Geometry comparisons between Iron Horse Azure and Iron Horse Hollowpoint
I've been jonesing for an Iron Horse Azure ever since they released it. This is their first attempt at an XC specific platform.
A little history. I bought and sold my first XC suspension bike within a few months because the suspension action bobbed to much. For the second bike I researched to no end end. I finally settled on a used 2004 Iron Horse Hollowpoint. You can read my review of it here.
I adore this bike. It climbs like nobody's business, and handles so well for the aggressive XC of the mid-Atlantic and Virginia. However it is on the heavy side, and it's design was a compromise between XC and trail. The HP was split into two different lines for 2005: the Azure and the MKIII. The Azure took on the XC roles and the MKIII took on the trail. Everything I've read on it says that it is a pure rocket for XC, and climbs even better than the HP.
I am totally sold on the DW-Link. So much so that I won't even consider any other type of bike.
However, when the Azure first came out I was critical of two things.
It is still on the heavier side for a pure XC racer. Iron horse qualifies it more as an enduro type of bike.
2) Top tube lengths. The top tube lengths are much shorter on the Azure than compared to the HP.
I was torn between what size Azure would work for me. I currently run a 15" HP. With the shorter top tube lengths I was torn between a 15 or 17" of the Azure. I am all of 5'4.5" so it seem funny to even be considering a 17", and at first it seemed that I'd have to run a 60-65mm stem.
Long top tubes and short stems are definitely something I've moved towards, and I currently run a 80mm on the HP. But 60 seemed too extreme.
After Nate got an Azure for his wife, I asked for some more dimensions of the bike to look closer at it.
I plugged some numbers into BikeCad which is a free CAD program for bicycles. You can enter in fairly detailed dimensions and it will give you some dimensions of the handlebar as referenced off the BB axle.
An important difference between the two frames is the HP has a 71.4 Seat Tube angle and the Azure has a more typical 73. This can really mess with the reach. See this article for why.
Somethings I'm not totally sure about. It allows you to specify the main triangle via Effective Top tube Length and the angle of the top tube, or by Front Center (distance from BB to front axle) and Head Tube length. I know the ETT, but not the angle of the top tube. I measured the Front center and Head Tube length and plugged it in, but when I checked what it had calculated for the ETT it is was off.
Regardless I do know that the measurement from my saddle tip to the handlebar is 49.5cm. And I know that my saddle setback is 50mm. So the distance from BB to handlebar is around 44.5cm.
The above shows the HP with an 80mm 6degree stem
After plugging in some numbers for a 17" Azure I got the below
This is with a 75mm 6degree stem. I can also use a 70mm 0 degree with a change in spacers too.
One thing with these CAD things is you can get close but it is NO substitute for reality. Things like headsets, tires, forks, etc. change things up in real life. But this does get you close.
What it tells me is that a 17" Azure at the current geometry is perfect for me. A 70-75mm stem is ideal IMHO. Several prominent people agree such as Gene Hamilton of BetterRide.net and pro XC racer and former downhiller Salem Mazzawy
The 17" has a longer top tube than 15" which also creates a longer wheelbase
Salem said Traditional wisdom is a long wheel base is slower turning, but my experience is that with the stability of the long wheelbase, I can maintain grip at more extreme lean angles, and actually corner faster, although it does require a little more aggressive technique (fall with your hip vs. the more intuitive push with your arms). Also, the bb is a bit lower on the Azure, so it is that much more stable than the Hollowpoint.
I have to apologize to Iron Horse for being critical of their top tube lengths and saying they were too short. I'm pretty stoked that the 17" looks perfect for me. Standover really isn't an issue because the top tubes are sloped so much. Though it still seems funny that someone my height would be getting a 17" frame.
They only thing holding me back from grabbing a closeout 2005 Azure is that sitting on the fence mentality to see if they worked some diet magic on the 2007 Azure. Or did something really crazy and made a full carbon version.
Weight is one of those funny things. You see people talking about their sub 23lb or even sub 22-21lb Blur XC or Specialized, or soon enough Carbon Anthems. I'm running a 27lb HP and climbing better than ever. With the Azure I'd be at 26lbs. Not bad, but I can't post on the weight weenie forum with that! But still. If IH wants to play the marketing game and go head to head with the established XC race horses, they have got to get to the same weight ranges, regardless of how awesome the DW link is.
the man himself _dw said that A Blur XC (15") weighs in at 5.2 lbs with shock. An Azure (15") weighs 5.98 lbs with shock
Analytic cycling just on a basic calculation shows a .49 second savings with a .8lb difference
Which would probably be more than overcome with the pedaling efficiency of the DW-Link
*** I stand put in my place.
But I'm still a weight weenie!