I’ve lamented before about some of the quirks of being a short guy and trying to fit a 29er. I know it is possible to fit them and Paul totally digs his Niner. I really like the ride of my Cannondale F29. Heck, it did great on the San Juan Huts trip (for the most part). I had issues with the Revelate Designs Pika seatbag rubbing the rear tire. I strapped it to my handlebars for most of day 7 because of how rough the trail was. I was worried about it locking up my rear wheel it was contacting the tire so much.
Anyways, the one thing I have been trying to do is get my bars a bit lower. With the whole Lefty suspension “thing”, it adds some unwanted head tube height, plus the way the clamps connect the whole fork to the bike, well it all added up to me using a -20 degree stem and then I found some Ritchey 2X bars that dropped me another 5mm. However, it still wasn’t getting the bars as low as I would like.
Enter the Niner Low Top handlebar. It’s got a 25mm drop and a 17 degree backsweep. It looks really odd, but after the install and tooling around the townhouse complex has offered some hope of respite.
It sure looks a bit odd, but feels pretty decent for the limited time I have played around. I’m hoping to get out tomorrow into the woods and see how it actually feels in trail conditions. This may be my final step before just sucking it up and going with a 27.5 (650b) wheeled mountain bike. A quick look at the big 3 (Cannondale, Trek, Specialized) shows that many of their smaller people bikes are coming with 27.5 wheels. I think this is what we are going to see in the future. Smaller wheels for smaller folks and bigger wheels for bigger folks.
In other bike news, I sold the Salsa Vaya frameset after about 1,300 mostly commuting miles. It was a long road test more or less, and I just was never quite happy with how the bike performed. It wasn’t overly peppy and I felt like I was battling with the position all the time. Enter the Salsa Marrakesh……This is perhaps the best combination of commuter and touring bike that I could find. Not quite all out mountain bike trails capable like the Salsa Fargo, but capable of rough stuff and going off the beaten path. It’ll fit up to a 2.0 tire (I squeezed a Maxxis 2.1 in there to test). Right now I am running Panaracer Gravel King 35c tires for commuting, but will switch out to WTB Nano 40c or Nano 2.0 for some more gravel/ off paved road trips.
Now the other big change from both the Fargo and the Vaya that I had before this is that I went with a flat bar frameset, not the drop bar option. Again, after the San Juan Huts trip I just think that this bike will suit my commuting/touring needs the best for the near future. I can strap a handlebar bag on this guy, it has the 3-pack fork mounts for the Salsa Anything cages, or lowrider mounts for front pannier setup and it also has the Wanderlust rear rack for bags. I could take the rack off and do the Pika too. So far it has done a killer job for commuting, I’m not sure it will get any touring miles before the end of 2016. It’s way more peppy than the Vaya, handles gravel and a couple little off road trails I can hit on the way home well too. To date after 250 commuting miles, this may actually be the commuter I have been looking for!
I built this guy up with mostly Shimano XT 10 speed mountain bike parts. Everything but the brakes, those are basic Deore. I didn’t build this bike for top end speed, but more for loaded travel with a small enough gear that any hills should never be a problem.
That’s about it for now
Thanks for reading,