Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blackborow DS: First Ride

I was finally able to scratch up enough cabbage to get the Blackborow out of hock from the bike shop. The maiden voyage included many icy city streets, a large portion of single track, and some grassy traverses. We got a nice crunchy coverlet of fresh snow Sunday night/Monday morning, and it was snowing during my ride.

The Blackborow DS is a parallel single speed drive train package with a "high" ratio of 30T X 18T and a "low" ratio of 26T X 22T. I ran my first ride in the "low" range, just to see if I could tolerate it on a longer flat ride. Well.....mostly flat. 

 We'd been tooling around on this bike at the shop ever since it came in. James and Todd both seemed to really think it was something special, but I wasn't going to give it my stamp of approval until I could get it off road and into some slippery, technical stuff. Fortunately, that's exactly what the conditions were. Slippery streets were met with a solid, confident feel. Of course, I wasn't tossing it into turns and manhandling it, because while it was stable, it doesn't have studded tires. Ice must be respected! But the grip level seemed pretty good so far.

The initial section of the new trail in Sherwood Park is pretty twisty, undulating, and has a few technical moves over rock piles and what not to negotiate. The Blackborow felt like it was Velcro'ed to the surface and I had no problem at all going through here. Further on, I had to make the short, steep climb out of the area to the bike path, and also up the hill at Northland Oil, (Both maybe 20-25ft high at 15% or so with snow on the trail), and both were cleaned with no issues. The ratio was fine for trail riding, and "okay" for spinning down the streets, but I probably will opt for the "high" ratio on days when the streets are clearer.

Initial impressions are that this bike is indeed maneuverable, and it feels more nimble than a Mukluk with 3.8"ers. The ride quality is somewhere between my Titanium and aluminum Mukluks. Not too harsh at all. Smoother than I expected. Tires grip like mad. Interestingly, this bike coasts and rolls freer than any of the other fat bikes I have had.

Modifications and component swaps will be minimal. I will swap to Ergon grips, and at some point a titanium post is going on here. Another Salsa Regulator. But for now, this'll do juuuuust fine! More on this bike later.....


Iowagriz said...

Mark - how do you shift a DingleSpeed? Assume there is just enough slop to move the front down from the big to the little and then line up the rear and pedal forward to force it on. I imagine there are a few tricks to learn.

Guitar Ted said...

@Iowagriz. Look for a pictorial on the process tomorrow here on the blog!