After showing in the botm and some typical Dutch XC riding the Soulcraft grew on me more and more. So much so it is my bike of choice to take along for this nears holiday trip to the Austrian Alps in Leogang. This did prompt some not so subbtle set-up changes to cope with the riding conditions.
Firstly I changed the 80mm Tower forks for an otherwise identical 100mm model. The Manitou is still the best for slender crowns to fit classic steel frames. And for this trip I fitted an extra frim ride kit. After enquiring by email about spring rates Randy of Manitou tech support sent me a tuning spring free of charge across the pond, that is some service. The tuning helps to set up the forks also for high speed hits and light downhill duties in the Leogang BikePark.
Secondly, I fitted my XX1 set with a 28t front ring to give me some sensible climbing gears for the long Alpine Ascents. Since XX1 requires a special cassette driver the wheels were changed too. And the tanwall Onza's did not swap over, I hate to faff about with the sealant in the tubeless set-up. So this is what the result looks like:
And I am happy to say it performs brilliantly.
Now 5 days in Austria I mostly ride the cross country loops using pedal power to gain altitude. Noote the majority of riders here are on 6 and more inches full suspension bikes doing uplifts. On a quiet day I also rode the switchbacks and downhill bumps of the Hangman II trail in the bikepark and that is a ton of fun. It did prompt one more change, I fitted a quick release seat collar to easily lower the seat.
The 100mm forks turned out to be a good move. The Soulcraft is designed around 100mm, but notably Manitou's have 10mm more A-C than e.g. Fox and RS. Back home I loved the tight handling with the 80mm forks on the twisty Dutch singletracks weaving through the trees. But here the speeds are at the extremes of the scale, going up slowly or down fast. And with less of the weaving twisties, more 180° steeply banked switchbacks and the likes. Well, the Soulcraft feels absolutely planted in all riding conditions thrown at it and the steering is intuitive, confidence inspiring. I do slow down appropriately for my age and skill level in the conditions, but never felt out of my depth or out of control on the bike.
Common sense was never common
28h silver rear Suntour hub
32h Ritchey champagne WCS front hub