Because it probably doesn’t deserve such a title… No, this wasn’t in the plan… After all, a new Nomad is a once in 3 years event! Given its such a prestigious scenario, I was loathe to unleash the new Carbon Nomadness on its first outing in the Jungle of all places.
Warning haters – It does get a bit ‘bikey’ from this point onwards… and for good reason.
Call me spoilt by Canada/NZ/Europe, happy to wear that badge, yes, I was less than pumped at the prospect of Global Hub jungle MTB trails. Yes, there are some ‘okish’ bits and pieces around, assuming its not rammed with jungle mud/shit, but on the whole I like to sulk about the dirt action here. But, there were some decent motivating factors to get out and nail that first ride:
- There is a little mission on the horizon in a couple of weeks… Stay tuned for that!
- The new Nomad had been shining at me all week… Almost to the point of winking… so it needed a decent seeing to.
I’ve also been bombarded by a tsunami of Herr Doktor reports about the new Nomad’s awesomeness, which did leave me a little bit intrigued, so it was time to see if I could validate his frothing. Science is usually right, but he is recovering from an abusive single pivot relationship, which means some times you just have to smile and nod knowingly… Poor things.
Location of choice? Kent Ridge, which is actually pronounced Cunt Ridge. Never liked it, never will… Not sure why, you know when you just dislike something “just because“, yeah, its like that. Usually the type of irrational dislike reserved for partner’s friends or workmates, I liberally apply it to C/Kent Ridge. Its an awkward and odd lay out that lacks flow and makes itself difficult to navigate with any thoughts of fun… BUT, it is DRY, which around these parts is a massive bonus. At least the bike was looking AWESOME as fuck:
So, negative location mental state aside, what did I think of the new Nomad 3?! I know you are gagging to have some initial impressions and thoughts. Well, you need to take this with a large grain of Maldon Sea Salt (Chef says the best salt around) as its hard to do the bike justice riding it here, but I did get a mini feel for a few aspects:
- Pedal pedal – Ok, so it definitely pedals and climbs better than the 2, no dramas there. Its never going to be a mountain goat, but I was pleased that one of my very few gripes about the old bike has been addressed. Can’t wait to do some longer trail rides to validate this
- How about that Geo – There are only about 4 or 5 x 3 second moments where the Geo got tested, but its GOOD, definitely a nice step forward from the 2… The head angle in particular is a very welcome change, giving you the feeling of having more time to deal with steep stuff, which was of course limited, but I can tell its going to be very useful
- Devil wheels – Yes, I am a massive fucking sell out ending up on the 27.5 wheels, marketing departments are celebrating globally after my surrender, especially after my initial resistance. I think it was a combo of not being able to get a tire locally I wanted in 26 and then the Nomad 3 coming out in the new size that fucked me. Did I notice any difference? Well… The only time I did it wasn’t really in a positive way… In some low speed stuff they felt a little more awkward than usual and it was a different sensation jumping, so definitely some adjustment to come. Put it this way, I didn’t get on and think “Fuck, this is awesome, where have 27.5 wheels been for the last 26 years?!!! We have SO been missing out“
- The Package – New Talas 36 fork is excellent, I probably don’t have it set up right, but its a big step forward. To be honest, everything else works as suspected, I have the funny feeling I need to spend a lot of time and concentrate on setting up the CCDB Air on the rear, but that will take me my usual 6 months to work out that something isn’t quite right and then another 6 months on how to tune it. Useful.
Although I never got it up to full speed like say in France, I did have a few moments of insight into how lethal this thing is when it takes off… It really does whip through stuff at an alarming rate that even I wasn’t used to, a couple of faaaaaaark moments mixed in there. Basically if you let it off the leash it will fucking GO like a dog after a bowl of organic bacon.
I did however encounter some items of concern shall we say? Commonly known as things that fucked with me a bit… I know this will make me sound like a change averse weirdo, but for the record:
- First time on 1 x 10 – Yeah… Ok, so you have to be strong to ride this bike with 34 x 36 everywhere, hurry the fuck up Shimano and ship those 40T 11 speed cassettes! I had a fruitful and valuable relationship with front D’s for 26 years and never thought it was something to get rid of, but obviously fashion dictates they are super uncool and need to be binned, hence you can’t mount one on the N3. Given I refuse to run SHAM, I am going to have to get fitter to compensate. Does look a lot cleaner though I have to admit
- 150mm dropper – Eh? Well, when you’re used to a 125mm one, having it dump you a bit more was disconcerting… Yes, its useful when I eventually get to see some actual steep stuff, but I need to adjust to the change oddly enough. Amazingly, my Reverb lasted its first ride…
- Bar width – I tried experimenting with 780mm bars on the trail bike… Yeah, pass me the hack saw… It got weird
- Proof that I don’t need gadgets – For the sake of transparency here are a couple of amusing tales of idiocy, yes, confession time. I rode the first lap of the XC course with the rear shock set to climb mode and wondered why it felt so shit… Then followed that up with riding the first two runs of the DH course with the forks locked down to 120mm of travel and wondering why it felt unbalanced and like it was pitching… What… A… Cunt… Cue abuse and pointing. Basically I don’t need any gadgets on my bike aside from a dropper post, they’re clearly wasted on me and my very questionable attention span.
God, look at that, I have gone FULL list on it… See what being back in the matrix does? Removes creativity and passion and instills lists and bullet points. So, summing it all up? Well, on first impressions riding it on terrain that is a pet hate, its best to say that its a better bike than the old Nomad. For me it felt like an incremental improvement at this point, but I’m hoping that changes when we add real terrain into the mix.
Underwhelmed by that? Well, think about the context there… The old Nomad was absolutely the best mountain bike I have ever ridden or seen. So, what I am trying to say is that this new one is a step above that. The best part is that it has that intangible Santa Cruz feel of just being right from the moment you turn the first crank… It feels sorted, planted, correct, excellent and like it was designed and built just for YOU and you alone. Fuck, that is a GOOD feeling. Its clearly been designed and built by people who don’t just know mountain biking, but fucking love mountain biking and do a lot of it.
So, initial impressions only… But I can wrap it up by saying I can’t wait to take this to a real location and give it a thrashing, I suspect its going to be mind blowing shit. Stay tuned…