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  1. #1
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    Thinkering into the future

    I took the summer off from racing to work on the house/yard and learn how to run a business, with the result that my riding time has involved actual mountain bike rides instead of training 5+ days a week. That much unfettered time spent riding tech trails, on different, capable bikes, has allowed to me to put on my thinking cap and really ponder what kind of equipment I prefer, as well as what needs to change. For the most part, my Behemoth with the WB Fluid 130



    has been the go-to bike, but a few things have happened this summer to alter that.

    First things first: Until the Panaracer Rampage 2.3 samples arrived on my doorstep, there wasn't a 29" tire available that allowed the Behemoth to live up to it's full potential. I could go straight-line fast on the Exi's, but really had to shed speed to get around corners. I could corner OK on the Jones XR's, but the thin casings were easy to pinch (even/especially up front) on our ledgy terrain, necessitating higher psi which pretty much killed the cornering traction. Everything else had too little air volume to last even one ride on this bike.

    The Panaracer's were the catalyst for lots of thinking and experimenting. They have a bit more air volume than any other tire currently available, so I've been able to run them in the mid-20's (psi) when riding aggressively, and pinch flats have been few. They have an actual edge knob that allows me to lean the bike more than I've been able to before, so I'm getting around corners faster even in kitty-litter-on-hardpack situations. And they have a durable casing (relative to their ~800g weight) that hasn't died in over a month of trying to kill it. In short, they've allowed me to see the real potential of the Behemoth.



    The Behemoth was designed and built to be a trailbike, despite the fact that I've overbuilt mine and chased the local FR crowd around on it from the get go. The more I ride with this crowd the more my eyes get opened, not only because of what they're able to do (both up and downhill) but also because as a bystander and scribe, I'm paying attention to how they're progressing, what equipment they're using, and how it's holding up.

    If you've had the 29" blinders on and haven't paid much attention to what's happening in 26" land , you'll be amazed at where tire technology has gone the past few years. I don't/can't pretend to understand all that's going on inside of these tires, but what they allow a seasoned rider to get away with is astonishing. Think 17 psi (front and rear), in a 26 x 2.5, using tubes, and then riding your bike like it was rented. These guys rip through boulderfields and off ledges like they were on YZX's, and when climbing they've got traction to get up stuff that I don't even know how to attempt. I've done multiple roadtrips to various UT and CO FR stashes (always on my Behemoth) and ridden some of the most mind-bending tech trail around with these guys. And while we're all riding similar moves on otherwise similar bikes, I'm the only one flatting, and I'm usually the only one not cleaning everything:



    In a nut, I got sick of it. I caved and bought a 6 and 6 26"er. Part of it was frustration. Part of it was curiosity. And part of it was R & D: I wanted to ride a bike with the latest and greatest 26" suspension products, and while doing that I wanted to test current 26" tire technology.

    For the last 6 weeks, that's what I've done. On almost every ride I've alternated between The Pig (the 26" bike at ~38lbs) and the Behemoth (at ~30 to 33lbs), riding them back to back on identical tech loops to get to where I can feel differences as well as ruminate on why the differences exist. Most of the time it's been obvious: an 800g tire will never be able to handle what a 1400g tire can. Duh.

    But that's not all. I've been riding the Behemoth with the WB 130, but also with the WB DC 150 and 180.



    I've ridden the Behemoth with a RockShox Lyrik (single crown 26" 160mm travel fork) using the Lenz Mondo hub.



    For a few rides I stuck the WB DC 150 and 180 onto The Pig and rode it with the Rampage 29 up front (29/26).



    And most of the time I've ridden The Pig with the Lyrik, but with various 26" x 2.5, 2.6 or 2.7 FR treads on it.



    I've had a lot of fun, bled a little, been scared shirtless more times than I care to admit, and man have I learned a lot.

    Using the 4 different forks on two different bikes has allowed me to experiment with HTA (and by extension, trail) on both bikes. Having both bikes has taught me a lot more about the relationships between STA and CS length, as well as BB height/drop, and wheelbase. Aside from the geeky geo stuff, I've had my own eyes opened on what a good AM/FR tire should and should not do, as well as what I can do on a good tire. It's been a great summer.

    But it doesn't end there. Where does it go? You'll have to wait a few short weeks to find out. Things are changing, and change is good. Stay tuned...

    MC

    Oh yeah, The Pig is for sale, and all of the 26" test tires have been given away, or sold...

  2. #2
    tiny rider
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    Glad you've been having fun and learning for the rest of us.

    I've got my new toy so I suppose I can wait a few weeks to learn what's on the horizon. At my current rate, I'll be due for a new MTB in 2016

  3. #3
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    Nice writeup as usual Mike. Can't wait to see where this thread goes.

    I am too old for the stuff you are doing though and need to keep my pants clean!

  4. #4
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    I will be interested in what we mere mortals can do to upgrade our rides, particularly the Behemoth. I'm riding very similar terrain and looking for every advantage I can get (short of going back to the dark side).

  5. #5
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    Good read!

    Lemme guess? Rampage with DH casing, from the same mold as the current weightweenie series?
    I was first going to say WTB Weirwolf LT 29x2.55, but that's been rumored for so long, I'm starting to doubt it will ever happen.

  6. #6
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    Mondo hub

    Beside a tire with a decent FR casing I think that lenz sport hub will really open things up for the world of 29" fr bikes. With that hub you can use any FR fork and not locked into one brand of fork. Beside a tire that hub could revoltionize whats possible with a 29er. WIth more travel possible in the front a bike with more travel than a behemoth definatly becomes needed. Hopefully that hub will make it into production. As usually Mike and Devin are on the cutting edge. I can't wait to see what happens!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    I was first going to say WTB Weirwolf LT 29x2.55, but that's been rumored for so long, I'm starting to doubt it will ever happen.
    Open yours eyes wide open at interbike, and don't forget your camera
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  8. #8
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    Good post, Mike.

    I'm very interested to hear / see where your knowledge takes this to, also.


    R.

  9. #9
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    You are such a tease.

    I'm glad you caved and bought the 6X6 bike because I have really been on the ledge about this.

    Look forward to what you learned.

    I would like you to expound on the geometry stuff...I'm learning/experimenting as well and have a few ideas about what I like. It is definitely different from a year ago.

    Also nice to see you get some time on a modern 26"er fork.

  10. #10
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    Of course Mike using one rider with different bikes and no power tap means that this will once again be labeled as JUNK SCIENCE.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cloxxki
    Good read!

    Lemme guess? Rampage with DH casing, from the same mold as the current weightweenie series?
    I was first going to say WTB Weirwolf LT 29x2.55, but that's been rumored for so long, I'm starting to doubt it will ever happen.
    i am hoping interbike too. i have some weirwolf LT and if its that tread its not going
    to be a good dh tire.

  12. #12
    HIKE!
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    Mike, awesome, now to just get you guys in the Grand Valley

    on board with a Gravity Dropper. That terrain is made for them, 29" or 26"

  13. #13
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    I'm glad you gave the pig a try. Before selling the Pig, get in touch with DT (just as the rider in the photo did-I think I recognize him) and get an air shock on the specialized to match up w/ the Lyrik, whick will drop at least 2lbs, and probably be a bit more active. Try a 900-1000 gram tires vs. the 1400. Now you have a 34lb 6 x 6 that will climb as well as it descends and still will not get flat tires. Give it a shot, and let's hear the report. Thanks

  14. #14
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    Nice Turner!

    Since you were able to normalize the front ends by swapping forks, how much difference in the bikes do you attribute to the rear ends? Does 6" of travel with 26" wheels have that much of an advantage over 5" with 29" wheels? It sounds like the tires were the biggest factor for you, but I'm curious how much you felt you were giving up in overall performance rear suspension-wise on terrain that called for that much travel. How about in comfort for general riding?
    A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.

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    the yah and the nah

    That is Tom N. in the photo. He breaks things. He ought not ride a full-sus 29"er at least until HD becomes availible. I wouldn't lone him mine. Mike and I ride with Tom and a few other Grand Valley riders who actual do utilize the travel and heft of these type of bikes (not just descending). Unfortunatley Tom here, broke is first 29"er (a new "popular" rigid single speed) on the 4th ride. As far as these FR bikes as daily riders, they seem to work fine for these guys, but I might ad, there is often a "scramble" to find something better suited (lighter) for the less tech, but steeper alpine trips that we do in the summer.

  16. #16
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    Did I read that right?

    Yeah, Tommy is a rough kid. For crying out loud, he stabbed himself in the chest with his brake lever while just riding along! Whats "HD" that's coming out?

    I've been witness to the scramble for a lightweight bike for alpine rides. Just a wheel and shock swap puts a Turner SixPack from 35lb Lunch Loop Hucking bike, to 30lb Alpine bike (that can take an utter beat down).

    Still, impresses with MikeC's willingness to spend near $3k to try out a 6" FS trailbike. Still can't help but wonder why he went with the Freeride SX Trail rather than a more trailbikey Enduro or such. That stem on his "pig" is a 1 pound block of aluminum! A few parts swaps would put that into the 30-33 lb (or start with a slightly different 6 x 6 trailbike) range of the Lenz Behemoth. I'd bet that sorta 6 x 6 26" wheeled trailbike would not be up for sale!

    But it is a rare 29er fellow that goes back to 26" and realizes that there is a lot going on in the market (with the 6 x 6 26" trailbike is the biggest selling segment in ATB today). That's where all the biggies are putting time, money and of course marketing.

    So Kudos to MikeC for trying 26" things out! Now, you want that Gravity Dropper mailed back down? THE single most important atb product in the past 5 years. Can't believe the Grand Valley riders are afraid of them, or embarrassed to have one, whatever the deal is with that.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparrow
    on board with a Gravity Dropper. That terrain is made for them, 29" or 26"
    How many times I gotta tell ya? Until they make one with significant setback, it ain't gonna happen. It's got nothing to do with the concept of the GD, and everything to do with bike fit.

    ...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilbur
    I'm glad you gave the pig a try. Before selling the Pig, get in touch with DT (just as the rider in the photo did-I think I recognize him) and get an air shock on the specialized to match up w/ the Lyrik, whick will drop at least 2lbs, and probably be a bit more active. Try a 900-1000 gram tires vs. the 1400. Now you have a 34lb 6 x 6 that will climb as well as it descends and still will not get flat tires. Give it a shot, and let's hear the report. Thanks
    No one makes an air shock to fit the pig frame. And I *probably* wouldn't buy one for it if they did. I wanted a coil fork and rear shock (although I also tested the bike using two different air forks) for many reasons. And my next Behemoth will have a coil-over on it for local AM/FR use.

    I tried several ~1000 gram tires, and a few ~900g versions. I could still pinch flat these easily. Seems like 1300g+ is the threshold for a near-bulletproof tire in 26". Might mean ~1400g in 29". Some will sniff at that weight, but I ain't one of 'em. I'd rather work a little harder (it's a trail bike, not an xc mosheen) on the climbs and reap the rewards when blitzing the descents.

    MC

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by miles e


    Nice Turner!

    Since you were able to normalize the front ends by swapping forks, how much difference in the bikes do you attribute to the rear ends? Does 6" of travel with 26" wheels have that much of an advantage over 5" with 29" wheels? It sounds like the tires were the biggest factor for you, but I'm curious how much you felt you were giving up in overall performance rear suspension-wise on terrain that called for that much travel. How about in comfort for general riding?
    The biggest differences were from the unflattable 26" tires, and the coil rear shock. Amount of travel meant little, in either direction.

    Based on the riding I did the past ~7 weeks, I think the 5" travel Behemoth with similar tires and rear shock would eat the pig alive in every trail situation I've come across. I couldn't believe how much work it was to constantly keep the 26" tires from stopping on every ledge along the way.

    MC

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveA
    That is Tom N. in the photo. He breaks things. He ought not ride a full-sus 29"er at least until HD becomes availible. I wouldn't lone him mine. Mike and I ride with Tom and a few other Grand Valley riders who actual do utilize the travel and heft of these type of bikes (not just descending). Unfortunatley Tom here, broke is first 29"er (a new "popular" rigid single speed) on the 4th ride. As far as these FR bikes as daily riders, they seem to work fine for these guys, but I might ad, there is often a "scramble" to find something better suited (lighter) for the less tech, but steeper alpine trips that we do in the summer.
    Dave-

    You're totally right that Tom breaks things without hardly trying. That said, I'd loan him my 'moth anytime if he weren't so set on those ridiculous thumbshifters that are always ghostshifting on him. The 'moth could handle Tom. I'm just a little afraid of what would happen to his riding style--we'd all get humbled even more than we do now.

    He's expressed interest in the 'moth a few times, although I think he envisions it as more of an alpine bike than for local trails. With the 'new stuff' that's coming down the pike the next few weeks/months, I think he (and Fritz, and others) are gonna see the light.

    MC

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by sparrow
    Still, impresses with MikeC's willingness to spend near $3k to try out a 6" FS trailbike. Still can't help but wonder why he went with the Freeride SX Trail rather than a more trailbikey Enduro or such. That stem on his "pig" is a 1 pound block of aluminum! A few parts swaps would put that into the 30-33 lb (or start with a slightly different 6 x 6 trailbike) range of the Lenz Behemoth. I'd bet that sorta 6 x 6 26" wheeled trailbike would not be up for sale!
    I didn't spend that much, but it was still a chunk o' change. I picked the SX because the Enduro's break. Often. Fritz broke his 4 times in 6 weeks last spring. Special'ed's solution was to beef it up, and that resulted in the SX.

    You noted the stem was heavy on the pig as pictured. True, but it's worth noting that that picture was as I was selling it, not as I rode it.

    And, to be even clearer, the overall weight of the bike was not what I had the problem with. It was the shallow angle of attack that constantly stopped the wheels momentum and made me work like I haven't in years to keep the bike moving through the ledges and rock gardens. You know what most of our trails are like, I'm sure you can envision what I'm talking about. I think that regardless of which chassis I chose, it'd still be for sale as I can't see working that hard just to get a bike uphill. For the way I ride and the places I ride, big wheels blow small wheels away.

    What I came away with from this little test was that the industry has thrown some pretty fancy technology to the 26" crowd, but it still can't make up for the deficiencies of the smaller wheels. Once a fraction of that technology trickles up to the 29" offerings, the already significant momentum behind big wheels will multiply. It's just evolution.

    But it is a rare 29er fellow that goes back to 26" and realizes that there is a lot going on in the market (with the 6 x 6 26" trailbike is the biggest selling segment in ATB today). That's where all the biggies are putting time, money and of course marketing.
    You're right on the mark--that's where all the $$ is going. Some of it will translate across wheel sizes, and that's the stuff I'm most interested in and currently experimenting with.

    So Kudos to MikeC for trying 26" things out! Now, you want that Gravity Dropper mailed back down? THE single most important atb product in the past 5 years. Can't believe the Grand Valley riders are afraid of them, or embarrassed to have one, whatever the deal is with that.
    Read my lips: s-e-t-b-a-c-k. No fear, no embarrassment, simply unwilling to compromise my effective STA and KOPS.

    MC

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee
    The biggest differences were from the unflattable 26" tires, and the coil rear shock. Amount of travel meant little, in either direction.

    Based on the riding I did the past ~7 weeks, I think the 5" travel Behemoth with similar tires and rear shock would eat the pig alive in every trail situation I've come across. I couldn't believe how much work it was to constantly keep the 26" tires from stopping on every ledge along the way.

    MC
    What a great thread...
    Now that I am back working in bike shops again and I have tons of demo bikes available to me any time, it has me wondering about few things. For example, the difference between bigger rims (700c)/ "smaller" tire (2.3" max right now with the Panaracer) combo with 5" of travel vs. a traditional 26" rim with a 2.5" - 2.7" tire and 6" or more of travel. What is the actual roll out difference between the two "styles?" Wouldn't the wheel's ability to overcome ledges, etc. be more about the overall outer diameter of the tire, since that's where contact is made?

    This is truly intriguing stuff.
    OGG
    Spinning and Grinning...

  23. #23
    what a joke
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    Mike I understand that you cant name names, but can you give us a hint tire sizes or fork travel we can expect.
    blah blah blah

  24. #24
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    Mike...

    What rims / hubs do you use with the Rampage tires on your 'Moth?


    ...And, how have the rims / hubs held up to the kind of riding you are doing?


    R.
    It is inevitable ...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ozlongboarder
    Mike I understand that you cant name names, but can you give us a hint tire sizes or fork travel we can expect.
    Fork travel wil be at least 6". Possibly adjustable (internally) to 7". For now, dual crown.

    Cain't say no mo'.


    MC
    Last edited by mikesee; 08-29-2006 at 07:53 PM.

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