Out Of The Box: Spot Rocker SS Ti- by Grannygear
Titanium. Ooooo. Silvery, slim tubes of joy…all stitched together by elves by moonlight. It weighs little, rides like a dream, pedals like the wind, lasts forever, and costs a fortune. Or is that true? Well, all but the elves part. They work in daylight.
Titanium frames are what many aspire to. Steel is real but pedestrian and typically heavy unless you spend the cash. Aluminum is the poor mans race bike…stiff, cheap, and satisfying but typically rough riding and not long lasting. Carbon is the miracle material. Light, stiff, shape shifting, fast feeling and prices are coming down somewhat…but it lacks soul, if there is such a thing in a bike, and it is still haunted by the specter of fragility.
But Ti…well that bespeaks of fine breeding and good taste, not to mention a fat wallet. It would laugh at a drop into some rocks…the rocks would lose. It says “I know what I want, can afford it, and I am not a faddist carbon fiber riding racer boy“. Or does it just say I have more money than good sense?
Ah, questions, questions. I have been on Ti here and there, but never for any real test period. I have been considering a Ti single speed frame for a couple of years, but never pulled the trigger. Talking to folks with years of experience in the bike biz, both from an engineering side and from a rider point of view, Ti is a mixed bag and not always what you might expect it to be. I wanted to know more than I did before I bought in big, typically 3K and up for a high end Ti frame, although 2K and change is doable.
And recently I was able to ride a very, very nice steel bike in the form of the Spot Bikes Rocker, tested here. I was very impressed, and although the fit was not dead on for me, it was something I could have very well owned as my own bike. I liked it very much. Nice steel is very nice indeed. And the new Gates Carbon Drive CenterTrack system is finally a solid player, outside of one issue I had with “mice” in the belt under dusty conditions. So now that I know what nice steel can be (and cheap steel…still pretty good for the $), and I have been on a very decent performing aluminum frame in the Specialized Carve Pro single speed, I was very interested in pedaling the Ti Rocker over the parched trails of So Cal. And so, here it is. Voila, as it were.
I unboxed a LG Spot Rocker SS Ti with the stock spec listed on the website here with a few exceptions. I have Oury grips and a Thomson Elite X4 stem. The oddest thing to me was the Schwalbe 2.35 Hans Dampf tires. That is big rubber…850g per the Schwalbe website Too big for my area and terrain, but maybe good for Colorado’s rocky trails. Speaking to Spot about the choice, they said what I expected…the biggy tires and grippy knobs work for where they live and ride. Fair enough. The new Mavic CrossMax SLR 29s are pretty snazzy looking. Full UST, of course, and in the 1600g range a set. The 100mm Fox Float CTD will give me some insight into how the Climb Trail Descend deal works and the carbon Enve bars, Thomson seat post, and WTB saddle are very nice. Chris King headset too. Sweet. And an XO crank. XT brakes do the stopping duties. Well ok then. EDIT: I wanted to add that the bike as listed in the Spot website would be $6199.00 complete and for frame only, $3899.00.
Also worth noting is that the Rocker SS Ti can become a Rocker geared Ti as it comes with braze-ons for a front and rear der and the rear sliding Kobe dropouts can be changed to a der hanger type. This adds versatility but also is a bit ‘warty’ if you are an SS purist as you have welded on bits you will never use. And, of course, you can run it with a chain instead of the belt if you so desire and, as you would expect, the belt on this Ti version of the Rocker is the Gates Carbon Drive’s CenterTrack system.
Looking at the bike, it is a classy chassis and the parts look great on there. I love the finish with that etched logo and a real head badge…not a sticker/decal to be seen. I had to swap those tires, but not before I shot a pic of the clearance at the stays. Plenty.
On went some different Schwalbe rubber…2.2 Rocket Rons in the new Tubeless version, EVO casing, etc and a 520g tire weight. Up on the scales I saw a 20lb 12oz number, no pedals…21lbs 9oz with SPDs. As a comparison, the steel Spot Rocker was 23lbs 3oz with no pedals. 21.5lbs ready to ride is not bad…not bad at all. I also had to deal with a slightly short cockpit as this is a Large frame with a 24″ top tube. I swapped the straight up Thomson post for a lay back and different saddle that I had laying around. That gave me a bit of leg room and the WTB Silverado saddle has never been to my liking. Too narrow and firm. I love the WTB Pure V and run them on all my hard tails, but I left the Specialized Phenom saddle on the borrowed post for now. We shall see. I may want to bump up from the 90mm stem to a 100mm if I still feel compressed. Time on the trail will tell.
The chain stays with the belt set up gives you a bit of a rangy length of 17.6 inches. Not the best for single speed in my opinion, but that is the deal…no half links for belts. Angles on this Rocker Single Speed Ti are, well, controversial. Early 29″ers were built with steep head tube angles to get them to turn well, especially with a 38mm offset suspension fork. Now the trend is toward a slacker head tube on 29″ers and All Mountain bikes with 120+mm of F/R travel are sub 69° these days. But, on a hard tail, head tube angles are typically not that slack unless we are talking about an All Mountain hard tail like a Kona Honzo or Canfield Brothers Yelli Screamy. But this Rocker Single Speed Ti has a 69.25° head tube angle with a 100mm fork. Interesting. Seat tube angles are a more normal 73°.
So off to the trails we go to see what we see. Will the promise of Ti deliver? My pocketbook could be in danger. Oh my.
Note: Spot Bikes sent the Rocker SS Ti for test and review at no charge. We are not being bribed, nor paid for this review. We will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.