Monday, September 7, 2009

Paradox Review No.2

Hello everyone,

While back in Nelson last week I got two good rides in on the Paradox, one on Paper Bag, and one on Seven Summits.

Paper Bag, is a technical descent oriented trail that starts out with a lot of up-and-down before dropping the vert in short order. Me and my buddy Waz used to ride it on Saturdays in high school to shake off the hangover. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden it clear minded. The Paradox was great for the initial part of the trail with lots of speed and direction changes. Now-a-days, people just ride the downhill portions and push on the uphill portions. The Paradox brought me back to 2000, when free riding included climbing. She made it up most of the tech portions with little effort from me. I bitched out on a few things, but mostly because I was feeling tired and just didn’t have the drive that day. Plus it was super hot. I like how stable the bike feels on uphill switchback corners. It does feel bigger than a 26’er but still somehow still fits. It feels more stable and like there’s more room for error – forgiving I guess.

Jay mentioned that DHing on the Paradox was a little like brining a knife to a gun fight. While I don’t disagree, it is important to note that a knife can be just as deadly as a gun, when used properly. The DH portion of Paper Bag was more challenging on the Paradox than on my FR bike (obviously!). However, everything was still rideable, but at a lower speed and with a little more deliberateness with regards to choosing a line. You can’t just point and shoot in the steep and loose, but you can choose a careful line and pilot the bike down. Of course, the Paradox is not intended to be a gravity bike, but my point is, it’s still capable, though it doesn’t excel at DH oriented riding. I found myself lofting the front wheel just a little to smooth out the transitions of the many steep rock drops/chutes. A square edged rock managed to put a nice flat spot on my rear rim. I was waiting for the hiss of leaking air for the rest of the ride. Somehow the flat didn’t occur till we were already down – but it was right at the flat spot on the rim. Strange. Always remember to carry a spare 29r tube in your pack if you usually ride 26 bikes – or at least a patch kit.

Side note: If anyone wants to check out Nelson trails, pick up the detailed guide book Roots Rocks Rhythm from one of the many stores on Baker Street. $15 bucks is worth it for proper directions – chicken scratch drawings on beer coasters are only so good! Plus the revenue from these guide books goes to trail maintenance.

Seven Summits is definitely an epic XC/AM trail that everyone should try. It has become reasonably popular (especially for a Kootenay trail) and we’ve hard of people driving 8 hours from Vancouver specifically for it. As a result, it’s seen some wear, but there’s an active trail crew that maintains it – we passed them as they were fixing up a section. Thanks Spooner! I rode it with my sister and my friends Trevor and Kelly. It’s got some pretty rough sections – lots of fist sized rocky zones, but also lots of buff singletrack. I think the ideal bike for this trail would be a 5” and 5” full suspension (Spitfire… ahem… ahem). . At the end of the Seven Summits, you can drop the Dewdney to add to the descent, which we did. The Paradox blew my mind on the climbing portions of the trail. I kept up with Kelly and she’s some crazy wicked tri-athlete who trains religiously and I’m just a hack who skis and bikes. As I noticed on Paper Bag, this bike feels really stable on switchback climbs. As far as the flats and downhills go, the bike still rips, but you have to choose the right line, as you would with any hardtail. If you get sloppy and just ride over the rocks, you are gonna feel it – it is a hardtail. However, the curved seat stays do add some vertical compliance. I rode this trail on my Scirocco (with straight seat stays) years ago, and remember feeling substantially more vertical harshness.

Overall, I think a little bit of the vulnerability I felt on the descents was due to the Scwalbie 2.1 Little Albert tires. The have a very rounded profile. So, although you get a longer contact patch with the 29er wheel, it is also narrower with these tires. I don’t know what that does to the entire contact area – might be equal to or even less than a 26er with fatties at low pressure. I want to try some different tires soon. I have a feeling it will completely change the feel of the bike. The little Alberts are great for ripping the shit out of tacky and loamy singletrack, but when the going gets tough (steep and loose), they left me feeling a little exposed. Jay, what do you think of your set up? Didn’t you pick some 2.3’s or even 2.4’s? I can’t remember.


This afternoon, I spent some time monkeying with my cockpit set up on the Paradox. I rocked the handlebar forward a little bit, so the curve of the bar would be more upward, and less backward. I also moved my brake and shift levers further away from the grips. I fussed over the Reba a little bit and increased the compression damping a few clicks. What a difference! I felt a lot more confident in my braking and overall body positioning on the bike. The greatest benefit was the fork adjustment though. I’m not overly familiar with RockShox, so it takes me a while to get them dialed the way I like them. With two clicks (from fully open) the bike felt more stable when adjusting my weight and braking – less pogo stick action. It bunny-hopped way better and felt better launching lips. And, I didn’t notice any loss in bump absorption. Does anyone have any advice on how to set these forks up? I’m all ears. I sure wish I’d had my bike set up this way for Paper Bag and Seven Summits – I would have ridden better for sure.

Oh, I stopped by Hardcore Bikes today and threw the Paradox on their scale. She weighted in at 28.66 lbs (13.00 kg) with the build I described before plus a little bit of dirt and with my steerer tube still an inch above the top of the stem. Oh, I also changed the front derailleur to an X9 with the high clamp – and there is more tire clearance now.

Anyway, this afternoon, me and my buddy Dustin went and sessioned some Mill Creek Trails (back in Edmonton now – Nelson vacation is over) and took some pics. We put on our best Kranked I – Live to Ride hats and threw down on some drops. Enjoy the pics.


While I was back, I also met up with my buddy Travis Hauck (the NRG rep) and did a heli-drop to Burn and Beyond up Kokanee (on my FR bike not Paradox…. sorry guys….). This trail starts at the top of Mount Solid, which is just west of the peak you see on the Kokanee Beer can. The next day we got Pat Williams from Kootenay Dirt Tours to shuttle us up at Baldface Lodge all day. We rode Cherry Toppers, Short and Funky, two new unnamed trails and Shannon Pass. In total (according to buddy’s GPS), we got 3600 vertical meters (yeah, meters, not feet) of descending that day. It was mad. I think there was a post on pinkbike about this area a while ago – hurting for vert or something. Then the next day, we hit up Power Slave – a wicked trail up Give Out Creek (see Roots Rocks Rhythm). This is easily one of the best trails in Nelson. Placenta Descenta followed, and then Skier’s Right.

Should be a fun fall, with tackier trails,

Kurt Morrison

Oh, by the way I remember reading a post on the blog a while back all about the Scirocco. In the comments, a few guys were jonsing and couldn’t find any to buy. Good news my friends. I was at Sacred Ride in Nelson and noticed a Scirocco (not sure what size) hanging from the rafters for CAD $350, so there you go!