Monday, September 04, 2006

Iron Horse Azure Review pt1: Introduction / background


I just got a 2006 Iron Horse Azure Sport. I stripped the entire frame an rebuilt it with parts off the Hollowpoint and some additional improvements. This will be the first part of a long term review comparing the Azure to the 2004 Hollowpoint. Note that this is written from an XC/aggressive XC racing perspective.

As many of you know I've been on a 2004 Hollowpoint for the past year.

I've written extensively about it in this review, this discussion on tuning a DW link and this discussion on 80 vs 100 mm forks.

I adore the HP. I don't regret it's purchase for a second. It was an economical way to try out the DW-link suspension and to see for myself whether I preferred a shorter travel XC bike or a might prefer a longer travel trail type bike. I found early on that for my particular goals and focus that the XC short travel mode was for me.

The Hollowpoint made me fall in love with the DW-link suspension linkage. I love to experiment and try new things, but oftentimes if I find something that works I want to stick with it and not mess around. One could spend a lifetime and a fortune trying to find the perfect component, nutrition, tires, and especially full-suspension system. There is so much out there and so much hype and so many quite expensive bikes that I didn't even want to get into it. After riding the HP I knew that the ONLY bike for me was one with a DW-link suspension.

The HP is the ultimate do-it-all bike and was a combined the qualities of an XC and trail bike. However, when you try to combine two different disciplines you invariably have to make compromises on both ends. For 2005 Iron Horse took the HP and split it into two bikes. The MK-III took over the trail duties while the Azure took over the XC side.

As much as I loved the HP there were some drawbacks to it's design Some of the issues I had with the HP included:
-slack seat tube angle (71.4 degrees)
-overbuilt for XC racing (7.3lbs frame/swinger shock)
-rearward weight bias
-kludgy design
-water bottle position
-27.0 seatpost spec
-limited choices in front deraileur due to suspension linkage
-some standing pedal bob

Geometry Comparison
I was riding the 15" HP. It was a difficult decision but I went with a 17" Azure and am very glad I did. The geometries are actually very similar.

15" HP
22.7 Eff Top tube (this looks long but the slack seat tube makes it shorter-see here for why)
71 head tube
71.4 seat tube
41.3 wheelbase
16.9 chainstay

17" Azure
22.5 ETT
70.5 Headtube
73 seat tube
41.8 wheelbase
16.85 chainstay
12.8 BB drop

Of note though is that Azure has a 70.5 head tube. The HP has 71 (not exactly sure what fork length that was measured with, I'm assuming a 100mm). The 17" Azure has .3" longer wheelbase

Being and XC specific bike gives the connotation that bike is going to be a quick twitchy bike. But just by the numbers the 17" Azure might actually be more stable than the HP.

The following posts will go over each issue point by point and discuss the tuning and performance of the Azure.


At 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats on your move up to expert, you are really comitted now.
I think you will get used to it and start moving up the ranks.
One question on the Azure.
I have just discovered the Serac Xc lite tires and will be using them until something better comes along.
Can you run a Serac 2.1 on that frame ok? These tires are so much faster than anything I've tried, I love them.
I couldn't get the coupon to work at randall scott, so I am still stalking. Maybe I'll just call them.

At 10:36 AM, Blogger ashwinearl said...

I run Serac 2.1 up front Love them
Mythos 2.1 on the rear. These are tubeless conversions with Stans so they actually seem to be bigger than the 2.1 rating.

Tire clearance is tight with this but not a problem. Haven't run really muddy conditions. I think people have problems when they try 2.3 tires. or really muddy conditions. I'd run a 1.9 mud specific tire of super muddy.

call randal scott if the coupon isn't working $1300 for an XT level bike is insane.

At 12:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ashwin, hey, what does your azure weigh in at? Thx, Al

At 5:48 AM, Blogger ashwinearl said...

Frame /Radium R shock was 6.3lbs
Built up as in the pic with fender, CO2, bottle cages is 25.8.
This also includes some heavy bits such as
-545 Shimano SPD pedals
-Deore Front Der
-J7 Brakes
-WTB saddle
I'll list the full build later.

It could easily lose another lb w/o too much effort though at some expense

At 11:34 AM, Blogger bloemen cafĂ© | bandung said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:38 AM, Anonymous bugs! said...

Hi Ashwin,
Very nice build. I was drooling all over an Azure Expert today at the LBS, however, I couldn't make up my mind whether I should take the 17" or 19". How tall are you? which size would you recommend for a 5'10" tall guy like me? thanks.

At 6:01 PM, Blogger ashwinearl said...

I am 5'5" and run a 17" with a 70mm stem. The Azure has a somewhat short top tube and I think a 17" is more comparable to a 15"

My advice is always go longer top tube and shorter stem

At 8:26 PM, Anonymous The Mike said...

Ashwin, I just bought myself an 06 Azure Expert... a local bike shop had the thing discounted like crazy, ended up at $1590... I jumped on it.
I had the shop weigh it, and it showed 28lbs, stock. Did you do something to shave the weight?
BTW, I've only taken it on a few rides, but I'm super impressed. HUGE difference from the Hardrock I had...

I'm no racer here, but after getting this thing, I'd really like to now!


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