Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

How to improve a classic?

Posted by Matt | July 5, 2008 | Leave a comment

Money!, Money!, Money!

Must be funny I’m sure to have the cash to indulge my whims. Even indulging my mountain biking whims (which despite what you may think are not the most expensive that I have) would be a pleasure with a bit more cash available.

Recently, my Drivetrain Replacement Programme™ required the sacrifice of my 2003 Marin Rift Zone on the eBay altar. It wasn’t as upsetting as it sounds, I had simply outgrown the bike and it was gathering dust at the back of my garage. Even sitting there I’m sure I could hear it creaking occassionally.

Now, having ridden and thoroughly enjoyed my On-one Inbred over the past weeks I’ve started hankering to upgrade a few bits on it. Where to start, assuming unlimited funds and a perspective acquired from riding my lovely Orange Five?

It seems to me the two key areas where my Inbred classic lacks is in the fork and brake department. The frame, simply put, is perfect in terms of geometry, reach and compliance. In fact, it reminds that the New York Bike Snob would probably marvel at how laterally stiff yet vertically compliant it is, and if he’s ever in Surrey he’s welcome to experience it for himself.

Importantly, my white On-one looks to be this year and next’s preferred colour so it’s a great platform to continue developing.

Looking around at new kit on the horizon, it seems in short order we’ll be spoilt for choice for 100-140mm bolt through forkage. Fox, Marzocchi and Rock Shox are all bringing out some form of bolt through arrangement for their XC/AM forks next year and anyone upgrading in the near future should factor bolt through into their equations. Really, it can’t be beat in terms of the amount of increased confidence and capability it offers for the price.

Having said that, of the new systems under development I’d plump for Rock Shox and their Maxle variants, first because 20mm axles are probably stronger than 15mm and second because if you have a 20mm hubbed wheel and need to use it with a 15mm forks there’s always the possibility of someone making a step down arrangement. But there’s no chance of running a 20mm fork with a 15mm axle! So I’d definitely go for Rock Shox on that basis.

Which Rock Shox fork for my On-one? Well, it’s geometry corrected for 100mm and quite frankly seems to sit in that sweet spot extremely well. Yes, I hear the clamour for more length (ahem) and yes I’ve heard you can get away with maybe 130mm of fork but I’d suggest in this case not to. Instead, the 2009 bolt through 100mm Reba with it’s SID style powerbulge lowers, sophisticated Motion Control damping and 3.55lbs (approx) weight would suit the On-one very well and crisp up the steering nicely. So, that’s the fork sorted.

Next, braking. Having a new post mount fork would give me the perfect opportunity to getting some serious stoppage onto the bike in place of my original Hope Mini (pre Mono) brakes. Not too sure what though. Hope now offer the Mono Mini Pro which looks enticing and comes in gunsmoke with Union Flag reservoir caps. Since I’ve got a gunmetal/blue accessory colour thing going on they might fit the bill perfectly, even if there’s no hint of lime green anywhere to be seen. But brakes are moving on rapidly and it would be worth looking at the Hayes Stroker/Formula Oro/Avid Juicy competition too.

But after all that (and having comfortably spent about £800 in my head on a fork/new wheel/brakes combo) I’m going to say the best upgrade I can make to the On-one is significantly cheaper. In fact, it’s peanuts (and no, it’s not anodised KCNC jockey wheels!). My best upgrade advice reflects the fact it’s a different beast to my Orange and I use the bike differently too.

As a two bike owner, the problem is usually that I have to swap pedals across to use the bike. I have some platforms which are great on the Inbred when I take my son out on the tagalong but lethal with my hard soled cycle shoes offroad. This actually means I ride the bike much less than I’d like to.

So my best upgrade is either an SPD pedal with a decent platform which I can keep on the bike all the time and ride with either SPDs or trainers as necessary. Or, keep the platform pedals on all the time and get a cheap pair of last year’s 661 super tacky soled trainers with the intention that they become my main Inbred riding shoe for all occassions. And not care if they get properly mank in use.

Another upgrade which I will also carry out is to buy another Thomson stem and Hope HID faceplate so I can swap my HID over easily. Then I’ll have even more incentive to use the Inbred and I can run the bike over winter night rides to ‘save’ my Orange.

Sometimes, you just have to step back and think about what would really make a difference to your riding. And it’s often not even close to what you would think.

But I’m still hankering after those other upgrades too..!


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

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