Monday, November 28, 2016

Bikes Of 2016: Black Mountain Cycles "Monster Cross"

Yes..........that bike again!
The time of year has come that I will be reviewing the bikes I used the most throughout 2016 and why. The ups, downs, changes, and more will be discussed.

I know.......that bike again! But I really do use it a lot, and of course, I really like it a lot. The Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross frame and fork is Mike Varley's best selling bike.  Well, that's what I read on his site, at any rate. That's fairly surprising when you think about a cantilever brake standard, quick release type frame in 2016. It seems like a throwback frame and fork.

But apparently there are enough folks digging the ride that when Mike comes out with a new batch, sizes in the most popular range sell out lickety-split. In fact, he is even taking pre-orders on frames now. So, it isn't just me. It is a lot of folks that have found out these bikes really are a do-it-all solution for cycling. In my mind, "do-it-all" is "all-road/gravel". That's the sole reason I bought this frame and fork. While it is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it does what it does so darn well that you begin to accept its flaws as part of its personality.

Look, you folks see this bike constantly here on this blog and I have written tons of posts on it specifically and alluding to it as well. I'm sure that if you are a long time reader here, you get the song and dance. But I want you to know that if anything happened to this bike, heaven forbid, I would seek to replace it straight away. I bought this first gen one sight unseen, and it has turned out to be an invaluable tool for adventure ever since. Besides my first gen Fargo, this has to be one of my most ridden bikes these days. In fact, I have almost bought a second one several times, but as yet, I have not done that.

The BMC "Orange Crush" rig and I were out on an adventure with my friend Tony earlier this Summer.
One of the reasons I have held back from getting another BMC Monster Cross is that Mike has said he is working on a disc brake version of this bike. I have invested heavily into disc brakes for these types of bikes, and almost everything I own that is gravel/backroad/adventure bike category stuff is based around disc brakes. That said, I think cantilever brakes are just fine, and Mike has tweaked out the Monster Cross with a few geometry changes and a newer fork that I find rather tasty. It's tough not to want another Monster Cross here, but when you have as many bicycles as I do now, you have to be really picky. The whole deal would be a lot easier if I could just wear out my first BMC Monster Cross, but try as I might, I just have not been able to do that yet. I'll keep trying though!

One final thought before I stop here. I have ridden this bike more this year because my Winter shoulder injury has made riding some of my other bikes rather painful affairs. The BMC is less likely to cause issues with my shoulder, and I think the reason why is the ride quality of the frame and fork. That fork is especially active and smooths out the road tremendously. I cannot vouch for the updated fork, but you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer riding steel frame and fork than my Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross.


Ari said...

I totally agree with you. It is my go to bike as well. The thought of a second "backup" one does not seem like a bad idea. Mike designed an incredible bike.

blackmountaincycles said...

Wow! Thank you, Mark. I'm honored to have you riding one of my frames and am super happy you are still digging it.

Dr LHA said...

Great bike for sure. I own one of the recent British Racing Green ones (with the new fork design) and it's just great. It kind of makes me wish I had more gravel roads to ride around here (I have it set up as one, but end up riding probably 50% on pavement to get to the gravel parts). Still even as a road bike it's a fantastic performer, fun to ride, great looks, great price. Just plain fun.

White Mike said...

I've got a stinky pinky and love it as well. The Pacenti crown and subtle geometry tweaks put me over the edge. Great bikes.

Adam said...

Based on the stuff you've written about it, I finally ordered one at the start of the year. The pink was just irresistible! The bike has lived up to my expectations, and more. I come out at the top of every fire road climb with a big smile on my face.

Kenny Cyphers said...

I've had a green one for about a year now and it's be down for anything I throw at it. And I love the looks and questions I get when running cantis, q/r, and 700x42mm rubber whether on the road or trail. For some reason it blows people's mind but I see it a the quintessential "bicycle" the new stuff is what looks weird.

Ted, have you by chance true the new specialized sawtooth tires? I generally am not a big fan of specialized, but I put these things on my monster cross and have not taken them off. The do everything my Soma Cazaderos do but faster and better. They grip on anything even without knobs. Thoroughly impressive all around. Faster on pavement than my 35mm slicks too.

Guitar Ted said...

@Kenny Cyphers- I've often felt that the Monster Cross model had a bit of "mountain bike DNA" in it as well. While I do not single track with my Orange Crush rig, it just feels like it could do that with ease.

I have not seen the Specialized Sawtooth, but upon reading your comment, I checked them out. Ooof! That weight! Those are nearly 100 grams heavier than anything I've tested with a similar look to them. I see how that tread could work though. as it looks like a variation on the theme of the old Avocet touring tires. I used to run those and they had an inverted tread design which had more capabilities than one might assume by looking at the tread.

In a similar tire, I like the new Arisun Gravel Plus which also is fast on pavement, has surprisingly good grip for a minimally treaded tire, and weighs in the 500's of grams. Less than the Sawtooth does. By the way, the Gravel Plus is really a 43mm tire and barely goes in past the cantilever brakes on a Monster Cross fork. Well.......the original fork. Maybe the newer ones are different?

Thanks for the comments!