Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Commencal El Camino Frame Review

Commencal El Camino Frame Review  -  Intro

Commencal are an ANdorran company that market this frame. The El Camino is billed as an everyday frame, and it a tough, versatile offering which might be considered for building up a commuter or a touring bike.

It is designed for 27.5 wheels up to 2.2" diameter, but I was running is with 26 x 2,34 tires, and it then has room for mudguards / fenders also. Fork is Salsa Firestarter Fork. So the bike can be built like this:

Or like this:

Which makes for a pretty versatile frame.

Commencal El Camino Frame Review  - The Ride 

This was my only negative. The ride is fairly solid, I think this is because I switched from a reynolds steel frame, to this one. Some may actually prefer this it certainly feels very solid and reassuring. I was not zinging this thing down alpine mountain sides so I'll leave any further comments here to those more qualified.

The frame has a lowered top tube by means of the gusseted upper seat tube section, which is a nice features and allows for a low step over height whilst using high vole 26" tires or 27.5" tires. The seat post is 31.6mm which allows for the use of dropper seat posts, although you can get normal seat posts in this size.

Commencal El Camino Frame Review  - Mounting Points

Excellent. There are threaded mounting points a plenty. Lots for mudguards, and the pannier rack mounts near the drop outs, are very deep so should withstand punishment. Unfortunately these do have to be shared is you are using fenders / mudguards, but this can be got round with a simple plate to add an additional hole for mounting fenders / mudguards which after all do not require much strength in the way of mounting points.

Commencal El Camino Frame Review  - Finish

The decals are beneath the lacquer and so are unlikely to be come scuffed. The frame I think is powder coated rather than painted and is a very high quality finish.

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Salsa Firestarter Fork Review

Salsa Firestarter Fork Review - Intro

A lot of the nicer MTB frame nowadays come with geometry to match a high travel suspension fork. If you want to then fit a rigid fork this limits you options, as you will need a long fork, to match the sagged height of your suspension fork, so as to not alter you head angle and relative saddle  / bar height. You can see Thorpy's Guide to Rigid Forks for more detail.

Used here with 26" wheels. Ideal for emulating long travel forks. 

Salsa Firestarter Fork Review - Ride

The fork visibly flexes as you ride, and has a lovely soft feel to it. I do not ride hard or fast, so I can not tell much more than that. My main requirements are that stuff is strong and comfortable, and the fork is certainly both of those.

As the pictures show I was using this fork with 26" wheels with 2.35 tires. It did not feel odd in any way, and I think the fork is good quality.

Salsa Firestarter Fork Review - Length

One of the best features of this fork is the 300mm steerer, but if you are listening salsa why not make this 400mm. Combine this with the axle to crown length of 483 and the whole fork is 783mm long, which is not a million miles away from the Thorn Forks (Mt Tura / Nomad), which measure in at around 830mm combined.

Salsa's "Enabler" Fork has a 350mm steerer, which would be nice, but the drop out spacing =130mm.

Uncut this fork will provide a ride that is considered up right for most.

Salsa Firestarter Fork Review - Mounting Points

There are mounting points everywhere, but not for low riders. There are 6 bolts holes (all supplied with M5 hex bolts) which are to be used with "Anything Cage Mounts". These are like giant water bottle cages in to which you can strap stuff like dry sacks or stoves.

In the arid expanses of the US I can see this being a OK, if rather clique concept. But in the UK. Everything would end up covered in mud for 60% of the year. Not Ideal.

"Classic" Fender / Mud Guard & Pannier Rack Mounts

Disk Brake Mounting point is present with rotor sizes up to 203mm accepted.

It is a bit of a faff using huib brakes with this fork, as the stanchions are so wide, but I doubt whether many will be doing this.

"Trendy" Anything Cage Mount Points

Mudguards or fenders can be mounted, but you will require some kind of fudge to bridge the mounting point at the crown. On my 26" wheel this gap is large, but on a 29 inch wheel or a 27.5+ it will be less of a problem.

Bodged Torque Arm Mount for Hub Brake. 

Salsa Firestarter Fork Review - Salsa Blurb

  • 100mm Suspension Corrected CroMoly fork
  • Suitable for Fargo and El Mariachi, and many others
  • Specifications*Steerer type: 1-1/8" straight(300mm)
  • *Axle to Crown: 483mm
  • *Fork Offset: 45.0mm
  • *Stem Clamp Diameter: 28.6mm
  • *Crown Race: 30.0mm
  • *Wheel/ Tire Compatibility: 29 x 2.4" max. tire fitment (but I had no trouble fitting Surly 3.0 tyres)
  • *Disc Brake: 51 mm I.S. Mount, 160 mm rotor Min, 203 mm Max.
  • *Fender Mounts:yes
  • *Rack Mounts: at Droput and Mid-blade*
  • Water Bottle Mounts: Anything Cage mounts of front of fork
  • *Dropouts: Stainless steel, forward facing
  • *Front Axle and Hub Info: 100 x 9 QR
Usual Warning 

"Dropper Plate" for Mudguards Required

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Drag Wood with Quad Bike

Drag Wood with Quad Bike - Intro

If you do not have a trailer, or in may case the ground is too boggy for the use of a trailer then you may consider dragging wood behind the quad bike. This is a stupid idea, and I do not recommend that you do it.

This is probably quite dangerous for the following reasons, and some other reasons that I can not think of:

  • The wood could dig in the ground causing you to stop suddenly.
  • The wood could dig in temporarily and then spring forwards hitting you in the spine, neck or skull or the bike.
  • The wood could carry on sliding when you stop and bash in to the quad bike.
  • The ropes could slip of the wood, and spring forward under tension hitting your spine, neck or skull.
To this end consider the following:

  • Use thinner rather than ticker rope so it is will snap easily, avoiding build up of tension.
  • Do not use chain or wire.
  • Do not use hook on the end of the rope. 
Like I say this does not cover everything but is better than nothing in terms of safety precautions. You might try wearing a a helmet and horse rider's body armour if you have it. 

Drag Wood with Quad Bike - How I Did It

I dragged about 300 lengths of wood, about 400 meters across a muddy field. I made slip knots in four length of rope, and put these around bundle of wood.

It worked OK, but the knots slipped off the wood occasionally. It is better to drag smaller multiple bundles than one big one. 

The wood gets covered in mud, and is tricky to work with thereafter. 

Muddy Business

Small Bundles are Better

Drag Wood with Quad Bike - Conclusions

Messy and dangerous but possible. 

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