I have three mountain bikes, and I love them all.
Well, I say three but I have four frames and enough boxes of parts to build up three bikes at any one time. The parts regularly get shuffled around according to the season, the weather, my whims, what broke. It is a perpetually morphing bunch of bikes.
My Current lineup:
Santa Cruz Blur LT
My newest purchase but oldest frame, built in 2006 and at the time a pretty good frame. Less cutting edge now as they went on to improve the Blur greatly over the years, but still the highest performing frame that I have. Currently bouncing around with 135mm of travel at the back and 160mm at the front, it nips through the twists and turns with its tiny retro 26″ wheels.
Salsa Dos Niner
The Dos was Salsas first 29er frame and has slightly unusual rear suspension that consists of just a small aircan mounted above the seat-stays and no pivots. The idea is that the chain-stays flex and the aircan provides the damping, but not much of it. This was a great idea because it is simple and the ‘softtail’ gives some of the benefits of a hardtail and some of those of a full-sus. It was also a terrible idea because you have to mount the aircan as high as you can, meaning that the seat tube is tall and the seat stays are short to fit the aircan in so the tyre clearance is minimal and anyway the chainstays inevitably snap through having to do all the flexing/springing. But these problems are of no consequence, as it has the best orange paint-job ever. Probably my fastest bike and in the summer this thing is a joy to throw through the trails.
My oldest bike is mostly an On-One Inbred 29er hardtail frame with bits bolted on. If you are not familiar with the Inbred, the words ‘Mountain Bike’ might conjure up images of a lightweight frame, colour coordinated parts, suspension front and rear, talk of ‘bob’ and ‘rebound’, stuff like that. The Inbred is not at all like that – it is a steel frame and the purists will tell you that steel frames are responsive, springy, efficient, (none of that ‘bob’ and ‘rebound’ b*llocks) that they keep their inertia, can power up hills etc. Which is true. It also doesn’t hurt that they are cheap. It is currently running with rigid Charge forks, it is simple, reliable, and goes like stink. The suspension comes from the tyres, the long springy forks and the long springy seat tube. I would also say that it is enormous fast-rolling fun when I am fit, but an utter bastard if I am not.
Salsa Big Mama
A full sus 29er, it is currently out of service due to lack of parts. It’s colour is humorously called ‘Orange Funk’ but is poo brown and it features a fat dent on the fat downtube where I was hit by a Ford Focus. Lucky the BM took the hit, not my leg. I killed the bike last winter by repeatedly taking it out in the deep, claggy mud then jetwashing it and squirting all the moving parts with WD-40. So all the moving parts seized up in a weird mud/WD-40 varnish and I had to replace all the bearings and bushings. Then I built it back up, took it for two rides, bought the Blur frame and nicked all the good bits back off it for the Blur.