Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New toy: Redline D440 29er

Well, it's about time I said something about my latest two-wheeled conveyance (if such it can indeed be called). This is actually a result of my generous corporate sponsorship for the upcoming Kona 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race. I'd like the opportunity to thank my employer.

With that out of the way, what about the bike? The Redline D440 is a rigid, steel 29er mountain bike that's set up without a front derailer for a 1x8 speed drivetrain. It comes stock with awful Tektro v-brakes, which you should remove immediately, and disc compatible hubs and the appropriate mounting tabs. It is, in fact, as if they simply included the v-brakes in order to be able to sell the bike.

I have to admit I didn't even try out the Tektros, they felt mushy, but other people have said nice things about them, so I'll leave it at that. I had pair of Avid Single Digit 7s lying around, but felt that with the predominant conditions that I ride in (mud!) a mechanical disc brake setup made far more sense. I wouldn't be scoring up my rims, and I already had some Avid Speed Dial levers. So I grabbed some Avid BB7s from REI, and for $100 I had 160mm discs - and not particularly crappy ones, either.

I think it was possibly the easiest upgrade ever.

Everything on the bike is designed to accept either mechanical or hydraulic disc brakes. There's even a braze-on for a front derailer, if that's your thing. Personally, I don't think you need a huge range of gears on a mountain bike, where the speeds you'll be traveling at vary less than on a road bike. Regardless, I think it's interesting that a manufacturer is shipping a bike with a stock gearing system identical to the one I have on my 1990 rigid Peugeot.

Of course the brakes are great, but how does it ride? Like a giant BMX, really. Which makes sense, given the frame geometry, material, the oversize riser bar, the drivetrain simplicity. This thing can go anywhere. I have to put some more miles on it, but so far it's been nothing but an absolute pleasure to ride.