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.
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.
I'm riding a Specialized Epic and this is my first full suspension bike. If I'm cruising downhill on a bumpy section that I don't need to pedal, is the technique to be off the saddle like if I was riding a hard-tail absorbing the hits thru the pedals or do I stay in the saddle to put weight on the rear suspension? I realize the Epic doesn't have much suspension travel but which technique should I be using? Thanks.
Alex is right about pretending you don't have suspension. You want to ride as smooth as you can. Smooth equals fast and efficient. Stay on the balls of your feet and use your knees and ankles as shock absorbers. Butt behind the seat is interesting advice. Depending on the steepness of the hill your butt may go behind the seat but that isn't the goal. The goal is to keep your weight centered on the pedals while riding. Often getting your butt behind the seat gets your weight behind the pedals (when you feel like you are pulling on the bars that is too far back to ride, okay for a quick move but you want to return to center). Weight behind the pedals leaves you out of balance with most of your weight on the rear wheel which makes using your front brake sketchy (it wants to push or slide) and make maneuvering hard (hard to change direction without "flopping the straighter your arms are, also front wheel will push if cornering with weight back).
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