Back At It…….:

Today I started a 29er that will use the Black Cat swinger dropouts.  It’s designed around a rigid fork and will have the necessary cable stops to run gears.  It’s a prototype for the guys over at War Axe Bicycles that they are thinking of producing.  One of the owners is Sam, who I met at NAHBS in Indianapolis a few years ago.  I’ve seen him at the show every year since then and I always enjoy hanging out with him.

Speaking of 29ers, I took a titanium one to NAHBS.  Due to the rush of getting to the show, I didn’t take any pictures while building it.  The bike is quickly becoming one of my favorites to ride.  It’s a trail bike hardtail of sorts.  I’ve been playing around with the geo and fork length for a few years now and I’m really liking where the bike is headed.  I’ve owned both steel and titanium versions.  I also have some good friends riding them in both steel and titanium that I’ve received a lot of feedback on.  The bike features shorter chainstays, in the range of 17 inches depending on desired max tire size and the amount of saddle setback the rider uses.  The first one I built was designed around a 100mm fork in effort to keep the bike quick.  However, I found that increasing the fork travel to 120mm-110mm had no ill effect on climbing or handling.  Plus it makes the bike more versatile and a lot more fun to ride.  They also feature full gears, some 2 x 9 and some 3 x 9.  I know single speeds are all the rage, but gears are nice to have for longer rides.  I haven’t been building the bikes with single speed capability as it saves frame weight.  The dropouts are much lighter (1/3 pound on ti, 1/2 pound on steel)if the frame uses sliders.  Also, a breezer style dropout will be laterally stiffer than a sliding dropout.  If an ebb is used, it will also add weight and has an effect on bb height and effective seat tube angle.  That’s not to say that they can’t be built with the ability to run it as a single speed.  Regarding weight, the titanium bikes are coming in around 3.5 pounds and steel is a 1/2 more for what would be a size large.  The head tube angle that I’ve been using is 70 degrees with a sagged 120mm fork or roughly 68.5 degrees unsagged.  Going forward I would like to see all the bikes have tapered steer tubes, unless you already own a fork with a standard 1 1/8th steer tube.  I’ve really played around with bottom bracket height.  In fact, no two were the same.  For my local trails I’ve settled on 12″ sagged/12.4″ unsagged.  None of this stuff is set in stone, but it is a good jumping off point if this is a bike that sounds interesting to you.

I’m also in the final stages of design on a allroad for Pat.  He’s getting a steel frame and fork with Sram Force.  The bike will feature a pair of Grand Cru calipers.  I’ve wanted to try these brakes out for a while as they have a bit more reach than a pair of Shimano R650’s.  The arms are also set wider, which allows for more tire/fender clearance.  I received the brakes today and they are works of art.  The machining is unmatched and they have a nice polished finish.  I mounted them on a long reach fork using my standard axel to crown height for the Shimano R650’s.  The pads ended up being roughly in the middle of the slots with plenty of tire clearance.  The tire shown is a Michelin Mud  II that measures 33mm according to my calipers.  Pat wants all the clearance he can get for big tires, so I will be building him a slightly taller fork.  If you want an allroad that comes close to a cyclocross bike for tire clearance I will be using these or the Paul Racer M’s.  If you need more than that, there’s also the Paul Racer.
As far as forks are concered, there are a few options.  The lightest is the Serotta F3/S3, but it also has the least tire clearance topping out at a 30c tire.  Wound Up is another carbon option, although it has very little weight savings over a steel fork.  Max tire size is a Rivendell Jack Brown at 33c.  In the steel flavor, I offer tigged unicrowns and lugged forks.  I think that the steel forks offer the best ride at a minimal weight penalty.  The unicrown forks are coming in at 650 grams with an uncut 380mm steer tube.  The lugged fork blades are available in a variety of wall thicknesses, which allows me to tune the ride to your preference.  The steel forks are going to have the most tire clearance of all the available options.  Plus they are always painted to match, which makes the finished bike look more uniform.

2 responses to “Back At It…….”

  1. Thomas says:

    Erik, I have those brakes on my bike and I love them too. I had them prior to getting the bike, so I swapped out the shimano’s. I think they feel better and look WAY better than tektros or shimanos.

  2. erik says:

    I agree on all accounts. They’ll be making it onto my long reach bike when I finally build myself one.