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My local trails are really starting to dry up here. This is one of my favorites formountain bike riding. It is the Dutch Hollow trail system in the Heber Valley area. It has a lot of south and west facing slopes so it tends to dry up sooner than other trails in the area. This is a few miles south of Park City area and few thousand feet lower elevation than Park City. Happy Trails! What are some of your favorites?
So now that we have selected the frame that we are goung to use for project build, the next thing to consider will be the fork. By the way, the Niner frame is not the lightest frame out there that we could have used for this project. At 1240 grams it is in the medium lightweight category for hardtail 29er frames. However, as stated from the beginning of this project, we are going to build a bike that is raceable by a 175 pound racer (me) that feels stiff and controllable, not noodlely and fragile. So the Niner frame is the backbone of such a build, and we will drop the difference in weight in other areas that are not as critical as the frame. This makes snese on many levels and especially when you consider the nice touches that Niner includes on all thier frames. There are a few frames out there that are at 1000 grams or a little less, however with a rider weight of 175 these tend to get a little noodlely, and if the frame is noodlely them the whole bike feels fragile. These frames may work for a rider weight of 150 or less, but thats not me.
So, the fork we selected for this build is the all new Cannondale 2013 Carbon Lefty. It is the lightest 29er fork out there, and it is still stiff and functional. So, the weight we lose on the frame we make up on the fork without compromising functionality. We are a Project 321 dealer so we were able to get an adapter that will allow us to mount a Lefty to any MTB frame. I have been riding and racing the Lefty for a year now, and it is my new all time favorite fork for XC. The small bump compliance of this fork is amazing when compared to other $1000+ forks. I have a SID world cup on my current Niner and Wow, what a difference between the SID and the Lefty. The Lefty is sooo much more plush and stiff, and for a fork that weighs 1240 grams, that is pretty freaking amazing. So theLefty will mount to the Niner using a Project 321 adapter.
Let me tell you, this fork is stiff. I have been riding and racing mountain bikes for 15 years now. I have owned almost every fork on the market. From the early Judys, to F100′s, Durin SLs, SIDs, DT’s Carbon XC you name it, I have run it. This new Lefty fork is da bomb. The reason it is stiff, is it has 40mm stanchion on the top and a 32mm stanchion on the bottom, dual crown where is connects to the steer tube, and the slider mechanism inside is a set of square tubing that can’t twist as easily as a bridged tubing setup. All of this beefiness and the for is still the lightest on the market? OK I’m sold and Im not even a Cannondale dealer. Right now Im going to make a bold statement that all my future XC race bikes will be sporting a Lefty.
So here is a picture of our dream bike fork.
And here is a picture of the fork on the scale without the remote.I think the remote adds about 60 grams.
So race season starts in a couple of weeks here in Utah. The first couple of races are in St George which very desert like with rocks and ledges, so full suspension bike is probably best. However, after those two races the series moves north and into the ski resorts. So because of the long and sometimes very smooth climbs, a lightweight hardtail seems to,have an advantage. So, our project race bike for this season is the Niner Air 9 Carbon RDO. It will be built with functionality and lightness as the top goal, but will not include super exotic parts that are only available from Europe with long waiting lists. The bike parts that will be used are available from US distributors.
We start our build with the strikingly delicious Air 9 RDO in Black Licorice.
We have always been very impressed with detail and the workmanship of the Niner frames. Niner does the details like no other frame maker. They also seem to have the 29er geometry dailed in better then anyone.
The new frame arrived the other day and we put it on the scale. Raw frame weight is shown without seat tube collar.
Niner does details like no other fame maker. The bottom bracket shell has these two metal plates to protect the carbon from the chain. The plate in front of the bottom bracket shell will protect the frame if the chain drops off the chainrings to the inside. The plate behind the bottom bracket will protect the frame if you develop chain suck and draw the chain up behind the rings. I havent see this type of detail on any other frame.
The drive side chain stay has a built in protector for chain slap. This is a super clean way of protecting your frame from a chain is slapping around and causing nicks in the carbon. Niner includes this and other carbon frame makers should all do this.
To add to the cleanness of this frame, Niner does internal cable routing like no other. The headtube badge has two small openings where your shifter cables go in. The drive side chain stay has a small opening where the rear derailleur cable exits. This is super clean and keeps cable clutter to a minimum.
Another nice touch is the mounting of the rear brake caliper on the inside of the rear triangle. This provides better brake performance and less flex.
So that is a tour of the frame we selected for our new hardtail race bike. We believe the Niner Air 9 Carbon is the best 29er carbon hardtail frame on the market today.
Next we will highlight the fork that we have selected for this build.
Do you have a dream bike build? Tell us what main components are on your dreamy hardtail.
So, i enjoyed the Alpine Scenic Loop ride I did the other day, i decided to do it again. It is a very scenic ride, and a great workout pedaling uphill for 2000 ft in the snow. The last time i did it, it was a beautiful sunny day. This time it was cloudy and there was a storm on the horizon. I knew the storm would bury us in snow, so i wanted to get a good ride in before that. The temps were about the same so i dressed about the same as last time. A Merano wool very thin base layer on top, a long sleeve jersey and a jacket. On the bottom, i used full length cycling tights and that all. I stuffed a neck gator in my pocket for the decent and some of those chemical reaction warmer packets just in case. On my head, just a beanie cap. Helmets are pretty ridiculous when you are going about 5 miles an hour on the climb, and although on the decent you are doing maybe 15, you are all alone, no cars, on a very wide swath of pure powder, so any fall would likely feel like an old fashioned pillow fight.
I learned a few lessons on this winter cycling ride that i will share with you. I parked at the Sundance Ski resort. Parking here provides a few miles of climbing on regular paved road that is fully plowed. This is a nice warmup before hitting the tough stuff. It also adds about 800 ft of climbing to the ride, s thats a good thing. My goal was to ride to the summit trailhead at bout 8000 ft.
I started out with no pack and a small water bottle. Just the stuff in my back pockets mentioned earlier and of my iPhone w earbuds tuned to Pandora on the House radio station. The initial climb on paved road was no big deal. I got to the gate where the road turns to pack powder and was really in a good rhythm. I noticed i was drinking more than usual. I think i may have started out slightly dehydrated. Anyway, as the ride progressed i got hot as usual, even though the temps were in the mid 20s. Opened the jacket and jersey and off came the cap. Halfway up the climb and I was already out of water. I pulled over and packed as much snow as i could get into my waterbottle and kept going. So, lesson number one. Snow doesn’t melt in your waterbottle when its 20 degrees outside, duh. I kept trying to get a drink, but got nothing out of it. Then i remembered the heat patches in my back pocket. I peeled open one of those and placed on the outside of the bottle on the backside, the leeward side. That worked. I was finally able to drink.
I made it to the top and i could see the storm clouds of to the west. I quickly recovered for a few minutes. Zipped everything back up, put my neck gator on and cap and headed downhill in a hurry. I didn’t think the storm was that close, but from the top i could see i was fixing to get hammered by 60 mile and hour winds with blizzard snow conditions. Lesson number 2, if there is a chance of weather, wear a pack with additional clothing and supplies just in case. I got a new PR on the decent on Strava, not that i was trying to, but i felt like i was going to have to take a few chances on the way down if i was going to make it back to car before the storm hit.
Well i made it with about 5 minutes to spare. As i was driving away, i got slammed with howling winds and white out conditions with blowing snow. Glad I hauled ass!
Got any winter riding tips? Share them with us.
Oh also, the Niner pictured is going up for sale as we build up the new Air 9 Carbon RDO project bike that will be featured on this blog.