Monday, November 25, 2013

Project LTHT: A Frozen Buzzard Takes Flight

The Buzzard @ Ingawanis Woods
After a long delay waiting on parts, I finally got the Singular Buzzard all together. This is my Project LTHT, which I've written about here before, but it has been a while, so a quick recap:

I had ridden a Diamondback Mason HT a while back and really was impressed by how it handled the local trails, with an extra capability to go on trips and tackle bigger terrain. That bike had to go back, since it was a test bike for That planted the seed to get a longer term rig in as a replacement, and hopefully take it with me on trips to El Paso, or elsewhere.

I liked the Singular Buzzard since it is a steel bike, and I already own a Singular Gryphon. I like the way Singulars look, and so I pursued getting this size Large frame in. Then I was going to build it up with a parts bin selection, but I decided to look into a more modern build, and I had to wait for the SLX group to show up, then put the bike together. This is the highlight list:
  • Size large Singular Buzzard frame
  • Rock Shox Reba 140mm travel fork
  • Velocity "Dually" wheels featuring Velocity's new hubs.
  • Shimano 2X10 drive train and brakes from the SLX level.
  • Shimano PD-M530 pedals with the "cage" deal. In white, no less. 
  • Shimano Tharsus riser bar.
  • KORE B52 stem in white
  • Ergon grips
  • Specialized dropper post
  • Bontrager saddle
  • On One Smorgasbord rear/Chunky Monkey front tires tubeless. 
  • Cane Creek 40 series head set for tapered steer tube/44mm head tube. 

Enough snow to make things interesting
The snow we got recently stuck around this time, instead of melting right away, but it wasn't enough to make me think about riding something else like a fat bike quite yet. This bike with the Duallys is almost a "fat-lite" rig anyway. The On One tires are really spread out and "flatter profiled" than the same tires are on a set of Charger Pro wheels I have, and that means all the tread is hitting the ground all the time. That means great traction.

I set the tires at 20psi indoors, which likely yielded a lower pressure outside in the cold by a tiny bit, but whatever it actually was really worked nicely out there. I wasn't pushing things too hard at first anyway, what with this being a new bike to me and for the fact that I was not tempting fate due to the new build. But both things faded rather quickly as I rode along the frozen snow and dirt. The tires felt fantastic. Smooth and with loads of traction. I climbed the steeps with no problems at all.

Climbing meant a slight forward shift, but unlike many bikes, the back tire still is tucked up underneath you, since the chain stays are shorter on this bike than most. (425mm) The front end wasn't hard to keep pinned down either. It also didn't seem to have much, if any flop or a tendency to wander. The wider bar/stubby stem combo helps here.

The Sun! She sets early!
I had one weird noise going up a steep, like a dry torque sound, but then nothing else. Gotta love clutch equipped derailleurs! No chain slap at all. But there was one small issue. A tire buzz on the front fork's brace. Just a slight rub, and when it happened, the snow would be scraped from the tire and spewed into the air like a puff of pixie dust. It was kind of cool, actually.

The Duallys are to blame. They spread the On One tires out to 61.5mm in the back and 63.1mm up front. The edge knobs on the front tire are pretty close on one side of the brake arch, and there is where the rub happens. Happily, I can report that the Singular page on the Buzzard reports tire clearance for "up to a 60mm wide tyres", but that is rather conservative, as it turns out. If these tires stretch a bit, I am going to be in trouble with the front. We'll see.

So, what do I think? Well, it's really hard to say how I will end up liking this, but things are pointed in the right direction for sure. The bike felt great yesterday, and climbing was maybe better than the Diamondback with just as good a cornering feel and of course, going down anything was really almost too easy. It's amazing what a little longer fork and big, fat cushy tires will do for that. One thing the Diamondback had going on was a tendency to never feel quite right while seated. I never could quite get comfortable with the seated arrangement on that rig, but the Singular, which has the same handle bar height and saddle height from the ground as my On One Inbred, doesn't strike me as that it will be that way. That's good!

So, there is Project LTHT up and running. I'm not sure how many more rides I can get in on this rig with Winter coming on, but maybe a few before the snow gets too deep!


MG said...

What an awesome bike... Color me envious! I'd love to have a 'bigger' bike to compliment my Swift in tougher conditions.

Guitar Ted said...

@MG: I think it will be an awesome bike too. I will try to get this down your way- or to Potter's- where you can thrash on it.