Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Naked Bike Gear Review: Vassago Jabberwocky ("The Burt")

Other than a quick ten or fifteen minute boot around my neighborhood, bunny hoping some curbs and rolling in and out of ditches, my first ride on my Vassago Jabberwocky was an 8 hr race back in May. Probably not the best decision to do a shakedown ride on a new bike in a race situation, let alone an 8 hr race. However, my Jabber stood the test and handled wickedly-ly.

Price – very affordable steel frame 29"er. I believe that you can buy yourself a frame for about $430 USD. Your eyes may burn from my photos, but your wallet won't. How many other frames are you going to be able to buy and leave yourself enough money leftover to bling-bling it up?

Weight – damn descent for a steel 29” bike. Compared to my 26” Surly 1x1, it was pretty much the same weight (approx. 4.9 lbs).

Frame material – 4130, stiff, with a little flex – just the right amount. Steel absorbs all the small stuff. After riding the Jabber, then riding my Niner MCR frame with Reynolds tubing, it (the Niner) felt a little like spaghetti.

• Balance - Vassago's Wet Cat Geometry builds a longer, lower bike to help put the center of gravity more between the wheels than on top - this is one of the things that I noticed immediately climbing and descending – a very comfortable riding position. Despite being a tad longer bike, it handles the tight and twisty extremely well. Up here in Ottawa, our single track trails are built on the true, north, strong and free Canadian shield - rocky, rooty and pretty technical trails. The Jabber doesn't hesitate to take corners or respond to body English. There is also plenty of standover height, so when I mess up on a slow technical section, my family jewels don’t pay for it (and that, my friends, could leave a mark if you're naked!).

Climbing – I was slightly worried about the rear end spinning out on climbs due to it's length, but I haven’t found it an issue. The front end doesn’t want to leave the ground; it's weighted very well. I'm presently running a 110mm stem with 5 degree rise with a 25' low rise carbon bar. I plan on experimenting in the near future and swapping to a 100mm stem with a zero degree rise and a 27' low rise bar (for more torque on the climbs). An addition of my, still to arrive, Ergon grips will make the cockpit perfect.

- this bike tracks and stays on course, the only thing swaying side-to-side is my tackle

Descending - the head tube angle is more slack than my other XC bike, so I found it a bit raked out at first. However, once I got used to the steering it worked like a point & shoot camera – steer where you want to go, let the bike plow through it all and let the big wheels take care of the rest. The more I rode it the more confident I became on it. Big Wagon Wheels love to roll over everything. None believers (a.k.a. those still on 26” wheeled bikes) just don’t get it . . . . once you try it you'll love it and won't ever want to go back.

- my lilly white bum, pure as the driven snow . . . . just like me

Paint – Kris, at Vassago, had this frame (originally mine was snuffleupagus orange) powder coated for me since they had no black in stock. The powder coat is very durable and holds up to dings and scratches. If you don't like black (doesn't everybody like black?), the frame also comes in Snuffleupagus Orange or Bone White.

Due to Vassago going to great lengths to please it's customer, and the frame getting a custom powder coat job over it's original colour, it didn’t receive the clear coated head badge and “Jabberwocky” name across the top tube. This might leave a lesser bike searching for it's identity. This is where the name, “The Burt” comes into play and hence the black & gold colour scheme. I have been looking for a gold Pontiac Firebird logo to go on the head badge. Clicky clicky. Anyone willing to help out a head badgeless bike?

- boxed guessetted head tube adds strength and rigidity to the front of the bike
- hydro-style cable guides keep it looking clean and runs across the top tube,
making it handy when you have to shoulder or pick the bike up

notice no headbadge?

If you're a hillbilly redneck who's still stuck in the 80's and have access Trans Am decals, please give me a shout.

- so simple and tidy

Weakness: (only one!)
• axle tensioner screws should be thumb screws or hex bolt instead of the allen screw

- I change my rear cog around quite a bit, so thumb screws would be easier for me



MCF said...

Ha Ha!!! Craig....the bike looks awesome!

Jason Clarke said...

Wow...now I'm not as upset I couldn't make that ride in KL yesterday. I think my but is still to tender from BC to ride naked.

The Vegan Vagabond said...

Did you happen to scare any dog walkers during this ride?

Gives new meaning to Inner & Outer thigh...

LennyG said...

You didn't rub up against anything like a tree or the Inukshuk or anything did you? Sometimes I use the trees or rocks for support but now I'll be afraid to touch anything!

the original big ring said...

you guys don't realize how bad the mosquitoes and dear flies were that day! I could do a NGR of bug bites?! My backside is damn itchy!

King said...

And to think I wanted to borrow that bike to see if a medium Bandersnatch would fit me.........