New Bike Day : Marauder SS

So a while back I built up a dedicated single speed for myself (view the full Flickr album here) I swap out bikes every now and again as my weekly riding takes shape. Most days I’m hitting the trails on my 1×11 setup. Some days though the hankering hits me for a pedal on the Single Speed. Keep things simple. Make the typical loops more challenging. I love that bike. But, as I’ve been building more bikes, going to more shows and meeting more and more clients / fellow riders, it’s become apparent to me that no only do people basically come to me for what I am riding, they’re also coming to me for my take on a hardtail and frequently ask me opinions on Sram vs Shimano. So a new plan for the stable start to percolate…

I have to be honest here: I am not necessarily a only Shimano guy or only Sram guy. I will say that I have preferences, but no signed in blood allegiances. I am however a strong advocate of supporting local OE’s that make an effort to produce product here in the U.S. That I will say I have a signed allegiance. But when it comes to XTR or XX1, or X1 vs XT, both have there place and both have their attributes that are debatable. The choice ultimately I like to leave up to the client. I make recommendations and craft the conversation accordingly, but at the end of the day: I’m building that riders NEXT bicycle. The one. That got me to thinking with this whole scenario: What if I turned the Single Speed into a bike I could now display with either Shimano or Sram 1x setups AND set it up as a Single Speed? So that’s what motivated me to move on this build.

I’ve also been building up a new platform: The Marauder. My take on a sweet, New England hard tail. It seemed like the perfect match for this sort of build.

Endless 19t Kick Ass Cog

The spec is taken pretty much directly from my other build with the exception of a new set of Race Face Turbine Cinch cranks. The bottom bracket is actually a RWC 30mm bottom bracket – this is a terrific upgrade if anyone is looking for a super bomber, reliable set up. I also was also toying with the idea of bumping down to a 30t chainring up front. I really liked the feel and cadence with a 32x19t combination. I had been running a 32x18t combo for years, but found that on the steep short climbs that frequent my local trails, lower back pain would set in halfway through the ride from the tough back to back efforts constantly. When I popped up a tooth to the 19t cog, this seemed to really help the efforts and give me a little more range and realistic gear ratio. I was going to carry that over to this one, but I was running a half link in that setup and unfortunately, the Cinch thick/thin chainring did not jive with that half link. Setting it up meant a longer chain and it really put the chain stay setting far back on the sliders with little room for chain stretch and a shorter chain was JUST too short. So I did some math and figured that a 30x19t combination may be ok given what I had on hand in terms of parts. It put things not only dead center on the sliders, and exactly at 16.5″ chain stay length… (Stoked on that!) but I have to say the pedal around the local test loop here at 44HQ had me really digging this combination. Sure I might pedal out on the flats occasionally, and I do like to go fast, but I like to ride and have fun. That’s the two big goals during the week: Ride. Have fun. This seemed like just the ticket.

Marauder SS : Back in Black

Another factor I wanted to try out was lengthening my cockpit a bit. Speaking with a physical therapist recently, she made me realize that my posture both on and off the bike was not helping my lower back. Nothing that was keeping me awake at night, but on rides and long days standing, sometimes my back would be a tad bit on the creaky/achy side. So a little bit more length to let me open up my lower back, and straighten out my posture on climbs/descents, especially on a single speed, was warranted. Keep in mind, each bike I’ve been slowly dialing in the cockpit and refining it for myself with each build. Even I have to experiment with my own set up each build and tweak it to get closer to perfect, and I’m the builder! Then what’s interesting is comparing bikes and set ups in my own stable to see what does what and how each one rides for different purposes. Just more data for me to make the bikes better.

Marauder SS w/ 1x11 Option

So with that added top tube length, I also wanted the ability to be able to run SS or gears, and Paragon Machine Works new Triple Saddle Stops were in order for this build – again, now I have a bike that shows internal routing and one that shows external full housing on another. That also makes changing from one set up to the other a snap. This build also uses my new radius seat tube in a 34.9mm diameter (so 30.9mm Seat posts, or shimmed down in this case to a 27.2mmm post that was the other builds existing spec). I can also now offer 30.9mm dropper posts and PMW’s Triple Saddle Stop allows for external routing made very easily along with the rear derailleur line all bundled together nicely in a tight package. (I’ll be building this up later this summer as a 1xll X1 build FYI) The new seat tube also incorporates a new technique for bending them which puts the saddle in the same position if it were a 73* ST angle on a straight tube (to make that happen, the seat tube is actually angled at 72* and the bend places things exactly where they would be with a 73* ST angle – that radius kicks the seat tube forward, so I need to use a little slacker angle to achieve this). So a bit more saddle set back over the bottom bracket, which was a slight gripe from some clients actually so I’ve solved that “problem”.

Seat stays are also made a little differently too – the process has been further refined and made more repeatable but the bend down by the dropout is more on the straight side, so when I need to weld up a disc brake tab, it puts it smack dab in the middle of the stay for a good platform to weld – the other method was kicking it out a tad bit too much towards the outside of the stay, and the spot of the weld on the inside of the stay was a bit acute as it wrapped around the tube (aka a tough spot to weld). So this was more of a method to the madness change up. But I really like how the new stays form up.

ENVE X Thomson Cockpit

The cockpit remains the same. I had a set of Titanium Nitrided badges here in reserve and they hooked up well with the sparkle gold decal kit. Room for 2 big bottles was a must and geometry wise, I slackened up the head tube angle from 70.5 to 70* (I’ve found that to be a nice all around “just so” head tube angle in combination with BB drop of 2.25 and chain stay lengths of 16-16.5″ – this one sports adjustment from 16″ to 16.8″ with the sweet spot being 16.5″ for everything from tech to long days, or short quick rides where playfulness and fun is the biggest goal).

Fox 32 Float X Industry 9 Classic

Rubber stayed the same: 2.4″ Hans Dampf up front and a 2.3″ Nobby Nic out back. IF you ride up here in NH, especially in and around 44HQ, you’ll note that the soil tends to be on the loamy side. Kind of soft – so you need a nobby tire that can dig in, and hold your line. Smaller knobs work well too but some times especially later in the season when the tree’s start dropping a lot of sap, the smaller knobs can pack up with lots of sap/hemlock needles. The soil tends to be wettish and with that combination, the tires can get coated quick. I prefer smaller knobbed tires as they are a bit faster rolling, but the soil and terrain here require some different treads on occasion. I really like this combination though – the softer tread grips well on wet / loose rocky / rooty conditions that abound. A 2015 Fox Float 32 does bump smoothing duties. I’ve had my hands on the new 32 Float with the Fit 4 damper… That added wide range adjustment of compression was a much needed improvement over this model. So 2016 looks like a good range of forks from Fox! My only gripe about this fork really. Other than that, the fork is plush, has relatively good adjustment and when it needs to be locked out: IT STAYS locked out. Thank you Fox. Industry 9 Classic hubs (old style) keep me engaged and shredding.

Maiden voyage was Sunday afternoon and I hauled along the camera for these shots in a Low Pro shoulder sling style camera bag – my first time using it like such. It was given to me as a good friend and photographer had an extra one. The darn thing stayed put on my back and I really didn’t notice it for the ride to/from this spot. A happy surprise as I liked how these shots turned out, and I think I’ll do a few more shoots like this “on location” in the bikes natural settings. But I was pretty stoked on this build. Things felt “just so” and I am really, really digging being back on SPD’s (XTR M9000 SPD pedals in this case).

But the whole point was to build a bike that I could take out as a single speed or build up as a 1×11 setup all built around the Marauder platform. This allows me to show both Sram/Shimano setups on two different bikes showing different options. Since I take my personal bikes to shows most of the time, it allows me to speak a bit more intimately about the choices, the spec and the set ups but now I can speak to both major drivetrain options and let the potential client decide. More on this build as things come together for the 1×11 setup. Till then, hope everyone is getting out for their own Shred sessions…