Last weekend, the shop went down to Outerbike in Moab for some bike testing. Three solid days of riding a ton of bikes back to back on the same trails was really informative. End result- All bikes are fun, but I still like my bike best.

But here are some thoughts on all the other stuff.

Suspension on fatbikes

Don’t like it, don’t like it at all. And I was expecting to love it.

I rode Salsa’s Bucksaw full suspension fat bike thing, and it felt about as nimble as a pregnant walrus.

Slowest and most exhausting lap of the entire weekend. No surprise, but I did at least expect it to be fun in a silly way. It wasn’t. The thing is a total pig- planted to the ground and encourages the rider to squish around in the saddle shifted into the lowest gear. When I tried to stand up and throw the bike around, it just wouldn’t move.

Everything was hard- climbing up on boulders, dropping off ledges, cornering, climbing, accelerating. It didn’t matter what I did, the bike just soaked up every input, both from me and the trail.

The bikes with the new Bluto suspension fork (like the Rocky Mountain Blizzard, and Borealis Echo) were a little better, but still not as fun as a rigid fatbike. The Blizzard’s handling was pretty rough because of the Vee Rubber tires (massive self-steer at every speed, I was fighting the handlebars constantly), but the Echo rode nice with Surly tires.

And the Bluto, apart from being really wide, isn’t too specical compared to other current forks like the Pike. It rides a lot like Reba from 2009.

I like riding fatbikes in the summer becasue they’re simple, bouncy and dumb. With suspension, they turn into slow, heavy, hardtails with medicore handling. And for winter riding, suspension oil gets so thick that forks hardly work anyway.

So unless you’re doing something like riding around on a volcanic scree field in Iceland, I don’t get the point. But that’s just me.

Rock Shox Pike

Best fork ever. I don’t know why anybody bothers with anything else.

Not Moab, but this post needed more pictures

27.5 wheels

I rode these things into with an open mind. And didn’t like them, but also didn’t hate them. With all the excelent handling 29ers out there, I guess this is just another one where I don’t see the point. I was on a range of travels from 100mm to 155mm.

The only time I could tell I was on smaller wheels was when they started to get hung up in rocky sections. Cornering and accelerating, wheel size made way less difference than suspension design.

Actually, in terms of how a bike rode, here’s what mattered in order- geometry, suspension design, tire tread pattern, bottom bracket height, brakes, bike booty stiffness, paint job, wheel size, weight.

Wheel size almost last, because all other things being equal on a suspension bike, 27.5 vs 29 doesn’t make that much difference. Except in rocks. Where small wheels go slower and get hung up on stuff. But a really flashy coat of paint can definitely mitigate that disadvantage.

Low bottom brackets

Low bottom briskets where everywhere, on every wheel size and travel length. One of the worst trends ever. I don’t care if they feel better on a machine built flow-bro trail. For mountain bikey mountain biking, with stuff to ride over, constantly smashing pedals sucks. And having to coast through rock gardens is slow.

Niner’s ROS9 and ROS9 Plus

Both really swell bikes. I was on a Honzo for a year and the ROS9 feels just like that. I really dig short chainstay 29er hardtails for short hard rides, but over 50 miles bikes like that beat me up. A short back end is great when you’re on top of things, and really harsh when you aren’t.

The ROS9 Plus didn’t feel different than my Krampus, and since that’s the best bike China has ever welded, great. Both are 4130 tubing and have the same geometry. The ROS Plus comes with a thru-axle tapered rigid fork for extra rigidness. I liked that.

I saw some new 29+ tires in the Niner van, and even gave them a squeeze.

They look really good, but since the Niner guys were acting like taking pictures of those tires was worse than selling nuclear launch codes to the KGB, I guess I won’t say anything else. They should be out soon, and they’re Italian.

Why does it matter if someone in the market for chubby tires knows that another option is on the way? I don’t know. The bike industry is weird. They must think they’re developing iPhones, or some other shit that actually matters.

After the demo, Colleen and I hung out for a few more days in town. I rode Ahab again. It’s still one of the best trails ever made.

Then I rode up the Moab Rim Trail, misjudged a ledge move, and nailed my crotch so hard with the stem that my satan sword started to bleed.

Nothing like a good blunt chunk of metal in the balls to keep a man humble.

6 thoughts on “Outerbike

  1. Just recently found your blog. What a great post! I enjoyed reading something for once that was not simply an uncritical isn’t-the-latest-just-awesome. I came back to mountain biking a little more than a year ago after a long hiatus–I let my Voodoo go to crap after riding the GDMBR route in 1998–and am perplexed by many things. And aghast at the cost. Anyway, cool post.

    1. Hey, thanks man. No reason to write anything other than what I actually think in this little echo chamber. Cost is pretty insane- most bikes at the demo were around $6000. Good news is that a nice hardtail is still as fun as it’s ever been

  2. And then the mags review bikes $6k is often considered reasonable! I gave up on FS and now ride a steel diamond Jones with ti truss fork. Keep up the good work.

    1. It’s reasonable compared to the $10,000 models everybody is doing. But they do ride super nice, if you want good suspension it’s definitely not six grand down the drain. And the maintenance they require keeps me employed. So yay for high end stuff. Just wish the bottom brackets weren’t so low

  3. Wow! I was kinda surprised at your pan of the Bucksaw. Don’t get me wrong, I love the simplicity of the Krampus and am many miles in on it, but I was kind of eyeballing the Salsa. Most of the reviews are glowing, like it’s changing MTBing. Hmmm, interesting. Thanks for putting it out there.

    1. I was surprised too- like I said, I was really expecting to like it. But it’s just way too much. If that bike were a cake, it would be triple chocolate with raspberry coconut icing topped with rainbow sprinkles, maple syrup, and pineapple chunks.

      There were lots of really good full suspensions out there, but this one definitely wasn’t close to the top.

      Unless you’re blasting straight down some scree above tree line, I’m struggling to see how it could be changing mountain biking, other than making it slower and more work.


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