Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Putting the Sofa back into Bike

Been a while since I posted a dedicated Hill Junkie post. You can blame Facebook for that.

I bought my Santa Cruz Tallboy LTc over three years ago.  Since then, I've put over 9000 miles on it. Best bike I've ever owned by far. The LTc stands for Long-Travel Carbon. I often affectionately refer to it as my "sofa bike," because it rides so plush. Like riding your sofa through the woods. Ironically, bikes with this geometry and travel sold today are referred to as cross-country bikes, really an obsolete relic term from the heyday of cross-country racing 15-20yrs ago. Current generation bikes have an even more slack head angle now and can accommodate bigger "plus" size tires. I like to climb and I just don't see how a more speed/downhill oriented rig will be a net gain for me. I'll keep my Tallboy, thank-you.

Everything on the Tallboy has held up amazingly well. It has traveled with me to many states out west. I only recently replaced the suspension pivot bearings. The grease fittings below and adjustable angular contact bearings keep the main pivots working smoothly with no play for multiple seasons of heavy use. Even more amazing is the air seals in both the fork and shock have held up flawlessly for over 9000 miles. Air sprung forks have progressed mightily from the early Rockshox SID fork days. You were lucky to get a season out of those, and they developed bushing play almost immediately.

I'm a big fan of Fox suspension products. When I built up the Tallboy, the cheapest 140mm Fox product I could put on it was over $1000. That crossed the threshold of more than I wanted to spend. So I went with a Rockshox Revelation for $200 less. I was skeptical at the time, not having best of luck with Rockshox products. The Revelation fork has proven it's value now.

After 9000 miles, some of the surface treatment on the left stanchion started wearing off. The roughness allowed fork oil to leak by the seals.  That was just a nuisance. More notably, the fork started getting "sticky." It was loosing its small bump response as the stanchion shaft got rougher. It was getting so bad recently that it was almost like riding rigid on chunder. I wanted my sofa bike back!

Gray area where slippery gold anodized finish has worn off. Made for very abrasive surface on internal bushings and let oil get past seal. Internal air chamber held air impeccably though, going sometimes months without adding air. The lower shown here does have some shipping damage from  rubbing against metal brace inside bike box numerous times it was shipped. Probably cosmetic, but seems odd that only this stanchion has wear and other side has zero wear.
I capitulated and finally ordered a new fork. The Fox's were still ridiculously expensive. I found Jenson had the 2016 Revelation model on closeout for $560.  That sounded like a deal for another 9000 miles.
The new Revelation fork in stealth black
It took little over an hour to swap the fork out, most of the time spent removing the crown race. What a PIA.  Got out for a lunch romp today. Wow, the old fork must have slowly degraded over a long period. I had my sofa bike back! So plush up front. I didn't even have to adjust the air pressure. What I got from the factory was perfect for me.

Eventually I'll have to replace the bike. I'll have to see where Santa Cruz's Tallboy sits with geometry and wheel size choices when that day comes. Don't want to go slacker, and certainly want to keep 29" wheels as an option.

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