2016 Diamond Back Haanjo Comp Review – 8 month Update

Original review is here.

I recently went back to riding this bike with the stock wheelset and have been having a lot of fun on it. Some things I’ve noticed:

  • The bike is set-up for adding a frame bag, a medium Revelate Tangle fits perfectly and the bottle cages are mounted low enough to accommodate a regular 22 ounce bottle. I wish the fork had mounts on the side or even full rack mounts.
  • The stock wheelset completely transforms the climbing. A big part of this is the high-engagement hub, it pushes out the power stroke to the wheel in a slightly longer way that just feels more connected. There is minimal play in the crank before engagement.
  • It’s less fun on singletrack than a good steel frame. The ride is more jarring and the frame is just a little too stiff to work well for me. I did a loop at Sope Creek and wasn’t able to ride at speed nearly as well as my Double Cross Disc.
  • TRP Spyres are prone to rust and probably need a rebuild if you ever ride in the rain. I’m going to make a video for this. It’s easy but intimidating.
  • A frame bag is a much better idea than a front rack. I want to use both but keep most of my every day essentials in the frame bag and then just use the rack as needed for clothes or giant tools found on the side of the road.
  • The handlebars are the best handlebars I’ve ever used. Moderate drop so it’s easy to ride in any hand position. Slight flare is great for off-road and on-road, flat portion feels great when you want to sit up and relax and the width is perfect. Wish these were sold individually – I’d run them on all my bikes.

So I’m still riding this bike and still enjoying it. I’ll update once I get some more mores but for now it’s working really well as a bike, to do bike stuff with.


 

Why didn’t you buy that? Low Trail Edition

Why Didn’t You Buy That? Soma Grand Randonneur Edition

After being blown away by the story of the first Paris-Brest-Paris in issue no. 50 I hit the Bicycle Quarterly HARD.

(I wholeheartedly recommend you check out the issue as well as the accompanying blog post here: https://janheine.wordpress.com/2015/09/20/retracing-the-first-paris-brest-paris/)

I ordered the entire back catalog and blew through all the issues in a matter of weeks. My thoughts were laser focused on low-trail, handlebar bags, fat tires and dynamo lights. Dreams of conquering far away mountains and gliding over gravel peaks sent me off to sleep every night.

The main production low-trail frame, the Soma Grand Randonneur was something I researched heavily. I looked at dozens of builds, read every review I could find and really tried to get into the bike. I wanted to try low-trail so bad, carrying stuff in a handlebar bag with a cool rack on my speedy fendered fat-tired bike would be awesome.

Once I actually confronted the build I was planning it all fell apart.

First, the threaded fork.

ugh.

I spent my first few years as an adult riding threaded forks and quill stems exclusively. They’re ok and work fine but obviously lacking in convenience of handlebar swapping, stiffness, length and height options and so forth. Threadless systems are awesome and thread systems suck. This is re-enactment nonsense to see a modern bike take such a huge step back. This is the main thing that kept me away. I wasn’t going to spend several hundred dollars on a frame to deal with quill stems.

Next was the brakes, cantilever brakes are not something I enjoy. There were dozens of posts about the Grand Randonneur and squealing, chittering, juddering brakes.

But there was always a little wiggle keeping me from diving in all the way. I was on board with everything but the brakes. After trying out discs on my mountain bikes and subsequently on my road bikes I had vowed never to go back to rim brakes. This is a problem as there are no low-trail production disc frames. To get into low trail and discs you need to navigate the vagaries of custom builders and their ever lengthening queues. I hedged and went ahead and added myself to the Elephant National Forest Explorer wait list. $1350 for a very excellent frameset, but the timeline was very long. Although I went another direction if I had waited in line it would have taken a little over a year before I got my frame in hand.

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These two things combined just killed the bike for me. I decided to shelve the low trail idea and see if it resurfaced later on with more modern design choices. Nothing yet so my money is still in the bank. Maybe I’ll get back on the Elephant list?

Anyway, goddammit Soma why do you always have to put one or two dumb design choices in every bike you make?

 

Nashbar Nekkid Review

Nice frame, buy this instead of the Superb Sprint. They’re probably made in the same factory.

I recently cracked the bottom bracket shell on my fixed conversion and decided that it was finally time to buy a bike with a somewhat more appropriate design for fixed riding. Or at least track ends. I went down to my LBS and test rode like 15-20 carbon track prototypes but couldn’t really find the ultimate frame so I decided to just buy something off the internet.

Since I’m poor; my choices were the KiloTT frame from BikeIsland or the Nashbar Nekkid. I sold my soul to Bitech a few months ago so I opted for the Nekkid frame with carbon Nashbar fork. Both would retail for around $200 and I think they’re both good options for an entry level road fixed frame.

Searching this forum gives only a small amount of info on the Nekkid. Like lots of cheap frames it has a somewhat hit or miss reputation so if anyone else has experience, please share.

Here’s my example. Welds look ok, very typical of aluminum frames from China. The ones on the track ends are especially ugly, in part because the angles between the ends and the stays are compromised since this basic frame is also reworked as a road frame. Facing is good but there are some machining marks and dings outside of the contact points. Spacing was good, dropout plates fit fine, all threading is sharp and clean. Overall pretty good, especially so considering the price. The anodizing is nice and clean with no wrinkles or uneven spots, but it is a very thin and weak type II anodizing. The same coating used on a plethora of other cheap aluminum goods, tends to scratch, flake and chip off very easily.

Build in progress. The frame went together very well, no issues.

Still fine tuning the fit. As built this is right at 19 pounds.

This frame is very tall, if you’re considering it be sure to size based entirely on the top-tube.

Geometry-wise it rides very well. Has somewhat of a relaxed wheelbase and head angle but it is very stiff and responsive under acceleration. Compared to a more trackish geometry you definitely have to muscle it around turns some but it’s only a minor difference. I’m blown away at how much nicer the ride is with a carbon fork vice a steel frame/fork. I’ve been hesitant to switch to aluminum but after having some time on this bike I wish I would have done it earlier. It’s noticeably less flexy and responds much quicker.

The Nashbar Carbon fork comes with a rake of 43mm, given the rest of the geometry for the Nekkid frame the combination produces a trail of about 62mm. Depending on your preference this is good for general road riding, should produce a neutral ride that gives to input very well.

Kilo TT:

Nekkid (BB height for the Nekkid is somewhat low at around 275ish mm with 25c tires, wheel base is around 995mm.)

Overall, for around $200, I like it a lot. It’s butted 6061, so it’s not the greatest thing in the world but it seems to be made well-enough and rides very well.

Note the intersection of the top of the track end and the seatstay. Ugh, gross.

UPDATE: 10/22/2014

So this happened today. 4,741 miles on the frame. 😦

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