Project: Lighten the Reign X1 a little bit..

After the biking in Wicklow when I was having a little trouble dragging that bike uphill, I’ve begun a project to lighten the Reign X a little bit, without lightening my wallet too much.

So I’ve upgraded from a coil DHX 3.0 to a secondhand DHX 5.0 air shock that came from the UK, and that lightened the bike by a fair chunk of a kilo, as well as giving me more tweaking possibilities with the setup, and I like my tweaking!

Tyres – I’ve swapped out the 2.5″ DHF/DHR supertacky combination and put back on the 2.25″ ADvantage 60a XC tyres back and front with XC tubes instead of the DH tubes I had in there. It’ll slip a little bit more when riding, but that takes more than another kg or so off the bike and improves the up and across characteristics. Definitely a fair bit faster than with the DH tyres!

The brakes were good but I wanted to upgrade to finned brakes after my experience with the Zees on the V10 in France last summer. A set BNIB of SLX brakes came available, and they went on to the bike with the finned metallic pads. Great feel, servo-wave on the levers and they feel pretty good.

The drivetrain had started slipping and getting a lot harder to change gears recently, so I’ve bit the bullet and swapped all the worn bits out. Given the replacement of the bits like-for-like isn’t that much cheaper than going to singlering front with an extrawide 10-speed range on the rear, so this is the plan. Bits are ordered, and it’ll get done next week at some stage. The 17T goes away, and a 4oT goes in at the top, so it’s about the same range as the top end drivetrains.

  • 40T Hope extender cog.
  • SLX 10-speed clutch mech.
  • SLX 10-speed shifter.
  • 32T front narrow-wide ring
  • XT 11-36 cassette
  • Deore 10 speed chain

Surprisingly much better feel for the changing of gears! Well, 6 years of wear will have its effects. Gone from SRAM/Hayes drivetrain to full SLX and I’m happy with the result. Overall, the bike is now 16.3 kg down from the ~20kg it was and it feels nice to cycle around.

Only options left to lighten things are to go to air forks and a super-light wheelset and I’m not really willing to spend that on the bike.

New DH bike incoming..

So, I’ve bitten the bullet and decided to get a downhill rig for the upcoming trip to Les Gets. I figured I’d get the benefit to having a bike that has more squish and better geometry for battering down mountainsides at speed. This bike – it’s a Santa Cruz V10.4 – has a carbon fibre frame built to be pretty much bulletproof, and it has 8 inches of suspension on the front and 10(!) inches of suspension on the rear. It’s the same bike as was used to win a few UCI World Cup races over the past few years. Hopefully it’ll give me the confidence to progress my learning and allow me to have a bit more fun a bit more safely than I’ve been able to on the ReignX. The ReignX is a very capable bike, but this should make a big difference.
The bike is carbon and alloy, so black and silver. I may repaint at some stage. Forks are Boxxer coils, with J-Tech damping. Shock is a Fox DHX RC4. Brakes are M820 Saints with 200mm discs so should be immense in stopping power. Zee rear mech. Tubeless wheels and decent DH tyres. Total bike weight about 16kg which is epically low for a 10″ DH rig.
Pics to come when it arrives.

Mountain bike improvements

So, I’ve made a few changes to my 2009 Giant Reign X1 from the standard build.

  • Instead of the standard 500lb spring on the rear DHX 3.0, I’ve fitted a 650lb spring. Big difference as I’m not bottoming out on normal cycling. I’d like to go to e.g .a DHX 5.0 air shock but that’s in the future.
  • En route from TF Tuning suspension are two replacement springs for the front. Firmer, and extra firm, as the forks are set for a bodyweight of approx 65kg and I’m a fair bit over that.
  • Tyres are choosable from either Advantages (2.25 and 2.1), Minions in 2.5 supertacky and WetScreams also in 2.5 supertacky. There are DH-specific innertubes in place as well at the moment with the Minions, though they have certainly added to the weight of the bike.
  • The seatpost appears to be bent a little bit (again) so I’ve ordered a Kind Shock LEV hydraulic seatpost, 125mm 30.9 which should allow full height dropping of the saddle from climbing to descent positions at the click of a lever. A few hundred grams extra in weight but a stronger seatpost and a lot of comfort gained.
  • Pedals are a definite upgrade needed from the dual-sided flats+SPD that are on it at the moment, so I’ll probably get a set of SLX SPD pedals in the near future.
  • I’ve installed a CatEye strada wireless cycle computer, gives speed and distance and that’s all I need on that bike for the moment.
  • There are spoke reflectors on it and the little orange spoke reflectors that every bike gets sold with. I’ll most likely leave them on as they provide a useful reflective purpose.
  • The front brake is now a 200mm disc and the old front is now on the rear – 180mm.
  • There’s a lovely neoprene crud catcher between the fork bridge and the wheel stopping the spray of mud out towards the front and up into my face. Big difference.

As for myself, I’ve got a few bits and pieces that help the confidence a lot..

  • 661 comp elbow guards. Sufficient for their purpose and I’ll be using these kayaking as well.
  • 661 comp fullface helmet.
  • Oakley O-frame with fire lens, very comfortable and with rain-x application on the inside it shouldn’t fog up easily.
  • RaceFace D3O-based knee pads with shin protection. Fantastic pieces of kit, and I wish I got these earlier.
  • NukeProof spine protector, also with that funky soft elastomer armour.

Getting the chest mount for the GoPro has made a big difference to the watchability of the recorded video even though it looks really weird when cycling uphill. More to come with that one.

All I need to do now is work at improving my bike handling as well as my overall fitness, and it’ll be a fun time ahead!

BallyH with beginners

Lots of fun doing the green loop twice today, though trying this with a borderline chest infection was not the smartest thing in the world. One dumb puncture after running straight over a trail anchor… Still a good trip out, and 12kms of good practice on the Reign.

Update, after a busy busy time.

So, it’s November. Wow the time is flying! So much has happened. So little time to play with.

Masters: Week 10 has just ended. Loads of assignments to complete for the next fortnight, then study for the exams that will complete the 5 modules that will constitute the first semester of the Masters of Engineering in “Information and Network Security” that I am currently pursuing in UL. It’s been good so far to get back to UL as a student but this time with an appetite for success that wasn’t really there in the past (for whatever reasons..). There’s a desire now to get through this with good results. I like the subjects, I’ve got a good crew of classmates and the craic is good enough. It’s tough for sure with time management being the hardest part so far. I have no spare time to relax this year. At all. It’s fun learning how to use Maple, MSProject and things like that. Weird having to buy textbooks again, but good to have them to refer to anyway.

Work: I’ve completed probation, and am now a fully fledged employee. The shift is not the easiest to manage but it’s not that bad – I still get to sleep at a somewhat sane time and it’s consistent at least. Some shifts of course I’m up the walls and I mightn’t get back to the house till gone half 2 or 3 o’clock with lectures at 9 or 10 in the morning and another night’s work the following night. Learning a lot, still got so much to learn. Trying not to forget what I learned at the start – that’s kinda hard.

Car: The Audi is paid off. Finally. It’s now just a car, with no intention from me of making it any better. It’s got too much mileage to consider tarting it up any bit, and it’s a useful tool to use instead of a pursuit in its own right. I don’t have the time to do anything really useful to it other than put diesel in every month or so. At least my driving mileage has severely decreased now that I’m back in Limerick full time. Due another tyre change soon, may but top-tier all-season tyres on it to safeguard me through the winter.

Sport: Very little time to get out on the Reign for a cycle. :( No time in a boat in quite a while – no free weekend gets in the way of that, but that is what I’ve signed up for! Put a deposit down for a good road bike for the Bike-to-Work scheme – a 2011 Trek Madone 4.5, secondhand, with uprated lighter Mavic wheels with the blade spokes. I’ll upgrade a few bits and pieces on that bike, including as good tyres as I can get. I will cycle to work on it at least once ;) and I’ll have to cycle home for lunch to get the car to drive home when the shift is over. It’s not good to be physically pumped at 2am trying to get to sleep. It’ll be useful to have that bike for the cycle around northwest France next summer just before Dave’s french wedding.

Other stuff: 5 years since fun and games, so that’s an interesting milestone passed. Nothing else of note there that I’ll put down here ;)

Astro: been out maybe 3 times since the start of the summer. Been pretty crap for astronomers in Ireland recently – and pretty crap for someone that works evenings and has college during the day! Starting to see the utility of a good quality grab and go setup that will give good views without needing to cooldown – maybe a 100mm short refractor on an alt-az mount?

Sarah: She passed her Viva with flying colours, a very positive impression from the examiners and a trivially small number of corrections before final submission of the thesis document. Her hard work and perseverance (and slight craziness) paid off big time. She’ll get the hood in January.


BallyH mountainbike goodness

Saturday last (the 25th) was a day that was beautiful cycling weather, so it was arranged to meet up with Dave T in  BallyH and do the brown loop. As I was a bit late getting to the carpark, Dave had headed onwards to meet up with the rest of the group to take it handy while I caught up. I unpacked the bike and changed really quickly, hopped on the bike, clipped in and started cycling. I next took a break at the log with the banana graveyard behind it, at the brown/white division. 8.5km without getting off the bike, and at a fairly hard (for me) pace at about 45 minutes from the carpark to there. Fairly wrecked at this point. Dave was under time pressure to move onwards so himself and a few of the group headed for the rest of the Brown. I decided to do a portion of the white with the rest of the lads that were left. Lovely sections of the white, to test out the new rear spring that I fitted to the Reign to support my 15 stone weight ;) so it was a lot of fun keeping the tires on the trail and *hammering* along. Slow enough on the climbs, but I’m getting to the stage where I’m getting my balance and weight right for going around bends and humps and hollows.Youtube videos to follow soon.

All-important: keeping the bike on the trail….

Easter cycling

Easter saw me up in Achill and the weather was spectacular for a weekend on the island. Easter Saturday morning, I cycled the 3 kilometres from the road junction to the transmitters on Minaun in ~45 minutes, turned the camera on and cycled down the 3km on the road and 350m vertical descent, in about 3 minutes. Video here:

Descending Minaun, easter 2011