May 21, 2007

New bike

Dirty bike3561My new bike after a dirty three hour ride in Kananaskis Country. New bike??? Huh?????? With the longer rides I'm doing and the relatively new understanding that my Ellsworth Truth might not be up to the task of a 24hr Solo race, I have been caught in a dilemma for a while now. This year will be the Ellsworth's sixth season and it has served me well. I've replaced very few parts on it and as a friend recently said "that bike has paid for itself a long time ago". I still love it as a fast and nimble racing machine but I haven't been easy on it and I didn't truly realize that until I cheated on my Ellsworth and jumped on another bike as a test ride. Enter the Giant Trance Zero.

Long3572Towards the end of last year I was gently pushed into visiting a local bike shop by a friend who races for them (thanks Charles). Pedalhead is conveniently located in the South of Calgary and only a 15min drive from our house or a 30min bike ride across the bike paths. It's a smaller shop in comparison to some of the other bike shops in town but I like that. It's a more personal atmosphere and friendlier. After a series of visits, to get work done on our bikes and some replacement of parts, and after talking to Alan and the gang at Pedalhead, I realized this would be my bike shop. Choosing a local bike shop is no small matter, I choose carefully who I give my business to and it requires a developed relationship. After hanging around the shop for a while I explained to Alan that I had signed up for a 24 Solo and since I had never done anything like it, could he provide some kind of support through his shop. The answer was yes and Pedalhead has treated me better than I deserve. From providing support during my 24 Solo and letting me rip it up on their group rides (probably so I embarrass myself) to giving me a deal on parts and labour - I'm extremely grateful. But the big thanks goes out to Pedalhead for bugging me to ride the Giant Trance 0 they had sitting in the shop, something I was reluctant to do as I felt the Ellsworth was "da bomb". Well times change and it seems bike technology has changed also. I did a ton of research on the Trance 0, looking at the bike as a whole and at each part it comes spec'd with. I came to appreciate that there are bikes out there that don't have the same "wow-factor" as some of the "boutique-bikes" yet they quietly get the job done - better. I read and read and listened and read some more before I was ready to throw my leg over the Trance 0.

The heart of this bike is the Maestro suspension which on the Trace provides for 4.2 inches of travel in a linear and predictable compression rate. That didn't mean much to me until I jumped on the bike and took it for a rip on some trails that I know quite well. It seems Giant had done their homework, after taking nearly 45mins to dial the front and rear suspension in to my style of riding, I knew this bike was pretty capable. Part of me wanted to disbelieve what I was experiencing; I was riding a bigger gear, I was descending faster, the bike was smoother and more stable. Laterally it was very stiff, it climbed far better than I thought it would and in the end I knew it was a better 24 Solo bike than my Ellsworth. It was a sad realization, kind of like watching an old knight pass his sword on to a younger knight - sounds romantically goofy I know - it's hard to describe.


The bike comes with a nice assortment of fine quality parts. A mix of Shimano XT/XTR, top of the line Race Face, a Fox Float RP23 on the back and a Fox 32 F100RL on the front, all of which stay on. I'm swapping out the Mavic ST wheelset for an XTR wheelset and swapping out the Race Face stem and handlebar for the Thompson stem and the Monkey Lite bar on my Truth; all of which should pull a pound off the bike and put it in the 26lb range. Initially I didn't care for the Hayes HFX 9 Carbon XC brakes as they have very little modulation as compared to my Hope Mini's but with the additional speed I'm seeing, on the straightaways and descents on my last ride, I'm pretty sure I need the more aggressive bite of the Hayes, plus I really like the feel of that carbon handle. I'm still not too sure on the WTB Devo Carbon saddle, it's light and race-ish but I need to do a really long ride on it to see if it's going to be comfortable enough for 24hrs. I can always swap in the 6yr old WTB saddle on my Truth. For tires I'm sticking with what I know and have used with good success - Panaracer's 2.1 Fire XC Pro's.


Now for the best part and the most appreciated. Alan at Pedalhead cut me a deal I couldn't refuse. Even though I was fighting the concept of two mountain bikes (all the while everyone around me insisted I would need two for the 24hr race for a variety of reasons) I knew deep down that the Trance 0 made sense. Alan made it impossible for me to say no. Thanks.

Giant3568For anyone looking for a great bike line I can highly recommend the Trance series. Go to and read the reviews, scurry around the web and see what others have to say and drop by Pedalhead to kick some tires. It's hard not to be impressed, I know I am.