Some of you may know that I ride what I’d consider to be my dream bike…at least I thought it was, the original spec has changed slightly but the bike is still how I wanted it.
Last year I ended up back in hospital for more checks and stuff so didn’t ever really get out on the bike properly – I would get out for a ride on it, but not what I’d call a ride. This is basically a run down of what I’ve found/changed/thought and feel about the bike now I’ve had it for over a year.
What’s been changed:
- The XC4 Pros to DH4 Pros with 185mm front and rear discs (now with custom discs).
- The rear cassette is now 11-30 instead of 11-28
- The Pace RC-36 EVO IIIs are now RST Aerosa BAS – superb forks, stil can’t believe how light, stiff and responsive they are!
- The Mavic D521 CDs and Blue Hope Bulbs are now Mavic F317 (Black) on Red Hope Bulbs
- Quick Release levers are now Shimano instead of the Middleburns – they wouldn’t hold the wheels in tightly enough
Once the bike was built, it wasn’t long before I realised that the XC4 discs were terribly poor – they wouldn’t stop me, the pads would glaze over at the slightest chance and the heat build-up was immense. After numerous calls to Hope (who were very good at trying to remedy the problem), they agreed to replace the XC4 Pro for a set of DH4 Pro. Slightly different as the discs were much bigger (I went for 185mm discs front and rear – in an attempt to scare anyone away from me!) and the open system meant I couldn’t adjust them properly if there was any brake rub or such. No problems though, the power they produced may all the difference – even from new the stopping was far better than with the XC4s.
Have I had problem with the DH4s? Well yes, but I think I can honestly say that they have all been self-induced! I have had problems with air being trapped in the system and this hasn’t been totally flushed out, therefore after ever bleed, the levers feel fine until you need to use them – then they are incredibly squishy with loads of pull. Hope did replace my alloy reservoir plunger with a rubber gaiter thing, that seems to have improved the overall performance.
In general though, I am still very pleased with the brakes, even with a bit of air in them, they outperform a set of Vees and they work in all conditions – I hear the Enduros are just as good but lighter – I don’t see the need to upgrade to the newer model so I’ll leave them be.
The rear cassette was changed due to my loss of ‘get-up-and-go’ – before the hospital spell I wouldn’t need any reason to go riding, but after 4 months of sitting in the house not allowed to go out, I’m seriously depleted of gusto and am now only just starting to get back into riding for riding’s sake again. Due to this lack of gusto, the cassette has had to be enlarged to help me up the hills a bit!
The forks – bizarre this one is – I’m scared to admit it but I think I have a set of forks that outperform the Pace…the RST Aerosa BAS fork is an air fork that is lighter, stiffer and more responsive than the EVO IIIs. The only downside (which I’m starting to think isn’t a downside at all!), is that the fork raises the front-end about 1 inch above the Pace.
Wheels were replaced to be lighter – my riding technique is changing again…I’m not as heavy as I once was and the wheels I did have were overkill. I got the new ones to make the overall bike lighter, make me accelerate quicker and generally make the bike look pimpier (disc-specific rims have that ability!).
Quick Releases – the Middleburn QRs were crap! They wouldn’t keep the wheels held in place and I couldn’t get the lever tight enough, these were very quickly changed to stock Shimano levers which did the job far better.
So the bike has gone through a few changes but all-in-all it’s still the same bike (in the sense that it has similar kit on it!). Everything from Race Face and Shimano have held out very well, the Middleburn chainset is superb…the rings are still not showing signs of wear. The Clarke’s cables have never been replaced – 18 months of use now!!!
The ride of the bike is now slightly faster, I think this is down to the wheel change but the bike now rockets up, over and down things with greater ease, the back end is far more flickable now and I find myself riding things much quicker than before.
I’d still say this is the best bike to get for all-day hardcore XC riding or racing – granted full suspension does offer far greater comfort but this bike just does it all with aplomb. I’m still very pleased with it and have no interest in anything else on the bike market now – after the first few rides of this, I stopped buying magazines as I didn’t want anything else…worth ever single penny spent on it.