Monday, March 24, 2014

Krampus and the Breezer 69er Meet "Spring"

Allegedly, it's spring outside, but the forecast for this week barely breaks out of the 30s. There's some upside to this: when I got up this morning and checked the COMBO trail condition website, it mentioned P2 should be rideable until noon or so--due to the low overnight temps, the trail might be frozen enough to be rideable.

I decided to give it a try and dug my full winter kit out of the bottom drawer. March 24, and it was 21 degrees when I got to the trail! In the event, the trail forecast was exactly correct: even the typically mucky portions at the start of P2 were frozen.

I brought my Krampus for another attempt at a shakedown ride. My first attempt didn't go well, but I was hoping my time in the shop had paid off and I could actually ride the darn bike.

It was kind of a mixed bag.

I really enjoyed the way the Big K just floats over the trail. Handling was good, which is a bit strange for me to say, since the Krampus is quite a bit slacker than my typical 29er. Unfortunately, my drivetrain woes continued, and I dropped the chain less than a mile into the trail. While fixing the chain for the second time, I saw this:

Oh. Perhaps part of the problem is my cheap KMC chain is finally wearing out. I probably could have fixed it, until I noticed a second link that was also about to separate. With that in mind, I Flintstoned it back to the car. Good thing I had brought a spare bike!

Doesn't everyone do this?

This was another attempt at a 69er (29er front wheel on a 26" frame). In this case, my Krampus 29+ front wheel installed on my Fargo fork, and a 26 x 2.35" on the rear. I built this up on a whim a few nights back, and really enjoyed it on short hops up and down the street. However, in keeping with my past experiences with 69ers, it was just too floppy out on the trail. I may be coming to appreciate the slack front end of the Krampus, but I didn't like at all the way the Breezer handled set up this way. It also felt agonizingly slow (mostly me, but I also blame the Bontrager rear tire), and the On One Mary bars, so lovely on the street, felt like a kid's bar after the big bar on my Krampus (as a side note, it's odd to see that a bar that is 645mm wide feels OK for the road, while a "wide" 46cm drop bar feels so narrow, and I now want 700~720mm off road!). I was also a bit cramped with the short (615mm) top tube on the Breezer.

This may be curtains for the Breezer. I thought it might be a fun, alternate off road machine, but not so much. As a town bike, I'm trying to downsize to my trusty CC and possibly a future Velo Orange Carmargue. In the midst of my spring cleaning, I could see getting down to just the Krampus and the CC... at least until the Carmague arrives. And I'm starting to think carbon again...


  1. Eric, I really enjoy reading about your bicycling adventures. I think you've owned and ridden just about every steel mtb I've ever oogled. Now I know you don't keep bikes very long (except the CC - I have one too, so I know why its the exception), but are you being a bit hasty writing off the Breezer? It wasn't really designed to be a 69er. Have you thought of running it straight up 26er, like it was intended?

    I hope you do get a Carmargue when they become available. I'll be very interested in your impression of that bike and how it stacks up against the other all your previous YASHs, especially the Fargo.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for the feedback! I'll probably give the Breezer a try with 26" wheels--for some reason, I have three sets of 26" wheels banging around the garage right now. The fork is still a compromise, because unless I pull the sus fork off the FSR, I'll have to continue to use the Fargo fork. It's about 12mm longer than a 100mm corrected rigid 26" fork, but I figure the extra offset (+8mm) will make up for that.

      I do like the idea of having a classic steel 26er around to play with. It's a pretty rare ride these days, a big change from when I started biking (I need to list up my history of 26" hardtails some day)

      An alternate idea was to have another go at a 69er, but with an OS Blackbuck fork (shorter and more rake). But, I really don't want to commit the dough for that experiment right now.


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