Headed up to DealerCamp for a second day last Wednesday, and actually got to ride bikes and take pictures. Though not necessarily take pictures of the bikes I was riding (gotta work on that).
My first ride of the day was Salsa’s top-of-the-line Spearfish. A mix of X9 and X0, carbon bars and post, and nice all-around build. I liked this bike a lot, except for one minor (but major) thing: My calves touched the linkage with every single pedal stroke. I have big calves, and a relatively narrow pedaling stance, but I’ve never had this happen before. My guess is that it’s the fault of the BB30 interface. Although the Q-factor doesn’t change, the crank arms’ position relative to the rest of the bike does, and they wind up closer to the frame and cause interference (in my case) with the relatively wide suspension linkage. We’re talking about maybe a quarter-inch too fat on either side; it’s not much, but it feels like a lot when you hit it every stroke. For reference, my calves are about 17 inches around at their widest point. Your mileage may vary.
Outside of what amounts to a little more than a fit issue, I was very impressed with the way the Spearfish handled. My regular ride is a rigid 29er, so I’m no pro when it comes to suspension, but I was relatively impressed with what Salsa has done. I never felt like I was putting energy into the suspension while climbing, but at the same time, it soaked up everything I wanted it to soak up. Culverts, rocks, roots, and even a couple of 8-12-inch drops were no big deal. Salsa markets this as a 24-hour race bike, and as an all-day rider. I can say it is definitely a bike I would want at 2:30 in the morning after 15 hours of riding. It didn’t do anything all that fantastically, but I forgot it had suspension when I was climbing, and it didn’t feel like I was working it too hard on the descents. I wasn’t tired in any way after I got off, which is exactly how I had hoped to feel.
The spec package leaves a bit to be desired, but even at the high end, Salsa have to hit a price point. I would have preferred to see some non-Avid brakes, and an XT/SLX component mix.
Ridley Noah RS
I wish I’d had another hour on this bike. I rode from Deer Valley to Kimball Junction and back, which I think is somewhere around 15 miles round-trip. This bike is fast. Like passing cars on the highway fast. Maxing out a 53-11 and feeling like I needed a couple more teeth to get anywhere near this bike’s top end fast. But, speed is nothing without handling and stability. The Noah RS has both in spades. The front end is incomparably stable; take your hands off the bars at 35 miles per hour, and don’t worry about what the front wheel will do. I didn’t get to take it into anything super twisty, but carving a turn was never an issue. On the way down from Deer Valley, I passed many cars on the highway, probably in excess of 45-55 mph. That was a hell of a lot of fun, but most bikes are fun on a mild downhill. The Noah RS impressed me on the uphill on the way back as well. I was spinning comfortably in a 39-23, and actually thought I was pushing a 30 front chainring until I got off and looked to confirm. This isn’t really much of a climb, but it would typically be enough to put me toward the red in that gear combination. Riding was nearly effortless, all the way around. A colleague also rode it, and liked it, but thought it was so stable as to become a bit boring. He preferred the Damocles; it was sportier. High-end car comparisons usually work, so I would consider the Noah RS a Bentley, while the Damocles is maybe more of a Porsche. In the Bentley, you’re all of a sudden at 110 mph, and it feels like you’re gliding.
Ridley has done a lot of work in the wind tunnel to make this one of the fastest bikes in the world, and it’s apparent. When I brought it back, one of their reps commented that there’s ‘just something about that bike.’
The downside was the SRAM Force group. DoubleTap is stupid, and their hoods feel cheap, unstable, and uncomfortable. It wasn’t bad when I was upshifting while blowing downhill, but downshifting on the climbs means you have to throw the lever halfway across the bars, and accidental upshifts are common. If I was a pro rider sponsored by SRAM, I’d try to get Shimano internals mated to SRAM levers somehow.
Other cool shit that I saw but didn’t ride:
Felt’s new throwback bike. Not sure on the model name, but this is one classic-looking bike. Steel, built with Campy’s Athena 11 alloy finish group, and just good looking.
K-Edge’s Ki2 mod. A long, machined derailleur cage add-on teams up with a remachining of the Di2 shifter pods to make an electronic mountain group. I’m sure Shimano’s paying attention, but it shifts beautifully. These pictures are from one of their guys’ personal Niner.
Sorry for all the shitty iPhone pictures, I keep forgetting to run around with my regular camera.
And here’s a picture of the MAST pants-cum-Recovery boots.
A thousand bucks for the whole setup is steep, but if it really does decrease your muscles’ recovery time, that may be worth it to some folks. At least the science is legitimate.
I mentioned Litespeed’s new L1R in the last post, but didn’t have any pictures. Here’s a few.
The L1R will only be available as a frameset, so don’t get too hot and bothered by those Reynolds RZR wheels…