OK – I can’t hide the fact that I am a little bit excited. I will be getting a new MTB steed!

After the emotional rollercoaster of having my custom made from scratch MTB steed being stolen by some dodgy [#!{/?#$ insert expletives – multiple], I waited nervously for the insurance company to do the assessment and see if they could fix me up with a new ride. Having never had anything of value stolen before, it was uncharted territory for me. I did not  know how to deal with the guys from the insurance company and everything I had heard before was that insurance companies would do everything in their power not to pay the sum insured. I felt terrible writing up the claim form and attaching all the documents for the assessment, reliving all the memories in my head of putting the steed together. I think they were a bit shocked when I was able to provide them with a full specification of the bike – and if you asked me over a beer I could probably recite it back to you, tyre valve and all. I had a receipt for pretty much all of the components too. In all, the claim assessment form was 15 pages long. But they came through, though they did note that mine was an unusual case as the steed was bespoke (no pun intended). In some respects I wish the [#$@%*+~ use different expletives this time] thief had stolen my road steed, it would have been a straight swap for a new model of the same ride.

Requirements for a replacement …

Here is where the next challenge commenced. There were two complications with my replacement requirements; 1. it had to be a 26 inch wheel ride, and 2. it had to come with QR skewers. If you know your bikes then this reads pretty straight forward (and you think to yourself hmmm…), but for the non-riding geeks here it is in more detail and why these two requirements created complications:

Complication #1 – 26 inch wheels

It seems that in the few short years from when my old bike frame I purchased was made (2009), the whole MTB world has flipped and invented new wheel sizes. This shouldn’t be a surprise to cyclists because from the time that Gary Fisher was creating custom MTBs back not long after I was born, mountain bikes have evolved in leaps and bounds. Innovations have included the evolution of rigid frames that then copped suspension forks, then the rear triangle copped a suspension rig too (and this whole suspension thing is getting uber complicated if you check out this system from Lapierre). Brakes have gone from caliper brakes to… V brakes to… disc brakes – and pretty soon these discs will be made of carbon, ceramic, and silica composites instead of metal. And wheels have gone from 26 inch to… 29ers to… 27.5 inch / 650B. Confused? Yep – me too! Here is a graphic that explains the sizing, and it is not as simple as measuring the diameter dimension of the wheel (this article explains it in detail)

Wheel Size - illustration

It would seem that the world is moving away from the wheel size that pretty much lead the growth in the sport so that riders can roll better. My challenge was that I had a second set of true off-road wheels with tubeless tyres being made up at my local bike store that set me back over $600 (mostly funded by my boss as part of a work bonus – give me MTB wheels instead of a ridiculously overpriced bottle of wine I said). And they are 26 inch wheels, which would go to complete waste on anything other than a bike that is made for this wheel size.

Complication #2 – Quick Release (QR) Skewers

The secondary purpose for my bike is to tow my son in his trailer when we go riding as a family. It is one of the main reasons I go recreational riding and requires a QR type axle on the rear so that I can fit the socket joint for his trailer. As this article from Bike Radar clearly states, “Gone are the days when all mountain bikes had 9mm quick-release skewers front and rear. At the front, 15mm and 20mm through-axles are now common, along with 135 x 12mm or 142 x 12mm setups out back.” What is behind this is that the thicker axle setups are stiffer and offer the rider more control, rather than flex. This one like the first seems a bit of a ploy from the manufacturers to generate reasons for upgrading your ride, no matter how solid the mechanical principles are. Still didn’t change my requirements, I just want to use a set of these.

QR skewers

The Search has born Fruit!

I searched the local bike shops for what they had on offer and it was a bit concerning. Giant had moved their entire MTB range to 29ers. Trek were going all funky with 29ers as well and with some out there axle mounts that no doubt will sell them a few more expensive bikes. Specialized, Yeti, Cannondale, GT, Scott… more of the same. I was getting worried that the MTB universe had moved on from my needs. I was getting more worried that I would have to revert back to an alloy frame, a kick in the guts after waiting for years to get the green light to move into the world of MTB carbon. Then I went to Velosophy in Moore Park – and the heavens peaked open slightly. I spoke with Klara at the store and asked her about some of the BMC mountain bikes. She told me that the entire range doesn’t get shipped out to our antipodean shores, but she ran me through some of the models. Klara then told me that BMC were trying to get rid of last years stock and that there were some stonking bargains to be had (as it turned out I was significantly under-insured, I insured myself for the cost of the components which were purchased at anywhere between 40-60% off the original price i.e. I had built a $6,000 ride for just over $2,500). The one ride she know about was a BMC Fourstroke, though she did not have all the details. Klara said that she would call me back on Monday to find out the specs and if they met my requirements.

When I left the store, I was not expecting a call back at all. Poor customer service is a hallmark of Australian businesses. To my shock Klara called me back like she promised and had the details direct from the BMC sales rep. There was one missing specification (for the forks), and she said that she would follow this up the next day. Again Klara called me back and had provided me with the further specifications. After a bit of thought, maybe two minutes, I told Klara to get me that new bike and the insurance company would be in contact soon. It just goes to show you how taking care of your customer can reap you benefits. Sure the ride is a dual suspension, and not all the groupset components are to the same spec as what I previously had, but the sum of the overs and unders is pretty much spot on. Below is a photo from the internet of my new ride, and I can’t wait to take my new steed for a spin. I will pick it up later this week, which should give me a chance to get over the nasty bout of bronchitis I have contracted. Who knows, it may even get a name. I may learn to love again – ha ha! Can’t wait!

BMC Fourstroke FS02 XT / SLX 2012