Yesterday, after a nice refreshing shower, i sat down and loaded up some of the old videos i had lying around. The first one i loaded up was an old clip of me riding Appin on the spitfire. I looked pretty comfortable riding the bike in the video and it definitely brought back some memories as to how that bike rode. I really wanted to like it but there was definitely problems. Looking back on the spitfire i realised that i kinda killed it a little too. I killed it with better parts.
This is the topic for my post today. Have you ever upgraded your bike with supposedly better parts *more sophisiticated/lighter usually* but some how you were quite under whelmed with the results? Be honest with yourself here. The main reason i gave up the spitfire was because of harshness over small bumps. Read on and let me explain why i might have dug the spitfires grave myself. I think in regards to bike handling a harsh front end is always worse than a harsh rear end. A harsh rear end is annoying, might interfere with some tech climbing and bounce around a little more but ultimately it is OK. Kinda like a hardtail really, the backend is bouncing around BUT it will always follow the front. As long as you stay relaxed and the front is pointed in the right way the back end will always follow. A harsh front end however is harder to deal with. You get fatigued more on the smaller bumps and on the bigger stuff you get knocked off line. Ultimately though, a harsh front end and a harsh backend is the worst thing you can have when it comes to suspension on modern day bikes.
When i first rode the banshee at Appin the one aspect that has stuck with me about it is how well it corners. Some of that is definitely the rubber queen but the low bb height definitely played part too. In its first guise it was built up primary around a set of non tapered float r forks, a set of oem trance x wheels and some cheaper avid elixir cr’s. In it’s second guise the wheelset was upgraded to a hope pro 2/dt400 combo, a more expensive set of avid elixir cr mag’s and also one of the new tapered rockshox revelation team’s.
I ended up bringing the weight from 12.3 down to 11.8 and that was pretty decent. I saved weight on the rolling hardware and also stiffened up the front end massively due to the tapered front end/20mm wheelset so i should have loved it right? Not really. On the first ride i didn’t think too much of it. I noticed that the wheelset was slightly easier to spin up but apart from that noticed nothing significantly different. It was only after 3-4 rides that i noticed something was a little amiss. The banshee was built right after my elbow incident and as such there were percuilar things i noticed about the two builds using my elbow as a measuring device of kinds. At that time my elbow was still quite tender and anything that was hugely stressful would result in my elbow becoming sore. So basically, the chunkier the terrain, the more shock imparted on my body and consequently the more sore my elbow would become.
It was strange then that in the first build of the Banshee i did not notice any soreness from riding two laps of appin but right after switching to the second build i noticed a distinct soreness from my elbow. The kind that puts me off from riding further for that day. I started noticing that the fork was reacting very harshly to bumps and in an attempt to remedy it i spent a lot of time over the course of a few rides trying to tune it in. It never felt right. Whether it was something funky with the fork or my lack of tuning ability *i have tuned a sid fork perfectly though and that uses the same dual air system* i will never find out. So now the front end of the bike was harsh as well as the back. In some ironic way this seemed to match and i used to chuckle on the trail at the idea of matching a harsh rear end with a harsh front end. In real life though the situation was pretty bad. Now, i didn’t have a nice plush front end for my harsh back end to follow. I would bang into rocks and my hands would start fatiguing from arm pump and then the back would also be harsh and it was just a whole world of annoyance/pain.
Another thing i noticed was the supposedly more expensive elixir cr mag brakes was actually a fair bit weaker than the cheaper ones. I have always joked that throughout avid’s elixir family the more price you pay the less bite you get. It certainly applied here. I had to grab the brakes harder to stop and along with the fork worked my hands quite a bit.
I still had one trump card though. The spitfire was half a kg lighter and that surely had some effect? Well, i never really noticed the weight after the first ride to be honest. After looking back at it i realised that the first build was definitely better. It might not have being as bling or light but in every way it rode better.