First Ride on the Bandersnatch

29er Mountain Biking Reviews Ride Reports

Saturday I took an early morning ride down to the beach with my dogs in tow(in a trailer) so my legs were out of juice the next day. I was aching to throw a leg over the 29er anyway but woke up at 5am and it was raining lightly. Half an hour later it stopped so I headed out in hopes the trail would be tacky and only slightly wet.

Bandi on the move

This is the 4.5 mile climb Priscilla rode up the day before. I noticed the “dirt” was sticking to my tires pretty badly. By mile 4 or so I felt like I was carrying an extra couple of pounds with me. What we have here, in certain parts, is not mud but clay. Instead of just being wet dirt this stuff literally sticks to everything it can find. My shoes are still a mess.

Vassago in the mist

I was surrounded by fog the entire climb. It made for a dream-like ride up the side of the hill. Very ethereal and really quiet. I felt like I was in a Costa Rican jungle. You’ll have to excuse my infatuation with the plants. We see nothing but dry, brown hills here 9-10 months out of the year.

Christening…who needs champagne?

The Bandersnatch was simply an amazing ride. Rolling up to the trail I instantly noticed my rolling speed was faster than on my Heckler or any other bike I’ve ridden. The geometry for climbing is spot on too. I felt super comfortable and just cranked away. The power transfer with a full rigid setup is unbelievable.

Also a first impression on the Sette Ryde ST-850 dropper seatpost: It works great! It’s so easy to use. When I got to the apex of the hill I’d just pull the trigger and throw my weight down, then let go and I’ve got a low seat, ready for any obstacles on the downhill. Especially in the fog, the terrain would sneak up, but when I saw the hill coming I’d just pull the trigger again and up pops the seat, exactly where I need it for the climb.  The one problem I had was compressing the post. It tended to stick a little. I think this was a combination of my slight frame(150 pounds), the cold and the trail grime. I’ll lube it with some grease and see if that helps. This was only one ride but, for the life of me, I can’t fathom why someone would pay $200 when they could grab one of these for around $20.

Anyway, at the top of the climb I heard mud scraping and looked down to see this mess on the rear end. I know I’ll get grief here for riding on a wet trail, but the trail was hardpacked as you can see in the above pictures. But, again, this is clay so the very top of the ground would peel off and attach itself to the stuff already on my tire. This snowball effect ended my ride and I had to turn back once I hit the top of the climb. Scraped off most of the clay and…time for the downhill!

Not fun to cleanup

Downhills on a full rigid bike just can’t be fun…at least that’s what I thought before. Don’t get me wrong, if you hit a ditch head-on or a large rock, you will know you’re riding a rigid setup. However, the Bandersnatch just hums when the trail goes down. The big wheels smooth out the small chatter pretty good and if you use your body as the suspension it gets fun. Real fun.

As I was half way down the decent I actually let out a laugh. Granted this has happened on my Heckler, but to have no suspension and to be giggling on the way down? This bike is a joy to ride. Plain and simple. I can already tell this will be my go-to bike for any but the roughest rides. I was even able to catch some air off some small jumps and tweak it a bit. Yes, the wheels are large but this bike just makes them so easy to handle.  Steel and big wheels. I have them both, finally, and it is good.

RL Policar

RL Policar is an avid mountain biker and the Editor In-Chief of and Between the two sites, he's published well over 4,000 articles (and growing).

7 thoughts on “First Ride on the Bandersnatch

  1. Um Lance…you’re supposed to wait 2-3 days after it rains to give the trail a chance to dry out.

    Other than that, I’m a bit jealous of your Snatch. That’s a sweet looking bike!

  2. You know…I thought that too, but it only “slightly” rained for less than an hour so I thought I’d be okay. Plus I actually rode by a park ranger in his truck, on the way to the trail. I waved at him and he didn’t stop me so I assumed it was okay to proceed. I didn’t pick up ANY mud on the downhill but at slow speed all that clay just looks for anything to grab on to.

  3. I simply stated that the bike was very dirty;probably the dirtiest bike I’ve ever seen.Don’t blame me if you warped mind took my statement into the gutter.

  4. Duke, price breakdown:
    $100 – Wheels(purchased from friend)
    $150 – Drivetrain/shifters
    $100 – handlebar/stem
    $130 – Pitchfork
    $50 – tires/tubes
    $40 – headset/BB
    $570 Total(approximate)

    Brakes/cranks/pedals scrapped from other bike.
    Seatpost – provided by Pricepoint
    Frame – provided by Vassago

    If you build one yourself, I imagine it’d be possible to get one for under $1000. Ridiculous price if you ask me.

    This is one of those bikes that you can’t wait to ride. In fact, I’m waiting for this day to be over so I can go home and hit the trail today!!

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