Experienced Rider Pushing Past Limits of Bike
I ride a steel 29er with 100mm front fork 69º HTA, Bontrager Race Lite wheels (from 2007?), Hone Crankset, SLX IceTech brakes, and 2.1 tires. I've always OWNED XC bikes, but I've spent lots of time on full suspension, all-mountain, and downhill bikes at parks.
I do not run tubeless.
Lately, I've found that I'm getting pinch flats all the damn time. I've done a few races, and I tend to pick up quite a few places on downhills, only to end up with a flat. My rear wheel is just about trashed.
Brakes helped out with confidence quite a bit, but now I feel like I'm exceeding the geometry of the bike.
I think I'm pushing the limits of the bike because I recently demoed a few 140mm full-suspension bikes that I was far more comfortable on, able to hold lines better, got no flats, and generally enjoyed riding much more.
I also tend to be wrecking in similar "over the bars" fashion, usually on downhills, usually in situations where the front wheel seems to come to a complete stop, as though I've bottomed out or gotten hung up on a trail feature. No dropper on my current bike so the seat is always sky high.
I'd consider my experience and skills as "advanced" although my level of fitness sucks, but wrecking or dabbing on small stuff on my personal bike that I can clear on a demo bike has me wondering if I'm seeing "proof in the pudding."
Does this sound like a good justification for a slacker, bigger bike, or just more practice, upgraded wheels, etc?
Utility Mapping (GIS) by day, volunteer trail mapper by night.
You describing the wheel getting stuck or coming to a stop on obstacles/trail features tells me you aren't keeping your weight back enough and getting thrown OTB. While slacker geometry certainly is more friendly than what you have now, it isn't a solution to a riders lapse of concentration or lazy body position.
If you want a more aggressive bike, why not? Don't justify it as you being at your bikes limits now though. More often than not WE are the limiting factor regardless of what we ride. Good luck!
Is there anything you've been doing lately that you weren't doing before? For instance, are you riding different trails, going faster & harder, changed something on your bike or anything along those lines?
As for whether you've gone past the limits of the bike, I'd say yes, and no. The bike doesn't ride itself, it's a bike & rider combo. If you gave your bike to Wade Simmons he could ride it down insanely hard trails that would put you in the hospital, and he'd do it with style and make it look easy. Give your bike to a newbie and he'd put himself in the hospital on trails which you think are easy.
For whatever reason, you seem to have reached the limits of your bike as ridden by you. Where you want to go from here is up to you. Personal advice? Go with whatever's more fun.
^^ Pretty awesome replies, that covers it nicely. OP, if you think you can do more with more bike-- you're right. Get a new bike and enjoy.
Oh yeah, you MUST buy a new bike. There's no way you can ride your current bike. Every time you ride your 29r, god kills a kitten now.
Enjoy the new bike smell...
TrailWerks Suspension Service
I agree with what everybody else has said. As much as it hurts the ego to hear it, crashes are usually skill related and not a bike issue. Riding above a bike's limits will result in frame / component failure.
Now if you just want a new bike and you need support from internet bike experts to justify this purchase to your wife... then YES. A new bike is the cure. You will be better, faster and most of all safer on a new bike. Be sure your wife understands that the internet experts are - first and foremost - concerned about your safety. If she loves you and cares about your well being, she will approve the purchase of a new bike.
I wouldn't say that any particular bike is "required", but having the right equipment for the job makes a big difference.
You *can* ride a hardtail down pretty much any trail on this earth, but on many of those trails a FS bike is going to be a lot faster, and you'll be a lot less fatigued at the bottom. The crashes could have been due to fatigue, mental errors, skill, or a combination of things. I think it's very likely the OP will be faster and happier on a new FS bike, assuming he chooses wisely.
But lets be honest folks, pro riders are fast on any bike, faster than you, faster than me, and faster than most anyone else, but they are usually most comfortable on the latest and greatest and the bikes that fit their riding style.
I can't help but think that we do reach the limits of our bikes. That's not to say we can't progress on another bike and come back to our retro-rig and crush it, but I think for the vast majority of riders, the more appropriate bike establishes a higher level of confidence, which helps build skills, which helps (or hinders) bad form.
I'm just wondering if there is some way that I can make this bike work longer.
Things like tubeless to allow better tire pressure without pinch flats, wider wheels, maybe a different stem setup (mine is currently negative flipped), maybe a lower seat position (i run mine at maximum leg extension with clips), maybe flat pedals? If these changes yield results, but cost money, am I better spending that money on a new bike?
Utility Mapping (GIS) by day, volunteer trail mapper by night.
These are replies from guys that know, but one thing I would add is to try dropping your seat. You said you always keep it sky high, and yet you are having OTBs with regularity. Try dropping it for the downs, it makes a huge difference in being able to get your weight back on your bike, allowing you to push your bike through things that would otherwise throw you OTB. You don't have to have a dropper at all, just a quick release. Try that a few times and see what a difference it makes. The times where I ride a down with my seat up, I feel too high on the bike and not in near the control as with it down.
That said, having a new bike is fun! I'm not trying to talk you out of a new bike, but you would have the same issue on the new bike if you always leave the seat up. Hope that helps!
- "The true object of all human life is play" - GK Chesterton
- 2014 Giant Trance 27.5 1
- Team Dirt
- Build It. Ride It.
You sound like you are having a lot of fun going downhill and are going downhill pretty fast.
Adding a shorter stem, which will allow you maneuver around more on your bike, will probably help on the steeper downhill sections. It might help in other situations, but you have to ride the bike differently. Adding a dropper seatpost, bigger tires and running them tubeless can all have a big effect on how your bike rides, and reduce flats.
There is a reason why there are more full suspension bikes coming with short stems, dropper seat posts and big meaty tires than hardtails, those bikes are better for going fast downhill with. At minimum the bike you are talking wanting sounds a lot different than what you are riding now. That's a good reason to have two bikes.
The main difference between hardtails and full suspension demo's you are riding is that the head angle can only get steeper as it compresses as it pivots about the rear axle. Full suspension lets you slacken the front effectively by weighting or compressing the rear. You could compensate some on a hardtail some but not to the same 'degree' literally. Also you are starting out with an inverted stem and sky high seat. Try flipping the stem and dropping the seat for a dh run and see how much more comfortable you are. If you're flatting and trashing rear wheels you have hit speed levels that requires suspension to save you and your ride! Go full suspension and keep this bike for options so one can be worked on and still be able to ride. 69deg is pretty steep these days. If you get a 67deg 140-160mm travel AM bike you'll be stoked. 26ers can be had cheap now with the other two sizes now coming out. And you'll be super flickable to not crash!
I agree with this 100%. I have hardtails, singlespeeds, and an am bike. For gnarlier terrain I could and sometimes ride the hardtails, but I prefer the am bike for best results. I've said it many times, there's nothing like "the best tool for the job". Keep the hardtail and have fun bike shopping
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