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  1. #1
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    ... and if we just ... My Windsor Cliff 29er Pro

    I received my Windsor Cliff 29er Pro today and built it up. Let me give you a little info on myself. I worked in bicycle shops from 1995-2003 mostly as a mechanic and warranty guy. So I know my way around bikes. But I also got very used to not paying retail for bikes and parts so when I finally decided to get a 29er...I looked at Motobecane, Windsor, and Ibex because of the enormous value they have. I wasn't worried about service since I can do 99% of the repairs (I could do 100% if I had all the tools!).

    So I built the bike up today and here are some observations, issues, and praise.

    The Windsor is a relabeled Fuji, but did not provide a seat tube length in its geometry. Since I am of the long torso, long arms, shorter legs proportion...I go by top tube length anyway. So I ordered a large based on that. For future reference, a large has a 21" C to T seat tube and 17.5" C to C seat tube.

    Let me start by saying these bikes are in Dealer Ready condition. If you don't know your way around bikes...pay a dealer to do it. These are not ready for the novice mechanic, too much needs to be redone on the assembly. For instance, here is what needed to be done on mine:
    -The bottom bracket was installed nearly dry and not torqued correctly...I used anti-seize on the cup threads and torqued it to the proper tightness
    -I also lubed up the spines, used blue loctite on the crank bolts, and torqued them to the correct tightness
    -The hubs are cup and cone and required adjustment. A 15mm cone wrench works for both the front and rear hub.
    -The rear wheel was out of dish and required re-dishing and truing
    -One of the water bottle mount bolts (which are all aluminum) was cross threaded from the factory and broke when being removed. This required me to drill out the bolt (soft aluminum, very easy) and chase the threads with a steel bolt.
    -The rear disc mount was not aligned properly which made it impossible to center the rear brake caliper. I would have liked to have used a Magura facing tool, but had to settle for a file to remove some material.
    -The chain was not installed correctly and had to be removed and reinstalled. Since it was a Shimano HG-73 (curious sunce the rest of the bike is all SRAM) it required a chain breaker and a either a new pin or a removable link. I had an extra SRAM Powerlink laying around which works fine on Shimano chains.


    Here are some other observations:
    -The welds on the frame are descent and are typical of a Chinese made frame. They are about the same as what I used to see on Taiwan made frames 10 years ago.
    -This bike came with Kenda Nevegal DTC 29 x 2.20" tires, although they are wire beads (but still 60 tpi) which probably makes them about 50 grams heavier per tire.
    -The front end of the bike is TALL...it may require me to flip my stem or go to flat bars to keep the bars level or below the saddle.
    -An extra dérailleur hanger was included...nice touch , all companies should do this.
    -The stock handlebars, stem, and seatpost are no-name but appear to be decent quality. I already had my own preferred handlebars and stem (the stock stem was too long anyway...120mm) but I would be OK using the stock stuff. The seatpost is a bit heavy and I don't like one bolt seatposts because the limited saddle adjustment. However, it appears to be plenty stout.
    -The hubs are Quando...not quite Deore M525 level quality, but at least as good as the M475 that many bike companies use.
    -Total weight including pedals (with the parts I swapped out) is 30lbs 1oz

    I swapped out the following parts based on personal preference and parts I had:
    -Pedals to Crank Bros Candy C
    -Handlebars to Titec Pluto Carbon Risers
    -Stem to Titec RIP 3D Gold 100mm
    -Big chainring to Truvativ alloy 44t
    -Grips to WTB Weirwolf
    -Soon will have new two bolt seatpost
    -Saddle to Velo Gel Ti saddle

    Overall the bike looks very nice and I am happy with it. I chose the Windsor based on price, specs, and I liked the look of the frame better than the Motobecane. I'll see how the crankset goes, I know the powerspline stuff has been a problem but I'm hoping that my diligence on the assembly will prevent those issues.

    Included is a picture, I will provide a detailed ride report after I get a few rides in on it.
    Last edited by mtnbiker72; 07-30-2008 at 03:46 PM.

  2. #2
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    First Review

    OK...I got a couple rides on it now. First off I wanted to add a couple of new things about the bike:
    1) The fork is advertised as 80mm on BikesDirect, however, mine came set in the 100mm (checked my removing air and compressing).
    2) Replaced seatpost with lighter 2 bolt model, bike lost 3 ounces and now dips below 30 lbs (29 lbs 14 oz)

    Now my last hardtail was in 2005 and was a KHS Steel frame with tubeless wheels and tires. But i have been riding full suspension consistently since 2001. Starting about 2003, my hardtails saw very little action and I had gradually graduated up to longer travel, heavier duty full suspension. My last two have been a 6" travel Kona and then I "stepped down" to a 5" travel Jamis. Both were well over 30 lbs (Kona 37lbs, Jamis 33lbs).

    Here are some observations from the rides:
    Positives
    -Phenomenal traction, never once did I skid, slip, or washout
    -Once up to speed, wheels stay at speed
    -The bike feels faster at speed
    -Never noticed "sluggish" acceleration
    -Big wheels rolled over roots, logs, etc with relative ease
    -Bike felt light despite the near 30 lbs it weighs
    -Feeling of "Tall" went away once on the trail

    Negatives/Will need to get used to
    -The bike feels TALL but the sensation goes away once riding
    -No sensation of "extra inch of travel" that many 29er fans say you gain over a 26er...at least not in the rear
    -Stiff Aluminum frame with large 31.6mm seatpost, you feel the sharp impacts
    -Harder to get the front wheel off the ground
    -Standover is tight, but I have shorter legs/long torso so I've had this problem on my full suspension bikes as well.

    I will also mention that this is my third SRAM X-7 Shifters/Derailleur setup and there have been some nice improvements from the 2004 and 2005 models. The thumb shifter throw is shorter and smoother (and alloy now) and takes less effort on the 2008 models. Very nice

    I would definitely recommend this bike to anyone looking for a quality, affordable 29er. I am enjoying "relearning" my trails with this bike.

    Last edited by mtnbiker72; 08-10-2008 at 10:07 PM.

  3. #3
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    Very nice write up,I'm sure this will be very helpful to any new or soon to be owners of a bike from Direct Bikes.If I get another HT it will be from them or Ibex,I have spent a ton of money on my FS so I'll have to save money on an HT or the wife will have a fit.

    Thanks again for the helpful post and I'm glad you're happy with the new ride,it looks great.

    Chris

  4. #4
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    Yes, thanks. As a new rider soon to take delivery of a MB 29Pro, this thread has good info on what to check and expect.

    P

  5. #5
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    Great write-up, I appreciate you doing this. I would like to see further long term reports if you get the chance.

  6. #6
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    Feeling Tall?

    So with a 29er you said you feel fine once on the trail. Do you feel a little bit, not in control on a 29er?
    My last bike was a GS Cake 3 DLX full suspension but want to go back to a hardtail that does not bounce all over once on bumpy dirt roads.
    Any other 29ers that are worthy?
    Thanks
    Retrobeast

  7. #7
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    Good job! Totally in control

    Quote Originally Posted by retrobeast
    So with a 29er you said you feel fine once on the trail. Do you feel a little bit, not in control on a 29er?
    My last bike was a GS Cake 3 DLX full suspension but want to go back to a hardtail that does not bounce all over once on bumpy dirt roads.
    Any other 29ers that are worthy?
    Thanks
    Retrobeast
    The 29er actually feels very controlled. The traction is nothing short of phenomenal! The trails I ride are a silty clay loam surface with a pretty good tree cover. They stay in good condition all year around, but they can be quite slick as many of the corners are flat or off-camber. It was quite common with my 26er full suspension to have small front wheel washouts, and some rear wheel lock up (and I use the front brake WAY more than the rear, so its not from bad braking technique). I tried many different tires, some worked better than others.

    Anyway, the 29er has no slide, no skid, no washouts. The tires just plain hook up better than any other bike (and this is my 12th bike since 1993) I've ever owned.

    The tall feeling I think is just the big wheels because the bottom bracket is actually lower than the last few full suspension 26er's I've owned. So I think its more mental than physical. As I mentioned, once on the trail I totally forgot the tall feeling so that just reinforces the mental theory. I can tell you, it rides better than any hardtail I've ever owned. But here is something I wasn't expecting...it actually rides over logs BETTER than any of my full suspension 26ers. It just goes right over them, no wheel hang up at all.

    As far as other 29ers, I have only demo'd a Fisher a few years ago (which pretty much rode the same, but it was not a G2 geometry model). I looked at the Motobecane, Windsor, and Ibex as I was not concerned about buying online. I ended up with the Windsor mainly because I prefer SRAM over Shimano shifters and dérailleurs. The Ibex also had SRAM, but came with mechanical disc on an otherwise similar spec'd bike for over $160 more ($899 plus $35 for shipping...its now on sale for $799). The Windsor is the exact same bike as the Fuji Tahoe 29er Pro that sells for $1400 (the parts box that came with the bike was even labeled Fuji). If you prefer Shimano (or don't care), the Motobecane Fantom 29er looks like a good deal as well.


  8. #8
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    Thanks for the reply

    I was actually looking at those 29ers you mentioned, Ibex, Motobecane, and Windsor.
    Would be nice to actually get to try each out. I ordered a KHS sight unseen a few years back and it took many rides to get used to it.
    I have not seen any reviews on 2009 Motobecane and Windsor that are on bikesdirect.com but your research has a least given me insight to the Windsor.
    I will also keep the replies going as I get the 29er I want.
    Retrobeast - San Diego

  9. #9
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    3 Month Review

    OK, I've now owned my Windsor Cliff 29er Pro for three months and here are some observations:

    I have been working on my positioning on this bike. The front end of this bike is very high due to the following:
    -140mm headtube...this should probably be shorter to help the high front end
    -Frame is designed for an 80mm fork, but came with the Tora in the 100mm setting

    So when I first built up the bike, I put my 10* rise stem and 50mm carbon risers on. But this put my bars 2" higher than my saddle. A few rides in this position and I knew I wanted something more aggressive. After playing around with some different combinations, I ended up putting a set of Bontrager Race Lite Big Sweep flat bars with a +/- 6* stem in the negative position. The Bontrager bars are nice an wide at 640mm and have a 12* sweep which had me putting a 10mm longer stem than the 9* riser bars.

    I considered setting the fork down to 80mm but for now I'm going to leave it at 100mm as I'm happy with the handling and my position on the bike now.

    I have also cut down the brake housing as there was an excessive amount. It didn't really affect the performance, but aesthetically it looked amateurish.

    So far everything else has worked fantastic. The crankset, which was a big concern of mine, has been flawless. So my prep work (actually following the SRAM technical bulletin on these) has paid off. My guess is that the poor reviews of these were because they were not properly installed in the first place either by the owner or by the LBS.

    Here is a picture of the bike in its current spec...29lbs 10oz


    This upcoming weekend I will be riding in a cyclocross race, so I put on a set of 700x32C cross tires. Here is an amazing stat...the bike lost 3lbs from the tire and tube switchout!!!!


    I'll give a report on the race after next Sunday

  10. #10
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    Very sweet write up. Is that the RockShox TORA RS318 it came set up with? Just curious since the Fantom29Pro I ordered comes with it as well. Amazing you lost 3lbs from the tire and tube switchout. Good to know.

  11. #11
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    Yes

    Quote Originally Posted by jagsr71
    Very sweet write up. Is that the RockShox TORA RS318 it came set up with. Just curious since the Fantom29Pro I ordered comes with it as well. Amazing you lost 3lbs from the tire and tube switchout. Good to know.
    Its a Rock Shox Tora 318 Solo Air

    It has been a fantastic fork. My last 26er full suspension had a Fox Vanilla R fork and this fork feels just as plush with an air spring as the Fox did with a coil spring. Its simply a great fork and VERY stiff for a standard 9mm axle fork...weight seems to be its only "issue" if that is a concern (about 1lbs more than a Reba).


  12. #12
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    Yes, great writeup.
    Should I take a printout and give it to my LBS when I ask them for assembly ?

    And how much should I expect to pay for the services you outlined ? I assume they are not included in the standard box build.

  13. #13
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    Nice! I can't wait for my bike to get here!

  14. #14
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    Most should be

    Quote Originally Posted by wearetheborg
    Yes, great writeup.
    Should I take a printout and give it to my LBS when I ask them for assembly ?

    And how much should I expect to pay for the services you outlined ? I assume they are not included in the standard box build.
    Being an ex bicycle mechanic, I did a very thorough build. I don't have facing tools so I didn't face anything. But I was very detailed in my build. A standard build should include everything I did, including removing the BB and cranks to grease (or anti-seize) the threads and also doing all adjustments to the hubs and true and dish the wheels. If your disc brake tabs are a bit off like mine were or a bottle cage bolt is cross threaded and needs to be drilled out and chased...they probably will charge more. But feel free to use my list and ask what is and what isn't included.


  15. #15
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    If I may ask, what brand 700x32C cross tires are those? I definitely would like some different tires if I do a bit of commuting. Not trying to be nosy... I just think you've done a remarkable job w/ your bike.

  16. #16
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    Ritchey SpeedMax Comp

    Quote Originally Posted by jagsr71
    If I may ask, what brand 700x32C cross tires are those? I definitely would like some different tires if I do a bit of commuting. Not trying to be nosy... I just think you've done a remarkable job w/ your bike.



  17. #17
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    Sweet. What's your opinion of the Canecreek Thudbuster LT saddle? It was one of the saddle upgrades I was contemplating. Worthwhile?
    BTW- A guy at the LBS told me that he used 26" tubes in his 29er and lost nearly 1LB in weight. It sounded like total BS. Any possible truth to that?
    Last edited by jagsr71; 10-12-2008 at 09:58 PM.

  18. #18
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    Never used one but...

    Quote Originally Posted by jagsr71
    Sweet. What's your opinion of the Canecreek Thudbuster LT saddle? It was one of the saddle upgrades I was contemplating. Worthwhile?
    I have never used a Thudbuster myself. But 10 years ago I was using an Answer (Manitou) suspension seatpost on a hardtail. It was nice for long climbs and general fire road comfort. However, I ended up taking it off because I didn't like the fact that due to sag, I had to run my saddle higher than normal. This made getting my weight behind the saddle on steep descents very difficult.

    I installed quite a few Thudbusters when I was a mechanic and people seem to like them. But I'd rather just go with a nice carbon or ti seatpost to give a little compliance.

    PS-You can lose a lot of weight with ultralight tubes...and spend a lot of time fixing flats. I personally like regular tubes, a little heavier but I get about one flat a year mountain biking (I get 3 or 4 on my road bike...always from glass). Every time I've used ultralight tubes I "suddenly" have pinch flat issues. But yes, you can stretch 26er tubes onto 29er rims and lose some weight.
    Last edited by mtnbiker72; 10-12-2008 at 10:10 PM.

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    Sure makes sense you'd be running a lot more flats (since your stretching it so much) which is just overall NOT worth it! As for the saddle... It looks like the Thudbusters seat flexes backward under load. I think the overall comfort might be there but it seems like you'd have to get used to the way the seat throws you back a ways. I'll have to research this a bit more.
    Again... You've done a great job w/ your bike. Thank you for all the insight you've provided us w/ your bike. Definitely a lot I can personally apply to my bike when it comes in.
    Last edited by jagsr71; 10-13-2008 at 03:16 PM.

  20. #20
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    I ended up getting some road tires for my new Moto Fantom29 Pro. I liked your cyclocross 700x32C tires Mtnbiker72. The only thing is that I wanted some tires to commute to work and get some road workouts as well. I ended up getting some Vittoria 700x28c Randonneur tires. Damn... These tires make this bike go like a Ferrari!!! I can't believe the difference. I love the Motoraptors it came with too so it'll be an easy swap when I want to hit the trails as well. Pretty awesome looking on the bike too.

  21. #21
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    I just ran the cyclocross race this weekend and the tires worked great. It did lower the bottom bracket about an inch with the smaller tires and I did clip a pedal once going around a corner (while pedaling). So keep that in mind when you got your 700x28C's on the road.

    Otherwise it does increase the speed a great deal

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    LOL. That is classic advice! I did that already. It aggravated the hell out of me at the time but... Lesson learned.

  23. #23
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    I picked up a set of IRC Mythos II cheap and put them on looking for a faster rolling tire that is a bit lighter. They are listed at 2.1" wide but much like their 26" counterparts...are actually a 2.0" wide tire. Anyway, I always liked their performance in a 26" format so I'm hoping they will perform good in a 29" format as well. They also weigh 8oz less each than the Kenda Navegals they are replacing. So my bike is now 28lbs 2oz total.

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