Well, I’ve made some changes since then, and I’m very happy with the bike. To whit:
-I’ve changed the fork to 100mm travel (it’s easy to do this, if any of you are curious – about a 5 minute job). So the head/seat angles are now 69/73 rather than 70/74. I am loving the slack front end – honestly, I have a hard time imagining ever building myself another bike with a head tube angle steeper than this. The short wheelbase seems to make tighter turns/terrain work out just fine, too (keep in mind that what we call “tight” here is not really the same as in, say, New England).
-I put some gears (a modified 14-34 XT cassette that fits on my singlespeed hub) on the bike, along with a Paul Components chainkeeper (which is a fantastic part, btw – 100 times better than the MRP I was using on the dually last year). Why? Well, our winter riding is mostly on trails that require lots of flat road/path riding to get to, and spinning crazily on the singlespeed for 45 minutes each way isn’t very fun. Also, I am lame and not at all cool. So there.
In any case, the ride is fantastic. It’s pretty darn stable on the rough stuff (ok, I have yet to ride *really* rough stuff, since all our high elevation riding is snowed in, but I have a pretty good inkling that she’ll do fine), super easy to jump/hop/wheelie (yes, the front end tries to come up on steep climbs, c’est la vie with 415mm chainstays and a 36″ inseam) and in general a blast.
Are there things I would change? Of course.
-I should have put a through axle fork on the bike. Dumb. Anyone want to buy a 100mm travel Fox F29 and a nice DT 240/Arch wheel with low miles, cheap? Say, $600 for the package?
-I think I prefer the Paragon dropouts. I’ve already bent the super flimsy Black Cat derailleur hanger (the aluminum is just kinda thin) twice. Who knows how long it’ll last. Then again, I could have just built for gears. I am sort of wondering if I’ll ever actually convert back to SS.
-Since I’ll probably never care about running a front derailleur or a tire bigger than 2.3 in the rear, I could conceivably try doing even shorter chainstays (I think the practical limit is probably around 400 or 405mm). I guess that’s not something I would necessarily do, but it would be interesting to see how it rode.
-On that note, I’d be interested to try a hardtail 29er with a 68 or maybe even 67 degree head tube angle. It might suck, but it would be fun to try.
-The 2.5 Weirwolf on the front is just silly. Great tire for a rigid fork, massive overkill on this one. I need to put something with some actual tread up there, but I’ve been too lazy.