Will a Sentinel be right?

I’ve had a bike of a love/hate relationship with my current longer travel 29er. Part of that is my fault, part of that is the fault of the Spanish, but it convinced me of one thing, I needed a better longer travel 29er.

So what would make things better? Firstly, mud clearance. My current bike isn’t actually a 29er, its a 650b+ with 29″ wheels in. They fit, but if you want a non-racing snake XC tyre in the back you don’t want mud about, or even gravel if the tyre is soft and picks up stones. Secondly, not shit pivots. Pivots that don’t come undone every ride (even with Loctite), don’t eat bearings every 20 hours and that don’t need user added custom plastic shims to make things actually fit. Thirdly, and lastly, a bit slacker. Its not that the 67 degree angle is bad, its just that when you get going fast or the trail gets steep, its feels twitchier than I’d like. Sure, I could fit a slackset but I worry that the already way out there front wheel would start timing in CET!

There are a couple of other things I needed to, things specific to me and my size. I’m a big chap, 6’3″ and 110kg, with a longer than average inside leg. This means a few things. Many bikes don’t let me get the saddle up enough, the modern compact seat tubes mean 410mm seatposts on max don’t cut it. But RS Reverbs with 170mm drop are longer than a Thomson Elite so where as I needed a 510mm seat tube length minimum before, I can get away with 490mm now. But height isn’t my biggest issue, its my mass. I’m a fat lad really, I blow shocks and break wheels. High leverage ratio shocks are a no-no ‘cos they just go bang. 142mm rear ends are a no-no ‘cos wheels just don’t stand up to my use. Indeed, my current longer travel 29er has a 157mm rear end, meaning I can build a symmetrically laced wheel with even tension left and right. Since I moved to 157mm rears on my FS and HT 29er I’ve had no issues with wheels. On my older HT with a 142mm rear I had no end of woes.

Great, 157mm it is then, umm, no. There are no production 157mm rear non-DH bikes (except now Knowly), which is why I made a 650b+ bike a 29er in the first place. So how can I avoid wheel woes? Off-set rims. Boost hubs help a little, but if yo do the math, they help a but but not enough to convince me. However, add in a 4.5mm offset rim and you get near even tension and actually wider flanges than on my current Hope Pro4 157mm hub. Hopefully, #win. We’ll see!

So then, why the Sentinel? There are a few 6inch-ish frames I liked. The Trek Slash, Evil Wreckoning, Banshee Prime, Nukeproof Mega and the Transition Sentinel were the main ones on my list. any of them would have been great bikes I’m sure, but something about the Sentinel just seemed to fit the bill a little better than the others, plus I know a bunch folk folk with Transitions who really like them and they are imported into the UK by the nice folk at Windwave, so it all adds up.

The only problem with the Sentinel then is the wait. I’m getting a carbon one and they are producing those one size at a time, with the XL last. Windwave say ‘end of May’ for my frame, which is the first batch into the UK. They have reduced off-set Lyriks to match too. Going to be ace, can’t wait. Patience just never was my strong point..

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