3 October 2011 - 22:55Weapon X
As I alluded to last week, there was a project bike in the works. I present to you Weapon X.
The name of this bike came from the Wolverine, probably the only creature more baddass than a honey badger. I know that some of you are asking yourselves “didn’t he already have a Niner WFO?” and you would be right. I did (past tense), but I sold it as it wasn’t really being ridden, as I had a fancy schmancy carbon squishy bike to play with. Conditions permitted for me to send it along down the road. The Honey Badger is currently being well loved and is running amuck down in North Carolina.
This bike is a little different from its predecessor though. This particular WFO has a few pieces of special equipment on it. I’ll start with the not so obvious one, it has the new 142x12mm Maxle rear end on it. Not a huge change in stiffness from the 135mm Maxle rear end, but getting the wheel in and out of the dropouts is now much easier.
Also the head tube does not have the bearing races machined into it as the old one did. You actually have to push headset cups into it, which means you have a choice when choosing a headset for this (and all of Niner’s bikes, save for the A9C). My choice was to use the Cane Creek Angleset.
Now, my one gripe with the old WFO is that for around here, the bike was a bit too slack to be ridden quickly. Most of our funnest trails are far too tight and twisty, much more suitable for a bike like the RIP. I found myself blowing through turns a lot, and had to ride quite a bit slower to ride certain trails cleanly. Get the bike out in the open though, and you can let it run. The suspension was never an issue, it gobbles up everything. It climbed well, but did suffer from floppy handlebar syndrome on steeper pitches. The HA on a WFO with a 140mm fork is 69°, the RIP is 70° with a 120mm fork. What if I could have the same angles as a RIP on a WFO? Sound silly? No. That is where the Angleset comes in. You can magically increase or decrease the angle of the headtube of just about any bike out there with this magical headset. It utilizes an offset cup, that when oriented a certain way, will increase or decrease the HA. The steerer tube of the fork is not centered in the headset the way it normally would be, and there is a whole bunch of tech I could go on and on about but won’t this time. I’ll provide more detailed account of this device in a future post, but for now, you can rest assured, it works as advertized. The headset kit that I used steepens the HA by 1°.
Cool huh? WFO with RIP geometry.
Lastly, the floppy steering on steep climbs. We have lots of those here, and it can be a bit of a pain trying to keep the bike on target when you are climbing singletrack. Well, wouldn’t you know it, technology exists out there that can change the travel on your fork on the fly. With the Fox TALAS forks, in this case, the brand spanky 34 chassis goes from 140mm to 110mm with a simple twist of a knob. This drops the front end of the bike considerably, steepens the HA even more, and most importantly reduces the wander of the front wheel. FTW!
I’ll get into the fork on a future post too.
I managed one quick solo night ride on the bike before the weather turned absolutely nasty here, but it was just long enough to learn a few things:
1. The bike steers more like I wanted it to. It feels heavy handed compared to the 24lb race bike I’ve been riding, but at 30.8lbs, Weapon X is no pig. I just need to ride it more.
2. The TALAS fork is a huge benefit, but like with every Fox fork I’ve had, it will take some fiddling to find the sweet spot.
3. The Rock Shox Monarch rear shock is actually really good! I was almost convinced that I would be calling Fox today to order a different shock, and I was very pleasantly surprised that the stock shock far exceeded my expectations. It gets to stay.
4. Tires. I chose the Tioga Psycho Genius because they looked cool. Good tire, not so good name.
The good news is that the crap weather will only be with us for one more day, then it is supposed to get nice again for a while. This bodes well for Saturday’s Leaf Blower ride, which will serve as the for reals shakedown ride as we ride EVERY trail in Stowe. With any luck I’ll have the legs to meet Dough up in the Kingdom on Sunday. That should give me a pretty solid amount of time to get to know the bike.