Sunday, March 11, 2012


Well since my major ambition this year is only a few weeks ago it's only fair I show the bike that I will be riding.  It's just had it's major overhaul for the last few years and hopefully is now good to go.

The last parts arrived this week via Scotland.  The local shop wanted 100 Euros for a bolt kit so imported them from Scotland at a grand cost of £35 with shipping.  I spent all day Saturday putting her together again and fitting a few new parts
  • Serviced front and rear shocks
  • New chain and cassette
  • New wheels (as previously detailed)
  • New suspension bearings and bolt kit
  • New gear cables
  • New rear XTR mech
  • New XT Shifter pods
  • New handlebar grips
I got the front and rear shock push tuned a few years ago and got them refurbed again this time.  It always makes a huge difference.  The front is brilliant but the rear was a bit plush.  Great for downhill but sapping on XC courses.  I've got a new rear kaskima body and a small can fitted to my circa 2004 rear shock that should help.

The drive train was just tired.  The XTR mech I had was from 1999 and last time I replaced the jockey wheels I said I'd never do it again.  Again the shifters were just tired and would fail to work sometimes but always work on second push. The difference is great and shifting is now so slick.  Moved to KMC chains and finally dumped the last Shimano piece of junk chain I had.

So full Spec list is
  • 2004 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR in size M
  • 2004 Fox Talas 80-130mm Push tuned front shock
  • 2004 Fox RL Push tuned rear shock
  • Hope Pro 2 Evo Hoops with Crest rims
  • Various Maxxis tyres (tubeless)
  • RaceFace Evolve isis triple chainring
  • RaceFace Deus 90mm stem
  • RaceFace Deus low rise handlebars
  • RaceFace seatpost
  • RaceFace headset
  • RaceFace isis bottom bracket
  • 2004 Hope M4 Brakes 160/180 rear/front
  • Hope floating rotors
  • Hope seatpost collar
  • XT front mech
  • XTR Rear mech
  • XT shifters
  • XT Pedals
  • Fizik Gobi XM Saddle

Bike now weighs in around 11.7kg which isn't too bad for quite an old bike.

Only had a small test ride up and down the road quickly and hopefully big ride in the next few days.  Had the front tyre blow off the rim in that small ride and glad this happened now rather than during the race.  Something to sort in the coming days...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The new bike

Finally after waiting close on a month my new frame arrived !!!  I was saving a bunch of new parts for the old bike till after the worst of winter.  Well once the frame was found cracked it was just a case of wait until the new frame arrived before fitting them.

 So I got the frame home and started the build at maybe 11am.  6pm or so I was done.  I don't think I'd make the quickest bike mechanic award of the year but hopefully make up for it with good workmanship. The hardest part was the cables and having to thread and unthread them through the frame to cut an outer was a pain.

I've been out for nearly 200Km on it today and enjoyed myself.  Not to much different from the old even though the frame is a model up on the old one.  Had to tweak the seat straight and the handlebars straight but everything else was good.

The old bike weighed about 9.4 KG and the new comes in at about 8KG.  Most of that's the wheels but the frameset and pedals dropped some as well.  The groupset made almost no difference between 105 and Ultegra.  It is smoother and the old 105 had 20,000 Km on it so was a wee bit worn, but I'm sure it will go on a donor bike somewhere in the future.

So Full Spec is

Specialized Roubaix SL3 in 54cm
Full Ultegra Triple groupset
Hope Hoops RS Mono wheelset
Look Keo Carbon pedals
Continental GP4 Season 25mm tyres
Specialized BG Romin Expert Saddle
Specialized Carbon seatpost
Specialized Alu handlebars
3T ARX Team -6 110mm stem

Hopefully this will be the last bike for a while.  Three in 18 months is a bit excessive.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The great bike diet

I've had my Mountain Bike since about mid 2005.  It's not a bad bike and I haven't really spent that much money on it over the years.  It's given me huge enjoyment where ever it's been.  I must have ridden the bike in Spain, France, United Kingdom, Solvenia and the Netherlands and probably more.

So knowing that I have up to 4500 Metres of climbing each day in Portugal loosing weight off anything is important.  I started with me and I'm the lightest I've been in more than 20 years.  So where to go from here?

The bike is a 2004 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR that I put together myself from a collection of parts over the years.  Nothing that special and it weighed in at 13 kilos.  For interests sake a brand new Stumpy weighs in at about 12 kilo for the 2012 26 inch version.  I was expecting things had moved on and they did in a way but not that much.  My bike had 100mm travel back then and this has 140mm and is lighter.

So where could I drop weight.  I'm not a huge fan of bling Carbon scatter gunned on a bike.  It costs a load and you save only a few grams here and there.  Yes it adds up but not the kilo or so I'm looking for.

So the wheels and tyres were the obvious choice.  My wheels and tyres with cassette etc were 4.7 KG !!!  Yes that's a big percentage of the total bike !!!

Well I knew that tubeless tyres were a must and that Stan's Crest rim was highly rated.  I've had Hope hubs for years and just had to go with these again.  New set of  Hope Hoops arrived along with a Stan's kit and some new tyres.  All pumped up and with a new XT cassette on they were massively lighter. 3.5 KG in total.

New and Shiny
Old and heavy
I've got some new front and rear mechs to go on but I'm not holding out much hope for these making any difference.  I'm quite happy with 1.2KG off for the time being.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tyre Choice

Line five Mountain bike riders up and ask them which tyres are good.  Be prepared for many different answers.  In fact hopefully most will probably ask questions first.  How muddy and how technical is it?  Are you doing lots of downhill and climbing?  How much single track?  Loose over hard?

So this week has been confused week.  How do you choose a tyre when you can't answer the questions?

The short answer is I have no idea !!!  The long answer is buy 4 different types of tyres and see what you like. It's expensive and the tyres you choose may not be the best choice.

So I'm riding Portugal from one end to the other.  I've only ever been there once.  And that was to a city and no where near where I will be riding.  The only guide I've had is to look at pictures on Facebook and a few blogs from previous years.  It looks fast and fairly smooth with not to much technical spots.

I've been using Maxxis High Rollers for quite a few years.  Why?  Well they have never given me any issues and I've not destroyed one except for wearing the tread out.  They are great for all round UK riding but way to slow for the flatlands.  They are awesome for downhilling in the Alps.

I've purchased the following

  • Maxxis High Roller 2.1
  • Maxxis Monorail 2.1
  • Maxxis Aspen 2.1
  • Maxxis Crossmark 2.1
I'll be testing the Aspen on the front and Crossmark on the back very soon.  Hopefully they are nice and fast and they do look it.  They both have low treads so should be fast.  Not sure how the Crossmark will go in the mud as there is not much gap between the blocks on the centre of the tyre.  This is hopefully where the Monorail will help on the back.  In extreme wet I'll be switching back to trusted High Roller with possibly the Monorail on the front.

What's interesting is that road tyre choice seem to go along the same lines.  But isn't a road a road and surfaces fairly similar?  Not quite the same as getting the right tyre for the course on an MTB.