March 16, 2010
Refining a good thing.
What a difference 20mm makes, as Dinah Washington almost sang but decided not to. The 20mm in this case is the extra travel in the Super 4’s Fox F-120 forks fitted to the 2010 Super 4 over last year’s 100mm Rock Shox SIDs on the 2009 Super 4. It doesn’t sound a lot but it’s enough to change the whole bike from awkward racer to accomplished trail-eater.
The extra travel obviously gives you more cushion but it’s the changes to the geometry that have made the real difference; a slightly slacker and taller front end putting you in a more commanding position. This was instantly noticeable on local rides where I was going through sections as fast as I do on the Super 4’s big brother the Meta 5, then accelerating away on the ups and flat at a speed the Meta can only dream about. In fact the Meta hasn’t been ridden since the Super 4 turned up. Poor thing. It’s safe to say the 2010 Super 4 is what the 2009 version should have been.
There are a few things I’m changing though. First of all I’m going to be horribly predictable and fit a shorter stem. I can almost hear the rolling of eyes. I know, I know, it’s seemingly what every mountain bike journo says in every test ever but hear me out. I actually think that the 90mm RaceFace stem that comes with the Super 4 Factory Frameset is a good length for what the Super 4 is designed for, covering miles, fast. The only time it felt too long was when I went to play on the new sections at Lee Quarry where charging through berms and down steep chutes the steering didn’t feel as sharp as I’d like. So I’m going to put a 70mm stem on there to see how it feels, I may change back later though.
The seatpost is also going to have to be swapped. Again not because of any fatal flaw with it but because I’m a habitual saddle dropper, descending with the saddle at full height feels like I’m not getting the most fun out of a descent. The Easton EC90 carbon seatpost hasn’t taken too kindly to constant up and down action mixed with grit and is looking a bit worse for wear. An alloy seatpost is needed saving the carbon post for race duties and Sunday best. I would fit a Crank Brothers Joplin but covering the slinky carbon frame in zip-ties just seems wrong. The frame came with a bolt-up seat collar so a Crank Bros Split QR was fitted to help facilitate quick perch adjustments.
I would now like to talk to you about rubber. No, please, come back! I’ll keep it brief…
Continental Rubber Queen 2.2 tyres with Black Chilli compound are possibly the best all round tyres I’ve ever used. A good size (read proper 2.2 size), made with a compound that is both grippy and not too draggy (magic I tell thee), a respectable weight and decent shoulders for confidence in corners, they are just about as close to perfect as a tyre designed to do everything well can come. They ain’t cheap though. The only other downside I’ve found is that clearance between the rear tyre and the brace on the swingarm is a gnats split-ended whisker tight, seems Commençal has something smaller in mind for the back of the Super 4 than a real 2.2in tyre.
It might sound odd but I’m actually looking forward to taking the Commie to a trail centre, somewhere where its flat-out speed and handling on groomed trails can be tested to the max in a speed-freak kind of way. The 2009 Super 4 was a ripper on those kind of trails, I’m pretty sure this one will be even quicker.
Commençal Super 4 Carbon Factory Frameset
Price: £2,599 (Frame, fork, bars, stem, seatpost, headset)
From: Madison www.madison.co.uk
Continental Rubber Queen 2.2 Black Chilli Tyres
From: Cambrian Tyres www.conti-tyres.co.uk
Crank Brothers Split QR Seat Collar
From: 2Pure www.2pure.co.uk