Been rolling along, you know? I think the last few months have taken a bit of a chunk of the available energies and i feel tired. Tired and sore. My back is crunched up and i'm in desperate need of getting back to some regular exercise. This was highlighted in some ways when i was called for a medical for an insurance policy. Nothing out of kilter, but just a point in time that made me think. I'm not getting any younger and this time last year i was back from a big race and getting my head round doing another. At this time my bike racing calendar is entirely empty and i wouldn't say i have either the motivation or the chance of gaining the fitness that might make it happen.
Saint for one: the brakes and drive chain are coming my way for sure. I'm also interested in the smorgasbord of 650b (or is that 27.5" now?) stuff. I've had a few 650b wheels on the go for a few years and i like them. It has always been my feeling that with an open mind, this will be the wheel size for many. Of course, having an open mind (and an open wallet!) is like common sense: not particularly common. But we'll see. I think there is a lot to be gained from it. As well as the mid travel bikes that the industry seem to be preparing initially, i think a 29" front/suspension forked/650b rear woodsy bike is a winner. It's much easier to get the short stays than with a rear 29 and visually the clang of the dissimilar wheels is gone and functionally it works well. We'll see.
Personally i'll stick to 29" wheels. For me and my type of riding it fits. Another thing that has been churning around my mind recently are the new breeds of 29" forks and particularly the 34mm stanchions. There are times when im pushing at the upper end of my spectrum of riding that the fork on BA feels a little twangy. Not bad, but you know it's moving. This is one of the aspects of my early mag 20s that made me move over to Manitou and once i realised they were pretty useless, back to rigid!. Fox were first with the 34mm size (i think Rock Shox use 35mm for some of their bigger travel 26" forks) but 2013 will see X fusion, who have enlisted the help of a certain Paul Turner (though seemingly primarily for rear shock and dropper post consultation) bring a 34mm stanchion fork to the market - the Trace. It looks good on paper.
Of course, ever since Fox introduced their 34mm stanchion fork i've been wondering if it might be good on the front of B.A. But there are negatives to consider: notwithstanding the change in geometry the 140mm stock travel length would cause, the increased leverage imparted might be an issue for a frame designed for a 120mm/32mm stanchion fork.
So, there is a lot to consider. This weekend, i finally sat down and tried to work out whether the Fox 34 is something i want to try or not. After briefly looking at the TALAS option (a feature i really like for prolonged climbing) i found that the internals were not adjustable in terms of total travel. 140/110mm is the option: Fox's way or the highway. In addition, the offset of the 34 fork line is apparently 51mm rather than the standard 46mm of the 32 forks. That will lessen trail for all other numbers being controlled, 'quickening' steering. It would also marginally increase front centre.
The Fox 34 forks are also longer for a given travel than the 32 forks: around 12 or 13mm. In other words, even if i committed to a Float fork and reduced the travel, the fork is going to be longer than the 32 it would replace.
All in all, i would have to accept 10mm less travel, and end up with a non-TALAS fork that would potentially feel like it was a little quicker steering, but would be stiffer. All on a back ground of concern that it could potentially damage the frame.
Overall, it doesn't sound like a good idea does it?
Maybe we'll see how the X fusion stacks up in time.