SuperBoost

So after 150km on the Canyon Dude I’ve come to the conclusion it is under geared for local riding. Changing that is not as simple as it sounds because of the chainring offset. The Truvativ cranks are fitted with a -4mm offset 30T SRAM ring, nice bit of X0 quality kit, but it’s the only size they seem to do in that offset.

I couldn’t find anyone else making a ring with that offset and it seems to be that it is part of a special for fat bike use. The solution comes in the form of some designed in the UK (machined in Poland) kit from Absolute Black: 32T 0mm offset SuperBoost chainring.

Absolute Black 32t 0mm offset chainring

As oval chainrings were a silly idea in the 1990s and no I did not get used to the weird feeling ‘after a bit’ of riding. So this is not one of the odd shaped ones, it is however another bit of lovely design and engineering though. Amazing service too. Ordered Friday night arrived by lunch time on Tuesday via DHL from Europe.

Absolute Black 32t 0mm offset chainring

With the increase in gearing from 30T to 32T I am expecting to spend a bit more time in the middle of the cassette so the loss of offset should balance out and in theory running more midway through the gears should mean a bit more life out of the cassette.

Superboosted chainring and a bigger gear

I also received the XD Drive cassette I’d be waiting for and combined with a new chain the whole drivetrain is fresh and ready to go. As with the Chameleon, a similar mind bending weight saving experience was achieved.

The X0 XG-1295 cassette is half the weight of the NX PG-1230 (357g vs 712g) and the total saving from this gearing change was a bit more than that because the XD driver body is 20g lighter than the Hyperdrive one and the Absolute Black ring came in 4g lighter than quoted and 16g lighter than the smaller SRAM ring.

There’s also a big difference in the wheels the smaller 26″ wheels with bigger tyres are 300g lighter each than the 27.5″ ones. For transparency that is with a different make of tyre fitted and I am pretty sure (based on the experience from the Scott Genius Plus) that the Schwalbe tyres are some of the lightest you can get.

Bottom line is 391g saved from the drive train and 600g from the wheels. As I have always though about bikes in imperial measurements, that’s a 2lb 3oz weight saving over stock bringing the (large frame) bike in bang on 29lbs.

Weight saving immediately countered by fitting lights (it’s going to be dark out in the woods tomorrow morning). Still need to think about trying the 4.8″ tyres too…

The Dude

Canyon Dude Fatbike

Getting this bike was definitely the right thing. It has transformed local riding and goes more places with greater ease than anything else I have owned. First ride out I think I ran the tyres too soft and ended up cursing the drag on tarmac.

Canyon Dude Fatbike

Second ride out I switched to the 26″ rims and lost a dinner plate gear dropping down to a 1×11 but the bike was transformed and felt hugely improved. After some analysis with the scales there are some massive weight differences between the wheel sets (details to follow) that explain that feeling, but tyre pressure (as everyone says) is critical.

Canyon Dude Fatbike

So I decided I would get the 26″ wheels up to 1×12 gearing, but to my annoyance once the XD Driver for the DT Swiss Hubs arrived and I went to swap the cassette, it turned out Canyon had done exactly the same as Santa Cruz and fitted a Shimano Hyperdrive spline pattern cassette from SRAM.

I find the fact that SRAM make a Shimano pattern cassette perverse especially as they seem to have market dominance in mountain bike drive trains these days. The fact was that it has meant that I have had to order a new cassette and until that arrives I am running a short fat mullet wheel combo with the 27.5″ out back and the 26″ upfront.

Canyon Dude Fatbike

It matters not, it is still crushing the trails and this morning allowed me to ride up the impossible climb (a 10m high sandhill which is normally a get off and push slog) and set a personal record for that segment on Strava. #FatBikeWin

Fat Bike

Back in February 2017 I went Fatbiking with Ride the Alps and my mates Dave and Chris.

Fatbiking with RidetheAlps.com

After that I bought the Scott Genius Plus bike. That wasn’t a fat bike. It was a chubby and much fun was had, particularly due to the insane traction it generated whilst climbing. I sold that bike in lockdown and ended up making money on it despite having ridden it for a few years.

Over the COVID lockdown period I did A LOT of local riding. The best trails are in the woods down by the beach. Everything is on a sand subsoil and with local folks and visitors there’s been a fair bit of erosion and the trails are blown out.

That means unless it’s frozen, it’s very hard work and you’re probably making things worse not better. So that, plus recognition that all that sand probably wasn’t doing much good to Fox suspension forks meant it was time to go full fat.

Canyon Dude

The problem of course is that supply of most things is a bit screwed at the moment due to a combination of COVID, lockdown and Brexit and a large boat getting stuck sideways in a small bit of the sea. That and a global shortage of shipping containers because they’re all stuck in the wrong places. And various other reasons and excuses suppliers come up with.

So it turns out Specialized (whose Fat Bike I rode back in 2017) like Scott don’t make one anymore. Trek who do make a nice one don’t have any and that meant it was time to check out the German option. The Canyon Dude is a full carbon setup with a retro fade paint job. Aside from the questionable move to 27.5″ rims it ticked all the boxes and arrived in less than a week. I’ve picked up a set of 26″ wheels with 4.0″ and optional 4.8″ rubber so we will given those a go too.

The Genius Plus was riding on 27.5 x 3.0″ rubber and I’m not sure the 27.5 x 3.8″ on the Dude will cut it. We’re going to find out.

Trail Maintenance

Trail maintenance secteurs and saw next to a rucksack.

The problem with all this warm wet weather is a tremendous growth of undergrowth in the woods. Ferns are generally not a problem, but nettles, white poplar saplings and brambles are encroaching on some of the best bits of singletrack and were making passage miserable and regularly drawing blood. Only one thing for it brave the mosquitos, horse flies and midges and get to clearing. The pay back to a couple of hours will be a return to flying again on the trails next time around.

TdF is on

Tour de France is on the telly, it must be time to get the road bike out. Since I went through the windscreen of a car that pulled out on me on my way home from a time trial I’ve been a reluctant road rider but this is a special bike and always a pleasure to get out on.

Independent Fabrication Titanium Crown Jewel

Nicknamed the Ferrari it always looks ace in it’s Ruby Red and Baywater Pearl panels tipping a hat to my former Harry Hall Elan painted by Dave Yates. After the most recent outing given the state of the local roads I’m looking at changing the saddle and bars for something a little more forgiving because even 25mm tyres and sensible PSI aren’t cutting it.

Commutes of the Week

This working from lifestyle which was by necessity for the last 18 months now looks to be a pretty definite thing for the foreseeable future. On that basis the week needs to be peppered with some new commute rides.

Pine forest meadow riding

Having started a couple of weeks ago, I am coming to the view that alternating between a ride down to the coast to hit singletrack in the woods and inland to continue exploring is a good bet. This weeks achievements have been adding a few more segments into Strava for favourite bits and a bit of detective work on some other local riders to pick up leads on some more gravel roads.

Gravel bike riding on the Cheshire Lines

I’ll be looking to explore those new-to-me tracks next week. In the meantime the rear hub on the Cross Bike needs a strip and service and it sounds like, after 1,300km, the bottom bracket bearings are shot so I’ll need to get that sorted too.

Coed-y-Brenin

Celebrating having made it to a bit of blogging milestone, for the 1,001th post I headed out to West Wales and hooked up on the trails of Coed-y-Brenin. The last time I rode around was May 2006. 2006! Crikey, it didn’t feel like that long.

Understandably a lot has changed in that time when if I recall the new visitors centre building was still in the final stages of construction and not open. Well it’s all very different now, that is for sure and there are plenty of trails to choose from. It lacks the warm and friendly sense of community from back when Sian and Dafydd Roberts ran the initial pioneering visitors centre, but the scale of that setup didn’t have the super helpful team in Beics Brenin.

I opted for the Beast, because it was the longest option and having spent over two hours driving the 61 miles as the crow flies to get there, it was about maximum biking.

I didn’t pay enough attention to the differences between the Beast and the Dragon’s Back Trail. They looked to be largely the same, a bit of a school boy error as they diverge near the start and that meant I ended up doing extra bits, which wasn’t ideal as the Beast is a trail that lives up to it’s name.

For the second week in succession as I reached the top most bits of the trail the weather closed in and it was a bit damp and grey. The views when you could see them were amazing as you would expect from being on the fringes of Snowdonia.

The trails were good and I am sure radically different since I last rode them, but Gomez, Uncle Fester and Pink Heffer all seemed familiar as something might with the haziness of 15 years ago memories.

As I return to the car a bit broken by the ride, I just thought that the trails were so rocky that they would be really quite unpleasant on a hardtail and even on an Enduro bike they were tough going. Almost to the point that if this is by design they are going to put a lot of folks off.

I’m not just talking about the Black bits – you get what you asked for – but many of the bits were shared with Red trails and on that basis they are definitely dark red. Maybe we need a regrading of the trails, using the IMBA classification and introducing the double Black diamond grade:

Facelift

With this update entry the site has reached the heady highlight of 1,000 blog posts. Seeing the target approaching I thought that it was a good time to give the site a facelift…

Before and after

Might do some tweaking and there’s a bit of tidying up to do in places over coming weeks. It’s been a journey, coming up to 20 years of blogging in 2023.

100% Rain

Keeping the circular commuting commitment going, I headed out int the rain on the Cross Bike for a quick local loop. The rain fell through out and it reminded me that I definitely need some braces for the Endura 3/4 length waterproof shorts.

And that the Chris King free hub is a bit sticky and needs a strip down and service…