is where maybe some folks will have a harder time justifying the Fargo as a viable choice, but they really shouldn’t. Put on some nice, voluminous street rubber and the Fargo becomes an urban pot hole eating machine. That burly steel frame, the rider position bred from off roading, and the way the Fargo’s steel frame gives in that classic way that only steel can makes it a great choice for the urban-bound rider. Add in the fact that it can be decked out easily with fenders, racks front and rear, and any assortment of bags one could desire, and you have a sleeper of a commuter rig. Not only that, but you could spend about a half an hour and swap out rubber, remove some of the urban trappings, and be mountain biking on your favorite secret inner city trail. Going real skinny with the rubber will cause you to have a bottom bracket height that may be an issue though, so if high speed city travel or spirited club riding is in your cards, their are far better rigs for those purposes. (Perhaps Salsa’s own Casseroll model?) However; don’t discount the Fargo as pavement bike. It is a suitable heavy city cruiser capable of carrying a big load and laughing at rough city streets.

 Urban scenes are Fargo territory too.

The Fargo From Here To…: The Fargo here at Twenty Nine Inches is now going to be set up as a light tourer in more of a “bike packing” vein. Think minimalistic gear, lighter weight than full bagged touring, and capable of going off road. The adventures will wait until I can assemble the proper satellite gear, but when I do, I’ll be back with some reports.

 Going far? Go with a Fargo

The Bottom Line: The Fargo is not only a very unique 29″er, it is a very unique bike- period. It is capable of pulling off mountain biking, and doing a decent job of it. It can shine as your “multi-terrain” steed, or it can pull duty on city streets with the best commuter rigs. Is it the one bike for everything? Well, the answer to that question is “no” of course. Here’s where I stand on the Fargo: If I had to get rid of all my bikes but one, the Fargo would be at the top of my list of choices to keep.

Thanks to Salsa Cycles for providing the Fargo for review. Stay tuned for some “adventurous” updates soon.

The Future Of 29″ers: 2009 Report Card

June 8, 2009

Editor’s Note: This post first appeared on Twenty Nine Inches and is reproduced here for your viewing pleasure….


Back in January we were all dreaming of warmer weather and raging some single track. We were also dreaming about what equipment we might be doing that on. Here is the post where I made some prognostications and gave some thoughts on just where all this 29″er stuff might be headed. Now that we are six months into 2009, let’s see how I have done so far…..

This Bontarger rear 29-3 tire is already available

This Bontarger rear 29-3 tire is already available

 Racing Tires and Wheels: I have pretty much hit the nail on the head here, I think, just judging from what I see here being tested. New tires and wheels have certainly made a splash already in 2009. I think we will see the meatier treads following now, but the reason for that will be coming up yet, so keep reading!

Carbon “Fork” Print: The carbon forks are slow in coming, but they are coming. Bontrager’s new Switchblade, which now will finally be available in G2 Geometry (51mm offset) and “regular” offset (46mm) is hitting the warehouse later this month, I am told. The Niner carbon fork should be hitting trails any day now, and Soul Cycles fork is still in development, but should see the light of day soon as well.

Will there be more? Probably. However; this segment will not see the development that suspension forks have already and are going to soon. The tapered steer tube is already a staple of many 2010 bike designs, and the 15QR through axle looks to be the “QR killer” I spoke about back in January. Look for the existence of longer travel forks to start leaking out here this summer.

On Gearing: The Deore level 11-36T cassette has already been announced in 9 speed. Now with the development and introduction of SRAM XX, look for more options in 10 speed wide ratio gearing to be introduced by Shimano in the fall. New XTR will show up as a 2 X 10 group with a wide ranging cassette to compete with SRAM for mtb dominance. I suspect that even an XT option will surface as well. This would explain the lower level 9 speed casette we saw introduced earlier and why it isn’t a higher level cassette. 2 X 10 and to a lesser extent, 2 X 9 set ups will be the hot ticket going into 2010. On the opposite end of the spectrum, look for something in a 9 speed triple with 20/30/42 chainwheels to surface as well.

A Word About Carbon: We’ll see more carbon fiber rigs and we have already seen a fair number debut already. Who will drop in the 29″er bandwagon with the black magic? My bet is that Trek, who is strongly rumoured to be entering in 2010 with 29″ers, will be offering it’s highest end hard tail with big wheels and carbon construction based upon the Madone road bike. There will be a carbon/aluminum composite from Giant, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least two to three more carbon frames show up with big wheels from several manufacturers, including Santa Cruz.

A Word About Titanium: Don’t forget about this grey wonder metal. I am reasonably sure that something is going to surface made from the metal with 29″er hoops on it. I have seen at least two titanium bikes come as far as rideable prototypes only to get axed in the end, but I’ve a feeling there will be something coming out that a lot of folks will find surprising.

A Word About Full Suspension: We haven’t seen the last of the new FS designs for 2010 yet. The aforementioned Santa Cruz will debut something this fall, Fisher Bikes, which has showed its hand with the Superfly 100 isn’t quite done yet, and if Trek is bowing with 29″ers, don’t be surprised if they show up with a big wheeled FS rig. But that’s not all folks, I know of at least two more FS 29″ers waiting in the wings, and more are coming. Long and short travel. Stay tuned…………

Geax Gato 2.3″ 29″er Tire: Midterm Report

June 6, 2009

   Editor’s Note: chris_geotec chimes in with his latest update on the Geax Gato 2.3″ 29″er tires.

4, Midterm report:

Meanwhile I have a decent testing period on my 29er GATOs 2,3 and I have had the chance to ride them for a fair amount of miles under varying conditions – much mud and soft ground but also occasions of slush and ice and now more and more of dry conditions (welcome summertime!!) and here comes my personal mid-term verdict: This tire rules!!

In terms of grip and traction it performs perfect in almost all conditions. Here we have a tire which needs to fear no competition. Especially in soft conditions from medium to very soft the GATO is oh so gooooood. Only in loose over hardpack will you find limits, but they do come in a very controlled manner.

Due to the decent weight, the flexible tread and supple casing it rolls surprisingly well. This tire has no intention to be a pure bred racer (that´s what the Barro Race is for) but it sure is no anchor. Considering its All Mountain genes it rolls very well. In comparison to its smaller 26er brother, the 29er GATO 2.3 received a positively enlarged tread; the knobs got bigger (adding grip & traction), but so did the gaps in between knobs, giving a bit of “gnarly” rolling over hard, smooth surfaces – nothing bad but it is noticeable when compared directly and riding at slow speed.

Self-cleaning and mud shedding I have mentioned it before, but briefly put: very good.

 Cornering is the one place I could found the GATO favoring a riding style actively leaning into corners BMX-style. Those of us who ride corners by simply staying balanced atop the bike might find the GATO to not be homogenous throughout varying angles. I am not the most aggressive rider in corners so I only found myself reaching the limits, but for some riders this might become an issue.

 The reason: There is a wide gap between the central knobs and the lateral ones (much like the Ardents). When cornering hard there is a certain lean angle (near 45°) where the central knobs are only barely edging but the side knobs don´t touch the ground yet. In my opinion the side knobs are sitting just a tad too low on the casing to fullfill their duties for all riders. All this remains unnoticed in anything but hard and smooth surfaces – on softer or rough ground (what the tire is made for after all) the tread will create enough imprint to disguise the transition or lack thereof. When running on lower psi (which I think really brings the TNT GATOs to shine), creating more flex to the casing this also becomes completely immaculate. So in the end it is something that everyone has to judge for himself if it is an issue or not. To me it was merely a minor flaw.

(I must admit that using a wider rim would also mediate to some extent, but unfortunately I had no such things while testing.)

 Flat resistance or punctures has never been an issue. Despite many times hitting my rims at extremely low pressures I never suffered from a single snake bite. Since I have always used some form of latex based sealant small punctures might have occurred but I never noticed anything. The durable yet flexible casing sure does a good job to make the tire not only feel stable but also keep away any objects protruding though the sidewalls. Therefore there were no complaints in that area but on the other hand I have to say that since riding tubeless with sealant I hardly ever worry about flats anymore. When still riding tubed I had times of 4-7 flats during one ride – so to me tubeless feels so much better.

Wait for some more miles and dryer conditions (especially rocky grounds) until you get my final verdict on the GATOs.




West Coast On Test: Continental Race King 2.2 29er tires

June 3, 2009



Fresh off the farm from the folks at Continental Tire, we have received a pair of the brand spankin’ new Race Kings for 29ers to put through their paces on the West Coast.  Guitar Ted has already been riding these in the Mid West and now I get to play with some.  It is full on dry in So Cal right now.  The kitty litter covered hardpack is everywhere and the sand and silt is a part of nearly every ride.

Out of the box, the weights were 660 and 672 grams per tire.  I really like the tread pattern and the smaller, low profile knobs look like a very strong hardpack performer and fast rolling tire.  The Mountain King 2.4s are one of my fav tires of all time and I am looking forward to getting these mounted up and rolling down the trail.  I plan on running them tubeless on the Flows for the Lev and tubed on the DT Swiss rims for the SS.

Stay tuned.

Project DiSSent, West Coast: The Follow Up.

June 2, 2009

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.