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Jus' Ridin' Along
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I got my black ano large BLT back in June, and am finally getting to like this bike. It's probably taken this long due to my picky nature, but all comments and suggestions would be welcome.
First, the build (ground up): 519's laced to King ISO w/ 14/15 and alloy nips, Nevegal 2.5 frt, Maxis 2.3 rr stuffed with Stans; Magura Marta's for the stop.
For the go, XO rr, XTR frt derails controlling SRAM 11/32 pwrd by RaceFace Turbine LP w/ 42/32/20 and single Ti 'beaters spinning on prototype ISIS w/ ceramic bearings(test f/ a friend).
For the cockpit: XO twistys clamped to a ControlTec OS carbon, clamped in a Thompson 110x5, which turns a 06 TALAS (std) thru a King HS. Moving back, there's a RP3 under a RaceFace XY post supporting a Terry TiFly butt perch.
I think I got everything, and it all comes in under 29, or was it 28? Don't matter.

So, I'm wholly unimpressed with the TALAS and the RP3; I fell for the Fox Hype, and I'm not sending them to PUSH either. I am however quite happy with my Swinger 3way and Minute currently gracing my Superlite (my old bike). The SPV beats the ProPedal hands down, and I'll probably go that route on the BLT as well. But what about forks? Any suggestions, especially Answer? The Minute definitly steers better than the Fox.

The other question I have is how to make the bike feel more plush. I've very carefully set up the sag to factory specs, but my friend's 5 Spot feels plusher. Is it just the diff between 4 bar horstlink and VPP? Has anyone done a comparison between the two?
Also, I rode the original VPP: the Outland 5", and even it seemed plusher.

The only major issue with the frame has been the seat tube. When I first got it, the seat post would not go down beyond the weld area for the shock link tabs. It went back to SC, only to return with a marginal improvement and an explanation that the seat tube is "butted". Gee, I thought butting increased the material on the ends of a tube, not the middle. Where I ride, there are ALOT of steeps, and I like to have that seat all the way down when I'm headed in that direction. Anyone else run into this problem with the seat tube?

And just for the record, one of the main reasons I went with Santa Cruz was that they are a major supporter of IMBA. We currently own 3 SC's (2 SL and the BLT) and always suggest them to friends.

Anyway, all comments and suggestions on set-ups and tuning would be welcome.
 

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Trail Rider
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VPP plushness

I've ridden a little on an old Blur and from my brief experience, here is what I noticed. I have a Tracer and I noticed the Blur not being as plush. It almost felt like it didn't have as much travel as my Tracer. But when I hit a bump, it just absorbed it as if it wasn't there. The transition from smooth to bump and back was seamless. The bumps are just absorbed and you don't feel the suspension doing it. I had an old single pivot, which seemed plusher than my Tracer.
The Blur has a different feel to it. It is almost like a sports car feel. It is really hard to describe. I like that feel. I'm thinking that feel is why the VPPs have a little extra travel than their competitors. They give it a little more for a little plusher ride. I'm considering the 6.6, the 5.5 and the BLT as my next frame.
 

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BobL said:
So, I'm wholly unimpressed with the TALAS and the RP3; I fell for the Fox Hype, and I'm not sending them to PUSH either. I am however quite happy with my Swinger 3way and Minute currently gracing my Superlite (my old bike). The SPV beats the ProPedal hands down, and I'll probably go that route on the BLT as well. But what about forks? Any suggestions, especially Answer? The Minute definitly steers better than the Fox.

The other question I have is how to make the bike feel more plush. I've very carefully set up the sag to factory specs, but my friend's 5 Spot feels plusher. Is it just the diff between 4 bar horstlink and VPP? Has anyone done a comparison between the two?
Also, I rode the original VPP: the Outland 5", and even it seemed plusher.
I don't have a VPP bike but I have a bike similar to your friend's 5spot. I've also been unimpressed with the Talas and RP3. I changed the Talas for a Marzo AM1 and wow, what a contrast. If you want a plush fork, forget about the Minute, go with a coil Marzo or RockShox, if you only swear by Manitou, I think they still have a model that is coil TPC without the stupid "platform" type damping.

For the shock, I would be surprised if the 3way would give you a better ride then the RP3, I replaced the 3way on my bike for a RP3 and altough negligeable, the RP3 feels a bit better. I think if you really want plush, again you need to get something that doesn't have this stupid "platform" technology or at least be able to dial it out like the new Fox DHXA or maybe the CaneCreek Cloud9, even better would be coil shocks like the Avy Chubbie, Marzo Rocco or CaneCreek DoubleBarrel.

My 2 cents.
 

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noMAD man
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For the rear shock I think the DHX Air would be a good choice for the BLT. The plushness and tuneability would be a plus for the efficient VPP design. Once I figured out the characteristics of this shock by a good deal of futzing and the input of fellow MTBR folk, this shock has performed impressively. If I ordered a BLT, that's what I'd spec it with from SC...they show it as an option. If you're that loyal to Manitou, I'd go with a 4-Way Air. I have two of these, and they too are a plusher, more tuneable rear shock. I think most air shocks without a piggyback are too progressive with their smaller air chamber, and I wouldn't use them...except of course the Cloud 9. I don't think you have a gripe with SPV or stable platform. I think you're experiencing small chambered air shock harshness.

For a fork I'd go with a Z1FR Light. This fork is an air/coil hybrid with "wind down" travel reduction with TAS to go from 130-150mm. The BLT is an aggressive trailbike, and I'd build it that way. I wouldn't go with a Minute because it's a 30mm fork. The BLT begs for a 32mm fork at least. I'm not too high on any 6" Manitou forks right now because of weight, external adjustment issues, and travel reduction. Again, I'd go only with a 32mm or bigger fork. The 30mm is more of an XC Blur fork IMO.
 

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I test rode a BLT with the RP3 shock on it, and while I didn't get the chance to fiddle with much else besides the pro-pedal knob, I felt the same way about it... It wasn't nearly plush enough. I was thinking of getting the DHX Air as TNC suggested because of it's tuning options.

The BLT that I test rode also came equipped with a Vanilla RLC fork, and I was quite impressed with it. It's not much heavier than a Talas fork, and you get the benefits of having a coil. I thought that the BLT felt so well balanced with a 5" fork on it that the travel adjustment seemed totally unnecessary. The steering was precise, and it climbed without the front wheel wandering. I'd love to try one with a 6" fork on it though to see if it would roll over objects more easily with a slacker headtube angle, but for now, I'll probably go with the Vanilla fork, although something like the Marzocchi Z1 FR Light is intruiging.
 

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Jus' Ridin' Along
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Quattro said:
I've ridden a little on an old Blur and from my brief experience, here is what I noticed. I have a Tracer and I noticed the Blur not being as plush. It almost felt like it didn't have as much travel as my Tracer. But when I hit a bump, it just absorbed it as if it wasn't there. The transition from smooth to bump and back was seamless. The bumps are just absorbed and you don't feel the suspension doing it. I had an old single pivot, which seemed plusher than my Tracer.
The Blur has a different feel to it. It is almost like a sports car feel. It is really hard to describe. I like that feel. I'm thinking that feel is why the VPPs have a little extra travel than their competitors. They give it a little more for a little plusher ride. I'm considering the 6.6, the 5.5 and the BLT as my next frame.
Great minds think alike. The BLT VPP seems to just absorb the rough without the "BarcoLounger" feel of the 4 bars. I too have described the difference as being between a sports car (SUV?) and a caddy.
I test rode a friend's 5.5: more race like geometry similar to myb Superlite; the BLT offers more slack and length, making it less twitchy on the fast. I did get to ride a 6.6 at an Intense Demo; it was set up for me while I waited and I got to ride it on everything from fireraods to really rocky singletrack. Much more plush than a BLT (albeit heavier) but still had that "sport" suspension feel.Fit and finish was impeccable as well; Jeff was always a stickler for quality.
 

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Hmmmmm, I ride my Blur with 20psi less than recommended. I like to let the frame design provide the pedalling platform, not the shock. This should get you the plushnicity you are looking for. I did the same with my fork, 20psi less. You have to keep in mind, all these setup recommendations are published with warranty in mind. There is no way Fox or SC can predict how each rider likes their setup, so they go with something that is safe for their equipment. Before you start buying all new suspension, play around with the psi until you start bottoming, then adjust up.

I've got 3 rides on my new 06 130mm Float, bushings need to break in, but it ramps up far better than my old TALAS.
 

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Now Uploading
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BobL said:
The only major issue with the frame has been the seat tube. When I first got it, the seat post would not go down beyond the weld area for the shock link tabs. It went back to SC, only to return with a marginal improvement and an explanation that the seat tube is "butted". Gee, I thought butting increased the material on the ends of a tube, not the middle. Where I ride, there are ALOT of steeps, and I like to have that seat all the way down when I'm headed in that direction. Anyone else run into this problem with the seat tube?
I had a burr inside mine at (probably from) the weld. It was gouging my aluminum Thomson post up too, which was very tough to pull back up. I had a local bike shop run a seat tube reamer down it to clean it, cleaned and regreased and it's perfect now. I'm sure that's what's wrong with yours too. That tube is not "butted".

Oh, and my BB shell (actually that cast pivot peice on a BLT) was 1.5mm(!!!!!!!!!) thicker at the rear than the front of the BB shell. Put the X-type RaceFace bearings in there without facing the BB and the crank would literaly not even turn because the bearings were so out of alignment they were pinching the spindle. Had the same shop face the BB to 68mm spec and the cranks spin perfectly now.

This may be considered finish work, or quality control or whatever, all I know is that a frame like this (not necessarily just SC) is not finished yet when shipped. The annos are faced (headtube), but the powdercoats are not. And then there is our seat tube problem. I guess if we are to expect this and expect to pay for additional machine work to finish the frame and build the bike up, then there is really no problem at all.

Cheers,

Dave
 

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All Mt, DH
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I had a Blur LT for about 3 months. It was a nice bike, but I didnt feel 100% comfortable with it, so I sold it and got a Nomad.... now I'm much happier.. seriously
To me the main diffrences are:
Geometry
Travel
Standover
Shock adjustment (RP3 vs DHX air)
and ..................probably a few more things I'm finding out

I wonder how many peolple have done the same (LT to Nomad switch)
 

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Too Much Fun
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Its surprizingly common...

mtbdirteater said:
This may be considered finish work, or quality control or whatever, all I know is that a frame like this (not necessarily just SC) is not finished yet when shipped. The annos are faced (headtube), but the powdercoats are not. And then there is our seat tube problem. I guess if we are to expect this and expect to pay for additional machine work to finish the frame and build the bike up, then there is really no problem at all.
While I won't defend SC when they don't finish a frame properly, a good shop should always check faces on higher end frames and ream/face whenever needed. This one of those areas where generic factory bikes have the upper hand because the machines don't f*ck up... I've seen SOOOO many high end frames that don't quite get finished properly. Most of the time I chaulk it up the Friday beer o'clock syndrome....

Regardless, ALWAYS check your faces and threads on ANY frame!

Measure TWICE, cut ONCE.
 

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Too Much Fun
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I heart VPP.

BobL said:
Great minds think alike. The BLT VPP seems to just absorb the rough without the "BarcoLounger" feel of the 4 bars. I too have described the difference as being between a sports car (SUV?) and a caddy.
Good analogy, and I totally agree. On the Horst(/link/whatever the hell they are/whose patents this week) ;) bikes I've ridden I feel like they are soooo plush that it feels like theres a wet poo in my shorts. Some like that squish feeling but for me it was a distraction.

On the VPP bikes I've ridden (BLT mostly, Nomad some,) its like the hits just go AWAY. When you climb things just hook up and you go. Going down its like it just erases the bumps. No squishing, just a generally solid feeling, but without the hits.

I'm a recovering hardtailer and I love VPP bikes in part because it feels like they don't make themselves known and instead just take care of whats under you without drama. The link bikes are different and it comes down to what works for each rider. VPP works for me.
 

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Jus' Ridin' Along
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hey thanks for all the input. The reason I have not responed sooner than this is that I've been out riding the sh** out of the bike; and you know what? I really am starting to like it! I had considered trading out for a Nomad, but for what I want to do ( all day XC/AM rides) it's much better suited. Plus I'm one of the rare folks that likes a bike that looks like a bike, not a sculpture. And yes, I rode a Nomad and the LT feels snappier, as does the Intense 6.6. Also, the 4 bar bikes were great on certain terrain, but all around the VPP works for MY taste.But this is very subjective...
As far as the shocks: I am replacing the RP3 w/ a piggyback style but I'll work the TALAS and save the money for trips to Sedona and the Goose for now. And I do use the wind down on really steep climbs. Plus I hear there will be some SIGNIFICANT improvements in air fork technology in 07. And DustyB, I took your advice on a little less air, Mo Betta. If you ever leave the confines of la la land and head south behind the Orange Curtain, contact me. Actually, that goes for anyone wanting to check out the OC;just PM me.
For fit and finish, the ceramic bearing ISIS BB is holding up well to my thrashing, and a friend works at a boring and trepanning shop will finish the seat tube problem. BTW, I use the ISIS so I can use a 5 arm crank; a 20/32 IS lower than a 22/34, and a 20/34 will pull a fully loaded BOB up some big fu**in' inclines (helpful in beer consumption, trail work and mountain touring)
Again, thanks for all the input and wishing you all Happy Trails in '06

Bob
 

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BobL said:
And yes, I rode a Nomad and the LT feels snappier, as does the Intense 6.6.
I think I've found a 6.6 to test ride over at the intense forum. I've been holding out on the BLT because I wanted to ride a 6.6 first in hopes that it's ride was more similar to the BLT than the Nomad. If you don't mind me asking, why'd you go for the BLT over the 6.6? Weight? Price? Just curious.
 

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Jus' Ridin' Along
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The BLT is lighter and shorter than the Nomad. The 6.6 was not out yet when I picked up the BLT (I have one of the first batch) plus again, it's lighter. Even with the 519 wheels and monster truck tires, my BLT comes in at 28 WITH saddle sack and bottle cage.
If longer travel and slacker angles is what you are looking for, the N-ad and 6.6 could be your answer. I have some very tight and techy ST in my backyard so the BLT works well.
If I were to go the "longer" route, I would go the 6.6 for several reasons: fit and finish, looks, I've met Jeff Steber and see him occasionally on local trails/he's a genuine good guy, Intense is "just over the hill", plus I liked the ride.
And just FYI, I had originally honed in on the 5.5, but didn't like the angles (too much like my Superlite); wanted something a little less twitchy but still OK for the tight stuff.
 

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BobL said:
The BLT is lighter and shorter than the Nomad. The 6.6 was not out yet when I picked up the BLT (I have one of the first batch) plus again, it's lighter. Even with the 519 wheels and monster truck tires, my BLT comes in at 28 WITH saddle sack and bottle cage.
If longer travel and slacker angles is what you are looking for, the N-ad and 6.6 could be your answer. I have some very tight and techy ST in my backyard so the BLT works well.
If I were to go the "longer" route, I would go the 6.6 for several reasons: fit and finish, looks, I've met Jeff Steber and see him occasionally on local trails/he's a genuine good guy, Intense is "just over the hill", plus I liked the ride.
And just FYI, I had originally honed in on the 5.5, but didn't like the angles (too much like my Superlite); wanted something a little less twitchy but still OK for the tight stuff.
Yeah, I've ridden a Nomad, and the geometry just didn't do it for me. It was just too long for the tight and techy ST that the BLT excelled on, but I did like how the front end just rolled right over roots, logs, rocks, etc. I really liked the feel of the BLT, but the "bigger is better" mentality in me is keeping me from buying a BLT until I've had a chance to ride a 6.6. Other than the headtube angle, the geometry on the 6.6 seems much closer to that of the BLT than the Nomad, so I'm kind of hoping that I'll find it to be the best of both worlds. If the 6.6 doesn't work out, I'll have no problem ordering a BLT and knowing that I got the right bike for me.
 

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Jus' Ridin' Along
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Compare the geometry carefully between all 3. I too like the way a slack head tube rolls over the rough stuff; it adds to the plush. (BUT, I was thinking that maybe a 29 fork wheel combo could be fun.)
Both 6+ travel bikes are longer and about a pound+ heavier. Just reading this forum shows you have to go with some really light components to keep the Nomad and the Intense below 30#'s.
 

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Jus' Ridin' Along
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It could be the angles

Chuluota54 said:
I'm into my 2nd mth. on a new LT, full XTR, RP3, Fox Trail. Also having quite a time adjusting to the new ride. Climbing and slow speed handling superb, what I expected from pre-buy test rides. What is giving me fits, are higher speed suspension reactions to large whoops, steeps with rapid transition to climbs, and simply - balancing the front to rear plushness, and rebound. I've got pressures down on both shocks, like above posts. On the RP3 - rebound is usually set 2-3 clicks from slowest. Trail bump threshould set for small bump opening of the valve - I prefer the shock to work "most" of the time. Local trail is known for some steep quarry drops - with rapid compression into a steep uphill. Must carry speed - exit climb too steep to pedal - bike suspension gets fully compressed at bottom - ride up the steep is "controlled" roller coaster - unweighted. This type trail situation really shows how poorly my front / back shock balance is set up. Ran this trail section 3 times yesterday. 1st pass - almost kicked off the seat by the RP3 rebound - way too fast. After getting rear rebound set, noticed the front rebound also too fast. Struggling with correct sag / rebound / pressure. Rocky / bumpy downhills don't show off the LT's suspension, as much as the general bumps along the flats, to me. Again - probably suspension tweaks - but fast downs with rocks and ledges, ride similar to previous ride - almost like (still) too much pressure. However, the LT really shines with single log hits, or a short rocky section - rear linkage is an amazing improvement over my previous ride. Over time - I'll get it - but the LT really highlights a wrong setup. Also, on the higher speed flats - the front end is almost too stiff - no flex (supposed to be a good thing), but almost twitchy. That will take some getting used to. Admit - coming off a 8-year ride with a 2.35 lb.SID, Fox Float - so harshness expected to a degree. Blur finish is great, and general cockpit feel - very good. Weighs in at <27 - but feel like I've got 4-6 more mths. to get it setup properly.
The first thing that comes to my little mind is that you are in the same boat I was in: looking for the BLT to do something that perhaps a bike with a 68 degree head angle, and possibly a longer wheelbase would provide. IMHO, the 69.5 angle of the BLT is a good "in between" from the 71 degrees of an XC to the 68 and slacker angles of a lot of free ride bikes.
When I bought my BLT, I expected the kind of plush easy roll over kind of ride I got from a friend's Id, but have since begun to really like the climbing and "flick-ability" traits of the BLT.
I rode a Nomad downhill and loved it due to the angles and longer wheelbase, but both those features made it feel bulky and sluggish on the climbs. Rode a 5 Spot and liked, but it felt a little flimsy.
I'm not crazy about the RP3. I have decided to go with a Swinger 4way for more air volume (plusher I hope) and the SPV technology (no levers to flip) for when my peddling gets sloppy. And I'm not crazy about my Fox fork;perhaps I was expecting too much for the too much price. I will consider replacing it with a 20mm axle type when I find one with reasonable weight.
BTW, what were you riding b4?
 

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Jus' Ridin' Along
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Funny, I have a friend who owns a Wild Hare (they used to be built just "down the road")and he took my old Superlight for a spin, then my BLT. Fell in love with both but ended up replacing the rear shock on the Wild Hare with a Swinger 3 way. Major improvement with relativly minor cost.He's about 7 years my junior so the short wheelbase and steep angles of the SL feel good to him.
As I mentioned above, it's taken me a while to get to liking this bike(BLT) and I suspect you may do the same.
I'm making some upgrades to the brakes (larger rotors) and to the shift (XO triggers); hopefully my rear shock will get here soon as well. I may also switch out the 519's for a more svelte disc specific rimset to drop a little weight/make up for the added from the other improvements.
Give yourself some time to get the ride dialed in. I did and am much happier now and am glad I didn't go with a heavier, slacker angled bike.
Happy New Year
 

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New BLT in the garage.....fork opinions?

I've spent lots of time in the roadbikereview discussion groups, and I finally upgraded the fixed fork hardtail mtb for a new blt. i'm still getting used to the set-up and have yet to fully test the bike. this late model-yr '05 blt is set up with xt, avid juicy7, rp3, fox vanilla rlc 130mm, onyx/mavic321 wheels, a pretty std setup.

I wanted to get opinions from anyone running the vanilla rlc. I'm wondering what others think about the balance, feel, etc of the coil fork on this bike?
 
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