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Building a Long Travel Trail Bike page 1

Can a really long travel bike do the business on a really long MTBB ride? What kind of bike would we build with few cash constraints from the best of what's on offer? What did we choose and reject and why? Which bit will I break first? Read on to find out.

Mountain Cycles San Andreas
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King of Plush?
Choices, choices. This time I'm building a bike with genuinely more of everything. More travel, more braking power, more weight' On the way to a final decision I short-listed a stack of worthy components, some were money-is-no-object chi-chis, others bargain basement value parts. I've tried hard to make sure the money is spent where it will do the most good. This means the working areas of frame, forks and brakes. One of my guiding rules has been not to over spend on parts that need regular replacement. This includes the drive train and tyres, also those components where top performing bargains can be found, like saddle and stem. The frame is the heart of the bike and also the most personal of choices, in the end I went with my feelings and plumped for the incomparable Mountain Cycles San Andreas DHS. It's a love (or hate) at first sight thing with this bike. With it's massive monocoque main-frame and replaceable seat tower, it has to be the least cross country looking bike that ever flew up a hill. The Fox Vanilla R shock at it's centre is the king of rear plush and can transform the handling of almost any rear suspension design. Below I'll set out the parts I considered, rejected and finally settled on for the ultimate in long travel, cross country mountain bikes.

Hope M4

The Frame
Short listed were: The Santa Cruz Bullit, Marin Attack Trail, Intense Uzzi SLX and Mountain Cycles San Andreas DHS. In the end the Uzzi looked poor value at the price and is a very active design with all that travel. Santa Cruz upped the travel of the new Bullit to 7', leaving a new and as yet unproven Heckler design in it's niche. Marin ham-strung their European version of the Attack Trail with a 4' fork (The Manitou Black Air). Four inches looks pretty short when the rear has six. This left me with my original gut instinct, the San Andreas DHS.

RockShox Psylo Race: 1673g

Easton Monkeylite 164g

When the San Andreas first hit the trails almost 10 years ago it was not received as the bike of the future we should all be riding. It was seen as an expensive, non-race worthy downhill bike with more travel than ability. This was a huge mistake. The trouble was that disk brakes were heavy and not perfected, cross country racers were driving the sport and they were interested in winning races, not having incredible, wild trail rides. Over the years new designs have come and gone, but some, like the Turner Burner and the San Andreas have survived almost unchanged. The reason for this is that the designs of these frames were pretty much right in the beginning. The designers were left waiting for the reviewers and riders preferences to catch up with their inherently advanced designs. 

Hope M4 Lever

Until recently, any bike that couldn't win either a cross country or downhill race at some level, would have been panned by the mountain biking press and spurned by most of the buying public. This gave us a very polarised view of what a mountain bike should be like, and left no room for long travel trail bikes which would win neither race and yet be the most fun you could have on two wheels. The single pivot design is a winner for UK riding, it can be given proper seals unlike multi-pivot designs. The down-side to the single pivots are: 1. Not a fully active design (but this helps climbing) 2. Suspension stiffens under braking.>  Page 2

3TTT 'The' Stem 198g

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