Hardtail XC Upgrade to AM/Trail
After couple of years of cross country, I recently started to use my bike on more rough terrain and steeper slopes. I wish I have started it earlier...it is so much fun!
I think from now on I will go to the hills much more often, especially after I saw those singletracks around the town I live.
Anyway, I need your opinion/help in some upgrading of my bike in order to handle better those rocks, roots and smaller jumps downhill.
As I don't have much experience in biking techical trails and steeper slopes, for now I would rather use my "old" hardtail xc bike instead of just buying a full-suspension trail bike. My approach is that if I am able to ride a hardtail on these rocky trails downhill in an acceptable level, I will switch to a more decent trail bike next year.
My bike is this one:
Kellys Bicycles | MAGIC MASTER
I have already ordered:
- new handlebar: Truvativ Hussefelt Risebar 700mm/20mm rise (replacing my 580mm xc handlebar for better coordination)
- new stem: Truvativ Hussefelt 60mm
- a 180mm rotor with an adapter to the front brake.
- new platform pedals (I haven't found the one I like/need)
- new saddle (the one I have now is quite uncomfortable)
- front brake maybe (I will see how the Bengal Helix 3 will work with the bigger rotors and decide accordingly)
I don't care much of the gears and shifters, I am pretty happy with the existing Deore set, it has never let me down.
I know that the fork could be replaced by a more solid 120mm fork, but
1) I don't feel (yet) the need of the additional 20mm, and
2) I would rather buy a used AM bike than a new RockShox.
Guys, can you advise anything else I could do in order to end up with a AM-like hardtail? I know I have the limitations, as this bike is built mainly for xc, but in that category I find it quite promising.
It might be that I have narrowed down the possibilities, but I really need your opinion in order to enjoy it much more and be safe in the same time (I don't hesitate much whether I should do a jump downhill or not )
Thank you guys in advance!
There isn't much more you can do to make your HT more AM oriented. The geometry of most HT frames are usually steeper than an all-mountain frame. Although putting a 120mm fork may help, it does put your front tire out there more than it should and you could find your bike much less responsive. You also risk cracking your head tube on jumps and steep drops with the added stress to it. The frame is what it is, but that doesn't mean you still can't tear up the rocky descents. You just have to find different lines, which will also make you a better biker. When you finally do get that FS setup, it will just become that much easier. One upgrade that could come in handy is a dropper seatpost. Also maybe a new set of wheels or going tubeless is another option.
Ride it until you brake it, while saving for the bike of your dreams.
It also helps to keep a XC bike as a back up bike or going to smoother trails
i did the same with a giant talon. i ended up replacing everything on it towards AM & i loved it. the response is great as i was running a 50mm stem w/ 740mm flat bar and a 120mm fork. that lasted almost a yr to the day and i ended up swapping all the components to a new AM HT frame. only reason i jumped to a cromo frame is cause i like to get bit of altitude and like a lil flex & the talon frame was not confidence inspiring in that dept. now i have a stock XC T1 and a badazz canfield N9.
Usually you can increase your travel by 20mm and be okay, but do not exceed 20mm. I recently went from an 80mm to a 100mm (its 29er) and it was just fine.
I set up my Rockhopper for AM and technical trail riding recently. I found the biggest differences were a good Fox fork with more travel, better brakes, and an upgraded shifter/RD (changed gearing to 1x9 so I removed the FD and front shifter).
I ride a good bit of AM stuff with my bike, and have been for about 6 months. I don't feel like having an HT bike slows me down. I'm sure going FS would be easier, but I like the challenge and it keeps me sharp - always improving my skills!
Good luck and I hope it works out for you.
Yeah u can't really tell there's an extra 20mm until its comes to travel. If you're not using all 100mm of travel regularly then I wouldn't upgrade to a 120 just due to the extra weight you won't be using. If you do decide to get more aggressive then definately go 120. GL and keep us posted
The X-Fusion HILO is one of the few that you can be usd without a remote via a lever under the seat. Its a pretty nifty seat post. I've messed with on a demo bike and it seem to work well. Its gotten average reviews, but at the price range, its a nice option to get into the dropper seat post. You can find a brand new one for around $250.00. You'll just need to find a shim that will work since they only come in 27.2, 30.9 and 31.6 diameters.
Originally Posted by asker
So I have finally upgraded my bike and did some serious test runs. Since I made the changes, I rode only on heavy terrain (mainly because I wanted to, but I wasn't lucky with the weather either: heavy rain, slippery rocks and roots made it quite technical).
So here are my impressions:
- Much better handling of the bike due to the wider bars (580 flat to 700 riser) and shorter stem (120 to 60). Significant difference in steep sections and tight corners.
It turned out to be a small disatvantage during uphill rides (I expected this). Usage of bar-ends might help, it could be a good combination with the 700mm wide bars (maybe I will give it a try), but to be honest I wouldn't use wider on my xc hardtail. I need a bit different riding style uphill with this setup, but it was easy to get used to.
- More reliable brakes only by using bigger rotors in the front (160 to 180). In the first place I was thinking about changing my brakes, but I decided to change the rotors first and see how it works. The difference is huge and I found this an important upgrade for am riding.
- Pedals: if you are thinking of upgrading your xc bike for am use and you ride uphill a lot (like I do), you should consider using clipless pedals. (I chose flat pedals, but just because this is my one and only all-round bike and for me using clipless is just unconvenient in many cases.) You have the benefit of better coordination by using longer bars and shorter stem, but your riding position just doesn't fit the geometry of the bike in uphill riding (let's assume you have an xc bike that fits perfect to your body size). If you are fit, or can adjust your riding style to these changes, it is still a minor thing, but using clipless pedals could help a lot.
Fork: I decided not to upgrade the fork by additional 20mm travel, I just played a bit with the air pressure and SAG. It still doesn't move the whole 100mm...
I can feel, that I am pushing this bike to it's limits now, especially I can see the limitations of the fork. It is not the 100mm travel that worries me (wouldn't be much of a difference with a similar 120mm), but it is just too weak, simply was not made for am riding. It was out of question changing it, too much money for additional 20mm travel.
My final conclusion was that I will buy a full-suspension bike next year.
Until then I will enjoy my hardtail, which became a really fun bike to ride and try not to brake it. I still have to improve my skills (especially cornering), buying a new bike is just another good motivation for me.
Depeneding on your preferences, riding style, or if you know what you want to do with your bike, you might buy a proper all-mountain bike in the first place. If you have a xc bike, and want to try something more than xc, but need some experience first, I would say with some affordable modifications, you can get closer to it and see if it is something that you want.
It worked for me, (am)biking became more fun and safe(!). I realised that this is what I want to do, pedaling up long technical trails in order to enjoy the downhill afterwords. I KNOW that I need a better bike for this, and not beacuse I read it on the forums...
One mor thing: dropper seatpost...I really need one! It will be a stock part on my next bike for sure!
Have you thought about a slackset?
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