I’ve wanted to build a full suspension bike for a while now, and I recently found a frame that I just couldn’t pass on. I had wanted something older, running V-brakes, like a Santa Cruz Heckler or a Rocky Mountain Element, but i found something disk-only that will be a fine substitute. It scores very high on the “only kid on the block with one” scale, which is always a big draw for me, and I expect it to be a lot of fun.
The bike is an Astrix Solo. Astrix came along in the early ’00s with a few models sold as framesets only. I remember them because they were one of the first companies after Surly (and Fisher of course) to sell a 29er frame. But this Solo was a 26er with 4.5 inches of travel.
I was lucky enough to find this frame from a seller in Australia that was still in the box from 2005. I’m guessing ’05 based on the manual that was in the box for the Manitou shock. You can see in the picture that it’s still got the protective cardboard on the frame. It’s a brand-new twelve year old bike.
Incredibly, Astrix’s website is still active, dated 2008. They are not well-known; zero posts about Astrix bikes on the retrobike post-98 website. Not many pics on the Internet period. Very few people I’ve talked to have heard of them.
Of course, I love this about it.
In order to make it go, I picked up a Rocky Mountain Blizzard from 2009. As happy as I was with the Astrix, the Blizzard is definitely the best deal I’ve ever gotten. XT/XTR drivetrain, Race Face cranks, Marzocchi Corsa, and XT/Stan’s wheels. And the seller included a second set of wheels; red Chris King hubs on Stan’s rims.
The Chris King wheels are worth more than what he wanted for the entire package. A brand new set of Chris King hubs are $700! Just the hubs, not including the rims, spokes, or labour to build the wheels.
I just can’t stress enough how much of a score this bike was!
And not just because I’m getting great parts, but I’m building a Giant hardtail for a friend, and now that bike will get the XT/Stan’s wheels. It’s going to be 23 lbs when it’s done, and it looks bad-ass.
Also I had a feeling that I knew someone that wanted a 21″ Blizzard frame, which I was right about, so it’s already sold.
But I digress…
What I realized last night was that I think I lead the league in all-time ownership of elevated-chainstay full suspension bikes. The Solo is my fifth. Let’s look at the rest shall we?
First was the Santa Cruz Superlight R. This was the coil spring version, which was a bit cheaper than the air shock one. I built with all the parts that were on my Specialized Enduro Pro. It was a great bike that I think I sold for $2700. Which seems like an awful lot considering I typically buy $200 bikes now.
Next was the highly underrated Haro XLS Werx, This was the first bike I bought as an employee at Redbike. I upgraded the wheels and fork immediately, and really enjoyed it. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen another since I sold mine though.
Then for a very short time a couple years ago, I had an Ellsworth Joker. I bought it for $200 I think – with some real issues mind you, like a bent derailleur, destroyed derailleur hanger, and the chain was double-wrapped around the BB. I still don’t know how that happened…
I fixed those issues and sold it at the bike swap for $450 a couple months later. And of course, a week later Dr. Stu gave me the wheels from his old Norco, which would have been a terrific upgrade for the Joker. But, whatever. There’s always another bike.
And last but certainly least, there was my Trek 9200. Bought for $50, I actually rode this around quite a bit. It is easily the worst riding experience I’ve ever had. The chain felt like it was made from rubber bands. Sometimes you’d pedal and you’d just spin through then suddenly hook up again, and then then immediately nothing. It was really bizarre.
I sold it at the bike swap for $150.
And here’s a preview of the Solo. I need to get a longer hose for the rear brake, and figure out how to extend the fork’s travel, and that’s pretty much all I need to go. Those things and some warmer weather to work on it.
And just one more note on how perfect the Blizzard was as a parts bike; everything on it was white or black, except for the red highlights with the headset, hubs, and cranks. It looks really good already, and I’m really excited about it, it’s going to be awesome.
One last thing about the elevated chainstay full suspension bike; it’s really not as rare as I thought. Looking through some pictures too research this post, I’ve realized there are lots more. Mountain Cycles San Andreas, Crosstrac Sonoma, Boulder Defiant, all the ProFlex/K2 bikes, Santa Cruz Heckler, Bullit, and Super 8, Foes LTS, and all the Orange full suspension bikes (still in production even!).