This the project we've hinted at before and if you drop by the Toronto Bike Show next weekend, you'll be able to see up close and give it a try.
Is it new or old? It certainly looks new but some of parts certainly aren't but maybe used in a new way? The build isn't complete yet, still missing brakes but I thought the build was close enough to warrant showing it. Let's start with the frame and fork. The frame is a Seven Sola SL custom Ti frame. If there was ever such a thing a timeless bicycle, I think you will not find a better example then a titanium hardtail. Geometry for hardtails hasn't really changed much since the use of front suspension and no one would really put on a 120mm front fork on a hardtail. This frame was designed around 80mm front suspension and for the most part that's probably all it'll ever need.
That of course brings me to the fork. It's an Amp Research F4 BLT 80mm cross country linkage fork although at the time, this was considered a DH fork but today it's perfect travel for XC. It's stiff, works well and I think gives the bike that "not like every other bike at the Trail Head" quality that would be impossible with the latest Fox or Rock Shox XC fork. Does it perform as well as a modern day XC fork? In some ways it does and in some ways it doesn't. It's light, it's stiff like modern day forks, the quality of suspension may not rival 2015 technology but it's only 80mm of travel. We're not talking 120mm/5 inches of travel here. The other option I would use is a suspension corrected steel or carbon fork with disc tabs.
Bar / Stem / Headset / Seatpost - Moots / Chris King Ti headset with Ti headset spacers. Not sure there is really anything else to add there. The stem/bar is not the modern 31.8mm but again remember this is not a DH bike and isn't going to become one anytime soon. The stem is longish by today's 60-90mm standards at 110mm but not crazy long like 130mm or anything.
Cranks - XTR M970. Does anyone still make a high quality 3 ring crankset anymore? I'm only using the outer ring and using a Race Face Narrow Wide ring and that's all I need because of course I'm using a Rohloff disc hub in the back. The outer ring gives me the perfect 53mm chainline that I need to use with the Rohloff that modern day 2 ring or 1 ring cranks do not. And the XTR cranks are so well made that you'd be hard pressed to find a nicer set of cranks. Cheaper yes, better no. Other option here would be Race Face's Cinch SixC or if you really want to go high zoot the NEXT SL, cranks that can be used with their 3 ring setup and use only the outer ring and uses the latest 30mm BB standard.
Hubs - Which of course brings me to the wheelset. The front wheel is a Mavic 217 SUP rim laced to a Chris King non disc hub. You'll likely need Google to tell you what a Mavic 217 SUP rim is but there was a time that it was THE rim for XC before tubeless and carbon 40mm wide rims. The only thing better would have been the Ceramic version! The rear is a Mavic XM 819 UST disc rim. UST hasn't really caught on like Mavic had hoped for but I like the rim and I needed a good disc rim to use the Rohloff hub. The rear hub is a Rohloff and I know it may sound a bit biased but while it's not XC light like a CK hub it fits this whole project perfectly. Gives me the modern 1 ring look but still has 14 gears and range that a proper XC bike needs. I'll have another write up on the gearing on this bike and why I choose it. A cassette and rear derailleur would ruin the look of the bike I think but the bike does need a chain tensioner as it has vertical dropouts so that's a small price to pay for the overall benefit of the Rohloff in terms of look and performance. It is of course a disc hub and the front is not disc so I'll be using an Avid BB7 disc brake in the rear, Avid Supreme V-brakes in the front and Avid Ultimate levers. Probably the best V-brake and cable disc brake ever made. Avid has stopped producing the Ultimate levers and Supreme brakes all together. If you saw how much machining is in those parts, you'd understand why they were so expensive and why it doesn't make sense to make them anymore. I choose cable disc instead of hydraulic disc brakes because I wanted the brakes to have the same feel plus it'd be odd to have 2 different levers in the front.
Grips - I have to mention grips because ESI silicon grips are the BEST THING EVER. These are the Chunky model. They are light, comfortable, feels great and I can cut them to use with Rohloff shifters. Highly recommended. And they are easy to install. Modern day materials and technology at its best. I'll be carrying and using these grips for all future Rohloff builds.
Saddle - Selle Italia Flight saddle. The red matched the hubs :)
Picture of front end with shifter and Avid Ultimate Levers / Supreme brakes
Final Price? Priceless because you can't get Mavic 217 rims anymore ;) Bonus points if you can identify the pedals.
So if there was one bike that I had to choose to take with me to a deserted island. I think this would be it. There are other XC bikes out there and definitely longer travel bikes but as a pure XC bike that will be as comfortable on fireroads as it is around town, there's nothing quite like it.
What would you take to a deserted island?