Heckler Time!

30 06 2012

…framing the action

Apparently we didn’t scare Sean and Deanna off of mountain biking on the South Shore of Vancouver Island. They decided they’d come back for more dirt hijinx.

Sean taking a good line on Ruffles…

We covered a lot of the same terrain as last ride so they would have a chance to work on stuff they’d seen before and “figure out” typical tech moves that crop up repeatedly at Hartland.

Deanna on the move…

Their Hecklers are a bit more XC oriented than our Nomads, but they are capable bikes and well suited to local riding conditions.

Sharon starts up a climb…

Their bikes have steeper head tube angles and lower front ends than ours which makes for easier climbing, but it also makes steep drops more challenging. Especially without height adjustable dropper seatposts.

Bouncing down the trail…

It’s great to have a larger group out on a ride. You end up waiting around more, but that gives you time to chat and hang out with your friends.

Sharon’s turn to roll on in…

Sharon’s enjoying the pay off from so much time spent learning her MTB skills as she isn’t at the back of the pack any more and she can offer up some tips to others.

Sean on the edge…

Sean comes from a rugby and karate background. His style is to throw himself at the trail repeatedly and see who is tougher. This approach has been surprisingly effective, but has also resulted in some spectacular crashes. I gave him some body armour I wasn’t using for future rides as I suspect otherwise his MTB career could be really intense, but really short!

Deanna checking things out…

Deanna is a lot more cautious and she’s rebuilding her MTB skills at a measured pace. It’s going to take her longer to master the challenges of our local trails, but she’ll get there soon enough and won’t have to visit the hospital during the learning process!

Fun in the forest…

We are continuing to get the riding position and the suspension setup tweaked optimally for their Hecklers. I’ve learned with my Nomad how important it is to continually adjust and evaluate your bike’s setup. Small changes can result in big improvements. Plus you get to understand your bike better.

In the groove…

Lost & Found!

28 06 2012

That little silver retaining collar at the far end of the shock is really important!

When Deanna and Sean came out of a ride this past Sunday the silver collar at the front of Sean’s shock jumped ship leaving the spring grinding away against his frame. That’s not a good thing obviously.

Come out, come out – wherever you are!

The shock is from ~1998 so finding a replacement part could be a challenge. We decided it would be best to go back to Hartland and search for it Monday before the trails had seen much traffic.

I spent a lot of time looking down…

We spent over an hour doing a detailed search of the section of Little Face Trail where we noticed the part was missing. Our rationale was that it must have come of within a few hundred metres of that spot.

Still looking…

Eventually we gave up looking and decided to go for a short ride since we were at Hartland anyways. I figured there was a slight chance it had fallen off on the first trail we rode on Sunday, but that was 20 mins earlier before we noticed it was missing so that seemed like a long shot. We decided we’d hit that trail right before we went back to the car.

There’s my baby!

Sure enough at the first corner of that initial trail from Sunday the collar was sitting on some moss waiting for us.

No longer MIA…

I love it when a plan comes together… 🙂

Glad the Heckler is back in business.. 🙂

A herd of Santa Cruz bikes….

26 06 2012

Sean and Deanna…

My friends Sean and Deanna both ride Santa Cruz Hecklers. I helped buy the older Heckler in 1998 and then refurbished it a few years ago. When they were looking at buy another Heckler I gave their newer Heckler a once over before it was purchased off Craig’s List.

New and old Santa Cruz Hecklers…

So I’m sort of godfather to their Santa Cruz bikes… 😉

Sharon, Deanna & Sean…

I noticed their bikes weren’t getting dirty so I employed some constructive peer pressure to get them out to Hartland Mountain Bike Park for a rip.

Sharon leads the pack…

Since I wanted them to come back for a second ride we plotted out the easiest loop we could that still covered some ground and gave them a taste of the riding at Hartland.

Deanna sessioning some rocks…

Even with an uber slow pace, lots of stops to check out/try tech sections and some instructional tidbits we still managed to break one of their bikes and crash a few times – one crash was a helmet wrecker! Riding on the South Shore of Vancouver Island is really not easy!

Sharon providing some tips of how to shred the gnar…

Sharon did a great job cleaning almost everything and showing off how well her skills have developed in the last year or so. I think it was a real morale boost for her to see folks who were struggling to get over tech sections she can easily do now – not to laugh at their crashes, but to gauge the improvement in her own skills.


I blew one steep rooty/rocky climb only to have Sharon come barreling past me and make it to the top for the first time ever. She did a victory dance worthy of a NFL Super Bowl touchdown… 😉 Her time with the Dirt Girlz MTB Club is paying off.

Sean tries the rocks…

We got everyone back to the cars mostly in one piece and mostly smiling.

Deana & Sean post ride…

I guess we’ll know that we did a good job of being mountain bike guides if we can get them to come out with us a second time… 😉

Why I love the internet…

9 06 2010

My hack job modified Heckler seatstay brace...

When I revamped my buddy Sean’s Santa Cruz Heckler I had to modify the seatstay brace to allow clearance for fat 2.4″ rubber in the back. The mod worked, but it wasn’t particularly pretty.  I had posted the build pics on MTBR.com and one of the members took pitty on me and made me the brace shown below so Sean’s bike would be as good looking as it is nice to ride….sweet!  He not only made it for free, but wouldn’t accept any $$$ to cover shipping to me from the US.  Amazing…=-)

CNC'd Heckler bling...

All Mountain Bikes for My GF

9 04 2010

Kona Coilair = $1750cdn for 2009 stock

I got Sharon out on Kurt’s Santa Cruz Nomad.  The good news is she liked it a lot and is stoked to try some dirt trails.  The bad news is Kurt won’t let her keep his Nomad permanently!…=-)

Santa Cruz Heckler = $2000USD

So we are looking at a few long travel all mountain full suspension bikes for her.  I’m not sure if she’ll even be able to swing one this year, but we might as well do our homework now and figure out how much $$$ we are talking about so we know how much saving has to happen.

Santa Cruz Nomad = $3000USD

I’m of the mind that upgrading suspension on a MTB is so damn expensive that you’re way better off to wait and buy the bike you want/need than to think you are saving $$$ buying a lower quality bike and upgrading when you wear stuff out/have more $$$.

I’ve added links on each image to the manufacturer’s website – so click ’em if you want more info.

Giant Reigh 2 = $2,300CDN

Our next move will be to get out to Bow Cycle for some test rides on as many 6″ travel bikes as we can.  Looking at bike specs online is useful for narrowing down choices, but ultimately you gotta push the pedals to know what’s what!

Personally I’ve had such good luck with Santa Cruz bikes that I’ll be pushing for one of them unless Sharon falls in love with a bike she test rides and/or we find a sweet deal on  a used bike along the way.  The Santa Cruz Heckler is a very nice rig at $2K and unless we luck out on a used bike I don’t think a sub-$2K bike is in the cards if we want 6″ of travel and quality suspension.

If you have any suggestions for suitable bikes for Sharon or maybe you’ve got a lightly used long travel MTB  in a smaller size you want to get rid of – please leave a comment…=-)

Thanks Kurt!

2 04 2010

Yeah for big tire clearance!

Sean’s pre-Y2K Santa Cruz Heckler was designed for 2.1″ rubber.  I managed to slip in 2.4″ Schwalbe Fat Alberts into the new Fox Float fork, but at the rear there was some light rubbing on the seatstay brace.  Thanks to Kurt and a grinder there is clearance at the rear for the fat rubber and it doesn’t look too DIY!…=-)  The 2.4″ rubber gives the bike uber traction and can be inflated a bit less than a 2.1″ tire without fear of pinch flats…this adds a nice bit of really compliant suspension to the bike.

1998 Santa Cruz Heckler Redux

30 03 2010

Heckler Redux

My friend Sean wanted a new mountain bike, but the sticker shock of a new full suspension ride was putting him off.  He had access to a 1998 Santa Cruz Heckler frame so we decided to upgrade it a bit so he’d have a sweet rig at a reasonable cost.

New LX dearailleur...

I put a new LX derailleur on back as well as a Schwalbe Fat Albert 26 x 2.4″ tire. I kept the existing 8 speed cassette since it was in decent shape.

New V-brakes and existing rear rim...

I replaced the beat up v-brakes for a set new of Deore stoppers.  I kept the old rear wheel after tensioning and truing it.

Robust single pivot suspension...

The robust single pivot suspension design of the Heckler was in good shape with no play.  The rear shock was working fine.

Race Face Turbine LP cranks...

The cranks, BB and front derailleur were all serviceable so I just cleaned off the crud and adjusted them.  I put a new SRAM 8 speed chain on.

Nice paint job...

The paint was in good shape so I cleaned off the bike and polished it with some Pedros Bike Lust.  I pulled the cables and housing at first, but ended up reusing everything, but the brake cables.

Fox Float RLC 100

The old Marzocchi Bomber came off and a new Fox Float RLC 100 fork went on…mmmm…buttery smooth suspension travel.

Avid BB7

The Fox fork won’t accept v-brakes so I binned the old ones as well as the old front wheel.  A new Sun Ryhno Lite/Deore disc wheel shod with a Schwalbe Fat Albert took its place.  An Avid BB7 and 160mm rotor will handle the braking duties now.

Ergon Grips and a Salsa Moto Ace riser bar...

The cockpit got a complete upgrade with a Salsa stem and bars.  Ergon grips and Avid brake levers.  I kept the old 8 speed XT shifters.

One nice ride!

I was amazed how well the bike rides now.  I used to own a Heckler of the same vintage and it did not ride this nicely.  I’m giving most of the credit to the Fox 100mm fork which jacks up the front end an inch slowing down the steering and providing some excelent suspension action which seems to be a good match for the ~3″ of travel in the rear.  The Schwalbe Fat Alberts are light for a big tire and roll nicely adding a welcome dose of traction and even more plushness.  The wide riser bar and Ergon grips are really nice on the hands and give you lots of leverage for precision steering.

This bike rides so sweetly I’m sad to give it back to Sean….=-)

This is why you buy quality – not many FS frames from 10 years ago would be worth upgrading and even fewer would give you such an amazing ride compared to modern FS bikes.  Nicely done Santa Cruz.