200+ Miles in and the Spitfire has lived up to the promises made by modern geometry.
Thought I would share my thoughts on this bike and have a wee bike check of the build and how its holding up. To summerise, the frame is amazing and well balanced now the fork is behaving. Starting to build pace and confidence, but its still a newish bike to me and I don’t put in as many miles as I did when I got its predecessor.
That said I rarely get less than a top 3 time on any given trail I ride on it, not half bad.
Heading south from the Fungle singletrack is the Fungle Road itself.
The old drovers road connects Deeside in the north with Tarfside in the south and is usually part of a larger loop. I have a favourite section, from Birse Castle up to the edge of the estate. It is a real leg burner of a climb but one fast descent coming back down.
I love my shins.
The little touchs.
I normally take the Fungle on my XC whip as the climb can be a little, intimidating, it is the sort of constant grind that benefits from a lithe XC machine.
But I thought I’d take the big bike for a change, not being on the gas for the climb was a good plan. The weather God’s looked on me kindly and the temperature was around 17-19 degrees. Pretty toasty for early April.
The start of the climb is literally at the end of the road, the tarmac ends and the dirt begins. You quickly cross the sheep pastures then the landscape begins to change in character to a more rugged austerity as the hillside grow in front of you.
The sparse heather covered hillsides hide burns that cross the trail, they grow and recede with the rains, thankfully they are never more than a quick rinse for the bike.
Once that climb has been defeated its time to make your way back down. From the top you can climb further and explore other back country options that take you into Glen Tanar or down the shooting estate fire road into Tarfside.
Or, do like I did, turn around and burn straight back down the way you came.
Being a historic walkers path your not going to find berms and lips to send off, but if your out here your not looking for that kind of riding experience. What you will find though is a very, very fast trail, with plenty of ruts and drainage ditches to get playful on.
Plenty to play on.
The 5km+ of descent quickly fly by, and all to quickly, the heather fades away with the grassy pastures on the boundary of farm and heath coming back into view.
That was the question that my wife asked me towards the end of last year, my 30th was in a few months time and she was sounding me out on the idea. As a committed mountain biker that is the kind of question you have day dreams about hearing.
With the Heckler starting to show its age, (2005/6 frame) I would of been lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it’s replacement.
When entering the market for a new bike the choices these days are a wide, varied, confusing minefield. What wheel size should you choose? Should it be plus sized or have boost spacing? 1X10/11/12 and what about 2X drivetrains, they are making a comeback. Hard tail or full suspension or should I just capitulate now and get a E bike?
You need to be honest with yourself about what terrain you actually ride. That 170mm super enduro bike might look amazing in the video but it is going to be a drag around the average trail centre.
Ask yourself a few of these questions;
What do you primarily ride and will that change over the next few years?
Is where you primarily ride trail centres or natural terrain?
Steep or mellow?
Do you have any riding or racing ambitions?
Are you an aggressive or hard rider?
Is covering long distances a regular ride for you?
After asking myself these (and a few other questions) I decided I was looking for an aggressive trail or light enduro machine, or what used to be called “all mountain”. I then wrote a set of criteria that the bike should be. I wasn’t wanting something that was vastly different from what the Heckler was for, just a modern, more capable machine.
Aluminum (unlike carbon, it can be recycled)
66/7° Head angle
140-160mm rear travel
150-160mm front fork
Threaded bottom bracket
Ideally external cable routing
Boost not a priority (screw boost)
I was initially looking to buy a whole bike, I was looking at a few bikes, the Bird Aeris, Canyon Spectral, Vitus Sommet and even a Orbea Rallon had all caught my eye. All of them had good, but not perfect builds for what was within the budget. When I accidentally found a shop in Englandshire that had Banshee frame bundles at very reasonable prices.
And a Banshee Spitfire more than met the criteria listed above.
I hadn’t considered a frame and custom build, but the idea was very appealing. A few conversations with my LBSand they were able to not only match the frame deal from down south, but better it by it coming with a CC Inline instead of a RS Monarch. Let it never be said that a bricks and mortar shop should be ruled out over direct sales when looking for a new ride.
Parts new and old.
Making something unique to you.
A big part of the fun with a build is the specing, researching the best mix of performance, weight and cost. The simple things like colour matching components and getting your preferred tyres and handlebar width right from the start. And knowing every part, every bolt and having that detailed knowledge of your ride, it all makes a difference.
Colour matching is important.
This also meant that family could gift me components for the build, making the bike more special, as my family helped me build it. The end result is a unique bike that no one else has, no one else is riding the same bike as me, and that is special.
There are a lot of Canyons on the bike racks of Audi drivers afterall.