Gravel Pimping…

16 02 2012

The Gravel Pimps at Oak Bay Bikes Westshore...

Scott and I have been talking about getting out and doing some bikepacking on the south end of Vancouver Island, but life has been getting in the way. So we decided to make a break for it when we saw a window of good weather Monday. With both of us busy with work our departure got pushed back until 4pm. In December that would have meant a 100% night ride our first day, but just a few weeks later we still had nearly 2hrs of daylight to enjoy from the saddle. We stopped in at the Westshore location of Oak Bay Bikes just to say hi and check out what they had on the floor.

What else would I rock for bags?

It got dark soon after we left OBB on the Galloping Goose Trail. We both had about 900 lumens of LED firepower at our disposal which we didn’t use at full-power given the easy terrain and our sedate cruising speed.  We wanted to hit up the 17 Mile House Pub on Hwy 14 for beers and burgers so I stopped a few times to check my iPhone. I don’t like riding with a GPS on my bars unless absolutely necessary so I had to stop and retrieve my phone each time.

Scott warming his hands...

During one of these stops I found myself at the top of a set of stairs [click here for a photo from the next day’s return trip]. Scott wisely backtracked and went down the trail. I of course had to do a stupid human trick and decided to ride down the stairs. Now normally this would be no problem, but at night with a new bike loaded for the first time with gear and backpack, my weight distribution and inability to get back off the saddle because of the seatbag resulted in an over the bars endo/vault. Thankfully not very fast, but nevertheless I ended up with two sore palms and a bashed up elbow/knee on the left side of my body.


It’s been years since I’ve been even moderately hurt on a MTB so I don’t feel hard done by, but what a dumb way to get banged up. No heroic story of a 6′ drop off a skinny wood bridge while being chased by a cougar…just operator error!

Got gravel?

Luckily I was able to find a hand position on my bar ends that wasn’t terribly painful and we cranked along the rest of the way to the pub. Several pints of beer and many dead chicken wings later I was feeling better. I climbed back on my bike gingerly and we cruised the rest of the way to our destination for the night.

A room with a view and no doors!

I had spotted this shelter last time I was up this way biking with Aaron. Since only crazy people go camping in early February on Vancouver Island we had the place to ourselves and simply ignored the no camping signs. Yeah we are bad asses!

Low rent, hardwood floors and indoors bike parking - score!

The shelter was spacious and clean with great protection from wind and the inevitable rain that was to fall that night. Bikepacking bags only let you carry the bare essentials so we didn’t get up to much upon arrival beyond setting up our sleeping bags and munching on a few snacks. When it’s dark and cold I find myself very quickly jumping into a down cocoon! I told Scott he could yell and kick me if I was snoring too loud and with that I passed out.

Black and white On One Scandal 29er...

I woke up in the middle of the night and did a quick inventory of my aches and pains. Everything was feeling pretty good except for my left hand which was very tender and swollen. Not great, but at least I knew I could bike home with 4 out of 5 contact points on the bike feeling decent. Back to sleep I went.

Rohloff'd Hunter 29er...

I wish I had a watch in my sleeping bag as I got up at 6am [according to Scott] to pee and went back to bed because it was still dark. Had I known it was 6am I would have probably made a move to get rolling. After a certain point sleeping on a hard surface with a thin thermarest doesn’t provide much additional benefit.

It's alive!

It started to just get light at 8am so I got rolling. I fired up the stove and made a random dehydrated meal I found at home and some green tea. It was less than gourmet, but it hit the spot.

Minimal, but effective...

Water is plentiful in the rainforest so dehydrated meals are very handy if not the most delicious thing you can eat…=-)

Clean well stocked toilets...

Although we didn’t make much use of the campsite infrastructure there were lots of tables, water and clean toilets close at hand. Nice to see tax payer $$ going towards something I cared about instead of fighter jets!

Sooke Potholes Regional Park...

There was an old mining town a few KMs north from us and I had hoped to spin up there and check it out, but my hand was really sore and I decided it was best to make tracks for home, painkillers, ice and beer!

Scott loading my bike bags...

With one bum hand I was having issues loading my gear back into my bike bags. Scott was kind enough to help me out. Lucky for him I hurt my left hand otherwise I would have needed some assistance in the toilet as well….hahaha! =)

One last look back at our hut...

The scenery up this far along the Galloping Goose Trail is stunning something you can’t appreciate riding it at night.

Pointing our bikes down the map back towards home...

I was sad to miss the mining town, but it will be there next trip. This run up the Goose is our entry pass into a vast network of forest service roads. So unless we drive our bikes to a different starting point all our bikepacking rides will pass this way.

One of the many wooden bridges on the Goose...

My left hand wasn’t terribly happy, but as long as I lifted it off the bars before any major bump was encountered I was able to tolerate light pressure as I gripped the bar end.

Scott keeps it in first gear...

We rode down the Goose slowly in a light rain. Scott kept his back brake on the whole time just to get a better workout…=-)

Yo - check the Pimp rig...

Happily the wide 29er tires rolled well over the gravel/dirt trail surface making it an easy task to spin back towards Victoria.

Another killer view...

The spectacular views helped me keep my mind off my aches and pains!

My bike not looking so clean...

I was happy to roll into my yard and pop a couple Tylenol as I took a swig from an ice cold Corona! Despite my stupidity it was still great to be out on the bike on the South Shore of Vancouver Island. This ride let me figure out some things about my bike and how to best pack it for future adventures.

Nothing a quick hose down can't fix...

The Alfine 11 IGH and the 29er hardtail bike is proving to be a fun versatile machine that’s ideal for lots of different adventures. I’m going to take a few days off the bike to let my left hand rest and then I’ll be back hard at work wearing out parts…=-)

BTW – in case you are wondering about the title of this post we decided that “Gravel Grinding” sounded too boring for a couple wild and crazy guys like us – hence we coined the new term “Gravel Pimping”. You have our permission to use it as you wish!

Almost Stole Two!

13 02 2012

Threading the green...

Waking up Sunday the ground was wet from overnight rain and the forecast for the day was a wet one, but once again it wasn’t raining as I sipped my usual cup of hot tea in the morning. Hmmmmm….I decided on a bold plan to steal another ride on what was supposed to be a rain day.

Sunday Rainy Sunday!

My level of seriousness is clear when I say that I skipped cup of tea #3…generally I can barely get my pants on before that third cup has been consumed and the caffeine, milk and sugar do their magic. However, I figured the Bike Gods might appreciate such a sacrifice and have a chat with the Rain Gods to give me some extra time so I could crank some extra turns!

Taking a dip...

The good news is it didn’t start to rain before I left my house. The bad news is that it did start to rain before I could start my ride at the Partridge Hills parking lot. Now I am no foul weather rider and I won’t leave my house in the rain for a ride unless someone’s life is at stake. However, in my admittedly arbitrary rules of engagement manual –  rain in the parking lot leaves some room for discretion since I was already there and geared up.

Where is a tree when I need one?

The forest takes a while to saturate before the trees dripping on you equals the same level of wetness as the rain above the canopy. So what the heck I’m running an IGH I fear no mud…=-) Cranking up the multiple climbs that take you to the Partridge Hills trails I didn’t regret my choice. I had a beautiful green and brown landscape all to myself.

Evidence of a good time in the woods...

While I wouldn’t say I knew where I was the whole time I did manage to link up and ride some of my favourite P-Hills trails. I climbed some of the steepest loosest sections ever thanks to the excellent 29er traction and my ability to lock in my riding position on the hardtail. All in all a great day to ride and I am glad I scored rides on both days this weekend. =-)

This video isn’t of me or my bike, but it’s a 29er hardtail being ridden in the same terrain with a similar soundtrack playing in my head…=-) I figured it would give you a better sense of what South Shore Vancouver Island riding is about.

Stole One!

12 02 2012

Alone in the woods...

The forecast was for several days of rain including the weekend. I missed out on a window of opportunity Friday while I worked just to have it start to rain as I was loading up my bike for a ride.

Gorgeous trails in the forest...

So when I woke up Saturday to dry skies I decided I better get outside and steal a ride on what was supposed to be a rain day.

Taking the wide road...

Not sure why, but getting a ride in on a day that you assumed would be a write off is so amazingly sweet…=-)

A quick rinse in the creek...

Interestingly lines I couldn’t clean with my Nomad’s 6″+ of FS I could handle on the 29er, but at the same time other sections that the Nomad gobbled up without pause challenged me with so much less squish. That’s why you have XC bikes and All Mountain bikes!

Rolling the big 29er hoops...

Riding different bikes back to back on the same trails is so much fun and makes you appreciate the finer points of each design.

Things were a tad juicy...

One place the IGH 29er hardtail definitely will win out is when things are wet and muddy the clean up and maintenance is soooooo much simpler.

A quick hose down and lube of the chain...

Stan’s NoTubes Tubeless Setup

10 02 2012

Stan's ZTR 29er Flow rim and Schwalbe Racing Ralph tire...

I’ve been tubeless curious for a while. I was thinking of setting up my Surly Pugsley and Santa Cruz Nomad tubeless, but I’ve heard both really positive and really negative tubeless experiences which made me hesitant to start my tubeless career with a ghetto tubeless setup. In case you don’t know – ghetto – refers to a setting up a rim/tire combo tubeless that wasn’t designed to be run that way. So being a bit cautious I decided to try tubeless on a rim/tires combo designed from the get go to be run without a tube.

Stan's Sealant - click here for some home brew recipes...

My first opportunity was the wheelset for my 29er hardtail mountain bike. I used a set of Stan’s Flow 29er rims because they are wide and strong – plus they have bead seats designed to lock in a tire easily when run without a tube. Some 2.35″ wide Schwalbe Racing Ralph 29er tires offer a nice wide supple rubber carcass without being terribly heavy and they are also designed to be run tubeless.

Here are the things I gathered to do the setup:

Steps I used:

  • I followed the first video about how to install the yellow Stan’s rim tape.
  • I installed a 29er MTB tube for ~2hrs at 40psi to ensure the tape sealed to the rim well before installing the tire tubeless.
  • Deflated the tire and pulled the tube out.
  • Then I installed the Stan’s valve stem and the tire – inflating to 40psi to seat the bead using glass cleaner as lubrication.
  • Once I was happy tire was holding air and seating well I deflated and added 3oz of Stan’s sealant by removing the valve core.
  • Tire was re-inflated to 40psi and rotated slowly to plug any leaks.
  • I had to re-inflate and spin wheels several times and left them overnight then more air + spinning in the AM.
  • I rode the bike the following day with no issues.

The “Help” articles and videos on the Stan’s website are worth checking out before you start.

We don't need no stinking tubes!

Overall the process was fairly painless although I probably spent 3-4hrs spread out over an evening and the next morning doing the setup. I did take my time and checked twice before each step so I’m sure that will be the longest it ever takes me. Using a full tubeless designed setup definitely helped everything click together for me with no problems. I was particularly surprised that I could easily seat the beads and inflate the tire with just a normal floor pump. Sweet!

Benefits of Tubeless:

  • puncture resistance for both sharp objects and pinch flats
  • ability to run low pressures without pinch flatting
  • very supple tire with low rolling resistance and improved traction
  • possibly lower weight depending on specific setup

I like running wide rubber at low pressure and I ride in terrain with poor traction, Being able to use soft tires that really conform to the terrain is awesome and I don’t have to worry about pinch flats. I’ll write up a review after I have a bunch of riding on these wheels and let you know what I think of Stan’s NoTubes tubeless products.

Going Ghetto

My buddy Scott reports having no issues with a ghetto tubeless setup so you don’t need to buy new wheels/tires if you want to try out tubeless. I’ll try my hand at ghetto tubeless on my Nomad next since I’m not spending $$$ on new wheels. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Scott is a God!

8 02 2012

Life ain't fair...=)

Loaded these photos on Flickr at the same time. I throw a HUGE wheelie and get 6 views…;-) Scott “The Bag Man” Felter pops a tire off a rim and gets 38 views!!! Sadly that’s just life when you hang out with a Rock Star…=-)

Note to self: next time you upload a photo dropping a 5′ ledge of death don’t put it next to a photo of Scott adjusting his hydration pack……hahahahaha!

Ogre Ogling PT2…

7 02 2012

18" Surly Ogre at the Fairfield Bicycle Shop...

I couldn’t resist sitting on it again. The 18″ fits me pretty well although if I were to get one I might go for the 20″ so I could use some Jones style swept back H-bars.

I love army green bikes!

Ogre Ogling…

1 02 2012

Surly Ogre Complete...

I got a chance to check out a Surly Ogre at the Fairfield Bicycle Shop. Very nice. I had to keep my VISA card firmly in my wallet…=-)

Chromag Surface 29er…

25 01 2012

Chromag Surface 29er...

I came across this bike and since sharing bike porn on the internet is bound to net me bonus points with Santa and any post-death accountants I may have to deal with I figured why not share it? Chromag is making so few of these bikes and they are selling so fast they haven’t even bothered to advertise them on their website. If you click on the image you can read a review and see a few more lovely images of this bike.

Homebrew All Mtn 29er…

25 01 2012

Click on image for more info.

I stumbled across this homemade 29er hardtail on The builder made this in his garage in his spare time while helping his wife out with their new twins. Build quality is stellar and the whole post is worth reading just for the bike porn alone.

Ladies Only…

23 01 2012

Info about the video.

Chromag Surface 29er Build…

20 01 2012

I’m waiting on some parts to build up my own 29er hardtail [not a Chromag Surface sadly!…=-(] so this video warms my heart on a cold winter day. There is no sound in the video above so start the video below first then start the video on top for the Lazy Rando Mash Up.

The build video is kind of short so hit repeat a few times to enjoy it again and again until the song runs its course…=-)

29er Hardtail IGH MTBs…

14 12 2011

Surly Karate Monkey...

Update: added a bunch of new frames in this post based on readers’ comments. Read the comments section for even more options. I’m too lazy to post ’em all!

I’ve been looking at 29er hardtail mountain bike frames that would accept an IGH without using a chain tensioner. That means either an eccentric bottom bracket [EBB], sliding dropouts or horizontal dropouts. Since I’ve gone to the trouble to root out some interesting options I figured I’d share it so the other 4 guys on the planet who are interested so they can find this post with Google and perhaps find something they’d like…=-)

My Criteria:

  • must accept a Rohloff or Alfine without needing a chain tensioner
  • readily available as a frame
  • reasonable cost [under $1K- ideally under $500]
  • work with a suspension fork [I made one exception]

BTW – if you click on any image in this post you can jump to the info page for the frame shown.

Surly Ogre...

Surly Karate Monkey/Ogre

The Ogre is just a a Karate Monkey with touring attitude so I lumped them together.

  • cost ~$600CDN for frame and fork
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • you get a fork which is nice if you want the option to ride rigid
  • fairly standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 17″ CS, suspension corrected for 80mm fork]
  • horizontal dropouts on both
  • Ogre has Rohloff OEM2 plate bolt designed into left dropout
  • frame weight 5lb 15oz
  • fork weight 2lb 10oz
  • KM probably a touch lighter than above
  • KM comes with lighter disc only fork
  • Ogre comes with old KM fork with disc/v-brake option and touring brazeons

Canfield Nimble 9...

Canfield Nimble 9

  • cost ~$650US + shipping for frame only
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-120mm fork
  • slack all mtn 29er MTB geometry [HA 68-70, 16.25″ 17.15″ CS]
  • short adjustable sliding chainstays
  • frame weight 5.5lb large
  • slack 70 deg seatpost to allow for ultra short CS
  • gorgeous powdercoat

Voodoo Bokor 29...

Voodoo Bokor 29

  • cost ~$350-$400US + shipping for frame only
  • aluminum
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 100mm-120mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 16.75″ CS]
  • short adjustable sliding chainstays
  • frame weight 4.4lbs @ 18″

Voodoo Soukri 29er...

Voodoo Soukri

  • cost ~$525US + shipping for frame only
  • steel [Reynolds 681]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 100mm-120mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 17.9″ CS]
  • short adjustable sliding chainstays
  • frame weight 5.2lbs @ 16″

Niner SIR...

Niner SIR

  • cost ~$899 for frame only
  • steel [Reynolds 853]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 100mm-120mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 17.3″ CS]
  • special eccentric BB
  • frame weight ??

Niner One...

Niner One

  • cost ~$899 for frame only
  • aluminum
  • tapered internal headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-100mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 71-72, 17.3″ CS]
  • special eccentric BB
  • frame weight ??

Kona Unit...

Kona Unit

  • cost ~$949 for complete bike [I’m pretty sure you can order just a frame/fork]
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 100mm fork
  • standard 29er MTB geometry [HA 70-72, 17.1″ CS]
  • sliding dropouts
  • frame weight ??

Kona Honzo...

Kona Honzo

  • cost ~$1899 for complete bike [I’m pretty sure you can order just a frame fork ~$1K]
  • steel
  • tapered internal headset
  • suspension corrected for 120mm fork
  • all mountain 29er MTB geometry [HA 68 deg, 16.3″ CS]
  • 31.6mm seatpost fits dropper
  • ISCG 05 tabs
  • sliding dropouts
  • frame weight ??

On One Scandal

On One Scandal

  • cost ~$399 for frame only
  • aluminum
  • internal tapered headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-100mm fork
  • XC 29er MTB geometry [HA 72, 17.4″ CS]
  • sliding dropouts & vertical dropouts provided
  • 31.6mm seat tube accepts a dropper post
  • tire clearance for 2.5″ 29er tires
  • available in raw, black anodized and racing green paint
  • frame weight 3.5lbs

On One Inbred...

On One Inbred

  • cost ~$350 for frame only
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-100mm fork
  • XC 29er MTB geometry [HA 72, 17.4″ CS]
  • vertical dropouts provided with horizontal dropouts available as an option
  • large tire clearance
  • frame weight ~5lbs

Photo: Shiggy

On One Lurcher

  • cost ~$800USD for frame only
  • carbon
  • tapered internal headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm-100mm fork
  • XC 29er MTB geometry [don’t have geo details yet]
  • vertical dropouts and horizontal dropouts are both available
  • large tire clearance
  • frame weight TBD
  • 18″ Lurchers are arriving in US shortly

Jeff Jones diamond frame 29er stock frame & fork...

Jeff Jones Diamond Frame

  • cost ~$750 for frame and fork
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • no designed for a suspension fork – although you can run a 3.7″-4.7″ Surly Fat Larry tire for faux suspension if you like…=-)
  • fork takes a 135mm front disc hub
  • proprietary Jeff Jones geometry
  • vertical dropouts provided with eccentric BB
  • large tire clearance all around
  • frame weight ~5.7lbs
  • fork weight ~2.9lbs

Soma Juice 29er...

Soma Juice

  • cost ~$450USD for frame only
  • steel [Tange Prestige main triangle]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71-72 deg HA, 17.6″ CS]
  • horizontal dropouts
  • v-brake and disc brake tabs
  • 2.4″ tire clearance
  • frame weight 5.05lbs 16″ frame

Salsa El Mariachi...

Salsa El Mariachi

  • cost ~$600-$500USD for frame only
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71 deg HA, 17.5″-18.2″ CS]
  • swinging adjustable dropouts
  • disc brake tabs
  • 2.4″ tire clearance
  • frame weight 5.31lbs medium frame

Singular Swift...

Singular Swift

  • cost ~$680USD for frame only incl shipping from UK
  • steel [frame treated with rustproofing from Singular]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71.5-72 deg HA, 17.7″ CS]
  • vertical dropouts & EBB to adjust chain tension
  • disc brake tabs
  • 2.4″ tire clearance
  • frame weight 5lbs+ [don’t have specific weight]

Vassago Jabber Wocky...

Vassago Jaber Wocky

  • cost ~$499USD for frame only
  • steel [frame treated with rustproofing from factory]
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71 deg HA, 17.8″ CS]
  • horizontal dropouts with adjusters to dial in chain tension
  • disc brake tabs
  • 2.3″ tire clearance
  • frame weight 4.9lbs 18″ frame

Redline Monocog 29er...

Redline Monocog

  • cost ~$949USD for complete bike
  • steel
  • 1 1/8″ headset
  • suspension corrected for 80mm fork
  • standard 29er XC geometry [71 deg HA, 17.5″ CS]
  • sliding vertical dropouts to adjust chain tension
  • disc brake tabs
  • 2.3″ tire clearance [not confirmed]
  • frame weight 5lbs+ [not confirmed]

Just Another Night Ride…

10 12 2011

Install your lights and charge your batteries!

Night riding is becoming pretty routine these days. I start by charging up 3 sets of 4AA NiMH batteries to power my Dinotte 200L lights [~200 lumens each]. I check my bike over during the day [this time the borrowed Canfield Nimble 9] and install a Dinotte 200L on its bars. Then around mid-day I gather my gear, pack my hydration pack with essentials and dig out some riding clothing. Scott and/or Aaron usually arrive around 3pm-4pm. We BS for a bit about the latest bike porn we’ve been collectively eyeballing online and figure out a plan of attack for the ride. Then head off into the hills.

Scott Hunter-ing the nearly full moon...

One goofy issue we discovered is that all the parking lots where we usually leave the car are closed after sunset. In the summer that’s no problem, but at the moment we are just arriving as the sunset. We almost got towed on our first night recon mission at Partridge Hills. The park security guard said another 5 minutes and we’d have been pedalling back into to town [with dead lights and no cellphone/wallet!]. So now we have to scope out a spot to leave the vehicle on a public road near the trailhead.

Me moss hopping on the Canfield Nimble 9...

I really enjoyed my test ride on the Nimble 9. If you want to read my post ride impressions jump here and scroll down to the same photo as shown above. Bottom line I enjoyed the 29er hardtail ride. It seems to blend the speed/efficiency of a more road oriented bike with the bump eating prowess of a short travel FS rig without the weight/hassle of rear suspension. It climbs efficiently and was just as maneuverable in the tight stuff as my other MTBs. It slotted in right between the gnar crushing power of my 6″ travel Santa Cruz Nomad and the rock crawling monster trucking Surly Pugsley. I’m not sure I’d get a Canfield Nimble 9, but I’m going to keep checking out 29ers.

A-Man shredding the Gnar with Volcanically Explosif power!

Riding the trails at night is a blast. I’ve smartened up and left the warm clothes at home so I don’t get sweaty and have to stop to shed layers which are then stuffed into my small hydration pack. I’m chilly at the car, but after 5 minutes it’s totally comfortable. The woods just don’t seem as cold as it is in the city at night. We’re not complaining! I’d love a few more lumens of light power out of my lights, but for 4 year old technology they do their job pretty well. I get around 2hrs on high with 4 AA batteries so once my first light dies and I pop in a spare set of batteries and I start to think about riding back towards the car in case we experience a major light failure.

Scott lofting his wheel up onto a tall ledge...

We’ve been lucky here in Victoria lately with dry cool and sunny weather. The trails are in primo shape – a little damp, but not wet so we can ride reasonably hard and still hook up our tires. Part of winter mountain biking here on the Island is learning how much traction you have in various situations and maximizing the potential. After a winter of slick riding we’ll be rock stars in the drier summer conditions!…=-)

Rolling over the top A-Man eyes his line into the darkness...

I’m sure I’ll get sick of night riding at some point, but that will probably coincide with the arrival of spring and day light until I want to crawl into bed. For now I charge my batteries and ride off into the darkness with a smile on my face.

One More Session…

9 12 2011

Canfield Nimble 9…

8 12 2011

Grant's Canfield Nimble 9 - 29er MTB...

The Canfield Nimble 9 is a boutique bike that is rare by any standards. Scott is my local 29er guru and he turned me onto this frame, but I didn’t expect to actually get to ride one. As it turns out Grant from the Fairfield Bicycle Shop had one in my size that he wants to sell and offered me a test ride. Sweet! Getting to try a unique bike like this very cool so I said I’d love to.

Nimble, but deadly!

The Nimble 9 is a burly 4130 steel frame with sliding dropouts for a clean SS/IGH chainline. There is room for 2.4″+ 29er tires and can be run with 80mm-120mm suspension forks. The short 413mm-429mm chainstays are supposed to make it very maneuverable.

She's got big wheels...


  • Ultra short Chain Stays for the fastest turning 29” wheeled bike.
  • Adjustable Chain Stay length so you can run single speed or geared.
  • Radial Bent Seat Stays for an extra smooth, comfortable ride.
  • 4130 Cromoly Steel construction: strong, compliant and lasts a life time.
  • Disk Brake compatible only for the best stopping power possible.
  • One water bottle boss for the epic long rides or night riding.
  • Full length seat tube with a 35mm forward offset to give a 73 degree effective seat angle.

Tight rear end...


  • Head Angle – 70 Deg. (480 fork w/ 16mm headset)
  • BB Drop – 70mm
  • Chain Stay Length – 16.25-16.9″ (412.75mm-429.26mm)
  • Seat Tube Length – 20” (Lg), 18” (Med.), 16” (Sm)
  • Top Tube Length (effective at full extension) – 24.5 (Lg), 23.75” (Med.), 23” (Sm)
  • Wheel Base – 1093mm (Lg), 1074mm (Med.), 1055mm (Sm)

Sliding dropouts...

Build Specs:

  • 4130 Cromoly
  • Recommend fork length(s) – 3,4,5″
  • Front derailleur – Shimano direct mount
  • Bottom bracket – 73mm x 41mm OD
  • Seat post – 27.2mm OD
  • Seat clamp – 29.8mm ID
  • Rear dropout spacing – 135mm QR
  • Rear Disc Mount – IS (51mm)
  • Headtube – 1 1/8″ x 120 (LG) / 1 1/8″ x 115 (MD) / 1 1/8″ x 110 (SM)

Squishy Manitou Minute fork...

So why would I be interested in this bike other than just straight up bike geekery? Well my riding in the Victoria area features lots of techy sections and twisty turns. I rarely get out of the low range of gears so the awesome bump eating prowess of my Nomad isn’t being well utilized. At the same time what slows me down is my inability to clean techy uphill sections. If I could ride more uphill bits folks would have to wait less for me and I’d feel less gimpy! So that’s my general motivation to try a hardtail and my last Pugsley ride showed definite improvement in that area. I could tweak my Pugsley to be a better mountain bike, but the lack of any suspension would be its limiting factor. Rather than mess with Pugsley success I’ll keep it sand/snow/bikepacking focused and look towards a dedicated MTB.

What is this obsolete technology?...=-)

My Pugsley MTBing experience and riding with Scott has shown me that big wheels roll well over our local rooty/rocky terrain. So a hardtail 29er is going to be my first avenue of attack. The Canfield fits that bill and has sliding dropouts so I can repurpose my 2nd Rohloff to this project. I think the ability to shift instantly without pedalling will be key to conquering some hard uphills.

This saddle is following me around!

Normally if I wanted to try a frame like this I’d have to just order it up sight unseen hoping it fit and that I liked how it handles. With a demo option I can ensure it’s going to work for me and it will be way cheaper buying used than new. Best of all if it doesn’t end up being awesome I can just give it back and I haven’t spent a penny.

The juicy details...

Update with ride review below:

The Good:

  • fast and efficient non-technical climber
  • rolled well over our rooty/rocky terrain [I didn’t miss my 26″ FS rig]
  • was indeed nimble [sliders set about middle of travel]
  • confident descending
  • easy to get front wheel up over obstacles

The Bad:

  • slack head angle and long fork gave me a lot of wheel flop going up steep climbs
  • hard to keep weight on front wheel [100mm travel fork]
  • 70 seat tub angle meant when I dropped seatpost in techy terrain the effective TT shrank a ton
  • lots of pedal strike on lumpy terrain [175mm cranks]
  • my size 12 feet hit the chainstays a lot [BMX pedals & 5.10 Impact Low shoes]

Feeling Nimble on a 29er at Partridge Hills...

I’m really glad Grant let me have a test ride. You just can’t tell what a bike will be like until you ride it a bunch. He had someone interested in it so I returned it to him. If it’s not sold I may grab it back for another ride and try a lower stem as well as pushing the dropouts all the way back and see what I think. I’d probably run it with an 80mmm fork to get the front end down a bit more.

Jeff Jones Spaceframe Semi-Fat…

5 12 2011

Click here for more info...

Jeff Jones is making some beautiful spaceframe 29er MTBs that have room up front for a fat tire so you can go semi-fat and enjoy a mildly suspended 29er without a squishy fork. They look like works of art for sure. I found some sweet owner photos of these bikes over at MTBR that is worth a look – very drool worthy.

Frame details...