My riding in the past year and a half or two has changed quite a bit. I’m now 46 and my strength and stamina isn’t what it was in the past. Training hard still resulted in slower climbing and shorter rides. The truth is that I wasn’t born to be a real athlete and years of pushing rope pretending to be has finally caught up with me. Still, I love riding and playing on bikes. That shift in my riding has meant more focus on the reasons why I ride in the first place: going fast down hills, taking chances, and challenging my nerve.
I’ve also been riding quite a bit with Ronen Sarig. He’s 20 years younger than me but shares an attraction to the same types of riding that I’m drawn to. The two of us have been pushing our limits and forcing the other to go bigger. So many times I do a terrifying hit just so that I can do it before he does. Classic thrill seeking.
I’ve changed bikes a bit to keep up with my mood. From my Anthem to Trance and now this new bike. Each getting progressively more aggressive and capable of taking me through the fire storm. It’s interesting to look back at what I thought of the SC Nomad a year ago. I really needed (or just wanted) something big now. My old DH bike had been sold so I didn’t have anything bigger than the trail bike for trying things out. When Fairfax Cyclery switched from dealing with Giant to Scott, it was a perfect time to look at one of the more interesting bikes on the market.
I wanted to try a setup that would be used in a proper EWS PRO event. This is the direction things seem to be headed.
This bike is, quite simply, a monster. 170mm of rear travel and 170/180mm of front travel. Normally, that would be too much for real trail riding but with the addition of a three position remote operating both front and rear suspension motion, my hope is that it works even better than my last bike on the climbs. The 2016 model got the affordable and solid GX 1X11 drivetrain and the 150mm dropper post is the only way to go in today’s market.
The frame comes with an adjustment at the shock (#219571) for a low/high position, an angle adjust headset, and an internal adjustment to extend the fork from 170mm to 180mm of travel. I set the bike up low, slack, and long (180mm). The bike comes with an OEM +/- 0.7 degree angle headset. Initially, it’s set up steep from the factory. I reversed this.
One horribe thing about the bike is the proprietary chain device bolt pattern for two bolts, one thread on the ISCG05 73mm pattern and the other rotated 20 degrees and brought into a smaller 66mm bolt circle. It’s very wimpy and makes setup difficult to make flat and impossible to make Saturday. I would not dare run any type of bash onto this arraignment. What the hell?
The 35mm bar/stem combo had to be removed, nice as it is. 35mm isn’t practical for folks like me that change setup a lot. I’ve got a box of 31.8mm stems and bars that I use and not having access to them would be lame.
The Syntace Flatforce 55mm stem I’ve initially installed puts me into an excellent climbing position and takes advantage of how very long this bike is. Such a tall front end means exhaustive measures to place the handlebar well. These stems cost a lot but the are one of the few that solve this issue. I’m looking for something (as always because…Marin) goes uphill great and downhill better. For true aggressive DH/huck days, I’ll swap out to a Syntace Megaforce2 30mm stem for a shorter and taller cockpit. I’m giving 785mm bars a try on this new bike as it fits the them. I may have to cut them down slightly in time but hopefully not all the way down to my standard width of 745mm.
I’m a sloppy rider and I’ve been trying some silly hits recently. Thus, I’m using a pair or WTB Trail Boss 2.25″ tires. TCS Tough
(High Grip, 1099g) front and TCS Tough (Fast Rolling, 1040g) rear. That’s a pretty heavy setup and pushes the overall weight of the whole bike to 31.5 lbs. I may have to start, again, looking for some better 900g options. What I do like about these tires is the profile, the tread, and not worrying about flatting out on every hit.
I may try the 885g Maxxis Agressor in 2.3″ although thay may be a bit large for my tastes.
I’m slowly warming to SRAM 1X11 as I start to ride slower. For years I’ve used the amazing Shimano 2×10 system as it had the range and fine tuning that I liked and needed for my style of riding. This new system will cut off my top end pedaling, not good when you like to push against the pedals on descents. I’ll try it. I’ll see if I can change my style. This bike will allow the use of a front derailleur if I decide to switch back.
The GX parts are very nice and well priced. For me, it’s the only SRAM 1X11 parts I can afford to run.
The oval chainring that I ordered didn’t arrive in time for the photos. A 94mm BCD Oval Traction ring by OneUp Components in either 32t (30/34) or 30t (28/30). I’m hoping they work nice as I haven’t used one yet.
It was a shame that my XX1 Q156 cranks wouldn’t fit on the frame. This may be different on bikes with the carbon rear end. I was forced to run XX1 Q166 cranks.
Chainring Protection and Chain Retention:
Look for something really cool for chainring protection from me in the coming weeks.
The bike comes with a nice little inside keeper (Scott Chainguide ISCG Adapter Set for Genius LT, #219570) . I had to make special spacers and hardware to position it properly. 8.5mm spacers.
Chain tension is a big issue on SRAM 1×11 if you prefer not having the chain slapping all over the place going down hill. The bike comes with a tensioning guide (Scott Chainguide for Genius LT & Screw #235291 / #235292) but it’s not super effective. I’ll be looking into a good solution that dodges the ISCG issue. The OEM chainstay mounted system supposedly breaks apart in use.
The bike comes with a Fox Float 36 Fit 4 CTD 170-180 with remote. It’s big and stiff and pretty smooth. To extend the fork to 180mm, the Neg Plate Spacer (PN: 234-04-627) is removed. The fork can be shortened in 10mm increments down to 140mm which makes it pretty well usable on a variety of bikes.
I needed to add little progressiveness to the fork in addition to the stock volume spacer (Float NA, Blue 7.6cc 234-04-628). I added to the small spacer another larger spacer (Float NA, Orange 10.8cc 234-04-722). We’ll see if this helps. Tuning will take a little time.
*Update from ride three: I’ve got three orange 10.8cc volume spacers in the fork now and it’s starting to feel right @ 60psi. Might try 55 psi.
The shock is a proprietary Fox/Scott Nude DPS 3 EVOL (215x63mm, 8.5″ x 2.5″), Travel adjust 170 – 110 – Lockout.
I seem to be having an issue finding ways of reducing positive air volume in this shock. Still working on this. Aside from the volume challenges, another problem with the shock has to do with safety. The air valve hangs to the side of the shock and extends where my leg might be in a crash. I prey this doesn’t cause injury.
FLOAT DPS (9mm shaft) Air Spring Volume Tuning Kit: PN 803-00-802 (black)
*Update from ride three: I’m running the shock at 200 psi. No volume modifications yet.
For more aggressive riding, I might need to change shocks. A Fox Float X is the easiest conversion to remote.
The bike comes with the SCOTT TwinLoc Downside Remote. The design and look of this part is weak and clunky. Not a very finished product. The feel and functionality are excellent, just don’t look at it.
Getting on such a long bike (777mm FC) means that I have less of a compromise in finding a balance between climbing and descending positions over the bike. I can ride with fantastic out of saddle sprint stability yet dive into a terrifying chute. Marin riders know how important it is for a bike to climb well as almost nothing here is shuttle-able in a reasonable way. I really wish that this bike had a 100mm head tube rather than the 120mm tube it’s got. That comes with a large though.
I had started with a Syntace Flatforce 55mm stem on the bike. It was a little reachy in the rough. Great out of the saddle climbing. I swapped to the 44mm version and it’s a lot better going down. It’s OK for climbing and transit sections, not sketchy which is good.
One of the worst things in the design of this bike is the dedicated 180mm rear brake mounting. This is just nuts. In very slippery and wet conditions a trail bike should have brakes de-tuned to a max of 160mm. I really don’t understand such a silly decision. Because of this, to balance my braking I needed to put a very large and unnecessary 203mm rotor up front. This is a shame. I really would like to run 180F/160R.
Cables are held solidly in place in the frame with #235284
The stock hanger set for the bike are #219574, IDS 2 142/RWS12 . They are pretty soft and not very well designed. I’m going to have to keep a few of these on hand to consume as time goes by. I wish more effort had been put into the execution of these. They are designed to suck.
Alternate dropout sets are:
219572, IDS 2 135/RWS 5
219573, IDS 2 135/RWS12
235287, IDS 2 142/RWS 12 DM
FD Mount is #235277, FD-Mount plate Set Genius LT 700 14’.
The Headset Problem:
The headset on this frame is ZS44/28.6 top and ZS55/40 bottom. ZS55 is a rather rare size. I have a lot of parts for Cane Creek Angleset that I can’t use. In fact, Cane Creek lists no EC55 or ZS55 parts. Cane Creek doesn’t offer much support for this size although I do find some Cane Creek 40 ZS55/40 Bottom Headset Black (#BAA0737K) off of their site. In fact, outside of Syncros the only aftermarket headset I can find in ZS55 is from Ritchey. This does little to help. Ugh. This fucking sucks for no good reason.
It’s really nice that the Genius LT came with an angle adjustable headset but it’s a pretty mild adjustment compared to what the Cane Creek unit can do. To get that kind of adjustemnet we have problems.
It occurs to me that I could make an adapter shim for an EC49 cup. This is worst case but it will allow for a real range of front center adjustment. A modification outside of most folks ability. I’ll find some time by the end of the holidays to make a few of these. I’m thinking that I’ll be able to stretch the front center out to 790mm. Utterly insane.
The first ride:
Due to the weekend storms, I had a small window to ride on Saturday that would allow for some testing of the bike. Nothing big but certainly real Marin single track downhills. Early in the ride, the trails were wet and greasy slowly turning into sticky Velcro dirt and slick wood.
Going uphill is a workout. The bike weighs 31.5 pounds and has heavy tires. Still, with the remote lever actuated in lockout, the bike felt better than any hardtail in terms of mechanics. It was fantastic and easy. Going up Eldridge Grade, I used all settings. The lockout, 110mm, and 170mm setting for the rear. It makes such a difference on this long legged beast that I hesitate to say gamechanger. It’s just wonderful.
Going down, the bike drags a bit until reaching medium speed. Then, it’s as if thrusters kick in and the bike is driven ever faster down the trail. It’s terrifying how fast this bike eats up trail. Nothing will stop it. It wants to run fast and stay going fast. Holy cow.
Going full speed down one of Mt. Tam’s more legendary North side descents, even after freshly cut rain ruts, the bike was so fast and stable and intuitive. It felt magic. That’s just the first hard decent with the suspension poorly set up. Once set up, I expect even better. Scary.
I have swapped stems to my Syntace Flatforce 44mm stem. I was reaching a little much with the 55mm stem. This was a good change. Three or 4 more rides later, I’ve got the suspension far more dialed in and the bike really screams up and down the hill.
As a lark, I even raced a cyclocross race on the bike on Saturday. Not a points race, just an outlaw race. Still, despite the 32 pound heft the bike put down some serious work. It was a nice test.
The next day we went to Pacifica. Swapping the 44mm stem for a MegaForce2 30mm stem and a more upright position we rode downhill. Crack, 911, XXX, BS. The bike was just solid and asking for more. 911 was in stellar form and somehow I survived a fast run with the help of this bike. It’s just so versatile. The bike thinks it’s a downhill bike.
I’m really happy with this new bike. I’m looking forward to getting it developed into a really tight riding platform.
A video talking about the old 2014 model. Most problems have been fixed and considerably improved:
A video talking about the 2015 model. It’s been further refined for 2016:
The older 2014 model being discussed, ages ago and considerable improvements since.