Hi folks! I'm kinda new around here, but a long-time lurker. Thought you might be interested in this? Some time ago, I began the search for my perfect bike. I know that means something different to everyone. For me, it means a bike that will rip down rock-strewn trails; cope with annual trips to France and BC; corner well; pedal great, it must be stiff, not bob or suffer any pedal feedback; lots of pedal clearance, I like to pedal everywhere; most importantly, itís got to fit me, Iím 6í4Ē tall. Then there were other considerations - material, geometry, pivot type, shock.
So the search began. Iíve ridden a lot of bikes, I know what I like and what I donít. In my quest over the last two years, Iíve owned some of the most esoteric ďboutiqueĒ frame brands out there, and I just havenít been happy with any of them.
Finally, around six months ago, I came across Purgatory Bikes. Theyíre a small company, based in Connecticut, USA. Check out their website, you can see a little of their history, design and riding philosophy. Burly steel frames, big travel, high single pivots. You can see that a lot of thought has gone into these frames, plenty of attention to detail. There is definitely something a little different going on, just check out the patented front-shifter setup video, thatís a prime example of their thinking.
I asked Purgatory about the possibility of a full-custom build. After quite an involved, iterative design process, between Mark Zmurko and myself, Iím now proud owner of my dream bike. Mark is the main man at Purgatory Bikes, an awesome frame builder, designer, engineer, machinist. Heís definitely one of the good guys. The frame was subjected to full Finite Element Analysis during the design stage. Hereís the final spec:
4130 MIL-T-6736 heavy-gauge cro-moly tubing
High-forward single pivot, rearward-arcing axle path, 10Ē travel
Custom sizing and geometry, based around my lanky body and a Fox 40RC2 fork
Double-row angular contact bearings in main pivot
6061-T6 linkages, annealed gear hanger
Integrated chain guide, with Delrin rollers
Bolt-through 12mm axle
Floating brake assembly
Cane Creek Double Barrel shock
Candy blue over mirror silver powder-coat finish
Mark sent me pictures of the frameís progress, from the original design renderings to pre-weld, then post-weld, then the final powder-coated build, so I had a good idea what was coming. However, nothing could really prepare me for the absolute pleasure of seeing this beauty in-the-flesh for the first time. This thing just oozed quality, you could see that everything about it made sense. The welding was immaculate. The machining was faultless. The powder-coat is a deep, deep candy blue. The pictures really donít do it justice.
This frame fits me perfectly. Plenty of space to pedal and really throw the bike around. Thatís a first for me, Iím normally pretty cramped-up on downhill bike. Pedalling was a real surprise, the back-end is amazingly stiff, you can really feel the power going to the ground, absolutely no feedback to the pedals. Thatís got to be largely due to the idler pulley at the pivot. Thanks to the lower roller being high above the bottom bracket, there is almost no chain growth under suspension compression, so pedalling is very neutral. Iím running 175mm cranks, and Iíve had no major ground-pedal interface problems so far. This definitely isnít a ďdownhill scooterĒ, like certain bikes I could mention!
The suspension is set up to be very, very plush. Thatís an over-used word, but here itís entirely appropriate. The bike runs with around 4" of sag. Running a 450lb spring, I can activate the suspension by pressing on the saddle with one finger. Ripping down the local trails for the first time on this bike was a real eye-opener. Roots and braking bumps just disappeared. Honestly, Iíve never ridden a bike that can do that to a trail. Drops have also taken on a whole new dimension, even 6-7 feet to a not-that-great-a-transition felt like landing in a foam pit. No sign of bottoming out, just a ďyou-have-arrived-at-the-groundĒ feeling. Amazing. The Cane Creek shock is new on the market, but so far, so good. Cornering is great, railing berms is amazing, this bike is low enough to be very stable in hard corners, but is still easy enough to whip around hairpins and switchbacks. Although this is a very strong steel frame, it's not that heavy. I haven't put it on the scales, but estimates of 45-46lbs have been common. This bike carries it's weight low, and that's a good thing.
I've just returned from a four-day trip to Les Gets and Morzine, in the French Alps. I'm happy to say that the bike performed amazingly. All the braking bumps just disappeared, I've never ridden as fast or as much as this bike allows. Stoked!
The whole process of buying this frame has been a pleasure from the outset, and I know Purgatory will continue to provide support to keep me riding in the future. Itís early days yet, but I have every confidence that this bike will allow my riding to progress in leaps and bounds. Now I have my perfect frame, but as Mark says, this is just the beginningÖ..
See ya out on the trails,
PS: My first post with pics, hope it works out...
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