Saturday, January 27, 2018

Minus Ten Review - 4

We used to ride in the snow here in January......once....long ago!
Ten years ago here on the blog I was talking about feeling better and getting out for a ride in the snow. Not on a fat bike, of course. Not that you couldn't get one, but to get one you had to build it from scratch via Surly or have a custom fat bike made by one of a few builders making rigs for Iditarod riders in Alaska. Neither option was inexpensive.

The thing was, back then I figured I would only need a fat bike for what? Maybe two months? Then I would be back on my mountain bikes and forgetting those fat bikes for 10 months out of the year. I couldn't justify the thousands of dollars it would take to get something I thought I would use so little.

Of course, I hadn't ever ridden one nor had I considered uses outside the box of Winter riding in snow. Sand and mud are big deals here in the woods at times and a fat bike can traverse that sort of  terrain with ease. They also work as "just a mountain bike", and of course, many folks use them on gravel, so there ya go. I wasn't considering any of those options. Had that made sense to me in '07 or '08 I may have had a Pugs a long time ago.

But I was getting along on 29"ers better than I ever had with 26"ers. I used the widest rims and tires I could. I'm pretty sure those are WTB Stouts on some wider rims in that image there, probably 28mm rims. Later I ran 2.4" Ardents on 35mm Blunts and that was even better. It is why I feel that now a 29 inch by three inch tire on a 50mm rim would be the bees knees. But who knows? It doesn't really snow that much any more!

New frame, borrowed parts from another.
I also revealed a new rig I got near the end of 2007. An OS Bikes Blackbuck frame and fork was purchased from Mark Slate, who ran that venture but is better known as one of the pioneers of mtb and a tire designer extraordinaire at WTB.

I still have this frame and the steel fork that came with it. Here in its first iteration I did not use that fork, but the Bontrager Swicthblade I moved over from the On One Inbred. In fact, everything in the picture came off the Inbred.

This single speed is a real nice single track sled. I probably will never get rid of it. I haven't done a lot of riding on it the last several years, but in the beginning I spent a ton of time riding this bicycle. I used it most famously in my fork test for this blog and TNI where I used something like 8 or 9 different forks on it to see what they all did to the handling of the bike.

Mr. Slate apparently was fond most of all of the steel fork he deigned for this frame. It had a really short axle to crown measurement. Something like 425mm or close to that. (For reference, a typical 29"er suspension fork now is around 500mm or longer) Slate also used a 51mm offset. So with that fork and a typical 29"er tire the trail figure was around 52mm. (For reference a typical XC 29"er these days has about 90-ish millimeters of trail. You can check trail figures by plugging in the info here.)

Anyway, the result of the Blackbuck with its steel fork was nothing short of being like a razor sharp steering missile. You had better pay attention or the bike was going to cause you to crash! I could ride it, but the concentration necessary to do so, and do so fast, was draining. I ended up taking it off and using longer forks which were more forgiving. I still have that fork, of course, but I don't know when, if ever, I'd actually use it! Maybe for bike packing where you carry a weight on the front? Anyway.....

1 comment:

Skidmark said...

You can check trail figures by plugging in the info here.)— just remember, taller or shorter fork alters the head tube angle,i.e.,it’s no longer the number the manufacturer stated. You must measure or calculate the new HT angle- correct?