Before the Singletrack Reader Awards kicked off last week, we had a Trade Day ride out, where loads of our friends from the bike industry join us for an actual ride. It might come as a surprise (and something of a disappointment) to you that the reality of bike life is that we often only get to see each other in trade show halls under artificial lighting, rather than under the soul warming rays of the sun. Hence the Trade Day ride – a chance to chat and ride trails, and follow it up with a spot of beer.
Of course, there are plenty of nice bikes on display on the day, but this one especially caught our eye. It belongs to Paul Byrom, TF Tuned’s go-to guy for questions on PUSH Industries, Fast Suspension upgrades, Vorsprung and Bike Yoke products. As the party was warming up and night fell, Amanda grabbed some shots while Paul talked Hannah through the build.
Hannah: So, what is this bike?
It’s a Kingdom Vendetta XFS 29, with 136mm-and-a-bit rear travel, 150mm at the front. Kingdom is a Danish company, run by two nice English ex patriot fellas named Chris and Adam. They started out with sexy hardcore TI hardtails in 2007/8 and have gone on to make a range of really luxurious TI hardtails, CX bikes and a couple of full bangers. The X versions of their bikes are manufactured a little more economically (CNC’d parts are left out and tube profiles are simpler) to make gorgeous Ti bikes more attainable for people like us. This is one of the first 29” versions of their Vendetta XFS and I love it.
And it’s your own personal bike?
Yes, I had to stroke a man at length to get it, and in fact the majority of the parts have been obtained by similar means. But it’s my bike, it lives at my house.
[At this point, Hannah and Amanda regret not doing the bike check as a video and become aware that the bar has been open for longer than they realised.]
So, there’s nothing on there that’s bespoke?
No, I’ve put things that you can buy on there today, I swapped a few bits out before I came because there were some secret sauce items I couldn’t have you checking out.
[Hannah and Amanda spend some time trying to figure out if anything looks especially clean, but fail. Paul seems to be one of those people who actually cleans their bike between rides, so there’s a pretty even coating of Calderdale grit all over.]
Why has it got magic marker on it?
The marker on the chainstay depicts mine and TF’s initials because it was the second back end that I’ve used as we messed about with some experimental geometry. I didn’t scrub off the marker because I think it looks a bit ‘factory’ and makes me feel special and more important than I actually am.
Tell us about the shock, it’s quite sexy.
They are quite sexy in a kind of steam punk way, aren’t they. It’s a PUSH industries Elevensix. I genuinely believe it to be the best piece of bicycle suspension on the market at the moment. Internal valving is determined by PUSH and the specs that they devise to suit each bike’s leverage curve. There’s a man in Colorado called Darren who does that. Final adjustments are made externally, via the two compression assemblies.
How about the fork, is that just as it comes?
The DT Swiss F535 fork is all new, it looks badass and it has some really fancy finishing touches… tug the QR off and it acts as a tool to make adjustments/remove vanity covers for air spring, damper and other wot not. There are some aspects of the damping that I would (and will) change, but it’s nothing a little tweak wouldn’t fix. This one is fresh from the box, and as you’ll know, there’s not a single fork on earth that I’d be happy to run fresh from the box with no internal attention.
What brakes are you running?
Shimano XTR. I did have Hope brakes on it, but I took them off. I love Hope and the people there, I love the concept and how beautiful they [the products!] are, but for me I prefer the on/off feel of the XTRs. The Hope brakes gave good modulation, but it doesn’t suit my riding style so well.
What dropper have you got on there?
A Revive, of course! What else is there to have? The rest of them are nonsense! [TF Tuned is the UK distributor for the award nominated BikeYoke Revive dropper post]
With the original lever as well, no upgrades there?
Yes, but they are changing that, it’s going to extend a bit.
And you have Hope cranks?
Yes, but they’re soon to be replaced by those titanium Cane Creek ones. Again, I had to flirt outrageously with a man in America to get them.
[Hannah and Amanda think they should probably try this sort of thing. Paul’s bike is really rather nice. An unpublishable conversation about who we should stroke or flirt with to obtain the bike build of our dreams ensues]
Right, we need a hero shot of you with the bike.