Mittwoch, 2. Dezember 2015

I can fly again;-)

 So, well, the world is ending, word. And still I got a new bike. And still I got a huge grin on my face. Not really a sensible one. Not bike nor grin. But still.

I have long contemplated getting a bug-out or overland bike built up, but fact is, I only just so could afford a new frame and fork and the parts that always look as if they fitted on and actually do not. ;-) And a bug-out bike is not that much fun, at least one as I think of. No suspension fork, and a relatively tame geometry, racks and panniers and all that stuff.

I got still a frame or two in the cellar that could fit that bill if required, but then, yap, "dress for the crash, not the ride", it would limit my riding. Chance is, this is the last bike I can afford anyway, so I wanted to say goodbye properly to a sport that has given me so much (Taken a lot, too. But still.). No thanks, by the way, to Orange cycles. For want of a derailleur hanger, the frame was lost, no indeed. I had to dispose of my former bike because there is no hanger available for a 2013 model, bummer.

Talking of which, there´s a funny story revolving about my buying this frame, a Dartmoor Primal. I called Dennis from Metal Motion Bikes if he had something bargain in the shop or to be ordered, and he recommended Dartmoor bikes, a Hornet frame, to be exact. I rummaged through the specs, and as Seppel and Frank, friends from my former club had a lot of good things to tell about that bike, I thought, well, get that, and began to look forward to it.


Turned out the advertised frame was no longer available. the 2015 models were sold out in June. So, well I thought, can´t get the old frame, so take the new one.


Turned out there were no 26" frames without a rear through axle, just 27,5" or 29". Now a rear through axle is an axle that is clamped into the frame, and having a good 10mm thicker diameter is stiff to boot, but simply put-I could not afford to buy new wheels.

Enter the Primal frame. Wow, I thought, what a good-looking thingy, simple and stiff, without a through - axle, normal measurements and a configuration for 26, 26+ (26" with 3" tyres) and 27,5" diameter wheels and suiting my suspension fork of choice. So, I called Dennis to go and order one for me.


Turned out they were no longer available.


Turned out the 2015 models were sold out in June, too. Got a bit angry, so I called the distributor and with my best clerk´s voice I demanded one to be put into reserve. Turned out there still was one being found in the storage, my size and all. So I called Dennis and told him to call the distributor to order the one I had put into reserve for an hour. Then I called him to ask for the price. Turned out no one knew. The frame arrived, I went to fetch it and took some money with me, eager to pay and get the whole deal done with.


Turned out there was no bill and no prize list for it. Dennis and Ralf, his father were simply great, they just took out the calculator and made me a prize I was more than content with and threw in a headset, and a wire set at a bargain, and I want to make abundantly clear that they did one of the best jobs I have ever seen anyone do, and that includes me working as a bike mechanic, period. But I think the industry´s a bit over the top. Okay, it is not my religion to ride smaller wheels, but, hey, that is what I have, and they have definite advantages, being lighter, stronger and more lively. In surfing and kayaking there are long and short boards and boats, why can´t they just build versatile bikes for real people (like me?). That this is possible, is testified by this very frame, which can do most of it all. I strapped the shiny-blingy thingy to my backpack and rode home from Witten still with a singlespeed, but with laughter in my heart and joy.

Since my beloved neighbours would not have it that I build up bikes in my own cellar, and I did not want to quarrel with them, especially in the times that are to come, I took up my tools and parts and bike into my attic-turned-ahem-was-that-home ;-), took out a beer from the fridge, put on a Guano Apes CD and started to build it up.

I want to thank Seppel, who sold me a nearly new Rock Shox Domain suspension fork with 160 mm of travel and a through axle with a front wheel for a price that was outright ridiculous, and Michael, who did even more than that and unmounted the rear derailleur and cogset from his own bike and gave it to me for a bottle of mead. Bro, I know, what this means to you, and I hope you know I value it and take responsibility for this gift. Also Jandark, who gave me an old front derailleur, for my old one did not fit anymore, contributed a lot for this bike. Thanks, folks, I don´t want to get sentimental, but I guess you know what I mean when I call you friends.

Two bottles of beer later the beast took shape, I adjusted the gears as good as it would go (turned out it has an asymmetrical rear triangle, so I have to rebuild the rear wheel completely, but was too lazy and too eager to do it).

New brake discs, new shifter cables, a relatively fresh saddle, and I was off for the first ride around the block.

And nearly fell arse over tit as I hit the first berm. It was not that anything came apart, or anything was wrong. That bike is extremely stiff and light and can be flicked around by mere thought-control. It is a bit frightening if you oversteer the first bend because the fork is THAT stiff. Also, I was so amazed at the traction the beast has that I was getting timid. Uphill it can be ridden four gears harder, and my first bunny - hop, a jump over obstacles, was like going on an orbit mission. It is shorter, stiffer and meaner than the Orange, and with the 26" wheels it can be flicked around with a mere weight shift. It needs some dialling in on my part, for it requires a far more aggressive riding style than I was used to with the old bike, but I was laughing like a madman on that first outing.

 Another lousy picture, apologies, my camera will be dead soon... but what I want to say is three things. First, many modern bikes come with bars as wide as 1000mm. Of course, this gives you ample leverage, but try riding this on a REAL singletrail and you´d instantly know why I prefer smaller bars. Plus, if you stand absolutely relaxed with your arms dangling freely by your side, this is the most relaxed position your arms and shoulders can be in. To me, it appears logical, that the horizontal distance between your hands also is the most convenient length your handlebar grips should be apart. And third, many beginners make a mistake by setting up the stem on a long-travel hardtail too high. If your fork blows through the travel, of course you want a higher cockpit, but then your fork is set up wrong. You should always draw a triangle by taking a length of washing line and the help of a partner, fixing it to your navel and the contact points of the wheels to the ground. That triangle should have approximately equal lengths in all the sides. For a downhill bike the triangle can tend a bit farther to the rear, and with a crosscountry bike a bit farther to the front, but avoid the extremes. The Primal with the low cockpit setup precisely falls into a triangle with equal sides. It felt as if it all clicked into place! I have to move very little up or down to achieve the perfect distribution of weight and balance. The bike as is has a huge potential that I have to learn how to put up to, and this is something I last experienced when I got my Zaskar way back then. It can be fostering a whole new riding style!

...did I mention I am a bit excited about this?;-D
 The chain- and seat stays (the tubes at the chain and those that go into the seat tube, the tube with the saddle in it) offer PLENTY of tyre clearance and I daresay there´d be at least some 2,8" tyres in the near future...
 Once again, THANK YOU, Michael. I hope to put up to it.
 Yesterday it was extremely shitty weather, as you might notice from the pictures, and blimey, it was murky. I just craved to get outside! Was wet through in no time, and you could not tell the North or South end of a northbound elk from all the mist, but I hade a somewhat crazed grin on my mouth the whole time.
 Fire roads, singletrail, oh yeah, I was feeling extremely slow, and chance is, I was, but still....
It feels as if I am back on my trail. Now many might think of it as being superfluous and perfunctory, but I often think very grave thoughts, so I need a bit of escapism from time to time. But is it really? I often think that the feelings that my bike has offered me ingress to over the last 29 years have given me an insight, not to say enlightenment. It´s the flow phenomenon that shares many characteristics to Eucharist, Satori and Sírr... just thinking aloud, do I?

Flow has made me a different man. It´s in the wind, not in the tyres or the frame. It´s in the woods.

And if you have been there, you know what I mean when I say that there is respite in the temple of the wind, and eternity in the crystal of a moment. If you haven´t, all words are futile.

I can fly again, and I do.

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