American Classic 101/Dirty Flea SS Wheels: First Impressions- by Grannygear

Editor’s Note: For the last posting on these wheels with an interview with American Classic’s Bill Shook and more, go here.

The new wheels quite likely will get moved around across a couple of bikes for testing, but right now they are on the resurrected OS Bikes Blackbuck.  Sporting a few new goodies besides the wheels, here is how it looks for now.

Besides the new 101/Dirty Flea wheels, the hoops are shod with some 2.3 Specialized Ground Controls running tubeless and for now, a slightly low 32/21 gear combo using a Stylo crank and a very nice quality spacer kit from Spot Brand bikes.  It makes all the other aftermarket kits I used seem kinda cheesy.  The bars are the new Answer Pro Taper SL bars and Rove G2 stem.  The new Pro Taper carbons are good looking with textured clamp area, cut marks, etc, and come in flat and rise versions.  These are the flat, 8* sweep, 720mm wide ones and weighed 208g.  The Rove G2 stem looks robust enough to do the job of keeping the 720mm wide bars in check.  The stem is 151g in the 100mm version shown here.  Keeping with the Answer Products theme, I slipped on a set of Fall Line XC grips.

For front suspension duties, I installed a Manitou Tower Pro, 15QR in 100mm travel.  The Tower series has always been a strong performer and it looks great on this build, is very tunable, and stiff.  A WTB Pure V saddle on a 27.2mm carbon Syncros seat post keeps my backside happy.  The brakes are a new set of Avid XO Trails with 160mm rotors front and rear.

Of course the wheels are the stars, but a bike is the sum of its parts.  The wheels look good on here, very understated, and the entire package has gotten a lot of compliments.

On trail with the new wheels so far has shown no signs of unwanted flex or anything bad.  They spin up well and seems to accelerate with a nice pop forward.  The hubs are fast engaging enough for me in the present set-up and they seem to roll well, holding momentum.  The Pro Taper SL carbon bars and stem are giving me a great feel at the helm so far.  Once you get used to carbon bars, it is hard to go back to alu.  The good ones seem to dampen shock well and still not get all mushy when you pull hard on them.  The stem seems resolute so far under hard torque.  The fork is what all Tower forks have been for me so far.  Smooth in its travel, it goes where it is pointed.

The Blackbuck is an interesting bike.  It has a close-between-the-wheels feeling and even with the 100mm fork on there, is very agile and a killer singletrack scooter.  The geometry is interesting in that it has parallel seat and head tube angles.  So I am right at a calculated 70.4* HT angle (unsagged) but also with the same ST angle and that keeps me back behind the crank quite a bit.  I ran the saddle up forward in the non-offset seat post clamp and that helped.  I actually think I liked this bike better with an 80mm travel Manitou Tower Pro on it over the 100mm version.  It is interesting getting back on a steel frame now after being on alu and carbon for an SS bike and recently Ti in the geared hard tail.  I have to admit that the carbon Stumpjumper SS frame has spoiled me.  If I cannot get in the groove with the Blackbuck, I will move on.

Regardless of that, for comparison’s sake I think I will run these wheels on the Stumpy SS after a while, replacing the AC SS wheels on there now.  That will be an interesting swap, I think.  I have a set of Maxxis Ikons that look plump, fast, and ready to hit the dusty trails of So Cal summer so they may end up on there too.  As the miles add up, we will report back.

Note: Sun Ringle’ and American Classic sent over their products at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches for test and review. We are not being paid, nor bribed for these reviews and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.