Ti 29er choices

Lynskey drive rohloff – no belt Ridgeline or more expensive Pro
Screen Shot 2013-02-01 at 13.26.06
Van Nicholas ZION belt drive
Screen Shot 2013-02-01 at 13.28.54
Carver Bikes 99er – cheaper and can be more custom. Also fitted with Belt Drive Rohloff
Pipedream Cycles Skookum Ti Belt Drive
Pipedream Cycles Skookum Ti Belt Drive

and the final choice was 

2013-09-30 15.05.50LYNSKEY RIDGELINE SL with Rohloff

DT SWISS XMM100 forks

Strathpuffer 2013 – the 24hr race I failed at


It is always down to preparation. Rarely will you do well at  a race unless you are fully prepared.

For the Strathpuffer my intentions had been good but then some things came up that messed with my plans a bit.

1. I started work on a documentary series on Syria that saw me filming away from home. Istanbul life was hectic enough and although I tried to hit the gym – those horrible gym bikes never feel like real training.

2. I came back to do one last long ride – before my taper – but whether it was the 2 degree weather, my pathetic wet gloves and freezing feet. The bugs i probably breathed in flying in the day before … but I got man flu sick. I spent Tuesday,Wednesday and thursday going to bed at 8pm and trying to sleep it out and get healthy.

3. I had the equipment sorted. Great bike lights, new cleats on my winter boots, toasty Sealskin mtb gloves and spare discs for the bike.

I spent Friday driving up past Inverness to the race location at Strathpeffer. I was swigging calpol and cough medicine and downing cold and flu tablets and treating myself to throat lozenges …. I wasn’t pretty. But then out the front of the window the view was a tad scary.

drive up1

Got there and saw the accommodation for the night …. we were hardly roughing it.

how we slummed it

Race day rolled around and Dr Heart was going first – I had cycled 50m up the road from the camper to realise the whole fire road was iced. So after the bunch went past i started to put on the Schwalbe Ice Spiker Pro’s

ice spiker

I didn’t get them both on in time for my turn to lap – the tubeless was not going to work so Heart did a second lap and in the confusion so did I sans dibber …. Dr Heart said a few cross words (naughty C and F words) and headed out on the 3rd lap. The Ice Spikers were amazing I couldn’t stand on the trail but i could cycle it which I find quite mind-blowing.


switchback single track climbs in the middle
switchback single track climbs in the middle
tom rocks
Dr Heart on the rock single track

The course was great – fireroad climb technical rock section singletrack across the top then a sweet descent back to the start – all just 10km long

the sweep
me on that easy fast descent

… our camper was halfway up the fireroad so the laps on strava always include our off lap.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 11.33.42

Robbie and Huw were another team of pairs and they sped off on their laps – after a few laps they were running 4th and we were 15th …. out of 50 pair teams. Huw was bashing out laps of 37min within a few seconds of that (and all night stayed in the 45-47 mark) and Robbie was steady at 42min (which he did for the whole race) Da Automaton

My breathing was sketchy post cold and I had my HRM beep me if it went over 145bpm  so my laps were a slow 45min – 52min. After 6 laps i had to ask Tom to do a double as my coughing now had an iron after taste. Huw and Robbie were now tying for 2nd and we were up to 7th although 1.5 laps behind. Dr Heart, Huw and Robbie were also all on 29er’s which got me thinking …. (but for another post)

But after my 8th lap I said I couldn’t do anymore (well I couldn’t afford to get sick all week). My legs felt great and if it wasn’t for my cough I am sure I would have lasted. Dr Heart pulled on some more impressive distance but then got shut eye for 5.5 hours. When we were both up again Huw and Robbie were winning by 10min and we were back in 15th although Thom did a last lap flyer and he clawed us up to a 14th.

The winners won their prizes … then it was a 4hr drive home …. YAWN

huw and robbie won

There is a Strathpuffer LITE (in SUMMER) …. Mmmmmmm maybe

And YES of course there were FAT BIKES there


Laggan Wolftrax – review and training


The plan was hatched we were going to practice.

Dr Heart as he is now known is my partner in the upcoming race the Strathpuffer 24 (aka stupidfest). the plan was made to go up to Laggan and ride the Wolftrax route that is supposed to be a good guide on what we are do to encounter in the Strathpuffer. I was fired up and changed the oil in the rohloff Speedhub on Friday and loaded my bike ready to go along with lights changes of clothes as well as sleeping and bivvy bag as i wasn’t sure whether we would be spending a night in a hostel or bothy or even a car.

Here is a description:

The red route is a fantastic 15km experience in two sections – but watch out for Wolftrax’s predatory instincts! For the inexperienced it is technical and challenging; for the experienced, it strikes a good balance between being rideable and interesting.

The upper red route uses the existing black-graded singletrack climb and exit. With a fast descent and a choice of ‘opt in’ features, you’ll find the views that open up quite stunning.
Much of the lower red trail is narrow black shale with embedded rock obstacles, drop-offs, rock causeways, boardwalk and lots of tough little technical climbs.

Look out for features such as Air’s Rock, a challenging slab reminiscent of ‘The Slab’ at Dalbeattie, and the natural rock features of the Bhadain Boulder Field.

After Fang Corner, you can pause for breath at the Blue View and watch your fellow riders try to tame the Bike Park. The trail doubles back, bringing you into the Wolf Run: 300m of bermy timber boardwalk, twisting tightly through the trees and depositing you in the Bike Park.

Hurtle through for a short but immensely enjoyable blast back to the car park – and, more to the point, the tantalising cakes on offer in the café.

Well the weather was not on our side ….
Picture 6
well unless the weather was also training for the worst case scenario …. it was dreich as they say up in these parts.
We started with one lap in daylight – the next at dusk and the last with lights on in what was complete darkness. I was using a Lezyne Superdrive XL on the bars – it has tidy design features, but it’s ultimately short of lighting punch out on the trail. the output is claimed to be 500-lumen but it didn’t seem even twice as bright as my helmet mounted wee 100 lumen torch – I think a second 400lumen (true) torch on the helmet is needed for the race ……

Picture 4

The ride on the last lap was tiring – I was cold, hungry and the weather hit me hard – horizontal rain ruined visibility and wind even blew me off the stone trail at one point. So finished with scraped leg and ego deflated. Laggan was frozen up to last week and I must admit it is a technical red. Unlike Glentress which has great flowing sections and is brilliant on a hardtail – i think Laggan rewards the dual sus rider more. On my first loop I went onto the wooden rails thinking that although soaking and slightly slimy they would be wire meshed like glentress – WRONG – front went away on first turn and slam I went off to hug a tree at the side. Even if I had spiked tyres on i don’t think you could ride this. Judging by marks on the ground where I fell and footmarks back up to alternative route my mistake is a common one …..

That night found a great hostel in the village 7 miles away had a great hot shower then hit the hotel bar for food and 4 lovely pints of Spitfire Sledgehammer. Next morning it was back to the trail for one final loop in daylight (and to remind ourselves that it wasnt too crap) then back to the ladies and kids. This time was quicker even with tired legs – had two dabs on red upper route but went clean through the lower red which was pleasing.

Picture 5
Judging by the signs on the cafe – this is now shut so bring your food and drink with you … and remember to pay your £3 parking fee which pays for the trails ……


Dream Fat Bike by Carver

Carver Ti FAT BIKE


New for 2012, Carver’s original Ti Fat Bike gets a redesign and becomes … The O’Beast. The biggest (pun intended) adjustment to the Carver Bikes O’Beast frame comes in the form of extra tire clearance adding ample room for the large 4.7″ Fat Bike tires. For 2012 Carver opted to spec the O’Beast with a versatile 44mm head tube allowing riders to run 1-1/8 or 1.5 inch tapered forks. Other new features include a replaceable derailleur hanger / dropout and a nice brake bridge at the disc caliper mount for added stopping power. The 2012 O’Beast comes in a brushed (polished) finish only and now comes with rack mounts.



A sunday MTB ride on old trails and noticing changes

Since moving 3 years ago across the city I have only managed to head west and go on my old trails a handful of time and i think that in the last year i havent done one ride on my old regular. This morning i headed off early and headed along the canals then up the kelvin river walkway and then on road to Milngavie. The West Highland Way is a famous walking trail in the west of Scotland (here comes a description)

The 154Km (96miles) Route starts at Milngaviepasses through Mugdock Country Park, follows the shores of Loch Lomond, passing Ben Lomond, through Glen Falloch and Strathfillan, crossingRannoch Moor, past Buachaille Etive Mor to the head of Glencoe, climbing the Devil’s Staircase, descending to sea level to cross the River Leven at the head of Loch Leven before entering Lairigmorand Glen Nevis and finishes at Gordon Square inFort William. 

The terrain ranges from lowland moors, dense woodland and rolling hills, to high mountainousregions in the Scottish Highlands. These environments provide habitats for a diverse range ofwildlife species, both flora and fauna 


Like is says my start is Mugdock where there are many trails cutting across the park – what i noticed this ride is how wet all the trails were despite the fact that there has been little rain these past 2 weeks … it goes to show more how wet the summer has been. None of the streams have the typical low summer flow and the trails still have water running across them that is slowly draining out of the hills. Needless to say i was soon caked in mud.

There is nice rock and roots section quite early on to get your singletrack technical head in gear … then a haul along to Carbeth Loch then through a gate and a steep technical climb (Rosies Gate to treeline)  – I seem to remember there was always a risk of spinning out in the past and the effort to get up without falling off was always a challenge but today i had no issues and Strava said i had a PR but i know there are about 100 tracks from the past that i haven’t uploaded so i am sure i have done it better in the past …

elevation profile – nothing too steep or scary

After Rosies there is now a more level graded road as the forestry workers are in cutting down some sections of the forest … as i was hammering along I glanced a new trail heading off to the right so went for an explore. Someone has been trailbuilding as there are sections of wooden ladderwork over some muddy sections but not all the mud is covered as i discovered when coming off the trail and sinking the front 29er wheel nearly up to the hub in the mud. The sections under the trees were completely muddy and the Racing Ralph on the rear was soon a mud didc happily spinning and sliding and occasionally biting into the trail … I think it may be time to get some better traction all round tyres (this is Scotland after all)

some better roads to help lose some of my tyre mud collection

Back home and a quick shower for the bike and then for me …. now time to start cooking the roast Sunday Lamb (organic Shetland Lamb as well YUMMMM)

Forgotten love: quick jolly on my mtb

It must be an age thing but I quickly forget just how good mtb’ing is – the last 6 months I have been spending more and more time on the titanium lynskey road bike and I forgot all about my other Ti bride – the beast that is my rolloff geared titanium carver 96’er.

Friday morning and I had time – well a 2 hr slot before picking my youngest up from school. I am supposed to be tapering (ie no exercise) for the half marathon on Sunday so it was never going to be too hectic. I bombed down the canals close to the house and headed to a small wood on a large house estate where there were wee climbs as well as a few singletrack sections. I haven’t been in this wood for probably 2 years and these last 2 winters have seen some big storms.

The woods had seen some carnage – some steps that I use to ride down were blocked by the biggest oak tree destroyed in the storms.

steps blocked by downed tree

There some nice additions a felled tree arching across the trail –

fallen tree arch

some new singletrack sections – and on coming home STRAVA says I weaved through the chicanes at a record pace king of the mountain for a day or two…..

King Of The Mountain (for at least a day)

Selkirk MTB marathon review and thoughts

Went down on the Saturday afternoon and saw a lot of cars with road bikes heading in the opposite direction after the sportive. Event camping was  in Selkirk. After weeks of rain the weather forecast was true and good and after a cold clear night where the temp in the car got down to 1 degree C – the blue skies and May sun woke the riders up and set the tone of the rest of the day.

After the ride got off at ten o’clock with the Championship riders leading the field out it only took a little more than three and a quarter hours till the leading championship riders came back into the event village.

Go rohloff Go

Highlights of the race were the scenery in general and the sections of trail centre singletrack at Innerleithen, part of the renowned 7Stanes network. This part of the Scottish Borders is stunning, with rolling hills as far as the eye can see, gorse in full golden flower, and a superbly remote feeling. I do however have a gripe – being mid field some of the technical single track sections were really bogged down up to 20cm of mud and quite unrideable. Hate to think what the riders 300places back would have thought.

Feel that they could have had multi sections were another option was opened after the first 250 riders passed through … a minor gripe and just that i would have loved to ride it all instead of having to walk 3 sections.

always suspect something when a camera and puddle are this close together …
there was also a section where the 70km (actually 60km if I had another moan) came back to join the 45km lot and there was a hill that i didn’t see anyone ride – up to 22% according to the Garmin … again think the organisers should have picked a gentler route this late in the ride as it is the people on the 45km course that they really should encourage to come back and a 600m walk will not help them do that … Then a lovely descent – most people like me just riding down the side of the heather … a few of the full course 85km guys came flying past as well … then the water pic above – need to buy the Hires version for vanity reasons ….
Lastly the finish and another t-shirt which i said No to. The race must appeal to people that care about the environment and then they give out cheap horrible t-shirts that no-one with any fashion sense would wear out … they should copy the marathon and run events and give out small medals instead …
finished but hot
Must say that the greatest post finish bit was the routine …
3. Get a physio
4. Eat … and Eat again. 4300calories leaves a dent.
ride profile

MTB riding in Orkney

Despite having my road bike and my MTB up in Orkney i knew that roadie stuff would probably be better … Orkney is not known for it’s mtb trails with no dedicated trails like you find further south like Wolftraxx, dalbeatie, kirroughtree, 7 Staines and Selkirk … still Colin my cousin in law was keen for me to bing the mtb up and go for a ride …. here is the ride on ridewithgps

neither steep or speedy

So on Wednesday we headed west into the dark mass of pissing rain that threatened to ruin the ride … luckily the rain stopped after 20 mins. I put the GoPro HD onto a bar mount to test it out for bigger days as well as wearing the chest harness to see how it would look with mtb’ing. have some video footage I will try put together at some point …. bar i think worked better as I am too over the bars with the chest mount meaning most of the time it looks downwards – not great when with other bikes …. The best position is probably going to be around the seat post so you bike gives you a static reference point for scenery and for rider movement on the bike (as well as a bit protected from mud ….)

at the rocks with a nice view

The ride was fine – lots of fields and climbing over walls to get to the top point ….

Colin got two punctures on the ride – a rare dealing for me having run UST tyres since 2001 at least …. rode to the cairn then back across the mixed shale, slate, crazy paving, cairns, peat and bogs. Only 11km and yet took an hour and a half – but think Colin may have died if it was a very quick ride and i was told not to kill him ….

chambered cairn now disappearing into the sea - site of 2nd puncture

Nice to be on the Carver Ti96er again it really is a fantastic bike – it felt so squishy and soft after all the miles i have been doing on the road bike ….

Colin triumphant

Another day at Glentress and another Racing Ralph UST torn

I was filming last week – but schedule was to do so in Peebles and promised an early 4:30pm finish. So a plan was hatched to hit Glentress in the late afternoon for a burn up the hill to the radio mast. I put the Carver Ti Bride (my rohloffed 96er) on the roof of the car.

I had a nagging feeling that I had left something behind as I was driving down the road but had been going through the checklist….

Bike … check

Shoes … check

Helmet … check

Pumps (air and shock) check … you get the idea … then whilst filming I thought of socks and thought Bingo that’s what I forgot … luckily the very excellent BSpoke bikes was a couple of hundred metres away – and the BikeHub at Glentress is also great although I had a fear that it may have closed early …..

So got to the centre paid my £3 parking then set the Garmin 305 onto the ride I did in a pack and in snow in Jan in an effort to see how much quicker summer is.

The route I took (GPX file is here if you want it) in Jan was followed as I was soon so far ahead I couldnt see the little figure that acts as a pace maker when doing Garmin routes ….

The ride is lovely winding up the red and black routes to the radio mast at the top ….

You go over the little wood tricks on the way up – a great way to get your focus balanced before pointing downhill.

Skinny's on the way up

The higher black part of the climb has one or two tricky sections but the idea is to get all the way up without putting your foot down … I did but only for a p*ss break !! (the gpx file for the route up is here)

Radio Mast - all downhill from here

Got to the radio mast in about 1h10min and then I was ready for a smashing downhill. 200m down the road as I was leaving the Fire Road to get onto first singletrack …. Clank ….. Tsssssss. My new Racing Ralph UST was pissing air. Rolling it on side to get sealant to plug was no use … tried adding high volume air and lay on side for gloop to work and no good.

Thought I would have to bite the bullet and put a tube in as the hole / tear was pretty small when it dawned on me … that earlier nagging feeling. I gave my last inner tube to my friend Findlay when he had a puncture and I wasn’t carrying one.

some of the single track I missed

BUT … it was a beautiful night – the air was still and sun was pure delight … I help up the saddle and proceeded to run down the mountain following the escape route. It was just over 13km up and only a 4.7km run down in stiff carbon soled MTB shoes. Still exercise is exercise.

Shame to miss out on the nice singletrack descent and the swooping bermed loveliness but I could have been working or sat on my arse somewhere.

Comparing the routes in Sportypal it was interesting to see my average speed up was higher than my up/down average in a group in the snow in Jan

HRM route reading on the Suunto Movescount site

The question at the end is why Schwalbe one of the biggest and some say best tyre manufacturers has such a problem in their UST department? Having one Racing Ralph rip on a normal groomed made MTB course could be construed as unlucky but to have a second one go so quickly is ridiculous. The terrain is not rough – probably smoother than nearly every XC course I have ridden on. So good riddance to the RR and time to get the Maxis Larsen TT on the bike.

Has anyone else had a problem with Racing Ralph’s?

Spring Clean – small changes to the Ti Bride

There I had it – had an hour to spare whilst some computer effect work rendered so out to the garage it was.

OLD EGGBEATERS removed (free to a good home so drop me a line)

New XTR pedals put on …


like a big fat zero



Old 2BLISS Specialised ‘The Captain’ removed – only holds air for two days – its a UST / 2bliss ready hatefest.

New Racing Ralph put on (hopefully not to be destroyed like the last one)



all sorted



SPIFFING … and back to work



A ride at Glentress – Scotland ‘is it spring’

A plan was hatched via email … the ‘Beer and Bento’ massive, a group of over 30 and over 40 men who should no better decided a trip to Glentress was on the cards and that being Spring we should head off early.

It was colder than I had thought.





When i packed and left all my kit near the front door the night before it was warmer … when I cycled home at 11:30pm with a skinful of booze in me later in the evening I didn’t feel the cold. In the car it said 0 degrees C … got out jackets and tights on and ready to go. Just like the musketeers we were – except there were 5 of us.

I was feeling pretty fresh legged despite the 8km hard run the day before – and cardio was no issue. Some of the others struggled a wee bit. As we climbed up to the mast it got colder until there was a gentle fall of Ice / snow. Suunto on my wrist said 4 degrees but that was in my sleeve …. must have been well below freezing.

icy with dusting of snow still

To put this in perspective Ramon found that his front fork had frozen solid. This slowed down some of the party and there was a bit of waiting around (well earned recovery)

Descended down on black and red trails but then hopped on Blue again at the bottom for the fast sweeping trail (everyone down nr bottom rides red so trail too bust and keep on smacking into tail-enders of groups)

A great day riding

my 'rohloffe'd ti bride'

Carver 96er review – rss feed


rss feed from MTO Bikes

Let me begin by stating that this review is for theCarver 96’er frameset. However, I could do a review on so many items on the bike, since I have never ridden any of them before. I wanted this build to be new and fresh as I always do, rather than build with components I am familiar with. In this way, I am able to have a broad knowledge of many brands. I try to be unbiased when evaluating different items, and judge them on their own merit. However, I will state that I would not change a single component on the bike – everything performed flawlessly!

I have been riding a rigid single speed 29’er for the past several months, so I am very familiar with riding 29” wheels. They are great for rolling trails, but I would prefer a 26” bike for racing or very technical singletrack. One of my good friends has become a 96’er convert, and now has a rigid Carver single speed, as well as another brand’s full suspension bike. I was intrigued by the 96’er idea, especially having come from a motocross background. A larger tire up front will roll more easily, which is why so many people are now riding 29”-wheeled bikes. On the other hand, it does take more effort to spin up a rear 29” wheel, so technical riding can suffer when acceleration out of corners is required. Companies making the 96’er-style of bicycle use this as the rationale for using a 29” front wheel and a 26” rear. After building Tom’s Carver 96’er single speed, I knew that would have to be my next frame! However, all three of my current mountain bikes are single speeds, so I knew that I wanted gears. I plan to race again (2 or 3 x 9), but in the meantime, I felt that a 1×9 would serve me perfectly in the Atlanta area, since I could ride most trails on a single speed. Given the benefits, a 96’er 1×9 would seem to be the perfect all-around bike.

As built, the Carver was 25.5 lbs. with pedals – very respectable, considering the fact that it had a 29” front wheel and fork. I was not aiming for a light bike necessarily – after receiving the frame, I bought the Halo rims, knowing that they would be relatively heavy since they were freeride rims. However, I compensated with the other components. I have never personally had Chris King hubs, but I have built dozens of wheels with them. I knew that I wanted the best. I decided to use a 20mm thru-axle just because. Originally I was going to get a FOX fork, but they did not have any 29’er forks in stock since they were transitioning to 2010 units. I currently have FOX, Marzocchi, and Rockshox forks on other bikes, so I decided to try the Manitou. I have been riding several models of Avid and Hayes disc brakes, so I wanted to try Magura SL. Finally, I went with the Ritchey carbon bars, stem, and seatpost.

The first thing I noticed about the bike was how responsive it was! The tubeless tires helped, but I was immediately comfortable on the bike. My friend Dave was riding behind me, and he commented several times on how well I was able to flick it around. I actually had to keep reminding myself that it was not a 26”-wheeled bike. It pulled a wheelie much easier than my other 29” bike, and just felt “right.” I was a little reluctant to push heavily into corners at first due to the standard tire converted to tubeless on the front, but my confidence increased as the ride progressed. The harder I pushed the bike, the more it seemed to want! The bottom bracket was super-stiff, and handling was exactly as expected. I have an old Mazda RX7 GSL-SE I am restoring, and this bike reminded me of that car – point it where you want it to go and it does the rest!

Descending was zero effort, and I felt perfectly confident at any speed. I will admit that the tires and brakes were a large factor, but the geometry of the frame was the main reason. Climbing was equally as impressive. I tried the new “Monster Mile” at the Fort Yargo trails in Winder for the first time, not having any experience with it. There is a decent-sized “horseshoe drop” which was the most technical part of the ride. The bike dug in and climbed out of the Georgia clay without incident – I never put a foot down on that entire trail!

I can’t say enough about how happy I am with the bike – it is the PERFECT mountain bike for almost every trail in Georgia! I am definitely a 96’er convert now, and that will be the bike I use mainly. Sure, the components were incredible, but they were only as good as the foundation. A painted Carver 96’er frame is $399 MSRP. I would take that frame any day over a $1,500 carbon 26” frameset! It was stiff and responsive with perfect handling. What more can I say? The bike was amazing!

FrameCarver 96’er

Fork: Manitou Minute-29 Super 09 Absolute T-A – 100mm travel
Rims: Halo Freedom Disc (29” front, 26” rear) with Stan’s NoTube kits
Hubs: Chris King ISO Disc (20mm front thru-axle)
Spokes: Black Wheelsmith double-butted with blue alloy nipples
Brakes: Magura Marta SL (180 front and 160 rear)
Headset: Chris King NoThread
Shift Lever: SRAM X.0
Rear Derailleur: SRAM X.0
Chain: SRAM hollow pin
Stem: Ritchey WCS carbon
Seatpost: Ritchey WCS carbon
Handlebar: Ritchey Super Logic carbon
Tires: Kenda Nevegal (standard 29” front and 26” UST rear)
Saddle: Selle Italia SLR Troy Lee Design
Grips: Oury
Pedals: Crank Brothers Egg Beater Ti

Carver killer B review – dirtrag

From dirtrag – carver killer B review – more fuel to the fire


By Karen Brooks

147-carver-300x198.jpgTester: Karen Brooks
Age: 36
Height: 5’8″
Weight: 125lbs.
Inseam: 33″

Vital Stats
Country of Origin: China
Price: $1345 frame with options, $2700 as built
Weight: 25.3lbs. built as a singlespeed, 27.3lbs. geared, 3.2lbs. size 17″ frame
Sizes Available: 13″, 15″, 17″ (tested), 19″, 21″, 23″
Contact: www.carverbikes.com

Having a “geeky physics background.” Davis Carver isn’t afraid to mess around with unusual wheel sizes, and in fact, sees advantages to offering more than the standard 26″ wheel for mountain bikes—in getting the fit just right, and in being able to mix front and rear wheel sizes. But the fact that he’s also a bike shop owner, and thus could argue against the potential multiplying of replacement parts, doesn’t dissuade Carver from experimenting. From his shop in Woolwich, Maine, he dreamed up some bike designs, and then about ten years ago met a bike builder based in China who offered to help make them a reality. Carver started with the 96’er, a 29″ front/26″rear combo bike (reviewed back in issue #112), and from there, has produced a collection of mountain bikes with almost every conceivable wheel size combination.

The 650B, or 27.5″, wheel size is something relatively new, at least as applied to mountain bikes. Andy tried out the first one for Dirt Rag in issue #131, a prototype by Kirk Pacenti. This “tweener” size, Carver feels, gives some of the sure-footedness of a 29er without the potential geometry problems in smaller frame sizes. The Killer B frame is made of 3/2.5 titanium and has a clean, “normal” appearance; at first glance it’s hard to tell what size the wheels are. The welds are not quite stack-of-dimes perfect, but aren’t bad either, and the closed-in, box-section head tube gusset is elegant. The top tube is subtly bent for standover clearance. The chain- and seatstays swerve in an S-shape for tire clearance, giving plenty of room for the Pacenti Neo-Moto 2.3″ tires plus lots of mud.

This is a bike that felt comfortable right away (which was fortunate, since my second ride on it was the Shenandoah Mountain 100). Some of the instant comfort I attribute to the fact that it’s a fairly straightforward hardtail, but its 650B-ness was also a factor. I felt like Goldilocks tasting just the right porridge. With 29ers I tend to fit the smallest available frame size; this 17″ tester is right in the middle of Carver’s six size options, with geometry that is nearly identical to my personal 17″ Mooto-X 29er singlespeed (the smallest that Moots makes). The Killer B’s chainstays aren’t particularly short at 17.5″-18.5″ (depending on where the sliding dropouts are set), yet the rear end felt nice and compact. At 4.5″ the head tube was actually a quarter-inch longer than my bike’s, but no extraordinary measures were needed to keep the handlebar height reasonable, and in fact it measured 2.5″ lower than on my bike with a similar stem. Already some benefits to the smaller wheels reveal themselves.

Overall the handling was about what can be predicted—somewhere in between that of a 26er and a 29er. Duh! It was interesting to note how the tweener wheels worked better than two-nines or two-sixes in some situations but worse in others. The course of the 2009 Singlespeed World Championships, in Durango, Colorado, was a perfect test track to illustrate these pros and cons: there was a rocky ridgetop section, in which the wheels got caught up in between the giant slabs of rock more than 29″ ones would have (and I firmly believe I would not have been passed by so many racers if I hadn’t been crippled by smaller wheels—the elevation had nothing to do with it, I swear), and there was a tightly-wound woodsy section, in which I could sling the bike around easily, approaching the flick-ability of a 26er. In singlespeed mode, there was less of our old friend momentum coming from the smaller wheels, but that had its advantages in quicker acceleration.

Running gears, the bit of acceleration gained was nice to have. On long smooth sections, of which there were a lot in the aforementioned 100-miler, the 650B wheels rolled along slightly better than 26″ would, but didn’t generate the keep-on-truckin’ feeling of 29″.

I don’t tend to get airborne much, but when I did, the Carver was less bike to pilot, yet stuck to the ground upon landing a little better than a 26er. I generally felt less high-up off the ground than on a 29er, and it was easy to hang off the back of the bike in techy downhill bits. This could be due in part to the the Killer B’s low-ish bottom bracket height of 11.XX”; I struck my pedals more than a few times on rocks and logs, but I’ll take that in trade for more stability. The Neo-Moto tires’ in-between contact patch worked well in most situations, but once the mud started getting rehydrated in the fall I missed having a wider area to get a grip.

All that wheel size experimentation seems to have served Carver well. There was nothing jarring or weird about the ride. This is a bike that seemed perfectly at ease in a variety of cross country environments.

There are a ton of options for Carver frames. My tester’s sliding dropouts (with a derailleur hanger) closely resemble ones from Ti experts Paragon Machine Works, only thicker, and add $250 to the basic $1100 frame price. Carver also offers their own brand of eccentric bottom bracket (but Davis cautions that it can slip more easily in a Ti frame), as well as a BB30 option. Custom geometry can be ordered with no extra charge. A third bottle mount, fender mounts, and other tweaks are also available.

The only problem I had with the frame was the rear derailleur cable braze-ons—they stuck out from beneath the top tube enough, and were sharp enough, to put holes in my skin along with a couple pairs of tights. While I was running the bike singlespeed I wrapped multiple layers of electrical tape over them. Newer versions of the frame have these braze-ons more tucked under the top tube.

Carver also offers a plethora of build kits. My tester arrived with XT hubs and Velocity Blunt rims, a huck-worthy but hefty combination, although the Velocity rims have a fairly wide 21.6mm internal rim width, which helps eke out the maximum tire contact patch. (I’ll be reporting on a lighter 650B wheelset from Notubes.com in an upcoming issue.) Although the Killer B was sent with a straight handlebar, for all-day comfort I hit up Eric for the Carver MyTi alt-bar that he had tested in issue #144, and was damn glad I did. Its curves matched nicely with the frame’s and it helped keep the bike comfortable.

This Killer B got its suspension action from a 2009 X-Fusion Velvet fork, a $350 option. As we reported from Interbike ’09, X-Fusion has been flying under the radar for a while now, making forks and shocks for other brands, but they are poised to grab more attention soon. They just might do it by offering this excellent 650B fork choice (it’s actually a 26″ fork, but approved for 650B use). If I had to describe the Velvet in one word, it would be, well…velvety. Through all kinds of conditions, the fork remained supple and smooth. Its only drawback was the lack of a lockout.

So are 650B bikes the next wheel size revolution? Hard to say. Personally, I agree with Mr. Carver, and think it makes a lot of sense to offer as many options as are practical. The offerings from this particular bike maker, being grounded in real-world experiments, are especially attractive for conducting your own try-it-on-for-size experiments.147-carver-300x198.jpg

Kirroughtree 10 – 2010 ‘mud and mayhem’

Change over for teams

How good was that?

Total Shock and Awe on a bicycle. Quite possibly the best biking weekend of the year so far – went down Friday after putting the girls to bed. The team were registering so I didnt have to and after one dropout we had to rejig teams so i was put in a team of 3 with two other teams of 4 taking part.
Staying in something called Conifers – a mtb’ing owner so friendly reception.

nick either fired up or needing a poo

My nice teamates made more than a few comments about the big front wheeled 96’er ‘clown bike’ was a bit harsh I thought …. but i was to be vindicated.

After the crappy internet entry and bad updated website the No Fuss organisation for the day was good, top course and perfect enduro setting and then the rain really started.

1st lap - and this was in the dry

It rained – it was muddy – the loops off the regular trail broke up immediately and slithering and OTB was the order of the day for most on the downhill sections – saw an ambulance (or 4) take away the badly injured and that doesnt count those had to get taken to A&E to patch up by their mates. Ramon after getting a bright pink bandage on his first lap – baled again on the second – hit the same spot but this time made a whole right down to under muscle.
Great mortals just let rip across the routes and mud and somehow made it to the bottom (in most cases). The race was cut short by an hour due to deteriorating conditions and after certain sections had been closed – so i had to miss my 3rd lap and instead have a massage and a beer while john was still out on the course. This did not detract from the challenge or the sense of achievement.

Garmin Screen 1
Garmin Screen 2

Nick came in for the team of 4 with only 10seconds left on the clock – they had done 7 laps along with the other team of 4 and we in the team of 3 had only managed 8 laps in the 9 hours.

After my second lap - much muddier

Stuart after his first lap

Carver did me pride as the clown bike survived 2 foot drops into mud potholes without flipping me over the bars like all the regular riders. Never bailed once just one clumsy sidefall on mud and a few dabs on the course. Respect though to a singlespeed 29’er and a mad man on a cyclocross bike.

Stayed a night down there but even my bike was a bit damaged as the Rohloff cable was fecked by the mud.

race numbers stopped some of the spray
Mark and sore shoulder - the second most injured in our team

New tyre (ned) on racing ralph is dead

Pissed off that Racing Ralph has tear on the seam that cant be repaired – bought a pretty cheap (£23) Specialized  tubeless tyre for the race on Saturday.


Fitted looks quite tall

not the raciest tread

XTR brake on rear looks neat

XTR and Rohloff yummy

Lots of stopping power too.

Carron Valley destroyed my bike again

Well slight exaggeration – but my liking of this course has not improved.

this video is before they carried out work on the trails – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgbGiuYFN-0

Went down the run and smacked (or more appropriately twatted)  a massive rock and heard it hit the downtube and crunch underneath. Then further down the run the rear started feeling squishy – stopped at the bottom to see sealant pissing out of a small hole …. to make matters worse it was the Racing Ralph UST tyre which just went on and which costs a fortune.

I opened the bag and got out the spare inner tube which I have been carrying for years unused to discover it was a 1.75-1.95 inner tube – oops not great for a 2.3 tyre … still in it went – pumped up the tyre and although a bit loose went for the second lap.

Changes to Carron Valley:

Top section very smooth now – taken away the singletrack wild edge it used to have – the one drop (kelpies staircase) they did have is now very tame. Pipeline however is great – new little prejump sections which get you up higher so yo can land on the downslope …. I lacked the balls, youth, suspension and deathwish to do some of them – but the second run was nicer so i am sure 4 in a row would be great.

Riding Glen Tanar and Garmin Edge Review

Started the morning towing my 5 year old around Glen Tanar estate on her tag-a-long doing a quick 10km ride. She loves it and said she was desperate to be on her littlebike riding the trails by herself which is always a good sign.

Went for a 25km ride in the afternoon from a friend’s place in deeside over the hills and dropped into Glen Tanar estate for a quick loop. One of those rides that is mainly all up then al down and the down was mainly very smooth forestry road – not terrible exciting as no singletrack.

Next day did the same route but headed up toward mount Kean (one ofthe few Munroe that is easy to cycle) but had time pressure as I had to be back for a 4th birthday party. Will do the complete ride one day – looks promising and a good 1500m+ of climbing.

Used the new (to me) garmin edge 305 and it is brilliant – everything you would really want from a HRM / cycle computer.

Still playing around with the setup – managed to dislodge it once as i grabbed bike stem while opening farmers gate – it flew off but undamaged.

As for screen options – still playing around with setup – at the moment I have

SCREEN 1 (display 5)
Max Speed / Distance
Time (cycling) / Heart Rate

SCREEN 2 (display 5 again)
Heart Rate
Total Ascent / Cadence
Calories / Time of Day




altimeter graph