Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rawland ride report...

Boy howdy, it was cold this morning. Not as cold as yesterday (the thermometer outside said 27.5 yesterday). But compared to yesterday, that extra 5 degrees made all the difference. It had warmed to 39 when the dog, the Rawland (shod with the 650b Wolverine tires), and I packed into the car and headed over to Inverness for our ride up to Mt. Vision.

While there doesn't seem a lot that can be gleaned from a ride that goes straight up and then straight down, you can actually learn a lot from a ride like this. First, the bike immediately felt like my dog when he gets to run - all frisky and rarin' ta go. The Rawland felt snappy and was a'wantin ta climb. Being tall, I find a lot of bikes (especially 26" wheeled bikes) tend to have a vague, wandering feeling in the front end where it makes it challenging to stay on the straight and narrow during a steep climb. The Rawland exhibited none of this. It was a pleasure to climb and with the drop bars, the multiple hand positions made this a great climbing bike.

Up at the top of the fire road, we turned tail and headed back to the bottom. This is where this bike shone. The larger diameter wheels floated over the decomposed granite trail surface. I was actually quite surprised at just how fast the bike wanted to go. Have I mentioned how much I like drop bars on mountain bikes? If not, I love these bars on this bike. Perfect position, comfortable. The bike just feels "right." Natural is how a friend described it when he rode it for a bit.

I don't know how much it weighs (the frame weighed 5 pounds even), but it's a great riding bike. I think this is my new favorite bike and with only this one ride, I know it will rank as one of my all-time favorite riding bikes. With its versatility, it's sure is hard to beat for someone who can have only one do-all bike. I've got a 3 hour ride scheduled for early tomorrow (if the rain holds off). I'll report on that ride too.

One more bit on the build of this bike. I've seen a few photos of built up Rawlands and their theme seems to always be a build of classic nature: silver parts, square taper cranks, almost Rivendell-esque if you will. This is how I initially was going to build this one up too, starting with a set of old Ritchey Logic cranks. Then I saw the M95X series derailleurs and cranks I have stashed and thought, hmmm, maybe silver isn't the way to go. In the end, I did go for a black theme. I like it and think it makes the bike look "tough."

And because I like pictures, here's some from yesterday morning.

(What's playing: The Carpenters Close To You)


Guitar Ted said...

Nice photos Mike. So, are you a shutter bug like Gnat? Looks like you are to me Well done!

Great ride report. I tried to find the model of the stem in your earlier post on the build but didn't see it. Anyway, it looks great. Those forks ride a lot different than you think they will, don't they? I thought so.

RobP said...

If you had a Surly Cross Check in a 62 with 40mm tires and a Large Mary running the firecrosses, do you think you could meet in the middle and make this your one bike? Particularly if the above two fit wel in the legs but were just a hair long in the top? Thank you for the ride reports, May have to come up and mmake a trip out of it for a test ride.

blackmountaincycles said...

@ Guitar Ted: Yeah. I took my first photography class in 7th grade (when schools had great programs like this). We learned how to develop and print film in the school darkroom. It's my brother who's the professional.

Stem is a Dimension 125d x 120mm.

@ RobP: Absolutely! After spending almost 4 hours on it this morning, it has definite potential for your "one bike."

blackmountaincycles said...

...and yes, G-T, the forks, while they look all spindly, ride very nicely. Smooth. This is the kind of bike that proves that oversize is overkill.

Bushpig.vrc said...

But why would a person want "one" bike? ;)

Jim G said...

Mike, I found it interesting to read your notes on how the Sogn handled whilst climbing uphill. I've found that my CX bike tends to flop around a lot on slow/steep technical climbs, and I attribute that to it's relatively high trail & flop front-end geometry design. The Rawland bikes are designed with a bit more fork-offset (and maybe a steeper head angle, I forget) than most off-road bikes, which makes them have mid-trail values (high 40s, I think) with less flop and, at least on paper, they should more easily hold a line during slow/steep climbing. It's good to hear that the numbers match the real world! The only thing that's really keeping me from fully WANTING a Rawland is the lack of a good 650B cyclocross-ish tire. There are fat knobbies and great pavement tires, but not much in-between. Do you think this might change any time soon, with more tires becoming available? Of course there's the disk-brake frame option, which then lets you run any wheel size (and tire) you want!

blackmountaincycles said...

Jim, based on the numbers from Rawland, the actual trail would be mid 50's with a wheel/tire diameter with either the 650b x 2.3 or 700 x 45 wheels. Trail if running a 650b x 33 would be 47.

I haven't heard about a 650b x 38/45 knobby tire in the works. The smallest knobby tires currently available or coming are the Pacenti Quasi-Moto (2.0) and a Kenda Nevegal in 2.1 and 2.3 coming.

But, I sure like the disc brake model because of that versatility. And with the Avid BB7 road caliper, you can adjust the in/out-board pad placement to keep it running quiet.