29 January 2008 - 0:30The Spider Crawls Along…
So the next big decision to make was what fork to put on the bike. With everything out there, I had a hard time figuring out which way I wanted to go. In my mind, the Spider is a racy kind of bike, and needed some racy features. There are 3 forks that come to mind.
1. The ubiquitous Reba Race. The new updated Push-loc feature is really nice, and gives you that ability to lock the fork out for a hard slog out of the saddle without having to reach down.
2. The new kid on the block, the Fox F-29. It has a lockout, but it is a manual lock out, meaning you have to take your right hand off the handlebar to activate/deactivate it. But it does have some nifty features that make this totally OK.
3. The White Magic 110. White continues to improve the damper, and deliver it in a beautiful, clean package. The Magic uses a magnetic valve that negates the need for any type of lockout by determining where the force is coming from. Bumps from above (i.e.you) are ignored, while bumps from the ground are devoured. I own one of these forks, and love it.
These are 3 very legit choices for anyone who wants a trail bike they can also race. That is the prime directive of this build. It has to be able to handle it all.
Now, here is where it gets fun. Intense designed the Spider with a 73° head angle. For those that don’t know, that is steep. Like a road bike steep. Steep = fast handling. There have been a lot of nay sayers about this number, in that fast handling = twitchy, but everyone that has ridden one of these bikes on trail agrees, it flys through the trees with the greatest of ease. I’m really sorry if you don’t get to ride your bike through trees. It is fast handling though, but not twitchy.
You’ll recall my experience on the 5.5 Proto, similar angles, similar kind of ride.
The really important number is the offset of the forks.
Offset is the perpendicular distance the axle sits in front of the center of steering axis (headtube line), while trail is the horizontal distance on the ground of the center of the tire’s contact patch to where the center line of the steering axis hits the ground. Trail effectively is measured backwards because the axle’s position over the ground “trails” the center line of the steering axis. Offset is the distance forward of the steering axis but on a different plane. As offset increases, trail decreases and handling becomes more responsive.
The Spider was designed with the Reba in mind, as Rock Shox was the only real 4″ fork on the market for the longest time. The Reba has a 38mm offset. The new generation of forks (White, Fox and Manitou) live around 44mm. Quicker steering forks.
I’m not going to get into a diatribe about which is better, that’s not what this post is about.
Let’s think about the fork for a bit, while we move on…
Every once in a while, you find something that works. When that happens, I run with it. A prime example is the Royale wheelset. I put a LOT of these wheels under a lot of people, and not one person has been disappointed. While they aren’t the ultra-lightest (around 1800g a set) they are durable, customizable, and made from the best stuff around. It’s the very same wheelset I use, and if a 230lb guy like myself can’t beat ‘em up (and I try!), well…
So, yeah, Royales with the Arch rims.
Another component of this build, is that I would be “re-introducing” some components back into the wild where they belong. I have a pile of tires that would make you sick. But hey, if you were to call and ask me what I thought about any tire that’s out there, I’d be able to answer you. Truthfully too.
My favorite all-rounder is the Bontrager Jones ACX TLR. I had a set laying about, so that’s what I mounted. And I’ll add that they aired up first time, and have not lost even 1 psi since Saturday.
How about that?
OK back to the fork.
I went with the Fox F-29, for 2 reasons (not really in order)
1. Cosmetic. It looks cool. I don’t care who you are, if you were spending your hard earned dough on a bike, you’d want it to look cool.
2. Performance. I know from experience that the Fox is a stiffer platform than the Reba. The offset question was giving me some headaches, so I decided to add King’s 5mm baseplate to the King headset (like you thought I’d put something else on there). This effectively slackens the head tube angle, or slows down the steering. We’ll see how it rides soon.
While the White fork is the one I’d go with on my own personal bike, it is a little too tech for the average Joe to easily set up and enjoy properly, and as this is ultimately a demo bike, I want it to be as user friendly as possible. I’ll be doing a shootout between the afore mentioned forks in the not too distant future, where I can really get into the nuts and bolts of these cool devices.