30 July 2010 - 7:56The Ride
You’ve been waiting for this one.
So how does this newfangled crabon contraption ride? Well, color me impressed. I have traditionally shyed away from the material when used as a frame. I love crabon bits on my bike, I have used crabon handlebars and seat posts on various bikes over the years. This is the first full crabon framed bicycle I have owned and ridden off road. Quite an experience to tell you the truth.
I had ridden some older crabon road bikes, and was unimpressed with the “feel”. On the road, I like to know where my wheels are, and on older frames I rode (12 years ago), crabon made the bike feel dead. No feedback or anything. Aluminum road bikes were ouchy to ride, titanium bikes were expensive (even though I owned a Lemond Tete de Course one summer -Ti AND carbon), so I have pretty much stuck with steel road bikes. Steel bikes have a nice sproing to them, and they let you know just what is going on underneath you in a gentle sort of way.
Now, mountain bikes are a different animal. They have big fat tires that can be run at lower pressures than a road bike, and sometimes expensive bump soaking suspension forks, mechanically damping the bumps that come up at you along the way.
Frame material does come in to consideration though for some people. I’ve ridden almost all of them extensively, and as you can imagine, I have some opinions that I’ve formed along the way.
Steel = awesome. Relatively inexpensive when compared to other fancy frame materials, but the long and short of it, is that you get a nice compliant ride. Up until just recently, most of my “epic days in the saddle” have been on Kermit. It’s comfy, and while steel doesn’t make the big bumps go away, it rounds them over a little bit.
Aluminum. Inexpensive. Stiff, resilient and light weight. Transfers everything though, and without squish on both ends, I find that I only really like aluminum on shorter rides.
Scandium. Delicious. It’s still aluminum, but with scanudlium added to allow for the use of lighter stronger aluminum alloys that typically don’t weld well. Straight aluminum doesn’t like heat, but hook it up to some compatible friends that do, and well, that’s the crap billion $ flying machines are made of. You get a lightweight, stiff frame with thin tubes that can flex, which if designed right, will give you a ride that approaches the quality of steel. Approaches, but isn’t the same. I was worried that SSAZ/USA would be a tough day in the saddle (which it was – but it wasn’t because of the bike).
Titanium. Nope. Not yet. I own a totally bitchin’ Moots YBB all pimped out and ready to ride that is collecting dust right now. Make me an offer…
So many people are haters of this material, but I love it. It’s like crack. It’s wicked expensive, yet so temporary. I don’t know if crack is actually like that, but I do know that the ride quality is addictive. I’m still processing my ride right now, I saw things, amazing things…
I wish I had a helmet cam purely for chasing Seamus down the trail. That dog knows singletrack. He FLEW tonight. I wish I could describe it, but basically, it’s the back of an ass hauling skinny dog, massive tongue hanging out to the right, ears flopping in the rhythm of the gallop. He knows and loves the trail just as much as I do.
I hit a “something” in the trail really hard. Hard enough to flex the fork off to the non drive side, and I swear, I saw the front wheel in a position I didn’t ever expect it to be in, and then snap back. On a different bike, I might have glanced off, and had to make a correction that wouldn’t have agreed with my trajectory, if I even had a chance to adjust.
I got lost in the bliss of the trail, and even took some lines I only ever do on my RIP.
Roots? Shut up roots! I own you!
Crabon can be engineered to be stiff where it needs to be stiff, and compliant where it needs to be compliant. This bike has a ride that is as stiff as scandium, but as smooth as steel. The back end does not skitter around on rough rooty stuff like Furley is prone to do.
I’m way into crabon.