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  1. #1
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    Tune a XC to be AMish

    Recently dusted off my ol '02 giant NRS Air and have been hitting the trails around houston. Still love the old bike but i don't know if the trails have become more rooty and technical or im just riding harder nowdays, but I've already supermanned once and seem like i have to bail at times I'd rather not, all because of the really low and forward weight bias of this bike. I know that's what it's designed to be, but am thinking I'd like to tune it a bit to handle slightly more technical stuff, but try to maintain it's lightweight responsiveness.

    Things Im considering are:

    -replace long neck with shorter one, bring the bars back maybe an inch or more. Use as an excuse to upgrade to a CF if I can justify it.

    -noticed my seat post has no setback, so replace with a post with at least 1" setback, and use as excuse to upgrade to cf also?

    -replace flat and narrow handlebar with one with some rise and more width, and again use as excuse for CF.

    -maybe put a fatter tire up front, currently running wtb nano 2.1 front and back.

    I've already dropped my seat which has helped a lot, since I don't do much distance riding it works well for running the trails.

    Ground clearance also seems to be becoming an issue, but I think my shock just needs more air to prevent some sag.

    Nor planning to yet, but would a longer fork be a terrible idea? (I'm thinking yes...)

    Any thoughts or input? Am I adulterating a XC to try to make it into something it's not?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Shorten stem to no lower the 70mm maybe 90mm depending on what u have. Riser bars would help clearing obstacles easier. I guess a setback seat could help to get some more weight behind the rear tire. 2.1's on a XC bike are fine, and maybe upgrade to a nicer fork like say a Reba, or Fox RL all 120mm of course. Or you could just buy a new bike!

  3. #3
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    On the XC spectrum, the NRS is VERY XC. Just ride it how it is. Get a new bike when you can.

  4. #4
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    Yeah the geo just isn't going to be cut out for riding gnar gnar stuff, sorry to tell you. The wider bars won't actually pull your weight back, it'll pull it forward even more; as I found out. You will need to compensate with an even shorter stem, one that your bike wasn't probably designed around. Other geo that will affect your bike handling and descent stability will be the head angle which without looking yours up I would say would be over 70* which for descents isn't the most confidence inspiring. You can make the changes you said, and they may help a little bit, but in the end you'll spend money into your bike and you still won't be confident.

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  5. #5
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    The NRS is NOT built for taking hits, so don't try it.

    If you want it to stick to the trail better, some fat-ish 2.3 medium compound tyres will make it hold lines better. A short-ish stem 70-90mm will make it a bit sharper, but leave the rest as is.

    The NRS is a very xc type bike, trying to make it tougher will just leave with a heavy NRS that doesn't handle very well.

  6. #6
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    if you're not heavy, go for it. a light person hitting stuff (not doing feeride stuff, but reasonable sized stuff) should be well within XC race design limits i think..
    also if you're still running the original shock, a 100mm reba or similar might work massively better.. i'd give it a go if you're not planning on anything too hardcore.

  7. #7
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    Yeah I'm not looking to take big hits, and I probably need to add that I still love this bike in 90% of what I do. It really just comes down to trying to be more stable flying over increasingly rooty trails. The balance of the bike just gets sketchy in these situations and sometimes with the wrong speed and root spacing, it can grab and toss you forward. It feels like a little bit of repositioning could help a lot, but I'm just not sure if this is acceptable or a big no-no

  8. #8
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    the modifications you mentioned will definitely make that bike more "AM" and less XC.....I have the same bike and I did the same thing before I got a "real" AM bike.

    My bike was designed around a 80 mm for and I slapped a 100 mm fork and it felt fine....but eventually I moved on to a different bike because I started to injure my wrists from always bottoming out the fork.

  9. #9
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    Shorter stem ( IMO no longer than 70mm), wider bars (28"-30"), dropper seat post, and little longer fork would be ok. These things will make the bike handle better while descending but proper riding position is most important. I would sell the bike and buy something more "all mountain" before I dropped a bunch a $$ in this bike though.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomhauer View Post
    Recently dusted off my ol '02 giant NRS Air and have been hitting the trails around houston. Still love the old bike but i don't know if the trails have become more rooty and technical or im just riding harder nowdays, but I've already supermanned once and seem like i have to bail at times I'd rather not, all because of the really low and forward weight bias of this bike. I know that's what it's designed to be, but am thinking I'd like to tune it a bit to handle slightly more technical stuff, but try to maintain it's lightweight responsiveness.

    Things Im considering are:

    -replace long neck with shorter one, bring the bars back maybe an inch or more. Use as an excuse to upgrade to a CF if I can justify it.

    -noticed my seat post has no setback, so replace with a post with at least 1" setback, and use as excuse to upgrade to cf also?

    -replace flat and narrow handlebar with one with some rise and more width, and again use as excuse for CF.

    -maybe put a fatter tire up front, currently running wtb nano 2.1 front and back.

    I've already dropped my seat which has helped a lot, since I don't do much distance riding it works well for running the trails.

    Ground clearance also seems to be becoming an issue, but I think my shock just needs more air to prevent some sag.

    Nor planning to yet, but would a longer fork be a terrible idea? (I'm thinking yes...)

    Any thoughts or input? Am I adulterating a XC to try to make it into something it's not?

    Thanks!
    Shorter stem, wider/higher bars, bigger tires all around. Saddle position should stay where it is best for pedaling. Same with saddle height. If you want to drop it for descents, get a quick release seat collar, of if you have the $ to spend, a remote dropper post. What do you mean by "ground clearance"? If it is an issue of your chainrings, think about replacing the big ring with a bash guard.

    These things will make it feel more stable in the rough stuff. Just keep in mind that this is a lightweight xc bike, and not meant for hucking off big drops.

    I would not bother with a bigger fork or wheelset, if you are pushing the limits of the fork and wheels, you are likely also pushing the limits of the frame.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  11. #11
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    try an adjustable fork 85-130mm; Tora U-turn probably the cheapest option

  12. #12
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    An XC bike is all you need around Houston. Any thing more than 120 mm of travel is over kill. I will agree that the trails at Memorial park have a lot more exposed roots than ten years ago. That is our most used trail system. Try riding Cypresswood or Double Lake, the roots are not nearly as bad.

  13. #13
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    Let's not forget the roots of MTB. In the early days the first "free riders" were riding steep tech lines and eventually hitting drops with no suspension, long stems and steep head angles. By today's standards, you're not going to turn an old xc bike into an AM bike with modern AM capabilities, but a good rider could definitely ride a NRS down gnarly trails better than a poor rider on a modern 6" bike. Put the fattest tires you can on that thing, shorten up the stem, drop the saddle, and go ride any trail you want. Of course hucking is not recommended for fear of equipment failure, but riding steep tech won't brake an xc bike.

  14. #14
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    Let's not forget the roots of MTB. In the early days the first "free riders" were riding steep tech lines and eventually hitting drops with no suspension, long stems and steep head angles. By today's standards, you're not going to turn an old xc bike into an AM bike with modern AM capabilities, but a good rider could definitely ride a NRS down gnarly trails better than a poor rider on a modern 6" bike. Put the fattest tires you can on that thing, shorten up the stem, drop the saddle, and go ride any trail you want. Of course hucking is not recommended for fear of equipment failure, but riding steep tech won't brake an xc bike.
    I agree, wide tires, shorter stem/wider bars and slam the seat, it is surprising what an XC designed bike can do, particularly for riders who weigh less than 150 pounds (70 KG).

  15. #15
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    I have a Trek 4900 frame with a Bomber 100mm fork on the front. I've been bashing the hell out of that thing on Western PA roots and rocks for about 10 years now and it has held up fine. I'm about 150lbs geared up though.

  16. #16
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    I had an NRS back in 2002, good xc bike, mine had 80 mm forks, I measured the true travel to be 1 1/2inches of travel. front and rear. they lied and said it was 3 inches. I added a 115mm fork, but it altered the geometry, not good.
    Gets some trail rated tires for loose over hard and wet. I recommend WTB weirwolfs. 2.1, I don't think the 2.3s will fit. like everyone else said, just ride it and no technicals. BTW with the low bars this bike is scarey on drops and downhills it feel as though you are going head first rather than bike first.
    good luck, I think it's time for new bike!!

  17. #17
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    I am just estimating on pricing here, but..

    CF Stem - $125
    CF Bars - $80
    CF SP - $75
    New tires - $70
    New Fork - $300 +

    So you are talking of getting about $600+ of parts onto your 9 year old XC bike, in order to make it more like a modern trail bike. Why not save that money, keep saving for the rest of the summer, and then toward the end of the year, when the '12 bikes start hitting shelves, find a good deal at your local shop. Something like a Jamis XCT, Specialized Camber, Trek Fuel, ETC, ought to run you between $1000 and $1200. Then sell your old bike, and enjoy the new ride!

    Good luck!

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    Shorter stem, wider/higher bars, bigger tires all around. Saddle position should stay where it is best for pedaling. Same with saddle height. If you want to drop it for descents, get a quick release seat collar, of if you have the $ to spend, a remote dropper post. What do you mean by "ground clearance"? If it is an issue of your chainrings, think about replacing the big ring with a bash guard.

    These things will make it feel more stable in the rough stuff. Just keep in mind that this is a lightweight xc bike, and not meant for hucking off big drops.

    I would not bother with a bigger fork or wheelset, if you are pushing the limits of the fork and wheels, you are likely also pushing the limits of the frame.
    One more thing: I would not waste your money on carbon fiber anything on this bike until you KNOW you like the changes and plan on keeping the bike.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by kapusta View Post
    One more thing: I would not waste your money on carbon fiber anything on this bike until you KNOW you like the changes and plan on keeping the bike.
    I agree, I wouldn't invest in any nice parts. You can find used parts that will still be an upgrade over 02 parts for super cheap on ebay, pinkbike, etc.. You should be able to find a 70mm stem on ebay for 20 bucks, wider bars 20 bucks.... There are so many deals on used parts it's crazy. No sense in dropping cash on high end parts for an 02 bike when you don't even know if you'll ever be happy with it. QR seat collar is a must if you don't have one! Guys that don't lower their saddle don't know just how bad they are cheating themselves.

  20. #20
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    Im all for trying things but I don't think you guys suggesting stuff have ridden an NRS. It rides like a hard tail XC race bike. Changing the cockpit for comfort is one thing but "tuning it AM" well It just isn't suited for this, ride it like it was meant to be or move on IMO.
    Whats this line for?

  21. #21
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    I agree it's not worth spending the money to try and turn a NRS into and AM bike by today's standards, but a good rider could certainly ride a NRS with the best of them as long as we're not talking about drops, gaps etc.. Fatter tires alone even on a full rigid will let a good rider have a go at riding more advanced terrain. I learned to ride steeps, tech, drops, and gaps on a hard tail with 100mm travel fork and 110 stem because that's what I owned and I couldn't afford to buy a better bike suited to my style. Now I have a bling nomad and laugh at what I used to ride on that pos hardtail, but I had no choice back then. If you can't afford a modern AM bike but want to make the bike you own more of an all around type bike, simple things like stem, tires, bars will make a noticeable difference. Of course a NRS will never be a nomad, but changing the build will let an NRS owner ride a grater variety of terrain with more confidence for little money.

  22. #22
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    Don't waste your money. It's SUPER geared towards XC and it will never ride like an AM bike. You will end up sinking a whole lot of money into it to find this out.

  23. #23
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    update on the NRS

    Sorry didnt realize so many posts on here.

    I need to reiterate - Im not trying to take big drops etc. It's just really rooty trails out ehre and I want to fly over this stuff faster, and part of being faster is not fearing that I'll fly over the bars every time I encounter a root!

    I came back here to update because I had a strange occurrence- my rear shock had apparently been leaking air and was getting softer, which in turn gave me a bit of sag and made the rear a lot floatier. Before I noticed this was happening, I first noticed that the bike was handling the trails friggin great... roots just seemed to float by, and cornering started to get less scary. I figured I was just adapting to it and getting back in the groove.. although it seems like I was starting to hit my pedals on more stuff. then a friend noticed how much I was sagging, and sure enough, on the last ride, i managed to bottom it just doing some simple stuff. Rear shock had lost about half it's pressure in the top (and apparently the bottom doesnt hold air at all). I added the air back before riding today, and it back to scary forward-biased root jarring rides again

    anyway, lesson learned - a floatier ride, and transferring everything rearward a bit made the bike WAY better for these particular trails. So this tells me taller bars etc will help quite a bit, but ultimately I really need something that can float of this terrain a lot better.

  24. #24
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    and btw guys, thanks for all the input.

  25. #25
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    Yeah although the NRS will take lots of abuse, the rear-shock will definitely limit how far you can go....its supposed to be setup with zero sag, but like you mentioned, having it sag does help it float over the bumps....good luck....

    Also like I mentioned in my earlier post, I tried a 100mm fork but it was not nearly enough for what I was doing with the bike. My next bike had a 140 mm fork and boy could I tell the difference.

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