As I've mentioned on Twitter a few times I received a new fork for my Yeti ARC recently. Granted this is not a brand new fork, in fact it is 2007, but it is in new condition. When it arrived last night (well really when I arrived home last night and it was sitting on the couch) it took all the mental strength I could muster to not break out the work stand, toolbox, and work rags. But I held off until this morning.
Above you can see photos of the build, final product, and the weight of my complete race bike (this is more because I made a cassette upgrade while I was back east and knocked off a considerable amount of weight there). Yeah, just under 24 pounds is not super impressive for a hard tail cross country race weapon, but, this is one durable cross country race bike! Not to say there aren't changes I could make, in fact, I am still toying with the idea of going 1x9 with the mrp 1.x to drop a little bit over 300 grams as well as get rid of chain suck in bad race conditions and just make the bike that much more durable. We'll see though...if I do that I might have to spend a little more time on my singlespeed over the winter to build up the strength to push a 36 tooth front ring up some of the climbs we have on the US Pro XCT circuit.
Back to the build. This was the fastest fork change I have ever done. Though pulling the crown race off of my old Reba Team was a little difficult. Yet, putting it on the Fox 32 F100 was a piece of cake - a sign of what was to come.
Well the build was done, the brakes were set up, my rotor was re straightened, and now to set up the fork pressure. Looking over the Fox manual online I gathered that I should set the pressure to roughly 65 psi for my weight and see how it handles. I did the necessary work to do so and thought the fork felt a little squishy compared to what I was used to.
Ok, well now that I am talking about how the fork feels I might as well dive right into it's first ride. Since my legs have been feeling slightly fatigued from a solid weekend of back to back 3 hour mountain bike rides I opted to head out for a semi-short endurance ride at Marshall Mesa to test out the new fork and give my legs a little spin with the option of giving it some gas if they were feeling it (by the way, they were!)
Marshall Mesa is not terribly technical. It has some more technical bits but overall it is pretty smooth and just fun. I also rode the Prairie View trail, Dowdy Draw Trail, and Spring Brook Loop on the other side of the highway for good measure, some solid mountain biking. Fun, good fun fast and slightly rocky singletrack.
Even though when I initially set up the fork I thought it was soft I discovered quickly on the trail that though at first it feels soft this is the way Fox forks are designed. For a 100mm fork, a travel length I have been running since last august, this fork feels bottomless. The travel starts out being super responsive to the slightest trail alteration and as you move through it becomes progressively stiffer. What this means to us mountain bikers, go and rip it.
My Reba has never felt this way in the year I rode it. It was always a consistent feel from beginning to end. Not to say that is bad, but I could clearly tell when I was bottoming it out, not so with the Fox. In addition to this I felt as though the Fox definitely allowed for more input from the rider.
As a hard tail rider it takes a certain amout of bike handling skills to handle technical terrain smoothly and fast. Something that has taken me a year to really get the handle of and I still can't do it 100% of the time. One thing about the Fox with it's amazingly smooth feel and quick reacting rebound it really helps you make those late big bunny hops over boulders on the outside of corners you would have otherwise plowed into and certainly endowed. When this happened today it was great how quickly the fork reacted and I was up and over the boulder without even touching my tire to it.
You might think that I just didn't have my Reba set up properly in order to have that kind of feel. I have owned 2 different Rock Shox forks as of now and no matter how well I set them up and work to make them feel the best they can they never felt like this new fork does.
So, today not only is the winner my bike, but the winner is also Fox Suspension, you guys really know what youare doing.
As a quick side note a good friend of mine is starting a huge part of his racing season this weekend at the Suicide 6 race in New York to tune up for the Shenandoah 100. Best of luck to Jason Hilimire as he heads out to rock a series of super hard and awesome events! If you click on his name you can follow updates on his blog of his training, racing, and life in general. Definitely well worth it.
Till next time....