Words By Tim Grant & Steve Day – Photos, Steve Day
Bike check is back and we have something a little unusual. Which catch up with Steve Day. You remember the guy who bears a resemblance to a certain X-Men. He also tends to like a challenge as well (who-are-you-the-wolverine-steve-day.) Well not one to disappoint he’s at it again. Sometimes it’s not just the racing that challenges but it can be getting that “just right” set up. So we find out what Steve is
Travers RussTi & Angus II… Hardtail Heaven?
Can you imagine the excitement? An unexpected call out of the blue from Travers… “I’m sponsoring SSEC-17 and doing a limited run of singlespeed specific frames with a few tweaks – what would you want?” Now, having been riding the Travers RussTi in 27.5+ trim since SSUK, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I fell in love with the RussTi from the first ride – such a sweet ride – accurate and comfortable over long rides and capable of dealing with anything thrown its way. To be asked what I would change was a tough one. Sliding dropouts to get rid of the tensioner that was required to be able to run singlespeed on the stock frame, and 2 bottle cages in the central triangle were as much as I could think of as I didn’t want to be responsible for screwing up what is an ace ride in the standard RussTi. The only other things that developed over the next few weeks was a shorter back-end and asymmetric chain-stays to allow a wider range of front ring sizes. The subsequent wait was excruciating, especially not being able to tell anyone what was coming!
Before jumping on the RussTi for the first time, I was a little concerned about how stiff the ride would be. Having been on skinny steel frames for a LONG time, the jump up in tube size and subsequent stiffness was a cause for concern, however this was quickly dismissed on the first ride where it was clear the balance of tube geometry and springy Titanium was really well balanced, Even after a serious stint up at Relentless it was clear how good the frame is for longer rides – no harshness – important when you’re trying to hang on for 24 hours. The detail and finish is also second to none – really tidy welds and internal cable/hose routings through the head-tube and top-tube.
The RussTi was built up with a pair of Nextie carbon rims on Hope Pro-4 Boost hubs. Nextie let you pick & mix finishes & graphics, and as I am one for the subtle stealth look, I went for the 3K matt finish weave with black Nextie decals. The finish is really high quality and showing no signs of deterioration. Front & rear are shod in VEE rubber – an aggressive Crown Gem up front and a Bulldozer out back. So far I am really impressed with how they are working – plenty of grip, even through the winter slop, yet not too draggy for longer rides. They are also really predictable and offer good all round performance on all sorts of terrain. They weigh in a little more than Schwalbe’s, but the benefit being additional reliability and fewer calls to the wife to come & get me!
Out front there is a choice of Lauf Trail Racer Boost forks when a bit of bounce is needed, or a pair of Travers Prong XC rigid Boost forks. The Prong is really well finished as expected from Travers, with subtle graphics. The fork is super accurate and tracks really well, but not arm-jarringly painful to ride, and a great match to the frame.
For longer rides/races and additional comfort, the Laufs hang off the front of the frame through a Hope headset. These babies have certainly split opinion on looks – I love them! They are light and offer a service free ride. I have had no issue with their accuracy, and love the way they feel when ridden. Yes, there is no damping, but it’s not something that has even crossed my mind unless someone asks about it. I guess there’s some magic in the action of those leaf springs.
They absorb the buzz from the trail really well, and due to the lack of oil, there’s no change in the performance over time (oil deteriorates and fills with air, causing damping characteristics to change). The only negative I have found so far is that they are harsh if you actually manage to bottom them out. This has only happened once after launching off a rock at Fort William and landing awkwardly due to a slip in concentration. Given the speed and landing, I am sure I would have said the same about a conventional fork in the same situation…
The other finishing kit consists of the works of art that are Hope X2 brakes and cranks. Such brilliant craftsmanship and quality. There’s a lovely pair of prototype Fibrax floating rotors fitted that, when matched with Fibrax pads, have proven to give excellence performance and zero squeal in all but the foulest wet conditions. A Surly stainless front ring & Halo Fatfoot rear cog and Squirt pre-lubed KMC chain help transfer the power to the wheel. The chain has been amazing and didn’t need any lube for 100+ miles in the foulest conditions that Dyfi, Cannock and my local trails could throw at it! A USE Ultimate seat post and Charge saddle keep your back-end comfy – all held nicely in place by a Hope seat clamp. A Travers carbon bar and Ergon grips are held to the stem by a USE Vyce stem.
Maybe not the lightest bike, but one built with durability & reliability in mind – both factors that play a massive part in 12 & 24 hour races. Bring on race season. All of these bits have been transferred across to the New singlespeed Angus II frame now.
The first outing was at the Wentwood 50 in Monmouthshire… The Angus II came in to its own on the climbs with a massive amount of traction at the rear, with only poor line choice meaning a couple of dismounts over the 4200ft of climbing. Likewise motoring through the new twisty singletrack was a breeze with the same great agility of the RussTi set-up. For me the loss of a tensioner makes such a difference when it comes to being able to swap and change gearing, and with the potential to run a 36t chainring up front will mean a massive range of gearing. there’s also a huge adjustment range at the back axle in the really tidy sliding drop-outs. The straight seat tube means 2 bottles fit in the central triangle thanks to the neat recess in the seat tube.
So, now it’s just down to me to get back to the same fitness level I was at for Relentless before WEMBO and the Pivot 24-12… there’s certainly no excuses with the ride!