Blackbird Shakedowns

Blackbird Shakedowns

2017-10-14: Shakedown 1

With smoke in the air and fire in next door Sonoma and Napa counties, a red flag warning in Marin county, this morning’s ride was reserved. A simple Tamarancho loop with unknown effects from air quality. For today, air cleared well and it was the clearest of the week. The loop worked out.

The bike has a very solid feel. It’s a real bruiser. Fully planted and ready for action. It just wants to hammer the trail into submission.

Starting with the 10mm rise bars and 4mm of spacer under the stem in +6 flip, I lowered the bars as much as I could throughout the ride. I flipped the stem to -6. The grips were feeling very high coming from the longer cockpitted Concorde. The set back cockpit also set up an unfamiliar balance.. Not bad, just not the extreme aggressiveness of Concorde. It’s like going from a Formula One car to Le Mans car. Full edge vs slightly relaxed. I will be playing with cockpit setup for a while. Upon getting home, I’ve swapped out to some 785mm flat bars and a 45mm stem. This may bring the bars into the range where I can find home.

I was able to use the full 170mm of fork travel twice in my loop. Probably a little too easily given the track. I was at 65 psi with zero volume spacers. I’ve added a volume spacer and brought the pressure up to 70 psi. It felt like the bike was running high even though I was well sagged and the bike is only 10mm higher (unsagged) than my wifes low bike. I guess I’m just waiting for the first hard pedal strike. Granted, I had done a bit of work on the Yari to make it work well, and it does, but the Lyric isn’t that much better. Certainly, The Yari is the bargain fork for high performance.

The shifting was sub par as I made the (somewhat common it seems) mistake of inverting the quick link of my 12-speed chain. Super dumb. Just looking at the wrong details during installation. The skipping inspired little confidence in the new drivetrain and made it hard to fully establish the utility of the 34t chainring or even the 12 speed range. With that fixed, the next ride will be better for sure. It is still a very fussy system. I have 32t ring ready if it comes to that.

I may look into smaller tires. The heft of the system was noticeable and with the tires running big on the wide rims means there may be some savings available there. I could use less weight more than I need massive footprint. Also, winter is coming.

2017-10-15: Shakedown 2

We did a short ride in China Camp. The weather was perfect and the skies were clear. The dirt..was deadly. These are the most dangerous conditions in this area. Early fall. Zero moisture in the ground. Every time you push in hard, the bike skates. It’s so slippery. Poor testing conditions as survival is the greatest concern. Maybe rain will come soon. Then I can push hard.

The changes I made after the prior day’s ride had made the difference. The bike riding completely silently and firm. I can’t get over just how hard the bike wants to beat a trail.

The drivetrain was solid, more than I expected from the stand. While I feel so tired lately, the 34t seems to work. I haven’t got the shifting intuitive yet so I seem to tend toward the taller gears. I can get up more than with the 30t on the 10-42 11 speed setup. Going downhill, I suddenly have gears again. I can pedal…at speed. It’s been a while so I’m running tall even still. This will sort out in time.

The brakes are coming alive as the SRAM metal pads get bed in. They feel super solid.

The riding position engaging. I’m still trying to figure out the balance of the new riding position. It’s gotten some of the weight off my arms but the push point isn’t as ready. I’m not relaxed yet and overthinking everything about the bike isn’t helping at all. The bars are just about right. Seated climbing traction is unreal. I miss the race car feel of the Concorde but this bike is better overall and has more room to change fits for different rides.

Here’s an updated print that reflects the actual tires and new stem and bars.

2017-10-18: Setup Change

I changed the stem from 45mm to 50mm. I’m really getting close with setup and think that I may be able to squeeze just a little more forward out of this thing for general trail use.