With the pandemic putting a halt to NAHBS and our post-NAHBS framebuilder ride/showcase in Sedona this year, we decided to pull something together with our friends at ENVE to commemorate their new Foundation MTB wheel launch. When ENVE moved into its new carbon manufacturing and testing facility, they worked hard to push the progression of carbon wheel design and manufacturing. Over three years later and thousands of hours developing, today they launched their Foundation Collection, a completely new wheel line that marks a new milestone in wheel design. In short, for those of us who aren’t interested in graphs or projections, ENVE launched a $1600 made in the USA wheelset and to help showcase these new wheels, we pinged three frame builders to showcase these wheels. The first is the Falconer Cycles NFS, Normal Full Suspension and/or Not For Sale. Below are words, penned by Cameron Falconer describing the project.
Falconer Cycles NFS, Normal Full Suspension and/or Not For Sale
… Or, How I learned to stop worrying and love the single pivot.
Two years ago my friend Matt asked me if I would ever build a steel suspension bike, I said no way. At that point, I couldn’t see it being a good idea or a practical bike. I was wrong and I am happy I was.
I live in Quincy, CA, the riding here is a mix of high-speed smooth flow here in town (thanks @sierratrails for making it happen) and primitive/rocky/rowdy down the street a ways in the Downieville area. After three seasons trying to go fast on a bike without rear suspension my body was over it and I rode my mountain bike much less last year than I would have liked. Even on a 160mm forked, 65 head angle hardtail primitive rock steps at speed are a lot to process.
Previously I had a Santa Cruz Hightower I got in a work trade. Although I would have rather of been on something I made I am not a suspension engineer and linkage design and complex kinematics are outside my skill set. I learned a ton riding that plastic bike, I ended up trading it to a friend for carpentry help on my house and went back to riding a hardtail I built. I spent countless hours on two different slack big fork hardtails until it became clear my body wanted more comfort and control. I have been skeptical of basic single pivot bikes since I spent some time on a Santa Cruz Superlight back in 2001, it pedaled weird, brake jacked like mad and flexed like a sapling. Having heard good things about the latest generation of single pivot sleds I went for it, figuring it would at bare minimum be rideable and a good learning experience. As I lack the necessary CAD skills I made a full size solid model of the rear end from aluminum bar to figure out the pivot placement and clearances and got to it figuring out some of it as I went along. The rear travel was supposed to be 140mm but I made a math error on the leverage ratio and it came out at 130mm, this is why the first one was for me. As of right now I have three short rides on it, winter came to the Sierra in March this year, the high stuff is closed for a couple more months.
I’m still getting the shock dialed but it works pretty well and pedals better than I thought it would. I was skeptical of steel as a suspension bike material as I loved my carbon Hightower but I really like the feel, it feels familiar and doesn’t seem to flex in a bad way. The geometry is a mix of things I am used to and one thing that is different from my previous mountain bikes, the seat angle. In order to make everything work and maintain seat tube/tire clearance on full compression the effective seat angle has to be pretty steep on a bike like this. In the past I have stuck with 72.5 degrees for myself, this bike is 75. It has been interesting to ride this setup, it doesn’t bug me as much as I thought, feels good on steep climbs, not so good on seated jeep road ascents. Chainstays are 445mm, I personally like the feel of a longer rear end when matched with the super long front center common today. Where I ride it works well as it calms the bike a bit at high speed in the rocks and feels more balanced to me. I am super happy with the outcome but I need a lot more time on it to have a fully formed opinion.
Parts wise it is as much Northern California produced stuff as possible. Paul Components BoxCar Stem, Dropper Trigger and Brake Adapters, White Industries Headset and M30 Crank ,Enduro XD-15 bottom bracket as the pivot. The drivetrain is standard analog Eagle shifting with G2 brakes to keep it reined in. The parts that go up and down are all Fox and the Transfer is topped with a Flite seat, I have ridden them since 1993. I guess my ass hasn’t changed much. Anyone out there with a Flite languishing in a box let me know. Lastly ENVE M9 Bar and their New US Made $1600 AM30 Wheels. I have yet to ride these but am stoked to get some time on them.
A few folks have asked me if I will be producing these in the future and the answer is it is unlikely, I don’t know that I have much to add to the full suspension world and I don’t care to make stuff unless I feel like it is worth my time and my customers money. If after a bunch of riding and maybe some refinements I think this is a worthwhile product I may make a small run of them. They will be kind of heavy but simple and reliable. Thanks for reading and please ask any questions.
-Wheel Size 29″
-Head angle 65
-Seat angle 75 effective
-Effective top tube
-Rear travel 130mm
-Fork travel 160mm