Looking at the number of clicks through to the site based on searches for Planet X and Dirty Harry, I thought it only right to write a mini-review of how I’m getting on with the bike so far. I’ve resisted for a while, as I wanted to leave behind the new bike happy feeling, the uncertain, tentative first few “getting to know you” rides.
So, in the month or so I’ve owned the bike, it has been my first choice to wheel out. With 24hours of Exposure looming large, I’ve been trying to get as many off-road miles under my belt as I can. This has been the tool for the job.
The build is a slightly eclectic mix, chosen by Planet X as a “see what options we could offer” type specification. The core of the drivetrain is the ever functional XT, with a rather lovely Middleburn external BB crankset. All very understated. The XT theme is carried on to the wheels, pedals, and my first real upgrade… new XT brakes to replace the fitted Avid Juicy Threes (more on that later). Oh, I also whipped off the standard lock-on grips, and swapped to some Ergons, with an integrated bar end. As this bike is about mile munching, I want to have a nice comfortable hand position and a variety of options.
The fork is a Rock Shox Reba. This rather nicely complements the Revelation I have on my 456, and Lyrik on the Nukeproof Mega.
Other stuff is mainly Planet X/On-One own-brand, all of which is doing the job and I’m happy with for the time being. I might choose to upgrade to slightly lighter and prettier items as time moves on though. Special note goes to the Fleegle handlebars, which despite being very odd and wiggly, are nice and comfortable and just wide enough.
Yep. 29inch ones. They are a bit like 26inch ones. They are round. They rotate on an axle. They are shod with tyres that help them grip. They aren’t a mystical game changer. They don’t allow me to float over sections I couldn’t ride previously. They haven’t turned me into a climbing god. Equally, they don’t make the bike sluggish, or barge like, or poor handling. They do however seem to roll a little better over small lumps and bumps, and it certainly feels like I am a little quicker blasting out miles along and up fireroads. Smoothish singletrack is a joy, the bike combining the opposing qualities of stability and manoeuvrability very well when jinking along.
Plastic. This is my first ever carbon mountain bike. I’ve not really thought about it much to be honest. It feels direct when I pedal. In combination with the larger wheels, it does feel more comfortable over small trail imperfections. I still like flicking the frame and hearing the thunk, rather than ting of metal. Small details.
A race bike
This is my first out-and-out race mountain bike (ok, it’ll be used more widely than that, but I won’t compromise the spec to create a more “all round” bike). It has taken a little while to get reacquainted to descending on a steeper angled bike, particularly hitting rockier sections. It is to the bike’s credit that I have ploughed into these at full pace, only to realise part way through that the fork is a little out of its depth and I’m at risk of being bounced wildly off line. It is even further to the bike’s credit that I have so far been able to ride out each of these miscalculations. Just.
Not a clue. Sorry. Not too heavy. It’d be nice if it was lighter (and there is plenty of potential to lose some weight from the components over time).
I’m not a huge fan of the Maxxis Crossmark 70a tyre. Very nervous on rocky surfaces. The Kenda Nevegal is more capable, but a bit chunky and weighty for a race tyre, and actually not as good as other tyres of its ilk. The Ergon grips seem to have helped with numb finger syndrome – something I have occasionally got after a few hours riding. I borrowed a set of Xpedo pedals from Singletrack Magazine for a number of rides. They are functionally very similar to my XT pedals, and small (and lighter). I could be convert. The Juicy Three brakes really were poor. Little power, no adjustment and a bit heavy really. So, off they came, and will be donated to the singlespeed. A nice set of new XT brakes have gone on, and the difference is marked (to the point I found myself overbraking into corners and scrubbing off too much speed).
We have formed a relationship. ‘arry isn’t a bike. It’s my bike. We work well together. We ride all day. We ride fast. We get our head down and do the job. We are not playful by nature, but are capable if the whim takes us. I’ll update with another review after my first race. Just a small one. 24 hour hours is a long time to spend on a bike. If there are any flaws, I’ll definitely know about them by the end.