Huffy Vantage 3.0

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Huffy Vantage 3.0

Postby SteelBlur » Sat Nov 26, 2016 5:58 pm

I had decided that I wasn’t going to spend another winter indoors. I wanted to give winter biking a try, but didn’t want to subject my road bike or mountain bike to snow, etc. I looked at fat bikes, but didn’t want to pay that much – at least not for a first experiment with winter biking. I decided to pick up an inexpensive bike for winter, one that I could ride through winter’s nastiness guilt free.

Huffy’s 3.0 lineup caught my eye as a possible compromise. After researching plus size studded tire availability and looking over Huffy’s 3.0 configurations, I selected the Vantage as the best option. While I preferred the Warhawk’s disc brakes, 29+ studded tires apparently don’t yet exist. 45Nrth has the 27.5 x 3.0 Wrathchild, which I intended to install on the Vantage – but more on that later. Intended usage is snow covered MUPs, with occasional easy singletrack, so I didn’t want the weight penalty of suspension at all – but had to settle for a hardtail and front suspension.

I bought the Vantage from Amazon. It was eligible for Amazon Prime, and the price was right. Amazon waited two weeks to even ship it, despite their website showing 11 of them in stock. It took several emails and a call to customer service to break the bike out of warehouse jail. While I was waiting, I learned that the Vantage actually has 27.5 x 2.8 tires – not 3.0. I started to get a little nervous about how the Wrathchilds would fit.

The bike showed up undamaged; no issues at all with shipping. I took the bike the rest of the way apart to go through everything.

Front hub – bearings adjusted OK, but not much grease.

Rear hub – bearings just about seizing tight, but plenty of grease.

Bottom bracket – I wanted to replace it with a sealed unit since this area will see a steady diet of snow. It’s a 73mm shell, with a 126mm spindle. I had a lot of trouble finding something that would work, but eventually sourced a Sunlite 73x127mm sealed BB from Amazon.

Headset – not much grease. I added Lizard Skin fork protectors to keep snow and debris out of the fork.

Freewheel – standard Park Tool freewheel tool barely didn’t fit, but since the bike hadn’t been ridden yet I was able to get the freewheel off. I almost replaced it with a better Shimano part, but figured I’d use it until it dies. I lubed the pawls with 5w20 motor oil.

Derailleurs needed adjustment – the front was way off. The front is a friction setup, which I'm actually fine with. The rear is indexed. After some tuning, shifting is fine.

Brakes – upgraded pads to Kool Stop salmons. Braking performance will still be marginal when wet, but at least it won’t be hopeless.

Rear wheel is pretty true, front is so-so. The front rim sometimes kisses a brake pad when pedaling hard – I think the spokes are undertensioned. Both rims will get further attention soon.

Reflectors, chain ring guard, dork disk, etc. were removed – keeping the kickstand for now. The bike will be getting lights soon.

45Nrth sent me measurements for their new Wraithchild tire (which, it turns out, isn't actually available yet – and apparently won’t be for a while).
Knob to knob: 75mm
Casing width: 71mm

After careful measurement, I’ve determined that the Wraithchild would be too tight up front – maybe a few mm of clearance. I’m pretty unhappy that Huffy advertises this bike as a 3.0, when it fact it can only accommodate 2.8s. I bought the bike specifically to use the Wrathchild tire.

Plan B – I bought some Schwalbe Nobby Nics in 27.5 x 2.8, along with some Grip Studs. I don’t know if the tread depth will be enough to keep the studs from penetrating the carcass, but if they do, I’ll convert to a tubeless setup.

Riding impressions – this bike makes my road bike seem like an F-16. Even my Specialized mountain bike is way faster and more nimble. The rolling resistance has to be experienced to be believed. But in fairness, I bought the Vantage for snow and ice – and we haven’t had any of that yet for evaluation. I’ve put a little over 30 miles on the Vantage, and it’s doing OK – requires a different set of expectations/attitude. I’m still having fun, and looking forward to snow for the first time in years.

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SteelBlur
 
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Re: Huffy Vantage 3.0

Postby Tomcat65 » Sat Nov 26, 2016 7:15 pm

I know you're well aware that different tires can affect the rolling resistance, but a steel framed, 41lb, mid-fat tire bike will have exceptional rolling resistance compared to a typical road bike. Going from 23 to 38's made a huge difference on the old Schwinn I've been playing with. But the mid-fat will offer traction in climbs, when cornering, and even when braking. You might not set any short distance braking records, but the wide MTB tires will have a whole different kind of grip.

Great review! Post more when you can. Looking forward to your snow ride impressions.
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Re: Huffy Vantage 3.0

Postby SteelBlur » Sun Nov 27, 2016 9:39 pm

I put 23 miles on the Vantage yesterday. I feel like the fit isn't quite right. Today I rode my road bike 43 miles, and for part of the trip my left knee was hurting. I rode my road bike nearly 1200 miles over the last 5 months, with many rides being 40-80 miles, and never a problem. I think the Vantage stressed my knee due to the less than ideal fit.

I'm 5'10", and have the seatpost up as high as it will go. It's almost high enough, but not quite. The bigger problem is that the front of my knee is well past the pedal axle when the crank is horizontal, and the saddle is pretty much as far back as it can go on its rails. I've searched extensively for an offset seatpost that doesn't cost as much as the bike did, but didn't turn up anything. I've settled for a 350mm Sunlite seatpost that will at least let me fix the height problem. If the fit/knee problem continues, the bike is going on Craigslist - not worth screwing up my knees.
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Re: Huffy Vantage 3.0

Postby dddd » Tue Nov 29, 2016 5:59 pm

I see that this Vantage sells for less than the Mongoose Hondo that was briefly on sale last week for just $179 and the lowest price on it I've seen.

This bike has much better shifters, an alloy crank (vs. steel) and rim brakes (best with a flexy all-steel fork imo). It also has more appropriate rim width than the Hondo (with it's 57mm wide hoops), since real 3" tires won't fit either of these bikes.

The Hondo has an integral derailer hanger for what that's worth, while the WalMart version called Terrex has 8" front rotor and thicker (still all-steel) forks.

I used the longest suspension seatpost that I could find on my Hondo, and further had to raise it a little over the limit line AND had to use my tallest saddle, but finally achieved the proper comfortable riding height. My bike also had the same hub bearing "issues" that I serviced with 9 balls instead of the 7-ball retainers. And my bottom bracket was crap, required adjustment at least after every second ride. I also added boots to my forks during a much-needed rebuild after the dirt went right past the "seals" on the second ride.

I wouldn't want to move the saddle rearward in lieu of a long-enough post. I'm a long-legged 5'9" and also needed a shorter 8cm neck (replacing the 10cm stocker).

Good luck with the search for tires, a fork upgrade might be an unfortunate necessity though with many if not most PLUS tires.

Here's my upgraded version of Mongoose's take on a 27.5 PLUS bike, I payed about $210 out the door of my local Kmart about 9 months back.

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dddd
 
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Re: Huffy Vantage 3.0

Postby SteelBlur » Fri Dec 16, 2016 9:57 am

New seatpost seems to have helped with fit.

Rear shifter is a little balky below 30F; shifts perfectly fine above that. Still gets the job done, for now.

Between rolling resistance, bike weight, and wind I spend most of my time on the small chainring; occasionally on downhill stretches I use the middle chainring. I don't think I'll ever use the big chainring.

The fork is a flexible piece of crap. I wanted to replace it with a rigid fork, but haven't found anything that will work with the rim brakes. Maybe later I'll convert to a front disc setup.

Outfitted the bike with decent lights and did a night ride earlier this week. Snow and ice have since showed up, so I'm presently installing Grip Studs in the Nobby Nics. The studs don't penetrate the casing, but you can barely see bumps inside the tire. I'm still on the fence about just throwing a liner in there vs going tubeless.
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Re: Huffy Vantage 3.0

Postby dddd » Fri Dec 16, 2016 2:10 pm

Sorry to hear that the fork is already begging for upgrade, but not too surprised, by the look of it.

Any of the Suntour forks in a 29" length (adds only about a half inch of much-needed overall length) should clear the popular WTB 2.8" Trailblazer tire, which is not very wide but has a generous height up to the tread. The XCR looks like the cheapest one that would actually have working seals, their lower models like XCM, XCT and M3000 have a loose slider fit so the seals are ineffective, basically just there for show. I don't know if the XCR fork can be found with V-brake bosses, so might need a new front hub there.
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