Big wheel convert
I have spent the last 3 years thinking about getting a new mountain bike, but 3 weeks ago I finally collected my shiny new steed from Moonglu in Ripon.
Here’s a picture of it:
The two most important features of this bike are:
- It is a 29er (i.e. it has big wheels!)
- It is made of titanium
After spending a long time thinking about investing in a full suspension bike (everyone said it would be more comfortable and I would ride technical trails more easily), for some reason I made a sudden switch to insisting that my bike had to be a hardtail, with big wheels and made of titanium.
My logic was that it would be lighter, need less servicing (no rear shock) and that the big wheels would be faster over non-technical trails (like roads (!), fireroads in the forest and some bridleways). A skim through a few forum posts convinced me that those same big wheels combined with a titanium frame would give me a plush ride.
So without having ever ridden a 29er (it’s hard to find demo versions at all, let alone ones in a women’s size), the decision was made. Sometimes you just have to have faith!
I am not the sort of person who enjoys trawling through Bike Radar and assessing the pros and cons of ever new bit of bike kit that comes out. I really only want my bike to ride well, and not wear out at the merest hint of a bit of mud and water. So with some help from my friends a starting spec was assembled and sent over to Neil Dunkley at Moonglu for him to make sure everything would fit together, source the parts and turn it all into a bike.
If you really want to know what went on it, you can see the full specification here.
It took a while for everything to arrive, but I collected it just in time to test it out at the Trans Wales, a week-long mountain bike event riding over just the sort of terrain and distances I often face when adventure racing. I’ve heard there’s some sort of rule that says you shouldn’t use untested kit for the first time in a race. 😉 I ignored that and arrived on the start line fresh and ready to go, having practiced on my new bike all the way home from the station and back again. That’s about 7km, but there were a few potholes to negotiate!
First I should say that this bike replaced a much-loved 10-year old Cannondale F500, complete with V-brakes and a Thudbuster suspension seatpost, which saved my posterior on more than one occasion.
But this bike is AMAZING!
After a day or two, I found it inspired confidence on the steep downhills (maybe that was the new disc brakes), whizzed down the long straights, was more comfortable than anything I have ever ridden before and was especially good at rocky stuff. I noticed this most when we had to do a whole series of river crossings. On the occasions when I accidentally came to a near-standstill in the river, just a little push on the pedals and I would pop over the rocks and onwards. Much better than falling off and going for a swim!
I think the bike has had an unexpected side benefit to my riding. I started to approach tricky looking sections thinking ‘well, my new bike will be able to ride that!’. I’d then cheerfully set off and clear the obstacle. I put this entirely down to the investment in a new bike 🙂 (though I’ll secretly admit that perhaps the little extra dose of confidence meant I rode things I always should have been able to).
The sealed gear cables did the business – perfect shifting for 7 days through muck and water. I just couldn’t get used to gears that worked! My only small niggle is that they don’t go low enough – I want to spin up those hills! With a 2×10 set-up I might be able to adjust this next time I get a new cassette, but I’ll see how it goes. Maybe I can just learn to ride faster?!
Only a whole load more riding will tell me how well the components stand up; how soon until I need to change the brake pads, replace the headset bearings or get a new chain?!