It’s December 19th and i’m taking my new Chromag Surface for its inaugural ride in Pemberton! Wacko. We rode up Reid Road from my house and immediately into the Nimby climb to Bob Gnarly. The first section of Nimby is fairly tight, rooty , rocky and generally a techy start to any climb. The Surface acquitted itself agreeably- the traction around tight corners and over slippery roots was excellent. The 29″ tires (Maxxis Ardent 2.4’s) gripped and held surprisingly well- because of the larger circumference wheel the rolling seems more methodical and tractor-ish (if that’s a word!) and confirms the bigger tire patch performance enhancement of 29″ wheels. The bike rolled mellifluously (look that up Roget!) over the rooty, rock- strewn, rubbly sections and confirmed the performance benefits of the larger wheel- it hits obstacles at a shallower angle and flexes more providing a damper feel to the ride. In summation: if you are gonna ride a hardtail it better be a 29 er!!
So, this is a BIG bike- 21″ seat tube, 25″ top tube with a Fox 140 fork- and the concern was that it would feel like riding a bike on stilts. This is not the case fortunately, and the cockpit felt comfortable even when looking down on those big donuts rolling beneath you! I spec’ed a 50 mm stem on Ian’s recommendation and was worried it would be too short for my stork-like arms but i think it made the front end a little lighter and nimbler. That was the big surprise- how manageable the front end performed. Most 29ers that i have tried feel glued to the ground- a long wheelbase and short travel fork conspires to create this performance flaw. But the Surface has a nice aggressive seat tube angle at 74 degrees and short-as-they-can-go chainstays at around 17″ that make for a well balanced bike for techy and tight singletrack riding. The XC inspired seat tube angle also creates a positive BSOBB quotient- that stands for “Ball Sac Over Bottom Bracket”. In laymans terms, this makes it easier to get your taint over the middle of the bike in steep, short climbing situations instead of feeling like you have to haul your carcass forward every time you go over a rock or log. Further in the angles/geometry department, the Surface boasts a hardy, gnar-ready 68 degree head tube angle. This made for a comfortable, slack feel during the descent and with a Reverb drop post ( a must for any trail rider in this region) under my butt , the Surface rode with aplomb and assuredness on the steep and technical sections of the Indy 500 trail.
The bike is spec’ed with the new Fox 140 Talas fork with 34 mm stanchions and it provides a supple and smooth ride like all Fox forks! I noticed though during the Happy Trail climb that the Talas travel adjust wasn’t needed as the front end adhered admirably to the trail and didn’t wander. With the low stack height and shorter head tube the bike didn’t need the steeper 110mm setting in all climbing situations. On a LONG, steep sustained climb however, i’m sure the lower travel position would come in handy!
The drive train is a Shimano 2 x 10 set up and this is a first for me as well. The front ring ratio is 38/26 and the rear has a 12 -36 range. I found the low gearing for climbing Nimby and Happy Trail suitable….but am considering paring down the granny to a 24T ring for those “critical sections” when u want to be spinning the hamster wheel and your breathing is becoming ragged! But the bike does move once up to speed – can’t wait to hammer down Gun Creek next summer!
For lockers i have Shimano Saint’s front and rear- unsurpassed braking power for the big man….nuf said.
Other little bits and bobs – a genuine leather looking hand-oiled-by-Juan-Valdez -Chromag- Trailmaster- saddle that keeps my butt happy and well-oiled!! Chris King bottom bracket- been in 4 previous bikes and still feels brand new- nuf said. Shimano XT Trail pedals- unparalleled in consistency and with the new platform very easy to get in and out. XT shifters and derailleurs- clunk clunk clunk- the Japanese (Shimano) have acknowledged the Yanks (SRAM) in the 1:1 ratio feel game. Feel solid and deliberate. Chromag Fubar OSX bar- wide enuf for any freerider- even an “Old Skool” XC geriatric like myself! Spank lock-on grips- no ODI Ruffians in stock so trying these out- seem adequate. Easton Haven 29er wheelset- light and sleek looking- rear wheel spins FOREVER…but after one ride the proof is yet to show up in the pudding….will keep updated. Maxxis Ardent 2.4 tyres- nuf said. Rock Shox Reverb post- light action and does the job.
Well that’s all folks. I’ll do a 2 month update/progress report. Stay tuned. Ji.