We’ve followed the build up of Scoop’s scooter right from the first bits pressed and bolted into the Trek STP 400 frameset.
This morning’s quick ride out to take photos on the local singletrack (OK, we’ll admit it was a feeble excuse to get out in the sun and what’s left of the snow) brought the distance total on the Cateye computer up to 115 miles so far.
So how has everything performed in its first hundred miles?
As part of other jobs we’ve been riding a lot of stumpy “Freeride” style bikes recently, so it took a couple of rides to get used to the length of the large sized STP. With a 100mm Pace stem and a switch to an inline post rather than the original layback one, the position is now spot-on for racking up another hundred miles in double-quick time.
Thanks to the softail design we’ve had no trace of backache, or any sort of ache for that matter, even with the ground more frozen solid than it has been for years and despite some long rides. The rear SID shock also smooths out landings, chain slap and sharp rocks as well as adding a surprising amount of supple traction for cornering and climbing. At the moment we’re running it soft at 70 psi positive / 45 psi negative to get full orthopaedic value.
Some riders won’t like the flexy, shock-absorbing nature of the ride as it takes the edge off any feeling of speed as well as terrain shocks, so even when you’re cranking it through technical sections or down rocky roads it feels remarkably calm and collected. Think sinuous sideways twist around stuff, rather than just pinging straight off obstacles like an aluminium hardtail.
A low bottom bracket helps with high-speed stability but you’ll stub your pedals more often riding deep ruts or hoiking over boulders. Again it’s another case of horses for courses, but most race-bred hardtails will be low slung too.
Oh and for those concerned about carbon longevity, we’ve slammed it a few times on ice and apart from a few scratches it’s given us absolutely no cause for worry.
|Typical Pace smoothness once it’s greased|
We chose Pace’s new lockout-equipped Pro Class 2 fork for the coil-spring reliability and steering accuracy it gave, and that’s exactly what we got. We had a stiff ride around the 40 mile mark but that was soon cured by a fresh grease injection and then another at 80 miles. Spring rate isn’t as plush as Rock Shox Psylos’ or Manitou Blacks’, the last 25mm of stroke only kicks in on really heavy impacts. Once the seals are broken in though it’s the same floated rebound control and progressive compression stroke that we’ve come to expect from Pace.
As for the new lockout, the on/off action doesn’t give the semi-lockout option of other lockouts around but it’s definitely the most useable on the trail simply because of the superb positioning, right where you need it on the bars. There are no more frantic lunges for the top of the fork when you realise you’ve accidentally left it on, and instant lockout for even the shortest climb sections if you want it.
However, we will be changing the forks for something with shorter travel as we want sharper steering responses and the rest of the frame makes fork stiffness rather a wasted attribute. Besides, we’ve got a very exciting package from Rock Shox that we’ll tell you more about next week.
It’s been a while since we’ve tried Gripshift but we felt instantly at home with it. Having your hand right on the shifter at all times means you hit the perfect gear just when you need it, whether you’re sprinting out of the saddle or exiting a corner. The fine front mech adjustment also frees us from the curse of dragging chains.
The only glitch we’ve had is our own fault. To get the brakes as far out as we wanted them on the bars we cut down the extra section of grip, meaning more hand than Gripshift intended was on the shifter portion. On stalling point climbs we were dropping our wrists and accidentally twisting the shifter which led to crunched changes that actually bent the largest sprocket on the rear cassette. We’ve now stuck a longer grip section back on the outside and bent the sprocket back into shape and it’s been spot-on since. We’re going to ask Gripshift for the ‘Shorty’ version instead though so we can move our brakes back out and make full use of the bar span.
As for the shifting it’s been crisp, accurate and immediate with no need to lube the Flak Jacket cables despite some very silty winter rides. The Power Link chain has given us no cause for concern either, wandering happily from gear to gear whenever we asked it to.
Race Face’s Turbine Crank and ISIS BB is probably the stiffest thing on the whole bike and it’s still looking fine and dandy with only the slightest scuffing from fat-ankled, mud-caked, winter boots.
Time pedals have been an absolute godsend this winter, clipping in and out smoothly despite snow-packed boots and a dodgy ankle. Wish I’d switched from spuds earlier then I might not be lame on the left-hand side.
Avid’s copper coloured Ti brakes have needed a couple of centring tweaks after we’ve nudged them with wheels, but stopping-power is as good as you could expect with V’s, thanks to the ceramic coating on the Rolf wheels. We’ve played around with the ‘Speed Dial’ leverage adjustment to get the best smoothness and modulation but we have to confess we’re definitely missing the all-weather controllability of disc brakes when it gets technical. Pad wear has also been alarmingly fast and we’re more than halfway through our second set of rear pads already. Don’t be surprised to see a set of Hopes appearing up front some time soon.
I can remember saying something about these Rolf Propels just being stand-ins, but they’re certainly standing in very well. No dings, no wobbles and the ceramic coating just seems to be getting to grips with the stopping job. No sign of the sticks that leap through the big gaps between that we’ve read about in some reviews either. Not much point going on too much about them though as unfortunately they’re discontinued.
We’ve thunked through to the rim a good few times now, but we’ve had absolutely no problems with the skinny Panaracer Trailblasters. They roll really fast, they grip really well in mud or frozen tundra, they weigh less than any other proper tyre and the blue matches the bike. If you’re a relatively smooth, light rider looking for acceleration but still wanting to tackle serious terrain look no further.
Cockpit and couch
We mentioned early on that our brief retro experiment with flat bars was ended by the installation of a set of Roox carbon low risers and we really can’t fault them. Light, shock absorbing and just the right amount of sweep and width without adding much height.
Also on the early change list was the swap to an inline seatpost to stop a remote, wandering feeling through corners. A straight-up Thomson post now carries the Flite Gel saddle and we’re sitting very comfortably and securely indeed.
I can’t remember what we were going to put in here apart from the computer. Anyway that’s been doing fine and even stayed working on some early morning rides when the temperature was well below freezing and made the display go dark brown. Still can’t think of what else I was going to put here, but for the record we’ve got proper innertubes in, not those nonsense superlight ones.
For any questions about the story so far – we’re bound to have missed something, it’s Friday – then stick it on the forum. Otherwise we’ll keep you informed of any changes as they happen.