Friday, October 1, 2010

More Travel Is Funner

I do not live in a place nor do I ride in such a way that I require a bunch of suspension travel on my bikes.  Heck, I will ride my hardtail SS with an 80mm fork for a while and then, when I get on the 100mm/90mm Epic 29er, it feels luxurious.  There have been some road trips that have made me wish for a bigger hit bike.  Something like Burro Down in Moab, for instance.  But most of the time, I am fine with less.

In fact, I shake my head at the guys on group rides with 6" travel 26ers. Typically I am next to them on my SS 29er...or in front of them..or running away from them.  We just do not have the trails that require that kind of machine as a rule.  SO you end up hauling it around 100% of the time for the 5% of the time you really may need the extra squish.

Silly boys. 

But, lately I have figured something out and it happened in Colorado at Keystone when I was coming down the mountain on the 2011 Speshy FSR 29er, a 130mm F/R 29er FS bike.  A word popped into my mind:  "Playful".  That was the word.  Not fast, although it is that.  Add a few extra inches of stroke to a 29er and you can go fast enough to make your eyeballs bleed.  Yes, I found myself riding maybe juuust a bit faster than I was on a 100mm travel Epic, but what I was doing was riding differently.  I was pre-loading the suspension and lifting off of jumps in the trail.  I was zooming around berms and launching off of roots into rocky sections that would give me pause on the other bikes of the day.

I was playing more.  I was smiling a bit more too.  How 'bout that?  Is that why those guys ride those 6" bikes when they don't need them?  Have I been the 'less is more' Grinch?  Am I missing something?

So I came to a conclusion.  I do not really NEED a bigger travel 29er even though it is a good quiver bike.  The guys that ride those AM 26ers on our 2 hour XC loops don't need them either.  But it may be possible that they are grinning more than I am when riding.  Can't have that.

I don't want to get to the point where I am masking a lack of skills with big forks, brakes and tires.  I think that happens too often when someone buys into the 'bigger is better' deal.  I have said so in no uncertain terms.  And I do have a reputation to uphold as a pedal hardened, crusty old curmudgeon. Big suspension? Phaa! Lots of gears? Meh! On trail I am expected to look like Clint Eastwood squinting into the sun just before he guns you down in the dust.  Ever see Clint grin?  Nah.

The man, on a happy day.  He must ride a Brooks saddle.

So, to see if I am missing out here, an FSR 29er frameset is headed my way, and parts are being assembled and acquired.  I will likely take it on a road trip if winter permits to get it into its element on a bigger trail, but this hardened old XC guy is going to ride the local stuff too, perhaps grinning like a Cheshire Cat.  I figure that if I am in the lead, no one will know.  You know that Clint smiled when his back was turned....after he gunned 'em down, of course.


Anonymous said...

I hear you.
I have a similar experience now & then while visiting Moab or Gooseberry Mesa.
Even got my gears turning this past weekend I might need to design & build a 5" travel 29er.

Doug Idaho said...

ok...trying to picture (western) Clint on a mtn bike and then what bike that would