I don’t just build bikes I create masterpieces.
It had taken me three years of racing and product testing to create a state of perfection with my 26 inch Litespeed Ocoee. A build that was consuming, frustrating and wonderful all at the same time. When the Ocoee was finished however it was a dream come true. A bike that took me to CAT 1 in mountain bike racing and got me on the podium.
The big debate for the last decade has been 26 or 29 inch wheels and which one is better? With all the irrelevant banter and contradicting information out there the fact still remains that it will always come down to user preference. Whether you are a world champion or a local rider trying to win the Wednesday night worlds, it will always come down to you and what works best. If anything was to be celebrated it was not the superiority or inferiority of bicycles based upon wheel size, it was the revolution in the industry. If we look at the last decade the industry has developed some incredible technological innovations that not only allow us to go faster but allow us to customize bikes beyond our wildest dreams. From carbon to titanium to bamboo I say cheers to the revolution and look forward to the next round of innovation. If there was a frame material that I was passionate about it was Titanium. The Lynskey Pro 29er would be my third American built Titanium bicycle. I love Titanium for many reasons the strength, the look and the lifespan. When considering my first 29er build I was torn between Carbon Fiber and Titanium. A matte black Santa Cruz Highball fully murdered out with XTR trimmings was what I envisioned but like the weather, that idea passed and I decided to go back to my Titanium roots.
The Lynskey Pro 29er was not my first choice it was a Lynskey Ridgeline, however due to back order issues I decided on the Pro 29er model. “Never rush the build” you will always hear me say that when building a bike. However, a more “Race” geometry and lighter frame weight pushed me away from the Ridgeline and towards the Pro 29er. I have always been a huge Litespeed fan and looked to them first for the initial build however their Cohutta 29er frame had some initial production issues with their bottle cage mounts and they went with top tube cable mounting, which to me aesthetically is awful. Lastly Litespeed went with a PF30 bottom bracket shell which is something I am not a fan of. They have since corrected the issue with the bottle cage mounts and rerouted their cables on their current production Cohutta 29er.
I received my Lynskey in April which gave me a month to put things together before my annual Xterra Ruston double race weekend in Louisiana. I had a local wheel builder (Jay Clarke) build me up a light 29er wheel set with DT SWISS hubs and DT triple butted supercomp spokes laced to STANS crest rims. I completed the wheel set with Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph Tubeless ready 29 X 2.25 tires. I have had great luck with Schwalbe’s Racing Ralph tires in the past they perform quite well for the trails I race here in Dallas.
The drive train would follow the exact lines of the Litespeed build. A Shimano XTR M985 double crank with a full Sram XX ten speed drivetrain tuned to perfection with Carbon Ti anodized bolts. Formula brakes had just released their 2012 R1 Race models in a beautiful chrome package with stronger Titanium hardware over the last generation’s aluminum hardware. The 2012 R1 Race Model now came with carbon levers from the factory. Formula created the next level of perfection with these brakes. A larger fluid reservoir meant even better performance for their 2012 R1 Race model over prior years.
As the build started coming together I was excited to try some new products out and create something a little different from prior builds. I looked to Carbon Ti and Enve for some inspiration. Anyone who knows me knows that I love the Rasta color scheme and with that love I wanted to inject that color scheme into the build somehow. The build had to be modern technologically speaking, so getting a rocking Rasta old school Paul derailleur was out of the question.
Over the years I have purchased many anodized bits and for the most part have been disappointed with the quality of anodizing. I found out about Carbon Ti a few years back and was impressed to see such a boutique brand on the bikes of professional weight weenie racers in particular Christoph Sauser. Considering the quality of craftsmanship I find their product to be a bargain even after converting to the Euro and paying international freight to cross the pond.
Having used Nokon cables for two seasons with great success I ordered up some green gold and red bits to complete the Rasta look. Nokon was one of the first innovators in the cable world to create a completely sealed drivetrain system that would maintain crisp shifting while keeping all of the elements out of the cable system. The Nokon cable system is extremely functional as well as aesthetically pleasing; making tight turns in cable routing is made easier with their segmented cable system.
Enve came onto the market under the name of Edge and due to some legal issues with the name overseas they became Enve. What they brought to the table was composite technology that was not only light but extremely strong. As I thought of the bike build I began to run across more and more high end builds that were using Enve composites. I liked Enve for their products however loved them for their American development here stateside. In a world full of overseas production I find it refreshing to deal with a company that still makes things in the good ole USA. Granted this complete Lynskey build is not all Americana but I do take great pride in the components that are.
The Lynskey Pro 29er uses a tapered headtube which required the use a Chris King inset 7 headset. The inset 7 headset utilizes a 1.5 inch lower and a 1 1/8 inch upper cup, which is made for tapered steerer tubes. ROCKSHOX ‘s current SID world cup fork comes with a 100% carbon tapered steerer tube. The SID fork finally has an actual bolt on brake line holder for 2012, an idea that Fox has been using for years now, no more zip ties finally! What has become increasingly popular in the world of cross country bike suspension is the 15mm thru axle, replacing standard quick release skewers. The added stiffness is noticeable with this thru axle design.
Getting the bike fitted took some trial and error involving three seat post changes and four stem changes of different angles and lengths. What I ended up with was a setback seat post (25mm) and a 90 mm stem with a negative 25 degree angle. I was not able to physically get over the front end while climbing until the front end was dropped with such an extreme stem angle. The fit now is perfect. A set back seat post combined with a minimal Selle SLR XP saddle gives me all the real estate I need to maximize body movement and efficiency while riding.
I have always used Fizik saddles on all my builds as they just work for my bum. When I built the Lynskey I went with a Fizik Aliante as I have used it in the past on prior builds with great success. However on the PRO 29er it just felt like too much saddle a bit too much cushion and a width that minimized the much needed mobility I was looking for. My good friend Tony recommended I try out a Selle Italia SLR as that was what he used on all his builds. To say the SLR saddle is minimalist looking is an understatement I had stayed away from this saddle as I assumed it would be too harsh to ride on. Well I was wrong; the carbon shell of the SLR XP is very flexible and does a fantastic job of taking the edge off riding in the dirt. The 130mm width allows for plenty of movement and ease of body adjustment while riding.
When I decided to build a 29er I wanted something different that retained my ideas on what a well-built race machine should be. I like the idea of a hardtail bike even if they are considered antiquated by today’s technological innovations with full suspension designs. Ten years ago there was such a difference in weight and performance over full suspension compared to hardtail. Now we are seeing weights in the low twenties from the factory on these full suspension builds and damn they can do everything a hardtail can do and then some.
But I love hardtail frames and how they respond to the trail and force the rider to make better line decisions. I love how the feedback from the frame is always the same. I love the sheer simplicity and the look of a well built hardtail. Most of all though I just love bicycles and riding them, to build bikes to me is to create inspiration. You build a bike so that every time you look at it you have to throw your leg over it and go for a ride. What’s your next build going to be ?