We ride a lot of singletrack around here, but we also ride miles and miles of paved/gravel/dirt roads. I prefer to ride my Giant Trance X full suspension bike most of the time, but the paved and gravel roads are really making short life of my expensive Kenda Nevegal tires. The tires are great on dirt, but wear out very quickly on pavement and gravel. I could buy a new wheelset/disc rotors, etc., but I’m a little short of discretionary cash at the moment, so I decided to put a little work into my 1999 Azonic KZ2 framed bike and use it as a backroads cruiser. The hardtail frame is not as comfortable as the 4″ of Giant Maestro suspension, but it will do the job for riding the backroads with a little singletrack thrown in.
As I said, I bought the frame back in 1999 and installed my components from a bike that I had just snapped the frame. As you can see in this photo from March 2002, the RockShox Mag 21 and Cook Brothers E Crank confirm the bike’s “heritage”.
The KZ2 was designed and built as a dual slalom frame, so it’s pretty sturdy. I’ve ridden this bike thousands of offroad miles, aside from a few rock dings and scratches, it’s still in great condition. The drivetrain has been upgraded from the original 7 speed Shimano Deore to 9 speed Shimano XT and the Mag 21 fork was replaced by a Duke 100mm. No disc brake tabs so the original Deore cantilevers are still on there. I recently put a WTB seat, new handlebars and grips on it, so it’s back to being a dependable ride. The rear rim is a little out of shape, but they are 36 spoke Sun RhynoLites, so it’s still got a few miles left on it.
Took it out today for a shakedown ride; it was easier to pedal uphill than the Trance X, but I’d forgotten how harsh the ride on a stiff aluminum hardtail can be on bumpy singletrack. It was faster than the full suspension bike in many areas, mostly because the cantilever brakes did not do a very good job of slowing the bike down. Disc brakes are really a great improvement to mountain bikes, for sure.
I’ll be riding the hardtail on the rides that are mainly on pavement and backroads, using the worn out tires from the full suspension bike, which can now be reserved for singletrack with tires that are not worn down from riding on pavement.