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RSD Middle Child Review – by Dustin Carlson

 

The Middle Child (MC) is a brand new addition to the RSD line-up. RSD, out of Toronto, specializes in hard tail fat and plus bikes and the MC is a great addition. It’s a hardtail, enduro, plus bike. Essentially the opposite of a mullet; party in the FRONT, business in the BACK.

For $2799 my review bike came with the following:

  • Frame: 27.5+ Cr-Mo 4130 Double Butted and Heat Treated
  • Fork: Pike RC 110 Boost with 140mm Travel
  • Headset: Cane Creek ZS-44
  • Handlebar: Race Face 35mm Turbine R 780mm
  • Stem: Race Face 35mm Turbine 50mm
  • Front Wheel: Sun Ringle Duroc 27.5x50mm Front 15x110mm Boost
  • Rear Wheel: Sun Ringle Duroc 27.5x50mm Rear 12x148mm Boost
  • Crank: Race Face 175mm Turbine Cinch DM
  • BB: Race Face 73mm BSA
  • Rear Shifter: Shimano XT 11spd
  • Rear Derailleur: Shimano XT 11spd
  • Brakes: Shimano XT 4 Pistons

Build Details:

  • double-butted, heat-treated 4130 Chromoly steel tubing
  • full CNC-machined custom yoke that’ll take 2.8″ tires (or up to 2.6″ x 29)
  • 64.5 degree head tube and 74 degree seat tube angles paired with 140mm fork –  that aggressive geometry for both climbing and sending choice descent lines
  • boost spacing and short chainstays (adjustable from 415mm – 430mm) for super stability and loads of confidence in the rough stuff

A 140mm Pike. Raked out 64.5 deg. On a neon yellow hardtail. Sounds fun!

I started out on my local trails. Gradual climbs with gradual descents with fairly techy sections. The bike pedals really well and the plus tires, 27.5 x 2.8 Minions, really give you a lot of traction in the corners. The pike can handle most anything you through at it, and the frame is super strong and well built. And the fact that it is a hardtail obviously makes the climbing efficient. Even with the raked out fork, the front wheel never wandered on steep climbs. Upon turning it downhill, I understood why this bike was made! It rips through the trees and rock gardens like any full suspension bike (that is twice as expensive) would. I’m not going to spend much time on components, XT level brakes and drivetrain are great for the money, and the rest all work great together. I really enjoyed the bike.

That’s all great, right? Five stars, shortest review ever!  Not so fast, My last ride was a little different.

My final ride with this bike was on the famous/infamous Wasatch Crest in Park City, Utah. The Crest isn’t the hardest trail in the world, but because of distance and location, it forces you to pack for every possible thing that could go wrong.  

The ride started out great. There is a particularly steep and prolonged climb at the beginning that tests your fitness. On the hardtail, I pedaled 99% to the top. The end of the climb gets steeper and looser. I spun out on some loose gravel and couldn’t get my momentum back, but I was very happy with the bike’s performance. I usually hike-a-bike most of that climb! After that, however, I had two pinch flats back to back which used up all my spares and made me ride scared for the rest of the day. One place I think RSD skimped was the rims. The Sun Ringle Durocs felt a little weak considering this is an “enduro” model. But better rims would have pushed the price past $3k and out of many peoples budgets. Initially, I was mad at RSD for sending the bike with tubes in the tires, even though it is tubeless ready. But, while riding slowly behind all my friends, I had time to think.  I decided I ride like an asshole.

I have owned some of the best full suspension bikes ever made, and it has made me a terrible rider. I go through rock gardens and barely pull up on my front wheel, while not giving one thought about the beating that my rear wheel will take. My line choice is often made FOR me by rocks and roots and other obstacles. Just point it downhill and hang on. Even on my fat bike, which I run 4.6” Jumbo Jims, I often cringe as I go through rough terrain, wondering how I didn’t get a flat.

After this uncomfortable introspection, I obviously decided my riding is the problem.  Which gets us back to the RSD Middle Child. So, how should I ride a hardtail plus bike, you ask? You have to ride smart! While the 140mm fork will definitely smooth stuff out, you need to pick lines that are reasonable. Work on your skills to bunny hop over that square edge rather than bashing it. Learn how to get light or pull up and jump a rock garden, not straight down the middle. Or, god forbid, slow down. As my friend Rat Bait always says, “Slower is smoother, smoother is faster.” Deep.

Other Things I Thought About While Riding This Bike

-“What about the plus tires? How should I set them up?”  The first thing I would do if I were the owner of this bike is set it up tubeless. The reason is pretty obvious but I’ll explain. The whole point of “plus” is to run lower pressure than usual and experience the awesome traction it affords. That potential benefit is (somewhat) negated with tubes because the lower pressure will indubitably lead to pinch flats. The 50mm wide rims it comes with also really maxes out the footprint of the 2.8” tires, leading to even lower pressure possibilities.

-“Who is this bike for?”  The Middle Child checks a lot of boxes. With the adjustable chain stays and ability to run up to 29”x2.6” You could honestly ride the bike on any trail from fire roads to the gnarliest backcountry single track. Because of this, and the price, I would strongly recommend this bike to someone just starting out, or someone on a tight budget. It could be the perfect addition for someone with just a road bike, looking to go into the hills. A high school team rider that races XC and enduro could simply have two wheelsets and compete at both races.

Conclusion

Everything was fine until I pushed the bike to its limits, and it exposed my limits as a rider! If I had another month I would try to take it on more rough trails specifically to work on my skills. In the right hands, you could own this one bike and ride 95% of the earth’s trails. And have fun doing it. After taking into account looks, build, components, price, and being able to ride the bike almost anywhere, I give the RSD Middle Child a 4/5! Best bike in the world, no. Perfect bike for a large portion of riders, yes.

For more information about RSD Bikes visit – www.rsdbikes.com

3 Responses to RSD Middle Child Review – by Dustin Carlson

  1. Dave H September 3, 2018 at 11:24 pm #

    Dustin, I think you’re selling yourself short, man. Those rims absolutely do suck. I understand why they’re on the bike but I can’t believe there’s not a better option. You need to be able to ride that bike however you GD like and not have to worry that you’ll make one bad line choice and end up stranded. I had a set of those rims on my last bike and they were super heavy too – specially considering the internal width

    • Adam Ziegler September 10, 2018 at 3:38 pm #

      Rims are a tough choice here, I’m on the same frame with a bit more aggressive build riding high alpine and some DH. “The Hell with choosing smooth lines!”

      The build has 150mm Coil fork, 29×2.6 up front and 27.5×2.8 in the rear. The rear wheel is a Velocity Dually built to a Onyx hub. I’m running the new plus size CushCore and the BLKDMND casing (folding DH) butcher 2.8 at 22-24psi.

      I find myself using a deadblow and knipex on the rim after most rides. I’ve had decent luck with the same insert and tire set up on my spare DT-Swiss XM521 wheel. My guess is the narrower rim has a more triangular shape that holds up to the massive blows better.

      **If you have a rim you want me to destory, just ask**

  2. Erv Spanks September 5, 2018 at 6:40 am #

    Great review. Ride it like ya stole it, but there’s something to be said for bringing a bit of finesse to the trail.

    Cheers!