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I spend most of my money on bikes and beer. The rest I just waste!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Part 1: Bikes, Bikes and More Bikes

I just have to face facts. I am a mountain biker. I like the smell of a pine forest. I love the feeling of dropping like a rock down steep trail. I enjoy the challenge of switchbacks and the wonderful feeling of a flowing along winding single track.

Here is a photo of some fast easy single track:

This trail is at Elk Meadows in Evergreen, Colorado. This is a nice trail that is a favorite of hikers, bikers and trail runners.

Colorado has some very well-developed and nicely maintained trails.

This trail is at Meyer Ranch in Conifer, Colorado. At the start of this trail there is a long and steep climb. After the climb, the trail runs pretty flat and is quite scenic.

On these nice smooth trails any good mountain bike will do just fine. My ancient 2007 Specialized 26" Stumpjumper Pro Disc hardtail , called "Little Stumpy" flies along nice single track.

I love Little Stumpy but he has limitations. Little Stumpy gets downright skittish on rough and rocky trails.

I also have a blazing fast bike, which is a Specialized 29" Stumpjumper Carbon Expert . I call this bike "Ultra Stumpy". Ultra Stumpy is an endurance racing bike and is scary fast.

Ultra Stumpy's long wheelbase and slack steering makes the bike stable at high speed. Low speed handling is good but not great. High speed handling is superb.

I have a 2012 Specialized 26" Camber Comp named "Little Cam". Little Cam is a pure trail bike and is lightning quick but not fast. I completely updated Little Cam with a Fox Factory suspension, Shimano XT group, carbon handlebars and carbon seatpost.

Little Cam is really sensitive to tires. I have experimented a lot to find tires that work. I am still looking. Little Cam can turn so quickly that the tires tend to slide or skip sideways, which is not a good feeling.

Part 2: They Don't Call This Place the Rocky Mountains for Nothing

Fortunately, in Colorado there are mountain trails that are rocky, rough and steep!

This nasty trail is at Elk Meadows and is not too far from the nice single track shown in the first picture posted above.

This is a shot of a bad chunk of real estate called Bergen Peak,

This is actually more difficult than it looks. A trail bike with 120mm (4.7 inches) of suspension travel, such as Little Cam, will bottom-out on this rocky terrain, which results in a rough and jerky ride.

Ultra Stumpy has larger 29" wheels and 130mm (5.1") of suspension travel and rides better over rocky terrain than Little Cam. However, Ultra Stumpy wants to accelerate on a descent.

Using the brakes causes the bike to be slow in responding to steering input. Ultra Stumpy is a white-knuckle ride on steep and very rough terrain. The bike is just too fast.

Part 3: Enduro - The All Mountain Bike

A recent development in extreme mountain biking combines the long-travel of gravity racing bikes with the utility of a trail bike. The result is a bike that is designed to take on any and all terrain. An Enduro bike can take on smooth single track and nasty near-vertical trails strewn with rocks roots, loose gravel and fallen trees. Here is video on Enduro/All-Mountain riding:


I tried a few Enduro bikes at the Golden Bike Junkie Fest Demo Day. I was extremely impressed with the 26" Pivot Mach 5.7. This bike just flew over any and all obstacles. I tried the all-mountain Pivot Mach 6 with 27.5" wheels. The Mach 6 was great on the descent. But seemed to take a lot of effort during climbing.

A few weeks ago I went to Wheatridge Cyclery to pick up yet another set of tires for Little Cam. I wandered over to look at the new Santa Cruz and Yeti bikes. Both Santa Cruz and Yeti make high-end mountain bikes for serious riders with more money than good sense.

Santa Cruz and Yeti only build mountain bikes. I found out that the shop had a demo Santa Cruz Bronson available in my size. I plunked down $90 for a three day demo ride. I walked out the door with a sadly beat-up 2014 Black and Orange Santa Cruz Bronson Carbon XO.

Here is the demo Bronson in the bed of my truck. You may be able to see the new SRAM 1x11 XO drivetrain in the photo. This bike has Shimano XT brakes, Maxxis Tires and FOX suspension, which are my favorite components. The Bronson Carbon tips the scales at a bit over 26 pounds.

Here is the Demo Bronson propped against a bench at Elk Meadows.
This shows the 1x11 drivetrain.

There was a nice family riding on this trail. The mom was riding a 1980's Diamondback rigid "iron dog" that likely cost less than the tires on the high tech wonder I was riding. They passed me while I stopped to take in the view.

Many times I am so intent on riding that I don't do a lot of sight-seeing. Elk Meadows is designated open space and cannot be used for anything other than recreation.

I had a great time. The Santa Cruz Bronson handled beautifully and was fast. I took the bike into some very rocky and steep terrain. The long-travel 150mm+ suspension worked beautifully. The bike was stable through rock fields but still maneuverable. I really liked this bike.

I want one.

Part 4: Sticker Shock

I took the demo Bronson back to Wheatridge Cyclery. I talked to a salesman to see if they had a Bronson in my size for sale. The 2015 models had come out and they lacked some of the features of 2014 that I had demoed. I got sticker shock when I saw that they wanted $8,600 for the 2015 Bronson Carbon-C XO AM, which is the newer version of the bike I demoed.

I knew the Bronson was an expensive bike. But they had really cranked the price up for the 2015 bikes. I decided I would check out the bikes at my favorite bike shop. A few days later I went to the Golden Bike Shop. But that is a subject for another blog and this one is too long already.

Thanks for reading my blog.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I own a mountain bike in that it said mountain bike on the tag when my parents bought it in 1986 for me to head off to college. Dad called it my "parking sticker". It's a Giant Iguana and I still have and love that bike. It only went out on a few trails when I was younger and more fearless. I've pondered getting a real mountain bike with shocks n'all and doing some mountain biking, tough really as I live smack in the middle of the city.

    1697 days ago
    My hubby and I are talking about hitting some trails in our area in Maryland. I decided to go back and glance at a few of your blogs to get motivated.

    The first set of pictures in this blog look do-able for me -- as I scrolled down -- oh, my!!

    I know you have a lot of experience so I won't get too intimidated!!

    1698 days ago
  • NWFL59
    Oh boy, I see another blog about your next new bike! Your riding is definitely too fast and scary for me. I'll stick to the flat mounds of Florida. hope your ankle and other parts are feeling better. emoticon
    1711 days ago
    All that bike porn and nothing about beer!
    1714 days ago
  • GHK1962
    Gotta love a title with either the word "Bike" or "Beer" in it. To have both is like having your cake and eating it too. Like having both your favorite teams go to the superbowl ... and win. Like not having to choose between Ginger or Mary Ann. Errr...ok, I had better stop with the analogies now ...

    Anyway, AWESOME trails. I only dabble very briefly with mountain biking ... but nothing so extreme. (I was briefly introduced to trail riding on an actual built wooden trail through the forest ...that was freakin SCAREY.) A friend of mine who is retired is TOTALLY into going up to the mountains and trail riding. He goes at speeds that is crazy stoopid ... flys down trails where he 'thinks" they are based on what he might be seeing ...YOW. I bet you are similar. (He also is an ex machinist ... he builds a lot of his own bike components. Who in the hell does that?!?!?!?

    I'm interested to see if you eventually succumb to the 2015 Bronson ... though it seems you want to look for the 2014.

    Good riding dude!
    1716 days ago
    OUCH on the bike price!
    1716 days ago
    You really know your bikes and bike components! I learn something new every time I ready your blogs....

    And sticker shock is right! Any chance of getting a discount on a "gently used" model? emoticon
    1716 days ago
    Would love to get out west and ride some of those trails! Had a good ride at a local mtn bike park in NY last weekend. I ride my road bike during the week to help keep in shape for when I can ride some single track. Happy trails!
    1716 days ago
  • KA_JUN
    Sweet, nice blog! I hear very good things about the Bronson.
    1717 days ago
    Wow no way on trail like that. I for one love my road bike and stay on the road!

    Ride Strong and Pedal Safe!
    1717 days ago
    You BIKE on trails like those? Nope. You are a braver man than me.
    1717 days ago
    Great trails! I'm thinking hiking though.

    Having a hobby we're absolutely passionate about is awesome. Having the funds to support an expensive hobby is even better :)
    1717 days ago
    1717 days ago
    Different bikes for different trails! I love the trails you ride! Unfortunately, I never had the desire to ride them. But to hike them I love everything you mentioned plus the chance to take in the scenery and lots of pics! The important thing is that we love what we do. We both love the same areas but you love the ride and that's awesome that you can do it again!
    1717 days ago
  • HILLSLUG98239
    Ack! I got nervous just looking at those pictures. I dab on asphalt.
    1717 days ago
    Beautiful trails! Have to admit you sucked me in with your blog title emoticon . Wow, the bike are WAY more expensive than I thought!
    1717 days ago
    emoticon emoticon Do you save any for models? ;-)
    It always amazes me how much bikes are. Greg and I were running a couple of weeks ago and saw somebody on an Elliptigo. I was saying that I wanted one but they were expensive and he asked how much...about $3000. He said some bikes are well over $10,000.
    1717 days ago
    Haha... you buy bikes like I buy swimsuits. But at $30 to $40 a pop, I think I'm spending a little less than you are emoticon Definitely not spending $8600 on a swimsuit!!

    The trails are beautiful! Since I am not a mountain biker, I won't be sharing a ride with you anytime soon. I would love to hike them though, and then share a beer after!!

    Happy riding!! emoticon

    P.S. I think this is the first blog I've seen for quite awhile where you weren't addressing your injuries. That's great to see!
    1717 days ago
    emoticon I love to bike, but not mountain biking!
    1717 days ago
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