Project Dual Sport: The Lynskey Build Up- by Grannygear
It was a while ago, last Fall actually, that I was looking for a titanium singlespeed frame. Ti intrigued me and I was willing to spend a bit to see what it was about. I found a Lynskey Performance Designs frame that was priced well and had some unique features that appealed to me. So I bit in and stored the frame over winter as I gathered parts, etc. Then, I ended up with another singlespeed, this one in carbon, along with the steel one I already had. Two is not too bad, but three singlespeeds seemed over the top.
About that time, I also did a multi day bikepacking trip using a test bike, a Salsa Spearfish, (See Project Go Fish here), while most of the guys were on Salsa hard tails (Fargos) done in Ti. It got me thinking about the benefits of a traditional hard tail frame for bikepacking use. It is efficient, as long as the terrain is not too rough, and you get that huuuge main triangle that can be filled with a frame bag. I also had no geared hard tail 29″er in the stable and some rides are very well suited to that type of bike.
It got me thinking that maybe I had a better use for the Lynskey frame than just as a single speed. I made a right turn and headed in a new direction and here is the result: Project Dual Sport – A bike that can be used as an all around hard tail 29″er for XC rides, endurance events, etc, then ‘put the bags on’ and pack up for the distant horizon. So let’s take a look at what might make for a good bikepacking bike and then go over the parts I have in this build.
Ok, first of all, a good bike to get out and go bikepacking with is whatever you might have at hand, especially if you are just trying out the whole experience. It is a decent investment, all that lightweight gear and soft bags, and not everyone wants to ride all day and then sleep in a bivy sack on the ground. So before you jump in, give it a try with what you have or can borrow and see if it is good for you. That said, there are some things that make for a sweet bikepacking ride. The frame material is one consideration. It can be anything, but Ti has to be at the top of the list if cost is no consideration. Tough and typically compliant, Ti has the added benefit of not being bothered much by all the straps and bags rubbing on it for miles and miles and miles. Steel is right up there and makes a really good choice, although the finish will suffer as things get rubbed on. Steel can be real cheap too. Aluminum would not be my choice, although it is not a terrible thing. Carbon? No thanks. Most carbon frame shapes are not ideal for that huge frame bag, but really I would not like all that rough and tumble abuse, rubbing on the frame, etc.
Having sliders or an eccentric bottom bracket is a real plus. Shearing off a rear derailleur out there in northern Montana could be a long walk, but with an adjustable chain length, a few tools and some time, you could just singlespeed it and ride on. As well, a traditional threaded bottom bracket and 27.2mm seat post makes it easier to get spares along the way.
This bike is also going to be used for normal XC rides where an full suspension bike is not needed or for an endurance race or two. Full suspension bikes are getting awfully good, but it is still hard to beat a good hard tail when it comes to long climbs on fairly smooth dirt. So while I could have been quite well off with a budget build on something like a Surly Karate Monkey, as it ticks off a few boxes…steel tubes, track ‘dropouts’, traditional frame design, decent ride…it is not quite what I had in mind for an endurance race bike.
This Lynskey is a rare bird, in that it was a limited run of frames called out as an M 2923. Horrible name, right? But it falls somewhere in between the normal Lynskey Ridgeline and the Pro level frames as far as tubing goes. Compared to the Ridgeline, it has an oversize top tube and down tube and more room at the chain stays for a bigger tire as the sliders are moved forward. Both features appealed to me for my original idea of singlespeed use (and if this project does not work out, it may still be an SS!). But it does not have the twisted tubes of the Pro frames and should be more comfortable as well. The geometry is typical Lynskey 71.5/73 and the chain stays are sitting at 17.5″. The taller 110mm Fox fork did slack the bike to 71* as measured static. I actually would prefer something more like 70* at the head tube angle, but we shall see how this plays out. There is always an AngleSet by Cane Creek if I feel the need.
Most of this build will be what I had around or what appealed to me from a practical standpoint. But since we had a pretty swank frame to begin with, I did focus on matching it up with a very good set of wheels. The new Roval Control 29 Carbons are not cheap at $1200.00, but in the world of carbon wheels, that is a pretty good deal, especially since it comes along with a DT Swiss 350 star ratchet based hub, convertible end caps, 32 spokes, tubeless compatibility, a weight under 1600g, and a big company behind the product. I used a more racy set of Roval SL carbons on the Spearfish during that desert bike packing trip and listened to rocks pinging off the rim and spokes for hours. After the trip was over, I never even found a mark on the rim. Compared to those wheels, this wheel set is stronger and the rim is wider. The Dt Swiss based rear hub star ratchet system can be disassembled and serviced by hand and it is a proven hub. No surprises there. This new wheel has the controversial (for now) bead hook-less rim design. Mounted onto the Roval wheels were a set of Geax Saguaros in a 2.2″ size running tubeless. I used a set of the Specialized rim strips to get it all set up.
The fork is a Fox 32 in a 110mm length with 9mm dropouts and an RL damper. Not having a 15QR is a drawback, but it will be acceptable for the intended use I think. The brakes are Avid Elixirs with a set of 180mmF/160mmR rotors. For a drive train, I had more 9 speed stuff laying around than I had 10 speed, so I put together a 9 speed Grip Shift pulling on an XO rear der and an SLX front der. The crank is a re-badged Shimano XT with 22/32/44 rings paired to a SRAM 11-34 cassette and chain. I am a real fan of 2×10 but you do get a wider range with 3×9 and that big ring is kinda nice on long road sections.
The headset is an FSA, the bars are some carbon SRAM Noir T30 flat bars at 700mm wide, the stem is a Truvative model as well…100mm. For the saddle I picked a long time fave, the WTB Pure V. But for the seat post, I chose two paths – one path for all around use and one path for bikepacking trips. My first thought was to set the bike up with a Cane Creek Thudbuster ST. With the potential for 1.5″ of ‘travel’ and adjustable elastomers, it is a good solution to tired backs on long days in the saddle over bumpy roads. A classic piece of kit. For all around XC use, at first I had a carbon seatpost on there that was decently comfy but needed more setback. The timing was right to pick up the new Lynskey Ti seat post so that is on there as an option…Ti for the normal riding and Thudbuster for packed up travel.
The bike weight with SPDs and in the XC guise is right at 25lbs/11.3kg. Not bad and very reasonable for the intended use. The M2923 is not a featherweight frame with those big tubes and sliders, coming in at 4lbs 12oz/2kg or so. That was a surprise to me as I expected better and you could get a steel frame built at this weight, I would think.
The bags are a blend of a seat bag and bar bag from an old custom order and a frame bag made for an XL Salsa hard tail (see your Salsa or QBP dealer). The frame bag measurements are on the Salsa site and the cost of the bag is around $165.00. Made by Revelate Designs, it is a decent fit on the XL Lynskey.
We will be back pretty quick with our impressions on this bike as a general XC scoot, then stand by as a bikepacking trip or two is in the works!
Note: Portions of this build were sent for test and review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.