Archive for August, 2012

Vassago Bandersnatch – first impressions

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on August 28, 2012 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

This past weekend I swapped out my Stumpjumper 29HT frame for a new Vassago Bandersnatch frame.  My hope is that, while heavier, the steel will give me a little more supple feel over longer rides.  Plus I really like the old-school styling of steel frames.

The first thing I noticed while swapping my parts over was that the Stumptress frame and Thomson seatpost were amazingly light.  Really, I was not prepared for how light they felt.  Needless to say, the Snatch and Bontrager RXL seatpost combination is a little heavier.  While I haven’t had a chance to weigh it, based on an old weighing of the Stumptress (pre-tubeless wheels by the way) I would estimate the Snatch to be at around 25.5 pounds set up as a singlespeed.  This will put it around 27.0 pounds when I run it geared, which is what I expected.

Another thing I noticed as I went to put on the chain is that the chainstay length is longer.  This didn’t surprise me a bit, but it did mean I had to add two more chain links to make the chain fit.  I’m running a Surly Singleator tensioner to take up the extra slack, and while it may not look like it, I needed those extra two links to be able to install the chain.

So, how does it ride?  Well, I’ve only had two brief rides on it so far, which is not enough to base much of an opinion.  The Snatch’s “wet cat” geometry is a little different from the Stumpjumper, so I am still messing around with seat and stem positioning to get it dialed in just right.  My two rides were mostly pavement rides to get to some dirt roads nearby, so I haven’t done enough to take advantage of the steel feel.  I don’t know if it is the added weight, the geometry, or the fact that I was tired when I finally ducked out to ride, but my climbing was slower.  However, any small change in my tiredness level gets eaten up rather quickly when climbing steep sustained grades with a 32×16 singlespeed gear ratio.  Nonetheless, I will likely downgrade to a 32×18 setup in the near future until I’ve gotten more used to the bike.

My second ride occurred yesterday morning at 6am, so I wasn’t exactly spry and chipper.  But, already the bike is starting to feel like second nature and the weight of the steel makes for a screaming descender.  I hit 54.7 miles per hour on the downhill portion of Double Oak Way heading back towards Highway 41.  That’s unheard of for me on that road….normally I’m somewhere in the low to mid 40s.

As soon as I can spend more time on it I will post an updated review.   In the meantime, here are some pictures of the setup (all of which is due to my existing parts….I’d like to eventually get rid of the white handlebar).  Also, from this day forth the bike will be known as Big Red.

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Singlespeed fun

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on August 14, 2012 by 41flyersracing - o'kelley

So, two Sundays ago I decided to convert the Stumptress to singlespeed.  Mostly out of boredom that day, but also because I had just found out that a scheduling conflict means that I will not be able to race in this year’s Fool’s Gold 50.  Therefore, without having to spend 50 miles climbing my tail off it became less critical for me to have some gear selection options.

It had been about 18 months since the Stumptress was last set up as a SS, and I forgot how much fun the simplicity of it all can be.  Unless I had two mountain bikes in my herd (which I don’t have anymore), I don’t think I will keep it a SS year-round…..but after several rides I’m enjoying the (literal) change of pace.

When singlespeeding, you never have to worry about whether you are in the right gear or not.  The answer is always the same: No.  Pretty much, you are never in the right gear.  But that’s OK.  It forces me to climb faster and build better baseline leg strength.  I only wish I had a power meter to accurately compare my wattage outputs on steep hills while riding SS versus geared.

Gear ratio choices become a little tricky.  For instance, I really like to run mine at 32×16 (2.00 ratio), which suits me for just about 99% of the hills I face.  That gear ratio worked for me on the original 17-mile loop at Oak Mtn State Park without ever having to walk, even on the long Red Road climb.  But riding on the Ebsco property behind Mt Laurel there are a few sections of extremely steep hills that I find myself occasionally needing to walk.  I can handle them with my 18-tooth rear cog (1.78 ratio), but like I said before, I just prefer my 16-toother since it is a little less spinny on the flats.  Perhaps a 17-tooth cog (1.88 ratio) would be my perfect setup, and something that I would probably try out if I stay SS for the rest of the year.

My conversion using a Surly Singleator tensioner, an MRP S4 bashguard, and a cheap metal chain keeper.  I haven’t gotten around to taking my small chainring off yet, but will eventually be doing that.  All told, I calculate that I am saving close to 1.5 pounds by foregoing derailleurs and shifters in favor of the SS components.

I hope to be replacing the Stumptress soon with a steel hardtail frame….aiming to go a little more old school while adding some all-day comfort that the steel provides.  Once this swap-out occurs, perhaps the Stumptress will eventually be built back up as a dedicated singlespeed.

notice the lack of shifters…..without my grip shifters installed i went ahead and put on some lock-on grips from the big frog 65 swag bag.

i think a crank upgrade may need to be in my future.

haters gonna hate, singleators gonna singleate.

cheap but effective.