I don’t know if I’m much of a dreamer, but when the time came to assemble my ‘dream build,’ I took the welcome task quite literally: I dug deep into my wildest fantasies of the all-around trail slayer.
As most of my dreams involve subconscious attempts to synthesize disparate events, I adopted the same approach to my dream build, pulling together my ultimate wish list of parts to create a bike I could ride anywhere, with minimal amounts of maintenance.
When this beauty finally came together, I could scarcely believe that my dream had become reality. On my first chunky descent aboard the Specialized S-Works Enduro FSR Carbon 29—equipped with a Cane Creek DB Air CS shock—I was amazed at how capable it was. With its ample 155 millimeters of rear-wheel travel, it effortlessly gobbled up minefields of beefy babyheads with the hushed etiquette of the noblest aristocrat.
Adding to the bike’s subtle graces was the sensible SRAM XX1 11-speed drivetrain, which I chose because it gave me plenty of gear options for everyday trail riding without all the noise and confusion of multiple-ring setups. I’ve never experienced quieter rides. The absence of chainslap, together with the suspension’s deceptively silent characteristics, afforded a heightened awareness of my surroundings.
My choice of wheels—the Easton Haven Carbon 29 hoops that have endured tests ranging from the BC Bike Race to my extended expedition through northeastern Afghanistan—perfectly complemented the bike’s muted demeanor.
As if it were crowning this bike the King of All Mountain, the new RockShox Pike RCT3 fork, with its 160 millimeters of travel, gave me the confidence to charge considerably harder than usual through the burliest sections of my local trails. In the weeks since my inaugural ride on this bike, my confidence has increased exponentially. I’ve ridden some of Southern California’s burliest trails and scarcely batted an eye at lines that used to make me pucker up like I’d just eaten my first brussel sprout again. Now I can safely say that I absolutely love brussel sprouts.
When it came time to pick my dropper post, I strayed from my all-time favorite—the KS Lev—to see how the stock Specialized Command Post IR performed. So far, I’ve been impressed with the smoothness and reliability of its action. While my habitual all-or-nothing riding sensibilities initially prevented me from making use of its three-position function, I’ve since ridden trails whose constant ups and downs made the intermediate position quite convenient.
This brings up a point that our editors at Bike have debated quite vigorously: Whether there is indeed still a need for a three-position dropper post. A couple of our editors swear that they should go the way of the dinosaurs, but a few of us still find the intermediate position to be eminently handy when hammering through trails with punchy ups and downs. Plus, after more than two months of steady riding, this Command Post has yet to require any maintenance.
My cockpit is composed of Chromag’s new, 35-millimeter-clamp-diameter BZA carbon handlebar—which comes in my preferred width of 780 millimeters. The BZA bar, made from a unidirectional carbon weave, is stiff yet shock-absorbent—and it would almost look at home on a DH bike, despite weighing only 245 grams. The bar’s 5-degree upsweep and 8-degree bend, when paired with the accompanying 50-mil stem, help keep me in a comfortable and efficient riding position, engendering ample leverage over my front wheel. In addition to the utility of this cockpit, it also looks sick.
When it came time to choose my stoppers, there wasn’t even a moment’s hesitation: The powerful and dependable Shimano XTR Trail brakes were hands down my first choice. Though the XTR Trails have been my favorite brakes for quite some time, my faith in them is put to the test each year during our Bible of Bike Tests boot camp, when we test bikes equipped with brakes from all the major manufacturers. And again this year, the XTR Trails reigned supreme.
My choice of tires also came easy. The Continental Trail King continues to wear the crown for its versatility and durability. I’ve ridden these tires through the wildest range of surface conditions—from the dry-and-dusty American Southwest to the greasy roots of B.C. and the Pacific Northwest and the snow and ice of Northeast Afghanistan—and their Black Chili compound and proven tread pattern never fail to find purchase. I run 2.4s in the front and back. Why? Because I like it that way.
The icing on the cake is my jet-black Chromag Trailmaster saddle, which is comfortable, cool and durable. And it adds some panache to the bike of my dreams.
With each ride I take, I keep pinching myself to make sure it’s for real.