16 November 2008 - 19:47Project Jabberwocky – Ride Report
So, Project Jabberwocky turned out to be for me! George has been trying to get me on a singlespeed for a couple of years now and I’ve been anti-SS due to a previous attempt that ended in tears (mine) when I just couldn’t make it climb up any of our hills. After that last fateful ride, my poor (mid 90′s vintage Joe Murray made) steel Kona Lava Dome was summarily outfitted as a 1×8 and relegated to pulling the baby buggy.
Fast forward a few years and George is negotiating with me for a new singlespeed. We came to an agreement that perhaps the gearing on that previous ss was just too punishing for the likes of me. He swore to build a bike that i would have fun riding, and i promised that i would ride it if indeed it was fun.
After building my Soma DoubleCross for commuting, I knew I wanted a steel hardtail for riding off road. Wait, more specifically, I wanted a steel hardtail 29er for riding off road (coulda ridden the aforementioned Kona if any old steel hardtail would do.) The Vassago’s have been flying off the shelves all summer and fall, so I was eager to give one a try and see what the fuss is about.
First off, it has a deliciously long top tube. Add to that plenty of standover and we’re already starting in a good spot with this bike. I’m 5’6″ish, longer in the torso than the legs and this 16″ frame is a good fit for me.
How is it on the trail? It’s fun. Lot’s of fun. Quick and nimble, this bike sticks to the trail and feels low to the ground. I don’t feel like I’m riding a BIG bike, I don’t feel way high up in the air. I thought it would be a rough transition to fully rigid after riding my RIP9 so much, but honestly it’s fun. All of you out there who already ride a fully rigid singlespeed are probably snickering into your coffee/whiskey/wine coolers – cause you already know all this stuff. The bottom bracket is lower and more forward than I’m accustomed to, so this has led to some hard thwacks into unsuspecting rocks, but I’m sure as I get more rides in I will be better able to gauge these things.
George chose all the components on the bike. He’s good at it, he spends 98% of his life thinking about bike components so I’ve found that it’s just better to leave it up to him. I have no complaints on anything he’s ever chosen. The bike is light, the brakes work, all the red Chris King bling is attractive. The Kenda Karma’s have to be run pretty soft for good traction on mid-November trails and I’m still trying to dial in that number. Is it 22 or 24 psi?
I’ve had her out three times already, and no tears yet. However, due to hunting season I haven’t really had the chance to climb that many hills – so perhaps the jury is still out on whether or not singlespeeding is for me in the long run. I do know that I’m feeling pretty dedicated this time around, so watch out!!