Friday, July 8, 2011


is what her name shall be.

19.02 pounds

Karma is the concept of action or deed, understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect.  Some might say that my new steed is fate; others would say "happenstance."  I will let you be the judge.

My troubles began back in the winterSpecialized had been great to me up until this point.  But I could not even buy the bike, a 2011 Specialized S-Works SJ SS,  unless I went to another shop.  And that I refused to do.  I even wrote a letter to Mike Sinyard and Rebecca Rusch was kind enough to make sure it got into his hands.  Well, at least it made it to the desk of his secretary.  The end result of that was the regional rep telling Bruce that he did not have the privilege of being an S-Works dealer.

Well, it just so happened that I finally committed to racing the 6 Hours of Warrior's Creek, after being asked 3 years in a row by the promoter.  It always coincided with the Ouachita Challenge.  But I was wanting to do a 6 hour on my SS and I had heard great things about this grassroots race.

It just so happened that Mike Stanley was going to be there with a van full of Niner Bikes to demo.  Zeke talked me in to trying one out.  I did, an A9C with a rigid fork.  As much as I love my Specialized fleet of bikes, I was quite impressed with the Niner.

After much hemming and hawing and with Zeke talking my ear off about the company, I decided to get one.  That was a BIG STEP for me.  I have ridden nothing else but Specialized for the past 12 years.  Their bikes are the best, the components and gear comfortable and durable, and their customer service and advocacy has been top notch.  But ... they just seemed to be more interested in the road aspect of cycling and their "concept" stores.  The small LBS's got kicked aside.

After waiting 2 1/2 months, she arrived.  Bruce meticulously (and I do believe with love) assembled her.  And yesterday I got to try her out at the Whitewater Center.  Just so you know, I paid for this bike, so my opinions are completely non-biased.

I "cut my teeth" on technical rocky trail at The Snake.

After just one 3 hour ride, I cannot say that the bike is friggin' unbelievable or da bomb, but I must say I was most impressed.  The cockpit felt perfect and racey.  She soaked up small bumps; a smoother ride than my Specialized aluminum SS.  Power transfer was instantaneous.  And she was quite nimble through the switchbacks.  I was also able to flick her through rocky sections like I was on my Specialized Era.  

Westfork Trail.  She begs to climb.

I will need some more time on her before I can give a complete thumbs up.  Racing her this weekend at the SERC Huntsville will be a true test.  I have also never ridden a Reba, so I am sure that making some adjustments will help to smooth the trail out as well.  I was riding on the Specialized Renegade tires.  I like them on the rear, but they wash out in sandy or deep loose over hardpack.  Slapping a Specialized Captain on the front should make her rail through the turns better.

I am hoping that this relationship is only the beginning.

Mike Stanley is an awesome rep.  He works his arse off.  Down to earth, goes above and beyond, and loves his job.  I had a good rep with Specialized, but I think his hands were tied.  It might be just me, but I think the corporate leaders are more interested in world domination and sponsoring road racers who throw their $10,000+ bikes into the ditches of the French countryside.  The last (and only) time I threw my bike down in anger was when I was 9 years old.  And that earned me a week of being grounded.

Where is the scracth 'n sniff sticker?


Chris said...

Changing up -- especially midseason -- is always a bit scary. Don't think about it, let instinct take over, and you'll be rocking!

Setup on the Reba: The psi values on the leg sticker are bunk. Even SRAM folks say so. Set your positive air (top side) first, to about 20% sag (use a twist-tie to figure it -- it's easy since 20% of 100mm is 20mm!) Then, set your negative -- I go 5psi under for fantastic small-bump compliance, but even 10psi under is good. Always do positive before negative, and always keep positive higher (or equal). Thankfully, it's a bit easier on a hardtail since you're not trying to match any movement in the rear. I *heart* Reba, and I'm sure you will too!

Lisa said...

Still working on the name for mine..I think you will really like it. I only have a few rides on mine and ended up building it up with XX. I have been faster on it than on my SS, which I always thought was pretty far so good. Need to toughen up the butt callouses though before TNGA.

Anonymous said...

FWIW Specialized will have a non s works Carbon SJ SS 29 frame available for 2012. I think MSRP is $2200.