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  1. #1
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    Taking a gamble on a Zen II

    With no word on the state of things at Mountain Cycle and how poorly the 2012's have been received I still went forward with a purchase from Crosslake sales, $799 was a fair deal to me even if they continue to fall in price.

    The other frames I considered before learning of the new Zen are the Foes Shaver and Santa Cruz Nickel. I like staight tubed frames, steepish HTA's, and the Turntable shock link has that cool SB-66 like eccentric which I think looks and packages better than two links like the Shaver and Nickel.

    So I have a question about high/ forward pivots as this is will be my first single pivot and I am no suspension wizard-

    If I run an eccentric bottom bracket (like problem solvers) clocking the crank spindle between the 7 and 8 O-clock position within the BB shell (viewed from D-side) to shorten the CS length and lower the BB height, how will this affect the bikes behavior as it seems this would effectively move the swing arm pivot forward and higher?

    Quirky I know, but I must consider as I will be running a taller fork and I like short chain stays.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    With no word on the state of things at Mountain Cycle and how poorly the 2012's have been received I still went forward with a purchase from Crosslake sales, $799 was a fair deal to me even if they continue to fall in price.

    The other frames I considered before learning of the new Zen are the Foes Shaver and Santa Cruz Nickel. I like staight tubed frames, steepish HTA's, and the Turntable shock link has that cool SB-66 like eccentric which I think looks and packages better than two links like the Shaver and Nickel.

    So I have a question about high/ forward pivots as this is will be my first single pivot and I am no suspension wizard-

    If I run an eccentric bottom bracket (like problem solvers) clocking the crank spindle between the 7 and 8 O-clock position within the BB shell (viewed from D-side) to shorten the CS length and lower the BB height, how will this affect the bikes behavior as it seems this would effectively move the swing arm pivot forward and higher?

    Quirky I know, but I must consider as I will be running a taller fork and I like short chain stays.
    You're never really going to know till you try it with a regular BB and then try it with the EBB. The only thing you are changing is the angle at which the chain drives the rear wheel relative to the pivot. But, even a small change can have a big effect.

    My biggest question is: what are going to do when the first part breaks? Replacement parts are not available.
    '96 San Andreas
    '12 Santa Cruz Nickel LT
    '08 KTM 530
    '12 Toyota FJ TT
    '05 MiniCooper S
    '95 Honda HB Si
    '71 Dino 246 GT

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn View Post
    You're never really going to know till you try it with a regular BB and then try it with the EBB. The only thing you are changing is the angle at which the chain drives the rear wheel relative to the pivot. But, even a small change can have a big effect.
    Of course youíre right, nothing ventured nothing gained. I will be getting an EBB and find out for myself, perhaps my posting a follow up will benefit other members.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn View Post
    My biggest question is: what are going to do when the first part breaks? Replacement parts are not available.
    A valid concern indeed. My thought is if it is a small part like a derailleur hanger or the shock link I can machine a new part. If itís the front or rear triangle Iím out the cash, but if I like the ride it will have been worth the investment to better gauge what works for me. It is a risk, but I believe the risk vs. reward scale balances in my favor.

    I have never broke a frame or had issues that invoked a warranty claim so while company support would be comforting, Iím not to worried. The Zen will have to be a real piece of garbage if it does break prematurely, and it looks like a lot was invested in the latest MC offerings so this scenario seems remote.

    The geo looks like what Iím after and I truly believe single pivot with a link driven shock is a win. I canít for the life of me understand why Santa Cruz is dropping the Butcher and Nickel.

    Iím actually very excited as the Zen incorporates so many elements Iíve been wanting. It could go bad for me, but I got a feeling the Zen II is going to be something really special.

    Worst case is I hate it, it breaks, I learn a lesson and buy another manufacturers frame. It seems a very possible alternative that I end up loving it and get years of service at a smoking deal.

    As an aside, Crosslake Sales was really great to deal with. I called the day after I ordered and Kelly, the head service rep, hunted down a spare derailleur hanger and threw it in with the frame before it shipped free of charge.

  4. #4
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    I got my Zen II last week. Looks good, better than I was expecting as the prototype Zen I had seen regularly over the last 2 years was an XL. Definitely looks a lot better in the smaller size.

    The warranty issue is a valid concern and something each individual person will have to weigh up before pulling the trigger. My experience with some other brands is that a warranty isn't worth much on some occasions anyway. That all aside, the bikes look strong and as with Jon, if a hanger breaks, I'll have one machined up.

    The suspension is engineered by the guys who did the Yeti switch system, so it should prove to be a nice design. As with you, I like the geometry numbers and think it all stacks up will with offerings from other companies.

    If the frame goes and has issues, I'll weigh it up at the time and probably have it repaired, but I hope I never have to worry about that. I've ridden Proflex's for 20 years and they are a pain to get bits for and machining/improvising becomes one of the best options. If the San An and Zen are bikes that leave a mark on me, getting bits machined is somewhere I would be prepared to go.

    What fork are you looking to run on the bike Jon? i am running a Revelation RTL Ti at 150mm. Rakes the front out a bit to about 68 degrees, but the BB height is still fine.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Taking a gamble on a Zen II-zen.jpg  


  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    Of course youíre right, nothing ventured nothing gained. I will be getting an EBB and find out for myself, perhaps my posting a follow up will benefit other members.



    A valid concern indeed. My thought is if it is a small part like a derailleur hanger or the shock link I can machine a new part. If itís the front or rear triangle Iím out the cash, but if I like the ride it will have been worth the investment to better gauge what works for me. It is a risk, but I believe the risk vs. reward scale balances in my favor.

    I have never broke a frame or had issues that invoked a warranty claim so while company support would be comforting, Iím not to worried. The Zen will have to be a real piece of garbage if it does break prematurely, and it looks like a lot was invested in the latest MC offerings so this scenario seems remote.

    The geo looks like what Iím after and I truly believe single pivot with a link driven shock is a win. I canít for the life of me understand why Santa Cruz is dropping the Butcher and Nickel.

    Iím actually very excited as the Zen incorporates so many elements Iíve been wanting. It could go bad for me, but I got a feeling the Zen II is going to be something really special.

    Worst case is I hate it, it breaks, I learn a lesson and buy another manufacturers frame. It seems a very possible alternative that I end up loving it and get years of service at a smoking deal.

    As an aside, Crosslake Sales was really great to deal with. I called the day after I ordered and Kelly, the head service rep, hunted down a spare derailleur hanger and threw it in with the frame before it shipped free of charge.
    Yeah, a broken hanger is ok, there's a company that sells every hanger ever made. But, when one of the pivots wears out, it's going to be hard to find a new one.

    I also like the single pivot and small link or links to controll wheel movement. It's stiff, centralized, simple and as effective as it needs to be. Apparently, the Nickel/Butcher wasn't selling well enough. I think, because they marketed it as a cheaper alternating. They should have marketed it as an evolution and improved version of the single pivot.

    I have emailed Crosslakes three times asking how they would handle warranty issues. I never got an answer.

    I really wish the new Zen was a match for me. But, no warranty, 1.5" HT top and bottom, non-standard rear axel. I could live with the BB, I just can't live with the rest.

    Let us know how yours turns out and post some pics!
    '96 San Andreas
    '12 Santa Cruz Nickel LT
    '08 KTM 530
    '12 Toyota FJ TT
    '05 MiniCooper S
    '95 Honda HB Si
    '71 Dino 246 GT

  6. #6
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    After an old DH bike of mine had a bolt up rear axel, I have been sold on them since. The 142mm hub width is becoming more and more common now, so the rear end is a non issue for me. As a bonus though my hubs could be converted from 135mm QR to the 142mm 12mm axel so a new wheel set wasn't needed.

    Why is the tapered head tube an issue for you, I thought that would have been the smallest issue of the three. 44mm upper cup and a 49mm lower, not really an issue to get a headset and run whatever fork you want.

    I have to say, the Turn cranks are really growing on me. If they could take a new spider with a 104/64 BCD I would rate them as almost perfect. The BB os super smooth, just chainring sizes are limited with the 120/80 BCD. A 38/26 combo is the smallest I can find. Not a bad ratio for the Zen, but it could make sustained climbs on the San An interesting.

    On the pivot wear issue, I suspect by the time the pivot wears I will have moved on, or at the very least the bike will owe me nothing by that point. I'd be surprised if it wore out after a few seasons use.

  7. #7
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    The HT, for the Zen, is way overkill. It should have been a tapered HT. and, it looks awfull, it looks like a beer can on the frame.
    '96 San Andreas
    '12 Santa Cruz Nickel LT
    '08 KTM 530
    '12 Toyota FJ TT
    '05 MiniCooper S
    '95 Honda HB Si
    '71 Dino 246 GT

  8. #8
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    Man, that is nice looking to my eyes. I was hoping you would weigh in sammydog.

    Quote Originally Posted by sammydog View Post
    The suspension is engineered by the guys who did the Yeti switch system, so it should prove to be a nice design. As with you, I like the geometry numbers and think it all stacks up will with offerings from other companies.
    I thought the SB-66 switch eccentric pivot was really clever, But was convinced single pivot was for me. A linkage driven shock seemed an obvious step in the right direction, and they both are packaged together in the Zen II. The geo #ís do stack with that of other companies offerings, save for the HTA. I demoíed a Foes Shaver having a HTA of 67* and found it a bit to slack for my liking.

    Quote Originally Posted by sammydog View Post
    What fork are you looking to run on the bike Jon? I am running a Revelation RTL Ti at 150mm. Rakes the front out a bit to about 68 degrees, but the BB height is still fine.
    Some won't like this at all, but I aim to run a 150mm Maverick DUC 32. The A2C is around 515mm so it will relax the HTA a bit. My Titus El Guapo sits at about 68.5* HTA and I like it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn View Post
    The HT, for the Zen, is way overkill. It should have been a tapered HT. and, it looks awfull, it looks like a beer can on the frame.
    I was under the impression the head tube is indeed tapered 1 1/8Ē top 1 ĹĒ bottom. I will certainly post pics and impressions when it arrives. If you have the time try calling Crosslake and ask for Kelly, You will get a definite answer concerning warranty issues from her. I suspect at the rock bottom price these are being offered it will be factory warrant only, in other words NONE.

  9. #9
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    You're right it is tapered, sorry.
    '96 San Andreas
    '12 Santa Cruz Nickel LT
    '08 KTM 530
    '12 Toyota FJ TT
    '05 MiniCooper S
    '95 Honda HB Si
    '71 Dino 246 GT

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    I was under the impression the head tube is indeed tapered 1 1/8Ē top 1 ĹĒ bottom. I will certainly post pics and impressions when it arrives. If you have the time try calling Crosslake and ask for Kelly, You will get a definite answer concerning warranty issues from her. I suspect at the rock bottom price these are being offered it will be factory warrant only, in other words NONE.
    It is tapered. 44mm inner diameter at the top and 49mm diameter at the bottom. I am putting in one of the FSA adjustable headsets in mine. My fork has a 1 1/8th steerer but that is no problem either.

    The head tube on the San An is 1.5" top and bottom.

    Pretty sure it was Kelly I had an email conversation with when I bought the San An off them. Got back to me very quickly each time as I was having issues with ebay sending to Australia despite the add saying it would. I can't fault their customer service based on my experiences.

    Might have to contact them again and see if they can sell me a spare hanger though. Didn't even cross my mind at the time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sammydog View Post
    After an old DH bike of mine had a bolt up rear axel, I have been sold on them since. The 142mm hub width is becoming more and more common now, so the rear end is a non issue for me. As a bonus though my hubs could be converted from 135mm QR to the 142mm 12mm axel so a new wheel set wasn't needed.
    Iíve always been vexed by 9mm QRís, seems odd it has taken this long to focus on this particular area of MTBís. I understand how some are happy with 9x135 and feel they are being squeezed into a direction they donít want to go. Iím running a single speed Hadley hub so converting does not present a problem for me. The 12x142 axle system itself seems very stout and straight forward.

    Quote Originally Posted by sammydog View Post
    I have to say, the Turn cranks are really growing on me. If they could take a new spider with a 104/64 BCD I would rate them as almost perfect. The BB os super smooth, just chainring sizes are limited with the 120/80 BCD. A 38/26 combo is the smallest I can find. Not a bad ratio for the Zen, but it could make sustained climbs on the San An interesting.
    I have a BMX background so press fit bearing cups are really a throw back in my perspective. I like the Shimano threaded external BBís, but Iím glad for the Zen II having a PF30 so I can experiment with an EBB.

    I bought a set of Rotor cranks with a 74/110 five arm compact double spider. I was never happy that everything had gone to a four arm spider. The 35mm spindle on the Turn cranks are intriguing, but I think they nerfed it up putting the 80/120 spider on them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn View Post
    The HT, for the ZenÖ, it looks like a beer can on the frame.
    You say that like itís a bad thing.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    You say that like itís a bad thing.
    I prefer my beer in a bottle!
    '96 San Andreas
    '12 Santa Cruz Nickel LT
    '08 KTM 530
    '12 Toyota FJ TT
    '05 MiniCooper S
    '95 Honda HB Si
    '71 Dino 246 GT

  13. #13
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    Just an FYI on the Hanger and Rear Axel: They are Syntace (thats the brand name) X12 so parts are available from just about any dealer. Happy Riding

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    Quote Originally Posted by JRA009 View Post
    Just an FYI on the Hanger and Rear Axel: They are Syntace (thats the brand name) X12 so parts are available from just about any dealer. Happy Riding
    Awesome, I knew the axel was Syntace (it's written all over it) but its really nice to know about the hanger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn View Post
    The HT, for the Zen,Ö it looks like a beer can on the frame.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    You say that like itís a bad thing.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mountain Cycle Shawn View Post
    I prefer my beer in a bottle!
    Be it a mountain bike with a head tube shaped like a beer can called the Zen or a Buddhist temple made from a million empty beer bottles, I think we can agree that whatever oneís preferred barely based beverage container, when implemented in structural architecture it is the true path to spiritual enlightenment.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Taking a gamble on a Zen II-buddabeer.jpg  


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    The 35mm spindle on the Turn cranks are intriguing, but I think they nerfed it up putting the 80/120 spider on them.
    I like the 35mm spindle,, particularly like that the system easily can take other standards as well.

    On the spider issue, that is the only thing that really hurts these cranks, The 80/120 spider seriously limits the ring choice. I wanted to put 36/24 rings on the San An, but the smallest you can go with the spider (that I can find rings for) is 38/26.

    If turn ever bring out a smaller spider then the cranks will be spot on. The praxis BB is super smooth, absolutely love it and would happily get one of their BB's again. the chain rings look nice as well, but I have swapped them out for smaller truvativ rings.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    Be it a mountain bike with a head tube shaped like a beer can called the Zen or a Buddhist temple made from a million empty beer bottles, I think we can agree that whatever oneís preferred barely based beverage container, when implemented in structural architecture it is the true path to spiritual enlightenment.
    So the lack of a bottle opener in the rear drop outs is a design flaw?

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    Quote Originally Posted by sammydog View Post
    So the lack of a bottle opener in the rear drop outs is a design flaw?
    I thought the reason for using the Turn 35mm cranks was because a bottle cap fits snugly in the spindle hollow, thus allowing for efficient cap removal.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jon Richard View Post
    I thought the reason for using the Turn 35mm cranks was because a bottle cap fits snugly in the spindle hollow, thus allowing for efficient cap removal.
    I think you may be onto something, Might have to do some tinkering with the cranks tonight while watching the tour.

    Surely something could be retrofitted in there.

    Worst case you could store one in the spindle and work out a plug for the end.

  20. #20
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    I'm sure you could Mickey Mouse something up that would work-
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Medium Zen II on scale

    I thought this might be of interest as Mountain Cycle doesn't advertise weights.

    I'm not sure if those companies that do, do so with shock, but I didn't want to remove the shock just for a pic. X Fusion lists the 165/38 02 RCX at 228g. I believe the Zen II is equiped with the 200/57. The Syntace thru axle weighs 39g.

    Med. Zen II Frame, X Fusion 02 RCX shock, and 12x142 Syntace axle weigh in at 8lbs. 3oz. or 3700g-

    Frame only probably closer to 7lbs. 8oz. or 3420g. This is pretty much what I expected when I un boxed it, seems very stout. It will probably weigh around 29lbs. (13kg.) once assembled.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Taking a gamble on a Zen II-zeniiscale.jpg  

    Attached Images Attached Images    

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    Looks nice. I'm hoping for around the 13kg mark when I get some new wheels.

    Still need to build mine, got all the bits to go on, just been lazy.

    Parts sitting around though;
    Revelation RLTi forks.
    FSA Obit Adjustable Headset
    XTR Brakes
    XT 10 speed front and rear mech/shifters/chain/cassette
    FSA carbon bar (needs to be replaced with something wider and flatter).

    Sharing the wheels with the San An for now until I decide what it is I really want.

  23. #23
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    The Syntace Vectoer carbon bars may be right for you-
    Universal Cycles -- Syntace Vector Carbon Riser Bar

    I'm not sure where to find the wider 29.1" (740mm) set at the moment, but these may be worth your consideration.

    The Zen is a tad heavy, but looking it over I see nothing I would have compromised for the sake of weight savings. I intend to catch some air while I still have the moxie to do so. I had contemplated building a Battery into a trail bike, but the Zen II is lighter with better fit and has the Turntable link- Joy

    I love the new Shimano stoppers, but I will be running my old Magura Marta SL brakes. Mine are the white w/ red accent and carbon levers, but I special ordered replacement yellow reservoir caps off the Raceline series so I think these will look really well with the paint scheme on the frame.

  24. #24
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    Id rather save a little weight in the wheels than the frame anyway. And by the time I fill my camelbak with food and water, a little change to frame weight is negligible anyway. Its not like I am racing the thing.

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    I totally agree on frame weight vs. wheel weight.

    I think American Classics are an excellent wheel choice, but ultimately I chose Stans Arch EX as I need very specific hubs to accomodate the 6 speed rear and the 24mm axle on the DUC 32 forks. Apparently American Classic rims are only sold as completes.

    These may also be worthy of your consideration, they would have been my choice if not for the afore mentioned.

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