Interbike: Bootlegger

By now you’ve read Karen and Shannon’s blog entries from day one of the On-Dirt Demo at Bootleg Canyon. I missed out on the opening day action, but was in line bright and early today to catch the first bus to the chock-full-o-bikes desert playground in Boulder City. The Felt booth was right at the front gate, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to score a test ride on their Virtue One. Lee Klevens reviews the Virtue Two in the current issue of Dirt Rag (#131), and I’ll have to admit his review had me eager to try a Virtue for myself. My quick test spin on this 5-inch travel rig left me impressed with its well-mannered handling, bump-eating coosh, and bob resistance. Thanks to the folks a Felt for dialin ‘r in for me.

felt prep

Mr. Lockwood accompanied me to the demo, and he grabbed a sweet-looking Felt Nine Solo (a.k.a 29″ singlespeed). Jeff tore it up on this rig, and was diggin the big wheel feel. Below is a pic of Jeff riding the Nine Solo. My question to industry insiders is this: does Jeff look more like Zap or Chris DiStefano?

Jeff Felt

I wasn’t about to let Jeff have all the 29″ fun, and neither was Maurice. In fact the three of us, accompanied by Tim Grahl of Crooked Cog Network, us swooped into the Niner booth and scored big-wheeled rigs for an extended test ride. I snagged an m.c.r. 9 hardtail, which is constructed from Reynolds 853 steel and sports a RS Reba up front.

The four of us, riding our fresh Niners, plus Harry from Mt. Nittany Wheelworks, put together a sweet loop that started with a snaky middle-ring climb. The m.c.r. 9 offered great climbing traction and had the ability to claw its way up ledges. Our climb was followed by a fun-fest downhill singletrack full of ledges to drop and exposure to promote the pucker. As we topped out and headed toward the downhill, Maurice cleverly swooped his r.i.p. 9 into the lead position, as is his custom. Fair enough, the big cheese on a full-boinger is the best descender in our crowd. I fell into second place and worked hard to stay on his wheel, and when that failed, I worked hard to reel him back in during the occasional grade reversal. I was pushing my envelope on an unfamiliar bike, and I breezed through the test with flying colors. Nimble, yet stable handling is how I’d describe the m.c.r. on that run down the hill. Big grins.

mcr 9

Well, those are the highlights of my day at the demo. I managed to ride a bit more and spend some time roaming the venue in search of cool bikes to drool over and photograph. I’ve uploaded my complete picture set to the ever-growing Dirt Rag Interbike Gallery, including shots of the Kona Ute and a very cool Ellsworth cruiser named “The Ride.” So click on over to the gallery and check it out (I’m such a tease).