Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Another Step in the Evolution of My Mountain Bike

I have become somewhat embarassed by the number of changes I have made to my mountain bike, and all of the posts I have made documenting those changes, since I haven't even ridden it for the past two seasons. The last iteration I posted about, the 27.5+ tubeless wheels and tires, actually kept me from riding the bike, as a matter of fact.

I am aware of the fact that tubeless is the "modern" way to go, but I just don't like it. The tires are just too difficult to mount or remove, and I really don't see any benefit to the system that makes up for that. I just can't bring myself to get too far away from the trailhead on tires that I can't easily repair in the case of the inevitable flat.

So, those WTB tires and wheels are now for sale, and I have a new (and, I think better) setup on the bike.

My Surly 1x1, with the fat front setup has worked out so well that I decided to go to that on my mountain bike. I found the fork from a FRAMED brand fat bike, for cheap, on eBay. I also found a 27.5x3.0 tire from the same company.

I installed the fork onto my frame, and mounted a Vee Rubber V8 26x4.0 tire on a fat bike wheel with a 50mm rim. On the rear, I mounted the 27.5x3.0 tire onto my old rear wheel, with a standard rim. It mounted up easily. The tube has 2 oz. of Stan's in it, as well.

I told my friends who had seen the bike after I built it up, last week, that I wasn't going to post anything about it until I actually went on a ride. So, Sunday morning, my buddy Danny came by and we loaded the bikes into the Big Damn Dodge and headed for Mt. Falcon to ride some of the loops on top of the mountain.

Danny brought his Surly Krampus, and while the 29x3.0 tires are pretty large, the 4-incher on the front of my bike, even on the relatively narrow rim, is noticeably wider. I was hoping that the fat front would allow me to roll over the rough stuff, while the Plus-sized rear would make for easier accelerating/climbing than a full fat bike.

We started out on the Parmalee Loop. Here's Danny descending,

And me, a little farther along on the trail. So far, so good! But, it was all descending, to this point. How would the bike climb?

We stopped where the trail traverses the slope, high above US-285, and snapped a few photos. This is at the top of a pretty strenuous climb. I was very happy with the uphill performance of the bike. The slightly narrower/lighter rear wheel helps on that, I think, while the big front tire allows you to take some less-than-optimum lines through the rocky spots and still continue rolling. Jeff Jones knew this, years ago. It just took me a while to figure it out...

The rear tire just barely has enough clearance in the frame. And, I get some chain/tire interference in the granny gear. Right now, I can live with that. If I actually become a mountain biker, again, and the bike becomes the limiting factor (rather than my fitness), I will start shopping for a frame with more rear tire clearance.

This frame is a 6-year-old 29er frame, with sliding dropouts. I have the dropouts all the way forward, or the 3-inch tire probably wouldn't be usable, at all. The geometry is great, though, for the fat front tire. It doesn't have the ponderous steering feel that most of my fat bikes have demonstrated.

The Walker House ruins are always an interesting stop...

...especially when one of the local residents comes out to say hello. I wish that I was quick enough on the draw, with my camera, to have gotten all of him in the picture! The snake was about as big around as my forearm, and 6 feet long. Pretty cool!

On the way out to the truck, on the Meadow Trail, we came across these fellows slack-lining. Pretty cool, as well!

So, the proof of concept ride for the bike went well. I think that the setup is as good, off-road, for me as it has been on my commuter. Now, I need to start gathering some bags and such to use for some bikepacking trips, as well as just going out for some singletrack cruising!