I had decided to get into mountain biking, so I had to decide on a kind of bike. I wanted something that would be the mountain bike I would ride to go places rather than just a mountain bike I would go places to ride… I spent a good while in paralysis by analysis, but first I wasn’t sure if I would go with a mountainized road bike like the Surly Long Haul Trucker with knobby tires or if I would go with something like the Surly Moonlander that can go just about anywhere with crazy traction. I wanted something that if I have enough time in 2014, it would work for the great divide trail. So I set out to determine my acceptance criteria for what the ideal bike would have:
- Comfort over Speed (I am not doing insane Downhill/Freestyle flips in the air)
- Fun — some bikes just make you feel like a hooligan and I want to be a hooligan every day
- Practical — I need to be able to use this for grocery shopping, single track, and maybe even a trailer from time to time.
In the comfort area — I looked at several suspension types from rigid to full suspension. I came to the realization that hardly anyone putting large amounts of miles actually has full suspension, and that the suspension would complicate things like racks, trailers, chain lines with internal gear hubs, etc… A front fork with suspension provides many of the advantages, but does impair the use of front racks. I decided I will use a handlebar bag, rear panniers, and frame bags — and if that isn’t enough then I will load up a trailer and pull that.
My suspension choice became a little more difficult when I got to ride a moonlander. It was much lighter than it looked, nimble, and loads of fun. Plowing into curbs, ruts, sand, and just about anything made me feel like a human powered monster truck. The only downside is the tires are the only suspension — while they do provide some cushioning there could be a little more when running on some of the washboard type textures and more gnarly, rocky terrain. I also road the Surly Krampus — which was amazing fun and seemed to have fewer of the compromises that the Moonlander had. No offset meant I could run any “normal” 29er or 26″ wheelset. So I was decided on either 26″ fat or 29+er semi-fat.
Both worked well from a practicality standpoint so that wouldn’t be the deciding factor. In fact — I couldn’t decide — so I went somewhere in between. I was looking at cobbling together a Surly Pugsley so I could use the Rabbit Hole + Knard combination of the Krampus so I could figure out what I want and go from there. Then I stumbled upon a cheap 9zero7 frame with sliding rear dropouts. This would let me run an IGH and monkey around with different drivetrain options easily.
So in the end I decided not to decide. I am going to build up the 9zero7 frame and use it to test some ideas I have. Based on what I get out of that, I will move on to another frame — maybe fat, maybe super fat, maybe not at all.