It's been a slow week on the blogging front. I took an extra week off after the Honda shutdown during which we took the kids down to Myrtle Beach (more on this later). So no playground reviews for a bit, and not much in the way of bike news. I was only able to manage two deals during the vacation--someone came by and bought my Soma Juice off Craigslist this morning, and my new frame arrived yesterday, ready for me when we pulled into the drive.
I mentioned a few posts back that I was looking for a bike that would combine the best attributes of my Soma and my Blackbuck. I hoped I would find it in a Singular Gryphon. It's a bit of an odd bike, being a rigid specific, drop bar optimized 29er. It has some neat features: a Phil Wood EBB for single speeding, a nice tall headtube so I wouldn't have my usual big stack o' spacers, and fairly light weight tubing (8/5/8 OS top tube). I've been thinking about getting one of these for several months, and when a used XL popped up on the mtbr.com classifieds, I jumped on it. I built it up this weekend and took it for its maiden voyage to Alum Creek P2 today.
In some respects, it really did seem the best of all worlds: a lively, supple ride, as smooth as the Juice but with a nicer "spring" under acceleration. The handling is a bit quicker than the Juice, if not as razor sharp as the Blackbuck. I was feeling pretty good about my choice.
Shortly after leaving the trailhead, a fellow passed me on a rigid carbon Niner. Not to brag, but I'm usually the passer, not the passee, so this set my fragile mountain biking ego back a bit. After stopping to adjust my rattling rear brake, I caught up to Niner guy where he had flatted his tire. He was running tubeless, without a pump or CO2. Maybe the lighter weight helped him pass me? Anyway, after I handed him my mini pump, he had to ask how to use it. A guy on a $3000 bike who has never used a pump? Bemused, I gave him instructions, but it was to no avail--too many holes in his tubeless tire. After giving him instructions on the short cut back to the parking lot, I was off again--for about 30 yards.
Climbing a short hill, I heard a BAM! as forward motion stopped. I thought I had just thrown my chain, but it turned out that I had pulled the rear wheel out of the dropouts. I was using a good quality Shimano QR, and I certainly know how tight to make it, but maybe I didn't get this one tight enough. Maybe. Anyway, I struggled somewhat to get the wheel back in, and had to adjust my brakes again, but I was ready to roll again. Er, is my rear wheel off center? I had a sinking feeling about what had happened, but I still finished off that lap and one more with no more issues.
When I got home, I pulled the rear wheel out. The frame springing apart as I removed the wheel confirmed my fears: I had bent the rear triangle. The dropout spacing should be 135mm, it's now measuring more like 143mm:
On the bright side, with 142mm rear ends being the hot new thing, I guess mine is 1mm better. Though I can't say I noticed any stiffness improvements!
I guess I could get Franklin Frames to cold set this, but I will probably try the Sheldon Brown method. With a 2x4, a beer, and some string, I think I can squeeze this back into spec. I'll let you know how it goes. (Update: see here)
Some interesting things about the Singular Gryphon:
- the set screw EBB works well and is trouble free so far:
Just don't overtighten the set screws and deform the bottom bracket shell!
The frame has rear eyelets:
To be useful, the rear dropout should be redesigned to have the brake on the chainstay, not the seatstay, as is done on the Salsa Fargo or On One Inbred, for example:
Singular Gryphon vs. Salsa Fargo
Many people want to compare the Gryphon to the Salsa Fargo. The pool of drop bar specific 29er is pretty small, so this is a natural inclination. I used to have a gen 1 Fargo so I'll add my thoughts:
These bikes are completely different. The Gryphon is a mountain bike, meant for recreational riding on trails. Lighter weight tubing, shorter chainstays, more standover clearance, and the single speed option all point to a sportier outlook. The Fargo, on the other hand, while a capable off road machine, is really more of a utility bike. The incredible number of well thought out braze ons allow you to load it up, and the longer chainstays and lower bottom bracket give it a stable ride. It's harder to loft the front wheel on the Fargo, and it's not nearly as responsive to pedaling inputs. Think about your use and pick your frame--these aren't interchangeable if you want to optimize it for you.
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