Friday, 16 March 2012

New Steel

Over the last few years, I have been moving further & further away from the mainstream riding that the mountainbike magazines here in the UK, tell us we should aspire to.
In the past, a lot of my cycling purchases have been driven by the image, rather than practical decisions. As a result, I have often found disappointment in a lot of the bikes I have owned, because they were simply the wrong tool for the area that I live in. I don't live in Whistler, so why did I buy a 6" FR bike for example?

The decision to  buy a fatbike was driven by the realisation that I no longer had the absolute luxury of time to drive around the country in search of cycling nirvana, due to the commitment I had to make to our baby daughter.
Cycling for the time being, would start & finish at the back door. Living in a coastal area, the fat bike has been a revelation on the sandy trails, but once I started heading inland I soon discovered that my other bikes were pretty poor in comparison. Too much travel, too heavy, geometry was wrong & compared to the fatty, the 26" wheels just didn't roll very well, sometime it was harder work on the regular HT, than the fatty on the same trails.

I began the process of selling off my other bikes to fund a second fatbike. The theory was, the 9:zero:7 would become my trail bike & I would be a proud owner of a Surly moonlander for beachriding. Everything was going well until 2 things happened.

Firstly, I began using the 9:zero:7 for more & more trail riding in the hills. I knew the extra weight of the fatty would be noticeable on the ups, but I'm a slow rider anyway, so I just considered this an extra workout. The thing I did not consider was the lack of suspension on the rocky Speyside hills. Coming down was a nightmare!  The lack of suspension & rocky descents did not make for an enjoyable experience. The realisation dawned that maybe a fatty might not fit the role of trail bike after all. Hmmm

Secondly, I began reading some comments about the Moonlander online regarding reliability & component suitability for beachriding. I soon realised to get the bike to my spec for beachriding I would have to replace the hubs, cassette, rings, seat, grips, bars...the list goes on & on....

Time for a dad chat with myself

I made the decision that my current fatty is more that suitable for 99% of the coastal riding I do. Sure, A moonlander would be awesome for beach riding, but whatever way you look at it, £1800 is a whole load of cash, for a bike too similar to what I have already.

So...with a fist full of cash & an empty bike shed, it was time to find a new fleet to reflect the riding I am doing  today  & likely to pursue in the future. One thing that became apparent, was big wheels are my mountain bike future. I tend to do long rides, so a machine that is comfortable, rolled really well & a great all rounder, with an emphasis on XC was paramount.
After the usual days of research on the internet, I finally bought on of these as my trail bike....

Nice isn't it? I managed to find a really good deal on the 2011 X9 model online. First impressions are really good, but so far I haven't been too far on it, as I am recovering from man flu...
This bike just feels right as soon as you get on it. Nice roomy fit & feels a lot like the fatty in the comfort stakes. As soon as I get some trail miles on the bike, I will post a proper review

So that's trail riding & beach riding covered, what about the road? Cue build No.2........

Not quite your usual touring spec bike, but built just the way I like it! This thing is like a tank, but man, it feels so solid when out on the road & the weight is not an issue at all. It is running a 48/36/26 crank  & 11-34 cassette, so it can tackle any hill in it's path. I built it slightly "meaty" so that it can cope with light offroad too, XT mechs, flat pedals , flat bars & 38c Scwalbe Marathon Plus tyres giving a bit more cushioning than the regular road rubber.
Only been on a test run so far, but again, I will post up once the bike has done some real distance, but I can say this bike feels really good to ride & I am really looking forward to heading out on some spring all day trips with this bike.

Finally, the last of our American all star line up... 

Old fateful will be staying as No.1 fatty. Yes, I lust a Moonlander, but after playing around with tyre pressures, I think I can cope with the "narrow" tyre footprint in the above photo. Well, most of the time ;o)

I think I am done with bikes for the moment, I have all my riding styles covered now

Coastal riding = 9:zero7
trail riding = Salsa El Mariachi
Road & touring = Surly Long Hault Trucker

I forgot...I Just need to build a cargo bike for the kids, but that is a story for another day!


  1. Nice one. I'm similarly review the "quiver" but finding it difficult trying not to invent too many niches/scenarios. I thought about an El Mariachi too, but not being sure about the 29er thing, decided on he Scandal. We'll see how that works out. If I become (more) convinced, I might even go down the Ti route again!

  2. Thats a good man think you have had!. Nice 29er!, and a LHT too! -:)
    I think the same about magazines ideas on what we should be riding, and reality riding where we all live.

    The Moonlander is amazing but the spec a bit of a dissapointment in some small areas for beachriding here in the UK. And it really is a bike that 99% of folk just do not need. 80mm rim fatties are probably ideal for what we do most of the time.
    Agree on the 29er idea, i have forks for my KM if i need them for Highland riding etc..

    Looks like your all sorted for summer!

  3. It is all about how many bikes do you actually need & will really use. The fatty is really adaptable with just using right tyres for the conditions.
    The 29er & tourer should fill all my other cycling needs nicely, wherever I find myself riding.

  4. I just liquidated my fleet to the extent that I have only my road bike to ride until my custom mtb frame is finished.. (going on 7 months now) I wish I had not been so excited to whittle things down to only what I need..Im thinking we all need a little beater bike ..just for such occasions..

  5. Enjoy the new 29er. Depending on your touring ambitions you can load the El Mar up with bikepacking bags and do some fun shorter dirt tours as well. When time is short I feel like a dirt tour packs more POW into 24-36-48hrs than a road tour does.

    I too lust for a Moonlander....not because I need one or have a use for one, but just because! That's okay...=-) My Pugsley is all the fat bike I need and if I was going to spend more $$ on a fatty it would be better spent on lighter wheels for my Pugs and a suspension fork [once a decent production fat fork is available] than a Moonlander.

    safe riding,