Sinister Retrograde Chain Suck

I’ve been trying to decide on my next mountain bike. I really like my old Tomac Six Shooter – a versatile, light, nimble all-mountain bike. However, for some of the trails I tackle, something a little heavier-duty is called for. I went to the local mountain bike store (one of my favorite hangouts, Green Mountain Bikes) and told Doon I was ready for an upgrade. He pointed me at a couple of options, including a bike that they built on Sinister Splinter MX frame and the rest of the components from a Kona Stinky.

First off, this thing is a monster. It has been nicknamed “the Tractor” because of the beefiness of the components. Just about everything about this bike is bigger, sturdier, and (unfortunately) heavier than my current ride.

My first ride out on this unit was cut short after about 200′ because of a bout with chain suck. I had to return to the bike shop to fix this, as I didn’t have the right tools to do so myself. My first real ride out with this bike was a lot of fun, although  limited in what I could really do because the pedals lacked toe clips (which I rely on) and the seat post did not have an easily adjustable clamp, so it was stuck pretty high. This caused my center of gravity to be high enough that taking big bumps or jumps was out of the question, as I’d likely pitch forward and fall on my face. Other than that, and the weight of the bike, it was pretty awesome.

My second test ride out went better, for the first half. Having installed an adjustable seat clamp, my center of gravity was lower, and I could get more agressive on logs, culverts, rocks, and other “technical trail features” we encountered. However, halfway down the trail, the unthinkable happened. Chain suck. Again. Once again, I was without the tools needed to effect a repair. And this time, I was more than a couple hundred feet from my car – we were miles away, down a rocky, steep, wet trail, and it was getting dark. Sounds like the makings of a movie, but I digress. I ended up having to coast (when I could) and one-foot, scooter-style the rest of the way – for a few miles. This was the least fun I’ve had on a bike in years.

So now I am trying to decide if this bike is cursed, or if I’m just asking for trouble test-riding something during Mercury Retrograde and expecting good results. Despite the issues, I still really like this bike, and because it’s used, it’s a lot cheaper than a comparable new bike would be.

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