ts a new year and after 2 seasons on my last steed I am lucky enough to be able to build up my new ride for the '07 season. While today's off the shelf rigs can offer an amazing value for what you pay, I wanted to build something unique that stands out a bit. What I ended up with is a 36.3 lbs coil sprung DH bike that you won't see anywhere else.
I have to say that coming in a close second to the actual riding, the technical aspect of mountain biking is what really excites me. I am a self admitted tech nerd. I can spend hours reading about the latest gadgets from any sport, be it F1, MotoGP or even tennis. If its lighter, faster or uses a new material then I am interested. The great part about our particular sport is that if you have the time, money and knowledge you can build some really neat things. I don't have a great deal of any of those three things but I still try, even though a smart guy once told me it was the first step towards failure.
So what I did was try to build up a light and very functional DH bike. Actually what I built is a full on DH race bike. I just happen to not race all the much, only hitting up a few each year. But what I do like to do is pin it. All-the-time. Weight was a huge concern for me, not because of any delusions of getting my pro number plate, but because this is my only bike. I have had more XC-type bikes in the past and I hated descending on them. It was not worth the uphill gain. I want to ride everything on my DH bike and to make that a little more enjoyable I had to pick my parts real carefull like. I just happend to end up with a really light DH race bike!
Fact: All 3 current Honda factory riders have raced World Cups on Oranges Fact: All 3 current Honda factory riders have raced World Cups on Oranges
The biggest decision to make when building up your dream bike is which frame you will decide to hang all your parts on. I had a few on my short list so there was some thinking to be done. The U.S. made Iron Horse Sunday frame is one that I've always had my eyes on (not that I'd ever rail a corner like Sam even if I was on his bike). The Glory from Giant was also hard to say no to, being one of the best deals out there. The DW Link and Giants Maestro designs look similar but work in different ways and are about as far away as you can get from a well thought out single pivot design as seen on the Orange 224 frame. I have spent the last two seasons on an Orange 223 and came to love the light weight and simple bike, so even though the 224 frame is almost more than the Glory and Sunday put together, I still wanted one. After doing my homework on the frames the decision was made for me. The 224 was the only one that had the geometry that I liked.
A bike's angles are absolutely the most important factor in its performance. There are a lot of different takes on suspension out there but the truth is that while some work different, they all do work good. But a DH bike with a 67 degree head angle will be entirely different beast than a 64 degree monster. The 224 has that slack 64 degrees up front and also the low b.b. height and longer wheelbase that I feel at home on. Another consideration of mine was a full length seat tube on the frame. Some of my best rides are "xc" rides from home with my iPod and the seat on my DH bike jacked up to the max. Oh, and it is light. The 224 is claimed to be one of the lightest production DH frames which is key when trying to piece together a light bike, might as well start off on the right foot.
Suspension is the second most important part of any rig. Again, there are a lot of things out there that do work great so it is more important to pick something based on your needs instead of just looking for the trickiest possible set of sliders. But what if I could have a fork that came in at under 6.5lb, had a super low crown to axle length and worked great to boot? I'd say that would be a pretty trick fork! So what I built is most...
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