Alchemy of angles


Some people agonise for ages over materials, frames, suspension and colour but the main consideration is usually budget.

Then there are some who select a frame to ensure that they get to choose all the componentry, justifying the extra complexity by declaring that choosing cheaper parts will save them money, and then blowing their budget on race weight kit as the extra cost suddenly seems worthwhile.

After a while some kit has worn out, or your riding places change and you need a new bike with more travel. This trend normally continues until you begin to frighten yourself or find the extra weight seems to be slowing you a little on the uphills.
This is the time for a second bike, or perhaps even a third, so the process starts all over again.

However, if you have opportunity, you can rebuild your bike into a different creature. I tried this on a Santa Cruz Nomad by removing the Vanilla 36 and fitting a Pace Fighter. This is a particularly light fork and my assumption was that removing about a kilogram from the front would make the bike lighter and livelier. I compared axle to crown heights and head angles but it would only be after riding it over different terrain that the differences would be apparent.

Assumptions
1 – much lighter. Scales agreed 2lbs loss.
2 – easier uphill. Partially as the benefit was only really obvious when the track was smooth.
3 – popping front wheel easier. The steeper head axle negated the weight loss.
4 – faster in singletrack. Incorrect as some obstacles had to be taken slower.

The result for me was that the rear end was relatively quiet whereas the fork was usually working hard which was due to the small change in the head angle and the effect it had on everything else.

I had assumed that the Nomad could be converted into a Blur LT with a small weight penalty but with the Pace fork the Blur felt more balanced, faster and even more capable.

My conclusion is that even a very good frame can be let down by a poor fork choice despite the fork itself being excellent. An interesting comparison might be the Vanilla fitted to the Blur LT to prove whether there is only one solution to finding the right balance of fork and frame.

For me I think that the bike designers desire to turn manufacturing lead into riding gold is hidden, where it will remain, within the alchemy of angles.

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