I took this past week to put my nose to the grindstone and finish this second titanium mountain bike prototype. By Thursday at 10pm the frame was finished and Friday afternoon the bike was built up. I have been wanting to try out Shimano’s XT M8000 so I had been sitting on a whole XT M8000 drivetrain for a few months in preparation for this build. The big differences from the first prototype were more to do with process and approach. I had tweaked how I was making chain stays a bit more getting bends in just the right spots but I also wanted to use the DH standard of 83mm bb shell width coupled with the 12x157mm TA rear standard. My plan was to be able to run 29 x 2.4″ tires but also have the option to run 27.5+ x 2.8″ tires as well. I was able to achieve that and refine a bunch of my approach to working with Titanium. I’m still learning of course and I feel confident that the next steps are to spend more time welding the material to be more accustomed. I had to laugh at myself: My test welds look better than the welds on the frame… Naturally, when it came time to welding a rideable frame, I’d get excited and have one weld turn out wonderfully, while the very next would be just not up to what I was looking for. Still good, but not where I want to be. More time and repetition are key. I really put a lot of time into building and testing my bikes so that the bikes that go out to clients perform. I can’t stress that enough about this process. So to all my clients who are in the list, thanks for your patience as I’m back at it this Monday. But that patience pays off with bikes that really do perform. But let’s roll up our sleeves on this next iteration of the Marauder. Geometry and tube choices were the same over the first prototype. I felt confident about how the bike was riding, and this iteration was a bit more to refine process and dial in standards to meet demands of “what” clients have been requesting: Large volume tires. Big difference was 83mm bottom bracket with a 12x157mm rear. This offers gobs of tire clearance with good chain line and clearance for chainring and chain stay. I also dropped the seat tube length a touch down from 17.5 to 17″. SO that’s just a hair more standover and a bit cleaner of a run for the cables. I also made sure this one was dropper compatible like the last one (which I’ve really been enjoying btw). The bike can take 27.5+ x 2.8″ tires with ease. I have a set of tires on the way and a little something special planned for an upcoming event. Wheels are Industry 9’s Enduro 305’s and out of curiosity, I wanted to compare Schwalbe’s Rock Razor with WTB’s Riddler (more on this in a bit…). The Rock Razor measures out at 2.4″ so I was excited since the two are very similar. Fork is a Fox 34 120mm Boost. I have a stealth decal kit on the way. Although I really like the new Fox decals, they’re not working so off they come! Up above you can see that Paragon Machine Works direct mount hanger for the sliders coupled with Shimano’s XT M8000 rear derailleur and a 11-42t cassette. First pics were taken with a 32t but I swapped out to a 30t with some tweaks to the drivetrain. Shimano XT M8000 brakes and rear mech mate up well thanks to Shimano’s iSpec II and ENVE’s mountain riser bar’s width is of course “just so”. Those who haven’t run these brakes, I’d say they are the business. Shimano did a great job with this group and the brakes are no exception. And yes, details matter: The rest of the build fills out nicely with Cane Creek 110 head set, Thomson’s Elite Dropper (external cable for easy set up swaps/maintenance) with a Wolftooth Remote Light, Thomson 80mm stem and a Salsa Lip Lock to keep that post put! Also doing the rotation is Race Face’s Turbine Cinch with a custom modified SIXC 83mm spindle (I just called Race Face and they do now sell Turbine’s with an 83mm spindle…). Chainring is Wolftooth’s Drop stop. This is a nice upgrade from Race Face’s stock ring and comes in two offsets and can be flipped. And now the drivetrain: So out on the trail I started noticing a backpedal issue. Up in the 42t cog, the chain would dump down a few cogs. A little research and it sounds like this is a common problem. Speaking with my Shimano rep, Shimano’s refine their cassette/cog ramps a bit more to mitigate the issue so I’m thinking I may have an older version of the cassette. But post shakedown ride, I pulled the 32t and added a 30 to move the chain line over physically as far as I could but recalled when I set up my XTR M9000 drivetrain, I was experiencing something similar which was solved by adjusting b-tension and playing with the tension adjustment of the clutch mechanism. So a made some adjustments and that started to make a difference. Since I have the ability to lengthen the chain stay length with the sliders, I moved things out by about 4mm’s. And that with the other adjustments seemed to do the trick. We’ll see out on the trail once it stops raining. And now for that other problem I occurred out on the trail: THOSE TIRES. As you can see, I’ve got my WTB Breakout and Riddler mounted back up just after one shakedown ride. Here’s the scoop: I was really curious to compare the Rock Razor with the Riddler. Both are really similar in tread design. The Rock Razor comes in a 2.4 which I like (currently the 29″ Riddler is only available as a 2.25″). However, out on the trail, which had conditions that were slightly wet post cloud burst, the rear wheel was all over the place. When I actually needed traction the most, it was just not there. Another factor I really had not been considering, but am aware of, is tire suppleness. I tell clients constantly how much tire choice and tire pressures really make a huge difference. Well, I needed to remind myself apparently. The Rock Razor’s were especially hard compared to the Riddler’s softer casing. The compounds are different too but holy cow what a difference. So much so one ride out and I have to tell you… There’s no comparison. I wrastled both tires off last night and put the WTB’s back on. I just went from “fan of” to “completely converted”. WTB makes some really nice tires. That’s no bull! So here’s the semi-finalized build: Looking forward to the next ride so I can put more time on this build and start to make some comparisons in material and setup over it’s steel cousin. I will say that first shakedown ride was wonderful. New bike days are special. A small tweak to saddle height to get it to “just so” was in order post ride. I did not have a tool of course. But I’m excited to put more time on this build as it’s the next phase in refinement and I’m constantly honing in on that perfect mountain bike build. More soon but till then, hope everyone’s out there getting after it on the trail.