Rush Limbaugh has his . . . well, here is mine. This is my record of news stories and issues that interest me. You can also find more headlines at the site where I serve as editor: The Common Voice.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Monster

The saga of my past cycling stories is nearing an end. Today's installment is about the eventful purchase of my Proflex 555. The bike is still around. I sold it to a friend just before upgrading to a new mountain bike.

The only thing negative about the bike are the elastomers that are used to dampen the shock. These things get very hard over time. However, it is still possible to find them on the Internet and you can upgrade the suspension with coil replacements.

Can't believe I don't have any pictures of the bike around. However, I can't find any. The picture you see below is a Proflex 455. It's close enough to give you an idea how that frame was shaped, etc.
I’m not an expert rider. I have only been riding mountain bikes for three years. One of those years was with The Huffy, so it doesn’t really count. The Diamondback Traverse (affectionately known as "The Tank") allowed me to see what riding could be. However, the more comfortable I became with the trails around Greenville the more I realized that I needed something with a little more finesse.

After finding someone tall enough to buy the Traverse, I headed back over to Sunshine to get my new ride. I had noticed the bike of choice that Mike had used on some of the rides. It was a ProFlex 757. I couldn’t afford that, but there was a nice ProFlex 555 on the rack. There was also a light and sharp looking Diamondback Vortex.

Hmmmm, what to do, what to do. I decided to take both bikes out for a test ride. My plan was to take the two bikes on the same trails to see how they compared. The Vortex was first. I was impressed. The aluminum frame was light, but the hard-tail was stable and at the same time nimble. In all honesty, I didn’t give the ProFlex much of a chance at that time.

Proflex 455 - close enough...

I had never ridden a full suspension bike before. As I wheeled out of the parking lot and down the road toward a small park nearby, I noticed the smoothness of the ride. Then I entered the park. The first test was a small three foot hump. Earlier the Vortex had hit the hump hard and I got air like I never experienced with the heavier Traverse. Even disconnected from the ground the Vortex seemed easy to control.

Remembering the experience with the Vortex, I put a little more into the approach with the ProFlex. Everything went fine until the rear elastermers decompressed. It was my first experience with recoil underneath my posterior. You guessed it. The rear wheel launched me over the handlebars. The toe clips didn’t let go and I did a superman into the packed clay. I broke my fake Oakley shades, cut my nose, strained my shoulder, bent the right bar end, and crushed my pride.

Shaking I picked the bike up and continued my ride. I headed to my most frequent trail. Timmons Park is a technical (full of roots) trail near downtown Greenville. The nearly two mile single track winds through woods and along a small creek. There are some climbs and a fun little downhill that has a five foot launch-pad at the bottom.

Here the ProFlex was a joy. The roots seemed to fade away and the climbs were a breeze as the rear suspension dug the tire knobs into the dirt. I was feeling pretty good when I came to the downhill. Instead of following the traditional line down the hill, I decided to follow the road that ran along the right side of the single-track.

As the single-track went down the road dipped momentarily and then ascended again on a man made ramp. This allowed for a rider to get speed down the hill and then go almost horizontal into the bank. It is quite a rush as you pick up extra speed coming off the bank.

Everything was going great. I was watching the suspension eat up the bumps as I descended. Too late I noticed that the park custodian had dumped a pile of mulch right in the middle of the bank. Knowing I couldn’t miss it, I decided to hit the edge of the pile. I thought the bike would enter a shallow jump that I could control. However, the mulch ate my front tire. It didn’t let go.

Once again I started over the handlebars. This time the jolt was so quick I was pitching forward before I could let go of the hand grips. The ProFlex and myself did a somersault. As I was on the bottom and the bike on the top, I finally let go. The bike went flying nearly fifteen feet away. Thankfully, I landed in some soft grass. Outside of grass stains I was fine. The ProFlex looked to be okay except the seat was crushed.

Well, I ended up buying the ProFlex. It was more from guilt than anything else. I could have replaced the damaged parts and bought the Vortex. There was just something about the green 555. Perhaps it was the same desire cowboys have to get on the bronco until they conquer that drove me to choose the "green monster." I have loved every minute since.
The bicycle company was bought out by K2 some time ago. Word on the street was that the Proflex brand might be coming back -- at least in Europe. The bikes showed up at some professional races back in 2006.

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