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  1. #1
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    What geometry makes a good technical climber?

    I am in search of new hardtail with emphasis on aggressive XC. I've seen posts here and there that mention some specific hardtails as excellent climbers on technical climbs. Blue Pigs, and on one 456 came up.

    They share slack head angle paired with steep seat tube angle and slightly longer chainstay than some out there.

    I want to be able to climb rooty, steep sections for short bursts

    Right now I am considering the 456 EVO and the 456b and Kona explosif

    any thoughts would be welcome.
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  2. #2
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    Not sure how a slack head angle makes for a good technical climber. How does that work?
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  3. #3
    > /dev/null 2&>1
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    For better technical climbing, you want steeper head angle, short chainstays, shorter overall wheel base. . . Which is the opposite of what you usually want for all mountain riding /descending.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Procter View Post
    For better technical climbing, you want steeper head angle, short chainstays, shorter overall wheel base. . . Which is the opposite of what you usually want for all mountain riding /descending.
    Thank you for clearing that up. My 12 year old FS 26er actually has an adjustable rear suspension mount that changes the head angle from 71 to 72.5 degrees to make it more climbing and cornering oriented.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Procter View Post
    For better technical climbing, you want steeper head angle, short chainstays, shorter overall wheel base. . . Which is the opposite of what you usually want for all mountain riding /descending.
    That is what I would normally think as well. In fact I have that exact bike: a custom made BREW in 72 HA, 16.3 chainstay. It is ok but not earth shattering on technical climbs.

    I have just seen enough anecdotal comments about the technical climbing ability of AM hardtails with steep seat tube/slack head angle to think there is something there.
    Yes, these are just a few people here and there on the forums talking about how their Blue pig is the best technical climber they've ever had. But I don't see that same gushing in the forums over steeper head angle, short chainstays, shorter overall wheel base.
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  6. #6
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    In my opinion head angle isn't all that important for climbing. Yeah slacker HA ride different when climbing, but not in a way that is detrimental for me. My hardtail and current full suss have head angles about 65 degrees, and they climb just fine. Yes the steering is slower, but you get used to it, and if anything it puts the wheel weight further forward helping keep the front of the bike down. Seat angle I can understand, puts your hips over the pedals where they need to be to climb properly.

    Saying that though the bikes you (OP) list have those head angles to make the descend better, not to make them climb better.

    Stu
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  7. #7
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    For technical climbs full of rocks and roots, I'd actually be looking at shorter travel full suspension bikes, not hardtails. Everyone freaks out about a tiny bit of bob when climbing, but that softness absorbs the impacts of the obstacles, maintains traction better, and doesn't rob you of your forward momentum, which is pretty important. I'm faster on techy climbs with my squishy 33lb 8" bike than I was on my 26lb xc hardtail. But if you are set on hardtails, I'd have a look at a Canfield Yelli Screamy. Light, short stays, slack head angle, and is super agile. It will climb with the best of them, and descend better than all of them.
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  8. #8
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    I personally have not found a slack head angle to have any negative effect on steep tech climbing.

    I changed the HA on my GT Sensor from 69.5 to 67.5 and it actually climbed a little better with the slack HA. That was not directly due to the HA change, but possibly related to the fit of the bike and my riding style. I tend to stand and lean forward on steep climbs. That can put too much weight on the front which can cause the front wheel to hang up on obstacles. With the 69.5 HA, I had to intentionally extend my arms to keep weight off the front, not as much at 67.5.

  9. #9
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    Look for a longer chainstay to compensate the HA slackness, it will control the "flip flap" motion of the front wheel when going up step terrain and switchback.
    It will also give you more room for body english movement in tech climb

  10. #10
    > /dev/null 2&>1
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    Yeah I agree that you get used to the slack head angle and eventually get to the point where it doesn't slow you down. But, on one of my bikes I run a Talas 130-150 and dropping to 130 (which also makes hta probably half degree steeper) does give me more confidence climbing super techy, 'almost-not-gonna-make-it' rocky chum which needs to be picked through like a mine field. But, I'll say rooty climbing can be a different beast - often the roots are somewhat parallel to each other and it's not so much about navigating a mine field with lots of steering input, it's more about picking a line and powering through it with careful attention to fore aft weight if forced to stand.

    But, I agree with Rhinos here that hardtails are at a serious disadvantage for any of that, will require standing and balancing precariously as opposed to sitting and powering through, and will have less traction overall.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Procter View Post
    For better technical climbing, you want steeper head angle, short chainstays, shorter overall wheel base. . . Which is the opposite of what you usually want for all mountain riding /descending.
    I would argue the opposite.

    A long wheelbase, with the most central riding position possible makes for the best climbing, a bike that allows you to stay in the middle and just keep pedalling regardless of how rough the ground is.

    Short bikes are great at switchbacks but prone to looping out on technical stuff. As for the head angle, in isolation it's irrelevant, the best climbing bike I own has a 64 degree head angle, but it works with the rest of the geo.

  12. #12
    > /dev/null 2&>1
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    Re: What geometry makes a good technical climber?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fix the Spade View Post
    I would argue the opposite.

    A long wheelbase, with the most central riding position possible makes for the best climbing, a bike that allows you to stay in the middle and just keep pedalling regardless of how rough the ground is.

    Short bikes are great at switchbacks but prone to looping out on technical stuff. As for the head angle, in isolation it's irrelevant, the best climbing bike I own has a 64 degree head angle, but it works with the rest of the geo.
    Right, it really depends on the terrain. Minefields of rocks / boulders requiring lots of line adjustments, and tight switchbacks, will benefit from quicker steering response and shorter wheelbase. But yes, there's plenty of climbs where the short wheelbase hurts and makes fore /aft balance harder. For OP, it really depends on the character of his trails, how tight and twisty they are, and what kind of roots we're talking about here.

  13. #13
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    I think the short chainstay argument is rooted in standing weight distribution while climbing. You can stand and lean forward without loosing too much weight on the rear tire. I owned a Fisher Montare with elevated chainstays (one of two MTBs with those back in the 80s) and it climbed great. The short chainstay was also the argument for the Cannondale 26/24 and Raleigh Trials 26/24 being better climbers (although the Cannondale was compensating for thicker chainstays and trying to maintain a standard wheelbase). Old Trials Motorcycles were based on steep headtube angles and short swingarms and climbed well (at slow speeds) but hill climber bikes always had long swingarms to keep the weight forward. If I were building a bike for technical climbs and all other considerations were secondary, I'd go steep/short. I'd really like to see a 24"x5" fatbike for this very purpose, I'd buy one. They make one with a 12" frame, but I couldn't use that.
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  14. #14
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    I just took a look at the geo of Kona Explosive. I compared it to my old Xprezo captain Tork and my present Kona Honzo (both are steel bike, that alone make huge difference for HT bikes).
    The Xprezo was a jet climber, throw everythings in front and pedal, it will go. But going down was a different story. I had the Lucky to be alive feeling when I was clearing down tech stuff. That why i went for the Kona Honzo. slacker HA, longer CS. and changed the stem for a bit longer one.
    You can also cheat your geo by modifying some of your cockpit components,

    Fix the Spade- 64 degree and good climber, I have intereste , what's your bike ?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cadoretteboat View Post
    Fix the Spade- 64 degree and good climber, I have intereste , what's your bike ?
    Custom!

    Short at the back, long at the front. A lot of designers seem to move the rear axle forward when they create a bike with short stays, when really they should move the bb backwards within the existing wheelbase. So far the limit to what I can climb on it is my legs, keeping the front wheel on course is very easy.

  16. #16
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    Nice work Fix The Spade..... is it your works ?

  17. #17
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    Damn, that is a mean-looking bike.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cadoretteboat View Post
    Nice work Fix The Spade..... is it your works ?
    No, Stout is nothing to do with me, I just handed Matt some money and a drawing, he did the actual work.

  19. #19
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    Re: What geometry makes a good technical climber?

    69 or 70 deg head angle.
    Last edited by TracksFromHell; 4 Days Ago at 10:21 PM.

  20. #20
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    I'd argue that longer chainstays gives you much better leverage to clean technical obstacles uphill. To me long stays and steep seat tube angles make the best climbers (like my Bronson) but I'll keep an open mind if someone can prove this wrong...
    I do agree that HTA doesn't play as big a part as some might be concerned with if you use good form. At extreme angles (less than 65 deg) you can get the front wheel out too far forward tho which would be noticeable.

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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fix the Spade View Post
    Custom!

    Short at the back, long at the front. A lot of designers seem to move the rear axle forward when they create a bike with short stays, when really they should move the bb backwards within the existing wheelbase. So far the limit to what I can climb on it is my legs, keeping the front wheel on course is very easy.
    Can you describe the geometry of the Stout. I've talked with Matt and like his philosophy on frame design.

    Right now I am leaning towards an On One 456EVOII just to test similar geometry out before going custom
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  22. #22
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    geo doesn't matter as long as your wheels are 27.5.

  23. #23
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    No no 27.5 in front and 26 in the back, now geo doesn't matter.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gman086
    I'd argue that longer chainstays gives you much better leverage to clean technical obstacles uphill. To me long stays and steep seat tube angles make the best climbers (like my Bronson) but I'll keep an open mind if someone can prove this wrong...
    I'm of the opinion that having nearly 100% of your weight on the rear wheel creates the best chance to clean technical obstacles uphill without your rear tire spinning out. This can be done on long chainstay bikes by pulling up hard on the bars with your pedal strokes, or with less arm strength spent pulling up on a short chainstay bike. Technical advantage to a front end that comes up easily imo.

    On a non-technical climb when you don't want to spend effort and energy managing the front end, like a long semi-steep fire road climb, long chainstays might be nice to have so you can relax your upper body while climbing and not think about it too much.

  25. #25
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    For me I prefer longer chainstay for climbing since it has more leverage, also it's more stable to prevent front end lift up.

    Been doing research with my adjustable rear end singlespeed 400mm - 430mm.
    The shorter is heavier more muscle work but it's more direct - it's tiring and power consuming but the result is faster climb but demand to pedal harder, compare to the longer chain stays I can pedal with ease though to get faster I have to pedal faster not harder. Fatigue wise since I am spinner I prefer longer - I am off the saddle most of the time I climb, I don't have strong legs I use all my body weight to pedal.

    As for HTA steep or slack I don't really notice the drag different cause by the structure/construction all I feel is different in steering handling. The only noticeable in HTA is for off-road descend the slackers the more impact absorbing.

    Gyazo - 216d67762b2799c5137f56adb340897b.png

    Now I run 425mm chainstay because it's the best for me both climb and controlr wise, don't want longer or shorter than that just 425mm for me.

    I've been singlespeed for aorund 3 years now I run 7 speed 32x(15,17,19,21,23,25,28) I climb around 10-15% though I am not sure since my speed is around 5-7kph on the steep climb also I rather walk if the speed less than 4kph which is my walk on climb speed.

    @TS
    I recommend Kona since I ride Kona as well, mine is 2010 XC race but the XC trail version has same geometry with short fork. What I like about Kona is the geometry is a short travel XC trail, I love the 71/68 STA/HTA with 470mm fork on 26".

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