I’m 47 and not getting any younger, my Niner Air 9 scanduim framed and carbon forked “race” mountain bike although very fast it wasn’t getting any comfier on my old bones, and when I say race it was much faster than I could ever ride it but I didn’t hang around on it at all.
The frame and fork found a new home with a much younger and fitter Ian over in Sheffield and it’s already built up and rolling
So, calling in a couple of favours from Michael of Travers Bikes UK and Gudberg of Lauf forks over in Iceland, I built myself up a 25lbs replacement 29er using the Travers Rudy 29er titanium frame and carbon & glass fibre leaf (lauf) sprung Trail Racer 29er fork.
I used all of the 3 x 9 gearing, Thompson seat post, Brooks Cambuim C17 rubber saddle, Avid BB7 brakes and the Stan’s Flow wheels with American Classic hubs off my Niner build, plus some drop/splayed off road bars from Ison with bar end shifters all built up with the other accessories by Ken and Paul at Thatto’s bike shop at St Helens.
The question that I wanted to know and I’ve bee asked a lot is “How does it ride”, well I’m no expert press reviewer but I know what I like and I’m use to riding rigid bikes around here for many years. Please bear in mind that it’s only my first ride and the bike still has a few tweeks needed*.
I’ll start with the titanium Rudy 29er frame, it’s lovely and smooth absorbing the bumps and pits that my old Niner and Carbon CX bike didn’t, the washboard and rougher gravel trails were almost a joy to ride and I didn’t once have to pick my line through the smoothest bits as I normally do, I’m sure it felt like I had a inch or two of bump absorption on the back end even with the same wheels and tyre pressures as my Niner was riding on. But at the same time it felt stiff but supple when climbing out of the saddle or on the few downs and twisty sandy single track.
The Lauf Fork was a revelation, it says on the fork “Absorb The Ride”
And it certainly does, it’s hard to describe as any normal fork whether it be rigid or suspension is angled up towards your hands, but the Lauf fork almost feels like it has a curve or J shape to it’s action, absorbing the bumps with a backward and then almost directly upwards arc which feels perfect for this sort of riding. I never felt like I used the full 60mm travel as I didn’t hit anything technical or do any drop offs. I tried to film it’s action but it didn’t come out well so I’ve had an idea on how to do it and I’ll try again tomorrow.
One thing I did notice that is different to any other fork I’ve ridden with is that when climbing aggressively out of the saddle and because of the leaf springs the front wheel did twist a little in the fork moving from side to side about 5mm each way at the top of the wheel
* Tweeks needed. The original Avid BB7 front brake were past their sell by date and were rubbing so much that I had to wind them nearly all the way out, I fitted a new one I’ve got spare and ready for my new bike when I got home. The stem is a little long giving me a stretched out ride but I’ll live with it for a couple of rides to see if I can fit it when I’m used to it.