16 November, 2017

Size Matters - The Tweaking Continues

Yes, I'm an avowed tweaker. Guns. Cooking. BBQ. Projects around the house. And, bikes. Especially bikes... I just can't leave well enough alone. So many things become projects.

My Niner ONE9 single speed mountain bike is among them. I purchased this bike last year to make the jump to a more performance-oriented bike from the SE BM Flyer. Scored a good deal. It was in good shape. And, I really enjoyed riding it.


The frame was a medium. And at 6'0" with a long torso and short legs, I'm in a weird place with bike sizes. I'm usually a large. But sometimes can squeak by with medium, depending on the geometry. After the first few rides, I began to feel like the frame was too small. Because of my longer torso, the front just felt a bit cramped.

So, I swapped out the short stem for a 100mm Thomson Elite X4 stem. Definitely better. Rode it a number of times - all the while falling more in love with this cool bike. But, over time, it still felt cramped. So a Thomson Masterpiece setback seatpost was ordered. Again, it bought me some more space, but things still aren't quite there.

In the meantime, I am just completely digging on my Salsa Bucksaw X01 (in size large). The bike just completely fits me. Great while climbing, and descending. Comfy for long rides, and nimble enough for fairly tight spaces.

Finally, I reach the simple conclusion - this size Medium just doesn't fit me. Good news is that my riding buddy loves the bike and is a couple of inches shorter. He wants it. Of course by now, I've also become quite fond the the striking atomic blue color. Great. It's a few years old. Not made anymore. And now I need to find a large, in that color. Within two weeks, one pops up on eBay. In great shape, many recent component replacements. And, at a reasonable price. It's go time!

When the bike arrives, I do a little component swapping from my old bike. This benefits both me and my buddy -- I get the parts I want, as does he. Perfect.

It took me a couple of weeks to get out and ride the new whip, but finally this week I was able to get in a couple of laps at DTE Energy Foundation Trail. I had a little time before my buddy arrived to spin around the parking lot and dial in the seat height, pedal tension, etc. Things are definitely feeling pretty good. Then we set off on our ride. The difference in the larger bike is immediately obvious. First is pure, simple comfort. I just have more room to shift weight, pedal, etc. At the same time, it doesn't feel too big. Plenty able to handle tight turns and spaces.

The old M (front) and the new L (rear)
the difference is significant!
After a few miles I realize I'm riding faster, taking turns harder and deeper, and feeling really loose and confident. Now the value of my upgrade really sinks in. I know a lot of experts who advise that when you're in between sizes on a mountain bike to go to the smaller.

The only remaining issue is the fork. The new bike has a RockShox Reba suspension fork. Part of what I like about singlespeeds is that simple, crisp feel. Will I lose this with a boinger up front? After one ride, I will admit that I think it feels softer than my old carbon rigid fork. But, I've only begun to experiment with air pressure and other variables. More tweaking to come!

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