December 3, 2010
Jon gets fettling and puts bigger forks on the carbon fibre trail bike to see if it makes it or breaks it...
In my last long termer update I was trying to make the Ghost a little bit more rad without totally flawing it as a machine to do distance. In somewhat classic Singletrack staffer style the first thing I did was put huge bars on it – well, I’ve now gone even further down the path of burling it up. It’s a disease I’m sure.
Prompted by a trip up to the top of Snowdon I decided that the 70mm stem was still too long. luckily Chipps had picked up the rather neat and very short 45mm Syncros FRIC (Freeride Intelligent Clamp) stem at Interbike, so on it went. The cold forged stem has a very clean look, with clamp bolts pinching in front of the steerer and a wraparound design so you don’t bang your knees. It does mean it’s a bit of hassle to fit as you need to slide the bar in from the side. If you’re a careful mechanic then your bars will be fine, but if you’re an impatient, ham fisted fool (me) then you might do a bit of swearing and bar scratching to get them on. Once it’s clamped up and tightened it does look lovely and neat though.
I didn’t leave it there though. The AMR has a reasonably steep 69 degree head angle and fact the back end is so capable when you’re pushing on got me thinking – how about some longer forks? Happily Matt had left the set of Fox 32 TALAS 140 Terralogic QR15 forks he’d liked so much (reviewed in Issue 59 for Premier users, see HERE) about the office so I swiped them. With two position travel adjust you can run them at 140mm or 110mm of travel, so there’s the option to keep it steep for climbs and getting a bit more cushion for descents – if you remember to switch it back, which is something I have a habit of forgetting.
The Kashima coating looks incredibly shiny and has proved very durable so far. I owned one of the first ‘Brain’ shocked Specialized Enduro S-Works bikes (2003?) so I’m quite used to the feeling of Terralogic forks – if you have the threshold wound on quite high then there’s a slight lag between the first bump and the fork opening up into the travel but as the back end of the Ghost is quite active I wound it fully off to get rid of a slightly mismatched feeling.
The only downside with using those forks was the fact that they use a 1.125″ steerer and the Ghost has a tapered headtube. This mean I had to enter the unholy world of modern headset standards. Tom The Web Boy had got a tapered step down headset for his own Yeti ASR5 from the lovely people at Hope but surprise, surprise, it wasn’t the right one – Tom needed a semi integrated type and this one was a fully integrated tapered headset. It’s all quite confusing, but on the upside it did look like it’d fit my Ghost nicely.
There’s a difference between looking like it fits and it fitting – when I’d knocked the old lower headset cup out I lined up the new one and it was obviously a few mm too large. Boo. Happily on further inspection it looked like I could use the original cup and use the Hope bearing, crown race and 1.5 to 1.125″ step down adapter, so I did. Headset woes sorted and the 120mm travel Ghost now sported a nicely mismatched 140mm at the front and 120mm at the rear and a head tube angle slacker by a single degree.
On my way up Snowdon the bike still felt well balanced which, if I’m honest, was a surprise. I’m used to fiddling with bikes and then making them worse but this bit of fettling seemed to have worked. The stem had speeded up handling considerably but the very wide bars compensated nicely for the lost top tube length and combined with the slacker head angle it was all very manageable. On the descents the bike was excellent – it wasn’t easy trying to stay in touch with Ed on the 160mm travel Nukeproof Mega but it was excellent fun trying. That said, I definitely felt I was approaching the limit of how fast I should be riding into rocks on a relatively short travel bike. It says a lot for the quality and design of the Ghost (and modern bikes in general) that you can give them an awful amount of stick and they just keep working. Any lingering doubts about how well carbon fibre deals with rock strikes was put to the side after a few incredibly loud bangs from the broken rock at the top of the Ranger’s Path had no effect at all.
So, my experiment has been a good one. A rather useable increase in travel by 20mm at the front and the bike doesn’t seem to suffer from strange steering characteristics or have the floppy feeling an overly high BB can cause. I’m keen to get in a set of the mid range 140mm travel Rock Shox Sektor forks (with a proper tapered headtube fitting, I might as well take advantage of that bit of the Ghost’s design) when they become available. I’ve hopefully got myself lined up to get a SRAM X7 10 speed groupset at some point as I’m keen to try the ‘not incredibly expensive’ side of the 2×10 coin. Another thought has been to get a harder shock compression tune and, inspired by Matt’s Premier video of Nico Vouilloz’ enduro racing bike, maybe an offset lower shock bushing made up to return the BB to it’s former position.
I don’t think I’ve found the cure for my fettling disease yet…