This post has been sometime in the making. Main factors being available time, a nasty injury and resources to complete the latest bike build. Thankfully, it’s been worth the wait, but I’ll get on to that later....
There’s been a rant before on this blog about SRAM and my recent experience of setting up Force Hydro Brakes hasn’t made me any more enamoured. The simplicity of fitting and maintaining Shimano brakes didn’t prepare me for SRAM. I’ve worked on cars and bikes and am well aware of the hazards with DOT. There was no way I was going to entertain a spillage ruining the stunning finish on my flare orange Mason Bokeh. It was time to set up stall and make sure that everything was in place for any potential spills and leaks. What I wasn’t prepared for was different Torx sizes for the threaded barbs. A T8 to remove old barbs from the hose (had to trim the length) and a T10 for fitting the new one! SRAM, do yourselves a favour, spend less time on the marketing of fancy names for connections and invest more thought in the system.
On the subject of fasteners, one thing that has always troubled me with current bikes and components is the sheer number of fastener types. Where possible, I aim to have my bikes set up with all the main components benefitting from one type and size of fastener. It won't be long until the Torx hardware is removed and replaced with Allen fasteners.
With the workshop already resembling a Jim Dine tool painting, it was time to start assembling the bike. Those of you that have enjoyed fitting internal cables will know all too well that it can be a tricky task. My memory had taken me back to working in the shop on 'day glow' Klein’s with internal cables, oh the joys! I don’t envy frame designers and builders with the task of keeping up with the proliferation of cables, hoses, wires and ‘standards’. Thankfully, Mason’s approach has made the experience easier and a small bag of fixtures and fittings provided evidence of their attention to detail and consideration.
I’ve been singing the praises of Hunt Wheels over the years and the final piece in the build was a pair of 650b Hunt Gravel 4 seasons. I decided to go for tyres that are more suitable to the local conditions than what's specced on the Mason 650b build. WTB's Ranger 2.0 popped on without any issues. There’s plenty of clearance up front, but less so at the back. I’m not expecting any issues, but have applied helitape to keep that lovely paint looking fresh. It really is a wonderful hue of orange, not too dissimilar to my Cannibal Orange LeMond.
|I couldn't resist|
The first ride covered well-travelled local paths and roads. I was on borrowed time, otherwise the option to travel further afield would have been taken without a second thought. Initial impressions. The 650b set up does encourage you to venture off onto the MTB trails and I was quickly finding out that the set up would benefit from different gearing. The gearing wasn’t detracting from the bike’s capability, it was my lack of fitness. I’m running a 40T up front and 11-36T at the back. I’ll either go 40 or 42T when time and funds permit.
|It's so capable, even stands up on its own|
There’s been a considerable amount of virtual and physical space granted to the Bokeh. The reviews pay tribute to the fine features, build quality, handling, adaptability etc, etc. For me, it was pure and simple, the bike made me smile and I thoroughly enjoy being back in the saddle, albeit too briefly. Inevitably, a test ride does result in a few wee tweaks to the set up, but riding the Bokeh did remind me of my old (missed) 29er SS, in that there was a requirement for a bit of finesse and forward planning (gears, or lack of!). My Trek Stache on the other hand, and not surprisingly, is the antithesis of this approach and just rolls over whatever lays ahead. Add to that the recent fitting of Maxxis Minions and dog walkers could be forgiven in thinking that a moto has been in the woods. To be fair to the Bokeh, this was only experienced on very muddy, rooty singletrack trails. When it was out on the open, gravel, fire and sealed roads, it didn’t display any traits or required input that would make you think that this type of frame and set-up was a victim of attempting to meet too many demands.
I do intend to try the Bokeh with 700c, a pair of Hunt 4 seasons and WTB Nano 40c will provide a base for comparison. However, taking into account the fun of the initial test ride, that post and comparison may be sometime coming…