April 10, 2009

36! 36! 36!

While I have been a 36″ wheel mountain bike *builder* for a few months now, my only *riding* experience on the big huge hoops has been on unicycles (and that was pretty much confined to a driveway in East Montpelier, VT).

So when the sun poked out, in defiance of the crappy forecast this morning, and Marcus called me to play hookie, I couldn’t refuse.

Here are some pictures, as well as some thoughts.

-I thought this bike would suck. I really did. I tried to talk Marcus out of it, even. I am rarely wrong about bikes. I was dead wrong about this one. It’s one of the most fun times I’ve ever had on two wheels, and I only rode it for half an hour.

-There is really no question that on basically all types of terrain, up or down, this bike is slower than a 29er. It’s slower than a 26er, too. It’s probably slower than a BMX. But speed isn’t everything – the 10% of your speed you give up repays you with at least 20% extra fun, IMO.
-Why so fun? Cornering is bobsled-like, in that the wheels provide so much gyroscopic stability that you are *literally forced* to lean steer the bike. At any kind of speed at all, turning the handlebars to make course corrections is simply a waste of time – the bike will simply scoff at your best efforts.
-Along with the lean-steering goodness comes a TON of traction. I didn’t manage to make the wheels skid out while cornering *at all*, and they’re basically the world’s crappiest semislicks. If a real mountain bike tire existed, you’d never lose traction even on sand over rock type stuff, I imagine. So every corner feels like it has a berm. No joke!

-6 feet tall is probably the bare minimum to fit on one of these beasts. I barely fit, and I can’t really imagine someone smaller having much fun. You never know, though. Marcus said I looked like a kid who had borrowed his dad’s bike. I’ll let you guys be the judges of that.