Monday, May 6, 2013

The hire bike post

I remember somewhere promising a post about the bike I hired for ten days recently in Moab - and there goes a fair chunk of my readership. Not having a bike suitable for Moab any more in England, I decided I would hire one in Moab. I could have bought one in the USA (either new or second-hand), but I have little use for such a bike in this rather flat part of the world & I've got my eyes on other bikes. Hiring a bike worked as I didn't have to worry about taking a bike on a plane - the first time for a long haul trip since possibly 1996 - & I would get a reasonably new bike and mechanical support from the shop. Hiring bikes in Moab is not particularly cheap (hiring a 4x4 was cheaper), but I justified it as being about the same price as the lift pass I bought for a week's skiing in the French Alps last year - & I like biking so much more, so worth it.

When choosing a bike to hire, I was aware that Megan & Alex would both be riding their 29ers and would therefore climb with relative ease. However, while I enjoy the easier climbing of a 29er I never got over feeling removed from the trail when I last rode their 29ers on singletrack in Canada. On Jeremy's recommendation, I went for Poison Spider Bikes & they offered me a 650b bike - the wheel size is halfway between the standard 26" and 29". While I'd heard a little of 650b, I had mostly ignored it thinking it was just another fad - but was keen to see what it was all about. I ended up with a Rocky Mountain Altitude 730 that was only a few weeks old.

With the brake levers switched over & my SPDs fitted, I was good to go. It proved more than a capable bike - it climbed ever so well that I didn't feel I was at a disadvantage with smaller wheels and it descended well. Admittedly, I have been riding a singlespeed hardtail mostly recently & have little need of trail bike with six inches front & rear - so that may have increased its place in my estimation. But it wasn't long before I found that the bike could take much more than my normal level of riding & I was very comfortable pushing my limits well past what I thought I was capable of. It was very forgiving and with Nevegals & Nobby Nics on, the tires were reassuring and saved me a few times from washing out.

I'd also never ridden 2x10 before - that took a bit of getting used to, but mostly because I'd been riding singlespeed so much. All week, but particularly at the start, I kept catching myself riding a geared bike like a singlespeed - pretty much, ignoring the shifters and standing up and muscling over many rises/hills that could have been conquered with much less effort by a simple gear change.

Cue bike photos:

Just a couple of little gripes: the brake levers for such a new bike were incredibly floppy along the axis (i.e. up & down, as opposed to the in & out direction they are supposed to move in) and with the sandy environment, the pivots were pretty noisy already. But for a hire bike, it was in pretty good condition. I liked the 15 mm Maxle too - as I was constantly removing the front wheel to fit the bike in the back of my Forester.

So overall, I loved the bike and the confidence it gave me. I'd quite happily buy such a capable climber and a bike that descends better than I do - although I might go up one spec level. It's probably fortunate for my bank balance that I don't require such a bike right now; but possibly unfortunate for my state of mind that I don't get to ride the trails that such a bike is built for more often.

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