Friday, October 12, 2012

Lynskey Ridgeline 29er Impressions

I've had some more time on the Lynskey, and I can say that it's been very good. Of course it's never exactly perfect. And in this time of polarization, it's important to acknowledge that nothing is perfect!

So before getting to the good, lets get the couple of "not so good" out of the way. There are really two complaints I have with the frame, with a third that's more a component issue.  The first gripe is the tall head tube.  I have the stem all the way down and it's still a little tall.  I am playing w/ the idea of flipping the stem and run it w/ a neg rise. It not a huge issue though.

The second problem is the balance of the bike when out of the saddle.  When seated the bike is actually really well balanced.  It steers quickly and can be railed around tight corners w/ confidence.  It climbs well when seated and only needs minor weight adjustment when attacking real steeps.  Standing up however, tends to un-weight the rear wheel just a tad too much.  Climbing over choppy terrain then results in the rear loosing some traction and bouncing a little.  In all fairness to the bike, much of this has been emphasized by my rear tire having worn through the sidewalls and no longer being tubeless.  I am therefor running it w/ a tube at 30 psi vs my normal 22 (the sidewalls are actually so bad I have several patches of gorilla tape keeping the tube from bulging out.  Time perhaps for a new rear tire.)  My Scott Scale 29er is a slightly better climber as I can just mash when standing and it will climb w/out issues.  With the Scale I actually have to make sure I un-weight the rear!

The geometry difference between the bikes is interesting here.  I often see posted online that the numbers do NOT tell the story but they do here.  The wheelbase for both bikes is the exact same length.  However the chainstays of the Scott are just slightly shorter (440mm for the Scott vs 445mm for the Lynskey). The seat tube for both is slightly different as well (73 for the Lynskey vs 72.5 for the Scott), and the BB of the Lynskey is .5 inches higher (51mm drop vs 60mm on  the Scott). And then there is the head angle: 69.5 vs 70.5 (w/ a 100 mm fork - I have mine set up to 80 mm so it's even a little steeper than that). The differences aren't huge, are fairly self explanatory, but can be felt: the BB of the Lynskey is slightly more forwards and higher, which becomes apparent when standing up by unweighting the rear wheel a bit; but the slacker seat angle means that when seated the weight of the rider is moved backwards again. The loss of traction when standing is not huge though and a rare issue that happens only if I am not paying attention. Honestly I prefer having a bike that is faster handling (70.5 degree head angle for the Lynskey vs 69.5 for the Scott), but that I have to manage a little more closely when I climb steep choppy terrain.  In twisty New England singletrack, I steer way more than I climb really steep hills. More on this below.

I need to verify these figures!

The third issue is that I have been experiencing chain suck.  I know this is not a frame issue but rather due to me being a cheap bastard and running, for now, a XT square tapered crank from the 90ies! Hey, it looked like it was in good condition! (follow up on this:  I have a new XT crank and have no chainsuck issues at all anymore)

Onto the goodness: I can confirm that the bike is a lot less harsh than my Scott Scale, which is really saying a lot, since the Scale had supposedly 5mm of travel build into the carbon seat stays.   Having gone from a full squish Specialized Sworks Epic to a hardtail, I never was really able to appreciate that 5mm of "travel".  But coming from the Scale to the Lynskey, I do greatly appreciate the Ti "absorbency" as a lot of the harsh impact of the trail are noticeably softened (and the Stan's Crest wheels also add to this).  Even jumps/drops of a foot or two are softened by the Titanium frame.

What saves my ass and back too is that 27.2 post.  Even w/ a Race Face Aluminium post, it still has enough give to let me keep my butt on saddle over rough trail chatter (there is a Ritchey Superlogic in there).  My back would not tolerate that on the Scott (see my race report on landmine linked below).  I really don't get that 34.9 post size on the Scott.  On full squish bikes maybe, but not on a hardtail (unless you're a pro pushing 600 watts)!  Had I been able to race this bike at my last mtb race at Landmine, I think it would have not been such a disaster from getting so beat up on the course.  So I can't wait to race it next year!

Yes, that is an original rug from the 50ies!
Since I am on a race note, I did get to race the Lynskey at the Providence Cx Fest Race last Sunday (don't own a cx bike), and it was a lot of fun.  The bike really corners so well, and I was able to pass a huge amount of competitors in the tight twisty turns (started in 78th position to finish 19th out of 78).

And that is where I appreciate this bike. I don't know what the trails in Tennessee are like, but it handles New England terrain really well!  As mentioned, it turns really well and without needing dramatic input to do so.  Unlike the Scott, the front end does not push out during the corners.  Turn the bars, or lean the bike, and it just turns.  I've actually eaten dirt a couple of times because the bike has caught me off guard by turning too tightly.

This bike is really nimble and that translate into it being really good in technical terrain.  It's stable over loose and bumpy terrain (for a hardtail!) and also really easy to manoeuvre over larger obstacles.  The front end comes up easily and the rear follows w/ out too much input.  It's easy to hop and jump over fallen trees or large rocks, and will go up large obstacles w/ finesse instead of brute force.  I took the bike out on a fairly technical ride several weeks back and was really surprised by how much I was actually clearing, and would have most likely not made w/ the Scott.

Well, just in case it wasn't obvious, I can say that so far I am really happy w/ the Lynskey!

I have a long term review the Lynskey review here!

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