I'll also repost the thread contents I posted over at MTBR VRC:
I'd been drooling over these for some time now thanks to you lot. And I am happy to report that I found one thanks to the glory of internet bike-geekery.
The Phoenix landed late yesterday afternoon after a life in the pacific North West. Many thanks to Lawrence for wrangling it and packing/shipping so well (and alerting me to it to begin with!).
1998 WTB Phoenix, 18", in a really awesome pistachio sage-y color
140mm rear, standard brakes, suspension corrected
Manitou R7 80mm
XTR m952-series BB, crankset, brakes, shifter/brake lever, SPDs
Thomson post and stem, Flite saddle
Koski titanium bar
King ti cages
Gravy-built WTB Momentum Hubs on SpeedMaster rims
Velociraptor front, Panaracer Fire XC rear
Yesterday evening I unpacked and disassembled everything. Cleaned, de/re-greased, and rebuilt. This morning I really wanted to get a ride in, but didn't make it out until around 11am.
I headed up San Roque Road past the reservoir to the Jesusita trail. There are a ton of videos on YouTube if anyone is interested. It is a really fun multi-use trail with lots of twisty singletrack, large rocks and some roots, a couple stream crossings, and great dirt that's mostly shaded under a thick canopy or trees. The trail pops out onto a road….a really really steep paved road. After a few switchbacks you rejoin the trail, and eventually make it to Inspiration Point. My plan was to switch to the Tunnel Trail from there, another nice local ride….but I was overcome with the desire to climb Cathedral Peak. Up the hill I went.
Made a good amount of progress on the bike, but eventually the trail got very twisty and rocky/steep, and I began to hike-a-bike. Then it was the bike as walker to pull me vertical.....until the trail got very narrow and overgrown. After that, all I could do was scramble up and over large large rocks while portaging, and in turns holding the bike over the top of overgrown vegetation while literally wading up the tight little trail near the summit. Once I hoofed it up to the top, I could see that the way down on the other side was even worse….
I didn't want to portage back over the same terrain, so instead I decided to….portage over different terrain. A couple ridge lines over I could see a Cal Edison fire road under some power cables. I went for it. It was nasty work for about an hour of bushwhacking, but I made it to the fire road, and started heading west, toward the San Marcos pass road. The fire road had some wide open sections, and others that were vastly overgrown, some that were washed out. All the areas had large basketball-sized rocks at regular intervals. In deep brush those things can sneak up on you….
Eventually I popped out about half-way up the San Marcos Pass on Rt 154 after finding an outlet on a private ranch. Luckily no one spotted me riding by, or I would have been forced to ask them for water. I cruised back into town 3.5 hours later winded, scratched, and poison-oaked, but smiling like a kid.
The Phoenix was really really well-mannered, super nicely balanced bike. Pretty standard reaction, but its is totally true-- what a great ride. It went where I wanted it to go without a hiccup when I nudged it more forcefully, but in general riding it just feels really stable and confidence-inspiring. Quick enough for the tight, and stable on the descents. I spun out my top gear on the pass road down to town, and it felt great at very high speed on road too.
This was the first time I have ever spent significant time on a modern fork, so I really enjoyed that as well. I was quite impressed with the R7. The lock out is easy to use and actually means business, which was great for the extensive climbing I did. Dialed down it seemed to track really well and was super plush. For a mid range fork I was really stoked on it, and it is really nice to have a modern fork with rim brakes. I've got a Bomber that came with the bike … but I think I'll stick with the R7. I am a total newb on suspension--the last fork I spent any real time with was the Mag 20 I had on my Yo Eddy waaaay back when. This was a welcome change. And it only took me 15 minutes or so to get used to things moving around down there.
The bad: I gave the frame its first chain suck (d'oh), and managed to scratch the downtube decal in the brush……The upside is that now its mine
I'm looking forward to spending a lot more trail time on this bird.
Things to change:
Not a fan of the grips or the red Fire XC that came with the bike, but both performed well enough today, aesthetics aside.They'll get swapped eventually (the grips sooner than later). The Koski bar was comfy at 23" and a hair of sweep, but I am still dreaming of a Luv Handle. The Momentum stuff isn't as blingy as I might want….but we'll see. I might swap the headset out for a King before too long, but it may take a while before I can do anything about the wheels. If a WTB post and a new Steve Potts stem fell into my lap I'd be happy, but the Thomson stuff is light and solid. Once I have the concentric adjusting nut from Colker, the back brake will get a red ano DKG brace to stiffen things up.
So……that's that! And here're some pics! (alas, none down in the twisty parts of Jesusita, these are all once I was up the road and into the second half)
And some back at home afterward: