New bike bits; fitting
Popped over to Rich's fully-equipped garage to fit my new Fox forks yesterday. Removing the original Rockshox Pilots was fairly easy; undo the star-fangled nut, remove the stem, calipers, bearings and shims and the forks just pulled out. Removing the bearing outers needed careful persuasion with a hammer and some wood, but they eventually came out cleanly.
A quick wipe with degreaser and we were ready to fit the new headset. This is a WTB Momentum Comp C with sealed cartridge bearings, so the outers are somewhat larger than normal to make room, but I can live with that knowing they should be good for a while. Fitting the outers didn't cause too much bother – a hammer, some pieces of wood and constant checking to ensure they were going in square. Getting the star-fangled nut to go in was a different matter. The nut would not go in square, causing much frustration, but eventually it gave up the fight and went in nice and straight.
Now the best bit; offering up the new forks. We assembled the headset and pushed them through, then temporarily fitted the stem and marked the fork tube for cutting; Rich used a pipe cutter to reduce the tube to sit about 5–7mm below the headset cap – a nice clean cut that needed a minimum of filing. We tightened everything up, then loosely fitted the calipers; we needed to add an extra shim but that was the only adjustment needed to the brakes.
Swopping the original forks onto the Rockhopper was equally easy – I had to cut down the V-brake bosses to fit and just cleaned and regreased the old headset, but I reckon the bike will be transformed; the old Manitou Spyders were, frankly, knackered. 20mm extra travel and forks that actually move should make a difference.
Last job was to fit a new cassette to the Marin; I fitted a new XT chain last month for Afan and neglected to fit a new cassette at the same time; big mistake. For the first 6km climb the chain was jumping and ghost-shifting all the time, because the cassette had worn to the old chain. The new cassette is an SRAM PG-830, picked up at the Bike Show for £15. It's an 11–32 (the old one was 11–28) and not exactly light, but my experience of super-light components is that they break sooner than their price suggests; mid-range stuff like this is a better bet for me. The extra cogs will hopefully make a difference too. Fitting was a doddle with the right tools – a chain-whip and cassette tool, and took about 5 minutes.
I haven't taken either bike out for a decent test-run yet, but early impressions are that the Fox' are super-smooth, and more progressive than the Pilots, although they currently have a tiny bit of stiction at the beginning of their stroke. They also look fantastic. The Rockhopper seems a bit 'nose-high' at the moment, but a brief ride up the road indicates that it should be a much more capable ride over the rough stuff.
Thanks to Rich for all his expertise and help – hopefully we can test the bikes out properly at Cannock soon. Is it me or is the Marin crying out for some red Hope XCs and Salsas? :-)