Regular visitors to this little piece of bikepacking paradise, will probably be well aware of my liking for the Pinnacle Ramin 3+ … those of you not up to speed with our heady relationship, can catch the omnibus by clicking here – don’t worry, we’ll just talk amongst ourselves and wait until you get back.
As you’ll now know – if you didn’t already, I really enjoyed my time with the Ramin +. It proved itself to be a very capable bike and one which could easily shame bikes costing far more. Something else you’ll also know, is that, I really didn’t want to give it back. So strong was my desire to keep riding it that Pinnacle kindly (gave in) agreed to let me keep riding it for a while longer. As if that wasn’t enough, they also agreed to allow me to make some alterations and conduct the occasional ‘upgrade’ … please remember, ‘upgrade’ implies that whatever parts I fit, will in some way be better than those removed, however, we all know that this theory is often flawed. Only time will tell whether my ‘upgrades’ are actually that or simply aimless mechanical wonderings. At this point, you may also be thinking, “why is he changing stuff? He said there was nothing wrong with it”. You’re right, I did say that, but since when has that ever stopped any of us from changing perfectly good bits? In short – never and I see no good reason to buck that trend now.
I thought I’d begin with what I rightly or wrongly believe, would be the most likely things to receive attention. There’s nothing drastic or major happening. I’m not about to take a hacksaw to anything. It’s just a few alterations that in their own small way will hopefully add to the overall package, enhance reliability or increase enjoyment.
Stan … Tubeless compatible rims and tubeless ready tyres. Given the much discussed benefits of ‘going tubeless’ it seemed a shame not to bring these two things together and allow them to fulfil their true potential. I could have bought a kit to convert tubed to tubeless but past experience tells me that it’s often unnecessary and a pair of valves, some tape of the DIY variety and a splash of sealant will often do the job just as well.
With the tyre, tube and rim tape removed, I treated each rim to two wraps of Gorilla tape taking care to press it well down onto the rim. Holes for the valves were made with an appropriate pointy implement and duly fitted. The double wrap of tape meant the tyres were just the right side of too tight but once in place produced an air-tight seal which meant only a few strokes from a track pump was required to seat them. 150ml of sealant later and my fear of freshly cut hedges was gone – simple, inexpensive and very worthwhile.
A Goat … As standard, the Ramin+ is fitted with a 32t chainring and an 11 – 36 cassette out back. In most situations that combination will provide a wide enough range of gears to see you to the top of most, but maybe not all hills. Since the ready acceptance of the 1 x something drivetrain, riders have been swallowing their pride by the spoonful and asking for ways to lower the gearing. Luckily the industry replied with numerous apologies for removing everyones granny ring, my favourite of which, is the Sunrace 11 – 42 cassette. Relatively speaking, it’s a cheap solution. I could have bought a cassette ‘expander’ for less but whilst they work, they always seem something of a bodge. I’ve used the Sunrace cassettes previously, I know they work and best of all … I had a brand new one sat under my bench.
|Now equipped for easy pedalling.|
Alongside the cassette, my magic bench also revealed a new 30t thick / thin chainring and KMC chain, so a full drivetrain swap commenced. For no better reason than, because I could, I decided to remove the standard chain device while I was at it. The addition of a thick / thin ring meant its presence was no longer required and my vanity preferred the way the bike looked without. If you decide to do the same, bear in mind that with the device removed, you’ll need to add a third bottom bracket spacer. Generally, your new spacer would fit on the driveside replacing the chain device but in this instance I decided to fit it on the non-driveside as it seemed to produce a better chain-line in the lowest gear.
After a single brews worth of workshop time, everything was fitted and working. I didn’t even need to adjust the limit screws on the mech’, just a couple of turns of the B screw provided enough clearance between jockey wheel and cassette to produce ten different gear ratios at the press of a lever.
|Guess which one is the Goat Link.|
Although the gears worked fine, my inner magpie finds it hard to resist the lure of something new and shiny. In this case, new and shiny came in the form of a Wolf Tooth Goat Link. The Goat Link takes the place of the mech’s direct mount link and promises better shifting performance and a reduction in chain wear. Basically, it alters the location of the rear mech’ in relation to the cassette. It’s designed for cassettes with 40t or 42t sprockets and Shimano Shadow+ derailleurs. Fitting takes no more than a few minutes and my initial feeling is that it’s worth the cost and effort. Shifting does feel a little ‘sharper’ and if the claims about wear are true, then over a long enough period, it might even pay for itself.
The Lone Ranger … It’s probably fair to say that the WTB TrailBlazer was the tyre responsible for introducing the idea of B+ to the masses. It might not be the grippiest tyre out there but its fast rolling nature makes it a great rear tyre choice … so why did I change it?
|Ranger – a little grippier, a little slower and a little rounder.|
I imagine, most people would site grip as the main reason to sacrifice the speed of a TrailBlazer for something less sprightly but in this case, it wasn’t. My concerns centred on the relationship between tyre and rim and to be precise, the ‘squaring off’ effect the wide WTB Scraper rim has on the tyre’s profile. Don’t misunderstand me, the TrailBlazer behaves fine on the Scraper rim but the tyre’s sidewalls are left a little exposed to cuts and bruises. Had I wanted maximum traction, I’d have simply fitted a 3″ Bridger to match the front but I wanted my cake and I wanted to eat it. The 2.8″ Ranger is quite a different beast to either the TrailBlazer or Bridger. Compared to the TB, the tread is much more open and doesn’t feature the almost continual centre-line of its faster rolling sibling, yet it’s far less aggressive than big brother Bridger.
I’ll admit to taking a bit of a gamble here. Although I had my suspicions, I really didn’t know whether the Ranger would behave any differently to the TB with regard to profile; luckily that gamble paid off. The fitted profile of the Ranger is noticeably rounder than that of its predecessor which tucks the sidewalls a few millimetres inboard of the tread – it’s not a lot but I’m hoping it might be enough to keep them out of harms way.
So, there we are – additional grip, puncture proofed tyres and a range of gears that bit wider than before but at what cost? From a potential compromise stand-point, I’d say no cost whatsoever. From a monetary angle about £130 if you don’t have a bench with cassettes under it but you do supply your own labour … hopefully, it all matches the definition of ‘upgrade’.