Monday, April 12, 2010
Big Wheels Keep on Turnin’
This weekend was my first opportunity to ride The Big O on an actual trail. Even though my new 29er was “finished” Thursday evening, I still had to do a few minor adjustments before I took it out for a real ride. I spent a little time Saturday afternoon making sure the gears shifted properly, and also adjusting the headset and brakes. I took it for a quick spin around the neighborhood, and I knew it was good to go. The next stop? Sherman Branch. This big bike looked a little intimidating to me, but it also looked like it might be fun.
Little Miss Sunshine and Lunchbox also wanted to go for a ride, so I knew this would be a good way to test it. Since this would be the first time that I ever road on a 29er, I didn’t want to have the temptation of going “race speed.” The fam wouldn’t be down for trying to achieve their personal best lap time out there, and I knew it would give me a chance to get a good feel for my new big wheels.
What a ridiculous-looking contrast between us and our bikes.
We arrived at the trailhead on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and the parking lot was pretty full (as usual.) We got our shit together and headed out, with me leading the way. I tried to keep a slow, yet decent pace, and both LMS and LB kept up nicely. Even though I expected a big learning curve for the bigger-wheeled bike, I was pleasantly surprised. I flew down the trail, and it was easy to keep my speed. The roots, jumps, and other obstacles were no match for the 29 inch wheel, and I had plenty of momentum on the climbs. The biggest drawback to riding a 29er (or so I’ve heard) was the difficulty in accelerating, but even that was a non-issue.
The bigger wheels, combined with my weight, turned out to be a blessing for going downhill. I had plenty of speed, and it was effortless. I never had any issues maneuvering the bike either, and I felt just as nimble as I did when I rode 26 inch wheel bikes. I think I might be in love.
The Diamondback Overdrive (or The Big O as it is now known to me) was like riding in a dream. The frame was stiff and responsive, and the size fit me perfectly. I built it up better than it comes from the factory, and I’m glad I did. The XT shifters and front and rear derailleurs handled the shifting perfectly, and the LX crankset gave me plenty of force to power through the climbs. The big wheel gave me plenty of clearance over the many obstacles at Sherman Branch too. I had no problems taking the turns at high speed, and I actually felt like I was riding faster with less effort than before. While I am obviously biased towards Diamondback Bicycles (and now the Overdrive in particular), I’m sure that this might be the case with all 29er bikes. I did have a small braking issue, which was quickly remedied by some trailside repair.
Honestly, I can’t believe I didn’t try this sooner. Even though I always saw smaller guys (and girls) riding these big-wheeled machines, I have been told that someone as tall as I am should be on a 29er anyway. I couldn’t agree more. I think I may have found my new race bike. Don’t worry Goose, I’ll still ride you for all the gnarly stuff. I won’t be giving up the full squish at all, but it does look like it will be officially retired from racing.
What about the rest of the family on our ride? Well, they had a great time too. We completed the whole loop, and everyone had a blast.
What a great way to spend a Sunday. I even finished the day with a frosty beverage (or two or three.)