Notes from a Moab test session
By Andrew Juskaitis
As luck would have it, a few members of the VeloNews staff and I were able to sneak away two weeks ago to Moab for a little product testing/vacation mountain bike riding.
But before we hit hit the legendary slickrock, I wanted to make sure to bring along a fair share of mountain bike product to test in the harsh desert environment. Coincidentally, RockShox is nearing final production of its 2005 Pike and Reba suspension forks, which provided me the perfect opportunity to beg to borrow one for a bit of test riding. A quick call to one of the RockShox product managers resulted in a freshly-built long travel Pike being delivered just in time for our departure
With my 2004 Specialized S-Works ready to go (sans a fork), I thought I’d grab the fork, install it in the classy digs of Moab’s Apache Motel and head for the trails. But silly me, I forgot that Pike is a through axle only fork. In a fit of panic, I thankfully was able to remember that a Mavic CrossMax XL wheel can be easily retrofitted to accept a 20mm through axle. Finding the proper adapters both here in Boulder and Moab proved fruitless, so another favor called into Mavic resulted in a last minute delivery of the critical spacers. With my favor-jar fully emptied, I was armed with all the parts I needed to hit the trail.
With a relatively painless 6 hour drive to Moab, I was able to install the fork, pop out the standard quick release spacers on my CrossMax XL wheels, slip in the through axle adapters and install the front wheel with RockShox’s Maxle quick release through axle. After dodging a handful of technical bullets, I was ready to join our little group and hit some of the best riding in the world.
While my report four weeks ago from the 2005 SRAM/RockShox ride camp covers most of the technical bases with the Pike (and Reba) line, I’d like to reinforce my assertion that RockShox’s Motion Control damping system is quickly becoming my favorite “stable platform” damping system.
In my last RockShox report, I wrote quite favorably about RockShox’s simple, yet effective method of eliminating unwanted bobbing, but still allowing the fork to “break-away” under predetermined forces. Honestly, I caught quite a bit of flak from readers and my fellow co-workers for being “overzealous” in my report. “Andrew, you’re always so impressionable when you go to these press camps, you always write favorable things about new products,” one marketing director from a competing suspension manufacturer scolded me.
Say what you will, I still stand by what I wrote. RockShox’s Motion Control damping is easier to use and makes a more noticeable difference than any other stable platform damping system I’ve ridden. No air pumps, no air chamber adjustments, and totally trail-side adjustable. All these features won me over when I first rode the technology four weeks ago, and continued to impress me over the weekend.
From fully active to fully locked-out and everywhere in between, a rider can tune the performance of the fork (most likely a shock sometime soon too) while they’re riding. Don’t like or need a stable platform? Turn the adjust knob all the way off. Want to sprint a bit, don’t want a bobbing fork, but still want it to operate over larger hits? No problem, just tune the Motion Control platform to a medium setting, and there you go. Again, I need to stipulate that the fork I’ve been riding is very close to, but not full production, so I can make no claims about durability or true production quality, but if the hundred thousandth Pike rides close to the version I have, I’ll still remain impressed. Only time will tell.
As an aside, while stopping by on our way back to Denver to visit the Fruita Fat Tire Festival, I picked up a copy of the local Grand Junction, Colorado newspaper, The Daily Sentinel. Surprisingly, there on the front page was coverage of the Festival. And in a story written by Jason Groves, entitled “Gunnison Streak Continues at Fat Tire Festival, ” Groves provided an relatively candid report on the “subculture” of single-speed mountain bikers.
Now, until now, I’ve kept my mouth shut regarding my personal feelings of these freewheeling characters, but I wanted to share a quote from one of the single-speed competitors who I feel, best sums up the inexplicable (to me) phenomenon that has become single-speed racing.
Single-speed rider Keith Benedetto sums up the prime mentality of this growing legion of male and female racers who are categorized solely on their decision to run a single speed, “All of the single speeders are usually hanging out together, there is a lot of camaraderie there,” Benedetto said. “The beauty of single speed is that you can’t go wrong. If you’re slow, you can say you’re on a single speed.”
And that’s my point, “If you’re slow, you can say you’re on a single speed.” There’s absolutely nothing wrong with riding or racing on a single-speed (I’ve been beaten by many a one geared rider), but designating a separate class for these racers is a huge cop-out. I feel if you want to race a single-speed, go ahead and do it in your regular class, against the rest of us geared folk. Technology is no reason to designate a separate category-to me, it’s just a handy excuse for a poor performance. Age, sex, racing ability (even a rider’s weight) are all valid reasons for designating a specific class. Leave the technical stipulations to SCCA automobile racing.