10 August, 2017

New World Order in the Bike Quiver

Lots of changes in the bike stable this year. As we've covered in this blog, I'm a tweaker. Always fine tuning until I get things just right. I started the year with five bikes in the quiver, I'm now down to four. My goal was to have fewer bikes that could do more. Every bike adds maintenance, and if I don't ride it - guilt! So here's a quick run-down on the changes. I'll write more lengthy reviews in coming months.

Seven Evergreen S
I got this sweetheart early this year. After discovering gravel on my Specialized Crux Comp, I quickly lost my interest in doing much road riding. Gravel is just pure joy for me. And I began to lust for disc brakes, a little smoother ride - just a general upgrade. I found it in a demo Seven Evergreen that a friend and local dealer had. As it turns out, this demo was just my size and the dealer was looking to get a newer one (mine had 300 miles and about 4 demos on it!). Deal scored. It helps that this dealer is also my fitter and said, "Geez, that's probably exactly what I'd have ordered for you....". I love it. Smooth. Fast. Handles like a dream. It's everything I wanted and more. Shimano Ultegra gruppo and hydraulic disc brakes. Bombproof Mavic Kysrium Allroad wheels. And, that miraculous Seven titanium ride quality.

As we entered the Summer, I began to feel like I could no longer justify owning my Giant Defy Advanced carbon road bike. I've written a lot on my concerns with significant road riding. This is a lot of bike and not using is it a shame. Sold it quickly and for a fair price online. Then I scored a half-price deal on a second set of Mavic's with road tires. Now I have a gravel bike that does double duty as a road bike (or more likely path bike - I've found that I love riding bike trails around Michigan).

Nine ONE9
You've seen my SE BM Flyer single speed in previous posts. I've had great fun building up that bike, including Profile BMX cranks, and custom wheels with White Industries fantastic ENO rear hub. It's been a blast to ride, but it's really an overgrown BMX bike. Having tasted more high-performance mountain bikes, I've wanted to upgrade it for a while, but it was a low priority. This Spring, I stumbled upon a Niner ONE9 single speed in an online forum. After pondering for a while, I scooped it up at a great price. It's a size medium (I mostly ride larges, but really kind of fall between them). A longer 110mm Thomson X4 stem gave me a little more cockpit room. And, an SQ Labs 611 Race in 140mm got me comfy. Then I swapped the wheels from the SE over. The result is a sweet, simple, fun, nimble ride. I've set Strava PRs on rolling Northern Michigan terrain, and generally had a blast on this great new bike. Sold my SE to a good friend who wanted to try single speeds. One more need met!

Salsa Bucksaw NX01
This unexpected move has proven to be my upgrade of the year. In the early Summer I started to feel like I wanted a more trail-focused full suspension ride. And the idea of 27.5+ wheels really appealed to me. As I do rather like hanging out in bike shops, this gave me the excuse to look around. I test rode a Specialized Comp6 Fattie. Not bad. But not in love. My sister had test ridden a Salsa Pony Rustler and really liked it. I stopped in to visit to Einstein Cycles in Traverse City, MI. Owner Jason was super-helpful. Really listened to what I wanted and  suggested an alternative - the Salsa Bucksaw (technically a fat bike - more on that later) with a second set of 27.5+ wheels.

Yahtzee!!!!

I've also had some issues with my Salsa Beargrease X5 fat bike. I wanted a 1X drivetrain. Having discovered hydraulic disc brakes, I found myself wanting to upgrade the Avid mechanical discs. But this would have been several hundred dollars for a bike I don't ride a ton. So, she got sold to a newbie who was thrilled to have her.

Jason's solution was perfect! If you're not familiar, the Bucksaw is a trail bike in fat bike clothing. A more nimble geometry (it handles more like a Horsethief than a Beargrease) and full suspension make it a very unique fat bike. We settled on a set of carbon wheels build around Industry 9 Torch hubs for the 27.5+ configuration.

From the first ride, I was in love! This bike is fast, handles very smoothly, and the combination of full suspension and fatter tires engenders comfort and confidence. I can comfortably hold lines that I would have new tried before. Boulder problems are no sweat. And, it climbs like a goat due to the added traction. I'm eager to get it out in the snow on the fat wheels. You'll be reading plenty more on this cool bike in coming posts.

Ch-ch-changes...
So the only bike in my garage that was there last year is my XC race mountain bike - a Specialized Stumpjumper World Cup Carbon Expert. It's a great ride, with a carbon frame, crank, and wheelset. Fast, light, and responsive. This one will remain my race bike. It should be perfect for the Fall's Iceman Cometh race.

I couldn't be happier with the results of this little experiment. I now have fewer bikes that do more stuff well. Stay tuned!

28 April, 2017

Time Away...

The blog and I needed a little break - it's not that I've slowed down on enjoying the outdoors - but I'd kind of lost my inspiration. I find that my best blogging happens when I'm energized. Between the Holidays, the weird Michigan Winter, and the pesky day job, it was time to channel my energies elsewhere. But now I'm back and motivated. Plenty of cool outdoor antics that I'll be writing about, including:

  • The addition of a couple of new bikes, First a Seven Evergreen SL gravel bike to fuel my new location's access to exceptional dirt roads. Then just yesterday a big upgrade in the land of singlespeed mountain bikes - a Niner One 9 aluminum singlespeed which moves me to a more race-oriented singlespeed mountain bike. I'm looking forward to tweaking and tuning this one just for me. the Specialized Crux has already left the stable, and the SE BM Flyer will be next.
  • A decent Michigan ski season, despite some truly weird weather. 
  • My first impressions of my new Shaggy's Bootjack 115 powder skis.
  • Another outstanding ski trip to Colorado.
  • A new carry gun - Springfield XDS.
  • Getting my new (to me) house set-up as base camp for my outdoor antics.
  • Some fun hikes both near my home and in NW Michigan.
...and lots more. Stay tuned. Cool stuff coming.

-Sean-