I had been toying with a couple of ideas for the Raleigh XXIX+G for awhile now. I wasn't really very happy with two things. One: The sluggishness in slow speed technical manouvers due to the high trail figure generated by the slacker headtube angle and shorter offset of the Reba, and Two: The Titec H-Bar with trigger shifters wasn't working out the way I wanted it to. There was only one posistion that the brake levers and triggers would work at all on the bar and it was a compromised situation for me. I didn't get on with it.
So, I remembered that I had an On One Superlight steel fork sitting in a box. It has 47mm of offset, which coupled with the XXIX+G should get the handling more in the realm of what I like than so far to the stable side as it was. The original bar and stem were still sitting on my bench, so I figured I'd return the controls back to their original places as long as I was switching out forks. Then I also had some Ergon E1 grips that Mr. 24 passed on to me to try out, so they got lined up for installation too.
I got to work yesterday, since it was raining anyway, and made all the swaps. I don't know if any of you do any tweaking on your own rigs, but I sometimes get a funny feeling when I wrench on my bikes. Either I feel like "this is going to be awesome", or I have an unsettled feeling. The first feeling was what I sensed as I made the swaps last night. I just knew it was going to be a major improvement.
I was so excited that I went out for a test ride in the dark up and down the block. I made some tight turns arond some sidewalks and in the yard. Yes! The fork made a huge improvement in the handling of the Raleigh. The bike felt alive underneath me and I was really happy. The grips also made an impression that was good initially. I'll detail those in a separate post.
The Raleigh by no means is close to the Dorothy or Mamasita in the handling department, but it now appears as though it is much more to the center of the handling spectrum. I'll have to measure out the current head angle and trail figure later, but the way it feels tells me the trail figure has dropped quite a bit. I expect that for a suspension fork, the new Manitou Minute 29"er fork with the longer offset would be just swell on this bike. I would highly recommend either that fork or for a rigid set up, any one of the two Superlight On One forks in the 29"er flavor.
Not all is coming up roses with the new set up though. The original stem is about an inch too long. I need to get a new Salsa stem to get me right in the cockpit. Then with the increased offset comes an increase in wheel base. The measurement I took last night revealed an almost limo-like wheelbase of 44.5 inches! Oh well, at least the ride should be a bit more comfortable, since I'll be between the wheels more!
I'll post some pics later. Today, it's off to Grandma and Grandpa's house so my two kids can see their grandparents. Have a great weekend!