Guest for the Summer

07.15.2009 | 10:57 am

A couple of days ago, a guest arrived. He’ll be staying for the summer. Everyone, please give a warm welcome to the Diamondback Sortie Black.


But you can just call him “Sortie.”

Evidently, when I posted a video of Ricky and me riding Grove Creek on our fully-rigid bikes, it was just too much for Diamondback. They contacted me, saying, essentially, “You’re doing it wrong.”

And the Sortie, apparently, is the right way.

So they sent me one to play with for the summer. After which, I will return it in a much-more-used condition.

A Little Bit About the Sortie

I have to admit, the Sortie (especially the ultra-upgraded, limited-edition “Black” edition I’m currently gloating over) is a very sexy bike. Here are a few of the parts I’ve drooled on:

  • Knuckle Box suspension with Fox Float RP23 rear shock
  • Mavic Crossmax SLR wheelset
  • Hayes Stroker Gram disc brakes
  • Truvativ Noir cranks
  • SRAM XO shifters
  • Fox 32 Float RLC 130mm Air Fork

The rest of the bike is similarly hotted up, resulting in a mountain bike with 5″ of travel, front and back, that weighs 26 pounds out the door.

Let me say that again: This 5″-travel mountain bike weighs 26 pounds.


Which means I do not have to become a shuttlebug to start enjoying this bike.

Leap of Faith

I have spent long moments just staring at this bike. It’s a beauty. It’s also pretty much the exact opposite of what I’ve been trending toward lately. Consider:

  • Wheels: 26″ (my other mountain bikes — all four of them — have 29″ wheels). I am going to need to go to a bike shop and buy some 26″ tubes.
  • Suspension: 5″ [!!!] (3 of my other four mountain bikes have no suspension at all, and the other has a front shock, which I’ve been thinking about ditching)
  • Gears: This has 27. Right now I’m used to one.
  • Bottle cages: 1, which means I’m going to have to dig out a Camelbak if I’m going to go on a ride longer than 90 minutes…or 60 minutes in the heat of the day. Honestly, this is my biggest disappointment with this bike. I’m kind of off Camelbaks lately.
  • Weight: 26 pounds is light for what this is, but it’s still 8 pounds more than the mountain bike I’ve been riding most lately.

So far, the only riding I’ve done with this bike is straight into curbs, just to see how the bike handles them. And frankly, I’ve been a little bit freaked out, because the bike just kind of absorbs the curb. I don’t even have to stop pedaling, lift the front wheel or anything. Just ride through it, as if it weren’t there.

This opens some interesting doors for some of my favorite downhills. Like Jacobs Ladder. Or the Suncrest Freeride Trail. Or, of course, Grove Creek.

And that’s just the beginning.

I worry, though, that when I take the Sortie out, it will prove the bike version of the Peter Principle. Specifically, I have become a pretty fair descender on a rigid 29″ singlespeed, partly because a very simple, unfiltered bike lets me know precisely when I am approaching the limits of my skill.

I think this bike, on the other hand, will still feel like I’m in control, long after I’m not.

Tomorrow, I’ll find out.

PS: Feel free to use the Comments section to tell me you envy / hate me.


  1. Comment by gian | 07.15.2009 | 11:07 am

    envy. All envy. And some hate. No, lots of hate. But hope. I feel lots of envy and hope. A little hate.

    I love you.

  2. Comment by Fattier | 07.15.2009 | 11:10 am

    The description of riding over curbs has made me want full suspension more than any other description I’ve ever read/heard.

    It has also inspired me to turn my blog into a bike blog so I can get free stuff to test out.

  3. Comment by Cyclechic | 07.15.2009 | 11:10 am

    You deserve all the great things that come your way. Although, I must admit, I can’t help but hate you a little…well a lot. She sure is perdy!

    Just finished my race report from Livestrong this weekend. I’m long winded but I consider the blog my cycling diary. Thanks to you and all the Fat Cyclists in San Jose for making this weekend fantastic.

  4. Comment by GenghisKhan | 07.15.2009 | 11:12 am

    I hate you and envy you, but in one of those good kinda ways. You know, like 80s Russia and USA hate and envy. No wait, that’d not be too good. I know, 60s Cuba and USA. Hmmm, kinda really the first. Yeah, I know, like me and Marshmallow Peeps. Yeah, that’s the kind of hate and envy I got for you! ;o)

  5. Comment by Big Bird | 07.15.2009 | 11:16 am

    My brother just added a long-travel trail bike to his stable after riding a Fisher Rig exclusively for the past two years. Based on his experience, I’d say you’re going to have fun. Prepare to recalibrate your idea of fast.

  6. Comment by Hautacam | 07.15.2009 | 11:18 am

    Envy. ENVY. Pure and simple.

    You will definitely need to arrange a series of downhill offroad speed runs with you and your riding-mates. First one to the bottom in one piece, wins. Everyone wears a helmet cam. “Gypsy Road” on every Ipod.

    Good luck and keep the rubber side down! The camelbak will provide a little extra padding for your spine when the inevitable crash happens, but it might be wise to invest in a full-face helmet, though. Or perhaps a helmet manufacturer will send you a FatCyclist one painted by Troy Lee. Are you listening, Troy Lee/helmet manufacturers?

    PS I am also nearly as envious of your phenomenally lush green grass. (That is your lawn, isn’t it?) How on earth do you keep it so green in the hot/dry altitudes of Utah? My lawn here in the relatively moist 206 looks mangy at best.

  7. Comment by Matt | 07.15.2009 | 11:34 am

    That is one sweet-looking bike. Though I have to say I envy your trails more than your bike (I’m pretty happy w/ my trusty Cannondale Prophet, but don’t have many close-by places to ride it).

    Full suspension is some cool stuff. It will make you look at your favorite trails in a whole new way, and probably won’t actually slow you down on uphills as much as you think it might.

  8. Comment by Mike | 07.15.2009 | 11:51 am

    26′er? bah. Free ride bike? bah. Having a bike company send you a bike to demo for the summer. . . Amazing, and well deserved. Your blog is a win win for all involved. You are an excellent writer, and human being(rock throwing aside) I only hope that all the other bike manufacturers follow suit and you end up running out of room in your garage.
    Ridestrong, Livestrong, Win!

  9. Comment by Rantwick | 07.15.2009 | 11:51 am

    Don’t be seduced into the blackness of full suspension! I bet it feels really good… but it is the scheming caress of a new and expensive (for the rest of us) devil you are enjoying! Are you prepared to sell your singlespeed rigid soul to this dark queen?

    Wait. Don’t listen to me, I haven’t ridden mountain / offroad in a long time.

  10. Comment by Weiland | 07.15.2009 | 11:53 am

    Can you hook me up with a time trial bike to test over the summer? I feel out of place rolling up to the local Time Trial with a regular road bike, helmet and jersey when everyone else has a TT rig, aero helmet, skin suit and booties. Of course I do get a tremendous amount of satisfaction when I pass a couple guys on the course that are riding TT bikes with $1500 carbon wheels.

  11. Comment by Ian | 07.15.2009 | 12:10 pm

    Nice bike, I envy you. The camelback is good for when you go over the bars and land on your back, I have tested this theory numerous times. I actually wear mine even on short rides with this in mind (plus the spare tube, tools etc that live in it. Enjoy the dark side.

  12. Comment by Tim D | 07.15.2009 | 12:21 pm

    Fatty, save yourself and the emergency services a lot of time and effort, give the bike to Brad now and throw yourself out of an upstairs window. The effects should be about the same.

  13. Comment by Jo | 07.15.2009 | 12:29 pm

    I’m betting it’s artificial grass. The whole neighbourhood got a job lot (see background of photos for evidence).

    Oh yeah, nice bike.


  14. Comment by rich | 07.15.2009 | 12:32 pm

    wow…envy…hate…all these emotions rolling around…

    Enjoy! I took my full suss bike out last week after riding only SS for the past year and it was FUN! (although my old bike is nowhere near as nice as that one – sorry more envy slipped out)
    Like someone else has said, be prepared to rethink your idea of fast. (at least on the downhill)

    HAve fun and be safe!

  15. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 07.15.2009 | 12:45 pm

    As an owner of all three – Niota FS(the aluminum one) Scott Scale50 HT and Kona UNIT Rigid – you’ve just bought a ticket for a ride you don’t want to go on. I anticipate the following thought at the bottom of Jacobs Ladder will go through your head – “At that speed, I could understand why some folks wear full face helmets”

    also this one, “WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE…. do it again!”


  16. Comment by BurkeInTheOzarks | 07.15.2009 | 12:45 pm

    I was just berating you this morning in your previous post with regard to your shunning of technology and now this post appears. Hello, gears! Hello, suspension!

    I know rigid SS’s are all the rage with the cool people, but you’re getting OLD Fatty (as am I). Embrace the technological advances in modern cycling that this bike has to offer. Your wrists, knees and assorted other body parts will thank you…

  17. Comment by Katie | 07.15.2009 | 12:49 pm

    Um. . . I didn’t really understand what all that said but I’d like a bike at some point! Maybe I need me a second job.

    Win Susan!!

  18. Comment by MattC | 07.15.2009 | 12:55 pm

    Here’s how a friend of mine settled the FS or hardtail debate years ago for me. He was riding a Schwin 4-Banger, I was on my ultralight Trek 9800 (full carbon, 3.5″ front suspension, 22lbs). We both ride same pedals, I had resisted the dark side (trying out his bike) for a year or so. At the top of a big climb he walks over, TAKES my bike and gives me his. Says for me to go first, stay seated even over the rough areas, he will wait 10 seconds and follow with all his might to catch me (he used to race Expert and I, uh…hmmm..hey, look at that ladybug over there!) Anyway, I take off and all of a sudden I’m FLYING over stuff, NOT picking lines but just swooshing over…get to the bottom of the 2mile downhill and no Victor…about 30 seconds later (I hear him before I see him) he comes into view…rear end flying all over the place. I’ve never come CLOSE to even holding his wheel before. So FS and hardtails are apples and oranges. You WILL be faster and MORE in control on a FS…end of discussion. Just my 2 cents worth. Oh..and Envy…LOTS of Envy!

  19. Comment by MOCougFan | 07.15.2009 | 12:56 pm


    The way you know and ride with famous people, I’d think it would be obvious that you need to use that bike and ride with Mike Curiak. Some of the terrain he rides on would be perfect for that bike.

    I’m jealous.

  20. Comment by MattC | 07.15.2009 | 1:00 pm

    oh….and when I saw the bike pic on the post, first thing I thought was “YEE-HAW! A SWEET BIKE to raffle off for LiveStong that I might be able to win!” Crap. It’s yours. It’s niether hate nor envy, or more accurate, some of both…it’s Havy.

  21. Comment by steve | 07.15.2009 | 1:03 pm

    so what you’re saying is, “i got a new couch.”

  22. Comment by hubcityrob | 07.15.2009 | 1:04 pm

    Perhaps in an effort to market to the “little people,” (and by that I mean status, not stature), Diamondback would like to send me a Sortie to test out and review? I would even settle for a non-limited edition.

    It would also prevent me from having to deal with feelings on envy … no, hate … no, envy … ok, maybe hate…

  23. Comment by chtirch | 07.15.2009 | 1:23 pm

    Hate you

  24. Comment by chtrich | 07.15.2009 | 1:24 pm

    and hate myself for just now noticing that my name has been wrong for who knows how long……..

  25. Comment by buckythedonkey | 07.15.2009 | 1:29 pm

    I’m right off you. It was the Sidifest that started the rot.

  26. Comment by Boomer | 07.15.2009 | 1:49 pm

    voodoo doll…long dull pins with rust…yeah, i’m petty that way…did you feel that one? ;)


  27. Comment by Vince | 07.15.2009 | 2:10 pm

    Fast Fast Fast

    you are going to fly bro.

    After moving from more cross country oriented rigs to 6″ travel bikes, I had to redefine what fast was.

  28. Comment by Onan the Barbarian | 07.15.2009 | 2:24 pm

    As Kojak once said, “Who loves ya, baby!”

    Have fun with the bike and remember:

    Never underestimate the stopping power of a tree.

  29. Comment by KanyonKris | 07.15.2009 | 2:34 pm

    Jealous, envious, “why don’t I get free stuff?”

    (My wife doesn’t have cancer)

    Humbled, ashamed, I hate myself.

    Where are you riding tomorrow? I wanna watch you ride that beast.

    P.S. AF Canyon is good right now

  30. Comment by Brandy | 07.15.2009 | 2:34 pm

    Holy awesome-ness Batman!!

  31. Comment by Linda | 07.15.2009 | 2:48 pm

    I gotta plug the Lottery in my blog. Maybe they’ll send me a winning ticket.

    Enjoy, Elden! WIN SUSAN!

  32. Comment by Mike Roadie | 07.15.2009 | 3:00 pm

    Uh, hello…….road rider??????


  33. Comment by theguth | 07.15.2009 | 3:41 pm

    I envyslashhate you. But three non-working bikes and zero working ones is just making me artificially enviousslasshhateful.
    Sensing this bike may become a giveaway prize at the end of your trial mayhaps? (here’s hoping so!)

  34. Comment by Flying Ute | 07.15.2009 | 4:05 pm

    Hard tails climb faster. Period. Downhill speed and control. Great take the victory. Races are not won or lost on the down hill section.

    Perception of speed is what matters. I feel like I am flying going downhill on my Moots. But if I went the same speed down hill on a roadbike then I would not feel fast at all. I would be bored.

    Just because you can go faster by the clock on a FS doesn’t make the experience any better….and you give all that time back when the climbs start… and that is where the race is won!

    It will be fun to see how you rate this bike and the experience riding it though.

  35. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 07.15.2009 | 4:15 pm

    Right. If I knew jack about MTB I’d envy you. But I’m blissfully clueless and just think that bike is pretty and you deserve every moment of happiness.

  36. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 07.15.2009 | 4:24 pm

    Wow! Sweet bike!

  37. Comment by Di | 07.15.2009 | 4:38 pm

    I love new drivetrains. :-)

  38. Comment by Don | 07.15.2009 | 4:52 pm

    I envy / hate you.
    That is all.

    OK, not really, but seriously?! I mean fer honest and really… Lucky dog.

  39. Comment by Doug | 07.15.2009 | 5:00 pm

    Nice boat anchor fatty! Garbage bike.


  40. Comment by SkiMoab (Dave) | 07.15.2009 | 5:09 pm

    I Envy / Hate you.

  41. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.15.2009 | 5:43 pm

    I am beyond envying or hating you. God has given you a Superpower that I do not have. Simple as that.

    I told you earlier that I would be doing some mountain biking near Bend, OR. just prior to the Seattle LSC. Son Daniel rented a full suspension MTB. A fancy one, but not as fancy as the Sortie.

    He had that feeling of confidence doing some downhill whoop-de-doos. Me on the whoops (hardtail): Slow down enough to catch no more than about 6″ of air.

    Daniel on the whoops with his new-found mechanical skilz: Just bomb like a madman and take a full 5 feet of air, landing, in the end, headfirst. End result: fully cracked in half helmet, broken front shifter, sore back and a suspicion that he was relying on full suspension far beyond his skill level.

    Or, as he put it: “That full suspension is all screwed up, I neve know what it is going to do to me!

  42. Comment by tony | 07.15.2009 | 6:14 pm

    Not to be whatever, but it looks just like my Rocky Mountain Slayer SCX 70, except with the knuckle design… If it rides like mine though, I think you’ll love it. 5″ is enough to eat up about any terrain. Congratulations. And yes, add me to the envy list.

  43. Comment by Abram | 07.15.2009 | 6:16 pm

    Lots of envy, but no hate. I’m not the hating kind. Enjoy, but can you tell them to send me a guest some time?

  44. Comment by ann | 07.15.2009 | 6:23 pm

    RELIEVED – totally relieved that it didn’t accidentally get sent to me.

  45. Comment by Clydesdale | 07.15.2009 | 7:12 pm

    Those wheels are tubeless. No need to buy a bunch of tubes, just one for emergency repair.

    Nice bike. I hope you have fun riding all those curbs on the trails around your place!! It’ll hurt going up but I bet it takes a week to wipe the smile off your face after the downhill!

  46. Comment by Kevin | 07.15.2009 | 8:17 pm

    Wow, I thought I was the only one who knew about the Peter Principle, nobody outside of my family has known what I was talking about when I reference that

  47. Comment by tibiker | 07.15.2009 | 9:09 pm

    I think I agree with Flyin Ute, I don’t like the feel of a FS bike on the climbs. And yes, I’ve ridden some extremely high end and super light FS bikes that were supposed to “climb like a hardtail”. Guess what….not even close.

    Let us know how it goes.

    Oh, and will there be a run of Twin Six Fat Cyclist body armor available soon for the DH set?

  48. Comment by Gordon In Melb, Australia | 07.15.2009 | 9:26 pm

    No envy at all as I recently won (yes won….as in keep forever) a GT Carbon Force Expert. My friends were both happy and envious as well. My main gripe (like yours) is that it doesn’t have any bottle cages, but for the price I paid who am I to complain.
    Pity my blue Camelback doesn’t match the black/silver bike.

    I love technology on a bike and my one has plenty, just like you one. I often wonder, do all those people who don’t like gears and suspension go down to the creek to wash their clothes with a rock, instead of using a washing machine.

    I’m sure that after a few rides you will realise that you were kidding yourself with that back to basics fad.

  49. Comment by GrannyGear | 07.15.2009 | 9:47 pm

    Hate you, Nah.
    I’m a roadie only. No idea what to do with that bike and why the heck would you ride ANY bike into a curb? My life is spent trying to avoid them..

    What I hate is that grass! I have nothing but crab grass and clover. You, well you have something Tiger Woods would want to play off of. Is the next US Open at your house? What up with that!? Where do you get the time to manage it? Working, taking care of Susan, the kids, your ride schedule etc.

    Technical writer? I think not…
    Actor perhaps???

    WIN Susan

  50. Comment by Big Boned | 07.15.2009 | 10:15 pm


  51. Comment by lyndap | 07.15.2009 | 10:44 pm

    Would love to say I hate ya, but I just can’t. If anyone deserves to ride the crap out of bike, you do. Enjoy.

  52. Comment by PennyPue | 07.16.2009 | 7:37 am


  53. Comment by 29er | 07.16.2009 | 9:18 am

    Congrats on getting a fun new bike to try out, but please don’t ride it down Grove. I don’t think that trail was meant as a speed tester.

  54. Comment by Evil Cyclist | 07.16.2009 | 10:04 am

    Good gravy Fatty, what are you thinking? Send it back, collect, via Madagascar, with a couple cinder blocks in the box just for ballast. Maybe run it through an industrial shredder first just to make sure they don’t send it to somebody else… Oh, the humanity….

    -Evil C.

  55. Pingback by Stones Cry Out - If they keep silent… » Things Heard: e76v4 | 07.16.2009 | 10:16 am

    [...] a road cyclist I find the notion that a bike can ride over a curb without noticing it … out of the bounds of my [...]

  56. Comment by Wing-Nut | 07.16.2009 | 10:39 am

    Envy? yes definately, but in a “you deserve it” kinda way. Hate you? Only enough to use your gift for prosperity against you. Like calling Bacchetta and get them to send you one of their bikes to try. Or if you want to compare full suspensions a Vision r50

  57. Comment by fremont mike | 07.16.2009 | 11:18 am

    Must be all your good karma flowing back to you.

  58. Comment by Argentius | 07.16.2009 | 11:33 am

    I TOLD ya I’d get it done for ya, Fattie.

    Didn’t I?

    Now take that sucker out there and WIN!

  59. Comment by Shiny Flu | 07.16.2009 | 11:55 am

    I don’t envy you… 29er FS is the enlightened way, duuuuhh :P

  60. Comment by Lambo | 07.16.2009 | 1:37 pm

    No hate, no envy given what you’re going through.

    But… extra British karma points for “hotted up”.
    No doubt you’ve earned them by now.


  61. Comment by tbytheway | 07.16.2009 | 5:04 pm

    How can I become your best friend? I may even be willing to move to Alpine. Oh wait I can’t afford that.

  62. Comment by Tez | 07.20.2009 | 9:36 am

    Were you wearing any clothes when you took this picture?—-look at the crank

  63. Comment by bjorn | 07.28.2009 | 4:53 pm

    Man you should check out the Veleau. I saw one at Mountain Bike Oregon, and they aren’t quite selling them yet but they are pretty slick looking. It is like a camelbak that your bike wears under the seat. Over a liter of water but with an easy drinking camelbak style tube. I’m not explaining it that well to be sure but check them out at


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