After agonizing most of the winter over which frame to buy, I settled with the Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc, which Rhino Bike Works was able to order for me. It is a member of a new genre of bikes popping onto the scene this season, so called long-travel 29ers. What troubled me so much in making a decision was whether to go with a long travel 29er or something even newer, a 27.5" trail bike. The 27"5" format, often called "650B's," are an in between size, half way between a 26" and 29" bike. What ultimate swayed my decision was the actual outside diameter of a typical 27.5" tire is only slightly bigger than current big volume 26" tires. You really don't gain much, and some reviews I read said 27.5" bikes give up a lot of that "roll over everything" capability. So why not go all out and get big wheels and big travel? I really went out on a limb with this one...
Another motivation in going with the bigger wheels is the character of new trails being cut. Nearly everybody rides big wheeled bikes now. This made our technical trails easier to ride. So of course, new trails are now designed to test riders on big bikes, to separate the men from the boyz so to speak. Kind of a Darwinian thing going on here, except we are doing it all to ourselves. Soon, some riders will find the new trails easier to ride with 32" wheels, and viola, a new wheel standard is born, and trails become even more challenging. I digress. To sum it up, riding with other guys on big bikes on tough trails when I'm still riding small wheels leaves me hanging on for dear life. I'm hoping a full-squish with big wheels will make up for some of my skill deficiencies (I can here the Ride Bully snickering already).
So here's what I built up:
Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc, size large, 142x12mm thru-axle, Fox Float CTD shock
Rock Shox Revelation RTC3 fork, 140mm travel, 15mm thru-axle
Stan's Arch EX rims laced to Hope Pro III EVO hubs
Thomson Elite Layback seatpost and Elite X4 stem
Easton Havoc carbon bar
ODI Rogue Lock-on grips
Shimano XT 10spd shifters
Shimano XT 2x10 crank, 24/38t rings
Shimano XT front and rear deraileurs
Shimano XT 11/36t cassette
Shimano XT pedals
Hayes Stroker Trail hydraulic brakes, 6" rotors
Terry Fly Ti saddle
Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires, snake skin, 2.25"
Definitively not counting grams here. I'm not building a trophy bike, and this will not be a XC race rig either. I build bikes with parts that hold up to real riding. I demand I reliability, especially when taking bikes on trips. An XTR build might have trimmed half a pound, Stan's Crest rims another half pound, etc. The heavier Arch rims on my Superfly hardtail have performed flawlessly, no truing in three years, and I've done a number of 50-62mi races with them. I really like XTR componentry, but with deeply discounted pricing on XT right now, I just couldn't rationalize spending another $1000+ to save half a pound. Plus when it comes time to buy replacement rings, you can spend $200 on a single middle ring for XTR. XT is much cheaper, and it uses industry standard BCD, so you could buy third part replacement rings if you wanted to.
The bike is complete except for one missing component, the front derailleur. I bought a standard mount, which mounts near the bottom of the seat tube. Problem is, this carbon frame has a flared out seat tube at the bottom bracket. No way to mount the derailleur I bought. Either an E-type, which mounts around bottom bracket, or a high-mount derailleur is needed. Perusing the web for build photos, seems everybody goes with high-mount, so I ordered a replacement, which I'll have in couple days. I plan to get out Sunday for a long ride on the Tallboy, and the flat terrain is not going to need shifting to a granny ring anyway.
A colleague asked me to put a few pictures up on what is involved in building up a bike yourself. I captured a few of the less obvious steps or steps that require measuring and cutting things. So here you go Rich...
The crazy wide 720mm handlebar had to be trimmed a little. I took 0.5" off each side with
a fine-toothed hacksaw. Still wider than any of my other bars.
Pressing the headset bearing cups in proved troublesome. My press works only for
1.125" headsets, and new frames now come with "tapered" headsets, 1.125" on
top and 1.5" on bottom. I found a large washer to shoulder the lower cup.
As above, my crown race setter works only with 1.125". Taper is pronounced in steer tube
of fork. I do not recommend using a mallet on bearing to seat crown race. Took a very
long time delicately tapping, going around and around, to get if fully seated.
Once the bearing races are set, the steer tube length can be measured and cut. Here I use
a plumbers pipe cutter on the aluminum tube, but this was a heavy duty tube and the cutter created
a big burr I had to file off. Next time I'll use a hacksaw.
Setting star-fangled nut in steer tube. There is a tool for this, but I just insert the headset cap bolt,
place deep well socket over it, and pound star nut in.
This time Universal Cycles shipped my wheels with standard cloth rim tape with the Stan's
sealing kit in a bag. Installing the Stan's tape is tough. Hard to get it to conform nicely in
well of the rim and not let it pull up on either bead.
Once the rim tape is in, I put on a high pressure road tire and tube, inflated to 60 lbs and leave
it sit overnight. This thoroughly presses the self-adhesive rim tape into the nooks and crannies
of the rim, ensuring the Stan's sealant will not find a way out.
With the MTB tire mounted, one and a half scoops of Stan's sealant are added per tire.
This ensures southwest cacti will give me no grief. Or granite state gnar.
Trimming hose. I use the bolt cutters to trim all shift cable housings and hydraulic brake lines.
Bleeding the brakes. Hayes uses regular ol' automotive brake fluid. The brakes came
pre-bled, but I had to trim excess hose to avoid messy look at front of bike. A squeeze
bottle with fluid is used at the caliper to push any air in lines up to master cylinder
at the lever. Wifey helped me with this.
Connecting the chain. Shimano still uses pins. I've never had good luck with SRAM
The (almost) finished product.
Getting saddle height and fore/aft figured out. Bike is ready to rumble.
Report coming soon.