Friday, July 17, 2009

About the bike

Well you have probably guessed by now that I ride a Santacruz...duh. Its a Blur dating back to about 2005/2006. A really sturdy full susser which I loved from the moment I first rode it.

Its getting a bit old but has serious "houding" (character). Its not light, weighing in at about 12,5kg unadorned but it would do the job properly.

I sent it for a full assessment to my local mechanic and ordered the parts needed from Chain Reaction Cycles. I replaced my rear shock with a Fox RP23 which was long overdue, the rest was anticipating what would wear and what was ending its shelf life.

Parts replaced:
  • Rear Shock
  • Middle Chain ring (hardly used....gonna have to replace small chain ring now)
  • Rear cassette - SRAM PG990 11 speed 11-34 (that 34...oh yes)
  • SRAM chain PC991 and a spare at Prince Albert
  • Bottom Bracket for hollow tech cranks
  • Shimano pedals
  • Cables
  • Grips which had to be cut to fit on handle bars along with other paraphernalia
  • SRAM X-9 Gripshifters (strong advice to ditch the trigger shifters and I am so glad I did.)
  • Kenda small bloc 8 tubeless tires 2.1
  • Lots of Sludge
The gripshifters were the right way to go despite my changing to them very last minute. They handled the snow and mud without a single shifting problem. I did find the grip a bit fat and awkward but hell, I had 3 weeks to get used to it.

There wasn't a lot of space on the handlebar with speedo, light mount and map board, so I didn't have enough resting space for my hands especially as I don't use bar ends.

I used a simple Delphi speedometer which worked brilliantly. It had a backlight function for evening which was great. I had a Sigma Power LED light which I only ever used on the lowest brightness which made the batteries last longer but was more than adequate lighting.

In my spares I had:
  • Cleats
  • Rear derailleur - I used the jockey wheel off this when mine wore to Great White Shark teeth
  • Hangar - I wasn't going to take this as I figured the bike would break long before this hangar but take it I did.
  • One Normal tube (ie no slime)
  • Spare tire attached to my seatpost
  • Plugs - thin and thick but had somehow left my applicator thingy behind
  • Cable ties of varying lengths (as well as some in every box)
  • Duct tape which got messed up by leaking rubber compound
  • Rubber compound for repairing gashes in tires (turfed early)
  • Powerlinks (or I thought I had, also left behind somehow)
  • patch kit for tubes
  • Tire boots for repairing tires
  • Spare ear and nose pieces for my glasses (clear and dark lenses)
  • A small pump which we used a lot
  • Spare batteries for the speedo
  • Bombs x 2 and two extra dotted in my boxes (begged a few when Doug had all his tire issues)
  • Multi-tool and chainbreaker - a really good one with all the bells and whistles except a shifting spanner component which we needed somewhere along the line
  • Small pliers
  • Variety of O rings
  • A meter of thin shock cord
  • Velcro ties
  • Lighter
  • Spare shoelaces
  • Two pairs of brakepads (I replaced both sets of brakepads twice - luckily had enough in my boxes as well)
I kept the heavy spares on my bike in one of those waterbottle shape containers which was attached on with a velcro tie. Eventually, you get used to the rattling.

I had no mechanical issues at all. Other than replacing the chain and brake pads, I had one gash which was plugged and never troubled me again.

Much as I love my bike though, it seemed to struggle more in the mud than Doug's Specialised. The U thing joining the rear chain stays is so close the the tire, that the mud jammed in there making it impossible to turn the wheel. Many times I was pushing the bike against massive resistance of a fixed rear wheel and when the front one jammed too, it was time to stop, find a stick and try to clear it out.

I think the tires are also not ideal for that kind of mud but I trusted them so was prepared to put up with the mud for all the other benefits on dry days.

The extra weight of the mud and mess made me reluctant to try and carry so stop, start was the order of the day. At times you couldn't see the chain for mud - its amazing that the bike went at all and survived this abuse. Even the snow clogged the workings but this would melt making it a much better alternative.

All in all, I was lucky to have my bike survive the test. It was washed four times en route - at Masakala (SS3) while I was waiting for Doug to sort out his brakes, at Romansfontein (SS9), at Bucklands (SS15) and at Prince Albert (SS19). Oh ja and a quick rinse at De Doorns.

It is still to be washed in Johannesburg. Ok, ok, I'll get to it.


  1. fi,

    i had same problem with my sc superlight and the seatstay link(chainstay is bottom of triangle) clogging up. i was on v's too.

    see these photos"

    the best option i had was to ride with a stick through the muddy stuff and just poke it all away. and you learn to avoid the muddy side of the road (if possible).

    is that big black thing on the right of your map board your light? looks like a huge maglite and seriaaaas overkill. if you only went on dim mode to save batteries, i would have taken a smaller light and sent some AA's in the boxes. but that thing might have been to scare off the cambedoo lions.

    washing the bike is another issue. always keep the drivetrain as clean as possible, only wash the frame when the mud and dirts is more than a kg of extra weight!

    otherwise thank you for the EXCELLENT reporting. this is exactly how i wanted to do mine last year, but i changed phones the week before (and started racing when tim's wheel flew past). brilliant stuff and you've stamped your name into FC lore.

    i think it would be really cool if you sorted David with a Sabie X entry..and we all get to pick his partner!

  2. The llight was what I had and its p[retty cool. I had extra batteries dotted along the way and made sure I changed even if I hadn't done much night riding. I simplky didn't need the full brightness so yes, an ordinary light would be fine unless one is doing gnarly downhills in the dark. The light came with a charger as well but I left that behind not really wanting to carry more.
    Now, as for Waddilove and the Sabie X - I love your thinking. A heavy bike, heavy camelback and a partner cracking the whip...hmmmm. This can all be arranged. The revenge of the FC riders.