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  1. #1
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    Riding a big bike with XC race guys. Anyone else do this?

    I only own "all mountain" bikes and have no interest in owning an XC bike. I just don't feel comfortable on a short travel steep head angled bikes. I like long technical rides of 20-30 miles and don't mind hauling the extra weight so I can let it all hang out on the downhill and technical sections.

    I often ride with friends who race XC and are on bikes that are a good 8 lbs or more lighter than what I'm riding. In addition, I carry a loaded Camelbak vs their single water bottle and little tool kit strapped under their saddle. By my calculations, between the bike and the gear, I'm carrying at least 12 additional lbs. It never really seems to matter until two of them call and want to go for a ride, then it turns into some crazy hammerfest and I get crushed. Yeah, I can, and do, smoke them on the downhill and highly technical sections but the distance they put between us on the extended climbs and flats is huge. It's humbling and a real ego crusher.

    I'd like to put this in perspective though. Lets assume that our fitness levels were identical, which they're not BTW. How much difference would their be, if one of their clones was riding with my bike and gear? Or, am I just making excuses here and I need to man up, and take my fitness to the next level? Also, does anyone else ride with groups like this? Can you hang? Do you get crushed?

    BTW, I often ride an exceptionally technical trail system with lots of super steep rocky descents with drops and can't typically get my XC race bros to ride there with me.
    Last edited by KYMtnBkr; 08-01-2011 at 09:35 AM.

  2. #2
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    Who cares if you get crushed on the climbs, that only matters in a race. Of course, less weight tends to translate into more speed, all other things being equal. Dont forget you have the option of playing the "you're a sissy because you don't ride technical trails with me" card with your friends. I think a new Slayer built up nice and light would be a perfect bike for the majority of my riding, even if it is a bit slower on the uphills. It's all about what makes the ride the most fun for you.

  3. #3
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    Dont forget you have the option of playing the "you're a sissy because you don't ride technical trails with me" card with your friends.
    I did not mean to suggest that my friends were giving me $h!t about my pace. They're not and I don't think of them as sissies, just different types of riders. I happen to also like XC and doing it on a long travel bike. Some of them just prefer keeping the RPMs maxed and don't enjoy extremely technical trails. I can respect that. I guess I just wish I was one those super human guys that can ride a 160mm bike as fast as most on XC bikes. We all know someone like that don't we? I'm not one of them. And yeah, that new Slayer does look like an awesome rig.

  4. #4
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    do you have pounds to spare? (on your body)
    you could always drop 10-12 lbs. and that would probably make a big difference.

  5. #5
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    I ride and race my 140 mm Cannondale Rize with XC guys. I usually toast them on the DH sections, but do OK on the climbs. I'm not first, but not last either.

    Honestly, you will be a little better climber on the XC rig all things being equal. If you want to get better at climbing, train like the XC racers do. The engine is more important that the bike.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by crewjones View Post
    do you have pounds to spare? (on your body)
    you could always drop 10-12 lbs. and that would probably make a big difference.

    And it's one hell of a lot cheap to drop the weight off your body.
    Lead by my Lefty............... right down the trail, no brakes.

  7. #7
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    I ride with two different group of buddies. One group is slow pace, likes to take pictures and shy away from very technical stuff (mostly XC bikes). Other group is fast pace, balls-to-the-walls and a need for speed (mostly AM bikes 6" travel).

    In group XC, i am the first to climb and the first to descend.

    In group AM, i am last to climb and usually 2nd or 3rd to descend.

    Each group brings something different to the table and I enjoy the cahnge of pace. I usually have to reassure the group XC folks that they are not holding me back. I enjoy riding with them for different reasons.

    So when I feel like doing technical descents, you know which group I am calling up. =)

  8. #8
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    what's the difference between a roadie racer and an xc racer? nothing.

    my buddies and I have one standing rule in our chapter : just get to the cooler BEFORE the beer gets too warm. (adjust as needed to gain maximum results and don't drink alone)
    Last edited by 53119; 08-01-2011 at 10:25 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by KYMtnBkr View Post
    I Lets assume that our fitness levels were identical, which they're not BTW. How much difference would their be, if one of their clones was riding with my bike and gear? Or, am I just making excuses here and I need to man up, and take my fitness to the next level? Also, does anyone else ride with groups like this? Can you hang? Do you get crushed?
    I have a FR bike (built light to be “pedal-able”), and an XC hardtail racebike (built a little heavy to make it a “do-almost-everything-bike”).
    There is no comparison.
    If you have to pedal, the XC bike is a faster ride… and unless the downhills get quite rough or really steep/technical, the XC bike is a faster rolling quicker accelerating more nimble ride.
    On XC rides my XC bike is typically 5-7kmh faster (ave speed at end of ride) than my FR bike... so, a 32km ride my XC bike is approx. 30 minutes faster than my FR bike.

    Having said that, I ride my big bike almost exclusively… even for XC rides.
    My bikes, Slayer 70 and Switch 2

  10. #10
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    How about a backup relatively light wheelset? Put some fast rolling 2.1 tires on there tubeless, and I bet you'll have an easier time keeping up with the xc kids. I have two sets of wheels -- each with identical cassette & rotor -- so swapping out for the ride of the day is a 2 minute job.
    Also, try doing some interval training. That's worked wonders for me in terms of climbing speed. Painful but effective.
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  11. #11
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    To look at it from a different perspective, they might be "letting it all hang out" more than you on the downhills if they're trying to keep up with you on less capable bikes. There can be something enjoyable about the challenge of still trying to go fast and hard with less bike at your disposal.

    Also your ability to smoke them on the downhill likely has more to do with the focus of your riding and how that builds your skill-set than it does with bike differences, just as their ability to kill it on the uphills likely has more to do with their constant focus on trying to do just that.

    Just food for thought

    edit: (another FWIW) There is such a thing as a "middle ground" ya know I'd say the Spitfire shown in your profile is easily capable of becoming a long travel, not-steep head angled XC-ish bike, and it doesn't even look too far off right now. Throw on some lighter tires with better rolling resistance (Nobby Nic 2.4/2.25?), lighten up a few other parts here and there, and you could even risk being downgraded into "trail bike" territory

    I'm throwing all this out there in case you just need a push in some direction. Looks like it boils down to:
    a) life is good, no need to chase other goals based on other people
    b) HTFU and start working on those legs
    c) lighten things up a little to close the gap. Maybe get a second, smaller camelbak for "race" days and only stuff it with essential stuff. Maybe try tires. And so on
    Last edited by boomn; 08-02-2011 at 12:06 AM.

  12. #12
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    Most rides > 10 miles, you ain't gonna beat an XC bike ridden by an XC guy, period! a 10 mile ride is probably 7-8 miles climbing and 2-3 miles descent. You will be left in the dust on the uphills, and if you pushed too hard trying to keep up on the uphills, then you'll burn out.

    On the downhills, now unless it is a dowhill specific course (aka, lift access), most XC guys on XC bikes (I'm talking about 4" or less suspension) WILL hang with you. Sure they might need to walk a couple spots, but they will be right there with out at the bottom, finishing maybe 2 minutes behind you. But you already know they could pull 10 minutes on you on the up, so you lose overall.

    But you ride a long travel bike because it's fun. Do it for the fun factor. The minute you start trying to compete against them XC bikes to see who'll finish first, yer gonna be disappointed if ain't a lift access kinda ride!

  13. #13
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    To TS... Riding with XC guys? Yea all the time, just about every weekend ride year round.

    Look past the ego issues... no point even trying to argue or justify "my bike is heavy and therefore can't compare on climbs..." Its not just the weight, the geometry and the suspension plays a big part as well. saying this cos prior to bigger bikes I went thru 12-13 straight years with hardtail XCs. But all the time was missing my bmx days air time... can't justify a DH bike as most time terrain just isnt there. AM was my answer but had to compensate the gain in fun factor over the loss is climbing efficiency... Overall its still a winning situation....


    .....while I heave and puff really hard after awhile with my bigger AM bike doing 2 laps on one of my short local xc trail for example... I hit the same trail for 5 laps straight and still was not as winded when doing a review for some weenie xc bike just a short while back.


    Yea-- there are biking trips my xc riding friends wont even consider joining me on. I would really love to see them push all the way down. Just came back from one last month

  14. #14
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    do you have pounds to spare? (on your body)
    you could always drop 10-12 lbs. and that would probably make a big difference.
    I could probably lose 10lbs. That would put me at 150 or so. After that I start to reach the point of diminishing returns. Is it really worth giving up the beer for a few more pounds?

    my buddies and I have one standing rule in our chapter : just get to the cooler BEFORE the beer gets too warm. (adjust as needed to gain maximum results and don't drink alone)
    Awesome rule!

    I have a FR bike (built light to be “pedal-able”), and an XC hardtail racebike (built a little heavy to make it a “do-almost-everything-bike”).
    There is no comparison.
    If you have to pedal, the XC bike is a faster ride… and unless the downhills get quite rough or really steep/technical, the XC bike is a faster rolling quicker accelerating more nimble ride.
    On XC rides my XC bike is typically 5-7kmh faster (ave speed at end of ride) than my FR bike... so, a 32km ride my XC bike is approx. 30 minutes faster than my FR bike.

    Having said that, I ride my big bike almost exclusively… even for XC rides.
    This is exactly the type of answer I was seeking. I wanted someone to quantify the the effect that different types of bikes (my type in particular) have, on a specific ride, with all else being equal. Thanks Mike H., this is a better answer than I anticipated.

    How about a backup relatively light wheelset?
    I've been there and done that. Anyone want to buy some used rims? No pics, sold as is, no returns, you bought them they're yours, no complaints.

    There is such a thing as a "middle ground" ya know I'd say the Spitfire shown in your profile is easily capable of becoming a long travel, not-steep head angled XC-ish bike, and it doesn't even look too far off right now. Throw on some lighter tires with better rolling resistance (Nobby Nic 2.4/2.25?), lighten up a few other parts here and there, and you could even risk being downgraded into "trail bike" territory
    That was my original plan when I purchased the Spitfire. However, I've actually moved the Spitfire more into all mountain territory since that photo was taken. The 65mm stem has been swapped out for a 50mm. The stupid light (450gm), Supersonic MK in the rear has since been thrashed and replaced with more suitable meat. I'm, also, probably going to swap the Revelation for a Lyrik up front.

    I also don't like the bike at all in the steeper setting. No matter what the manufacturers say, no bike can be all things. IMO it's a very good AM bike and moving it more towards XC/Trail just makes it mediocre. That's fine with me. I like AM bikes.

    But you ride a long travel bike because it's fun. Do it for the fun factor. The minute you start trying to compete against them XC bikes to see who'll finish first, yer gonna be disappointed if ain't a lift access kinda ride!
    You almost hit the nail on the head, but it doesn't have to be as DH specific as a lift access trail.

    Look past the ego issues... no point even trying to argue or justify "my bike is heavy and therefore can't compare on climbs..." Its not just the weight, the geometry and the suspension plays a big part as well.
    I try to keep my ego in check but it rears its ugly head more often than I would like.

  15. #15
    think
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    Fitness is everything. Don't see a lot of fat world cup DH guys do you?

    Assuming your bike is reasonable (32ish or less I suppose), lighten up or ditch the pack and start getting in shape. Keep an eye to tire weight and choice.

    You have to accept up front that you will have to be fitter than your XC friends to hang with them though, which means you are going to do a lot of work.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by KYMtnBkr View Post
    I only own "all mountain" bikes and have no interest in owning an XC bike. I just don't feel comfortable on a short travel steep head angled bikes. I like long technical rides of 20-30 miles and don't mind hauling the extra weight so I can let it all hang out on the downhill and technical sections.

    I often ride with friends who race XC and are on bikes that are a good 8 lbs or more lighter than what I'm riding. In addition, I carry a loaded Camelbak vs their single water bottle and little tool kit strapped under their saddle. By my calculations, between the bike and the gear, I'm carrying at least 12 additional lbs. It never really seems to matter until two of them call and want to go for a ride, then it turns into some crazy hammerfest and I get crushed. Yeah, I can, and do, smoke them on the downhill and highly technical sections but the distance they put between us on the extended climbs and flats is huge. It's humbling and a real ego crusher.

    I'd like to put this in perspective though. Lets assume that our fitness levels were identical, which they're not BTW. How much difference would their be, if one of their clones was riding with my bike and gear? Or, am I just making excuses here and I need to man up, and take my fitness to the next level? Also, does anyone else ride with groups like this? Can you hang? Do you get crushed?

    BTW, I often ride an exceptionally technical trail system with lots of super steep rocky descents with drops and can't typically get my XC race bros to ride there with me.
    In terms of shortest overall time from point A to B, assuming you start and end at the same elevation, an XC-ish bike is almost always going to be faster, even on pretty gnarly terrain. Even on race courses that are extremely technical, if you are climbing to come back down, most pros are going to be riding shorter travel bikes. The time made up on the way down does not make up for the time lost on the flats and climbs.

    I would think it would go without saying that the difference is small in comparison to the level of fitness and skill of the riders.

    All that said, are you really worried about overall time, or is the shear fun-factor more important? If the joy you get from the bigger rig on the DH is more than the joy you would get from reaching the top a minute earlier, then it sounds like have the right rig.

    Sounds like the guys you ride with are pretty laid back, if they don't mind waiting for you at times, and don't mind having you wait for them on the DHs, sounds like it's all good. I ride with a group sporting everything from weight weinie, xc racing rigs to beefy AM rigs. It is never an issue. If it is, I don't ride with them, and vice verca.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  17. #17
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    i ride an xc bike. i don't race or anything and don't time myself. Looked into an AM bike but got a good deal on my current bike. Glad i ended up with the xc since most of the trails i ride include lots of climbing. If you dig your bike and your friends are cool, i'm sure they understand why you're not keeping up on the climbs. Yeah, don't give up the beer if you don't have too. That would not bee a wise decision

  18. #18
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    I xc race a 2010 Specialized Enduro and been holding my own 2-3rd's and a 5th(hit a tree with my head ouch!) so far this year...everyone else is in their spandex and clipless pedals and I'm in my baggy's and platform's.
    Wouldn't have it any other way!

  19. #19
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    How about a kick in the pants?

    Man up; you picked that bike and modified that bike because that's what you want to ride. Stop whining about it and get up there with the lycra guys and show them how you do it!

    Anyway, I was bending my actual tone a bit there... I ride my 32+ lb 7" travel bike everywhere including the local terrain that is probably much better suited to a hardtail 29er. Our climbs are measured by how many thousand feet you gain and to be honest, if you're riding with the right people no one will ever mind it takes you longer to get to the top. And if it bothers you when you're off the back then you have some motivation to keep them in sight as long as you can.

    You may never be able to keep up with those guys even if you were on the same type of bike so you need to realize that it's up to you to either start training like them or get over being left behind. Sounds like they're legitimately fast, I doubt you have much to feel sorry about for not keeping up on your big bike.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  20. #20
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    You may never be able to keep up with those guys even if you were on the same type of bike so you need to realize that it's up to you to either start training like them or get over being left behind. Sounds like they're legitimately fast, I doubt you have much to feel sorry about for not keeping up on your big bike.
    I'm not trying to blame the bike. I'm just trying to gain some perspective about where I am. If I were riding an identical bike it would be crystal clear. I know that if we were on the same bike I'd still be getting humbled by the guys I rode with the other day. I'd also have a lot less fun. And, I failed to mention that there are some rides when I'm in front even though I'm on the biggest bike. Those guys aren't typically XC racers even though many of them ride XC race bikes.

    There are also days I do shuttle runs with another group. This group is the polar opposite of what I've described in this thread. Most of them ride bigger bikes than myself and some would never consider going out and pedaling for 20-30 miles. Some do though. I probably feel most in my element when riding with this group where my skill set puts me very much in the middle of the pack.

  21. #21
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    last year when I had my Enduro at 30lbs and a SC VP Free I rode my Enduro everywhere including some massive 30+mile 6000ft gain rides in high elevation. There were times some XC riders passed me on the climbs, but I knew all along that I would be able to hang with a lighter more XC bike. So this past winter I decided to give up the FR/DH bike and bought my Epic. At ~7-8lbs lighter the bike is definitely much faster and I can climb till I'm bored, BUT there is just something about my Enduro that gets me off like no 4in bike can. Now when I go for a ride I look at both bikes and usually go for the Enduro, it's just more fun.

    For lap times, I can drop 3-5 minutes off a 12mile loop on the Epic compared to the Enduro. This year I went with lighter tires on the Enduro and a few lighter components, but honestly it really didn't make that much of a difference. It's prob harder to tell because I do ride the Epic and not just the Enduro.

    In the end I would never give up my 6in bike, although a 5in 29er sounds tempting
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    I ride my 32+ lb 7" travel bike.
    Nice, what is it?
    I weighed my 7" coil/coil bike last night, 34.8lbs... saving for a Ti spring.
    Last edited by Mike H.; 08-03-2011 at 08:02 AM.
    My bikes, Slayer 70 and Switch 2

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike H. View Post
    Nice, what is it?
    I weighed my 7" coil/oil bike last night, 34.8lbs... saving for a Ti spring.
    Yeti ASR 7, saving for a CCDB for it which should put it closer to the weight of yours. But the shock is so expensive let alone getting a Ti coil for it so I'm not rushing to save up right now.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  24. #24
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    I know people have said "dont worry about what they think and ride your ride" however you are going on a ride with them so it would be nice to ride "with" them. Everyone seems to have a valid point. You know what you have to do...... fitness level. I have a suggestion that has made my riding so much faster and more ability to keep up/ create momentum. Betterride.net I took this camp in Cincinnati July 1 thru 3 and it made all the difference in the world. My coach was an ex pro downhiller and was all about setting up your bike like an all mountain rig, shorter stem, wide handlebars and a dropper post to be in the proper position. Being in that proper position takes some fitness to stay in, however you will be an overall faster, smoother, and better rider! Its worth the money!
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