Monday, 15 February 2016

New Shoes

Time flies when you're having fun. Just over a year ago I swapped my trusty beastly Nomad for the uber lite, extra spangly Trance Advanced. I unwittingly marked the anniversary of its maiden voyage by going back to Tamarancho for a swift loop in primo tacky dirt. The storms seem to have abated for the time being, leaving behind soft dirt that has been baked to perfection in the warming Californian sun.

The Trance feels just as tight and dialed as it did when I first bought it. The 1x11 drivetrain is a little sensitive and needs regular fettling. Shifting perfectly across a dinner plate sized cassette is a lot to ask it seems. But when dialed it really is buttery smooth. I'm noticing a little pivot creaking too - nothing a Spring suspension service won't fix. But the only issue real has been the tires. The stock Nobby Nics were always going to be the bike's Achilles heel. Not quite burly enough or aggressive enough to incite too much excitement they were just about good enough until I could find a reason to swap them out. A recent problem with my tubeless set up gave me the excuse to bail on the Nobbys and get some decent rubber installed on the otherwise perfect steed.

I like Maxxis tires so after a bit of research and recommendations from Fairfax Cyclery I decided to go for a High Roller II up front and a Minion Semi Slick in the rear. The High Roller is insane. Incredible grip and handling that inspires confidence no matter how recklessly you clatter through rough stuff, or how hard you lean into the corners. Over the years I've come to appreciate the subtleties of using correct tires and how a little too much or not enough pressure can make or break a ride. But I've never experienced a tread pattern giving such great feedback and inspiring quite as much confidence as I'm finding with the High Roller. I love it!

The Minion is the party animal of the pair. With a tread pattern like Keith Flint's hairdo its a strange looking beast. The low profile centre knobs allow the bike to get up to speed very quickly - I really did notice it. I had the tire pressure set a little higher than is ideal to ensure good seating, so the rear did spin out on some smooth rock climbs. On the descents too it will lose traction under pumping,  but the chunky side knobs soon bite dirt and save the day. Coupled with the aggressive front pairing the bike will simply corner like its on rails once you get it leaning over. I had so much fun playing with the new set up and definitely felt a little faster in some sections.

I actually saw my old Nomad a few weeks ago in a bike shop parking lot. Its new owner had kept it pretty much as I sold it and was really enjoying it. It brought a big smile to my face, but no sense of regret. The Trance has taken a little getting used to and some fettling here and there. But right now I feel like I can tackle pretty much anything with its sleek carbon frame at my command. Giant really did a sound job. I've not felt tempted to swap any of the factory spec. Now the shoes are sorted I'm even more convinced it is the absolute perfect weapon for my riding adventures.

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