I have finally finished my “mountain cross” frame and built up my bike. The final touches of paint, inspired by my Lazy Boy recliner I still have from college (thanks Chad for the idea), and the added logos have created a more final looking frame.
I built it up with Avid Ultimate brakes, Dura Ace 7800 from my old road bike, and a new Ritchey WCS cross fork.
So here is the typical review:
I am thrilled with the look of the frame. The blue came out great. There was a small mistake in the paint behind the cable guides close to the seat tube. It is hardly noticeable, especially built up, however I am not pleased with the result. I had to have the frame powder coated twice and wasn’t about to sign up for a third time. Creating a system for building and finishing frames is a process and I am taking it in stride. The logo prints came out pretty nice and they look good on the frame. Centering and placement is a new challenge that I would give myself a C+ grade on. It will be interesting to see how they hold up.
The ride. Well I have ridden the bike 4 times in 3 days. New bike fever is a fun thing to have and I have it good. The rides have been at Valmont bike park, Elks cross course, on the road, and Breckenridge Colorado Trail. So a good diverse set of single track with major rocks, smooth dirt, tight handling, and road feel. When I design a frame I have certain characteristics I try to work into the ride. I’ve talked about how I wanted this bike to ride in previous posts. This was all based on what I know of basic physics and a long history of bike design by the real professionals. I can now say that I am extremely surprised and pleased with the bikes ride quality. It is exactly what I was hoping for and maybe even better. It is incredibly smooth, attributing the ride to both type of steel and design. There is a good deal of rear end vertical flex and the bike nearly feels like it has a small amount of suspension. It feels plenty snappy under power (I have not sprinted on the bike using road wheels yet and that will give me a better sense of frame flex). I didn’t make this bike to be a sprinters bike and I won’t be surprised if it flexes a bunch under extreme power situations. So far I can only say that on an out of seat steep mountain climbs it feels great. The geometry was a bit of an experiment. I was worried about handling confidence due to the higher bottom bracket. In tight cornering I may feel at a disadvantage, but truthfully I haven’t noticed it yet. Rather I feel a ton more confidence due to the geometry shifting my weight to a more centered space due to the tall front end. I have much more control over my front end and like the ability to get in my drops for braking on steep descents (a bigger issue on mountain bike trails than cross racing). The uber stiff front end design seems to be a big advantage and I am loving how well the bike tracks. Much of this could be due to the Ritchey fork that I have really liked so far. In regards to the components. The brake are great almost feel like they have the same amount of power as my mountain bike discs, they do however require quite a bit more hand strength. The 7800 Dura Ace group is awesome. It has always been my favorite road group and I had forgotten how much I liked the silky smooth feel of the shifting. I love the grip and the ride. It makes me think I ought to look into buying some used groups for all my bikes.
So if I could sum it up, I am very happy with the bike. It’s already covered in mud and dirt from my few days out and I am happy to be able to get out there and thrash it around. I can’t wait to do a “long term test” report later. Up next is a road frame using some very light weight stuff. Goal will be to make a solid steel race bike without giving up too much in weight or stiffness.