Wednesday, August 12, 2009

29er review by Peter Haile

This just came in from Peter for the 29er I built him recently, here is a picture, click it to go to Flickr for more. Peter is on his way east back to his college for another season of education and bike racing. Good luck Peter.

The Fastest Bike in the World
Review of my Yipsan 29'er

To start I'll go over the numbers 71.5 degree headtube angle, 12.4 inch bottom bracket height, chainring clearance to run a road double, 24.7 inch top tube, 20 inch seatube (c-t), 4.5" headtube. This roughly translates into a slack angled, mid center of gravity, easily lofted bike. I am six feet tall and 170 lbs I've had trouble getting 29'ers to fly in the past, they seemed stuck to the ground and unwilling to change direction quickly or toss caution to the wind. They seemed timid and bulky, slow and weak. I can tell you that this bike has overcome all of those issues. Airtime is readily available, and the bike is the perfect combination of stability and flickablility for me. While this might not work for someone else, I believe that is one of the advantages of a custom bike; it is fit, designed, and built specifically for your body and for your needs.

As far as the cockpit goes I run flat Salsa 17 degree sweep 680mm bars on a 90mm stem, some old school cane creek direct curve levers attached to the light, cheap, and reliable Avid BB7 mechanical brakes. This setup saves my wrists when enjoying arduous 6 hour rides. In the rear I have a Thomson setback seatpost attached to a Fizik Gobi perch, coupled with a 2009 80mm Reba and this bike is C-O-M-F-Y. I may run my Pace carbon fork for some of the southeast races, especially for the short tracks.

I am running a single 36 tooth chainring on a set of compact road cranks with an MRP 1x chainguide to keep everything in order. Running these cranks delivers a Q factor that blows the doors off any mountain crank. Renold put in a sweet little cut out to allow heaps of chainring clearance. The 36 is not for slackers and I may change to a 34 for the winter when I am not in as good of shape. Running a 36 gives me a low gear of 1.05-1 and a high gear of 3-1, this provides all the range I need while shedding weight and cost, and improving reliability. In the back is a X.O twist shifter and a X.9 rear derailleur handling a 12-34 cassette; solid.

I equipped this bike with XTR/Revolution/Stan's wheels with Stan's Raven tires. These wheels are so light I have to carry weights or I'll lose them to the wind, actually that's not true, but they're plenty light. The tires are semi-slicks because you have gratuitous amounts of straight line traction with any 29'er tire and there is no point carrying all that extra weight, I have found that you need to be really aggressive and lean the bike way over to get the side nobs to bite when cornering, but that is the proper way to corner anyway so no problems there.

Get to the point Peter!! How does it ride?

It is unlike any bike I've ever had, it feels very natural and fluid. I only had the bike finished for 3 days before riding in the Laramie Enduro, and although the race was a large disappointment for me this was not due to the frame in any respect. I made some tactical errors and attacked off the front way to early, I decided to attack because I was feeling really really good and there was no wind. What I did not take into account was the mental strain of leading and putting myself in a high stress environment with 3.5 hours to go, coupled with a slow flat and a broken chain (the fault of my road triple conversion into a mtb double with bashguard, has since been removed) and I ended up in 11th overall AHHHHHH. I believed I had the fitness for a top 5, but the first and second placed guys were definitely stronger then I was. I guess its a good thing I don't make a living riding bikes yet, as I still have a whole lot to learn. I had a blast during the race and would love to keep racing there year after year.

Yesterday I raced in a Laramie Mtb. Series race to whet my appetite for short intense efforts as I have been taking the summer mostly free from competition and that sort of exertion in order to bottle enthusiasm for the upcoming collegiate seasons. The course was easy to ride ,but hard to ride fast; with loose granite over hardpack and lots of high speed corners. Half the course was really fast and fun, while the other half had a lot of punchy climbs punctuated with false flats. The first lap hurt, a lot; but then I was able to get in the groove and try and reel in Trek's Eli Krahlenbuhl(sp?). I didn't end up catching him, but I ended up second and pulled a few minutes ahead of third place and local uber hoss Pedar Enger (who was under geared on his single speed) he probably would've put the hurt on Eli and I had he been on a geared bike. This race was very encouraging to me because I still didn't really know where my fitness was with my lack of racing or any intensity at all for that matter. The bike was perfect, as it is now under 25 lbs and still handles like a champ without beating the tar out of me. I am extremely excited for the upcoming Collegiate season.

Thanks for the sweet bike Renold,

Peter Haile