NOMADic Life

When I first got into mountain biking I had no idea what I was getting into.  All I knew was my twin brother was pestering me to get a bike and go riding with him.  He was hyping it up as one one of the best things ever.  Cautiously I dipped my toe in the water by purchasing a rather inexpensive yet sensible bike…a Diamondback. It was only $399 but it had disc brakes and I thought it looked cool and that’s what counts!  It was a far cry from the $1800 my brother unloaded on his spiffy new Kona full suspension Kikapu, but nevertheless I was hooked.  I pushed that bike as far as she’d willingly go, hitting all the trails that all my friends rode with their expensive full suspension rigs.  I soon realized that I was simply outclassed by my fully suspended brethren because my bike wasn’t as good as theirs, or at least I thought that was a good excuse for my riding handicap.  It wasn’t too long before I too was riding a double squish.  I didn’t do too much deliberating, I just found the first new full suspension bike within my budget and bought it, that simple.  Now there was nothing to hold me back.  I was going to bomb down trails completely unfettered.  Yeah!!  Well, that didn’t happen.

I never paid any attention to things like suspension travel or frame geometry, XC, All Mountain, Downhill or Enduro.   Well hell, Enduro wasn’t even a thing then.  The point is, because of my lack of knowledge with regard to bike design in general, I suffered too many years with riding the wrong bike.  Sure, the bikes always got me down the trail but many times it was not so enjoyable because I always found myself negotiating (literally) trails rather than bombing down them.  That ear to ear grin?  Well, it was more like an ear to ear grimace.  What I didn’t realize was that the XC bikes I had been riding were not designed for the type of riding I wanted to do.  What I wanted was something that wasn’t afraid to climb and something that loved to descend, and in 2013 when I found myself shopping for new bike again.  After browsing the Unreal Cycles inventory I came home with a Nomad, the aluminum version, tennis yellow.  I had been wise this time, I consulted the internets and studied like a good boy and my patients and deliberation paid off in spades.  It climbed admirably well for a bike that was purposed more for descending.  And when I finally did point the nose down…that ear to ear grin that I was after?  Yeah, I finally got it.  Descents were no longer a stressful affair, I didn’t sweat them I welcomed them, this was what I was after.

A few months after taking possession of my dream machine, my dream was interrupted.  The new Nomad was revealed.  Slacker, 650b, looking more DH than AM/Trail.  All carbon, no aluminum version of this Nomad.  The first one I saw was all black, stealthy looking, alluring.
Never look twice, a policy I made for myself since I began dating.  It’s true that no matter how attractive your lady is, you can’t help but notice another attractive lady but you don’t turn and gawk.  One look that’s all you get, it’s an ‘Honor the one you’re with’ kind of thing.  I tried to do the same for my bike, but it was too late, my gaze had set upon the new Nomad for a bit too long and I had already lusted.  I didn’t see my little yellow spritely Nomad the same anymore.  I still enjoyed the rides we shared, always a good time, she always treated me well up or down, but I couldn’t help but wonder what each ride might be like with the new shadowy mistress my heart was fawning for.  Over the next year I began to hear a lot about the new Nomad and what an even greater thrill machine she’d become, but who was I kidding?  She was totally out of my league.

My fortune turned around one day when Peter and Lewis told me that they could arrange an encounter with one and eventually made a deal for me that no one in their right mind could pass up.   No encounter needed, I threw all my chips on the table which required me to put my faithful partner for the last year up for sale.  I felt a little guilty, and perhaps a little timid, after all I hadn’t even given her a test ride, but my gut said “go” and I was obliged. I was risking it all for a relative unknown.

When I took possession of my new bride I immediately noticed how much lighter she was than my old girl, a good 5 pounds lighter.  I knew straightaway that this new Nomad wasn’t necessarily a tinker toy but required a few rides to get her broken in and dialed just right.  The Pike fork and DebonAir shock were designed to please but it’s not as simple as setting sag and pedaling off.  But once you’ve set her up right…she is so sweet.

My initial ride was a climb from the White Rabbit parking lot up to Four Corners with a sprint down Cat Walk.  The first difference I noticed was how active the DebinAir shock is.  It was quite a bit more than what I was used to with the Fox CTD on my previous Nomad and I would add that if you are looking for a shock that firms to a full on lock out, the DebonAir may not be your ticket but I myself prefer a little give when climbing especially when it’s steep as it keeps you from breaking traction as easily. 
I was curious how this cushier suspension and slacker geometry may hinder my already weak climbing prowess but I can honestly now say that it’s at least as good a climber as the old, and the more I climb with it, they more I’m inclined to say it climbs better than it’s predecessor even with the extra squish.  I think it may have to do with a more comfortable seating position.  Whatever it is, it’s works
Once I began my descent the departure from the old becme much clearer.  Whatever confidence I had gained with my old girl was now dwarfed by what this new bike offers.  Stability at speed that would make the old Nomad feel almost twitchy, which it never was.  This bike is stiff, and it rips through the corners.  It maybe the carbon frame, it maybe the suspension but this bike lets you feel the trail and terrain in the same way a properly set up sports car lets you feel the track.  This is a riders bike.  Sure you can putt around on it but the real rewards come when you let the beast off its leash. 
But to be sincerely honest I don’t even feel worthy to give this bike a review because the limitations of this bike so far surpass my abilities as a rider that I almost do feel as though she is out of my league.  But this mistress is forgiving of my inadequacies and promises a lot of room for my own growth as a rider.  I have never been on a better ‘all rounder’ than the new Nomad.

-Kirk Sullivan

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