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  1. #1
    The Next 100 Miler
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    Did I Buy the Wrong Bike? Santa Cruz Solo

    This past summer I bought my first new MTB in 10 years - a SC Solo. This is also my first full suspension bike. I've gotten a lot more serious about mountain biking and am riding 40-50 miles per week.

    The Solo is a 27.5 and has a 68* head tube angle. The problem is, I just can't get the front wheel to behave like I want. In tight corners the front end pushes out, it doesn't track like I think it should.

    In slower chunky tech stuff I frequently miss the line I want because the wheel again doesn't track on my intended line. This has led to a few over the handle bar crashes when the front wheel hit big rocks.

    I'm a middle aged guy that wants to do some racing and longer XC rides (30-40 miles). I do ride some chunky tech, but have no desire to run super fast, bash and crash down big drops.

    So, should I have gone with a bike with a more upright head tube angle?

  2. #2
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    What was your previous bike? It may be just a matter of getting used to the relatively slacker HA compared to your old 71 deg HT with 120 mm stem. Also check that you're getting proper sag on the fork and shock. If it's not settling into corners properly this will accentuate this pushing you've noticed.

    When I rode the 5010 at Interbike I thought it felt very sharp and quick handling.....especially compared to my normal bike which has a 65 deg HA. Everything's relative.
    Last edited by KRob; 11-15-2013 at 12:20 AM.

  3. #3
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    Did I Buy the Wrong Bike? Santa Cruz Solo

    Bikes have changed a lot in ten years and you've made a hell of a change to new wheel size, FS, and new geometry.

    When I first get my 29 FS, I spent about a month plowing off trails, missing turns, and wrestling the front wheel down on climbs. Then I figured out how to use my body and move the bike around, and eventually I got it.

    The Solo is a great bike, and my guess is that you need to learn to ride it like a new bike instead of trying to ride it like your old bike. That might be presumptuous on my part, but it's just a guess.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
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    Did I Buy the Wrong Bike? Santa Cruz Solo

    I wouldn't rush to judgement. Since it's also your first full suspension bike, you'll have that learning curve in addition to adapting to a new bike. You didn't mention what your previous bike was, or how long you've been riding this one (I know you said summer, but I didn't think they've been widely available for all that long).

    If you aren't already, focus on keeping your weight over the BB (Lee McCormack's mantra of "heavy feet, light hands) and make sure you're looking ahead at where you want to go. I don't mean to suggest that you aren't doing that, but those techniques help address the symptoms you describe.

    In the end, if you don't like it, fair enough. But I would give yourself some more time to make that call, since there's almost always a cost to changing bikes.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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  5. #5
    The Next 100 Miler
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    Good suggestions all.

    My old bike was a cheap Specialized Rockhopper that I rode mostly in the Northwest (wet and sticky). Now I'm in Arizona where it is dry, sandy and rocky). I guess I'm starting over on MTBing!

    I pre ordered the Solo based on demo rides of the Tallboy and the attractiveness of the 27.5. Mine was in the first shipment, so I got it in late July.

    I have experimented a lot with weight shifts, I've moved the stem down two spacers, I bought knobbier tires. I'm just not finding what is right!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    Good suggestions all.

    My old bike was a cheap Specialized Rockhopper that I rode mostly in the Northwest (wet and sticky). Now I'm in Arizona where it is dry, sandy and rocky). I guess I'm starting over on MTBing!

    I pre ordered the Solo based on demo rides of the Tallboy and the attractiveness of the 27.5. Mine was in the first shipment, so I got it in late July.

    I have experimented a lot with weight shifts, I've moved the stem down two spacers, I bought knobbier tires. I'm just not finding what is right!
    You made a huge upgrade from your old bike man. You just have to ride more until you get used to your new bike

  7. #7
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    Lots of good advice posted up there.

    Make sure your fork is where it needs to be in terms of tuning... That is a whole topic in of itself.

    Wider bars and slacker HTAs go together like cookies and milk. Make sure you've dumped your old narrow bars.

    Compared to older xc style bikes, where we rode'm hunched over the front end and steered the front end with the bars, trail bike are now a different animal entirely. A post above alluded to not steering with the hands. You've got to steer these trail bikes more with your body and by leaning the bike with its wider bars.

    Find a smooth trail with a lot of high speed turns and ride it over and over and over. Try different techniques. It will eventually click.

    Admittedly, bikes the days do not steer like old xc bikes with 71 degree head angles. But what you loose by a bit there, you'll gain exponentially in other areas.

  8. #8
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    Make sure your suspension is set up properly-balanced, tuned, etc.
    Common problem for "poor" front end handling is incorrectly set up rear suspension-too much sag, wallowing, etc. Or, rear is set too stiff and front is set too soft.
    You didn't buy the wrong bike, there's just a learning curve and a lot of variables with full suspension set up and how a bike will handle.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    Good suggestions all.

    My old bike was a cheap Specialized Rockhopper that I rode mostly in the Northwest (wet and sticky). Now I'm in Arizona where it is dry, sandy and rocky). I guess I'm starting over on MTBing!

    I pre ordered the Solo based on demo rides of the Tallboy and the attractiveness of the 27.5. Mine was in the first shipment, so I got it in late July.

    I have experimented a lot with weight shifts, I've moved the stem down two spacers, I bought knobbier tires. I'm just not finding what is right!
    move your center of gravity towards the handlebars, find where the bike is going to pivot and learn to ride your bike in that position, it will take a while. if you ski it's similar to learning how to carve turns instead of skidding turns.
    nothing witty here...

  10. #10
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    What tires are you running? I always ran the same tires on all my trail bikes, when I switched to 27.5, the most common tire was the Kenda Nevegals. With the Kenda' s, I had the same problems, blowing through corners, loss of traction, couldn't stay on my line, etc. After I switched to 2.25 Schwalbe RR' s, everything I knew about how the bike was suppose to ride was realized.
    I ride a converted SC Blur XCc, I love this bike more than any other bike I own or ridden.

  11. #11
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    I really appreciate all of the help and I'm glad to hear I probably don't need a different bike!

    To answer some questions and comment on a few points:

    - I need to work on turning the bike without steering the handle bars.
    - I do fine on the faster flowing corners. The problem is in the tighter stuff where I have to slow down.
    - I have worked on moving my weight forward and that does help some. Wonder if I should get a longer stem?
    - My new tires are Schwalbe Nobby Nic at 25 psi
    - I'm 170lbs geared up and front shock is at 65 psi, rear is 130 psi

  12. #12
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    Front and rear suspension psi will only help someone if they own the bike and know where you should be. Maybe someone can chime in.

    Until then...What you really need to look at is running about 25% sag. You can increase or decrease sag from this starting point. Also, too slow rebound is not good either. Try riding off of a curb while standing and weighting the front a bit more than rear. Dial out the rebound until it just starts to buck you up. Then dial down one to two clicks. Same for the rear but I would do it while sitting because I find I'm more sensitive to rebound while sitting and climbing and if it's too fast this is when I'd notice. When standing I can deal with a faster rebound and be ok.

  13. #13
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    shorter stem always and wide bars with in reason, it is all about body position and using your body to move the bike not the handle bars. The Solo is one of the best trail bikes out there so if you having problems it is your technique not the bike.

  14. #14
    The White Jeff W
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norman Clydesdale View Post
    Make sure your suspension is set up properly-balanced, tuned, etc.
    Common problem for "poor" front end handling is incorrectly set up rear suspension-too much sag, wallowing, etc. Or, rear is set too stiff and front is set too soft.
    You didn't buy the wrong bike, there's just a learning curve and a lot of variables with full suspension set up and how a bike will handle.
    Im thinking your answer is in this post.
    No moss...

  15. #15
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    Yep, I think I have too much rear sag, I bottom out the shock ring way more often than the front. That and my bike handling skills.

    Quote Originally Posted by jeffw-13 View Post
    Im thinking your answer is in this post.

  16. #16
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    I see you are in Scottsdale. We don't really have dirt or anything close to the tacky hero dirt conditions of the north west. It's all rock. I would describe north Scottsdale's decomposed granite trails like riding on a continuous pile of shattered tempered glass shards. Your bike is never connected to the trail. If you are not riding granite then you are riding square edged chunk. I use different cornering techniques in granite compared to riding the tacky soil near Flagstaff. I would guess it's your new terrain as much as it is your bike. Findig the right tire and tire pressure are critical. I run 25 psi front and 30 psi rear tubeless. Well balanced suspension with good small bump sensitivity is also important.

  17. #17
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    Def NOT the bike - low and slack is where it's at for railing corners. It really is all about technique and that's changed with the advent of wide bars and short stems. You cannot expect to just steer thru corners with that setup. Cornering is 70% technique, 20% tires and maybe 10% suspension setup. I can rail corners with my suspension set up all wrong so don't focus on that. If faster speeds and laying the bike way over is scary to you then go with a longer stem and weight the front tire more. Hans Dampf's are really good for cornering grip for guys that aren't aggressive and will be world's better for you than Nobby Nicks. Learning to lay the bike over and real aggro tires like High Roller 2's is where it's at tho with the Solo and it's wider bars, shorter stem. You'll become a much better rider but you have to be comfy going a lot faster.

    Having said that tho, the low BB and short chainstays of the Solo are a HUGE difference from what you're used to and not really beneficial for AZ type riding with all the rocks and chunk to deal with. A Bronson would have been a better, more stable choice because the longer chainstays keep the font end planted more and provide more stability at speed and it has a higher BB for better rock clearance.

    Have FUN!

    G MAN
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  18. #18
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    Good points... I was in Flag until 10/1, now on the granite.

    Can you elaborate on 'small bump sensitivity'?

    Quote Originally Posted by SiO2 View Post
    I see you are in Scottsdale. We don't really have dirt or anything close to the tacky hero dirt conditions of the north west. It's all rock. I would describe north Scottsdale's decomposed granite trails like riding on a continuous pile of shattered tempered glass shards. Your bike is never connected to the trail. If you are not riding granite then you are riding square edged chunk. I use different cornering techniques in granite compared to riding the tacky soil near Flagstaff. I would guess it's your new terrain as much as it is your bike. Findig the right tire and tire pressure are critical. I run 25 psi front and 30 psi rear tubeless. Well balanced suspension with good small bump sensitivity is also important.

  19. #19
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    Did I Buy the Wrong Bike? Santa Cruz Solo

    I had a buddy build up a Ti ElMariachi and it rode exactly the same. Not a fun bike to ride at all. He messed with it so much took all the fun out of the rides. Tried 3 different forks, different tires, stems, pretty much anything that affects handling. Thing rode like a truck. He just gave it back to the shop and QBC is warranting it (of course they said it was perfect). So sometimes it really is the bike.

  20. #20
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    how tall are you, which size frame did you get, how long is the stem on it, how wide are the bars and are you running tubeless?
    2010 GT Avalanche Expert

  21. #21
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    Re: Did I Buy the Wrong Bike? Santa Cruz Solo

    Quote Originally Posted by 2w4s View Post
    move your center of gravity towards the handlebars, find where the bike is going to pivot and learn to ride your bike in that position, it will take a while. if you ski it's similar to learning how to carve turns instead of skidding turns.
    This.

    10 years ago you hang off the back.

    Now you ride with your hips WAY more forward. Very similar to skiing stance, except your bindings are pedals, and your poles are grips. Even the loading, weighting, and release are the same.

    Its not the bike.

  22. #22
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    I like the skiing comparison - I taught skiing and inline skating for years. You are right, my old habit is sliding my hips back when going in to the corners.

    I'm 6'0" with a 32" inseam, frame is large, stem is 70mm, bar is 750mm, tubeless.

    So, are you out of the saddle a lot to get forward?

  23. #23
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    Try going 50mm stem?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JFD27 View Post
    Try going 50mm stem?
    This is opposite what I was thinking. Why shorter, what changes?

  25. #25
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    Did I Buy the Wrong Bike? Santa Cruz Solo

    Quote Originally Posted by MarkP View Post
    I like the skiing comparison - I taught skiing and inline skating for years. You are right, my old habit is sliding my hips back when going in to the corners
    There's your washout problem sorted. If you're a ski instructor, you know the drill- focus down the course, and move your hips and the bike around a stable core.
    "Back off, man. I'm a scientist." - Dr. Peter Venkman

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