Oh mountain-biking, you bring me such joy, guiding me down life’s single-track path. While I do enjoy riding the road, it’s on knobby tires that I find my greatest sense of peace and happiness. My friends are mountain-bikers, I live and visit places so I can ride my mountain bikes, I have a small mountain-bike part tattooed on my leg. With a passion this deep, you can be assured that it passes to my bike selection.
My number one girl is Isabelle. The core of Isabelle is a Moots MootoX YBB titanium 29’er soft-tail frame, hand-made in Steamboat Springs, CO, purchased at the Bloomfield Bicycle Co. She is exquisite. In the fall of 2011 I built her up with a Cannondale Carbon Lefty Ultra suspension fork with the Project 321 adaptor kit, Stan’s ZTR rims on Chris King/Project 321 hubs, XTR brakes and a 2×9 SRAM XO drivetrain.
I’d never ridden a SRAM drivetrain before and wanted to give it a try. Within a year I had worn out three of the rear derailleurs, both chain-rings,(causing awful chain-suck) and the shifters; the front shifting was always problematic. After a couple of trips to Colorado I also realised I needed lower gearing. I dumped the SRAM and went back to the most reliable, most durable and most versatile mountain-bike drivetrain I know; full Shimano 3×10 XT. I couldn’t be happier.
After going through two sets of rims(the Stan’s and a pair of Mavic A719’s), I finally went carbon; ENVE All Mountain carbon rims laced to the King/Project 321 Lefty hubs. I also have a spare set of wheels; Bontrager Duster rims on DT Swiss 240s hubs. Being a Lefty convert, I do realise the need to have a back-up fork for when it needs service. That job goes to a Rock Shox Reba RLT on the stock front wheel from my Kona Unit.
Other parts include Thomson stem, Easton EA70 bar(cut kinda narrow; 625mm), Ergon grips, Chris King headset, King Cages ti bottle cages, Erikson seatpost and a Specialized saddle. Brakes are Shimano XT. Ti, black, white and a few choice bits of red bling.
Enjoying my titanium touring bike as much as I did, I knew my next mountain bike would be titanium. I also knew that if I was to get a ti mountain-bike, it would have to be a Moots. For my type of XC/endurance riding, a 29’er hard-tail was the natural choice. But you know, I just ain’t getting any younger. The 3/4″ of travel the YBB soft-tail affords really does take the edge off a long day on the bike without compromising ride quality.
We’ve been through a lot together. She’s been with me for some of my darkest moments and my greatest triumphs. We’ve explored parts of Canada, the United States and Peru for day rides, multi-day trips and several long races. Sure she’s got a dent on the top-tube. And maybe she did have to go back to Moots to have the crack on the down-tube lovingly repaired. But that girl just keeps on giving. So comfortable, so fast. She’s like a tank ready for battle, but look closely and she is so refined. And when you ride a Moots with a Lefty and Enve wheels, people stop and stare, being the catalyst for many conversations with other like-minded bike geeks. Yup, she’s a special bike all right.
Sassy Sally the Single-speed Sadist [aka Sally] is a 2013 Kona Unit steel hard-tail single-speed 29’er that I purchased from Desert Sports in Terlingua, Texas. Out of the box she came with a rigid steel fork, finished like the frame with only a clear-coat over the raw steel.
Soon after she arrived I swapped out a bunch of parts. She now has a Rock Shox SID suspension fork. Rear wheel is stock(for now) but the front is a Bontrager Duster rim laced to a Chris King hub with the 15mm thru-axle. She’s got a gold Chris King headset, Specialized carbon bar, Thomson seat-post and a Specialized saddle. Brakes were Avid BB7’s but I’ve got my old XTR hydraulics on there now. Gearing is 32×20. She’s tubeless and in the desert, like on Isabelle, I run Specialized Ground Control Grid tires.
The single-speed would never be my number one bike, my daily rig. But rather, Sally is fun as heck to rip around on, on rides of less than 4hours, especially if there isn’t a lot of climbing. The single-speed has taught me much about looking further down the trail while better using my momentum. I’m definitely a better rider for spending time on one gear.
Ok, so, the name. Like most of my other non-ti bikes, it needed to begin with an ‘S.’ On her inaugural suspended ride, my pal Jeff and I chatted about names. He suggested Sassy and I quickly added Sally; Sassy Sally the Single-speed. Sassy seemed appropriate since she’s a bit of a wild one; don’t be mistaken by her unassuming appearance. Nope, this girl has some attitude, like most other desert flowers I know and love. That day she nearly pitched me off a rocky ledge and I smashed my knee into her rear brake calliper. With those scrapes in mind, it was suggested that her sadistic tendencies be honoured with alliterative style; Sassy Sally the Single-speed Sadist.
Stella is a 2002 Brodie “Catalyst”, 26″-wheeled steel hard-tail cross-country mountain-bike. In late 2003 I approached my dear friend Kt, looking to purchase a bike. I was looking for something quite specific but didn’t have the money for a custom-made beauty. I wanted a steel hard-tail with rim brakes. With so few options for quality steel bikes, getting one without disc brakes would prove even more difficult. Eventually, Kt produced a 17″ blue Tange Prestige steel Brodie. Being a bit small, a longer s/p and stem were used to try and make it fit. Luck, however, would be on my side.
A few months after purchasing Stella, I noticed a crack on the down-tube. In pursuit of warranty replacement, I was advised that Brodie only had a 19″ frame in stock if I was willing to accept it. Heck yes, that’s my size! Though she’s seen several parts changes, she is currently equipped with a mix of various generations of XTR 3×9 components, including cranks, derailleurs and hubs. Fork is a 2002 Marzocchi Bomber with an Easton aluminium steerer-tube and a black King head-set. XT V-brakes are married to Paul levers stop the Mavic 519 rims/XTR hubs.(I also have a set of Black Chris King hubs on Mavic rims I don’t know what to do with). She’s got a silver Brodie stem and silver Thomson Elite seat-post, stainless-steel King Cages bottle cages and a Fizik Arione Tri saddle (has a bit more padding on the nose than the standard road Arione’s).
Since Isabelle came into my life, Stella doesn’t spend much time on the trails. In fact, I really don’t know what to do with her, since I never ride her anymore. But she’s a beauty and a real piece of mtb history. She’s also got a few dents that rather precludes me from selling her. The name; as they say, “steel is real” so Stella’s even betta’.