So I hit the road last week for a tour of Colorado and a week of riding, just me and the missus. Telluride, Crested Butte, Keystone, Winter Park, and Sol Vista. After a finicky bleed process, I had the Saint brakes working perfectly, and enough local DH to get the Elka and Totem dialed in. Despite a lot of bike parks on the agenda, I left my 850g single-ply Muddy Marry's mounted up to my DeeMax wheels. It seems almost impossible to flat these tires when setup tubeless and they really accelerate well for a fully knobby. Perfect for the jump trails and only a bit of a handful on the real DH gnar. I'd also been playing with 170 and 175 cranks leading up to this trip and decided to ride the 170's. I've hardly ever clipped a pedal with the 175's, even with the shorter shock (I'm running an 8.5 x 2.5), but the 170's give just that much more. The result was that even with running Twenty6 Prerunner pedals with the break-away aluminum pins, I only lost 1 pin in a full week of riding, not bad.
As for the ride, the AFR delivers in a big way for the all-around bike park rider. I see lots of pictures of AFR's build up as glorified XC rigs and I really can't understand why. It does pedal well, but it was definitely born to shred. On the jump lines, the 7" of travel kept the braking bump chatter to a minimum. It also sucked up big hits to flat for those times when I watched the landing pass by, still a long way up in the air. I love a 5 or 6" bike for a lot of my polished home-town jumps but as we all know, bike parks rarely offer top to bottom groomed perfection and that's where the extra travel and poise of the AFR pays off big time. Jumps, berms and flat turns, steeps sections and pedaly low-angle sections were laid to waste. Day after day of 12-15k of vert went by with hardly a complaint. My notable favorite thing about this frame, after having been riding a lot of mini-link designs lately is the way the simpler pivot design behaves on jumps. It's a bit more predictable and easier to pop off of lips than some of the more complex designs out there. The 17" chainstays also contribute to this greatly, where many of the mini-link designs are over 17" static and then grow considerably to the sag point.
As for reliability, all of my pivots did loosen up a bit about 6 days into riding, but I'd been pushing the bike very hard. A quick parking-lot tune-up had everything snugged back up and stiff as ever. Quite happy considering my track record of breaking things. Happy days...
Thanks again to John at Bike Medics for being a top-notch Nicolai dealer!
As with most bike park trips, we didn't stop for many pics but here's a couple just to keep the thread interesting -
A mellow step-down at Sol Vista
Fun step-up, hip on Boot Camp at Winter Park
Wall ride on Boot Camp at Winter Park
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