Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Karate Monkey vs. Inbred 29"er! Part II

Yesterday I introduced you to the two frames in question in this comparison. Today, I would like to give you my initial impressions that I gained from both bikes. I also will get into how they ride and handle tomorrow.

The bike that I had before I got my Karate Monkey in 2003 was a Bontrager Race hardtail. A Santa Cruz manufactured model. That was one sweet riding steel frame! So, the Karate Monkey and the Inbred had alot to live up to in terms of ride quality and handling.

When the Karate Monkey arrived, I was a bit dis appointed that the frame material was so heavy. Even though it's double butted steel, it was obviously thick walled steel. Giving the bike the old "ping" test, the sound was a lower, denser note. Not the high pitched "ting" of a fine steel tube set. (You old-skoolers will remember the "ping" test!) The weight on the scale beared this out. I won't give you an exact weight, since that really isn't what this is about. It's about the ride quality.

The Inbred, on the other hand, had that high pitched "ting" and was obviously lighter in the hand than the Monkey was. Another obvious difference was the gussets welded on the top tube/ down tube/ head tube junctions and the chainstay/ bottom bracket junctions. Very reminiscent of Bontragers work. The segmented seat stay arrangement was also a retro touch, being first noted on old De Kerf frames from back in the day. The most noticeable thing abot the Karate Monkey's frame was the bent seat tube, which tucks the rear wheel up under the rider more. Otherwise it's a pretty straight forward design, for a 29"er.

As far as braze ons, the Inbred has two bottle mounts, an interesting bolt on arrangement for rear brake studs that I left off because I run disc brakes, and not much else. The Monkey, on the other hand, has the brake studs, water bottle mounts, and rack and fender mounts.

The rear drop outs were different on each frame. The KM having track ends with slotted disc mounts, and a derailluer hangar. The Inbred has aluminum sliding dropouts with dual chain tensioners, integrated disc mount to the seat stay, and a derailluer hangar on the slider.

Once each frame was built up as a single speed with rigid forks, it was obvious that they cut two entirely different profiles. The Monkey has a decidedly old school flavor with the higher top tube/ less standover look. The Inbred is a severely sloping top tube, low standover design. This affects the way each frame rides. More on that later. Also noted that built up with similar parts, the Inbred was lighter, as expected. Not by a whole bunch, mind you, but it's noticeably lighter than the KM.

Okay, now you know the details on each frame. Tomorrow, I'll get into the ride quality, and how these frame details affect the way the frames handle and how they affect the usage of each frame.

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