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Consider the G13

So Mark T is 50. Let’s get that out of the way first. To celebrate he bought himself a new bike – a Mojo/Nicolai Geometron Ion 13 (G13 from now on – not typing that again).

Mark is not only 50, he is also a number or other things.

A bit left field? Certainly. A demon suspension fettler? Unquestionably. Perilously fast? Beyond question. So busy at work he could’t write a blog? Definitely.

But is he highly considered in his kit choices? Yes, 100%, unequivocally without a shadow of a doubt.

This bike has been a long time coming (I’ll let Mark describe the saga of the carbon wheels at a later date) and watching Mark going through the process of choosing each bit of kit has been a pleasure (if a confusing one at times).

So Mark, Bob M and I headed out on Tuesday this week for a brief Punchbowl leg stretch and the silver demon that is the G13 was in attendance so I thought I’d take the opportunity to badger Mr T for the reasons for his kit choices. Again, I’ll let Mark report on his first riding impressions at a future time as my brief spin on the G13 could not do it justice.

I will say however that it’s a “slightly strange” looking thing. Not in a bad way mind you, just in a “you can tell it’s a bit different” kind of way.

Various bits of the bike are just “a bit longer” or “a bit shorter” or indeed “a bit slacker”. But the overall impression is that of a much smaller bike (for a 29er) than for example the Specialized Mr T used to ride. But OMG it’s long. Longer than a very long thing with an extra bit of long added on.

Well unfeasibly long or not, let me tell you that holy bananas Mother of God it’s fast. I mean jaw droppingly, leave you eating dust pedaling furiously to keep up fast. On Tuesday we ran down Flat out Fun and Mark just simply dissapeared….

Wow.

However, I digress. Onto the kit.

The frame is obviously a Nicolai Ion-G13. Mark’s wanted this since they were first announced, simply because 29er’s have not been this slack since, well, ever. So you think that’ll make it hard to climb? Guess again. Mojo and Nicolai have taken care of that issue by having such a steep seat angle.

Bounce is handled at the rear by a 2017 Fox Float-X 2017 (there are other acronyms associated with this –  namely F-S, K, 3pos-Adj Evol LV, but I’ve frankly no idea what they mean) and up front by a beast of a thing – a 2017 36 K FLOAT 29 F-S 160 RC2 BLK 15QRx110 1.5T R-51. Yes, I also played spot the acronym on that one. And lost. All I can say is that it appears rumours of the “death of the long travel 29er” do not appear to have reached Mojo HQ. Front and back are complimented by a Fox Factory series Kashima 150mm dropper. Mark however says it:

…(the shock) looks good, is tuned by Mojo and the piggy back air can reduces heating up in the Alps… (the fork) is super sturdy and offers lots of fine tuning and (the seat post) matches the others…

Stopper pots are Hope Tech 3 Evo 4s dual-pots which are very tidy indeed. Mark noted that they are also pretty light, usual super Hope hight quality and have let him use smaller rotors for the same stopping power.

Go gear is sorted by Shimano XTR shifters (the only ones that can handle frost and mud and still maintain a rapid change says Mark), Shimano XT rear derailleur, a Hope 28 tooth crank (yes – that’s not a typo – 28), a Hope BB, and XTR 11 speed chain and a VERY nice Hope 10/44 cassette which is specific to the Hope Boost Evo 4 148×12 hubs. Of the cassette Mr T says:

… a light 11 speed cassette , together with Hope drive saves a lot of weight – and cost! But I still get a big range

Other kit is handled by Hope for the headset, Renthal for the carbon bar, grips by Ergon, pedals by Crank Brothers, rims are Race Face Arc 30s, seatpost clamp by Hope and tyre duty is performed by Maxxis Forekasters (which is a new one on me).

So all round some amazing kit on this beast of a bike but perhaps the most unusual is the seat – and this is one you won’t be finding on Wiggle. The seat is a custom carbon creation by British Aerospace. Yep, you read that right… oh yeah, and it weighs 125g. Don’t be thinking it’s uncomfortable either – it’s flipping not – it’s amazing!

So all in all some amazing kit on a genuinely impressive steed. Let’s see which PRs Mark manages to destroy on this evening’s TFIT….

The T Factor: A “Cove of Transition Smugglers”

It was a few years ago when I was given the opportunity to be propelled into “boutique bike ownership” when some piece of scum broke into my shed and relieved me of my lovely Specialized Stumpjumper. Not that I was furious or anything but I just hope he rode it under the nearest lorry the very next day. I was, however, very fortunate to have a decent insurance policy that allowed me to put together a lovely bit of kit.

So I tried out a few options first, I borrowed a Whyte G150 works and took it to Wales, very nice but just didn’t set my pants on fire..

Then I read loads of reviews and borrowed my mate’s Transition Bandit 650b and I thought “Woohoo !! Pass me that fire extinguisher” – the Bandit just had/has that little something extra, it has a sense of urgency, a familiar feel to it and is such a great bike. So I nabbed the last battleship grey, large Bandit frame my local Transition supplier could get his mits on.

Life with my Bandit was lovely. It was a very confidence inspiring bike and very pretty. Bike Parks were sessioned, and the Alps were well and truly “beasted”.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of years or so and another piece of filthy scum relieved my mate of his Transition Bandit 29er (David D). Mr D then proceeded to buy a “rescue orange” Transition Smuggler, at the time Transition’s new short(ish) travel 29er. When David brought out his orange beast I wasted no time and swung a leg over and what do you know, I got the same feeling I did when I first rode the Bandit 650b. The seed was sown…

However, I was initially unsold on the “bigger wheels are best” argument though, I simply loved my Transition Bandit too much. But then then I came across a cheap Transition Covert 29 frame and built up a bike to either keep or sell. Of course, once built I took the covert out for one or two TFITs and the revelation was definite – riding the Covert absolutely sold me on the benefits of the 29er wheel. They just roll better, and I’ll concede that 29ers are slightly less nimble (note the use of the word slightly) but there is a palpable difference, AND for the type of riding we do in the Surrey Hills it has to be the wheel of choice.

However, the was an issue with my Covert. It was a lovely bit of kit (and a large frame) but it was just way too small for me. And not just me, everyone who rode it commented on the very “compact cockpit”. That said, more modern 29er geometry (i.e. the Smuggler) gives you a spacious, low and relaxed “cockpit” that I love so very much, without the need for pesky front mechs anymore and the rear chainstays can be shorter promoting rigidity in the rear triangle.

What’s not to love?

So, after a bit of contemplation I realised there was only thing for it…

I had to sell my beloved Transition Bandit 😱…

Then buy a Smuggler frame and put the bits from the Covert onto that.. If I’m honest it took me a fair while to pluck up the courage. But my pants collection was burgeoning and needed burning, so I did it, and she is now entertaining a very nice chap in Sheffield.

Transitions current colour scheme is not exactly jaw dropping and it’s the only disappointing thing about the whole brand, but you can’t have everything I suppose. So, a matte black frame was procured.

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Me being me, I absolutely was not going to just leave it at that! So I got my local spray painter to do his thing and sprayed the front triangle. After much procrastination I settled on the surprising bit – an “oh so choice” red..

The I I sold a few other bits from the shed and built up a truly lovely bike giving me the following kit list for my Smuggler:

  • SRAMXX1 drive train
  • SRAM Guide ultimate brakes
  • Rockshox Lyrik 140mm Solo Air forks
  • Rockshox Debonair RT3 rear shock
  • Hope 4 hubs
  • Hope bottom bracket
  • Hope headset
  • Hope bar end plugs
  • Eastern Heist 30mm rims on stainless spokes
  • Race face 150mm dropper
  • Race face turbine stem 50mm
  • Race face turbine 780mm bars
  • HT X1 pedals
  • Race face grips
  • Fizik Gobi saddle
  • Specialised Butcher tubeless tyres

So last night’s TFIT was the first ride of the Smuggler and last night was…, well, just bloody fantastic! It really is a great bike (and I don’t think the guys noticed the steam from my smouldering undergarments in all that slush and mist…)

It says something about a bike when you can swing your leg over for the very first time and feel like your totally at home and ride with a proper grin on your mush, bristling with the excitement and promise of even merely delving into the greater performance and capability that a new, different bike brings.

There definitely is a “T” factor..

First notes, well I’ve never ridden Rockshox before and I know there will be lots of setting up and dialing in required. This is obviously awesome because it gives me plenty of excuses to “just pop out for a bit” up to the Punchbowl and back.. as if excuses are needed.

And finally, now we are Smugglers x2 at TFITs, the collective noun for The Smuggler was rightly decreed last night.

David D and I now ride as a Cove of Smugglers….

Roll on the trails of 2017…..

Matt W

Fattie

Well most of you have seen the borrowed fattie, that CycleWorks kindly lent whilst my dropper post was being fixed, which is very good of them. Though black marks to me for trying to return it still filthy from Thursday night.

You can check out the bike on Specialized’s site here.

The Specialized Stumpjumper FSR Comp Carbon 6Fattie can be bought for £2700 and for a frame that’s not bad. The bits that hang off it are pretty good and will do you just fine, Fox front and back, Shimano to stop , SRAM to drive you along, then Specialized cock pit, seating and tyres – what’s not to like? All this for no real weight gain.

Hopping on the frame, my first impression was it was perhaps on the small side, but just rolling down the lane and few initial corners the advantage of the 3.0 inc wide tyres was noticeable immediately.

THEY HAVE GRIP!

I would have loved to explored this further, but eldest lad nicked and off we we went to “S4P Extra”. Lovely doable jumps and he was off, jumping is something this bike can do with lots of tracts and damping – it was quite at home.

When I did get to ride it, I was waiting for the downhill to see what it could do. Well a perfect test was “Marbles” down to Thursley. Normally a bit of a helter-skelter ride with rocks (Ed – Marbles…) pinging out from under your tyres, hitting your frame and wobbling the bike all over the place. The Fattie however calmed this ride with no problem and I floated down in comfort. I think there was a lot more to try out on the bike, it’s pop for one, this could be good fun.

But I had to get to the down hills! Any zippiness gained on the down was lost on the ups or flats.

It’s primarily when there is a down that you can enjoy the bike, the rest of the time, effort was needed to gain speed to do the fun stuff.

SO there’s the pay off, grip vs rolling resistance and for me, for TFIT nights i would not go to 3.0 tyres, something a tad more than 2.35 methinks…

Mark

Transition Smuggler – The big orange

Ever played racing games on a console? I had a PS4, and spent a significant amount of time playing F1 racing games. I loved the fact that the tracks were based on the real thing. Even to this day, I can identify an F1 track just by seeing a few corners. Thing is, those games required a degree of dedication, you race the same track a hundred times before realising that if you just braked a little later in that corner, and hit the gas exactly on the apex of the next one, you could go flat out through the 3rd, and suddenly things were getting quick. I think this sums up my riding experience so far on the Smuggler. It’s capable of so much more than you expect. Yes, you can point and shoot, but the options open up with the increased ability to get a wagon wheeler to change direction on a dime.

Significant Geometry changes

A quick shout out to the thieving scum that stole my Bandit 29 – May the fleas of a thousand camels invest your nutsacks. But comparisons must be drawn. A long wheelbase on a 29er grants you instant stability by default. Especially at speed. Downside is you need to fight it through the corners – that thing wants to go straight – steam-train straight. The Bandit (and we are talking the original Bandit Two9) was light and fast in a straight line, but from that point on, you are mostly just a  passenger. The first thing you notice on the Smuggler is the front feels light. New skool geo sees the rear wheel tucked right up close to the bb. With an offset downtube to make space for the front ring, discarding a front derailleur option all together. Shorter wheelbase means more maneuverability. Combine that with a light front end, and new options open up on the trail – because you go look for things to pop off – over or around. But it does take some getting used to – mainly because in my case – the bike is far more competent than the rider. Worth noting that even with a light front end, I have never had too much of an issue with the front lifting on the steep stuff.

Bounce

shock

Ok, I got some abuse for my pressure setting scribbles. Thing is, this bike could be considered as short travel by today’s standard. There 115mm of rear travel – and you want to make use of all of it. The revised Geo is so dependent on the suspension settings, I think it’s easy  for the bike to feel lifeless without some attention. A few psi and rebound clicks can make a big difference. The 140 Pike RTC3 upfront does what it says on the tin. It has a tendency to dive through the travel, but tweaking the rebound seems to have solved that. I think I’m pretty close to the sweet spot on the shock. Its getting to the point where I can stop worrying about it and get on and pedal it.

Other stuff

I love internal cable routing. Its made me realise I have a stupid irritating creak in my helmet. Its so very gratifying to just hear rubber on dirt. I love wider rims. Tire profile looks better, its so much easier to get the tires on and seated, even with a hand pump on the trialside. I love 115mm seat drop. Getting the saddle really out of the way keeps me up and out of the saddle far more than before. I’m still thinking about the lack of an extender cog, but for now I’ll need to MTFU with the 1×10. It’s not a light bike, and requires graft up the hills, but boy – the return on investment is huge.

The Smuggler is a an Audi quattro rally. It’s a Labrador with a tennis ball. It’s Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt. Heck – its Emily Blunt. And I like Emily Blunt. A lot.

Matt Damon & Emily Blunt On Set Of "Adjustment Bureau"
Gratuitous picture of Emily Blunt. Just because.

 

 

 

 

 

In every bloke there is a blog

So Mark T has two bikes, a Nicolai Helius AM and a Specialized Enduro Elite. I’ve been on a Mark for a while to do a comparison, so without further ado:

In every bloke there is a blog

In every bloke there is a blog. Thinking a “blog” was something I occasionally do in the woods, I was a bit perplexed when Chris urged me to write a blog !!

Chris wanted me to blog about back-to-back testing of my bikes. So, here goes..

In the beginning I “accidentally” bought a bike at Christmas leaving me with two plush travel bikes (I do live in Surrey). With Mrs T not quite understanding the “n+1” rule of bikes , there is pressure to sell one. But which one?

Which is the best? Which is the fastest? Which do I keep? Which is posted on ebay?

The thing is though one bike is a 27.5 and the other 29er which is a fervent discussion point for most mountain bikers and the TFITers are no different.

So long overdue, I get the opportunity to play on both bikes. Heading for the Devils Punch Bowl to for a couple of favourite blasts, I parked at the top with the route being an 8 mile round trip, down to the west of DPB along “FATBOY”, back to the top and then head east, heading down the “DEVILS COW” and then “FLAT OUT FUN” to the stream at the bottom. A good route with some fast runs but also a fair amount of uphill at 700m. Strava was at the ready to be the acid test ruling out any subjective “it felt faster” syndrome.

So the bikes. My 12 year triggers broom bike which has morphed into a Nicolai AM frame now carrying 27.5 inch wheels (instead of intended 26 inch), with 150mmm Pike up front and somewhere between 130 and 160mm at the back – it’s adjustable don’t you know! Head angle and BB height I don’t know yet and independently tested by David D who reported “it’s a cracking bike”.

The “accidentally” bought bike, (should have been a new frame but the bastard in the shop gave me a 50% discount..) is a Specialiazed Enduro Elite, now with a Reverb dropper post, Monarch plus shock, carbon fat bars and known XT brakes This caries 160mm Pike upfront and 155mmm travel at the back with 29er wheeels, described by better better blogs than this (controversial Mark…) as a “bit of a beast”. Head angle 67 degree, BB 351mm.

Both have similar tyres, a bit meaty upfront and faster rolling at the back.

The Nicolai was up first, sit on it, this feels aggressive, wide bars and wheel well out in front. “FATBOY” here we come , damn highest gear not working for the straight speedy bits….back to the top and down to the wooded section.. whey hey , damn Labrador in the way, up the “BABY ZEDS”, back to the top, swap pedals and out with the 29er.

Oh this is comfy , wheel less in front but comfy, “FATBOY” all gears working to get some speed. “FATBOY” done I head back to the top, headed down east , wooded section, bump over dead Labrador, “BABY ZEDS” again and back to the top.

Even the National Trust café has WiFi so out with the Strava upload, think of witty name for route, whirl whirl of 0’s and 1’s , which bike do I sell which do I keep which is the fastest?

“FATBOY” PR on the Nicolai 1.40 , 29er 1.40. – Oh I have to keep both now ..but how… why… the two runs felt totally different?

And here in lies the rub between the 29er and the 27.5.

Flat out speed was there with the 29er , but when it got to the corners the 27.5 went exactly where I thought it should. It pre-empted me, taking the line I expected it too. This was where the time difference was made . It was slower on the flat bit because I ran out of gears on the straight bit, but woosh through the corners – joyous. The 29er was so fast down the straight into the first corner out wide, messed up the second regain a bit by third but rider now all of a fuddle for the fourth.

Around the whole 8 mile route, the 29er sprinted out PR’s back to the top and to down the wooded section but “Labrador free”, and PR’d the Zed’s ..all routes done on the Nicolai many times before.

Total time was 50.20 vs 52.31. I then headed for the golden valley and bagged some more PR’s because this is what 29ers do. The 29er is also a confident jumper, “BACK OF THE CHAIR” and “MARE HILL” gap jumps accomplished, steep uphill gradients eaten up.

However, it’s the Nicolai that’s going to Morzine.

It’s about the corners you see, it’s about the flow. It seems that the geometry and BB height enable the flow, slack and low, out way travel and weight.

Luckily I have growing boys and they need bikes too so the 29er Surrey trail slayer stays in the stable too, no on eBay.

To sort out the corners on the 29er then this article on Dirt Mountain Bike is going to be handy and I’ m going to fit some offset bushes.

I must now measure the Nicolai head angle and BB to test the subjective.

I Cove(r)t your bike

So not TFIT for me last night, have work related shenanigans today that require clear, shiny mind and non-weary body, however the faithful were in attendance in the slime last night – all kudos deserved.

Anyway, I did miss a significant event last night – the unveiling of Matt W’s hand-built Transition Covert 29er, so without further ado, I give you the words of Matt W – oh, and Matt – just a legendary headset cover…:

Covertly Blogging

We’ll, I’ve given her a good squirt with my hose and lubed her up ready for the next session…

Sat here with my obligatory post TFIT (shell station freebie glass) of wine that Ness left out, am I that predictable?.. I felt it only ‘just’ that I share my limited ability to blog..

She’s definitely a looker alright..

Whether it’s new bike bravado, a larger wheel placebo or a genuine rolling advantage, I certainly felt something different, you’ll be glad to hear.. There is certainly a place for both or all three (controversial), wheel sizes.

Certainly felt a bit more stable, I’m definitely SRAM not Shimano (but I knew that)..

For a first (shake down ride) it looks good.

How is she different from the 650b bandit? Well, the bandit feels lower and more squat and I’d say more playful, whilst the covert 29 seems to gluide over things easier..

Whether it’s better or not is down to personal preference…

Me, I like potatoes and I like potartoes……

Tutty bye… 🙂

A rave for tall people.

I feel obliged to do a review of the Giant Trance, partly because I have covered almost 50 odd miles on this Demo version from Tamed Earth, but primarily because its a damn good bicycle.

The first downhill I did on the Trance was the little drop from the top of Gibbets, heading down towards Temple-of-the-four-winds. I remember raising an eyebrow then, and a few other occasions. This bike really likes being pointed downhill.

Great suspension and geometry, average kit spec.

Fox does the bouncy bits front and rear, with 140mm travel both ways. I set the sag in the usual way – eyeballing about 1/3rd sag, but when in ‘open’ mode the shock wallowed alarmingly, causing pedal strikes. So upped the pressure a bit, but to be honest, didn’t set it to open again, the pedal (trail) setting was spot on, so I never felt the need. That said, a bit of rebound tuning would have sorted the wallowing feeling in open mode anyway. The Fox float fork was outstanding, fit and forget, I didn’t touch it after initially setting the sag.

IMG_3281.JPG
Crikey, is that a killer whale in the background?

This is Giant’s build 2, so its Shimano SLX all the way. Now I like SLX kit, on the whole its great vale for money, and bombproof. But running a 2×10 with a chain guide makes it noisy, the shifting felt vague and unreliable. When shifting just one up or down, you take that little effort to detention the chain for the shift to occur, and its frustrating when it doesn’t happen, or worse, happens two or three pedal strokes later, and promptly hops two gears up. That said, this was a new bike, and no doubt there was some chain stretch, and the conditions were atrocious. So a bit of re-indexing may have solved the problem. I think we are so used to a 1x(x) drive-chain these days, it takes some getting used to the piano playing required on a 2x(x) system. I found it frustrating. The brakes were ok, and the dropper (Giants proprietary) worked well. The dropper lever was positioned close to the front derailleur trigger, so it was cramped up front.

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Obligatory close up.

What really let this bike down were the tyre choice. At 2.25″, the stock Schwalbe Nobby Nic’s are not only too narrow, but they’re also the cheapest, having fitting the significantly less grippy Performance model. In the mud, they simply refused to track, and slipped sideways-throwing the bikes line off and effectively stalling. After 25 sloggy miles, this is frustratingly energy sapping (sorry if I bored Steve with my complaining!). Neither Giant nor Schwalbe are doing themselves any favours with this tyre choice.

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It does have a convenient mud storage compartment.

Good bits

This is a cracking bike, point it downhill and it was really, really good. The suspension is spot on, and encourages you to go, throw it off whatever you see around you. Any reason to slow down (like horses or walkers) is shout-out-loud frustrating, because it’s so much fun. It climbs like a billy goat, the shock does well to keep the rear planted on the steep stuff. Its light too at 13.5kg. This is a very good machine for Thursday night bike rides, and would be just as capable in the Alps. I would be very happy with this as my primary bike, sure, I would stick wider bars and a 1×10 drive, maybe even beef up those forks to Float 34’s, but at a stock build (as ridden) coming in at under £2k? It’s very hard to beat. Those looking at a new steed (Mr White?) this should be high on your list.

Thanks to Tom at Tamed Earth for the loan!

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Surrey sludge (sorry Tom!)

This weeks bike review: On-One Inbred

I thought I would run through a quick review of the Sheffield based Inbred 29er Singlespeed. There’s plenty on offer here as the Inbred sports both wheels, saddle and handlebars, making it fall firmly in the BSO camp (Bike Shaped Object). For you techies out there – that’s hand-crafted, double-butted DN6 4130 chromoly steel, no doubt rolled on the hairy thighs of sweaty Yorkshire men. Y’areet.

IMG_3259

The inbred has a stem. This stems from the word Stem. This particular stem was secured via some shady underhand dealings just south of Guildford. Decals not included.

IMG_3261There’s 0 mm of travel upfront, and if you have the cash, build option 1 comes with duct tape pre-installed, and extra bling on the wheels. 8/10 would recommend.

IMG_3263A 29.8mm seatpost clamp is optional. I’ve gone for the stealthy never-drop option – Given the seatpost is seized up in the frame creating a bond stronger that steel. Controversial.

The ride

When you get on the bike and turn the cranks, the bike moves forward. By shifting your weight slightly left or right, and a touch of input to the steering mechanism, the bike changes direction admirably. Stopping duties are taken care of by the brakes, or any incline. Given the lack of any gears, go for a large frame, making it easier to comfortably push the bike up hills.

Verdict

Yes. Its a bicycle. Move along.

Bike pron

Tasty Smuggler build.

smug.jpg

Shred the Gnar

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