Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A review of the new rig. Part One

So I just got back like twenty minute ago from my first ride on v1.0 of my Tomac Taos. For those who are unfamiliar with this model you can catch a glimpse here. It is from 2005 but I found it for a killer price so I had to snag it.

Upon initial purchase of the frame I had some parts that a buddy helped cross over from an older Schwinn DS-3. I love the Schwinn but since I already have a Jamis Dakar dual suspension rig I wanted to get a little retro and ride a hard tail again. Around here, we have lots of flat well maintained bike paths that I like to ride fast on. I can get my Dakar up to speed no problem but nothing beats a hard tail for sprinting. Plus, I am sort of on the fence about experimenting with single/fixed gear riding. But that's a whole other story. ;)

So I get home with my rig set up with some Schwinn components and a few after market add-ons as were necessary since areas like the bottom bracket, seat stay, etc. were incompatible. (I will post pictures in another post highlighting some of the after market components of the build - they rock!) My homework assignment was basically to ride the bike and make sure that the geometry was perfect barring a few tweaks and adjustments and to see how the bike handled over all. Well, I have this to say. This bike is gonna be a KILLER ride and arguably it already is!

While in the cock pit I noticed that while I was generally at a great posture I felt a tad cramped. Not that big of a deal since this is usually the case because of my larger/broader body frame. After all, I'm an ex-wrestler and weight lifter so you can imagine what I'm dealing with. LOL Otherwise, the frame is a medium and the stand-over height is perfect, which is important. This slightly cramped feeling will be easily fixed as I am planning to upgrade the stem from the factory Schwinn on it presently to a Thompson Elite 4x model in polished silver with a little more length. This should do the trick nicely and perhaps save some weight. If not, Race Face also makes a stem in polished silver that could be used as well. The main thing is that I want to keep the bike strong but light. I can get away with this since this rig will basically be used for commuting/street duties and NOT XC or freeride.

I headed to the familiar bike trail bordering my apartment's property and decided to put the pedals to the metal. The Taos is set up with a 36t chain ring up front and 9 gears in the rear. I quickly found myself shifting into high gear and flying. Note to self: I may or may not want to the gears as I am thinking about going single speed. But I did notice I had enough juice leftover to push a bigger gear and I think I will keep this in mind. I believe the smallest cog in the rear is a 14t. I think I can easily work a 12t cog no problem, even from the line. This WILL no doubt test the strength of the chain ring and cranks! ;)

In a word this bike is VERY responsive and I felt like I had no power loss as I cranked out of the saddle. The FOX fork up front really made this possible as I did not feel as though I was bobbing all over the place during the initial hucking. Also, I have to realize here that I am not used to riding a hard tail. So I'm not used to the instant power transfer. Compared to my Dakar, which has a four-bar linkage and is quite immune to pedal bob unless I'm out of the saddle, the Taos is king of course. The frame is also very rigid but without feeling as though I'm being jarred to death. My wrists and elbows were fine. Plus, the whole rig is QUIET as hell, the only sound it makes is during gear shifts and even then its not loud at all. I was markedly impressed.

One key issue I have and it really is not a problem as much as it is a phenomenon I have never experienced before. As I was approaching top speed during my sprint (I didn't have a computer hooked up to measure what I exactly clocked - but it was FAST) the bike felt incredibly "floaty." In essence, I felt as though the bike would if I hit another imaginary gear would take off from the road. Not sure if I want to even try to correct this at all but I felt it should be noted. My initial thoughts were to see perhaps if a different wheel set-up might have an effect of stabilizing the rig at high speeds, even if that means using a heavier rim for instance. Not sure of the answer but my mechanic buddy and I will discuss it and determine what the best course of action is. Otherwise, this rig blows my mind and I cannot wait to not only ride it some more but to complete its transformation into a slealth, bling'd out street head-turner!


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