I have been doing a fair amount of riding lately, enough to shed seven pounds in the last few weeks. I don't look like a bike racer just yet, but it's a start.
Most of the rides have been over two hours long, and all have been mixed terrain using the Niner EMD. I really like that bike—the position, the handling, the rim/tire combo, everything.
As I prepared to go out for another ride this morning, I eyed the Krampus, a bike that isn't getting much use. For some reason I decided to take it out on a mixed terrain ride to see how it would do. I trued the rear wheel, which was pretty wobbly for a new wheel. I'm not hard on wheels, so this was disappointing. I also added a second water bottle cage, pump and a spare tube. Ready.
I decided to ride the same route I used for my last ride to see just how much slower the 29+ bike would be versus the Niner EMD. On Sunday I rode nonstop at a good tempo, even riding briefly with a pack of roadies, but I would try to match the perceived effort as best I could.
Rolling out of the driveway, the Krampus felt fine. I had more air in the tires than I would for a trail ride, so the bike rolled well. Down the first few hills, I ran out of gear due to the 1x10 setup. I found you can comfortably hit 28 miles per hour in the hardest gear, maybe 32 spinning your brains out. There are a number of places where you can get up around 40 miles per hour, so I did a little more coasting than I would riding a bike equipped with a triple crank.
Climbing was slower in most situations, which is to be expected. The tires are 1070 grams with an aggressive tread, at least compared to other plus tires. The only time I felt an advantage was on short climbs where it felt like the bike rolled up with minimal effort due to the momentum of the big, heavy wheels.
When I hit the first dirt section, I thought the Krampus would be in its element. However, it felt slower than the Niner. Uphill, downhill, rocky terrain or smooth, it felt lethargic in the dirt. It made me seriously wonder what this bike is good for.
The ride progressed in much the same way: observing different situations and being disappointed with the outcome. Over and over I kept thinking, man, this thing is slow. I completed the last tough climb and was glad it was over.
I rolled up the driveway and looked down at my GPS. Less than two hours. I said aloud, "That can't be right." I had to have missed a turn or something. I immediately took the Garmin upstairs to my office and downloaded the info. I was shocked to see that the ride on the Krampus was faster. Not only was it faster than Sunday's ride, it was faster than any other time I had done that route. Scoreboard don't lie. Here's the Sunday ride on the Niner and today's ride on the Krampus.
So did I just have a good day? Did I subconsciously ride harder to compensate for the bike? Can a particular bike change the way speed is perceived? I don't know the answer to any of those questions, but it will be interesting to see how the next ride goes.