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I thought I deserved a new bike so I picked up a few Rawland dSogn framesets for the shop and built one up for myself. I really like the concept of being able to run a 650b x 2.2/3 wheel and a 700x45 with no real change to the bottom bracket height. The two wheelsets have essentially the same overall diameter. With disc brakes, it's a simple wheel swap to change personalities of the bike.

I build this one up with a smattering of parts I had laying around in bins and wheels I had on other bikes.

My first ride was a simple up and down with the dog. What I found was that it was a very comfortable climber and it was an absolute hoot on the descent. The 650b wheels were very smooth over the rougher stuff and I found that this is one of those rare bikes that comes alive as the speed increases.

While the first ride was pretty tame, this morning's ride was a 4 hour slog that started pre-dawn. After climbing for an ungodly long time (my legs are screaming at me right now as I'm trying to find some left over fitness), we hit the descent and wow, the Rawland was an absolute joy to point downhill. The sloppy conditions made for some fun 2-wheel drifts around corners and the bike was very predicable while both tires were hunting for traction.

For me, this set-up is just about perfect. I really like drop bars on my mountain bikes and this bike ideal with drops. The forks were a real pleasure; precise steering and comfortable.

With the versatility of wheel sizes, I think this is the ideal do-all bike and if you have to have just one bike, this bike would definitely be on the short list.

I should note that while many folks like suspension, I find myself getting further and further away from suspension. I used to ride suspension bikes almost exclusively, but I am enjoying the ride of the rigid bike and the fact that there are no suspension bits to maintain.

So, how 'bout some photos!

Pictured w/ prototype WTB Wolverine 2.2 tires.


Pictured w/ 700 x 45 FireCross tires.


The Ritchey dropouts are a nice touch.


...as is the Kirk Pacenti designed fork crown reminiscent of the old Ritchey crowns.


Close-up of the Wolverine tread pattern - which I liked a lot.


I built it with Ultegra 9-speed STI shifters, XTR rear derailleur, XTR 24/34/46 crank and a Dura Ace triple 9-speed front derailleur. Shifting is perfect front and rear.


Hey, I know that guy!


Post ride shots after today's ride. Time for a bike cleaning. A clean bike is a happy bike.





I like how the soupy mud almost filled in the "R" perfectly.
 

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I really should pick one of those up. I've been wanting to build something just like that forever now, but haven't been able to find the time working on more traditionallly commercially viable bikes.

I run one of my Xc race 650b bikes with 700x45's sometimes. I think that's a swell tire size for a lot of the more utilitarian offroading I do.

Maybe I found myself a christmas present?
 

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Great "dirty bike," shots! I ordered the single speed version last week myself, the Olaf. Should have it built up in a month or so...
 
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