1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
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2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
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  1. #1
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    Bike fit results (follow up on "Handlebar Palsy" thread (long...)

    Rather than just bump the original thread I started when my left hand went dead after a week of riding (extreme newbie), I thought I would start a new discussion and get some feedback on the results of getting a bike fit. (If you're interested in the previous discussion as backg, it's located here:

    "Handlebar Palsy" .... experiences?

    I'm a fairly new resident of Albuquerque, NM and chose to get a bike fit session at Sport Systems, a big chain store here. SS has a big ski/snowboard clientele, but the entire lower floor is dedicated to bicycling. They are also a local dealer for Specialized, Kona, Yeti, Santa Cruz, Felt and other bikes. They have a "fitting" room and a full bike repair shop also.

    They have someone there who is trained in the "BG Fit" system, which I understand to be a brand owned/operated by Specialized. In my previous thread someone recommended Retul, but the nearest shop offering that system is in Santa Fe and it was a bit pricey for me at several hundred $$. At my level of experience, I'm pretty certain that a full-motion video, etc. would probably be overkill and just confirm that I need a lot of work on basic techniques.

    My main objectives for this exercise were to:

    1. Rule out the possibility that the bike I purchased (2008 Giant Reign 1--Large frame), was completely wrong for me--worst-case scenario.

    2. Get a good baseline for seat height, seat position and handlebar position.

    3. Get some good advice and get the bike set up to minimize any re-occurrence of the "dead hand" syndrome, which started the whole process.

    Sport Systems/Specialized/BG offers 3 levels of fittings:

    Basic for ~ $40.
    Medium for $70 (this is the one I chose)
    Advanced for ~ $150.00 (includes fitness assessment, range of motion tests, and more).

    I chose the mid-level fitting and will describe my experience here. It included a 1 1/2 hour session (maybe a little longer) with an experienced fitter who had just finished the last steps in the "complete" BG training certification. I believe that he has been doing fittings for some years, but just recently finished up the "highest level" (whatever that means) of the official BG training, for which he flew to San Jose, CA last week. He's also an long-time rider, currently does some road-racing and recently "retired" from competing in triathlons.

    Side note: all the LBS shops I spoke with and visited during my pre-purchase test riding, offered bike fits, either included in the purchase, had I decided to buy a brand-new bike, or a paid fit--generally in the $50-60 price range. Sport Systems was the only one I found who had a formal program, although there may be others. This isn't any comment on the quality of the other shops' offerings, but lacking any real personal recommendations, I thought the Specialized/BG was a good bet.


    As to the fit itself: I arrived and Dave got my bike set up on the test stand after I reinstalled the wheels. (Another side note, and probably the subject of another thread here in the Beginners' Corner. My daily driver is a Porsche 944 in order to get it into the rear hatch area I have to take BOTH wheels off. This is a real PITA, but I don't know if there is bike rack that I can easily fit on that car. As I said, probably subject for another thread.)

    I also brought along the cheap pair of SPD shoes (Forte from Performance Bike) and cleats (Shimano "multi-release) that I purchased, but hadn't set up or used before. Dave helped me install the cleats and the fitting was was done with me clipped in. (I've been a bit leery of trying to ride clipped in, but after this original experience, I think I can manage it with a little more practice.)

    After the bike was strapped into the fitting station and checked for level, the next thing that he did was check the seat for level. He pointed out the fact that it was, in fact, tilted slightly backwards and started by moving it to a level position.

    I climbed on the bike and pedaled a bit while Dave did some preliminary measurements. He then told me that first thing he noticed was that the seat seemed to be too narrow for me. So, off the bike and onto a bench with some kind of compressible gel pad in order to get an accurate measurement of the distance from one "sit bone" to the other. The saddle on the bike was a WTB and the measurements confirmed that it was too narrow for me. This brought up the question of whether I needed to either:

    1. Buy a new saddle then and there

    2. Cut the test short and come back when I had a new saddle

    3. Do the rest of the fitting with a too-narrow saddle. (Not really a choice, IMHO.)

    This kind of rubbed me the wrong way, as I didn't really want to have to make a decision on a new saddle without doing any research, and also didn't want to pay full-retail for something that might not be the best thing for me. But the "finish the test with the existing saddle" made no sense at all, so I decided to trust Dave and get a new, wider saddle there and finish up the fit. (He wasn't high-pressure at all and was perfectly willing to let me go and find the saddle of my choice and return later if I wished, but I figured that it was worth it to just pop for the new seat.) I ended up with a wider (155 mm) Specialized seat for $55.00. To be perfectly honest, I didn't feel a dramatic difference with the new seat, at least not right away. But the measurements that I saw made it pretty clear that the old seat was really not hitting my sit-bones where it should have.

    We installed the new seat, leveled it again then worked on the seat height. Dave had me pedal some more--both clipped in and then with my left foot out of the clips and moved forward on the pedal surface. Lots of checks with a level, which I should have asked more about, but I surmise that he was getting the seat's fore-and-aft position set up so that my shins/knees were in proper alignment with the crank.

    Dave mentioned that the two main areas fitting were the seat and then the handlebar position and that they were relatively independent of one another. I took this to mean that the seat position kind of controls the leg/knee position when pedaling and that has to be a certain way, period. Then you deal with the handlebars.

    Before we moved on to the handlebar questions, he suggested that I should try a bit of DOWNWARD tilt on the seat also. I think the reasoning on this (although I may have misunderstood and I don't want to cast any aspersions on his fitting knowledge or technique due to my mis-duplicating what he said) was to facilitate the proper posture and movement when leaning forward. If you tilt it too low you'll get a feeling of "slipping" forward, but just before that is fine.

    Throughout all of this time we had been discussing the fact that the KEY problem I was having was just a significant lack of core strength along with some fairly bad "bike posture" in general. This lack of core fitness makes it difficult to feel comfortable when leaning forward to reach the bars. The tendency is to kind of "slump" forward and then support my weight on the handlebars. He emphasized, and I agreed, that I need to work on core strength and posture, which was pretty much a foregone conclusion anyway.

    One good tip he had was to imagine a kind of pivot point in the lower back/pelvis and all forward leaning should be done from that "hinge" point--which of course requires some solid core strength, and better posture which will take some time to develop.

    We then moved on to the handlebar problem. The bars I have seem to be wide enough, and they are set level with the seat, which, according to Dave is the generally accepted "normal" position (without getting into the various seat heights for different maneuvers--which is a bit down the road in my case, I think!).

    Dave suggested that for the time being a relatively simple and cost-effective way to address the issue of avoiding the "lean on the bars with cocked wrists" problem, was to install an extension piece in the stem. Kind of a crutch to make riding more fun and easy until I improve in the strength/posture areas. He said that it's obviously not ideal and it would introduce some flakiness into the steering mechanism (think of "ape hanger" bars on a motorcycle/bicycle to extend the analogy to an absurd degree), but that it did offer the possibility of riding in a more upright position for now and moving it down gradually (I think there's about 1 1/2-2" of adjustment available) as I get stronger. We didn't set it to full-extension even now. At some point I can just uninstall it and go back to the original stem position. This made sense to me, so I bought (yep... ;-) ) another little piece from Specialized for about $25. We installed that, and when I got back on the bike the difference was pretty dramatic. I still had to lean forward for the bars, but not nearly as much as before and it felt MUCH easier to lean (from the pelvis, of course!) and grab the handlebars, WITHOUT putting weight on my hands and wrists. I did a few stand-ups in the pedals and tried out my version of the "attack position" (ha, ha) and it was all much easier.

    Downside is that the extension looks pretty dorky, but in the long run I'm thinking and hoping that it will help get me started, have more fun and avoid any further wrist problems which I get in better biking shape.

    With the major stuff out of the way, we BS'd for awhile about core training (maybe some classes at the local Y) and flexibility; what its like to actually do a triathlon, etc., etc.

    So that's what happened. The only thing I felt uncomfortable about was the need to purchase a seat on the spot, but given the choices, I'm OK with my decision to just get the seat and stem extension. Total cost: $162.59 including the seat, extension, fitting and tax.

    I felt pretty good about the overall experience and I would be very surprised if Dave fed me a bunch of misinformation, but hey, if that's the case I'm sure I'll hear about here.

    Now I'm looking forward to a group ride aimed at beginners-to-intermediate trail riders tomorrow. I may even try wearing my cleated shoes!

    Open to any feedback/comments here. And I hope that this might help other beginners who may be considering a bike fitting and what to expect.

  2. #2
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    After your first ride, you won't feel even the slightest remorse about getting a proper fitting saddle. You won't know it, but the narrow saddle would have killed you.

    Interesting about the stem riser, makes sense but I would have never thought of it for someone getting into shape. My suggestion is to get in shape as quickly as possible and dump the thing. The handling of the bike will feel much more natural when you reduce the handlebar stack height.

    Get out and ride your bike already! Also, pics or it didn't happen.
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  3. #3
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    Not surprised you ended up with the bars higher. My experience suggests to me that most upper-body issues are from having the grips too low or too far away.

    Let us know how it goes when you go for a ride. I bet you have a lot more fun, and lose all your doubts about paying for a new saddle. When I got my fit done, I ended up buying a new stem and a set of BG insoles; I regret neither.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    Let us know how it goes when you go for a ride. I bet you have a lot more fun, and lose all your doubts about paying for a new saddle. When I got my fit done, I ended up buying a new stem and a set of BG insoles; I regret neither.
    I went on my first group ride today. It was promoted by one of the local shops and was labeled for "Beginner and Intermediate Riders." Four of us showed up, including the leader. I was, by far the least skilled of the group.

    The other guys were great though, even though it became pretty apparent that I was going to either slow them down or ride by myself--which I offered to do.

    The trail(s) we rode on were new to me, and were a little more than I've been used to. Nothing really bad, but some sections that were rocky and uphill and I had some difficulties.

    I took along my knee and shin guards and hesitated about whether to actually strap them on for the ride, but I'm REALLY glad I did! I took my first really semi-big fall when I lost control on the beginning of an uphill section. I still had enough momentum to be moving along at something more than "very slow" and I got pitched to the left, completely off the bike. Fairly hard fall, but nothing serious happened. My left shin guard, however, has some battle scars that I'm glad aren't on my leg. Even with the shin guard I managed to a scrape--I think from the guard itself.

    The guys were really helpful, the instructor gave me a lot of good tips and I rode for about an hour and a quarter more. I actually fell about 4-5 more times, and lost control and dismounted a few more. I eventually got gassed and decided to let the others enjoy the ride and head back to the parking lot. Again, guys were great and told me to make sure I come back in two weeks for the next one.

    Overall, the bike felt more comfortable, but some issues still with keeping a light and proper grip on the bars. The instructor also questioned the height of the saddle as I can just BARELY get a foot down quickly when I have to. The higher steering post is definitely a drag in slow speed stuff, though--I can feel that already. The bike, being a Giant Reign 1 already has a fairly slack geometry and raising the top of the steering post doesn't help at all. I think I'll be experimenting with that and trying to get back toward the original ASAP.

    The trail itself is probably more than I would have tried on my own, but when I wasn't falling down, I had a blast on some of the swoopy, downhill sections. Felt like I was flying! Trying to learn to relax and "flow", but "flow" is a tough concept when going very slow and climbing!

    I took the camera....but never thought to stop and take pix---I should have given it to one of the other guys and posted some of me lying in the weeds at the side of the trail. Or one of me plowing DIRECTLY into a cactus bush would have been amusing too.

  5. #5
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    Going on group rides is lots of fun, and a good way to learn. I was on one earlier today myself.

    Sometimes good fit for healthy knees and efficiency, good fit for handling, and good fit for being able to dab are three different things. I suspect that with a bike as tall as the Reign must be, it's worse than with bikes that sit lower to the ground, like a short-travel hardtail.

    One of the big differences between XC and trail bikes and AM bikes like yours is head angle. A slacker head angle is really nice on descents - glad you had fun with that, BTW - but can make a bike a real handful to ride at lower speeds, and uphill. From what you're saying, I don't know if that was a problem for you, or if it was more just that you're very high up on that bike.

    Did you use all your suspension travel? If it doesn't cause other problems, you might try using more sag - it could make it a little easier to handle your bike at lower speeds and on climbs. I'm sure there's a disadvantage to lower pressure in the shock - maybe more pedal bob? - but I ride a hardtail, so take the suggestion for what it's worth. An air fork without a compression damper may be prone to nosediving with lower pressure, so keep an eye out for that if you decide to try my idea.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Porschefan
    Overall, the bike felt more comfortable, but some issues still with keeping a light and proper grip on the bars. The instructor also questioned the height of the saddle as I can just BARELY get a foot down quickly when I have to.
    Proper saddle height has absolutely nothing to do with being able to touch the ground. Saddle height should be adjusted for proper pedaling, if you end up in a situation where you feel like you should be able to get a foot down quickly, lower you seat for that section then raise it back up when you get back to pedaling. Lower seat height will help you build confidence but will give your knees hell when you are trying to ride normally. An interesting accessory to help you in this regard would be a dropping seatpost. My wife is loving hers and it's helping her feel much more confident because she can get her seat out of the way without stopping to lower it.

    Sounds like you had a pretty good ride, just lower your stem slowly. I like mine a spacer away from the headset.
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  7. #7
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    Mr. Porschefan, I absolutely love your write-ups. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Zebrahum and AndrwSwitch are (as usually) spot on. So nothing more to add, besides:

    We all started one day, and for most of us it felt very much as you describe it. There is a learning curve. But that's why it is fun, too.
    "Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit." - And I agree.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum
    Proper saddle height has absolutely nothing to do with being able to touch the ground. Saddle height should be adjusted for proper pedaling, if you end up in a situation where you feel like you should be able to get a foot down quickly, lower you seat for that section then raise it back up when you get back to pedaling. Lower seat height will help you build confidence but will give your knees hell when you are trying to ride normally.
    That's what I figured and that's why I didn't lower the seat on the ride when he suggested it. That and the fact that the fitter marked the seat height with tape which I would have had to remove. I'm going to mark it with some white paint or something for a reference in the future... Or just measure it carefully.

    The seat height actually feels pretty good, relative to my body and the bike. It DOES seem like I'm pretty high off the ground, which is probably attributable to the Reign 1 being a rather tall "Large" frame. I think I read a spec that said it was 20". On all the test bikes I rode, I found that a 19" fit me a little better. Next bike....

    That said, I am getting a little better in anticipating an incipient crash or stall and either stepping forward and off, or leaning the direction the bike is falling and getting a foot down.

    I'm glad I didn't try to clip in on this ride though....

    An interesting accessory to help you in this regard would be a dropping seatpost. My wife is loving hers and it's helping her feel much more confident because she can get her seat out of the way without stopping to lower it.
    Interesting....how fast do those mechanisms drop a seat? And I guess it would have to be one of those that you can control from the handlebar to be effective in an emergency situation.

    Sounds like you had a pretty good ride, just lower your stem slowly. I like mine a spacer away from the headsetQ.
    Yes, it had its high points and didn't sour me on continuing.... I was glad when Nick, the leader, suggested that I might have reached the end of my rope when he did though.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch

    Sometimes good fit for healthy knees and efficiency, good fit for handling, and good fit for being able to dab are three different things. I suspect that with a bike as tall as the Reign must be, it's worse than with bikes that sit lower to the ground, like a short-travel hardtail.
    Yes, the Reign is a "tall" bike to start with--maybe a hair too tall, but I hope I can live with it.

    One of the big differences between XC and trail bikes and AM bikes like yours is head angle. A slacker head angle is really nice on descents - glad you had fun with that, BTW - but can make a bike a real handful to ride at lower speeds, and uphill. From what you're saying, I don't know if that was a problem for you, or if it was more just that you're very high up on that bike.
    I can't say anything definite about anything with so little experience, but I do attribute some of my problems to the slack head angle, and the stem extender doesn't help (although I don't think it changes the head angle at all). The bike seems like a handful when trying to keep a steady straight line on any surface--even pavement when going slowly/carefully. For example there's a section of road between my home and a very nearby plot of undeveloped land
    that I sometimes ride to from the house. On the way there is a section of highway protected by a guardrail. The asphalt surface extends behind the guard rail, but it's irregular and the width varies from 2-4 feet and there's a big ravine next to it. I have a devil of a time making sure I don't veer off the edge of that and the slower I go, the worse it gets. I know that's something common to all bi-cycle physics (imagine trying to do a sharp turner on a chopper!), but I think a skilled rider could probably control the Reign at least adequately, so that's my goal.

    Did you use all your suspension travel? If it doesn't cause other problems, you might try using more sag - it could make it a little easier to handle your bike at lower speeds and on climbs. I'm sure there's a disadvantage to lower pressure in the shock - maybe more pedal bob? - but I ride a hardtail, so take the suggestion for what it's worth. An air fork without a compression damper may be prone to nosediving with lower pressure, so keep an eye out for that if you decide to try my idea.
    I didn't bottom out the suspension anywhere that I noticed, and the sag is pretty much set where recommended. As I get more familiar with things I might tinker around with that, but for now I don't want to try too much. After a few more weeks and maybe if I get a chance to ride some other bikes, I'll get a better handle on the low-speed steering, which is what bothers me the most right now.

    The Reign actually seems very plush to me and if I'm nice and relaxed and balanced it seems to soak up rocks and bumps very nicely. But if the front wheel gets deflected by a rock or something, it's very hard to get back on balance before falling or getting off the bike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaba Klaus
    Mr. Porschefan, I absolutely love your write-ups. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Zebrahum and AndrwSwitch are (as usually) spot on. So nothing more to add, besides:

    We all started one day, and for most of us it felt very much as you describe it. There is a learning curve. But that's why it is fun, too.
    Kaba K.--thanks for the encouragement. I enjoy writing up my experiences. I appreciate all the excellent feedback I'm getting too!

  11. #11
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    Quick points...

    Quote Originally Posted by Porschefan
    I have a devil of a time making sure I don't veer off the edge of that and the slower I go, the worse it gets. I know that's something common to all bi-cycle physics (imagine trying to do a sharp turner on a chopper!), but I think a skilled rider could probably control the Reign at least adequately, so that's my goal.
    Bike wheels are gyroscopes. The faster they revolve, the easier it is to keep a bike upright. The slower you go, the harder a bike is to steer. It's normal for an inexperienced rider to weave, especially on a bike with a slack geometry.


    Quote Originally Posted by Porschefan
    The Reign actually seems very plush to me and if I'm nice and relaxed and balanced it seems to soak up rocks and bumps very nicely. But if the front wheel gets deflected by a rock or something, it's very hard to get back on balance before falling or getting off the bike.
    Again, this is normal. And because you've raised your torso, this will be more pronounced. The key to not pinballing as you've described is being able to carry your momentum through obstacles. That will come with practice.

    One last item: Don't feel bad about being the least experienced rider on a ride described as beginner. Every single mountain biker has been the beginner. Keeping showing up. Keep riding. And when you're no longer the beginner, pay your group riding knowledge forward by being gracious, patient and encouraging to beginners.

    Welcome.

    Ken
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  12. #12
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    Porschefan...

    i want to concur with others in giving you an "attaboy" on your write-ups of your recent experiences.

    i fell into your threads when i used giant reign for my search...because i have been shopping for a full suspension bike & this weekend ran into an amazingly deeply discounted leftover new reign 0. my circumstances are somewhat different than yours in the fact that i have been riding off-road for most of my life, but yet not-so-different as now i am a bit older myself & to be 100% truthful was never all that talented a rider anyway. for me it is the most fun way to get out for exercise & to be among nature & also trying to go fastest did not necessarily equal the most fun for me. btw...i always pretty much rode xc oriented hardtails.

    last fall i "splurged" on a new rigid ss 29er & that thing felt so much like i remembered the bmx's of my youth & was so easy to flick around that i got over-confident & too aggressive (& in retrospect, careless) for my own good & i suffered several really nasty tumbles within a short time. after the last 1 the doc ordered an extended sabbatical from mtbing or risk paralysis if i messed up again, especially considering that i am a bit up there in age.

    well, i really missed trail-riding & since i have been feeling much better for quite awhile i have been carefully riding for a few weeks. but i also decided that now full sus is the way for me to go to make things easier on my old bones & have been shopping.

    so to cut to the chase...
    as nice as that reign 0 i found is & as great a deal as it is (about 1/2 msrp) after test-riding it so much the shop was getting impatient with me, i could not pull the string. it is a very aggressive bike, quite tall & with much more suspension than i would probably ever use. so after reading this thread & your other...
    i wonder...
    did you get seduced by the big discount on the bike you bought (& perhaps given a push by the shop) into buying something that may not ever give you the best utility for your mtbing purposes even when you do develop better skills?

    i guess it's too late for shoulda-coulda-wouldas now, unless you want to throw more money at your biking habit but us geezers gotta look out for each other, right? even as i am typing this, i keep picturing the bike i did not buy & thinking "why did i pass up such a beautiful bike at only 1/2 price & maybe i should run back to the shop & snatch it up before someone else does",

    anyway...have fun with yours, keep practicing & good luck

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by markaitch
    Porschefan...

    i want to concur with others in giving you an "attaboy" on your write-ups of your recent experiences.
    Thank you. See below for the latest developments, or perhaps setbacks is more like it.....

    ....i wonder...did you get seduced by the big discount on the bike you bought (& perhaps given a push by the shop) into buying something that may not ever give you the best utility for your mtbing purposes even when you do develop better skills?

    i guess it's too late for shoulda-coulda-wouldas now, unless you want to throw more money at your biking habit but us geezers gotta look out for each other, right? even as i am typing this, i keep picturing the bike i did not buy & thinking "why did i pass up such a beautiful bike at only 1/2 price & maybe i should run back to the shop & snatch it up before someone else does",
    Ah, the old "when is a bargain, not a bargain?" riddle...

    This is an excellent point, and I have to admit that I'm EXTREMELY susceptible to the temptation of the "great deal." It doesn't really matter with a lot of things, but with others, what appears to be a bargain is just an invitation to take a long detour on the road to your intended goals. (I've learned this lesson pretty well with cars over the years: a "project" is never a bargain, unless you're a professional restorer or mechanic. Real bargains are cars that someone else has brought up to a high standard and needs or wants to move on for one reason or another.) But I AM susceptible to the lure, and prone to making errors in areas that I just don't know much about. So, yes, I have to say there's a distinct possibility that the Reign may turn out to be a mistake--although not a very serious one. I only paid $900 for the 2008 Reign 1, with some extras thrown in; and in a pinch I could probably sell it in 10 minutes for $400-$500. So financially it's not a big deal and I'd rather make a mistake with this bike than a $2,500-3,500 new model. (As I carefully explained to myself before making the purchase....)

    That said, I never considered that the Reign as the "perfect" bike for me, but rather as perfectly suitable first bike. Now, that is the assumption that is being tested and may turn out to have been incorrect--we'll see.

    I also think it's way too early to throw in the towel on the Reign, but who knows, that could change any time. If I get a chance, say, to ride some other bikes on group rides or something, and all of a sudden find out that I'm not falling down and crashing into cacti; just feeling all swoopy and flowy....well the Reign will be on Craigslist the next day ;-). So you might say the Reign and I are just dating casually at this point.

    Now, onto the next chapter and the "setbacks" mentioned above....

    I signed up for a Park Tool Bike Mechanic 101 course being offered here at the local junior college and I attended my first class last evening. The instructor is very experienced in a lot of areas of biking, including maintenance and repairs and racing. I think he's more of a road rider/racer than mountain biker, but he's certainly no novice even in off-road stuff. Students bring their own bikes to class for hands-on work, and I brought the Reign with me (wheels off and stuffed into the rear hatch of my 944). He and I had corresponded a bit via email previous to this, but he'd never seen the bike before. Wehad a chance to discuss it and some of the problems I've been having getting started and up to speed. His immediate take on the bike setup was:

    --Seat sloped too far down
    --Seat significantly too high
    --Handlebar extension.....mmmm probably not the best idea

    I didn't tell him that these were all set up by a "professional" fitter! I was actually feeling a bit guilty about not having purchased the fit from him in the first place. Which I may now do!

    Let me say there is nothing worse for a beginner, or anyone, for that matter, than to have whatever "stable datum" one has latched onto in order to align a confusion, shaken up! The confusion takes over until ones locates another stable point to align things around. As Charlie Brown put it: "Arghhhhhh!!!"

    But wait, there's more.....

    The class had 7-8 other students who had also brought their bikes in. Mostly road bikes, some newer than others, one Trek Fuel EX8 and one kind of retro cruiser. And the instructor's bike was an immaculate Trek something-or-other that wasn't new, but boy, you could tell it was top-of-the-line and maintained at a very high standard.

    My Reign, OTOH, looked kind of like a beater/POS, compared to everything else, and thus were the seeds of doubt sown. "Hell," I'm thinking, "have I, in fact, bought a 'project' rather than the worn, (nice patina), and "well-maintained" example, lovingly cared for by a professional bike mechanic? Or, "Is this bike a clapped-out POS that I need to dump ASAP?"

    So now I've got the triple whammy:

    1. Having trouble getting comfortable and feeling good on the bike and not knowing how much is my lack of skill/conditioning and how much is the bike?

    2. Contrary data about what is the "right" setup on this bike, from two "experts." (If I had to choose, I think I'd go with the class instructor at this point....but that's just a guess or a feeling on my part.)

    3. A bike that may need some significant work to bring it up to it's own full potential, and may even be in poor enough condition to be a significant obstacle.

    Last night I felt pretty darn discouraged about the whole thing! Especially after I left my backpack with a notebook computer, GPS, digital camera, and more at the class!

    But wait, there's more.....

    On the way home, pondering all this confusing data, I heard a loud "clunk" and felt my car swerve---broken strut mount on my daily-driver Porsche 944...

    "So ya say you're feelin' bad, Bunkie?" (OLD, old reference here...)

    Of course these are just temporary setbacks and things don't look so bad in the light of a new day. Backpack got returned--instructor picked it up and delivered to an LBS for me to pick up today. Yay!!!

    Car is at the garage getting sorted out and that's completely non-bike-related anyway. Lots to discuss here about suspension setups, etc....oh this is the BIKE forum....

    On the bike front, I think I'll just have to persist through the learning curve on the bike, etc. for now. The bike class does offer me the opportunity to go through the Reign myself, and correct whatever its worst deficiencies might be. (I think it definitely needs new cables, a new chain and having everything adjusted nicely.)

    All of this is just a LONG way around to answering your question about whether I regret the Reign: well, MAYBE.....

    Stay tuned for the next episode of "You've taken up WHAT????!!!"

  14. #14
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    As far as bike fit, I think it ultimately comes down to what is most comfortable for you. Take Dave's advice for awhile and see where that leaves you. If you're unsatisfied, take your instructor's advice and see where it gets you. You'll get to a point where you know what feels good for you. I've never gotten a proper fit, so it's all trial and error for me. But I feel that I'm starting to get to where I can tell what feels good and what doesn't.

    PS. If you ever want to ride with another beginner, let me know. I'm in ABQ as well and I've yet to find anybody I'd be willing to ride with yet.

  15. #15
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    Boy, if I could count the number of times I've been wrong about my bike setup... I would be glad that you seem to have taken the express route through the beginners woes. You're fast tracking yourself through the hard stuff and you'll be at the part where you are concerned if your legs will explode on your first multi hour ride in no time. Keep your head up, biking is never a static thing and getting your fit and setup right isn't either.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  16. #16
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    3. I'd forgotten you picked up the Reign used. Is there actually anything wrong with it? Cables and housings will always get chewed over time, so learning to re-do those is going to be really good for you. If yours are starting to show some real wear, you'll also learn something a lot of people never do about what really makes for good and bad shifting.

    1. and 2. People's bike fits drift over time. I think that your first fitter's strategy of trying to make the bike fit the version of you he met in the shop, and giving you some advice about how to adjust the bike as you get to be in better shape is a solid one. I don't know you, haven't seen your bike, and haven't met either fitter. So I don't know if he overdid it, or even if his fit comes from a complete other planet. But there's another one-style-fits-all attitude about bike fitting that some people have, in which it's purely a matter of a rider's measurements, and has nothing to do with his fitness. It works fine for the population it's based on, which is racers. For mere mortals, with a lower power output, having a little more conservative setup can be better. If you're still coasting and catching your breathe a lot, this is even more true. I guess I could put bike fits into three largish buckets - a fit for someone who's coasting a lot, a fit for someone who pedals constantly, and a fit for someone who not only pedals constantly but puts out a lot of watts relative to his weight. We don't all fit in that third bucket and a lot of people don't even really want to.

    Post pics of your bike! People shopping for new bikes like to see what they look like not in a catalog, and I, and I'm sure everyone else, am quite curious about the handlebar extension; now I'm curious about the saddle position. FWIW, a little bit off level in one direction or another is common on a well-fitted bike; if it's wildly tipped, it would look odd to me. But it only needs to be right for the person who rides it.

    Measure your chain sooner, rather than later, and replace if it's stretched. New chains are much cheaper than the parts that worn out ones start damaging. The other stuff, just do at the class's pace.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#wear
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
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    Pix....

    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch
    Post pics of your bike! People shopping for new bikes like to see what they look like not in a catalog, and I, and I'm sure everyone else, am quite curious about the handlebar extension; now I'm curious about the saddle position. FWIW, a little bit off level in one direction or another is common on a well-fitted bike; if it's wildly tipped, it would look odd to me. But it only needs to be right for the person who rides it.

    Measure your chain sooner, rather than later, and replace if it's stretched. New chains are much cheaper than the parts that worn out ones start damaging. The other stuff, just do at the class's pace.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#wear
    Here are some pix. This is the first time I've really looked closely at the drive chain and it certainly appears to me that the chain rings, especially the middle one (obviously the outer/large chain ring was removed are in terrible shape, so I imagine the chain itself is too. The cassette probably should be replaced. I'll need to get recommendations for the best components to buy for this and whether I should go back to the 3 chain rings.

    Other pix show the general wear on the bottom and side of the rear frame; the seat height and angle; the stem "extender." Also shown is the rear derailleur cable, which after the installation of the extension is too short and binds on the head tube when turning right.

    So plan would be to replace the chain rings, cassette and chain. Re-do the cables and hope that will help out some.

    My excuse for not having noticed how badly the chain ring(s) are worn is that I really had nothing to compare them to and the bike seems to shift fine.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Bike fit results (follow up on "Handlebar Palsy" thread (long...)-worn-chain-rings.jpg  

    Bike fit results (follow up on "Handlebar Palsy" thread (long...)-bad-chain-rings-again.jpg  

    Bike fit results (follow up on "Handlebar Palsy" thread (long...)-worn-cassette.jpg  

    Bike fit results (follow up on "Handlebar Palsy" thread (long...)-seat-height-angle.jpg  

    Bike fit results (follow up on "Handlebar Palsy" thread (long...)-front-derailleur-chain-rings.jpg  

    Bike fit results (follow up on "Handlebar Palsy" thread (long...)-head-extension.jpg  

    Bike fit results (follow up on "Handlebar Palsy" thread (long...)-stretched-derailleur-cable.jpg  

    Bike fit results (follow up on "Handlebar Palsy" thread (long...)-overall-bike.jpg  

    Last edited by Porschefan; 03-20-2011 at 02:20 AM. Reason: Add pix

  18. #18
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    A couple of observations...

    Chain rings get chewed. Especially on mountain bikes. To my eye, yours look fine, and my experience is that shifting starts to degrade before the changes in tooth shape start to be apparent. On modern chain rings, not all teeth are shaped the same, by design. Some are cut a little differently to facilitate shifting.

    The way the big ring was removed is a bit of a hack job. If you want to finish it, you might get a bash guard. It's about a $20 part, if you don't care to spend more than that, and it protects your drivetrain and your calf from impacts. When I finish destroying my big ring on log-overs, I'm getting one myself.

    The bike does look like it's set up really tall and really upright. Doesn't mean it's inappropriate, though. If you have a few more rides in on that setup already, you might try lowering your saddle just a touch - like 5mm - and seeing how you feel. You're looking for a height that improves pedaling, primarily. I think I can tell if my saddle's off by about 2mm.

    The stem extender is a $15 solution to a problem that can also be solved more expensively. With some really tall riser bars and a really high-angle stem, you might be able to get the same handlebar position. Handlebar position is greatly effected by saddle position, so try to get that right first, especially before throwing money at the problem.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  19. #19
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    If that fork has a lockout (a lever that makes the fork unsquishy, it locks it at the level you squish it to) it will make it a better climber, as the front will not want to wander around so much and also will be less apt to lift up in the air. It also puts all your energy into the climb instead of wasting it compressing the fork. Just remember to unlock it when you get to the top, or you will have a rough ride down on what is essentially a rigid fork. If it does have lockout (you can find out by looking up the model online if you are not sure), just move the lever to lockout position, squish down hard on the bars to lock the fork in the lowest position, climb and then undo the lock lever. If it does not have a lockout, don't worry about it, just ride - or experiment with lowering the bars a little at some point.

  20. #20
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    Pretty common experiences porschefan - I have a few comments:

    Regarding the different fit advice you got. I would go with dave's advice for starters. He saw you on the bike, hopefully interviewed you about what you wanted to get out of the bike, evaluated your flexibility, etc. The mechanic was more likely projecting how HE would like the bike to fit him onto you - kind of a common bike snob thing. Though the bike would ride better if you could fit on it the way he wanted you to.

    When I was fitting people on bikes, it was very common for people to need to be more upright to be comfortable. The solution you got is pretty standard. Unfortunately, being this upright really hurts the handling of the bike - that sensation of the front wheel swerving all over the place is due to too little weight over the front wheel. Not much you can do about it though. I do think you should experiment with saddle angle - tilted slightly nose up (a few degrees) is best for most. You may be able to ditch the stem extension with a different saddle angle. Core strength may be a problem, but in my experience flexibility can be more important, and harder to improve.

    The reign does seem kinda like way too much bike for what you want to do. Seven inches of travel for "light trail" riding? The high standover and slack geometry will just exacerbate the stem riser problem. You might benefit from a $500 hardtail to get into the swing of things. Though full suspension is good for older backs.

    Anyway, hang in there. You sort of dove right in, so you'll have to do some experimenting to find out what works for you.

    -Catfish from rennlist

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by catfishWRC
    Pretty common experiences porschefan - I have a few comments:

    ....The reign does seem kinda like way too much bike for what you want to do. Seven inches of travel for "light trail" riding? The high standover and slack geometry will just exacerbate the stem riser problem. You might benefit from a $500 hardtail to get into the swing of things. Though full suspension is good for older backs.

    Anyway, hang in there. You sort of dove right in, so you'll have to do some experimenting to find out what works for you.

    -Catfish from rennlist
    Hi Catfish--thanks for coming over and reading and for the help on the bike rack search. After my most recent class, the instructor and I looked over the Reign and it's pretty apparent that it needs new chain rings, cassette and chain--which isn't too bad, actually. But I've put it on the local Craigslist at what I paid for it and we'll see what happens. I'm not unwilling to continue with it, but in light of the needed repairs, I'd just as soon start over and find something that fits a bit better.

    If actually do like the plush suspension feeling on this bike, but the travel is more than I really need for what I'm doing. I'd still go for a full suspension over a hardtail though.

    If I do start over, I won't be so focused on '29ers though. First time around I had pretty much decided I wouldn't get a '26" bike, but this time I wouldn't mind. There was a 2010 Yeti 575 that I could have bought for $1,800 with about 5 miles on it. I think if that came around again, I'd buy it.

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