Written by Jason Mahokey Thursday, 06 April 2006 00:00
I was a tad nervous about this ride. I mean I sold my beloved Titus Ti frame to get the Dos. What if I hated it? What if I saw no advantage over a hard tail 26er? What If I hate the SRAM shifters? What if the Reba sucks? Well, my mind is SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSO at ease right now.
So as not to jump the gun and start getting all cow-eyed after the first ride I'm gonna break down opinions into a few sections over the next couple months. We'll start with my initial impressions and dialing it in.
The fist thing I noticed on the Dos was I felt very comfortable. The bike just felt "right". I never felt like I was riding some freak of nature side-show bike, it felt very normal. I adjusted to the SRAM XO Grip Shifts pretty quickly (from Shimano Triggers/Rapid Rise on the El Santo) and I like the solid click of the shifts. I did need to spend some time making some adjustments since I was having some trouble in 2/8 and 2/7. Got it going with some barrel adjustments. Not being the most mechanical guy and being new to SRAM, this took a while, but I was able to do it on the fly and not have to waste time.
Some of the knock on 29ers is their ability in tight, slow speed single track. I found the big wheels very easy to maneuver through tight switch backs and turns. I had one slow speed spill due to some new trail, a bit of mud in the Maxxis Ignitors and tight off camber turn. Other than I felt way more confident on the big wheels. More stable, balanced and in control.
Climbing went very well. Tonight I felt that it climbed better than on my El Santo. I may have just had some good mojo tonight too. My Dos Niner is also about 2lbs lighter than the El Santo. On one steep, loose rock climb I felt the front end wanting to come up a bit, but admittedly this is the first time I've done this climb since last year so it may have been a lack of focus. On root covered climbs it just rolled right over them, the big wheel patch hooked up and the 1" cush from the Relish Shock provided some extra traction.
The Reba Race 29er felt real good too. It's set at 80mm right now and I can't really say I missed the extra 20mm all that much. On one big log pile I missed the extra give a bit and should have unweighted the front just a little earlier. The wheels helped me correct my error and get over fine. Other than that I'm real impressed with the smooth action so far. The lock-out on the right side of the crown is SUPER easy to access and turn. More so than the Fox manual lockout and I don't regret not getting the remote at all. I've not used a Rock Shox fork in a few years so I'll be interested to see how the Reba holds up over the season. I may have just lucked out with the frame/fork combo but the Reba has NO contact at all with the down tube.
One thing I LOVED was the ability to roll over roots and small logs like they where just a minor nuisance. On certain trails I just kept thinking- "This feels like cheating". I felt like I was using less upper body strength, letting the wheels and the Reba do the work. Over a 100 miler or 6 hour race this is going to be huge. I still need to get it on some rocks to see how that goes. Hope the mountains dry soon.
On a service road climb I locked out the Reba, stood up and hammered up the hill. Felt like I was on a CX bike or road bike. It just took off! NICE!
With both the Relish and the Reba I'm currently just going with the recomended PSI for my weight. Feels good for now, but I plan on experimenting a bit in the near future.
I don't think the wheels and the Relish will match the comfort of the El Santo of multiple hours on technical single track. I mean 4" front and rear on the El Santo is like floating on air. But I will say that it's WAY more comfortable than ANY hard tail I've ever been on. If I had to have ONE mountain bike, right now I'm almost certain it would be the Dos Niner. I'm sure this will be the weapon for the Mohican 100 and the Wilderness 101.
As I said I'm sure much of this is just first ride bliss, so I will keep posting and noting as I ride the Dos Niner and the El Santo more on my training loops. Right now I don't regret my decision at all and can't believe I ever scoffed at the idea of 29" wheels.
I'm also lucky that each time I head out on trails I have my choice of great bikes thanks to Salsa and Bikman.com!
"The Soiled Chamois"
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