Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Flight Crew Update

It has been a pretty low key week for me in the Airborne department, as the bike was out of commission for the first half of it..  The awesome guys at Airborne dropped my new bolt kit off at the Fedex place on Monday. I received it here in Georgia on Wednesday, and promptly had it installed on my bike. 

Thursday morning I just had to get out and ride that thing!  On the menu for my mountain bike breakfast: 8 miles on No-Tell and Turner Creek, some of the fastest singletrack in my neck of the woods.  Those 8 miles flew by in a 45 minute blur of sweaty, dirty bliss. The Zeppelin Elite was made for this: lots of climbing, and lots of fast descending.  All in all, the Zeppelin is proving itself as a worthy trail bike.

Still, it has some proving left to do.  So far I've only taken it on some of the smoother trails in the area due to my continuing back problems.  But.... Dahlonega's smooth trails rank as a rough pinball ride in other areas of the nation, including Fort Ord where we had previously tested these bikes during the Sea Otter Classic.

Photo Shoot
From the Zeppelin Elite photo shoot.
After that satisfying release of endorphins and adrenaline, I spent about 30 minutes attempting to do an artistic photo shoot of the Zeppelin. Be sure to check out the best photographs from that session by clicking here. Definitely some quality bike shots, some of which are included here in this post.

The Tora
I've previously mentioned that I thought the Tora was going to be horribly undersprung, and generally prove to be a dismal performer.  So far, the fork has performed well on relatively smooth trail, and soaks up small bumps and roots well.  But if the trail is relatively smooth, do you really need a suspension fork? NO! I blasted down No-Tell and Turner Creek, and it felt as if I was constantly working through about 95% of the available travel on most of the technical stuff, which is very light compared to Bull Mountain. "This does not bode well," I thought.  At times I even completely bottomed the fork out on small 12-18 inch drops: very inconsequential obstacles.

The verdict: I either
     A) Need to find a way to stiffen up this fork
     B) Need to get my older Fox Float R rebuilt
     C) Get a new fork
     D) Don't ride really rough trails.

Letter D is actually a viable choice for the time being, as my back is still in sub-par condition.

I will keep you all posted on how the situation progresses.

My Intense Tires
I added these Intense tires as an aftermarket upgrade, and they have been absolutely bomber!  I felt so confident ripping through sharp, bermed up terms and dropping down loose, tech areas at all-out speeds! You've just gotta love a quality pair of burly tires!

Water Bottle Cage
As a result of my back being all crapped up and constantly painful, I've been trying to ride with as little gear as possible.  To do that, I've added a black water bottle cage onto the brackets below the downtube.  I like that the black cage fits right in with the color scheme of the other components. 

I am relatively new to this whole riding-with-a-water-bottle thing, but I still am not a big fan of having my bottle below the downtube instead of above it. Alternative bottle mounting options are nonexistent: the Zeppelin's suspension design completely excludes the possibility of having a water bottle anywhere else. What sketches me out about the placement is:
     A) Hard to reach: I have to wait until a very flat, calm area to reach all the way down to grab a drink.
     B) Mud and horse excrement is constantly flung onto the bottle by the front tire.  Seems like it could be a real health hazard.

Really, very few of these thoughts have anything to do with Airborne per-se.  There are many, many bikes with similar water bottle-mounting designs. Just some of my thoughts on water bottles.

What the Other Flight Crew Members Are Up To
Here's a brief update on what a couple other members of the Airborne Flight Crew have been up to:

Josh is currently taking the mountain bike trip of a lifetime!  He and his girlfriend are traveling all over the western United States hitting every famous mountain bike trail that you can think of.  They just recently left Telluride, Colorado.  

Here's an image that they took while in Telluride.  Click here to read their latest post about Telluride on their blog,
Ana has turned Pro, and recently competed in a pro downhill race in Tahoe. Check out the helmet cam footage of her practice run below:

Your Turn: I've done enough writing, now it's your turn to weigh in. I'd love to hear your opinions on forks, mud-splattered water bottles, and anything else you'd like to comment on!


Daniel July 3, 2010 at 4:54 PM  

Nice to hear about the tires, love it when things just work.
My Tomac has that same spot for mounting a bottle cage as its only option, I feel your frustration buddy!
The fork will have to be changed, as your riding progresses so will your reliance on the suspension, if its bottoming out already it surely wont hold up when things go big. No matter what fork you go too I highly recommend one that is adjustable, whether air or - I find myself using the amount of air pressure in my forks to adjust them for different trail conditions way more often than messing with the rebound rate.

Daniel July 3, 2010 at 5:05 PM  

Love Ana's video.
I really miss riding the Truckee/Tahoe area. I hope to make it back there before the snow flies this fall-

Greg Heil July 3, 2010 at 5:29 PM  

Yeah dude I was thoroughly unimpressed with that fork. My fox fork which is about 4 years old and leaks oil performs better than that brand new tora. I would love to get something with more travel adjustment, but more options = more $$.

That video is sweet... makes me want to get into DH riding even more!

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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