Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Running Rigid

I've always wanted to try a rigid fork on the single speed. But, to be perfectly honest, I've also been a little scared to. Scared, more or less, due to the area in which I live. Many of the trails in and around Ottawa are technically challenging: lots of roots, rocks, roots over rocks, rocks mixed into roots, roots on top of more roots growing on & in between rocks . . . you get the picture. A suspension fork, in my mind up until now, wasn't a negotiable item.

*editors note: I have yet to run the rigid fork at Camp Fortune or Kanata - the serious shit.

However, if I hailed from southern Ontario - in the land of fast, flowy, untechnical trails (I look down my bulbous deep pored nose and laugh at you silly southern Ontario'ians and race promoters who think you have technical trails - hoooooo haaaaaaa haaaaaaa) - then a rigid fork would be a much less of a concern.

Being a sad fat man who gets suckered into following all the latest trends related to the fringes of the mtn bike world, for example: tattoos, single speeding, facial hair, 29'ers, tall socks, argyle, and so forth . . . . I couldn't help but to want to have a go at rigid. If I don't I won't get my single speeder club patch to sew on my vest.

Luckily for me Stephano has been sitting on a beauty of a rigid carbon fork for the last two years humming and hawing about ever using it. And since he hasn't/wasn't, I was able to convince him to lend it to me. He was kind enough OR stupid enough to do so . . . . I don't think I will ever give it back. I can say this because I know that he doesn't know what a blog is or ever reads this . . . . Stef is a big girly butterfly bend over buddy gay bob (please if this comment offends anyone reading, it's only for Stef's sake and does not represent the views/opinions of the writer).

Right off the bat this fork cuts 2 + lbs off the bike which you notice immediately. What I like best about the weight savings is it allows me to eat more food now. 2 + lbs off the bike means 2 lbs that I can gain now . . . . right? Isn't that how it works? Mmmmm, 2 + lbs of Dairy Queen Blizzards and pizza out the ying yang!

Aside from the weight savings the fork handles incredibly well . . . . . IF you are constantly aware that you are on a rigid fork. Forget and let your guard down at the wrong time and you are fugg'ed. There were moments going into technical sections on my ride Sunday that I almost forgot I didn't have suspension on the front. Having cat like reflexes (from years of performing snake charming while in a Taiwanese prison circus) I was able to compensate and pick the best lines around large rocks and man-handle the bike over the rest. That being said, the 29'er wheels roll over things quite well, so there is definitely an advantage just in that alone. Even on the rigid, the bike handled very predictably through the rough stuff.

I expected my wrists, forearms and shoulders to be bothering me during or after the ride, but I felt/feel no discomfort. Being incredibly ripped, and damn good looking man I might add, helps.

I liked climbing, either flat or technical, on the rigid. Going slow (climbing quickly for me is not an option) it's easy to pick your lines and there is no loss of power or energy into the fork. My White Brothers Magic 29'er fork has IMV valving - which is their fancy acronym for propedal or semi lock out while climbing - still, it moves slightly at times while climbing out of the saddle. With the rigid, all your power goes into pedaling the bike, no wasted energy.

I opted to run my tubed wheelset on Sunday with a Kenda Karma 2.1 tire. I'd like to experiment with the air pressure in the front wheel - ran 31 psi in the front and felt that I could have gone a bit lower, thus giving me a little more cush. Too low and you'll flat when plowing into rock gardens. I would also like to try my Stan's Tubless wheelset with the rigid and really run a lower air pressure - somewhere around 20 psi - which I think would greatly improve handling and provide some suspension.

I'll be running the rigid next weekend for the Marathon Challenge at Mansfield, which will give me more time to experiment with it.


King said...

I rode your bike last year, you ran the White Bros fork so stiff it might as well have been rigid anyway. You'll probably not notice any difference.

Anonymous said...

Actually, we all started off SS and rigid. As we age, we want squish. So, we buy a dualie.
I started off on a rigid diamond back about 18 years ago. Just loved it!!! I'd ride up to the firetower and hit all the good jaded trails on the way down (remember when the 40 use to be messy and the 15! tres fun!)
Then I bought my first squishy. A Kona Sex one.
I know why they called it sex one. It made a lot of noise. Squeek squeek squeek as the bearings & bushings rubbed and rubbed. Time for some KY jelly!
I kept on braking the frames.
Finally resorted back to a rigid.
Rigid just feels fine. Can really feel it. It's like having sex without a rubber! Just sooo fine!
I then resorted back for a bit, until the rubbing started.
No more dualies for me.
Rigid is the way to rock and roll.

Peter Keiller said...

what's next you wilde-n-crazy guy?
fixed gear and pin'ed Jordache's...fawk me.

dropping 3 lbs for a 70km marathon at Mansfield will huge...we all know you've got a bit of a Mansfield monkey that you need to shake...

for my part, i'll be there, all you have to do is pass...and finish...

the original big ring said...

pass?!? you'll be in front of me?! that's funnier than me in Jordache's

Mari said...

Welcome to the dark stiff side. What took you so long?

As Minhas Pedaladas said...

Hi Craig, what's your opinion about a 2.2 or a 2.3 tire in front?

Anonymous said...

Hey Craig, I just figured out this blog thingy and I can see the names you're calling me. The reason I hadn't used the fork yet is because I didn't trust the carbon construction you see. I've been waiting for a patsy to try it out first. Not just any sucker would do, however. He had to be much heavier than I. That's where you come into the picture. Not so stupid now, eh! So thanks for being my test guinea pig. Now gimme back my fork!!!

the original big ring said...

depends on the tire. Some 2.1's are larger than other 2.1's. All I run is Kendas (Karmas, Small Block 8s, and Nevegals) and I like them. To date all my tires for the 29'er have been 2.1. Now that it looks like I will be running rigid, I will most likely move to a larger volume tire (2.3) up front for the extra cush & suspension. It also all depends on the trails you're riding - technical, rooty, rocky trails - a 2.3 would most likely handle better.

Stef - what fork???

As Minhas Pedaladas said...

I don't know when but I'll certainly move to a SS full rigid bike.
It will be my SSB-Super Simple Bike...
No more broken shifts, no more muddy shocks, and so on. It will be just one chain and two brakes in my mind...
Simplicity is the best right?
Post a pic from Elsa !!!

the original big ring said...

King - was that the last time you rode your bike?!?!?

Joao - will post up a photo of the Peanut soon! Cheers!

Rob Young said...

Neat. I really like my rigid steel fork. It's not too bad, thought you can get pretty rattled at times.

I think the best part about running a rigid is the massive climbing advantage. :)