I haven't written much about my Mukluk since I picked it up earlier this spring, which is mostly due to me using the limited riding time in this very wet summer on my Twin Six, and more recently on my Ritchey. Also, the Muk had some shifting issues that I was struggling with. I made a few changes over the last week that got it back ready for some trail time:
When I ordered a pair of hydro brakes from wiggle.com for the Twin Six (and, er, picked up the Ritchey that drove out the Twin Six), I also ordered up a new SLX 10 speed cassette and matching chain. Last year, I had picked up a used 10 speed SLX shifter and an XT derailer from a guy at work for not much money, so I've been waiting for a reason to complete my journey into the 10 speed realm. Since I wasn't able to get my Sram X7 9 speed stuff to shift like it used to, I took the time yesterday to convert the Muk over to ten.
This may sound strange, but I'm very impressed by this new cassette. It's nicely finished, the three biggest gears are on their own carrier, and the whole thing just oozes quality... all for just $36:
Since a good part of my job is making sure parts fit together, I was impressed to see how Shimano managed the clearance between the shadow rear derailer and the cassette:
New gears, new chain, worn shifter:
I set the limit screw, tightened the cable down, and it shifted beautifully. No adjustments at all. Someday, I'll go back and trouble shoot my Sram system (the chain measures fine, the cassette isn't too old, nor the cables and housing), but this won't happen soon.
Also at work, I bought a new/used rear wheel from another coworker. This is actually my old Spot single speed wheel that I had sold him some time ago. When he mentioned that his project for it never panned out, I said I would buy it back. 135mm wide and rear disc spaced makes a perfect front wheel for the Mukluk.
The only issue was the ACS freewheel was still stuck on it. I spent about an hour and a half last Saturday getting that off. When normal cheater bars and bench vises failed, I ended up cutting into the gears with a dremel cut off wheel, splitting off the freewheel and gears with a chisel, and then putting the (no longer spinning) remaining parts into my neighbor's big bench vise. A hard twist on the 29+ tire (extra diameter = extra torque), and the freewheel remains finally came off. The threads look pretty buggered up, but I don't really need those on my front wheel:
Today I took the Mukluk out for a slightly damp lap of Chestnut Ridge. I was expecting it to feel a little slow and cumbersome after the lively Ritchey, but it felt pretty good. With gears to fall back on and no riding buddies to impress, my overall lap was probably slower, but it was still fast enough to pass anyone else on the trail today (ahem, with a net positive of 13 people passed, though that is counting a family of three that I passed three times as nine (they took shortcuts, so I kept coming across them). But who's counting?)
One thing I note whenever I ride the Mukluk: my hands seem to take more of a beating than on my other bikes. My riding position is very similar, the front tire is the same, so I blame the aluminum Beargrease fork (compared to my steel Salsa fork currently on the Ritchey)
I had expected the Muk to be a little more stable than the Ritchey, but I didn't notice a big difference out on the trail today. Possibly because when I look at the geo charts, the Muk's head angle is only a half degree slacker (69.5 vs. 70) Anyway, they both handle fine, even though I did have one spill today: my front tire drifted off the trail after a corner into some soft dirt, and I went down in a quick low side crash onto my right side.
Happily, my shadow derailer came through just fine.
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