I took my time and nerded out all the details just so, leaving me just enough time to get a real test ride in on our new 18″ Moonlander on Tuesday afternoon. The build was easy and the fit and finish of the bike is pretty impressive. Surly knocked it out’a the park with this paint! Pictures can’t do it justice…..it sparkles like a Black Diamond Bass Boat from hell! I put 9.5R and 11.5 F in the big fat larry’s and grabbed everything I needed and took a lap on some state and county forest just north of town. My initial ride impressions were all positive. In fact, I liked it better than my pugs. The only thing that I felt needed to be changed – for me – was the handlebar. The 17 degree sweep salsa bar that comes on the ML-Complete isn’t my preferred sweep, but everything else felt strangely dialed, instinctive and more agile than my pug. But the mind plays tricks at times, so I just chalked it up to new toy euphoria and will let time be the true judge of how this bike really strikes me in the long(er) run.
Ride #2 – Silver Lake
Plans to take the new toy to Kettle were dashed upon the rocks of rain showers that fell on Wednesday and kept the trails closed, so upon an afternoon gale we headed to my local county park on Silver Lake. In retrospect, Silver Lake is a great spot to compare the ML to the pugs. My second impression of the Zoomglander was just as positive as my initial experience. The thumb shifted drive train is just so much more intuitive than the IGH on my pugs. This bike just makes me want to stand and bang out climbs that i would crreep up, seated on the pugs. I hit the nice patch of flowy singletrack, on the back side and experienced perma-grin. Hit the little techy up hill with the plank ramp and the BFL’s just stuck me to the dirt like squirrel claws on tree bark. The next section of the trail is gravel wide-track that undulates downhill, with several 45 degree sweepers, where you can just let loose of the brakes and go for warp speed. The ML just begged me to hang my toockess out behind the seat and carve smooth lines at speed with nary a twitch or shiver of doubt between bike and rider. After climbing back up to the top of the ridge, I headed down another sweeping (this time) grassy downhill and literally got the sensation that I was atop a big powerfull cat flowing over the rough turf with grace and slow-mo ‘Nat-Geo’ cinematography. I think they should have called this bike the velvet panther! But again this may well just be an initial infatuation, so stand by for more Moonlander ruminations, down the road.