Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Back To The Jungle

Single track = Just wide enough to get a bicycle through.
Sunday I busted out the Sawyer and actually rode some single track in the woods. Mind was only a couple of short sections. The majority of the Green Belt is so wide you can drive a school bus through it. And no- that isn't hyperbole or exaggerating. That area is cleared with an end loader and an 8ft wide bush hog type mower, and if it doesn't fit between trees, they go around them. It is the most dumbed down woods riding in the area, unfortunately, but with the City in charge, this is what we get.

Only the trail connector I put in circa 1997 is actually single track, along with another bandit connector from the lake back there to the main trail. Otherwise, it is sanitized to the point of being boring. Which wasn't the case five years ago and before all this brutal machine driven trail maintenance nonsense got started.

Well, I can pretend that it's single track, I guess. It's either that or I have to ride across town or put my bike in the truck and drive 12 miles, so yeah..... First world problems. I get that. It's just that the way they do maintenance in the Green Belt drives me nuts. It's so dumb. Anyway......

So I rode the Sawyer. Belt driven single speed. I will run that until it dies, but when it does, I'm done with belts. I just don't see the value in them. I cannot change ratios, for instance, without a new Gates cog and a new belt, which are far more expensive than a simple Surly cog and a bit of chain. (Or whatever bling-tastic cog and chain you want to use.)

About as narrow as the Green Belt gets here. Still wide enough for a car to pass.
The Sawyer! It came out the year Trek absorbed Fisher, but it was obvious this was supposed to be another Klunker tribute bike like the one they had done in the 90's. Unfortunately, it came with Trek livery, albeit really subdued graphics. I peeled off the offensive Trek head badge and stuck an NOS Fisher Bikes badge I had stashed away on there in its place. Ah! Much better! And the way it should have been to begin with.

If I am not mistaken, the name- "Sawyer"- comes from one of Gary Fisher's sons. I may be off on that though. But regardless of the origins of the name, it remains as one of the most elaborate, elegant tributes to the "paper boy bike" style of mountain bike I know of from a production line. I am not a fan of the high bottom bracket, but otherwise, this bike rips. It came with 29" wheels, but I like it 100% better with the 27.5+ wheels and tires. In fact, I think I may be getting some slightly wider rims to better support those plus tires than the Blunt 35's which are laced up on there now.

I'm running a circa 2007 Fox 100mm G2 fork on this now which is pretty nice. It matches up in terms of offset and the length is a bit longer than the stock rigid fork, but not excessively so. It works. I keep thinking I might have to try this G2 Reba I have which is set at 80mm to see if that makes a difference in handling. It probably will lower the bike a tick, which I wouldn't mind.

Tons of "Grandpa Flowers" along the trail now.
Anyway, the ride was fun despite the ease of it. The sand on the South end made the plus tires worth it, and the flowers and dappled Sunlight were beautiful. I enjoyed the Sawyer despite my love/hate relationship with this bike I've had in the past.

There was a time I couldn't stand the thing and I was about ready to pull the trigger on sending it down the line to someone else. In fact, the last time I almost did that was last Spring.

But, as they say, "almost only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades", so I ended up keeping the curvaceous rig and once again, I am glad that I have. I guess the key is that I actually have to ride the thing. That probably goes a long way in wanting to keep it around. That and there really isn't anything else quite like it. Versatile in the ways that it can be set up, that's a key right there. I don't think 650B+ was even on the radar at Fisher when this thing was developed, but it works really well on the Sawyer. I've seen 29+ wheels put on a Sawyer bike before, but I would think the bottom bracket would be sky high on that set up. Well, anyway- The Sawyer can be set up geared with a front derailleur as well as the belt and single speed, obviously. Very versatile in many ways.

The Sawyer is sticking around, and I need to get back to the "jungle" more often. But I think I need to load the Sawyer up and travel to Ingawanis. That's where real single track lives and the challenges are greater than in the Green Belt. 


Doug M. said...

Always loved the look of that bike. Glad you're still getting some enjoyment out of it.

james said...

Was the geometry with 29 wheels your reason for "almost" getting rid of the Sawer? In what ways has the 27.5 wheels transformed the bike?