I pretty much had to buy a bike, or at least a bike frame. I’ve been riding a borrowed Niner in a size medium and while I probably ride it better than any bike I’ve ever owned I’m almost sure that I’m too fat for 12 inches of seatpost, if the post don’t break the frame will.
I priced a few bikes, but shop employees just don’t get it when you tell them you’re interested in just a frame. After much deliberation I purchased a Venzo SCUD through Ebay. Probably the ultimate selling point for me was the name. Venzo has a cheaper frame called a Raptor but I couldn’t get over how cool a name SCUD was for a bike frame that costs 154 dollars shipped to the house.
My SCUD arrived in about a week and I was immediately impressed by the quality and finish. It’s not perfect but it’s pretty good and it has an actual clearcoat that is shinny. The frame was supposed to weight a bit over 3.5 pounds but I found my 20 inch frame was almost 5 pounds. More than likely the 16 inch frame actually weighs 3.5 pounds and they used it’s weight for everything. This is of no concern to me as I’m not trying to build an ultra light race bike.
Size was the real question, as the frame is offered in 16, 18, 20 and 22 inch models. The Bandersnatch that I’ve rode for the last few years is an 18, but really only on paper, since the seat tube is about 2 inches past the top tube. The Niner that I’ve been riding is a 16 and fit well but like I said I’m not comfortable with a foot of seatpost sticking out. I ultimately went with the 20 though I think the 18 would have been good too. Venzo 29er frames apparently all have the same size top tube at 575mm, and the only real change in size is the seat tube. That’s probably how they sell them so cheap. I guess you can’t really call that a tuned ride, but more on that later.
So I built the bike up with parts from the cracked Bandersnatch over a couple days when I had a bit of time. It was pretty straightforward, but there were a couple things that surprised me. First the rear brake caliper mounts inside the frame instead of outside. I thought this would make for a shorter cable length but it actually takes more cable to run it that way since it follows the down tube. Secondly for some ignorant reason they route the shifting cables along the down tube and under the bottom bracket, this is just plain wrong for a mountain bike. Ultimately cable routing doesn’t matter much to me though since I run unbroken cable housing and just ziptie it where I want.
I took the bike to a gravel trail and rode while Shaundo did some hiking. I immediately had to move the saddle back; the SCUD is a short bike. Had to stop and make adjustments often then I developed a slow leak on the front tire that required adding air 5 times on my short 6 mile ride and I never really got a feel for the bike.
With the tire fixed I took the bike out for a Thanksgiving day ride this morning to one of my favorite trails and gave it a true workout. First thing I noticed, the bike is solid. Could be the effect of not having a foot of seatpost out, but it just feels super solid underneath me, maybe it’s the aluminum? The next thing I noticed, or actually didn’t notice was noise. I’ve been riding the SIR 9 with it’s eccentric bottom bracket for so long that I got used to a bike making constant creaking noises. A silent and solid bike just makes for a much better ride.
I found the SCUD a good handling bike, though not nearly as refined and quick as the Niner I’ve been riding. I was a bit hesitant to really push it in corners with slick and muddy trails but it seemed to need a bit more effort to change directions as opposed to the Niner SIR 9 which turns like a slot car. Pulling up the front end over obstacles was easy and balanced, with enough bottom bracket height to keep from pedal strike.
Tire clearance could possibly be an issue for those looking to run fatties. I’ve got a WTB 2.35 on the back and it was tight, small sticks got hung between the tire and frame often. Kind of doubt anyone is going to run a bigger tire on the back though.
This is far from a long term test though and who knows how things will go with the SCUD, after a couple rides I’m happy I bought it and really for a 154 dollars you can’t find a cheaper frame. It looks great, it has a great name, it’s a SCUD.