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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My VP Free frame appeared only about three weeks after being ordered. So much for a three month wait. Anyway, I put it together over the last few days and here's what I think.

I went for a 118mm bottom bracket even though SC recommends the 128mm w/ their etype adapter and an etype derailleur. I only want to run two rings (28/38) and figured I'd give it a shot with the derailleur I had. This was the hardest part of the setup. First an e13 DRS can't be rotated very far clockwise until it interferes with the suspension, so it is quite a bit lower than e13 recommends, but it is working ok. Also, when I setup the 28/38 rings, I had to use a bottom bracket spacer to keep the rings from interfering with the guide plates. The rest of the build went together fine, although I am somewhat interested to see how the rear thru axel drop out deal works out. I only have experience with the thru axels with pinch bolts, so this one relies on the axel bolts. If you torque them down on most hubs, the hub will start to drag. I temp-locktited the axel bolts to keep them from loosening up. One other note, my shop doesn't have the adapter required to face a rear 150x12, so I had to one-off one in the machine shop at my work, since I'm using hopes and want to face the thick paint off of the tabs on the frame.

Tuning the front derailleur was a challenge with all the travel... I still get the chain rubbing the bottom of the cage a little when the bike is completely un-sagged and in the small ring and the smaller half of the cassette... not ideal, but doesn't seem to affect normal operation on the trails. (I took the 5th off and cycled the suspension to check all the ring/cog combos).

Also, for those who want to build a Free into a long travel trail bike, you will still need a big fork on it. I'm using a 200mm 888 and my head angle seems to be slightly steeper than my roommate's 222/shiver, and the 888 has a considerably longer a-c than the shiver. After riding the Free with the 888 I really wouldn't go with anything shorter than 170mm travel. Super-T, 170 888, 200 888, Slider, 170 66, etc.... I think people who go with some of the 150mm single crowns out there will end up with some weird geometry, but I'd like to know how those turn out.

I'm happy with the way the bike turned out. The suspension does seem to pedal very well. I mean, you aren't going to win any XC races here... it's still 40+ lbs, but I am guessing I can still clean 95% or more of the stuff I generally climb on any of my other bikes. It will be a slow climber though. I think the 28/38 with 11-34 in the rear will do well, but I will have to give it some time...

Build:
VP Frame Large
200mm 888 w/ stem
CK Headset
Holzfeller Bars
Holzfeller Cranks 28/38
118/73e Bottom Bracket
e13 DRS
Hope Hubs on Atomic DHRs
Hope m4 200/180
Hope Seatpost QR
Maxxis Minion/High Roller both 2.5
Thomson Post
SDG Bel Air
XT Shifters/Derailleurs (med cage in rear)
XT 11-34 cassette
PC-69
Ourys
Shimano 647 Pedals

I will answer any questions I can if anyone has them... although, I want to get a few more rides on it before I give any real input to how well it works...

Thanks to Speedgoat (www.speedgoat.com) for getting the frame out to me prepped and in a very short time. Thanks to Ben at UnrealCycles (www.unrealcycles.com) for getting together the great wheelset.
 

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Looks great in white!

Do you have any means of actually measuring the headtube angle? I'm curious to know what it is. SC lists it as 67deg, I wonder if that's with the 200mm 888?
 

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I'm running my VPF with a 200mm 888R or a 155mm Z150 FR depending on where I ride the bike. I had a 170mm Boxxer on the front before but it never felt right. It turns out that the Z150 is taller than my Boxxer so it made the bike feel "right" for all around heavy duty trail riding. The 888 goes on for trips to Whistler and bigger days on the local trails.

The bike feels a bit tippy with the 888 when I'm not on the steep stuff.

The ECC on the Z150 makes the bike climb well for a heavy bike. My Z150 actually gives me 155mm of positive travel as measured on the stanchions while most 170mm forks actually give 160mm of travel so there isn't much difference except that the bike is more versatile with the single crown, lockdown fork.
 

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Hows the 118 bb working

Nice Bike--my black vp free had it's second voyage yesterday to the jumps and I was impressed. A much better pedaler than the venerable bullit...I was wondering if you are still using that 118mm bb instead of the 128 with the e13. I'm also running a 118 because I couldn't get the e13 to work right with that massive bb. Unfortunately, my shifting is marginal in almost every gear except at the extremes of the cassette, ghosting pretty much everywhere in between. Do you have any tips to share on your setup and how you got it to work...i really don't want to put that 128mm back on...thanks
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
nightops said:
Nice Bike--my black vp free had it's second voyage yesterday to the jumps and I was impressed. A much better pedaler than the venerable bullit...I was wondering if you are still using that 118mm bb instead of the 128 with the e13. I'm also running a 118 because I couldn't get the e13 to work right with that massive bb. Unfortunately, my shifting is marginal in almost every gear except at the extremes of the cassette, ghosting pretty much everywhere in between. Do you have any tips to share on your setup and how you got it to work...i really don't want to put that 128mm back on...thanks
Mine still shifts fine. Shifting the front from my 38 to my 28 can take a second, but the rear seems to stay in gear fine. I realize the chainline isn't perfect due the shorter bottom bracket. One thing I did, that is probably not advised in any way by the makers of the frame or bb is to use the e-type spacer that comes with the bb (that you use if you aren't using a guide) to space the crank a little further away from the guide, since the 28t ring didn't clear the top plastic part of the e13. I imagine this moves my chainline over 2.5mm in the correct direction.

Looking down, from left to right:
pedal
crank arm
bottom bracket left cup
e13 backplate
truvativ etype spacer
bottom bracket right cup
crank arm
pedal

there is still plenty of clearance between the non-drive crank and the swingarm.

I rode the end of the season shuttling at Big Bear with not a single chain problem. Recently, since my setup is kinda strange, I have considered getting a 128mm BB to clean it up... but since it is working I think I will leave it as is.

I also cheated and used a standard BB rather than the DH model. When I break it, I will go with the heavier DH BB, but at this point I see no reason to use it. Truvativ doesn't make a standard/xc in a 128mm.

A few other notes:
I put the Marzocchi flat bottom crown on my 888. I left the top (drop) one the same. I really wasn't happy with the minimal coverage the top crown got with the drop lower crown. Now, I get plenty of adjustability and before I had zero.

I switched to a DHX 5.0 which I prefer to the 5th on that frame. I didn't need much SPV/PP in order to pedal well.

Did that answer everything?
 

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interesting mod...

shuttles at Big Bear...it's too bad my new bike will never get to do that...

that bb spacer thing is a good idea, I hope mine still has one...2.5 mm could make a difference in my shifting for sure. How do you like the DHX...I got one before my frame was delivered but I could tell it was different from the 5th element the first time I rode it. Freaking awesome shock - much more compliant over the small stuff and still springy enough to jump-- thanks for the info, I hope that fixes it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
nightops said:
shuttles at Big Bear...it's too bad my new bike will never get to do that...

that bb spacer thing is a good idea, I hope mine still has one...2.5 mm could make a difference in my shifting for sure. How do you like the DHX...I got one before my frame was delivered but I could tell it was different from the 5th element the first time I rode it. Freaking awesome shock - much more compliant over the small stuff and still springy enough to jump-- thanks for the info, I hope that fixes it.
Yeah... that's basically my view of the DHX.

One problem is that SC underspecs the springs on the 5ths to make them feel ultra plush, but if you talk to progressive they will tell you to run a spring that is about the same rate as a fox would run. When you run the soft spring and crank the compression damping up, I feel you loose sensativity across the board. The 5th is a good shock, especially on something like a bullit. On my Free I like the DHX with the propedal set pretty low. I use an RP3 on my Blur and love it more than the DHX. I will really have to think about putting an RP3 on my VPFree when they come out with the ones with longer strokes. I probably won't, but I think it would be effective.

Something like a VPFree with a Fox 36/05 Z1 in the front and a long stroke RP3 would probably make a great SuperD bike.

I have been considering getting an 05 Z1 when they drop in price at the end of the season to try out the free as an all mt bike. The 888 is overkill for all the local trails.
 

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agreed-

robsetsfire said:
I have been considering getting an 05 Z1 when they drop in price at the end of the season to try out the free as an all mt bike. The 888 is overkill for all the local trails.
Do you climb much with that 888?
I've got an 03 slider on my bike now and it feels a little steep. I was looking to get an 05 Z1 myself but it's got the same axle to crown height as my slider and the singlecrown firefly plus that i had on before it. As this will be my primary trails bike, the 888 would have been a little much, especially for climbing singletrack. I picked up an 04 Super T with 170mm of travel instead, hopefully it gives me the rake I want without being too overkill -
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
nightops said:
Do you climb much with that 888?
I've got an 03 slider on my bike now and it feels a little steep. I was looking to get an 05 Z1 myself but it's got the same axle to crown height as my slider and the singlecrown firefly plus that i had on before it. As this will be my primary trails bike, the 888 would have been a little much, especially for climbing singletrack. I picked up an 04 Super T with 170mm of travel instead, hopefully it gives me the rake I want without being too overkill -
I can climb on it... but I find that most of the trails I ride that require climbing don't require a 8/8.5 inch travel bike. So, in reality I ride my Blur a lot more on the local stuff. Since it has been real rainy I haven't been inspired to make the trip out to Noble Canyon or Morena, but I would ride the Free up them. It climbs fine, but is slow and some tech climbs are too hard with all the suspension.

I think I will try a z1 05 out when they go on sale. I have a pair of 2.35 Hansventures that I think would make good light FR trail tires.
 

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how many e13 plates?

robsetsfire said:
Mine still shifts fine. Shifting the front from my 38 to my 28 can take a second, but the rear seems to stay in gear fine. I realize the chainline isn't perfect due the shorter bottom bracket. One thing I did, that is probably not advised in any way by the makers of the frame or bb is to use the e-type spacer that comes with the bb (that you use if you aren't using a guide) to space the crank a little further away from the guide, since the 28t ring didn't clear the top plastic part of the e13. I imagine this moves my chainline over 2.5mm in the correct direction.

Looking down, from left to right:
pedal
crank arm
bottom bracket left cup
e13 backplate
truvativ etype spacer
bottom bracket right cup
crank arm
pedal

there is still plenty of clearance between the non-drive crank and the swingarm.

I rode the end of the season shuttling at Big Bear with not a single chain problem. Recently, since my setup is kinda strange, I have considered getting a 128mm BB to clean it up... but since it is working I think I will leave it as is.

I also cheated and used a standard BB rather than the DH model. When I break it, I will go with the heavier DH BB, but at this point I see no reason to use it. Truvativ doesn't make a standard/xc in a 128mm.

A few other notes:
I put the Marzocchi flat bottom crown on my 888. I left the top (drop) one the same. I really wasn't happy with the minimal coverage the top crown got with the drop lower crown. Now, I get plenty of adjustability and before I had zero.

I switched to a DHX 5.0 which I prefer to the 5th on that frame. I didn't need much SPV/PP in order to pedal well.

Did that answer everything?
So I've emulated your spacer setup and shifting is perfect..now my only issue is in the 24t
the chain is not all the way flat on the roller and is rubbing unevenly toward the smaller shelf...right now I have 2 of the e13 plates behind the roller and the recommended washer behind the roller nut. I'm thinking that I need to push out the roller just a tiny bit and it'll be perfect, wondered what your setup was in this area...the bb spacer I'm using seems to be about 2.5 mil like the one you're using. I'm really happy with the shifting, it is nearly flawless now with now chain drop, I just don't want to wear down the roller anymore...
 
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