15 June 2007 - 12:23First Impressions – White Brothers Fluid 135
Wow. Pretty much sums it up right there. Rarely will a single component change affect the entire feel of a bike, but this one does. It actually improves the way the RIP rides, to a level that I had been looking for since I first threw my leg over ‘ol Blue.
The White is a coil sprung fork, with an air compression assist and oil damped rebound. It has beautifully machined lowers with a leading 20mm axle. It is pretty. It weighs in at 4.68lbs with an uncut steerer. I measured 128mm of actual travel, which is right on par, as White measures the 10mm bottom out bumper as part of the travel, even though you don’t really get that travel.
More on that in a bit.
I thought for sure that removing the Maverick was going to be a nightmare. Fortunately, it came quietly. The Chris King front hub was easily converted from the 24mm Maverick axle to a standard 20mm thru axle, the hub shell is the same, and axles are interchangeable. I had to re-dish the wheel to center it in the fork.
I also needed to space the brake caliper over 5mm to center the rotor, I used 5mm chainring spacers, and some longer bolts. It was a snap.
Parking Lot Test Ride
The front end of the RIP now sits quite a lot higher. With my Reba, I used a 100 x 10° stem, the Maverick had it’s own direct mount 95mm stem, and with this set up, I’m using a 90 x 10° stem (it’s what I had). This new shorter cockpit actually turns out to work for me. Quite well.
I found while bouncing around that I was compressing the fork I was kissing the bottom of the crown with the tire. That’s how I knew how much travel I was getting…
I pumped the air assist up to 95 psi, which seemed to cure it.
First Real Ride
Thursday is our Five Hills Bikes shop ride night, and what a perfect venue for seeing what the fork is capable of.
The climb up is pretty stiff, we gain 900ft in 3.5 miles, but it is paved, so it goes pretty quick. I noticed right away how slack the RIP now sits. While climbing prowess was not affected too terribly, it wasn’t as comfortable as the lower front end of the Maverick. Out of the saddle climbing was much better though, as long as you kept your upper body still.
We did 6 Flags, followed by Joe’s, which are by far, my favorite trails. This is where the bike began to shine like it never had before.
Handling was greatly improved, despite the slackened angles. I was able to rip through turns that always used to slow me down. The front end is STIFF. in fact, it is a lot more stiff than the Maverick, which I found to be pretty darn stiff. Tracking is amazing.
Well, all this adds up to added confidence, which in turn adds up to changing the line you ride. I decided to open things up a little. I was gliding over parts of the trail that used to rattle me. I was missing some sections of the trail all together, which is when I found that the air I put in the assist chamber may not have been enough. I buzzed the tire a couple of times coming while landing. From that point, I minimized my airborne time, until I can get a call in to White today.
Everything else was amazing.
The higher front end raised the lowish BB to a point where pedal strike was greatly reduced. I think that this may be why I was able to ride so fast through certain sections that gave me trouble before. I only clobbered the ground twice, which I would deem acceptable in the situations I was in.
The front axle can be pretty tricky when trying to mount it to a roof rack. Because of the thru axle, an adapter is needed. My Topeak Alien is not the best tool for getting the job done, so I will be installing a “car 5″. A small price to pay for the performance gain.
The fork has a fair amount of stiction, but White states that it takes about 10 hours of use before it breaks in. We’ll check back on that later.
It’s a keeper. I have a ride planned on Snake on Sunday, which is where it will receive some serious abuse. I think this may actually make riding there fun…