Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Black Mountain Cycles Shows Disc Proto

The Black Mountain Cycles Disc Monster Cross prototype. Image by Mike Varley
Okay, as I've said, my Black Mountain Cycles Monster Cross bike, otherwise known as "Orange Crush", or sometimes as "Old #49", is perhaps my "desert island" bike. One of the ones I have around I am not willing to get rid of. It's a good bicycle. Really good.

So even though Mike Varley of Black Mountain Cycles, a little shop in Point Reyes Station, California, has made a few tweaks and several color options available since I bought mine out of the first run, I wasn't enticed to purchase another BMC. Yet.....

I always have had it in the back of my mind that if Mike ever offered a disc version of this bicycle I would jump on that. Disc brakes are the way the industry has chosen to go now, so although I am totally fine with using rim brakes, I have invested in the disc brake side heavily since that is where other brands have gone. It just makes sense to keep everything similar in the fleet, as much as I can. Splitting off into rim and disc brake bikes for the stable complicates my wheel inventory. I don't need more complications.

So, I figured Mike, being totally fine with rim brakes, might not ever actually make this unicorn come to life. Well, he has! Here is the evidence. Besides the disc brakes, there are some important differences to my rig. You can read it straight from the man's blog here.

My "OG" BMC rig.
Here are my thoughts on the minor differences besides what brakes are being used.
  • Sloping top tube: Well, I really prefer the old frame's top tube, it being more level, but this seems like what I have with my Tamland and fits what I've used on a couple of other bikes. I don't mind it, and it reminds me of something else I'll mention further on down here.....
  • The fork is segmented: Cool. I don't mind this. It gives a lot of clearance for bigger tires and mud. It's a little more "mountain bike-ish" without resorting to a unicrown fork. I'd rather have a plate crown fork, but hey! That would be expensive! 
  • Through axle wheels: The fashion of the day. With disc brakes they make a ton of sense. I'm okay with that.
  • Room for 2" tires. The image shows Mike's proto with Nano 2.1"ers. I'll probably never go that big, but it is nice to know that 50mm tires like the Donnelly MSO and the Terrene Honali might be a good fit in this rig. 
  • Rack mounts and water bottle mounts: Oh yeah!! Mike made a choice for one of my favorite details on a gravel bike- Having two down tube sets of water bottle bosses on top and one set below. Bigger frame sizes allow for this. Of course, smaller ones do not, so if you are small in stature, bummer! With the seat tube set of bosses you can mount four bottles. Hooray! Mike isn't down with fork bosses for water bottles or Anything Cages, but that's cool. There are front rack bosses instead, so put a water bottle in a bag on a rack. It works on my BMC! 
  • Frame tubing specs remain nearly the same: Only the seat stays are different, (thinner by a tiny amount, Mike says), so that bodes well for a good ride quality. The extended seat post extension I would see would also help out with this. 
Finally, is it just me, or does that rear drop out look vaguely like a Salsa Fargo drop out? Hmm..... That, the sloping top tube, the non-suspension geometry, and the double bottle bosses on the down tube make me think a lot of a Fargo Gen I.

Probably just me.....

Anyway, no geo figures yet, but I read on Mike's blog they are coming. I'm confident that they will be good. Mike knows his stuff. If that end checks out I am all in for getting one of these. So, if it does come to pass that I get a BMC MCD (Monster Cross Disc), I have some plans.

First- The current BMC will become a single speed gravel rig. I had that bike set up originally that way and it rocked. The horizontal drop outs really help there. Then I will thin the herd. I have two bikes that will go on the chopping block if this happens. I'll cross that bridge if this new BMC actually gets purchased. Can't be piling up bikes I won't ride much.

So, anyway, I am pretty excited about this possibility. Stay tuned.......


blooddoc23 said...

Im not sure why, but a sloping top tube bike always feels like it fits better than a flat one. It may just be me? Or does the geometry do something subliminally to the brain? Maybe there has been some R and D that has proven this to be a fact. Just a thought. Thanks for the post.

glenn said...

I may be out of fashion, but I prefer the horizontal top tube, so that I can lay my knee on the top tube while descending. Somehow it gives me more confidence and positions my body correctly in relation to the bike. Not many horizontal top tube frames out there these days.

Are disc brakes really that much better? I'm shopping for a new Domane next year and it seems like I should take the opportunity to buy disc.

Guitar Ted said...

@glenn- Disc brakes are overkill on a gravel bike, cause the fork to have to be heavier/stiffer, which is not ideal, and the brake pads are susceptible to wearing out quickly if the terrain is wet and gritty. So, there are lots of downsides, but again- it is where the industry is going, so rim brake options for wheels are going to be more sparse by necessity.

Zed F. said...

There not much gravel near me. What do you think of his Road Plus project?

Guitar Ted said...

@Jim Mearkle- The 650B X 47mm tires are really nice on roads. Don't pump them up too high!! (Maybe depending on your weight/load you might, but even then that would be the outlier), and especially not if you run tubeless. Those tires run so smooth and fast it is amazing. I never went above 40psi when I tested the Horizon 650B X 47's.

Mike does his homework on design and tubing choices, so I am confident that his Road Plus bike will be a great bicycle.

Michael Lemberger said...

I like flat top tubes, but most of my bikes these days are sloped. Better standover and taller headtubes. One of the many reasons I've been liking my newish Space Horse over the ol' Cross Check I love so much.

Unknown said...

Hey GT -

I've been reading a bunch on your blog and on the old 29 inches. I think I'm the opposite of many folks, I found Black Mountain Cycles first and found the blog through them. I've been wanting to purchase a monstercross for a while now, though I'm kind of waffling on waiting for the new disc version.

Do you find you're still riding your original "Orange Crush" BMC? Obviously you had many good years with the bike, and I've read most of your posts on it. I notice you haven't included much about it of late, and it seems you're spending more time on the Tamland, or the Twin Six. Is the original monstercross still relevant and competitive with the increased offerings out there from other brands, in your opinion? Is it worth waiting for the disk version to roll out in a couple months?

I was also curious if you still ride the Singular Gryphon you have/had. I've got an opportunity to pick up a used one for a good price, curious if it will fill the role of an all-arounder well or if the geometry will lean a little too far toward the mountain bike side of things to be fun on the road. Any comments you might have on that front would be appreciated.

Guitar Ted said...

@Tobin Story- Hey, thanks for the comment and for reading here.

The reason you haven't seen much on my BMC lately is due to the fact that I have had some wheels come in for review (Irwin Cycling 650B and 700c sets) and they are disc only. That isn't compatible with the BMC so I haven't been able to utilize it of late.

That said, I have to get going on a Cirrus Cycles Kinekt seat post review here and that post is on the BMC now. You'll be seeing much more of that bike real soon. ;>)

As far as bikes go, my first gen BMC is not ideal anymore, but Black Mountain/Mike Varley has made some tweaks to it since in subsequent versions which I would appreciate. So, actually, newer ones would suit me better than the old one I have does.

I still really enjoy riding my "Orange Crush" and I'll never get rid of it. However; I am quite excited about the new disc version and my plan is to get one as soon as they become available.

The Singular Gryphon I had I sold a while back to thin down the herd, as it were, here. I really like that bike and I feel it does do things other bikes just don't do well. It is based on mtb drive train/tire sizes, so there are more spritely choices out there these days for wide tire gravel travel, but that Singular model is a pretty smooth rig.