Vassago Bandersnatch – first impressions

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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