Author Topic: Mtn bike advice  (Read 1067 times)

jim-ratliff

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #15 on: May 19, 2011, 07:53:48 am »

Josh:

Thanks a lot.  That is all extremely interesting.

So, air pressures are going down unless there is a lot of asphalt that is part of the ride and I'm going to check out making the tubeless migration.

I'll probably continue to ride the existing tires, but will go wider when they get replaced.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2011, 12:20:07 pm by jim-ratliff »
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Svend

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #16 on: May 30, 2011, 08:20:33 am »
Hi All....sorry....qui te late joining this chat.  Been on the road again.

Not sure I can add much that hasn't already been said.  I pretty much agree with everything BW (Josh?) has already posted....

Mike -- you were asking about 29ers....well, for the right rider and in the right terrain, 29ers are great! Except in tight trees and narrow trails where there are a lot of tight turns.  Their turn radius is not as tight as a 26er, so lack some of their agility.  Wide bars (flat or low-rise) at 680 to 700 mm, work best with these, but that makes the tight-tree navigation even more tricky (although my shoulders are kinda wide too, so that is a moot point for me...I just stay out of tight trees, just like when I ski).  OTOH, their fluid ease of rolling over roots and rocks and large gravel is brilliant.  They smooth out the ride, and negate the need for rear suspension except in the roughest terrain.  For a guy my size (6'2"), the 29er is the FIRST mountain bike that I felt actually really fit me.  On 26ers, I always felt like I was riding a kids bike, or a BMX.  I ride a Fischer 29er hard tail, and FWIW, I rarely unlock the front fork -- for the terrain in our area, I could easily do away with the front shocks altogether...the 29er geometry is just that smooth.  Keep the tire pressure low (~25 to 30 psi) in the rough stuff, and it is totally controllable and absorbs an amazing amount of vibration and impact.  My next bike may just be a rigid 29er, steel frame, carbon forks.   ;D   8)

BW -- good advice on tubeless.  Might just try that, as my rims and tires are "tubeless ready".  But, what happens if I'm in the middle of the woods, 20km away from my truck, and a tire goes flat? How the heck do I fix it without invoking a one-hour procedure? At least with tubes, I carry a spare and some irons, and can swap a tube in 10 to 15 minutes.  Otherwise, tubeless is certainly appealing -- if nothing else, at least for the weight savings -- 29ers are a tad heavier. 

Jim -- the advice BW gave about body position for climbing and downhill is right on.  Uphill, keep yer butt on the seat, lean forward, get low, pull up on bars to unwieght the front wheel (rolls over bumps easier, less jarring), and pedal your guts out.  Personally, I have a really hard time starting a climb halfway up a hill, at least with cleated pedals -- in the old days, before SPD and Eggbeaters, I could do it on an easy slope; but with cleats, forget it.  I usually end up just carrying the bike up  ::)   I have thought of buying the Wellgo 1/2-and-1/2 pedals (model WPD-95B), which are SPD cleat click-in on one side, and rat trap on the other....just flip em over and use the rat trap in tricky terrain, such as starting uphill where you need to get cranking, like, right now! Or in spots where you may have to bail and would fall if you were clicked in.  They only weigh 20 grams more than a Shimano 520, but may be worth the extra versatility, and may save you (and me) from a nasty fall.  (See below, also, for comments on a new kind of easy-release cleat)

As for downhill, as I said before, get yer butt off the seat, slide it backwards a little bit or a lot, depending how steep it is, to keep your COM to the rear.  I find it really helps to stabilize the bike if I clamp the saddle between my thighs -- keeps the bike from jerking around side-to-side, keeps your body aligned with the bike, and makes for a much smoother descent.  On really steep descents, my butt is waaay back, off and behind the seat, out in the open air directly over the rear wheel.....not a pretty sight, a bulbous orb hanging there  :o  but I'm usually at the back of the pack so no one has yet crashed from fright or laughter.   ;D

And always keep your elbows bent! to flex and absorb the bumps...  Having started mtn. biking 20 years ago on rigid, steel frame 26ers, we had to use our body's joints as the suspension....ankle s, knees, hips, elbows.....just 'cause you have a full-suss bike doesn't mean that you too shouldn't use them....they are a very valuable tool, and as you get better, they allow you to tighten up the bike's suspension for a firmer ride.  Less Buick, more BMW  :D

On the subject of pedals and cleats and easy release, I just installed some new Shimano cleats on my wife's shoes -- the SM-SH56.  These are said to be multi-release, meaning they release more easily in all directions than the standard cleats, which is really supposed to help in a panic bail-out.  Having injured her knee skiing (no ACL, no meniscus now), she has been most reluctant to try the single track in our local forest for fear of falling and re-injuring herself because she may not be able to unclick in a hurry.  First easy ride yesterday and the initial feedback was very good -- much easier for her to unclick.  With the standard cleats (SH51) she always had trouble unclicking in one direction, but not the other, and never laterally upward, and this lack of a quick escape made her very nervous when we got into some gnarly terrain.  Will report back later on these as she gets more rides in.  BTW, the rider reviews on the web about these cleats are all very positive, so they seem to work.  If they work well for her, I'll buy them for myself too.  At $20, cheap insurance against possible injury.  OTOH, if they're no good, then it's the Wellgo pedals fer sure.

Hope this helps....

Cheers!  And Happy Memorial Day holiday, to y'all south of the border.....






« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, 09:56:45 am by Svend »

Svend

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #17 on: May 30, 2011, 11:11:30 am »
A couple of further comments:

On tire width -- I agree with BW, except that before you go wider, you need to check out the weight of the new tire compared to what you're replacing.  Depending on the tire, there can be anywhere from 100g to 200g + difference (1/4 to 1/2 lb!) between, say a 2.00 tire and a 2.20 (check out the specs on the Kenda Karma to see for yourself).  If you're trying to keep the weight of the bike to a minimum, then adding a half-pound to each wheel can really make a difference to acceleration, energy input, etc.  On short, technical rides this is probably fine, and the benefits of a wider tire would far outweigh (pardon the pun) the drawbacks.  OTOH, over a long cross-country ride, that extra weight will really make itself apparent in the last hour of the ride.  Even more so if you are doing multi-day rides back-to-back.  By Day 3 you will wish you had lighter tires -- I learned this two years ago when I rode with my Father-in-law on Vancouver Island -- three days of open-trail XC riding, 3 hours per day, with all-mountain tires that weighed about 800g+ each (~1.5 lbs).  After Day 2 I was ready to go straight to the nearest shop and put on some Kenda Small Block Eights.  Bottom line -- pick the tires that suit where you ride, and for how long.  Maybe keep two sets and swap em as needed:  one for long XC rides / smoother terrain; and one for more rugged terrain / shorter rides.

On pedals -- I use the Shimano M520, which I like.  Open design sheds the mud; easy to click in and out.  Terryl has the M505, but I am going to change these, as they are a closed design and the mud really gets packed in there.  Slightly heavier too.  Will probably put M520 or M540 on her bike.  Ditto BW's thoughts on Crank Bros -- all the riders here that I have talked to hate them.  They're light, and look kinda cool, but are a major health hazard as clicking out is not easy.  Not sure if that is true of all their pedals, or just the Eggbeaters.


jim-ratliff

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #18 on: May 30, 2011, 08:15:45 pm »
Svend: 

Thanks for the confirming pedal advice.  Lynn and I are currently using the Crank Bros Candy pedal (has a real pedal with the spring mechanism in the middle) and find them very easy to get out of, but will wait on your/Terryl's thoughts on the SF56 and then consider upgrading to those of SP540.

Point well taken regarding tire weight.  I have Mavic wheels that are UST and "thought" that my tires were also, and really wondered why they put tubes in them at the factory.  NOT, and the UST Kenda Karma's are almost 400 grams heavier than the ones I have.  That's an amazingly lot of extra weight to go tubeless.

My picture of the day.

[attachment removed after 60 days]
« Last Edit: May 30, 2011, 08:19:57 pm by jim-ratliff »
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Svend

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #19 on: May 31, 2011, 07:18:05 am »
Hey Jim -- nice pic! Ain't riding over stream beds fun?! I love it.  We have a shallow river here that we cross on occasion, water up to the axles, but so refreshing on a hot day.  Feel like a little kid, again, splashing in the river.

Looks like the Candy are the same as Eggbeaters, but with a platform frame.  Am I seeing that correctly? No issues clicking out in a hurry? How do you find egress compared to the SPD pedals on your road bike? Any falls yet? Hey, if they work, then I guess there's no reason to swap.  Shimano pedals will be a bit heavier....about 100g, I'm guessing.  Terryl and I will be out again tomorrow, so will post back with more feedback from her on the new cleats.

Re. tubeless -- I can see why that is appealing, in order to run lower tire pressure and ease some of the harsh ride of an aluminum frame bike.  Better traction too.  That was the first thing I noticed when test riding, coming from a steel frame bike to aluminum, was the harsh transmission of vibration and impact through the frame.  Some hard tail aluminum 26ers with super stiff frames were brutal...the tiniest pebble would go straight up the seat post.  I REALLY miss the feel of the steel frame....I loved it.  Although, that is another reason I like the 29er size so much, is that the larger wheels absorb a lot of that -- run the tires at 25 psi off-road, and it's a great ride.  But....I would go to a steel frame 29er any time.  Niner Bikes make a light CrMo steel frame that you can fit with a carbon fork....SWEET!!!!  Would probably not weigh more than 20 or 22 lbs fully dressed.   8)


jim-ratliff

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #20 on: May 31, 2011, 08:17:30 am »
Yes, the Candy is a platform with the eggbeater springs in the middle. The platform lets me peddle without cleating if I want, and they come out easier than my road bike pedals but those are the much bigger triangular cleat. I do like having the platform part, and it seems like it would spread the load over more of the sole rather than right at the cleat as the pure eggbeaters would do.

Interesting thought about eliminating the front suspension, and relying on the carbon fork for even more dampness (and less weight).  We were riding single track yesterday with lots of roots exposed across the trail, anywhere from 2-5 inches high.  I was quite impressed with how well the full suspensions handled that (right up to the point where one diagonal root threw the bike sideways out from under me).  Lesson learned - like railroad tracks, need to slow down a bit more and hit the roots as head-on as possible.  Hardest fall I've taken as far back as I can remember.

One of the things that really surprised me when I first decided to try cycling was the difference in dampness between the aluminum and carbon fiber bike. Really didn't care for the feel of aluminum at all.
« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 11:04:50 am by jim-ratliff »
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Svend

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #21 on: May 31, 2011, 09:00:06 am »
I hear you -- almost every aluminum hard tail I tested was just too harsh for my liking, to the point that I was seriously considering full suspension (gasp! sacrilege!), which I really didn't want for various reasons; or rebuilding my old steel frame bike, which was not a great option either due to poor frame fit to my size.  Until I started testing 29ers, I was actually looking at the few rare steel frame 26ers that are still being made.  Jamis makes one, and a couple of other smaller makers do too.  Carbon fiber just wasn't in my budget, although I was sorely tempted.  Scandium is better than aluminum wrt. harsh ride, but was hard to find here.

If I ever start riding a road bike, it will be either a rebuild of an old vintage steel frame racing bike (there is one sitting in our garage gathering dust.....winter project?), or a carbon frame.  I cannot imagine riding an aluminum frame road bike with tires inflated rock-hard.  I'd have to slip an inch-thick neoprene pad down the back of my shorts  :o  just to be able to ride it.

Svend

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #22 on: May 31, 2011, 09:24:04 am »
Have to ask:  were you hurt in yesterday's fall? All parts intact? Bruised ego, though, eh?

So glad you and Lynn are having so much fun on your bikes.  It really is a blast.  I can see why skiers gravitate (another bad pun...yikes  :D) to this sport as their summertime adrenaline fix.  Tearing down a hard packed trail through the woods at Mach 2 on a crisp cold fall morning.....awesome!

jim-ratliff

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #23 on: May 31, 2011, 10:42:24 am »
I hear you -- almost every aluminum hard tail I tested was just too harsh for my liking, to the point that I was seriously considering full suspension (gasp! sacrilege!), which I really didn't want for various reasons; or rebuilding my old steel frame bike, which was not a great option either due to poor frame fit to my size.  Until I started testing 29ers, I was actually looking at the few rare steel frame 26ers that are still being made.  Jamis makes one, and a couple of other smaller makers do too.  Carbon fiber just wasn't in my budget, although I was sorely tempted.  Scandium is better than aluminum wrt. harsh ride, but was hard to find here.

If I ever start riding a road bike, it will be either a rebuild of an old vintage steel frame racing bike (there is one sitting in our garage gathering dust.....winter project?), or a carbon frame.  I cannot imagine riding an aluminum frame road bike with tires inflated rock-hard.  I'd have to slip an inch-thick neoprene pad down the back of my shorts  :o  just to be able to ride it.


I would include titanium in your road bike project possibilities.  Lynn has an older GT titanium bike and I'm pretty sure it is similar to carbon in dampness -- but isn't currently "in vogue" so older LiteSpeeds are arouind.
She sold Doug's first racing bike, which was a Litespeed with Campagnola Record  components for about $600 through the local bikeshop.  (a side benefit, unless the thief is really knowledgeable, titanium doesn't distinguish itself as a target the way carbon does).


Fall didn't require a doctor's visit, but left side of rib cage is quite tender.



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jim-ratliff

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #24 on: May 31, 2011, 10:48:48 am »
A few years back when I was looking for a new mtb I got caught up in all the bike tech and because of this I almost ended up with a hardtail due to the increased effeciency (pedal stroke energy isn't lost to the rear shock). Before my purchase I had a long talk with a friend that is a mtb expert. The long and short of that was to focus on what I, as a recreational rider, wanted. I ride in rough terrain and wanted a bike that would smooth it out as much as possible. I ride for excercise so having a ride that was somewhat less effecient is a hidden benefit (more exercise work done in the same period of time). So, after much hand wringing I ended up with a full suspension stumpjumper fsr. I really didn't want to pay for the big name brands as I figured I was getting less for my money, but I found a previous years model and got a good price on the bike and the bike's geometry was a very good fit. I could probably have done better but I had a limited amount of time to shop and wanted to get out on the trails on a bike that would feel good. It's a gret ride and I've never regretted the purchase. Currently riding with the SPD but planning on moving to a flat pedal. I've managed to get out of the SPDs when needed but had a few close calls. I think weight matters less than most realize for recreational riding and has that same hidden benefit of more exercise work done while out riding which is the goal for many of us!


Max: Agreed.  It depends on how and where you ride -- and Lynn and I have never regretted our full suspension decision.  At our ages, weight is more of an issue when lifting the bike than riding it.  We had storms late last week, so the weekend ride included some downed trees that were waist high for her.  Lifting her bike over a waist high tree trunk is much easier with the carbon than would be steel.  And, like you, we chose value rather than the big name.
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Svend

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #25 on: May 31, 2011, 12:02:04 pm »
The biggest improvement I can make in the weight of my ride is for the rider to lose 20 lbs!!!!   8)  Looking at it that way, it would be the equivalent of shrinking my bike's weight to about 6 lbs   ;D ;D


Svend

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #26 on: May 31, 2011, 01:18:14 pm »
I would include titanium in your road bike project possibilities.  Lynn has an older GT titanium bike and I'm pretty sure it is similar to carbon in dampness -- but isn't currently "in vogue" so older LiteSpeeds are arouind.
She sold Doug's first racing bike, which was a Litespeed with Campagnola Record  components for about $600 through the local bikeshop.  (a side benefit, unless the thief is really knowledgeable, titanium doesn't distinguish itself as a target the way carbon does).


Fall didn't require a doctor's visit, but left side of rib cage is quite tender.

Quite right! I had forgotten about Ti bike frames.  Terryl's Dad has or had one -- amazingly light, strong, great ride, and not harsh.  You're right, much more damp than aluminum.  That material seems to be off the radar, and not sexy at the moment.  Price? Last time I looked at Ti mtn. bikes, a hard tail frame alone was north of $2000. 

As for a daily driver for the road, not sure I will go there this year.  Just had a long chat with the mechanic at our LBS, and we priced out what it would cost to rebuild the old steel frame race bike sitting in our garage to make it ride-able and have decent performance in our area (lots of hills), and it doesn't seem feasible.  Would cost the same or less to buy a new bike.  Even less to buy a decent used one.  Considering what we've spent on bikes and ski gear in recent years, that just doesn't seem sensible at the moment.....   :(

Glad you didn't hurt yourself yesterday.  Hope the fun-factor of the ride was worth the spill. 

Re. weight of bikes, you and Max are right on -- I am less concerned with a pound or three of bike weight, than I am of good geometry, decent components, and proper fit.  My 29er weighs as much as my old steel frame 26er, with it's big front shocks, bigger tires and all, but rides SOOO much better....effortles s pedaling.  We are in this for exercise, and having a great reason to get out in the woods and open hills to get some fresh air, clear the mind, and have some fun doing it.  I will never race, have no ego wrapped up in this sport (or any other), and have nothing to prove to anyone except to myself.


midwif

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #27 on: May 31, 2011, 01:26:20 pm »
Have to ask:  were you hurt in yesterday's fall? All parts intact? Bruised ego, though, eh?

So glad you and Lynn are having so much fun on your bikes.  It really is a blast.  I can see why skiers gravitate (another bad pun...yikes  :D) to this sport as their summertime adrenaline fix.  Tearing down a hard packed trail through the woods at Mach 2 on a crisp cold fall morning.....awesome!

Jim is ever the master of understatement.
"...my ribs are quite tender".

Quite a nasty fall. Hit a rock and tree on the way down.
Given the muscle spasming he felt between intercostals, I am guessing a minor crack of  one of his ribs. Nice hip bruise to go along with it and his shoulder quite sore.

We both fall at times. Getting better at reading the terrain. And we have taken on some ambitious rides for newbies. Looking forward to straight forward riding up steep hills this coming weekend as opposed to narrow, curlicue type terrain with rocks and roots to navigate.
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Svend

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #28 on: May 31, 2011, 01:49:42 pm »
Jim, Jim, Jim....what will we do with you? Kevlar body armour? All chiding aside, you gotta be careful, dude.  I guess getting the ribs checked out is not in your plan for today? Hope it's nothing serious.

Lynn -- good on you guys for having such guts to take on the gnarly stuff, and you being so new to the sport.  Brilliant!  I must say that Terryl and I are much more cautious -- Terryl because of her knee injury, doesn't want a repeat in the middle of the woods with no safety patrol cuties with sleds and blankets to whisk her to the first aid shack  ;D ; and me, well, if I get seriously hurt, being self-employed, that would put our family in deep Doo-Doo.  Not smart if I start barreling down steep rocky single track and bust myself up.  If I can't travel, my business is toast.

Still, we have a hoot out on our bikes, and have a whole big playground right out the back door to roll through.  Hundreds of kilometers of trails here, just minutes from our house.  Sweet!


jim-ratliff

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Re: Mtn bike advice
« Reply #29 on: May 31, 2011, 03:10:35 pm »
 Bottom line is exactly what you said. It's all relative, but Lynn and I are having a blast, and that's all that matters. Saturday's ride was one of the easier in the area, but scenic. Monday's ride was one of the harder we have ridden.

I had ridden this trail one time before and was quite proud.
Remembering that, daydreaming and not paying close enough attention.  :'(   And riding faster so I had more momentum. 
And overconfident because I had climbed one of the other sections that had thwarted me before and had been doing so well in some pretty tight twisty sections and other places.  Ohhh, well.  What doesn't kill you makes you smarter and more respectful (and encourages you to breathe and walk gingerly) ???

As Lynn said, "That was interesting to see how well we did, but I wouldn't want to ride this all the time.  Wider trails and country roads definitely have their place."

But gnarly is relative. I watched some of BW's videos, and riding on tree trunks to cross gullies isn't something that I would even consider.


« Last Edit: May 31, 2011, 10:25:40 pm by jim-ratliff »
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