Last August I went on a week away in the highlands of Scotland with Go-where Scotland. In the emails back and forth leading up to the trip, Andy (Go-where's main man) jokingly mentioned that I should have a chat to Huw (our guide for the week) as he's a connoisseur of the bike and also partial to some pretty amazing adventures on two wheels, Andy reckoned if I played it right I might get a sale!
Well that's pretty much what happened, turned out that Huw's girlfriend, Annie is as mad for all things cycling as he is and she has a soft spot for a nice custom steel frame (she's a class lady!). Huw and Annie's outlook on mountain biking is a good one, they're more concerned about fun, durability and practicality than fancy bling.... With that in mind, one afternoon with bikes on our backs halfway up a heather covered highland mountainside, I offered Huw an option . How about I make a couple of TIG welded bikepacking frames at a reduced price in order for me to hone my developing TIG skills.... Well he obviously took the offer seriously and after a few months the email came through, and we started planning the frames. This is what we ended up with
B+/ 29er compatible
2.4" 29er tyre clearance, 3.0" B+ tyre clearance
100mm suspension fork or rigid fork
148 boost rear axle and crankset
30.9 seat tube
44mm head tube
Lots of bosses for bottle cages in various places
Powdercoat finish (Huw's RAL5021, Annies RAL4010)
68.5 degree head angle
74 degree seat angle
60mm bb drop
We had an ambitious plan to have the bikes done for the Strathpuffer in Jan (in which Annie finished 1st and Huw finished 2nd in their respective solo categories!), sadly some issues with powdercoating prevented this from happening. Various other holds up's have meant that the bikes have only just been built up and ridden. They look amazing and the timing is perfect for some Scottish summer adventures... Hopefully we'll be seeing plenty of photos with them in some wild surroundings.
Check out Huw's antics on Instagram @topofests
Annie has some truly stunning images on her Instagram feed @a_girl_outside
Guided mtb holiday in the Scottish highlands
We've grown to love a good guided holiday. If we're travelling for the best part of a day to get to our riding destination, we don't want to be hunting for the good stuff when we get there! Guided trips take away the head scratching and map pondering to get you straight to the stuff you'll never find on your own.
This trip was exceptional, right from the moment we met Andy and the rest of his team it was like being away riding with your mates. In my book this is how it should be! A week of top banter, top trails and top weather made this one to remember. I'm not going to go into detail of each days riding, I'll just let the pictures sum up the holiday.
Early last year Cy from Cotic sent me an email asking if I wanted to help him out with some work to investigate the feasibility of a carbon back end for his Rocket full suspension design. Obviously I jumped at the chance and have been working with him on and off since then. I've been involved in all aspects of this rear end from design through to prototyping. I ended up making a one off carbon swingarm prototype, both for testing and to get a feel for the required layup. The proto has been ridden thoroughly and although various aspect can be improved has proven really successful.
Cy has also been working with Scottish frame builder Shand, looking at the steel front end. One of the prototype steel front ends has been assembled onto my prototype swingarm to give a one off UK made bike. This bike is being displayed at this years Bespoked UKHMBS. Currently this is just a feasibility study, the only person who knows if this will progress further is Cy himself.
Curve Frame for sale!
Here's a really rare opportunity! Adam is selling his Curve frame. Its the last one I made (No 7). It comes with Shock, headset and rear axle, £950. Please direct any interest to Adam, mailto:email@example.com 07815034289 (not to me!)
Swarf Curve Frame with Cane Creek inline shock (set to 150mm travel) and ceramic bearing headset. The lower handmade carbon chain retainer is included too.
Painted by Fat Creations in candy Blue with white pearlescent fleck.
Reynolds steel front and carbon rear (completely handmade)
Roughly a medium frame but with extended reach, similar to early forward geometry bikes
Would suit anyone between 5ft5 and 5ft11 (i'm 5ft8 on a good day!)
425mm seat tube
337mm bb height (150mm fork)
65 deg head angle (150mm fork)
30.9 seat tube
- Built by Adrian November 2014 and used in spurts ever since (either side of testing other bikes).
- Meticulously maintained, regular bush and bearing change - frame will come with new set all round
- 142x12 bolt through (just look at those dropouts!!)
- 44 mm head tube for all fork combos
- Paint is super thick and durable but there are quite a few paint chips to rear swingarm and around main pivot.
Also some paint wear on bb shell and where hoses attach (all in pics). Please note, none of these are through the primer, Fat Creations paint system is done to last.
Adrian keeps all spares for these frames so that is never a problem (bushes, rods, bearings, dropouts etc)
These frames were over £2000 when new due to the hours of meticulous labour that went into making them.
With the paint chips and rub, I'm asking for a very reasonable £950.
Frame is in Bristol, viewing welcomed, can be brought to Dorset for the right deal.
Alex's 27.5 Splatter Spline wins Pinkbikes reader poll , 'The Sexiest AM/FR/Enduro Hardtail of 2015'!
Alex had a really clear vision of what he wanted when he came to me to have a custom geometry Spline made, the frame turned out to be a winner and with his select build the bike is awesome. Here's his story of the journey of having a custom Swarf frame plus some detail of his final build (including an interesting ghetto pro-core system!). Words and Pictures by Alex Klimow
The idea behind this bike was to take the fit of my previous bike i.e. the distance between the bars and the seat and exaggerate everything else, without going too far.
My previous big bike was a Ragley Bagger 288 on which I used a 70mm stem and 750mm bars. The seating position was generally alright, but the 70mm stem was inappropriate in my mind.
So I started looking around, 650b became a thing, I read a lot about Forward Geometry and what Chris Porter thinks about bicycle geometry and I didn't find anything that combined everything I now believed to be important.
A custom frame was the only solution to my 'problem'.
I contacted a few frame builders but wasn't thrilled with their responses and I kind of resigned. Then one day my good friend Franzi told me she was getting a steel full suspension frame built by a somewhat nerdy British bloke and that I should ask him. So I did.
The correspondence was everything I was hoping for. No immediate 'Yeah, I'll do it! Give me some money.', no 'Why would you want such a long reach?', no 'Fillet-brazing is for grandads! TIG welding is for men!' but a healthy discussion with countless emails* crunching numbers, discussing manufacturing techniques and evaluating subjectivities.
It took us a good four months to settle on the final geometry. January 2015 I think it was when I couldn't think of anything to be changed.
Compared to the Bagger I wanted the seat angle to be steeper, head angle slacker, bottom bracket lower and the whole bike to be longer. All using a 150mm fork and a 50mm stem.
The final geometry was as follows:
(sagged, as anything else doesn't really make sense on a hardtail)
For reference, I'm 1,77m tall.
66° head angle
75.5° seat angle
430mm seat tube
305mm BB height
It worked out great and the craftsmanship is excellent. I was and still am over the moon.
Especially with the frame being painted by Fatcreation's Alistair McLean.
The inspiration for this paintwork was an early nineties Kuwahara and Geoff Gulevich's prototype Rocky Mountain DH bike from 2014, I think.
I took the bike on two trips to the alps so far, did a lot of local riding and a bit of racing (one enduro event). And I can now tell you that a frame with this much reach is not to be trifled with. I think I slowly but surely got the hang of it now.
It definitely has huge benefits, but also its downsides. They are manageable, though.
The Spline's standard geometry should be more approachable.
Somewhere along the line I asked the guys at BTR for advice on the geometry and Tam generally agreed with it, but suggested to reduce the fork travel to 120mm. I was pleased with his response but thought to myself 'What does he know about fork travel? I'll stick with 150mm.'
It might surprise you then that I recently reduced the fork travel to 130mm. Which makes the bike handle miles better than before.
I also asked Brant Richards for advice and exchanged a few emails with him. Thanks again!
The build is more sturdy than light weight and with a proper mix of Shimano XT and Zee parts. I've got XT brake levers, Zee calipers, an XT rear mech body and a Zee cage. The cassette is a 9speed one. To make that work with the Shadow+ derailleur you need a 9speed Sram shifter and clamp a 6mm spacer under the gear cable.
Looking closely at the rear wheel you can spot a second valve stem, too. I put a 700c tubular tyre in there to never get a pinch flat again. I got a lot. Even with tubeless setup.
A lot of guys on mtb-news.de do this, which is where I got the idea and it's a great alternative to that Schwalbe Procore kit. You do need to drill another hole in the rim, but the rest is a doddle. And it's a LOT cheaper.
Ok, getting the tyre off the rim isn't a doddle but it's still well worth it.
That's about it. I hope you like the bike and give Adrian a call in case you want a new bike.
*read: more than 200''
Its the new year and we are clearing out some parts that are surplus to requirements. First come first served on these bits.
Please email if you are interested in anything mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Cane Creek Double Barrel Air CS Shocks, £275 each inc p&p
200 x 50 with 35mm spacing mounting hardware, including all documents and allen key SOLD!
200 x 57 with 35mm spacing mounting hardware, including all documents and allen key SOLD!
Both Shocks are in new condition, no marks or scratches anywhere. Both have seen less than 300 miles use.
WTB Trailblazer tyres £75 the pair inc p&p SOLD!
2.8" 27.5 TCS Light folding bead
Virtually new condition, they have done around 30 miles total off road, they were mounted tubeless so there are traces of sealant around the bead.
Retail at £45 each
X Fusion Hilo SL Remote Dropper Post, £160 Including p&p SOLD!
Brand new in box
30.9 diameter, 125mm Drop, bar mounted lever
Gravity Light 777mm flat handlebar, £10 inc p&p SOLD!
Silver, 777 mm wide, 0 rise, 10 degree backsweep, 4 degree upsweep, 31.8 clamping diameter
These are unused and uncut.
Odds and ends
1 x 2014 Rockshox Reba service kit, £10 posted
1 x Maxxis Beaver 29" x 2.1" tyre, 50 miles use, £10 posted
1 x Continental Mountain King 29 x 2.2", 20 miles use, £10 posted
2 x Rockshox shock pumps, nearly new condition £7.50 each inc postage
4 Pairs Goodrich Blue Resin Brake pads, fits the older XT brakes and some Hope brakes £15 the lot
Please check images below to be sure they are the correct pads for your brakes
4 Pairs Superstar Organic Brake pads, fits older Saint and Deore brakes £10 for the lot
Please check images below to be sure they are the correct pads for your brakes
Swarf owner Ian Stott raced his bike at the Belgium Singlespeed Champs in September, he's just sent over this great report of his experience, it sounds like a lot of fun! All photos are from third parties at the event.
More of a singlespeed festival than a bike race, SSBE was held over a weekend in September in Hamme, Northern Belgium. The Saturday started out with a hangover (from the Friday night arrival drinks) which blended nicely into a 30k ride from the event site taking in the local woodland trails. At least 50+ singlespeeders being led by a couple of locals around their trails, with a beer and BBQ stop about 3/4's of the way round. In the UK i couldn't help but think we would have been seen as a nuisance, but in Belgium we were treated with respect and smiles by both car drivers and dog walkers alike. This was the first time i had really ridden the Swarf on tight, fairly flat, woodland trails. It was fantastic. This bike seems to corner with far more grip than my old one which had exactly the same build. It also popped and jumped off the roots as easily as i could have hoped.
There has been a lot of hype over the last year or so about the new B+ tyre standard (27.5 Plus or 650B+, call them what you will) it seems that they'll be everywhere for 2016 with many manufacturers making plus size models. So I thought it about time to get some tyres to try them out to find out what it's all about. This quick blog will give you my thoughts and first impressions. This is all personal opinion so please take from this what you will!!
WTB were the first to produce a B+ option with the 2.8" Trailblazer and massive 45mm scraper rim. The initial talk was that the big tyre on a 650B rim was slightly smaller than a standard 29er tyre in diameter but obviously wider. This meant that they would fit into many existing 29er frames with the promise of improved grip and reduced trail chatter due to the ability to run lower pressure. Sounded great to me especially for use on the Spline 29 hardtail, could be a fun option.. So I ordered up a set of the Trailblazers from Charlie the Bike Monger and set about playing about with them!
My first thought after mounting the tyres was they're not that big at all! I wanted to do as many will, and that is to mount them to existing wheels that they already own, in this case a set of Stans Arch rims. Obviously these are very much narrower than the 45mm Scrapers that WTB designed the tyre to work with. Below are the measurements for my rim/tyre combination and a couple of non plus sized tyres for comparison.
WTB Trailblazer 2.8 on 650B Stans Arch - Width 62mm, diameter 716mm
On One Chunky Monkey 2.35 on Light Bicycle 28mm internal 29er - Width 60mm, diameter 740mm
Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.25 on 650B Stans Arch - Width 57mm, diameter 700mm
This was a bit of an eye opener for me! They're actually closer to a 650B wheel than they are a 29er and on these rims they're not much wider than the On One tyre I'm using on my 29er currently. Sure, the wide rims would give extra width and volume but I cant see the diameter increasing by much more than a few mm. They'll end up pretty much bang in the middle of 650B and 29 sizes.
The wheels were fitted into a Spline 29 hard-tail without issue. The clearances to the fork are getting a little tight on the sidewalls but perfectly acceptable, with the wide rims this may be more of an issue. We tried them in both Rockshox Reba and Marzocchi 320 29er forks with pretty much identical clearances.
One side note here, they actually fit really nicely into Rockshox 650B forks and I've been using a Trailblazer on my 650B trail bike as a front tyre!
Riding, the fun part!
Initial impressions are good for general use. They roll really well, seem nicely grippy considering the fairly modest tread pattern and indeed the larger volume does take out some of the trail chatter. When you push them harder you begin to find the limitations of this tyre/rim combination. I tried running low pressure (18psi) but frankly it just didn't work, they were squirming about a lot and you could actually feel the sidewalls creasing. I ended up running them at much the same pressure as I do my normal 29er wheels and they still felt a bit squirmy when pushed hard.
So then, this all leaves me a bit confused! Yes they fit into a 29er frame, yes they're slightly higher volume yes they roll really nicely and seem grippy. On the downside, they're not that wide and feel a little unpredictable (when really pushed), mainly I'm sure, due to the narrow rims I used. However, on wider rims I'm nervous of that tyre clearance on a standard 29er fork will be getting quite tight.....
I don't feel that I have truly experienced plus size yet, more experimentation is needed, will try and get them fitted to some 35mm rims and see how that plays out. Stay tuned!!
Check out this link for an interesting read on why wide tyres roll nicely off-road