I went out "exploring" today on my '08 Kona Hoss and came across a hidden ATV/dirt bike race track out between a bunch of farm fields. This track is very nicely laid out for motorbikes, with lots of jumps and ramps, both dirt and wood. The jumps are too gentle and far apart for a mountain bike, though. Looked better than most professional tracks I've seen. No-one was around, so I figured I'd play around a little. I recently switched to "ghetto" tubeless tires, and I was curious to see how they'd hold up. So I cranked up the travel and turned down the compression damping on my '09 Rock Shox Domain 318 IS U-Turn fork and entered the track.
There was a nice dirt jump in front of me that went up about 4 feet over a 6 foot distance, so I sped up as fast as I could, figuring I might grab some air and land on the down slope. There were some small weeds growing at the top and...
oops... no downslope... it was a sudden vertical drop-off, with a foot-deep pit on the other side, so a 5 foot drop in all.
I never saw it coming. One moment I was climbing the hill, the next I was plummeting out of control through the air. I'm pretty sure I was at a 45 degree forward angle when I "landed". The fork was definitely perpendicular to the ground, perhaps beyond perpendicular. Both my feet were still clicked into the pedals. All I could do was shout "OH SH!T" on the way down. I was totally expecting to go over the handlebars, smashing my face into the dirt. Lucky for me, the pit was dry.
But something miraculous happened... the fork absorbed the impact, the front wheel rolled forward, and I "landed" safely. I did manage to strain my neck due to the shock, but I was otherwise unharmed. Best of all, my 255 pounds of weight landing at the worst possible angle didn't even faze my front wheel. I would've expected it to bend or deform in some way, perhaps break a spoke or 2, but it's as straight now as the day I first put it on.
My old Alex DM24's kept bending on the slightest obstacles. I swear they bent once when I looked at them the wrong way. Upgrading to Bombshell Fat Daddy wheels is one of the best things I've done for my bike. And today's adventure confirms it for me. I'm also extremely satisfied with my choice of a Rock Shox Domain fork on this build. Being able to adjust travel on the fly is a blessing, and the way it handled that impact today really impressed me. I didn't even swap out the springs, just kept the original ones in there. And the fork didn't quite bottom out on the impact.
Oh, and the tires never budged an inch either, so I guess my tubeless conversion is a success!
I'll take a break for a day or two while my neck recovers, and then I'll go play on that track some more. But this time I'll scope out my path before pedaling headlong into another pit.
Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups
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