Be your own brand.

John’s extreme geometry titanium plus bike from Waltly

Sometimes it’s fun to try things for the sake of it, especially if it winds other people up 😉 I spotted John doing just that over on the Singletrack forum so I decided to find out more…

The inspiration:

John was intrigued by the Mojo Nicolai Geometron and the latest idea of pushing frames even longer and slacker than before. (Check out Mojo’s Chris Porter giving it what for on that subject over here: http://www.mbr.co.uk/news/bike_news/size-matters-part-3-bicycle-geometry-sucks-324160)

Never mind that 57 degree head angle – bar ends with risers? Leopard print saddle? 🙂

I’ll let John pick up the story.

Looking at what everyone was saying, it seemed that slacking things off makes the steering feel slower, until the point is reached where flop factor takes over and counteracts this – making the steering speed up again! I was keen to test the theory…

My reason for going custom were simply that what I wanted wasn’t available off the shelf.  The closest thing would have been a Nicolai Fat with custom head angle.  This would end up around twice the price though, and have the harsh ride associated with a strong built aluminium frame.

I designed my bike to have a 63 degree static head angle when running a 140mm fork and use  27.5+ wheels. I went for a fat bike sized 170 mm rear hub and 100mm bottom bracket to give loads of space for a B+ tyre and also keep the chainstays round.  I’ve had Ti and steel bikes in the past with plated chainstays for clearance; they were all a bit flexy under hard pedalling (I’m both heavy and strong)!

100mm bottom bracket with a 170mm width rear hub = minimal tube manipulation and 3″ tyre clearance!

Another fan of the truss fork?

As for the fork, again, not really something available to buy off the shelf! I’ve ridden a Jones truss before so was aware how well the design works.  Waltly couldn’t offer a truss fork so I turned to XACD instead.

How did you get on with Waltly?

Amy was great to deal with and the whole process was painless. All in price was £880 including customs.

Overall the quality is superb. The only fault I’ve found is the seat tube is a bit baggy.  I had to put a coke can shim in to stop the Reverb moving which is rather disappointing!

Other than that I’ve had Litespeed and Lynskey/On-One’s in the past and this is every bit as good. I half expected it to be a bit rough around the edges but the finish is excellent.

Tsk tsk, a seat post needing to be shimmed? That is disappointing, it indicates a slight slip in Waltly’s normally excellent quality control…

How did the fork turn out?

The fork is nice, but not as well finished as the Waltly frame.  There’s some obvious squashing of tubes and file marks around welds which weren’t fully brushed out.

Overall though, it’s good.  It went together a treat, all the threads were perfect and most importantly – it’s straight!

Which I’m surprised at too, the finish on XACD normally justifies their price premium. At least everything was spot on engineering wise. I hope John’s machine isn’t an indication of how busy the factories are at this time of year!

What was the deal with the Singletrackworld ‘chopper’ though?

That build was just a bit of an experiment to see what going way OTT felt like! I decided to start with some silly geometry and work back towards something more sensible – just because! 😉

The fork comes set at 160mm travel, with spacers to reduce it down, so I left it on it’s longest setting and bolted it on with a -2 degree slackset. The static head angle was a daft 57 degrees!

Respect due, that is proper crazy, I’ve seen articles with various tinkerers going towards 60 degrees but not beyond! Was the thing even rideable?

Oddly enough, it rode just like a bike. A very fast, fun bike! The only thing that concerned me was the potential stress that was being put on the head tube from a long fork being run at such a slack angle. I didn’t take it off any huge jumps or anything to be on the safe side, I just really wanted to try it out to see what it was like.

Niche tastic – full fat front wheel in a truss fork with H bars and singlespeed too!

Back down to Earth again?

I then took the slackset out and put the fork down to a more sensible 135mm!

Thankfully, the fairly unconventional numbers I wanted in terms of geometry work a treat. It felt odd for the first few turns, but very quickly became normal. Downhill… well it is just a beast – so much fun especially on the steep stuff.

And as for climbing, forget the ‘slack bikes don’t climb’ myth that has been repeated for so long it’s become ‘truth’. It’s not. It’s got a lot more to do with the seat tube angle, along with reach. Even with the bonkers fork, the seat tube angle was 74 degrees un-sagged. Honestly the best climbing bike I’ve ever ridden, no need to perch on the saddle nose!

The extra clearance around the back keeps the chainstays tubular with minimal manipulation and a solid chainstay bridge. It feels like my carbon bike when pedalling, lovely and solid.

It’s fast, handles nicely and is dead comfy. I’m delighted with it!

Which, at the end of the day is all you can ask for! I like John’s experimental approach, sometimes it’s fun to try things out for yourself rather than just take people’s word for it.

He’s built himself a machine with cutting edge geometry which is still versatile enough to run as a long forked ‘hooligan’ or a full fat front, truss forked, ‘back country’ machine.

Thinking out of the box when it comes to using fat bike width bottom bracket and rear hub is an interesting move too – just be aware that the pedals will be moved further apart and the pigeon toed amongst us might have more heel strikes on the chainstays.

Seeing he’s got it setup as a singlespeed I was going to wonder why he didn’t use sliding dropouts or an eccentric bottom bracket, then I noticed the oval chainring –  it would need to run with a tensioner anyway!

You can read what the good folks of Singletrack made of John’s work over here: http://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/new-bike-day-ti-chopper-content

Have you done anything daft, just because? What to share? Drop me a line over on the contacts page!