My quiver of bikes, once dominated by Dean titanium rigs, just got diluted again. I picked up my new off-road racing platform today. It is a dual suspension Titus Racer X. I chose to go with the alloy version, traditional 26" wheel set. Titanium is overkill for for full suspension in my opinion, and a 29" wheeled version would stretch an already longish wheel base even longer. A 29er would also have weighed quite a bit more, although weight was only of secondary importance for this bike.
So why a Racer X? I love FSR suspension designs. Specialized patented the FSR many years ago. Only a couple US companies still license this design from Specialized. Many European bike companies sell FSR type suspension bikes. Specialized's patent does not apply in other countries. Recently, Scott challenged Specialized's FSR patent in US courts. They would dearly love to sell their FSR copy-cat bikes here. But Scott lost. Note the Scott Genius sold here has pivot in different place than Scott Genius sold in the UK. If you want FSR here, you have to buy from Specialized or from one of a couple other licensed bike manufacturers like Titus.
Over the years, I have rented bikes many times while on travel. Many of these times I was outfitted with a Specialized dualie. When dialed in properly, they just feel so right. There is very little pedalling induced bobbing. The suspension behaves well over root farms. It also climbs very well. I've owned my Ellsworth Isis for a long time now. It is a fun bike to ride, but an efficient pedaller it is not. I plan to get back into MTB racing next year, and with my body not getting any younger, a hardtail doesn't cut it for 50 miles or more of roots and rocks.
So why not a Specialized? Specialized started using their own suspension components recently. I have not heard good things about them - prone to failure. The frames tend to be built a little lighter too, and I've gotten past the stage of buying weenie weight bikes that break all the time. I think the industry has gotten past this for the most part too. I like a high level of customization in the bikes I ride. I didn't have a nearby shop that could custom build a Specialized for me.
Note the FSR patent disclosure on left swingarm
IBC, my team sponsor on the other hand, picked up the Titus line a while back. You can buy just a frame or have the shop build one up any way you want. So a couple months ago I put a dream build kit list together and got a quote. At first it was hard to digest. But I put it on order anyway. Then the global economy tanked. Writing that check out today went against all common sense. But hey, I made a major contribution to propping up our economy today. What was your contribution?
So here are the details:
Titus Racer-X, anodized black, large, 4" travel
Fox RP23 shock
Fox Float RLC fork (100mm travel)
Shimano XTR tubeless wheelset
Shimano XTR shifters and derailleurs
Shimano XTR crankset
Shimano XTR chain
Shimano XTR pedals
Shimano XT cassette
Hayes Stoker disk brakes
Thomson Elite stem and seatpost
Chris King headset
Bontrager X-lite carbon riser bar
ODI Lock-on grips
Terry Fly Ti saddle
Bontrager XDX tubeless ready tiers
The bikes weighs about 25.8 lbs muddied up from my first test ride. My only goal for weight was sub 26 lbs. My Ellsworth weighs over 28 lbs.
I went for a short ride just before it got dark this evening. It will take a while to get the fork and shock tuned to my liking, but I immediately could tell this bike is right for me. It pedals almost as efficiently as a rigid on pavement. Fork lockout and shock pro-pedal features enable this efficiency. The new Bontrager XDX tires feel fast too. Also new to me were the Hayes Stoker brakes. Modulation feels nice, better than the older versions of Hayes brakes I've grown to like since 1999. Many people don't like Hayes' on-off modulation characteristic, but it suits me just fine.
The 14 mile ride broke 'er in proper. It was pretty greasy out there after two days of rain and drizzle. Lots of hunters about too. A couple guys warned me there were more guys with guns out there in the direction I was heading. At one point I swore I smelled cigarette smoke but saw no one. It was getting dark too. Spooky. I couldn't help but wonder if somebody was lining up a bead on me just for practice.
Anyway, competition on this bike will have to wait until next spring. I only hope I get a few good rides in before winter arrives. Once I start heading down to the Cape this winter, I'll more than likely be taking a singlespeed. It is now time to unload a few bikes. I will probably start by listing my Ellsworth Isis and Dean Torreys on Craig's List.