Bikes of Singletracks is series of blog posts that takes an in-depth look at the bikes the Singletracks crew rides. These are our personal bikes, not bikes we have in for review. This is what we ride, and why we ride it.
My first real mountain bike was a Giant Anthem – a lightweight 80mm full suspension bike with super fast handling. I bought it in 2007 and rode it for a few years, upgrading some of the parts along the way. At the very end of 2009 I built up a single speed, and the Giant was retired when the fork died. However, many of the parts have been put back to use on my current bikes.
The Single Speed
When shopping for a single speed back in ’09 no one made exactly what I wanted as a complete bike, so I bought all the parts and pieces seperately and built my own. It’s more expensive that way, but I was able to get exactly what I wanted. Nearly three years later, I have no regrets. This is my favorite bike and it sees most of my local riding.
Frame: Vassago Jabberwocky, size medium
I wanted an affordable steel frame single speed, and wanted track end style dropouts. I chose steel because it rides so nicely and track ends because of all the chain tensioning methods available at the time, I thought (and still think) it’s the best. I think sliding dropouts are ugly (and heavy) and I didn’t want an eccentric bottom bracket because I’ve heard too many stories of them creaking a lot. I also wanted the ability to put gears on if I wanted to.
The Jabberwocky fit the bill perfectly. It’s not as light as higher priced options that use fancier steel, but it’s also a whole lot cheaper. For example: the Niner SIR 9 weighs about half a pound less, but at the time cost almost twice as much. I love the way this bike rides, and how I fit on it. I do wish the chainstays were shorter, but the length is part of the comfort equation. Vassago has been through some rough patches the last few years (they were out of business for a while) but the company is now under new ownership (some former Vassago-sponsored racers bought it) and will have frames available again soon. They’ll be sending me one of the new made in the USA VerHauen frames to review in early January, so stay tuned to the blog for an On Test article as soon as it shows up! Til then, you can check out their new website by clicking here.
When I first built the bike up I wanted a rigid fork to keep cost and weight down, and I liked the no-maintenance aspect of it. I choose the White Brothers fork because it was one of the few carbon options at the time, and while more expensive than a rigid steel fork, it’s much lighter, and is still a lot less expensive than a nice suspension fork. In theory the carbon would ride more comfortably than a steel fork too. The bike has had two different suspension forks on it at various times, but I enjoy the rigid the most since it matches with the simplicity of the SS drivetrain nicely, and I like the handling with the shorter rigid fork…plus I like that it’s two pounds lighter than a nice suspension fork.
Headset: Cane Creek S3
Works great, doesn’t cost much.
Wheels: Fulcrum Red Metal XL 29
Wheels are another thing that have changed several times through the years on this bike. The Fulcrums were review items I received (review here) and I like them a lot. I have a lighter set of wheels, but choose to put them on my geared bike.
Front Tire: Specialized Ground Control, 29”x2.3”, set up tubeless
I like big front tires on this bike since the tires are my only suspension. During the summer the bike wears a 2.55” WTB Weirwolf LT, but for the leafy and wet winter season I put some knobbier tires on for more grip. I usually use a 2.4” Continental Mountain King during the winter, but I can’t get it seated tubeless on these UST rims.
Rear Tire: Specialized Fast Trak, 29”x2.0” set up tubeless
Light, fast, and supple.
Stem: Thomson X4, 100mm
Beautiful, strong, stiff, relatively light, and made in the USA.
Handlebars: Thomson Titanium, 6o bend
Wide, strong, light, and a little bit of give for comfort. This is a brand new product from Thomson, watch the blog for a review once I get some more miles on it.
I love Ergon grips. For long rides they’re just so much more comfortable for me. Even though I have weight weenie tendencies, I don’t mind the extra heft of these grips.
Seatpost: Thomson Elite, setback
The last seatpost your bike will ever need. Made in the USA, matches the stem.
Saddle: WTB Shadow V Team
I’ve had this saddle a long time, it came stock on the Anthem. It’s narrow, long, and lightweight. I’ve put thousands of miles on this thing, and it fits me well and is comfortable. I wish they still made this saddle…sadly, it’s been discontinued.
Brakes: Shimano, cheap ones
These were freebies. A friend bought a used bike and these were on it, he had better brakes he swapped on, so he let me have these when my Avid Elixers died. I like them though, plenty of power, good modulation, and unlike the Avids – they’re quiet!
Cranks: FSA Afterburner with Home Brew Components chainring, 32T
These cranks were on the Anthem where they originally replaced the stock RaceFace cranks. I think they’re cool looking, and they’re about the same weight and price as Shimano XTs. The chainring is SS-specific with wider teeth and no shift ramps, and made in a guy’s garage here in the USA.
Rear Cog: Surly, 18T
It’s stainless steel so it lasts a long time, and it’s wide at the base so it doesn’t chew up the freehub body.
Chain: KMC single speed
Pedals: Crank Brothers Candy 3
Other: Stainless steel bottle cages, Cateye Strada Wireless computer, Incredibell Brass Duet bell, Surly seatpost binder, Snake Creek Gap stem top cap.
Stay tuned for more “Bikes of Singletracks” posts including the low down on my geared 29er.
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