I love cycling gear, kit, clothing, equipment… call it what you want, I am massively into it, to the point where new gear acts as a motivation to ride at times. I am not at the end of the spectrum as say Das Wolf, who is the most prolific gear connoisseur I have ever known (both in terms of lusting and transacting), nor do I have the measured patience to kit acquisition as the Doc, but I am firmly in the “I love gear” camp.

As such, from time to time I will be dedicating posts purely to talking/ranting about gear… To some (Diesel) their eyes will glaze over, but its a key part of getting business done and there is usually a theme or story to it I figure.

The first gear rant is dedicated to the DH bike, my (now) mega old skool but extremely reliable Santa Cruz Bullit (no mum, that’s not a typo). Here it is in all its glory ready to roll for Whistler 2.0 day one tomorrow (freshly built out of the super reliable Evoc bike bag):

Locked and loaded...

Locked and loaded…

Believe it or not, I picked up this bad boy in June 2009! It was a massively irrational purchase at the time, with a faint dream in the back of my head about going to Whistler one day (cycling bucket list). This purchase became even weirder a month later when I got the call to go to Singapore for a month (which ultimately became slightly more long term). I dragged this 42 pound beast to Anti-DH ville and it took me 2 years from transaction to finally get it on to the slopes it was meant to be unleashed on in Whistler.

It was a life changing experience and trip in 2011, Whistler had turned out to be everything I had expected and more (in a freaky scary way), but by the end of the second week nagging questions began to pop up from the Bullit to me… “Why do we have such narrow 720mm handlebars?”… “Why don’t I have dual crown forks?”. At first I tried to ignore it and reassure the both of us that we were fitting in and didn’t need a comprehensive upgrade/modification programme, but bikes are not stupid, they know… They sit in the lift stand or at the cafe and observe. Finally I was cracked by its insidious questioning: “Why the fuck are we running SRAM 2 x9?! Where is my chain guide?! Do I really only have 180mm of front travel and are you really going to take me home in a cardboard box? Are we poor?”

In the end we went home in silence and whilst a critical rear wheel replacement (cracked) was carried out and an urgent transplant to remove all tumourous SRAM equipment for Shimano Saint, we didn’t speak of it again and the Bullit retreated to the bomb shelter. Fast forward 2 years and the itch to upgrade and modify had well and truly kicked in like a SWAT team on speed.

I love modifications and upgrades (cue motto of the story), not only because new kit is cool, but because it represents progression and learning, which ultimately translates into being faster and/or having a lot more fun (or just shitting yourself a little less). This is the coolest part of an upgrade or mod programme… You’ve been somewhere or done something and it was rad, but for me the brain starts to nag “How could we improve or go faster… What can we do differently to BTMFD better?” This is where the fever starts and builds and over time, translates into a lot of time in bike shops.

The ‘Bullit 13’ upgrade programme has turned out to be fun and surprisingly cost effective (by my/wolf standards any way) and has been based around all the learnings from 2011:

  1. Its big fork time – 200mm Marzocchi 888 Bomber upfront. I have no idea how to adjust it, but it is an epic piece of kit and has gold stanchions, enough said
  2. Angleset cups – Slacken the beast out to a 65 deg head angle to deal with those massive ‘Oh shit this is way steeper than it looked on you tube’ moments
  3. 780mm Renthal bars – If they are good enough for half the WC DH field I think I will get by. Turning up with 720’s last time was like bringing a flaccid c0ck to a gunfight. Have also gone with softer grips and Whistler is hell bent on destroying hands
  4. Saint pedals – Being back on flats will take some adjustment, so I needed to take Shimano’s latest offering of pedal perfection
  5. MRP 34T 1×9 set up and chain guide – The final mod made last week which was essentially the no going back point, we now have a DH bike and not a halfway house actress/waitress set up that we previously rolled with.

I appreciate that list won’t mean much to road padre’s, but its a very targeted hit list to make this trip a lot more fun and hopefully less freaky halfway down Freight train or A-line. Will the experiment work? WIll the learning’s and progression that drove the upgrade programme pay off? Stay tuned and find out tomorrow… We’re on the cusp of day one!

I know that there are some small footed people out there that will tell me I need 200mm rear travel minimum, but I have now put lipstick on the old pig and want to see if the Frankenhulk set up can get the job done…

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