‘Black Magic’ custom-butted cro-mo
Rock Shox Indy C
Shimano LX levers and M600 brakes
1997 LX rear mech, 1997 STX front mech, STI and 1997 five-bolt chainset, Tioga clip-and-strap pedals
Mavic 238 rims on Voodoo suspension front and STX rear hubs with Ritchey Climb Max and Mad Max tyres
Titec bars, stem, grips and seatpost, WTB SST saddle
Cycle Motion 01580 890007
If you’ve just read through the spec sheet or glanced at the photos, you may have noticed something curious. No 1999 nine-speed here, not even 1998 eight-speed – this bike is identical to the Voodoo Erzulie that members of the team tested in 1997. It’s even the same Orange colour. So is it a dinosaur, or a viable good-value option?
The frame is a tight-sloping top-tube package from Joe Murray – the same designer who brought us the original Konas – with own-brand butted cro-mo tubing. The seat tube is extended, the headtube ring reinforced and the seatstays ‘snaked’, and all the detail is neat and clean, right down to drilled canti bosses that act as cable guides for the rear gear. No gussets, no CNC sections, no disc mounts, just classic steel construction.
Plugged in the front of our test bike are another relic item: Indy forks. We binned the overstiff elastomer and spring set-up straight away for some Risse ‘Jones’ coil-spring kits, and we recommend you either do that or swap the forks at point of purchase. They’re still quite flexy under braking or cornering, but the plusher internals deliver a far smoother ride and sniff out traction a deal better.
Ride position is on the low side thanks to the flat Titec stem and bars, but the handling of the Erzulie is instantly encouraging. Steering is stable but fast enough for instant correction if it starts to tuck and dive in steep braking situations. The low top tube means bodyweight can be swung around to keep traction nailed without the frame getting in the way, but the natural rider position is nicely balanced for cornering or climbing.
Slim frame tubes feed in a definite spring to the bike that twangs it keenly away under power and makes it splendidly flickable through singletrack, but it’s never too much to start pinballing around under pressure.
Wheels are nothing to write home about, and we felt little increase in tracking accuracy from the oversize front hubs. Fat Ritchey tyres give useful comfort airspace but don’t work very convincingly in wet conditions until you’ve dropped the pressure enough to start them rolling off the rims under cornering. Hmm.
Eight-speed is fine by us, and this three-year-old transmission gave us none of the glitches we’ve been having with nine-cog blocks. The STX chainset may look retro but you’ll still have no problem finding five-bolt replacement rings, and if you squint it looks like old XT! The clip-and-strap pedals look cheap compared to clipless-equipped competitors, though.
Full LX braking is still the benchmark it was, and the old non-parallelogram stuff is simpler and lighter with no noticeable performance loss.
Titec finishing kit is clean, functional pipework in basic matt black that adds no excess weight, and the lightly ribbed grips and WTB saddle are old favourites.
- Updating. Let’s face it – even with rose tints, this is an old bike
- Decent tyres. Comfy carcass but unconvincing traction in most conditions
- New fork internals. 1997 Indys weren’t good even then invest in
Risse springs (tel CVI, 01405 760030) or Englund cartridges (ID, 01223 568361)
We have no functional problems with most of the two-year-old kit, and the frame still delivers classic steel handling that traditionalists will love.