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Month: April 2013

Retro Cove Hummer —Softtail!

Retro Cove Hummer —Softtail!


Time to review the Cove Hummer Softail.  No, this isn’t a new bike – in fact, it has brake bosses for V-brakes and bosses for disk brakes…or maybe the disk tabs were added later?  Hmmmm….

The softail is not a novel concept to the world of mountain biking – Moots being one the first to employ the softail concept to a hardtail.  Mongoose tried  it too.  Exploiting the flexy and no metal fatigue properties of titanium, a shock is inserted between the top of the seat stay and the seat tube.  No pivots are the located on the bottom bracket or near the wheel hubs.  Titanium in this arrangement can flex 1″ to 1.5″ – its that flexy!  The Cove Hummer that I’ve been riding lately uses a Stratos Shock.  Stratos was bought out by Specialized and set out to pasture. From what I understand the shock is about 7 years old.  Guaranteed that if it breaks, there is not a replacement for it.

This Cove model didn’t sell alot in its brief history.  There might be 8 frames made?  Anyway, pretty close to being “one-off’s”.  Made by Litespeed, this Cove is owned by a good friend of mine.

The bike has been modernized with some pretty good equipment to make it about 23 lbs.  I put on the heavier Nevegals and High Roller to really nail the corners and increase stability on the downs.  With some light Larsons TT – this bike can get to 22.5lbs.  Sram XX shifters, X-O brakes, RS SID XX 120mm, Chris King hubs on Stan rims. Yep, no excuses to not ride ride hard and fast.

I ride another Cove – a G Spot which is a 6″ free ride/AM bike and so jumping on the Hummer made me feel down right squirrelly.  It was an absolute polar opposite feel to my G.  In fact, this Hummer is the bike that I decided to use in a XC marathon race last year, crashed and broke my collarbone. Now, (all healed up) it’s taken about two weeks of heavy use to be comfortable on it.

Whats the shock feel like?  Well, its got a weird feeling to the bike when riding quick bumps at full travel – kind of like a delayed pogo stick. Or the feeling of a low tire and then a hard bump (I know that its bottoming out).   By turning the shock into an semi hardtail, it gets me about 1/2 inch of perfect hardtail compromise.  I get that quick snap and lively feeling of a Ti bike, relief from those hard edges, couple with great climbing and good control on the downhills.

I’m so comfortable with it now, that I can flick it, huck and kick out on jumps.  I rail the berms and it seems that the harder I ride it, the more I love riding it.  Yes its not a downhill bomber – but its got that right set of characteristics that when you feel like riding XC trails hard and fast, the bike taunts you and asks you “did you bring it?”.

No pivots near the BB shell