Wow. The floodgates seemed to open for a bit there.
I had decided to strip out a rim, rebuild it into a different hub, with a view to using a 29+ tyre on the front of my most ‘xc’ bike.
Maul came into being some years ago, when I still used to race xc and 6 to 12 hour races. It was as close to a pure xc race bike as I will ever likely get. Light, fast and stripped down. Sean nailed the geo to provide comfort and laser fast handling.
It was built prior to ‘plus’ tyres and neither the fork nor the short rear triangle have room for the bigger meats, but recently, I have begun to struggle to ride anything else. For me, they offer more comfort, control and speed in nearly all situations.
As a result, I wanted to put a plus sized tyre on the front of Maul, in the knowledge that I like the ‘mullet’ set up, with a normal 29er in the rear.
The niner fork *just* clears a plus tyre, but it isn’t enough for muddy conditions, so I went for an Enve fork. this has 85mm or so of clearance and also has an interesting dropout ‘chip’ giving the option of 52 or 44mm of offset. Otherwise, it will keep the geometry pretty much where it needs to be with a very slight lift at the front.
I built the wheel 2x right 3x left with robust DT Swiss comp spokes (I wanted it to be stiff and opted for this pattern as the spoke lengths worked out perfectly as well) and used a minimal strip of tubeless tape before inflating a Maxxis Chronicle and dropped it into the frame.
I also needed to replace the drivechain, opting for a shimano 11-42 block to give my old-man legs some respite and realised the brakes needed new pads and a bleed as well.
While I was about it, I replaced the saddle that had been sagging a little to the left, a comfortable perch that had reached the end of the trail.
It has been a while since I needed to do so much work on a bike, but I guess it has served me well – needing precious little wrenching for many years now.
With the fork set up in the long offset, the front end is very light steering and the fat tyre soaks up the knocks. Overall, I like it a lot – but it does need more grip on the front tyre to fully take advantage of the slightly longer front centre and increased offset. Until the new crop of more aggressive 29+ tyres become available, I may put it in the shorter offset position and see how that works.
However, it is now ready for the next few years of trails and maybe even some races…