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Month: January 2013

Winter riding gives way to renew the trail bond

Winter riding gives way to renew the trail bond

So we have been bomb-barded by wind storms and snow that wreaked havoc on our trails.  There are several individuals that have spent their hard earned weekends packing a chainsaw or pruning shears to cut away the trees, prune the salal and hoist branches off the trail.  I’m in awe with the dedication that they put into keeping our trails cleaned of debris.  I completed my minor part to walk (and ride) Bypass, NMA and Cheap & Easy picking up the branches and large sticks off the trail. Except for 3 logs that needed a chain saw, the trail is in great shape.

Call it a cheap investment to have the trails primed ready to go when the spring/summer hits and all we want to do is ride hard. 

Winter Riding on NMA
Testing out the Cove-Lynskey 650B Ti Prototype

Testing out the Cove-Lynskey 650B Ti Prototype

The new Pro29 from Lynskey has just come out via Cove bikes in North Vancouver, BC.  The Cove-Lynskey relationship has been a successful one with Cove’s Hummer line of bikes over the last 5 years.  Cove has again turned to Lynskey to help with a possible new Hummer design in a full suspension 650B or 29’er variety.   Taking back users comments, Cove will tweak this model here and there and launch a Cove version of Pro29 – Hummer.  When I was offered the opportunity to test this bike on the Sunshine Coast, I jump at the chance to put it through the paces.  From when I first started riding and racing mountain bikes in mid 1990’s, I’ve always wanted a titanium bike.  I’ve considered buying the Cove Hummer on many occasions.  I’ve been also lucky to try out other Cove bikes such as the Hummer Softail, Hustler, and now I own their new G-Spot All Mountain Rig.

First Impressions

The Pro29 I tested was setup with 650B wheels.  The rear dropout is an unique 12mm thru-axle with integrated dropouts and brake bosses. This dropout can slide to and fro to accommodate 29″ and 650B wheels.

The craftsmanship of the bike is a thing of beauty.  I sat there for about 1/2 hour and looked at every bend, top cap, pivot and cable stops to marvel the welding artistry of this bike.  The pivot point is unique with its Shimano press-in bottom bracket bearings and thru-axle.  As a bottom bracket setup, press-fit bearings are known to be as stiff as it comes.  As a pivot bearing setup, the stiffness shows as the titanium doesn’t exhibit that noodle effect that can accompany some full suspension.

Yes,  Titanium is inherently flexy and is why ti bikes make great hardtails with its forgiving ride and lively feel.  As a full suspension, Ti does have its limitations.  I’ve ridden the Cove Hummer softail where there is no pivot on the lower chain stays – titanium is that flexible and lacks fatigue memory, hence the softail design.  I’ve read of older Ti designs where the tires would rub the chainstays on a hard corner or the cranks would rub the chainstays on a hard pedal effort.  Lynskey’s answer to counteract these forces is the Helix twist in the down tube.  Lynskey squares the middle of the tubing and twists the tube to counteract the pedaling and cornering forces during the ride.  This technology makes a noticeably stiffer bottom bracket zone and rear end.  It does keep the great Ti feels that is enjoyed by many riders.

First Ride

Let’s face it, this is a cross-country bike.  Its not a “The Shore” kind of bike that riding “Ladies Only” or “Expresso” trails would define other Cove bikes.  But at 27 lbs, it’ll get you to the top of Mt Fromme in a hurry.  So I chose a cross-country riding area on the Sunshine Coast that would give me a good idea on what kind of bike personality will rise to the occasion.   The trail starts off with a rooty overgrown logging road and I immediately recognize rolling over obstacles trait that 29’ers and 650B are becoming known for.  Once up to speed, the roots and rocks just disappear under the wheels with little need to pull on the bars or give a little pedal shot to keep the momentum going.  The trail then turns up and it gave me some opportunity to try standing on the bike and hammering.  The wheels stays hooks up and I’m able to use some body leverage while standing that I couldn’t before on my 26″ wheel G-Spot – think of standing on a road bike.

 I’ve heard of some complaints from 29’er riders struggling on tight twisty singletrack, but I didn’t get that impression riding on the 650B wheels.  They act very similar to a 26’er in my opinion.

The steering characteristic of this bike took the most time to adjust to.  Coming from a 6″ travel fork, I guess that I’m accustomed to a certain amount of wandering and increased steering input.  On this bike, I would say that it steers very precisely, with just a little input and a point and go attitude. This precise steering I came to appreciate on the technical twisty bit in the trail.  At speed, steering was predictable and didn’t overwhelmed my control of the bike – in other words, it wasn’t squirrelly hitting roots or rocks at speed.

Being a cross country bike, this bike has a little of an old school trait where it puts the rider in a more stretched out position towards the front wheel.  This allows for great climbing and beacons for a more aggressive riding style such as in a race.  The bike’s personality reminded me of my old school Brodie Expresso (handmade steel hardtail), just without the endo’s on steep trails.  I didn’t get to try some super steep downs, but I felt more stable with weight further back than with the new school of relaxed frame geometries.   The bike did respond well to twisty downhills at speed and I felt stable.  I just didn’t feel any noodling or wandering.  In fact, the Pro29 felt like I was riding on a bike with 6″ of travel, not 4″.  Sometimes I thought my tires were low with air.

Final ride impressions:  

I really like this bike!  So much so that I’m considering buying it when I save my pennies.  Its fast, stiff and really matches my riding style of fast, pedally and x-country type trails.  With a touch of old school and blending in some new school titanium engineering, I’ve become smitten with this bike!