Today I took the newly reconfigured Waltworks out for a two-hour ride. I was a little apprehensive because I haven't been on a single speed in quite some time. Would I be fit enough? Single speeding isn't very enjoyable when you're walking up hills.
I needn't have worried about my fitness. Unlike my 42-mile ride on Friday, which I struggled to finish, I actually rode really well today. I was shocked at just how good I felt. Maybe all the riding lately is paying off.
The bike has completely changed with the new 38mm riser bar. Both the rider position and the handling felt great. The 30-inch wide bars slowed the steering down a bit, but the bike may have been a bit too quick before. As I have mentioned previously, the bike has a 72-degree head angle, which is pretty steep. I felt comfortable enough with the new handling to blow by a guy riding a full suspension bike on a downhill. That was pretty satisfying.
I noticed something interesting after riding a few downhills on this bike. It was the smoothest ride of any bike I have been on lately, yet it has narrow tires compared to the Niner and Krampus. So what's the deal?
I suspect the quality of the tubing is the main difference. The Waltworks frame and fork are made from True Temper OX Platinum and are designed specifically for my weight. The result is the kind of ride quality you hope for when you fork out the dough for a custom ride. It's also the lightest bike I own by far. It seems like a light bike moves more freely underneath you, isn't as jolting when you hit a bump.
The Krampus is made of a generic 4130 chromoly tubing, and the frameset has to be designed for anyone who might buy it, which might mean a 300-pound dude. It's simply not going to have the same ride quality as my custom bike, even with plus size tires. And it's a tank.
The Niner is aluminum, so it is stiffer than a steel frame by default. That said, it rides pretty well. Aluminum bikes have come a long way.
In the end there is obviously more to making a rigid bike ride well than just cramming fat tires in it. If that were the case, the Krampus would ride like a Cadillac.
Anyway, I had a great time on the single speed and I can't wait to ride it again soon.