Giving up old bikes and identities
[Here’s a though experiment about building a custom hardtail. Please share your thoughts, if you will. This starts with bike nerdery and slips into how bikes represent personal identity and how giving up a bike can mean giving up part of you.]
I want to consolidate my riding fleet. To that end, I am fantasizing about a single bike that would replace:
1. Specialized P3. Full on pump track/dirt jump slayer. I built it when was racing slalom and 4X, so it has an XT 1×10 drivetrain, XTR brakes, XT Trail wheels and all the nice bits. Way over the top for a DJ bike. When I rode this bike to 3rd at the pump track worlds at the Granby Ranch nationals, the announcer said, “Lee McCormack … a master of the basics.” Yeah man I was 0.1 second behind the winner, 25x national champion and 5x world MTB champion Brian Lopes. Not bad, to share a podium with that legend (but he refused to stand there with me) and regional legend Jon Watt. Downside: Impractical for anything but pump track/dirt jumps.
2. Specialized S-Works Fuse. This is the 2017 model with full carbon frame, 27.5 carbon wheels, XT brakes, FOX Transfer post and high end SRAM whatever drivetrain. It came with 27.5 x 3 plus tires. Right now it has 27.5 x 2.6 Minion DHF in front and a worn (race version) Rekon in back. This is one very versatile machine that I use as my primary teaching bike at Valmont Bike Park, for light duty trail riding, for heavy duty Jedi trail riding and just getting around town. Downside: It’s hard to fault such a perfect all-around bike. If anything, I’d appreciate shorter stays for the pump track and a much lower seat tube so I can run a mega (200mm) dropper post.
Problems I’m trying to solve
Too many bikes. My days of accumulation are over, at least for bikes (it looks like I’m now collecting running shoes and RVs). I get no satisfaction from a bunch of bikes that don’t get ridden.
Ride one bike most of the time. I know the value of muscle memory and familiarity with your equipment. I’d love to ride one bike for commuting/errands/base miles, coaching, pump/jump and some trail action.
Fit. When I read the waiver for my shoulder replacements, it did not say my arms would get longer. (I gave the surgeon some shit about that.) My body RAD has gone from 77cm to less than 74cm. The reach on the P3 is 415mm. The reach on the Fuse is 420mm. When I run the numbers at the RideLogic bike calculator, to get a RAD of 74cm with my fave stem and bars, I need a frame reach of around 350mm. That’s a bit mind blowing. I’ll learn a lot in this adventure.
Not feel so compromised. The P3 is so perfect for what it does, but it’s not a bike I can live on. The Fuse is very close to perfect. Very close. But I’d like something a bit more snappy in close quarters, with the ability to drop the seat all the way to DJ height.
Honestly, I want something new and fun and mine — that I made. I’m starting over as a rider following dual shoulder replacements, and I feel an urge to shake things up. Paint will be fun. I’m leaning toward a hot pink — which is what I rode in the late ’80s. I want all of my bikes to be hot pink with my branding.
Gratitude and also a need to change. I’m fortunate to be able to worry about such things. We all are. These days I’m re-defining myself as a rider, athlete and man. Do I need to be Mr. Pump Track Bro who wrote the book and built the tracks and crushes pump track races, so I need that P3 … the tool of the Pump Track Bro? I don’t think so, not any more. I see myself pedaling up to some distant pump track on the Namastoke Joyride with long white braids flowing from my helmet, sandals on my feet, all fucks forgotten, dropping that seat and expressing Sine Waves of Love at world class speed. Type A attack hippie.
Wait a second. Something is coming in:
Imagine … I rode that P3 to a podium finish with the most winning mountain bike racer in history — the guy whose name is on my books, the guy who I had to release my ego to do a book deal with, the guy who was terrible to work with, the famously infantile asshole, the guy who gets half the book money just because he used to be the fastest guy in the world.
But now … now … I’ve released my victim codependence that kept him in my life and I’m statistically just as fast as he is (0.1second is within the timing error margin). This bike took me from the guy who kissed his ass to get the books done to a fellow world class rider.
A *FELLOW* WORLD CLASS RIDER. That is a big freaking deal to me. This process — the process of riding and living that I have learned and now teach — took me from a non athlete to a world class rider. The P3 is a symbol of that journey. Can I give it up?
The basic specs of the Namastoke JoyRide
Hand made from steel. Titanium would be AMAZING. Hmm … maybe for v2.
RAD neutral fit just for me. RAD angle (aka RAAD) will be 60+ degrees for seat-up pedaling comfort and seat-down shred. SHO will be 0mm.
Neutral head angle. Probably 67 degrees like the Fuse.
Short chain stays for those snappy pump-manuals.
Standard ergonomically proven seat tube angle. Likely 74 degrees. Don’t believe the hype about steeper seat tubes. In many cases were a design compromise buoyed by great marketing.
Low seat and top tubes so I can run 200mm dropper post.
Space for two water bottles.
Wheel size. 26 or 27.5? 26 is so fun! But it’s harder to get tires. 27.5 won’t be as snappy on the pump track, but it’s more versatile. If I do this thing, I could put 29s on the Fuse and rip it for road and gravel and XC. Hmm … I’m having a hard time giving that bike up.
Fork travel. 120mm is good for all-around riding. 100mm might be marginally better on the pump track? FOX or DVO.
Chainstays. I am considering adjustable length so I can tuck it tight for pump track and rock it long for trail riding. I have some ideas about rather long stays and cornering that I want to try. But am I gonna stop what I’m doing to make the adjustment? Would it best to just pick a chain stay length and be pompous about it?
Give up the P3 and all it means? More and more, I feel that was a former version of me. Yeah I dedicated everything including my poor shoulders to building that Badass Biker Bro identity. It’s time to move on. Time to do the work I’m made to do the I’m ready to do. Do I let that bike — that part of me — go? That’s really at the heart of this thought experiment. I don’t save any trophies. I don’t have the Pulitzer certificate. I’ve never cared about that stuff. But that bike … it’s sticky. Oh and the Fuse. It was given to me by Specialized, which makes me feel very cool and important. That too seems like a notion I should release.
What do y’all think?
BTW: If people want such a bike — made without fucks for fashion, comfortable with a high seat, shreddy with a low seat — I’ll make more.