You have some explaining to do

Funny wheels and a funny colour. Painfully niche chasing

Yes, yes I do. Firstly a soggy romp through our Alps trip with special consideration given to the PPDS ,which didn’t quite match up to a previous post promising wall to wall sun and ground to axle dust. Unless sleet counts. I don’t think it does because warm and dusty are not generally early warning vectors for hyperthermia.

So we’ll be back to that and other stories of mild peril once the therapy kicks in. But first, I’d best come clean with another bike purchase even if I hold true to the maxim that the person espousing ‘honesty is the best policy’ had clearly never tried it. Counter-intuitively this funny-wheeled addition to the shed of dreams is not a knee jerk reaction to the Rocket not being brilliant in the alps. Because it was. More than brilliant and more than once. On every trail from loose and dusty to sodden and rutted.

So one bike to rule them all then? Of course not, but 2013 isn’t about divesting myself of bicycles- it’s more about restrained kleptomania. Next time a riding agenda has big rocks or big mountains on it, I’ll take the rocket and try and forget the brakes. Because that is where that bike works; the rockier, steeper and faster the better. And those all mountain credentials don’t stop it being a heap of fun on lesser trails as well. But it’s a bit much and a bit heavy and a bit slack and all the other things I bought it for.

Whereas the Solaris is bloody lovely and with a better rider on board more than adequate for my superb and varied local riding. However, not being able to upgrade the rider, instead the irresponsible fiscal winds blew towards this South African inspired frame based on a few reviews and recommendations, a close perusal of the length/breadth/angles and a long chat with the importer. And then, by some random chance, a real world look and a sit while high in the French mountains. That pretty much sealed it.

It’s a PYGA in case you’re struggling with the ZX80 inspired graphics. The only translation of which I can find is ‘buttock‘ in a medical dictionary which is off the irony scale. My friends worked hard to come up with something better including Pay Yearly (to) Gain Ability which I thought was both funny and bloody hurtful 😉 It’s also a lovely colour in the flesh if you like your greens tinged with a hint of acid. More importantly than even that is it’s a bloody hoot to ride.

I say that after exactly one of those rides. In perfect conditions and still in the shadow of purchase anxiety. Of course I wanted to like it and of course I may find an excuse to change various bits up to and including the frame if I decide i don’t, but so far so groovy. It’s more than a couple of pounds lighter than the Rocket and sporting tyres some way away from the small tractor size I’d hauled around in the Alps. But for all that, it’s a dancing climber, finding traction anywhere and punching up climbs if you’ve got a bit of leg-grunt going.

In the singletrack, it’s remarkably composed considering there’s ‘only’ 110m of travel out the back*. Some of this is clever suspension design, some is the mythical roll-ability of 29inch wheels, some of it is the frame’s amazing stiffness. The Rocket is the stiffest bike I’ve ever ridden and the PYGA isn’t far behind. Whereas the ST4 could happily have the front triangle and back axle in different post codes.

And 29ers turn differently. Once you’ve got them pointed in the right direction, and assuming you’ve developed a fundamental belief system around the grip of your tyres, they absolutely leech into the trail and fire you out of the apex. I’m sure 26inch wheels are just the same, but it’s the one big difference I’ve noticed on first the Solaris and now this. It may be all placebo of course but I care not, it’s bloody great fun placebo.

Talking of the Solaris it’s missing a few bits I purloined for this build. But it’ll be getting them back. Because with a 29er HT, a 29er Full-Suss, a big 26er Full Suss, a cross bike, a road bike and an old jump bike, the shed nears perfection. Well if it doesn’t it’ll be nearing an extension, and I can feel the full force of entirely appropriate spousal disapproval for that idea.

I guess it comes down to this. I’ve ridden my road bike once this year but I bloody loved it. I ride my cross bike when I’ve an hour spare and I love that too. Every fat-tyre-head has to have a hardtail and mine is perfect. And while two tricked out boutique full-suspension bikes may look profligate, they make me stupidly happy when I ride them.

I’m sure there’s almost as much pleasure to be had for a fraction of the cost. Almost sure. Almost. Best not take the risk eh?

* and 120 on the front. Unless you’re an idiot like me and decides ‘well 140 is 20 more than 120 so that’s going to be better, yes?’

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