Thursday, January 27, 2011

Bike Profile - 2009 Titus El Guapo

The snow was a little deeper than I thought...

I haven't been very kind to this bike.  It's been rode hard, put away wet and tossed off a cliff in a fit of depression/frustration.  It deserves better.

In late 2008, Titus released the revamped EG to enthusiastic response from Titus fans and just about everybody else.  It was designed to hit the 6" sweet spot, what marketing teams were calling "All Mountain".  Described as climbing well and descending even better, it looked like the ideal frame to make up for my lack of riding skill. 

The initial build was pretty simple - all the stuff I had pulled off my Titus Motolite II.  Some of the parts dated back to my 2004 Trek 8500, but they worked.  There was nothing particularly exotic - TALAS 36, Hope Pro II on DT Swiss 5.1D, Thomson post/stem, XT brifters. 

The initial build, before the damage.

The first couple of rides were pretty good.  It was so smooth on the descents that I instantly picked up more speed, pushing the corners.  I increased the sag front and rear for more cush, ignoring the effect on BB height.  On the vast majority of climbs, it was great.  I rode up, I screamed down, hootin' and hollerin' with a big grin on my face.  The EG wasn't holding me back in the slightest.  In fact, it was getting me into trouble, allowing faster and faster speeds.  Descents that I used to pick through were getting  charged [as much as how I ride can be described as "charging"]. 

As I started getting onto more "primitive" trails, I found out the awful truth about mid-stroke bogging.  It sucks.  Since I had originally set the sag, the shock had broken in a bit, and had settled into its true position.  It took me a while to figure this out.  In that time, I clipped a lot of rocks and stumps with my pedals.  I think I must have been running ~40% sag on the shock for most of the year, with about 25% sag up front.  Not a great combo.  The lower effective spring rate made it difficult to pop up and off of hits or even to clear minor trail protuberances without yanking up on the pedals.  Of course, the plush travel and highly active suspension design sucked up everything I could throw at it, so when the back end didn't clear something, I barely noticed. 

FFWD to now.  The EG is on the peg for the winter.  I'm sending the shock out for a rebuild by SuspensionWerx - they're going to simulate a Boost Valve and give it a better tune.  If that doesn't work, it's an RC4CCDB or Elka for me.  Overkill?  Of course!  :-D  I made some other changes in 2010, including switching to split-tube tubeless with a Maxxis Ardent in front and a Conti Rubber Queen in the back.  I also added a Black Spire roller chain guide and a bash guard. 

The killer app for 2010 was the KindShock i950-R seatpost.  It's so cool.  Rolling into a descent from a flat or climb seems to happen a lot around here, and it's so great to be able to just drop the seat without stopping.  It's not perfect, but it's pretty damn good.  Sam has a Gravity Dropper on her El Terremoto, but she fights with it from time to time. 
Alas poor bike, what vengeance have I wrought on thee...

Other changes in 2011...  The handlebar is going to be raised permanently.  New seat.  Backup wheelset for sloppy days.  Hmmm...  I'm seriously considering getting a new hardtail, specifically the Ragley Troof.  That means moving the headset and fork off of the EG and onto that bike.  Of course, I would need a new fork and headset for the EG...  Decisions, decisions...

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