Brighton-based Rob Dean has risen from relative obscurity to be one of the big hitters of the enduro scene (and not just because he’s 6′ 4″) in the last year. In 2009 he rode the South Downs Way Double in just 19hrs 59mins 13sec, followed that up with a win in his first ever 24-hour solo race, Sleepless in the Saddle. And, just a couple of weeks ago he rode to a classy win in the Set 2 Rise 12-hour enduro to kick off his 2010 campaign with real intent.
Rob’s in a unique but potentially challenging position of being too tall for many manufacturers offerings, so what exactly does a guy so tall ride? We found out earlier this week on a dry and sunny day in Brighton. Let’s start with a look at his new race bike, in his own words:
Rob’s XXL Santa Cruz Tallboy
The bike was built for me by the ever enthusiastic guys at Leisure Lakes, with a special thank you to Matt, but as I can never resist I have had a fettle swapping out silly things like ti bolts (placebo effect) and also a couple of parts to trusted favourites or important contact points after a few rides to get the riding position and contact points just so.
The build really is a bit of a race day special with an big eye to the longer rides, but having been on a few tester rides with my friends, it’s pretty near untouchable as a trail bike with the combination of the noticeably stiffer front end (I’ve never used oversized stems, QR15 forks nor taper steerer before, let alone all together) and the 29er wheels and VPP opening up tighter lines round corners that couldn’t be taken (by me) on a hardtail before and allowing me to sit down and just keep on pedalling over rocky rooty sections that would have seen me out the saddle with the pedals firmly level previously. However, I think the main advantage is that the bright orange colour just makes me smile.
The set up of the stiff frame and full suspension just begs to be put into a high gear, hunker down in the saddle and crank the bike up to speed, with the afterburners firmly engaged. After two races and a 1st at Set 2 Rise 12-hour solo and a 3rd at Bristol Bikefest 12-hour team race, with alarmingly little fatigue the bike is a firm favourite and I’m really looking forward to unleashing it on a full 24-hour race course, having had to withdraw from the 24 Hours of Exposure due to illness.
The full spec is now:
Frame: XXL frame with 26″ top tube, & Fox Float RP23 shock
Fork: Fox F100 29er RLC QR15 fork with taper steerer for maximum steering stiffness but still low weight
Wheels: ZTR hubs on 355 29er rims with DT Revolution spokes
Tyres: Kenda Small Block 8 2.1″ 29er tyres, non UST, run tubeless with tape and sealant
Skewers: X-Lite titanium rear skewer
Brakes: Hope Tech X2 brakes, ti lever bolts, ti caliper bolts, non-braided hoses fitted for minimum weight. 160mm Ashima rotors front & rear with ti disc bolts
Shifters: SRAM X0 (orange) fitted with ti clamp bolts
Mechs: SRAM X0 (orange) rear & XT bottom swing (rattle proof) front
Cassette: SRAM PG90 11-32 (orange); marginally heavier than the alternatives, but it’s orange
Chainset: XTR M970 chainset (light, stiff, rock proof)
Chain: KMC X9 SL hollow link
Pedals: XTR M970
Bottle Cage: Bontrager Race X-Lite, fastened with alloy bolts; I’ve never lost a bottle and I have found them easy to shove bottles in when exhausted at 4am! Unused bottle cage bosses blanked with nylon bolts
Seatpost: Thompson masterpiece. Lightweight slotted clamp fitted with ti bolt
Saddle: WTB Rocket-V SLT, the only saddle I have fitted to any of my bikes for long rides
Stem: Easton EA90 OS stem, face plate fitted with ti bolts
Handlebar: Easton EC90 Monkeylite CNT SL low-rise bar
Grips: Foam grips, fitted with spray mount to prevent slipping down the bars in the rain
Headset: Cane Creek 1.5″ external lower & 1 1/8″ internal zero stack upper Carbon headset spacers, grooved internally to shave weight (not a lot saved, but I know it’s there)
Misc: 29er Bigger Is Better headset cap, in orange, fitted with alloy tightening bolt. Trek (orange) analogue clock fitted to the bars, the time clearly displayed at a glance by big black hands on a white face – invaluable for long rides. General Lee sticker fitted to top tube to make me smile. Most importantly, the Tallboy is the only bike with dust caps fitted, because Leisure lakes found me some in orange.