Why does this bike build matter?Posted on 8 Dec 00:45
“Why does this bike matter?”
So, we just finished another custom mountain bike build. A custom build means having it your way. You get to pick all the parts down to the smallest details. Custom bike builds seem to be everywhere. All our major competitors do them, VitalMTB.com’s “bike of the day” posts a nice one everyday. Many mountain bikers have been in the sport for years and either build their own bikes up from a frame-set or do their own part upgrades. Perhaps a custom mountain bike build is a sign that there are too many mountain bikers out there that have too much money, or time, or both? Why not just get a stock bike? We think the frame-set is not dead! We are stoked on this build and we think this bike matters.
So why does one bike or build matter more than any other? To us here at recycledmounatinracing.com there is some historical significance to this build. To understand the relevance you need some context. For many years the dominant paradigm in performance mountain biking has been carbon fiber full suspension bicycles. Before carbon, it was alloy full suspension, before that is was alloy hardtails, before that it was steel hardtails, and before that fully rigid steel bikes. Only the largest and best financed companies could afford to play in the carbon playground. The molds required to make carbon bikes have been prohibitively expensive and you needed multiple molds for each frame size. The lay-up process is complicated and labor intensive. The paradigm switch from alloy to carbon has meant that the seat of innovation shifted from smaller operations that could be run in garage to large well funded companies with sales and profit goals. For the mountain bike consumer, only customers willing to spend at the highest end of the price range got a ticket to the carbon party. The good news is things are changing and prices are coming down. We hope this means it will make it easier for smaller companies to try new creative, innovative, and interesting things. We are not against large companies as sometimes large companies are able to bring economies of scale to production. This can allow the consumer to get extraordinary products at reasonable prices. The seat of innovation could transfer back to the little guy who is more nimble and perhaps, more willing to take risks to create new ideas. In the end this maximizes choice to meet the high expectations of today’s mountain bike consumer.
The last few years there have been more companies coming to market with carbon products. Carbon production is now starting to become somewhat commoditized. There are now more carbon rim and wheel makers than we can count. We think this is a result of more affordable carbon manufacturing options coming online to meet the high demand for the black magic material.
Still, Why does this matter? Why does this bike matter?
Welcome to the age of affordable performance carbon bikes and parts. We think Nukeproof has done something special this year. The Mega 275 carbon is Nukeproof’s first carbon model. It is not the lightest carbon performance frame or bike on the market but is unique in a very cool way. Nukeproof stuck with an alloy rear triangle and linkage, this added weight but saved cost. The Mega 275 Carbon has two very unique and attractive things:
1) Race pedigree: Sam Hill won last year’s EWS title on the prototype Mega 275 Carbon
2) It is significantly cheaper than other race proven frames. Consider a Yeti SB6c frame will run about $3600, (Richie Rude won the previous year title on a SB6c) the Nukeproof Mega 275c frame will run $2100, that is about a 29% discount.
Now we are not trying to imply the Yeti or other race proven bikes are bad, or lower quality. The Yeti might very well may be the better frame, but the Nukeproof still shows that with the right pilot this frame is capable of winning at world class levels and at a near 30% discount in cost.
Is Nukeproof is not alone in producing high value carbon options. DiamondBack has a very affordable carbon bike this year that is getting good reviews (see link below). This bike looks alot like some popular Santa Cruz models. What we think makes the Nukeproof unique is they are doing a nice frame at a great price and they have proven the race worthiness at the highlest level of the sport. We are willing to concede that Sam Hill may be a athletic anomaly, given he is basically the only rider at the top of the field winning on flat pedals, but if he can use the Mega 275 Carbon to get on the podium, why can’t you? #flatpedalswinmedals
-DiamondBack’s 5c $4500 complete bike review:
OK, now that we have explained the relevance of this bike let’s take a closer look at this bike build and the parts starting with the frame. Out of the box the Mega 275 Carbon frame was stunning. The sculpting of the frame, color choices, and graphics punch way above their weight class. We think this is probably the cleanest and classiest looking frame Nukeproof has ever done. The geometry is improved for the larger frames sizes and the Mega now has boost spacing. The final build came in at 31 lbs. That is with some fairly nice parts including Race Face Next R carbon wheels and cranks, a SixC bar. For those expecting a sub 29 lbs. build, we suggest remember that the frame still uses alloy swingarms and linkages. We also came very close to putting a X01 Eagle cassette on as that would have easily saved a 100+grams over the pinned GX Eagle cassette but we wanted to stick with the GX Eagle for the drivetrain to show the value. We are ok with the weight, we think it is still competitive and by accepting an extra 1lbs or so we save more than $1k compared to competing bike builds. This is consistent with the Nukeproof brand, in general we think Nukeproof followers buy Nukeproof bikes because they get the geometry and spec right while deliver allot more value. They are not “lightest in class” but they are not piggish either. Customers looking for the most performance per $ should take a look at the new “RS” and “Factory” model complete bikes - See complete bikes here:
The only issue we had with the frame was the internal routing had to be re-done. Internally routed frames from various brands generally come with thin plastic straws routed thru the frame to save time. When you are building your frame you use these straws to pull your own cables thru the frame. The Mega 275 Carbon comes with these straws but they are routed MX or Euro style. Nukeproof is a UK company so they route the cables for a left rear brake. This seems to throw off the shifter and dropper routing on a American style left-front/right-rear brake build. We ended up pulling out the stock straws and using a Park Tools internal cable routing kit to re-do all of the internal routings. If you live in the USA and plan to build up a Mega 275 Carbon frame we would highly recommend picking up this kit and doing the same it will save you hours of frustration trying to route cables and avoids the alternative of having an un-ideal routing.
Park Tools cable kit here:
Nukeproof Mega frames went metric this year. Overall we think the Super-Deluxe offers a fairly big performance improvement over last year years Monarch Plus. Vorsprung suspension has put out a pretty nice technical video explaining the differences between the two shocks (link below). The big differences to us is the larger diameter shaft and significantly higher oil volume both of these things should make the Super Deluxe significantly more robust. We also like the rebound dial is much larger and easy to dial in. They also keep the 3 position lever. The climb lever is easy to use and works well for low-speed compression adjusts and climbing mode. We were a little bummed about the metric spacing because there are very few aftermarket options available for metric right now. For example we have already had a couple customers ask about switching to a coil shock but we are not aware of any 230 x 65mm metric option available. There is a Super Deluxe coil on the market in 230 x 65mm but it is made specifically for the Transition brand Scout model and has the bearings for one mount on the wrong side. We think having bearings at the the shock mount is a plus and it does make the rear suspension feel more supple but the downside is that is another thing you will have to keep track of if you ever need to replace or upgrade your shock. We love RockShox products here, but we are thinking this change to metric and having a bearing on one side (another non-standard feature) might be a corporate move to use new standards to lock the consumer into one brand of suspension. What do you think? The good news is overall we love the Super Deluxe and it feels great on the Mega 275 Carbon.
Monarch Plus vs Super Deluxe by Vorsprung Suspension
BUY THE FRAME HERE:
It is no secret that we are primiliar a RockShox house. We are very stoked on RockShox’s current line including the Pike, Lyrik, Yari, Revelation, Bluto, and Reba. We have also found success selling Cane Creek’s rear shock line. We find Cane Creek’s rear shocks to be very robust, they have good availability, and fit a wide range of frames. We occasionally get Cane Creek rear shock closeouts. These sale shocks are outdated models but still offer a lot of value for hard chargers that need a shock replacement or upgrade. We were more than curious when Cane Creek launched it’s first fork the Helm Air so we decided to give it a try.
We have not had a lot of time on this fork so this review will mostly cover first impression. Overall first impressions of the Helm are very positive. We feel PinkBike did a fairly good review that concluded that the fork’s robust build up is best for heavier riders or hard chargers (see link to review below).
Overall the appearance of the Helm is impressive. The Helm’s crown and lowers look much more sculpted that the competition. The quality of the adjusters and fork internals appear to be top notch. The travel spacer clips are cnc machined alloy that have been anodized red. This is a nice touch when a lot of brand are looking for ways to save cost with plastic internal solutions. We really liked that the fork is fairly easy to adjust the travel and we had no problem adjusting the fork we had from a stock 160mm to 170mm to match the Mega 275 Carbon. We had conflicting feelings about the manual pressure equalizer. It is true the ability of the manual pressure equalizer button should give you the ability to independently tune the pressure of the positive and negative springs, but is that a feature riders really want? and would they remember to use? We are guessing most riders will just equalize the pressure or forget about it all together. If you forget to do this step in setup you will end up with a negative spring that is too low and a fork that feels overly harsh on small bumps (less suple).
We did feel the graphics on the lowers were not great. We understand that art might be subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder but we felt the Helm graphics were overly simple, but we have seen a wealth of aftermarket mountain bike sticker companies spring up, anyone working on aftermarket Helm graphics? PinkBike also got it right when they asked “Why no double barrel damper?”
If you are looking for an alternate to the RockShox/Fox duopoly, are heavier than average rider, or just a hard charger the Helm fork should be on your enduro fork list. We will post a longer term follow up review once we have had more time on the fork but given our test rider is 200+lbs we are expecting great things.
PinkBike’s Review of the Cane Creek Helm
BUY THE HELM FORK HERE:
There are some other notable things about this build - We wanted to continue the value theme so we went with SRAM’s newest and most affordable 12-speed group GX Eagle. Race Face has a new set of affordable carbon wheels on the market called the “Next R”. This model combines Race Face;s ultralight “Next” line with the “R” designation for “Rally” which usually means you're getting a wider more enduro worthy rim. The “Next R” uses Race Face’s new ARC31 carbon rim. It has as the name suggests a 31mm internal width. GX Eagle gets you a 12-speed performance drivetrain for under $375 (under $500 with crankset). The performance is very close to to $700+ Eagle X01 group- The major difference in our mind was the rear derailleur feels slightly less rigid and the pinned cassette is a good 100+ grams heavier. The group still delivers the sweet spot for performance / value ratio. Race Face’s Next R carbon wheelset also stand out in the performance / value ratio. The Next R wheelset comes in at about $1500. We will give you this is not cheap but many branded high quality carbon wheels still come in at $2400+, additionally you get Race Face’s highly regard Vault hubs. These hubs have some generously oversized shell bodies. The hubs will definitely get noticed at the trailhead and they will inform fellow riders: “I have come to party” \m/ . The hubs also have 120 points of engagement (3d float) and shorter straight pull spokes for rigidity. We also love the 31mm internal rim width, this seems like the perfect size for all the new hotness 2.6” tires. Race Face also recently decided to up their game by offering a “no questions asked” 2 years warranty- yes, it really means “No questions asked”.
We matched the Next R wheels to Schwalbe Magic Mary tires and SRAM Guide RE brakes - The Magic Mary is probably Schwalbe most aggressive gravity tread. This version has the new Addix Soft rubber, we are loving this tire/compound model - In general Maxxis out sells all tire brands for us but we think gravity riders should take a look a Schwalbe. Maxxis has very robust sidewalls that we love, but the Schwalbe tires are often lighter weight and offer a strong alternative to Maxxis - Every Coke-a-Cola needs a Pepsi right? Check out our previous blog posts on why we love the SRAM Guide RE brakes.
PinkBike’s Review of the Next R wheelset:
BUY RACE FACE NEXT R CRANKS
BUY SRAM GX EAGLE HERE:
BUY SRAM GUIDE RE HERE:
BUY SRAM MAGIC MARY 2.6
We always like to inject out blog posts with a little bit of industry news and analysis. We have included links to three recent industry news stories that stick out to us below. We as a mail-order dealer are not trying to be the “Fight Club” of the bicycle industry, but I don’t think it is a secret to anyone that we have been critical of some industry practices in the past. In our mind there is couple basic problems occurring within the bike industry collectively. Overall our business philosophy is to try and find the “Win/Win” with our industry partners, we can’t be a successful online dealer with having successful suppliers. In our minds the consumer seems to tell us again and again they want authentic products and advice with convenient online options. The bicycle industry on the other hand has a long history of fighting online business models and there are still large industry players that only seem to see value in the old school “brick and mortar” bicycle shop business model. For many bicycle shops and shop chain stores online sales still account for a very small amount of sales, but to that we ask “will that continue into the marketplace of the next decade?”. We think the industry players choosing to focus on dealer that don’t focus on online selling can creates problems for progressive businesses such as ours thru overly aggressive MAP policies, restrictive distribution, or flat out product exclusion. We feel these three articles very much represent the direction the industry is headed and this is what we have been telling our industry partners for years.
YT takes control of US distribution
Onza founder says IBD (dealer) should become IBS (service)
Intense goes hybrid consumer direct
Where do you think the industry is headed? Is the mountain bike industry doing a good job meeting the demands of today’s consumer?
Send your comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
We think we have built a super fun and high value next generation carbon enduro bike here.
- The Mega 275 Carbon may be the nicest and classiest frame Nukeproof has ever done - The RockShox Super Deluxe is a big step in the right direction
- SRAM GX Eagle and RaceFace Next R delivers the performance and value
- The Cane Creek Helm should be on your enduro fork radar
What do you think?
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Recycledmountainracing.com is: Upgrades, Suspension, Imports, Closeouts