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RM 29er forum Long Term Review: Carver Bikes Bumblebee

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
As I mentioned before, we hope to feature a bunch of 29er and big wheeled bikes/frames/wheels/tires for testing and review for fellow Big Wheeled Monkeys.

Our first will be a review of Carver Bikes www.carverbikes.com new Bumblebee hardtail. The Bumblebee is a titanium framed hardtail featuring the new 650b wheel/and Pacenti Neomoto tire in back, paired up to a 29er in front. It makes for a much more balanced mix-wheeled hardtail set up than a 69er in my opinion and it makes for a very nice XC/trail bike hardtail package depending on how you configure the set up.

Davis Carver sent a Bumblebee Prototype down to CT from his home base in Maine earlier this winter and a couple of us down here in the Nutmeg State have had a few chances to get out and ride it. I've been able to ride it a couple of times here in CT, and QuoFan took it on a little road trip to Otis on Cape Cod for some good trail miles. So far initial impressions are positive for this Titanium Prototype. I'll be adding to this thread over time as we get more miles on the prototype frame. My goal is to get multiple input from a group of riders and then to review and examine them and then turn those comments into a final overall review of the bikes/frames/wheels/tires that we feature here on the Monkey.

In the meantime enjoy some photos. First couple courtesy of yours truly, the others courtesy of QuoFan, complete with Otis/Cape Cod post-ride sand.















We'll keep this stickied for a bit while we undergo longer term riding and testing of the bike.

Stay tuned for more details on the frame construction/geometry/tubing etc. etc. in the near future.

Cheers,

Mark
 
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Spero

ass rainbow
Jul 12, 2005
2,072
0
Tejas
How are those Panaracers? I'm still trying to decide on what to stick on my Soul and I've always been a fan.
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
How are those Panaracers? I'm still trying to decide on what to stick on my Soul and I've always been a fan.

I really really like the Rampage as a front tire. It is a little slow rolling as a rear in my opinion. It has a nice profile - great knobs, and it grips super well.

Actually this combo of the Pacenti NeoMoto and the Rampage is a very good combo - they complement each other quite well in my opinion. Perhaps because they are both produced by Panaracer.
 

Spero

ass rainbow
Jul 12, 2005
2,072
0
Tejas
I really really like the Rampage as a front tire. It is a little slow rolling as a rear in my opinion. It has a nice profile - great knobs, and it grips super well.

Actually this combo of the Pacenti NeoMoto and the Rampage is a very good combo - they complement each other quite well in my opinion. Perhaps because they are both produced by Panaracer.
Good to hear. I'll have to try them out. That's a pretty slick little bike, btw. I like the idea of a 700/650.
 

Guitar Ted

Monkey
Aug 21, 2006
306
0
Waterloo, IA
Nice to see this happening here on the Monkey. I rode the full on 650B Carver at Interbike which also had the Ti frame. I liked it. Nice riding and handling bike.

The 650B rear/29"er front, whatever the performance, is waaaay better looking than the 69er concepts I've seen. Much more pleasing to the eye.

I'll be checking in to see what ya'all think of this concept.
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
First ride impressions for me: First note - the stem was flipped to give a bit of negative rise on this ride. The bike accelerated very quickly, frame felt stiff at the bb, but had a nice springy titanium feel that you often hear about from Ti riders, the front end stayed super planted on climbs, but it was a little difficult to "loft" the front end in this set up. My thoughts post ride - this bike is fun, handles great and would make a mean cross country racing machine that would climb like no get out with a racer with the right set of legs.

Second ride: Flipped the stem over to give it a little rise. The bike transformed to more of a fast, well handling, hardtail trail bike. The front end was much easier to loft yet it still climbed just fine. It tracked through rough choppy stuff very well and both the Rampage and NeoMoto did a fine job of hooking up in less than stellar conditions (some snow on the trails etc.). Flipping the stem had a big impact on how the bike handled. I prefer it set up in this manner for my type of riding (ie non-racing).

More to follow as we get more time on it.
 

ferday

Chimp
Jan 3, 2008
34
0
calgary, AB
thanks for the mini-review!

i am watching this space with interest, i think this setup holds way more potential than 29/26. plus ti is cool, and carver makes nice bikes....
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
Here's a summation from Quo Fan's first ride on the Bumblebee:




Highs

The bike peddled well, and held the corners tightly. The steering was a little slow because of the larger front wheel. At higher speeds, the bike settled into a rhythm that was predictable and comfortable.

The frame was vertically compliant, and laterally stiff. Just what you’d expect from a titanium frame. The geometry fit me well, and I felt well balanced whether climbing a technical slope, or bombing down swooping singletrack.

In technical areas, the larger front wheel aided in flowing over rocks, while the larger rear wheel aided in translating pedal strokes into easy forward movement.


Lows

Really the only thing I didn’t like was that I kept hitting my pedals on rocks. I hit my pedals more times than I have ever before. My impression is that if the bottom bracket was a little higher, I won’t hit the pedals as much.


Note - the bottom bracket has been raised in the new production frame design - and a customer could even order a custom bb height as well to suit their desires.
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
I recently asked Davis about the changes made to the production Bumblebee frames (remember the one we have here at Ridemonkey is an early prototype frame) and here is what Davis had to say:

Hi Mark,

Yes, we're shortening the chainstays a little, and going with a 299 mm. BB height.

There is no charge for any custom modifications. It just takes a little longer, that's all.

Here's a list of all of the options...

Any combination of 24", 26" 650B, or 29" wheels
Custom top tube and seat tube length
Custom head tube length
Bottom Bracket height
Bent or straight top tube
4 tubing wall thicknesses available
Choice of cable routing
Fork length and offset
Head and Seat tube angles
Vertical, track, horizontal/disc or sliding titanium dropouts
68 mm threaded or Eccentric BB
Bottle, fender and rack mounts
Brushed or bead blasted finish
Disc mounts, V brake mounts, or both
BB30 bottom bracket now available

Some options are extra, like finishes and different dropouts, etc. but any dimensional changes are ther same price.


So in a nutshell - if you are willing to wait a little while - you can fully customize your Carver Ti frame to your liking with little or no change in price. Pretty cool. :thumb:
 

Guitar Ted

Monkey
Aug 21, 2006
306
0
Waterloo, IA
That's outstanding, really. I don't know of any other titanium bike manufacturers doing this for as little as the Carver is.

Four tubing wall thicknesses, huh?

I don't know, if I had to have a titanium bike for offroad, this would be hard to pass up. I really thought the one I briefly rode was pretty dang nice.

Thanks for that info, Mark.
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
That's outstanding, really. I don't know of any other titanium bike manufacturers doing this for as little as the Carver is.

Four tubing wall thicknesses, huh?

I don't know, if I had to have a titanium bike for offroad, this would be hard to pass up. I really thought the one I briefly rode was pretty dang nice.

Thanks for that info, Mark.
You are welcome - the thanks goes to Davis really - I just asked the questions and he provided the answers and information.

Cheers,

Mark
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
This Saturday I was able to put the Carver Bumblebee through some pretty serious paces on a 4 plus hour ride at Case Mountain in Manchester, CT. Case has a little bit of everything and is a highly popular spot here in Central CT. I took the Carver out and here are my post ride impressions:

The bike handled the rocky and technical terrain at Case like a champ! Steering was nice and precise, the titanium frame was stiff where it needed to be, but provided a nice "soft" ride for a hardtail over the roots and rocks that make up the majority of Case Mountain Terrain. I had only a few minor pedal strikes so that wasn't a big issue for me at all (and the production frame features a slightly higher bb height anyway).

The combination of a 650b in back and a 29er in front was nice. I prefer this combo to a 69er combo as it seems to more closely balance out the front and rear end of the bike. Accelleration was very good with the 650b in back. I was riding with the Pacenti Neomoto in back and a Rampage in front - an excellent combination. The Pacenty handled our rough terrain in style and the Rampage provided great traction and cushion in front.

The bike also felt great in the little bit of air that I got yesterday. It felt very well mannered and exceptionally balanced all day long out on the trails.

This prototype has fairly long chainstays compared to the production version - so I can only assum a production bumblebee would handle the tight twisty stuff that much better and also allow the rider to really rock the short steep uphill trail sections that we have here in Central CT/New England.

We rode for a little over 4 hours and the bike was ready for more - the rider however, was totally spent!

Here are a few pics of the Bumblebee in action courtesy of I Are Baboon. Thanks Babs!

JRA:


Nice fun roller here:


A little air here:


The bike handled the little drop just fine, the rider however steered her right into a rock on his first attpempt! doh!


The Do-over was much smoother and completely successful:


The Bumblebee handled technical "cross-stuntry" stuff extremely well, here's a little up and off a big rock mid-ride - fun!


The Bumblebee navigating the McKill Zone - a spot I biffed on big time a few years ago on a 5" trail bike and aptly named for said digger:


I have to say, I'm impressed with the ride quality of this bike. A very solid value for a titanium hardtail frame in my opinion. I hope to get a few more test pilots out on it now that we have seen that trails are in very good shape for this time of year here in CT.

Cheers,

Mark
 
Feb 11, 2008
5
0
Portage county, Ohio
So let me get this straight...you folks can really tell a difference in acceleration between a true 29er and some small rear wheeled hybrid? 'Cause I gotta tell ya I don't see a difference between my Monocog 9er and a small wheel SS. Mebbe it's different with gearies?

Just stand and mash harder, maggot.
 

Guitar Ted

Monkey
Aug 21, 2006
306
0
Waterloo, IA
Those trails look like fun.

It's a great looking bike, much more appealing than the "69er" concept and to me, it makes way more sense if you are looking for a bit easier acceleration from slow/stop situations.

Nice write up. Thanks!
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
So let me get this straight...you folks can really tell a difference in acceleration between a true 29er and some small rear wheeled hybrid? 'Cause I gotta tell ya I don't see a difference between my Monocog 9er and a small wheel SS. Mebbe it's different with gearies?

Just stand and mash harder, maggot.
Do you use the same gear ratio on your 29er as you do on your 26" single speed, or do you use a different ratio on the bigger wheeled bike?
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
Those trails look like fun.

It's a great looking bike, much more appealing than the "69er" concept and to me, it makes way more sense if you are looking for a bit easier acceleration from slow/stop situations.

Nice write up. Thanks!
Case always puts a smile on one's face! Just a fun place to ride. :monkeydance:
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
Well I got two more solid good rides in on the Carver last Thursday and on Saturday.

On Thursday I actually mounted a 29er in back and rode it as a full on 29er and the bike worked well. It was a little steep in front, but not overly steep. I was jonesing to ride the new Syncros 29er wheelset we got in for review and I wanted more than just one ring up front so the Carver got the nod. The bike rode nice through some tight twisty switchbacky New England Singletrack at Tyler Mill in Wallingford, CT. The one thing I did notice that even with the 29er in back, a slightly higher bb height would be preferred (which has been addressed with the production frames). Lots of big ring strikes over the numerous log crossings out on the trail. Overall the bike performed great on new trails for me. Thanks to Toddre for the tour.

Saturday I mounted up the Neomoto in back and took the Carver out for a 3.5 hour ride at Nassahegon State Forest in Burlington, CT. The conditions were slightly wet and slippery (especially roots) but again the bike worked well. I think the 650b/29er geometry works best for this prototype (even though it has the room for a 29er in back) and it kept me wondering how the bike would have felt with the shorter chainstays on the production Bumblebee frames. Another thing I would prefer is a more sloping top tube than what the Prototype provides (but again - this is something a customer could customize working with Davis on these frames for no additional upcharge - which is wicked cool in my book).

The trails we rode were pretty techy and combine that with the wet and I wouldn't have minded a little more front travel, and slightly slacker angles - but overall the Bike worked well. The rider needed some work though -especially early on in the ride when I was off my game.

This ride made me even more anxious to experiment with this mixed wheel configuration but possibly in a FS format or at least in a format of a hardtail with slightly slacker angles. I may have to suit up the Soul Titan for that duty. Stay tuned.

Overall I gotta say that I'm very impressed with the quality and construction of this Carver Ti frame. And to know that a customer can customize it if he/she desires to fit their tastes makes it that much nicer in terms of a value price Ti frameset.



Cheers,

Mark
 
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slowride

Chimp
Oct 9, 2002
32
0
wheaton, il
This thing looks pretty sweet. I like the pricing and the fact that customization doesn't cost much more. I'm kinda surprised I don't hear more about these bikes.
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
I've been spending more time on the Carver and I gotta say it is an impressive bike. It handles great and it seems that I can accellerate that 650b rear wheel a little quicker than a 29er and it still has a very nice roll over quality to it. I can only imagine what it would be like with an even nicer rim on the rear wheel. The Velocity Synergy is holding up just fine, but it is a little narrow. Something a little wider and wow this thing would be Killer!
 

Guitar Ted

Monkey
Aug 21, 2006
306
0
Waterloo, IA
Common theme amongst 650B afficiandos, that rim thing. It seems that it is a thorn in the side of a lot of folks wanting to build a rig up.

Anyway, thanks for the updates, Mark.
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
Common theme amongst 650B afficiandos, that rim thing. It seems that it is a thorn in the side of a lot of folks wanting to build a rig up.

Anyway, thanks for the updates, Mark.
The rim gets the job done fine GT.

I mean it isn't a big wide All Mountain rim - but it is holding up just fine and I've been giving it plenty of abuse too! :biggrin:
 

Guitar Ted

Monkey
Aug 21, 2006
306
0
Waterloo, IA
The rim gets the job done fine GT.

I mean it isn't a big wide All Mountain rim - but it is holding up just fine and I've been giving it plenty of abuse too! :biggrin:

Oh, don't get me wrong, Mark. I'm sure they are fine, but I see a lot of "wish we could get_____ in a 650B" threads. I know you've seen them too.
 
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MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
Oh, don't get me wrong, Mark. I'm sure they are fine, but I see a lot of "wish we could get_____ in a 650B" threads. I know you've seen them too.
Yep - natural with something new like this. Same thing happened with 29ers right? Actually some of the "I wishing" is still going on (longer travel forks, meatier tires, tougher sidewalls etc. etc.) right?
 
MMcG, I've been riding my Carver 29er since March of this year, (second 29er ever), and have been thoroughly impressed with its build quality, tire clearance, and handling. I have a RS Reba on the front in the 100mm travel mode, and with this bike, can climb or descend the most technical trails in the N.C. mountains. BTW, your trails pics are great! In your opinion, is the acceleration gained by using the 650b in the rear worth considering for my 29er? I don't have any problems with running 29" tires f&r, just curious about the possible benefits. Thanks!

btw, I'm running 36h rhyno-lites with wtb 2.55 weirwolfs...love this set-up so far!
 
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MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
After months of ride time on this bike (remember it is a prototype designed to run a 650b in back) I prefer it set up as designed moreso than with a 29er wheel in back for a couple of reasons.

1. The bike becomes too steep seat tube angle and HT angle wise for my liking with a 29er in back with the Reba set at 80mm

2. I do feel that the rear wheel gets "moving" or at least I perceive it to be so, faster with the 650b in back, yet I don't feel the big disparity in wheelsize when going over rough terrain like I have felt with a 26" rear in back (on this bike and other 69ers I've ridden).

So in my opinion I think it is a viable option.

Hope this helps.

Mark
 
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Feb 10, 2008
1
0
BTT for this old post...

Good stuff here, I was riding 650b and 29er front up front for a while on my Ventana. I loved it, I went back to 650b across the board but it was near, felt really balanced, almost felt like a 29er in the rear. Agreed, way more balanced...
 

mrgnbowman

Chimp
Oct 5, 2008
1
0
Hi Mark:

I just won the bid on a Killer B on ebay. I'm going back and forth on building it up as a 96'er or a full 650b ride. Either way I'm thinking single speed with a suspension fork. I'm a big rider - 6'1" 200lbs - what are your thoughts on the way to go?

thanks

Mike
 

MMcG

Ride till you puke!
Dec 10, 2002
15,465
4
Burlington, Connecticut
Hi Mark:

I just won the bid on a Killer B on ebay. I'm going back and forth on building it up as a 96'er or a full 650b ride. Either way I'm thinking single speed with a suspension fork. I'm a big rider - 6'1" 200lbs - what are your thoughts on the way to go?

thanks

Mike
Congrats!

Whatever you do put a 650b in back at a minimum. Trust me, it'll be worth it.

Mark
 

Bullitboyz

Monkey
Mar 12, 2003
371
0
CT. USA
Hi Mark:

I just won the bid on a Killer B on ebay. I'm going back and forth on building it up as a 96'er or a full 650b ride. Either way I'm thinking single speed with a suspension fork. I'm a big rider - 6'1" 200lbs - what are your thoughts on the way to go?

thanks

Mike

aw crap that was YOU?
that frame was a steal for the price you paid, especially with the Kinger headset included!
if you decide it's not your cup of tea, let me know! (otherwise post up some pix and let us know what you think of it)
 

Bullitboyz

Monkey
Mar 12, 2003
371
0
CT. USA
Bullitboyz needs to update his signature.

Did you post the RIG up in our classifieds D?
it'll be sold as of this afternoon...
my signature stays the same out of sheer laziness.

pure sarcasm anyways, as you know I'm always selling SOMETHING!