Purple Minion

Looks Dry. It isn’t.

During nightly insomnia, an entire post took shape at around 3AM postulating the purchase of Mountain Bikes as non organic memory banks. A 6am coffee-fueled brain dump revealed this was merely my subconscious coding logic for guilt. There was – as are most things conceived in that black reality vacuum of the deepest night – a hint of pretension and a whiff of self obsession which require a northern edit* to mitigate publishing embarrassment.

So instead let’s talk about how the monster rides. For those of a short attention span, the following picture shows the difference between what I thought I was building and what finally popped out of Matt’s Garage. For clarity, the Nukeproof is the one on the right.

It’s the one on the right

It was a difficult birth. Some of which was – predictably – my haste to build it. Some was a distributors stock control system which essentially mined an astrology algorithm in an divination attempt to predict the content of the physical boxes. Fair to say the results were occasionally amusing, mostly frustrating and largely inaccurate, hence the mismatched rear wheel stolen from a mate.

Which was the wrong width. And the adaptors didn’t fit. So we had to machine those down. Then the Bottom Bracket wouldn’t thread because the shell had gone straight from ‘incisewith a bread knife’ to ‘ship’ without ever passing through ‘Quality Assurance’. This sort of thing went on for a while and even after two nights of intense effort and some proper hammer action, it still wasn’t rideable. A final visit to a bike workshop produced a working bicycle, but I’m bloody glad I wasn’t allowed to watch as three burly men appeared to be leaning on a T-Bar, all the while uttering words of which their mothers would strongly disapprove of.

Best go ride it then after all that effort. Years of yomping mountain bikes over lumpy terrain, coupled with an extensive back catalogue of representative examples suggested that the Mega would climb like a three legged stoat while descending in the manner of a lemming shot-cannoned over a bottomless abyss. And be fairly boring in between. What today told me was that generalisations are wonderful abstracted things but not very useful in real life.

We climb for a short while as I marvel at the black magic of a single ring not constrained by any type of chain device. There’s sufficient cogg-ery between front and back to present a ratio entirely acceptable for climbing anything in the forest, even with an all-up-weight someway on the wrong side of 30lbs. It’s hard to know how much of a real world problem this is with 90{45ac9c3234d371044e23e276755ef3a4dde8f1068375defba7d385ca3cd4deb2} of the trails surfaced with a thick layer of mud. It’s not much fun to ride in, but at least it showed me exactly where I’d failed to protect the frame with heli-tape. Still paint is over-rated I’ve always thought.

So climbing is fine. It’s better with the rear shock switched to a mid point pre-load allowing the bike to sit up in its travel without losing too much small bump performance. The forks are something else. Even with the myriad settings firmly defaulted to the mid point – the entire gamut of sucking up small rocks to travelling large over fearsome obstacles on downhill runs are met and dispatched with the same aplomb.

Heading downhill has the purple minion in control. It’s indestructible in terms of what terrain can offer up. It’s also laterally and vertically stiff and nicely balanced between the axles when standing up. Wide bars, short stems and ‘personal wall‘ brakes mean you can take all the control you need to manage all the risk you’re prepared to deal with. Even on flat contouring trails, the expected boredom is missing with adequate briskness being a few simple pedal strokes away. With that slack head angle and 170mm forks, there’s a pre-requisite of some ‘body english‘ on turn entry but, once in, it tracks beautifully which must be due to a combination of frame stiffness and a fat 2.5in front tyre.

Our route to tea and medals was one of the mellower downhill runs way above the centre. First we had to let two younger gentlemen rocking the 2014 enduro pyjama look drop in and almost pull off that difficult juxtaposition of wearing nighttime clothes and riding mountain bikes. Careful use of the word ‘almost‘ there. Short of giggling and pointing, we didn’t give them much of a start as there was a close-to-zero chance of us even seeing them again, never mind catching.

We didn’t. Bit since my entire cognisant capability was overloaded with the crazy 3-D puzzle in front of me, this wasn’t much of a concern. Staying on, staying somewhere close to Haydn’s rear wheel**, staying in the moment and finding time to wonder how much of any trail competence was down to me and how much to the bike. The instant conclusion reached was it was the bike of course, which in no way failed to shift the grin on my face.

We ignored the massive gap jump near the trails end, and instead headed for cake and rubbish analysis. So the bike will climb pretty well, which makes the Sunday choice a little harder as the trails dry up – because the Mega is so damn good going down. 26 inch wheels work very well indeed, and in the deep mud of today were probably a little easier. Certainly changing direction and removing them vertically from the trail are definite plus points. They don’t roll as well but the giggling part of me was thinking ‘who cares?‘.

All bikes are good. More bikes are better. Bikes with silly amount of travel can still earn gravity credits through manual propulsion. Wheel sizes are more about marketing than riding. The only obvious conclusion that can be drawn from these statements are that ‘I need a bigger shed‘ and ‘I need more time to ride my bikes’. Soon I shall deal with one of those and it won’t involve any kind of extension.

Riding today should have been a five hour death march atop the bike provisionally slotted in for the Goshawk 50 next week. This time last year I was fit, focussed and not even a little distracted by shiny new pedally things. Still two out of three ain’t bad. Or one out of three. At least one half for sure – anyway the forecast suggests it won’t be snowing and the ambient temperature will be in double figures. How hard can it be?

I won’t be taking the Mega tho. Even stupidity has its limits.

* “That kind of flowery wank might pass for journalism in London, but here we conjugate our verbs and call an earth moving spacial implement a bloody shovel. Don’t darken my doors until you’ve removed all three syllable words and failed to compare anything to a cloud

** not the one I’d borrowed to sort my bike. I can’t deal with that level of recursiveness.

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