So, as I turned 50 a few weeks back I figured it was time I supplemented my modded Giant XTC,rim-braked, 80mm travel forked, hardtail! It's light (c9.5kg / 21 lbs) but it's now time to give the old body abit of comfort and get some up to date technology – 29inch wheels, rear suspension, disc brakes, dropper post etc.
I mostly ride UK natural trails and Trail centres in Yorkshire and the Lake District – just for fun and fitness. Big air is not my thing and my racing days (road and off-road) are long gone. And with two boys under 5, two other teenagers from a previous life and a demanding job (oh, and the wife!), time for hobbies is limited.
So whilst my heart said splash £5-6k on a top of the range piece of kit, my head said halve that and you'll still have more bike than you will ever need! And one whose limits will greatly exceed mine!
I knew I would be adding a few kilos in bike weight compared to the Giant but I didn’t want to go too heavy.
So, I settled on a target budget of c£2.5k and a target weight of 12kg (c26.50lbs) for a short(ish) travel 29er full suspension bike, including adding a dropper post. Since, with the incentive of a new bike looming, I have managed to shed about 10kg and get down to c72kg myself, I figured that would more than offset the additional bike weight!
I demo'ed a few bikes, and sat on a lot more, and quickly confirmed that I wanted 29 inch wheels and full suspension. For my needs / use, the advantages more than outweighed any disadvantages.
Then I started looking at last year's models, with heavy discounts, as a way of getting more'bang for my buck'. And that's how I came across one of the last 2012 RM Element 950s in the UK – handily priced at£1,600 down from £2,500.
Did the usual research and liked what I found – especially the adjustable forks and a very well balanced spec overall. And the brand image just seemed 'right' for me too – small, independent, friendly and pretty rare in the UK. Just didn’t fancy going the usual Trek/Scott/Giant/Spesh et al route. I did look at Canyon, which are very nice bikes, but the discounted price for the Rocky – and interest free credit –swung it for me. And at that price it offered me the chance to swap out a few key bits over the next few weeks and get the weight down to my target and stick within my budget.
So I snapped one up a couple of weeks ago and here it is………
In standard spec with no pedals, my 18.5 inch model weighed in at 12.63kg (27.86lbs), a little over the claimed weight of 12.5kg (27.7lbs).
With pedals,bottle cage, velcro chainstay protection and a 100mm reverb added, it tipped the scales at a little over 13kg. So, I used the rest of my budget to source me some lighter wheels (Hope Pro2/StansCrest), tyres (Rocket Ron 2.25/2.1), saddle (SLR Kit Carbonio), bars (EastonEC90 XC), stem (Ritchey WCS260), seat clamp (Hope) and odd bolts here and there,and go tubeless (Stans yellow tape / sealant).
Result is 12.06kg (26.60lbs) – missed my target of 12kg by 60g! Ah well, some lighter transmission consumables (chain, cassette etc)will sort that out further down the track as and when they need replacing. I did spend a couple of hundred quid over the budget but, hey, in the scheme of things………
Anyway, I'm really pleased with how it looks – especially the coordinating red bits! Just need to ride it now! Ironically (and annoyingly) since I bought it the UK has been unseasonably cold and snowy and I've been so busy with work and a family holiday that I've had not managed a ride yet.
A work trip to the Lakes next week will allow me some time on the trails at Whinlatter to put that right! Though I'm not sure I can bring myself to get it dirty!
I'll keep you posted on any more upgrades and let you have some ride impressions in a few weeks.
Oh, and this forum has been an invaluable source of info – so many thanks from across the pond!
Take it easy…
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Thread: My new Element 950
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