This isn't a VRC bike rather it's a new custom bike but the Klein inspiration is strong in it, so we'll give it a go in the VRC category.
After riding my vintage Attitude as my primary daily & race bike since the fall of '95, it was time get something new and went with a custom Ti frame from Carl Strong and custom paint Keith Anderson. Originally I wanted to get a copy of my Attitude as it was so comfortable over the years but Carl kept gently asking questions and over time, that idea was discarded. He said, "It's good you're going to allow me to use modern frame design." He was completely right. Finally decided to go with a 27.5 as after 31 years of riding 26", it was time to try something new and 29" was never even a momentary consideration.
The first obvious Klein inspiration is visually. I told Keith Anderson to take the original Moosepoop and take it to another level. I had ideas, he had ideas (it never occurred to me to paint a chain ring) and we...nah, HE came up with what is below. I designed the lettering but he did the rest. The wide bar/short stem approach doesn't work for our trails so we stuck with a longer, 120mm. stem. The larger tubes are something I liked and a stiff frame never fazed me, so Carl went with larger tubing. The chainstays are a little shorter than most 650B's but it's not at all squirrelly as some bikes with short stays are. So, the old bike still lives on to some extent. Ok, here goes
I discussed stripes with Keith and figured it would be a few here or there. I had no idea, NO IDEA, he'd go that far. When shown pictures of the front end, I wrote him back and simply said, "I'm floored.". Anyone who knows me, knows that two-word response is as close to speechless as I'll ever get.
Full XTR drive train. 3x10, naturally. 1x isn't for me. 2x just means you shift more on the front with a good gearing ratio. Triple gives great range, big gears for open sections in races and a granny for when you really need it. It also means you spend 90% of the time in the middle ring but just in case... King BB between the cranks.
XTR brakes/levers with White Industries centerlock hubs.
This is the only places the welds are bare. The ones below paint on the main tubes can only be seen if you look real close. Carl Strong is a master welder, they're really nice. Someone asked, "Didn't the builder have a fit when you covered up his Ti?" Nope, when it arrived in his shop he wrote, "It's even brighter than in pictures. I love it!" On his web page of finish options, he shows it.
Thomson stem, post, and Ti bar. Carl said if the bar was going to be painted, either go Ti or a downhill bar, both of which will last forever. Ti bar was pricey, but so what. Took me a while to get used to the shifters and I still prefer thumbies from an usage perspective but the shifting on it is sooooo good. Old school Syncro Steerhorns for the win as a nod to retro (as well as 1990 Flite saddle repro). King headset, GOLD ONE. Go ahead Colker, try to get me banned 'cause I know you're digging it ;-)
Stans Crest rims, Wheelsmith revolution (2.0/1.5/2.0) spokes, and Maxxis Ikon tubeless tires. First time for tubeless and think I can get used to them. Rockshox Sid XX fork too.
Really like the curves on the stays. Carl really got them right, really graceful. That's bare Ti on the stripes. Those stripes were something I had thought about long ago but Keith really went to town on them. What he did so well was that they wrap around perfectly, 360 degrees, that's dedication. It's hard to tell is it gray stripes on red or vice-versa. Same for the front, which is the base color? Hard to tell.
The lettering is from a font of my design. I write computer art programs and used that to make the stencils and did some new parts that allowed the letters to dance around on the main tubes. Keith said Carl wouldn't have ever expected the headtube (had to give a nod to the builder) and he liked it.
I didn't ask for this to be done and Keith said the idea came to him at the last minute. Told him, "If you had done this twenty years ago, I'd be irritated." "Why?" he asked. "Because twenty years ago...I could actually wear out a big ring."
Both guys were a pleasure to deal with. Best experience I've had in the custom world by far. Carl's workmanship on the frame is top-notch, totally happy with it. As to Keith's work, he is really, really good. Was in a race a few weeks ago and guy caught up to me that I vaguely recognized as working in a shop, he said, "I heard this bike was something to behold. It's even more impressive in person." I'll definitely be working with both of them in the future. You cannot go wrong with either of them.
Strong Frames: Strong Frames
Keith Anderson: Keith Anderson Cycles (photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/27880623@N05/)
It took some time to get used to different ride and got several bruises on my shoulder from brushing trees until I truly understood the new handling but now, it's better than Moosepoop I. There is a very, very steep hill with an semi-loose surface that has always eluded me but I cleaned it on the first try (and the next four tries too). Very stable and predictable, it's so well balanced, in all ways. You can choose a line and stick with it through the obstacles very nicely. The Sid XX is really nice too, that is so vastly better than the 2007 Sid on the old bike. It took a while to let go of the past after riding the same bike for so long and many tens of thousands of miles but it's no longer my new bike...it's just my bike now.
What it's all about is below. Guy behind me stuck with me the entire 18 miles always right behind me from start to finish. We were gaining on a guy from the previous wave and the wheel to right is that guy and he just fell. Around the corner was another ten riders wheel to wheel with Captain Moosepoop leading the group and knew that ANY mistakes would really be problematical. It was an amazing race.
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