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  1. #1
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    Noob Buyer's Guide

    Looking for a new bike? There are lots if experienced people here who can help. You may want to answer these questions as a starting point when looking for advice:

    What region of the country do I live in?
    Where do I plan to ride my new bike?
    Are there any YouTube videos of the trails I plan to ride?
    How much time do I plan on devoting to this hobby?
    What is my previous cycling experience?
    Have I participated in other hobbies, sports or activities that may give me relevant skills?
    What are my mechanical abilities?
    Do I currently own a bike?
    Do I currently own a helmet, gloves, padded shorts, proper shoes, Cyclocomputer, Finish line bike wash, Finishline brush kit, shop rags, chain lube, chain stay protector (I like Shelter), Gloves, good socks, solid tire pressure gauge, floor tire pump, on trail tire pump or cartridges, shock pump, good three way hex, mufti tool, spare bottles, cages, backpack to put all your gear in?
    Why do I want to buy a new bike?
    How much research have I already done and do I have an idea of what I want?
    Do I have friends who are into the hobby? What's their mechanical and riding experience?
    What kind of bikes do my riding buddies ride?
    What kind of bikes do I see on the trails I plan to ride? (Full suspension, hardtail, rigid, single speed, geared)
    Can I really afford this hobby? Are my credit cards paid off? Do I have savings in the bank and money to burn?
    How much money do I want to spend on this hobby over the next year?
    What am I trying to accomplish by participating in this hobby?
    How do I expect my life to be different a year from the day my new bike arrives?


    Please do not reply to this post with your answers. Just start a new thread and answer the questions with as much detail as possible. This will help us help you get the most value for your investment!
    Last edited by wmac; 09-11-2012 at 08:31 PM.

  2. #2
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    There is a lot of talk about the quality and durability of components and the quality an durability of the different components need to be put into context. For example, I have an original Acera drivetrain and rigid fork on a 1998 Univega Zig Zag. It easily has thousands of miles on it ranging from road commute to beginner to advanced trails. To say it is poor/fair not durable, is only to say it is poor/fair not durable compared to the higher level components - not poor/fair for a specific use case.

    The below is a modified version of Lucin999s fantastic post:

    As a comparison the ranking for component levels generally goes like this (from least expensive to more expensive):

    Shimano Parts:

    SIS/Tourney/No name at all (least expensive possible) - Recreational use to ride around the neighborhood with your kids.
    Altus - Ride on the road or on paved trails fairly often
    Acera - Recreational trail riding commuter/hybrid on a regular basis
    Alivio - Recreational trail riding and beginner/intermediate trails on a regular basis
    Deore/Deore Shadow - Beginner-advanced trail riding on a regular basis
    LX/SLX - Race ready
    XT - Lighter than SLX - race ready and great durability
    XTR - Lighter than XT - there are two versions for durability's sake - trail and race. Race version is ultra light weight and shows wear after a season or two of a racing. Very expensive to replace parts.

    The further up the ladder you go, you are paying for the reduced weight through higher quality and lighter weight materials and higher precision manufacturing.

    SRAM follows the same basic principles with a number system with XX being the highest.

    In general, Shimano Deore or SRAM X5 are considered the lower threshold for "decent quality" components for frequent intermediate to advanced trail use and will shift faster and smoother in continuously changing terrain better than lower level ones.

    As to the forks on these bikes, as of 2012, the RST Omega and Saturn and Suntour XCR, XCM and XCT forks which come on the majority of bikes under $700 are designed for recreational trail use (smooth dirt trails, well groomed single track, gravel roads, paved trails) and are fine for use on beginner level single track. They will make it through just fine.

    The next level up from the entry level Suntour forks is their line of XC designed forks, The Axion, Epicon, and Raidon. RST also has a very capable line of forks for XC use. Rock Shox is a brand owned by SRAM and they also have recreational trail use coil shocks along with a line of high end XC and beyond as well. Rock Shox is considered a premium brand along with FOX, Marzzochi and a few others because they typically do not have supply agreements with the under $700 new bike price point and thus do not have a negative reputation Suntour and RST have picked up as a result of supplying coil shocks to the popular manufacturers.

    Keep in mind, you can ride any trail with any of the drivetrains or forks mentioned above - you will likely not be able to ride as fast with the recreational trail use equipment as you would with professional race circuit designed equipment, but you can make it. Just ask the guys who are likely riding your same trails on rigid single speed bikes

    If you plan to buy a bike for recreational trail use, buy equipment designed for recreational trail use or higher. If you are planning on riding intermediate or advanced trails for more than 500 miles a year, you'll be well suited to go with Shimano Deore or SRAM X5 and an air shock with rebound adjustability or better components if you can afford to do so. If your budget doesn't allow you to buy a more expensive bike, you will be best off sticking to training on the beginner trails and on the road/paved trails until you can afford to upgrade the components or the entire bicycle designed for the types of trails and riding you'd like to do.

  3. #3
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    This is a repost of mine that I thought could be useful/entertaining as well. It discusses whether or not a $3k bike is really worth $3k.

    Ceramic bearings, carbon this and carbon that, XTR all equals less resistance and less weight which equals less energy output which equals faster lap times.

    Most people upgrade as a shortcut to going faster because they don't have the time or motivation to train more or they have goals that require certain equipment. What I've found is this is exactly how an "arms race" occurs.

    Imagine two buddies about the same age and same fitness level are at a bar one night drinking beer and eating onion rings. One starts complaining about how fat he is and the other nods in empathy. They both raced BMX as kids and agree that MTB riding would be a good way to get fit, so they each buy a bike and start riding together.

    One has $350 bike already and the other comes onto this forum and gets advice and decides to buy an $800 bike. In the beginning, they are both having a blast. Neither of them can make it more than 3 miles without taking a fitness break. They take pictures, go back on the trail in certain sections, try the rock section three or four times before moving along and high five each other when they finish the trail regardless of how long it took to get through.

    They are each losing some weight, having fun and not paying much attention to the fact that there is such disparity between their bikes.

    Then, they do a group ride. They are with the slow group and this time it's just a little more intense. No stopping, pedal, pedal, pedal. The friend on the $350 bike is puking by mile three. The friend on the $800 bike hangs back with his buddy. He feels fine. Then the fast group laps them. Defeated, humiliated and realizing they are in terrible shape, they both decide to train harder.

    The guy with the $350 bike is married and drives an hour each way back and forth to the office. The $800 bike guy is single and works from home. 350G also has a lot of family commitments during the week and MTB is his way to relax, have fun and get away from the wife and kids on Saturday mornings. His calendar doesn't have a lot of openings during the week. 800G goes for a 10 mile road ride everyday after work.

    They show up to the trail the next week and the difference in fitness really starts to show. 350G is frustrated, not having fun and over the next couple of months the gap gets worse and worse. 800G is having a great time, 350G is having an awful time. They both agree that 350G's bike is holding him back.

    He goes and drops 3k on a lighter, better equipped bike. Now he can keep up with his buddy again. They are having fun together again.

    They decide they want to enter an amateur race together in 6 months - just for fun. 3kG with his renewed vigor decides to get up early, ride 10 miles in the mornings and finds a way to put in another 10 each day after work. He's seeing the pounds melting away. His wife wants to bang him more often because he's no longer a fat slob. His confidence goes up. He's got more energy, he's more alert at work. Things are going well for him in a lot of areas. He finishes ahead of his budddy at the race. His life is better ever since he bought that 3k bike.

    Then his buddy goes out and drops 4k on a bike ... Wash, rinse and repeat.

  4. #4
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    Fork Suspension:

    Higher end suspension forks are marginally faster, enables a higher level of control at higher speeds and marginally more comfortable depending on how the spring rate is adjusted.

    If none of these things are standing in your way of having a good time, then you are not a good candidate for anything beyond a coil fork designed for recreational trail use.

    If you weigh more than 175 lbs, it is unlikely you will get full benefit of a stock coil fork as it is unlikely it is set up properly for you. I will also say most people who replace recreational trail use forks were unhappy with them because they did not have them set up properly or were using them in a way in which the fork was not designed. These forks are designed for low grade climbs and descents and well groomed single track, or, to put it another way, beginner to intermediate XC trails.

    RTR forks come with a spring inside that is sent from the manufacturer. That spring was spec'd based on an average person's weight. If your weight is above average, it is likely that when you sit on your bike, the spring compresses a certain amount beyond what it was designed to compress during static use, or "sag rate." If you are heavier, it compresses beyond the ideal "sag" rate.

    Some coil forks have a "preload adjustment" to compensate by compressing the spring to reduce the sag distance, but it can only compensate so much before you are completely compressing that spring during normal use. This will reduce your effective travel from 100mm to something less. The best and only way to fix this is to get a new, different, coil with a higher "spring rate." If you weigh less than 130, you probably would benefit from a softer spring.

    The higher end shocks use air pressure to set the "Spring Rate." It gives you the ability to be much more precise when setting your sag rate. Some people like to adjust their sag rate based on the terrain to give them a firm ride whereas others like a plush, soft ride. You should always have a high enough spring rate so as not to bottom out during normal riding conditions.

    High end suspension also gives you the ability to adjust how quickly your wheel "bounces back" after it is compressed. This is where the recreational trail use designed, entry level, forks get the bad reputation for being "Pogo Sticks of Death." With many of the entry level coil forks, if you are traveling at a high rate of speed down a very bumpy slope, your front wheel starts to act sort of like a car tire being rolled down a bumpy hill if you've ever seen that happen. The coil energy gets translated into, to use a scientific term, a boing-boing-boing effect.

    This can be and should be avoided by, again, using a scientific term, slowing the F down.

    Now, if your goal is to go faster down steep slopes, then a suspension system designed to go fast down bumpy slopes should be retrofitted to your bike or you should buy a bike designed to go fast down bumpy slopes.

    If you upgrade your fork, it is VERY important that the distance between the ground and the bottom of your head tube not change unless this is something you desire. The longer the fork travel, the more it will ride like a "chopper" motorcycle - slowing response, making it more stable going down hill. Some higher end forks allow you to adjust the "travel" in the fork, which is the total distance the fork can compress. Some do it with spacers and some do it with a dial.

    Some forks have lock out features. Some even have "remote lock out" features. This gives you a switch to hit so you can make the fork completely stiff, which is an advantage when climbing.

    An advantage of a higher end fork is reduced weight compared to an entry-level fork. A highend fork usually weighs more than 30% less than an entry level fork. A lighter bike translates into less effort expended during climbs. Now, you will have to spend some bank to get there, but these usually come with a lockout that has a blow off valve to protect the fork if you forget to unlock it and hit a big bump, the ability to set your spring rate, and rebound rate and some with other adjustments that are more like fine tuning those two adjustments.

    For most beginners, they can tell a difference, but don't know why it is a big difference other than they feel like they have more control at higher speeds - which they do. But you've got to ask yourself, how and why is that important to my enjoyment of this activity?

    Wheel Size:
    I recently bought a 26 inch bike, but have my own reasons why I chose to stick with 26 inch wheels over 29 or 650b. The more I read about 650b, the more sense it makes. The more I read about 29er, the more it makes sense. The more I read about sticking to 26 inch, the more sense it makes. There is a lot of heated discussion about wheel size right now. It really boils down to choice for you. There are a lot of people saying 650b is just a bunch of hype so the bike companies can sell more stuff. There may be some truth to that, buy the reason so many people are playing the "hype card" is because so many companies have tried to force consumers to buy something that they thought the consumer wanted.

    A good case study is New Coke. Here's a company that had a tried and true product until its own diet drink began to erode market share of the global leader in soft drinks. The pie chart showed Pepsi catching up in market share compared to what was then just referred to as Coke. The execs were in a panic, "people prefer a sweeter drink, have you seen the taste tests? We've got to change the formula to make it taste more like Pepsi and Diet Coke! Holy shiz, we're going to lose our jobs - somebody DO something!"

    So they created a product that tasted more like Diet Coke and Pepsi. It won taste tests hands down. It was concluded by everyone in charge that it was a superior product to the current product. And then they launched New Coke.

    I think we all know what happened. But why? What the marketing execs didn't take into account was what they learned in the post mortem: people didn't care what it tasted like because it didn't taste like what they grew up drinking. Coca Cola would do taste tests and people would pick the New Coke and then when they found out, the execs would say, "See, you prefer New Coke - you should buy New Coke!" The consumers would say, "I don't care about your taste test, I'm not buying that crap. Please give me back my Coke."

    Coca Cola forgot that they spent billions of dollars for decades drilling into people's heads that "Coke is Life." The remaining Coke consumers who hadn't switched to Diet or Pepsi would rather consume an inferior product because of the nostalgia. This is completely irrational.

    And I believe that is what we have here. You have a bunch rational of people who ride in a certain way and recognize that one wheel size is better for them in their situation and you have a bunch of people saying, "I don't care that I picked a different wheel size in a double blind taste test, give me my 26 inch wheels back."

    I think the important thing for everyone to recognize is that eventually Coke realized that extreme customization is the key to the future. You may have used one of their new fangled soda dispensers recently. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Coke has a touch screen that lets you "customize your drinking experience." You can have Coke, Sprite, whatever. Oh, you want a shot of grape in that? Here you go! You want to put some cherry in that too? Fine, knock yourself out.

    For these brands (and I use that term instead of manufacturer because, for the most part, they are not doing any actual manufacturing) to say that they are predicting they will be forced to limit consumer choice by eliminating the 26 inch wheel from their lineup is simply absurd. If these brands had a progressive thinker in their marketing departments, they'd be figuring out a way to deliver a bike to your doorstep with any option you want for less money than the old school guys are able to do it. You want a custom geometry carbon frame? Here you go! You want 650b in the front and 24 inch in the back? That's pretty weird, but I'm sure it's going to be awesome for you. You want tubeless Racing Ralphs on that? Knock yourself out.

    There will forever be completely bonkers irrational consumers who choose to purchase products for reasons even they can't explain. The reality is, it doesn't matter. Buy a bike, ride it, smile. Don't buy something because you think you're missing out on something. Only buy something when you know the reason you want to buy it, regardless of what that reason is.

    Pedals:

    Most bikes that come with pedals come with "test ride pedals." They are cheapo plastic or, in some cases, they are inexpensive alloy pedals. The high end bikes come with no pedals.

    There are a lot of reasons why people choose to switch stock pedals. If you're having trouble with your feet slipping off your stock pedals, it may be the shoes you are wearing. If you're new to the sport, there is only one brand I recommend for wearing with flat pedals: 5.10s. This company was founded by developing climbing shoes with the highest friction and lightest weight rubber in the world. They make several styles specific for MTB, but any of their shoes with Stealth rubber soles will be better than running shoes. If you still want to buy new pedals for aesthetics, or performance, Pricepoint.com has shoe/pedal combo deals for a good price. For a beginner, you can't go wrong with any of the flat pedal/5.10 shoe combos.

    There is a lot of debate as to when someone should go with clip less pedals or stick with flats. Again, you have to ask yourself, how will my experience be different if I get a new set of pedals and shoes? Why am I considering new pedals?

    There are two main reasons: weight and traction. You want a lightweight shoe with a stiff sole and lightweight pedals that keep your energy transferred to the rear wheel. Like all decisions regarding equipment, there are trade offs and you'll have to come to your own conclusions and decisions which pedals are right for you.

    Before you decide, here is some science that aims to debunk the clipless dogma: The science behind Barefoot Pedaling | Mountain Bike Training Programs

    Check out all the different reason why people chose certain pedal/shoe combos: Pedals
    Last edited by wmac; 09-27-2012 at 11:33 PM. Reason: Added clip less pedal info

  5. #5
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    Help Me

    I'm looking at getting into Mountain Biking but not sure where to really start. I rode with my friend on a KHS Alite150 several times and I'm looking to get my own bike. I'm not sure if I would be better buying used or buying new so I'm coming to you all for help.

    This is the bike I'm looking at. It's a 1998 Diamondback DBR Team Issue. I found the original MSRP which says $2,500. A local shop has it and it supposedly has many custom parts but I don't know enough to know if this is a good buy or not. They are asking $500 and it comes with 6months tuneups. Please fill me in and let me know if this is a good buy and what the advantages or disadvantages of going this route are. I would prefer disc brakes but not sure if this would be a better bike for the money. I will mostly be riding singletrack and Cross country trails. I want to get into small jumping eventually 1-3'. Will this bike be a good buy as a newbie to Mountain Biking? I don't have enough posts to post images or links so you will have to insert it into your browser...just add the http.//

    Thanks

    tallahassee.craigslist.org/bid/3196849877.html]Diamondback DBR

  6. #6
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    Read the first post

  7. #7
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    ... and if we just ...

    I don't have enough posts yet to start a thread either. That's why I posted here.

  8. #8
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    Okay, since you don't have enough posts, I'll play. If you're looking to spend around $500, that bike may be overpriced. Frame and suspension technology have advanced a bit over the last decade.
    Diamondback DBR

    I'd suggest you narrow your search to bikes no more than five years old and read the reviews, here, on MTBR to find out what people like/dislike about various bikes. That's the best way to learn.

    If it's not too far away AND IT FITS YOU, I'd suggest you look into something like this:

    2008 Giant XTC 1 (18")

    Here are the reviews:

    https://www.google.com/url?q=http://...oi7ik-1er9qORQ
    Joe
    Chicago, IL

  9. #9
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    read my posts here
    Which is the better deal?

  10. #10
    Fat & Single
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyperlite986 View Post
    I don't have enough posts yet to start a thread either. That's why I posted here.
    Here ya go ,Clicky here, this is the test forum for noobs to spam 5 posts in without clogging up informational threads. Not that im saying all threads on here are useful
    Trek 9.9 Superfly SL
    FM190 Fatty
    Indy Fab Deluxe 29
    Pivot Vault CX
    Cervelo R3 Disc

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by hyperlite986 View Post
    I don't have enough posts yet to start a thread either. That's why I posted here.
    You're getting closer I suggested you start a new thread because it could get confusing if a bunch of people posted their answers and were all looking for answers. Use this to boost post count. I don't care. Just answer all the questions and read all four of my posts so you are well informed so we can help you.

  12. #12
    MichaelStewart
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    Useful info

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    Fork Suspension:

    Higher end suspension forks are marginally faster, enables a higher level of control at higher speeds and marginally more comfortable depending on how the spring rate is adjusted.

    If none of these things are standing in your way of having a good time, then you are not a good candidate for anything beyond a coil fork designed for recreational trail use.

    If you weigh more than 175 lbs, it is unlikely you will get full benefit of a stock coil fork as it is unlikely it is set up properly for you. I will also say most people who replace recreational trail use forks were unhappy with them because they did not have them set up properly or were using them in a way in which the fork was not designed. These forks are designed for low grade climbs and descents and well groomed single track, or, to put it another way, beginner to intermediate XC trails.

    RTR forks come with a spring inside that is sent from the manufacturer. That spring was spec'd based on an average person's weight. If your weight is above average, it is likely that when you sit on your bike, the spring compresses a certain amount beyond what it was designed to compress during static use, or "sag rate." If you are heavier, it compresses beyond the ideal "sag" rate.

    Some coil forks have a "preload adjustment" to compensate by compressing the spring to reduce the sag distance, but it can only compensate so much before you are completely compressing that spring during normal use. This will reduce your effective travel from 100mm to something less. The best and only way to fix this is to get a new, different, coil with a higher "spring rate." If you weigh less than 130, you probably would benefit from a softer spring.

    The higher end shocks use air pressure to set the "Spring Rate." It gives you the ability to be much more precise when setting your sag rate. Some people like to adjust their sag rate based on the terrain to give them a firm ride whereas others like a plush, soft ride. You should always have a high enough spring rate so as not to bottom out during normal riding conditions.

    High end suspension also gives you the ability to adjust how quickly your wheel "bounces back" after it is compressed. This is where the recreational trail use designed, entry level, forks get the bad reputation for being "Pogo Sticks of Death." With many of the entry level coil forks, if you are traveling at a high rate of speed down a very bumpy slope, your front wheel starts to act sort of like a car tire being rolled down a bumpy hill if you've ever seen that happen. The coil energy gets translated into, to use a scientific term, a boing-boing-boing effect.

    This can be and should be avoided by, again, using a scientific term, slowing the F down.

    Now, if your goal is to go faster down steep slopes, then a suspension system designed to go fast down bumpy slopes should be retrofitted to your bike or you should buy a bike designed to go fast down bumpy slopes.

    If you upgrade your fork, it is VERY important that the distance between the ground and the bottom of your head tube not change unless this is something you desire. The longer the fork travel, the more it will ride like a "chopper" motorcycle - slowing response, making it more stable going down hill. Some higher end forks allow you to adjust the "travel" in the fork, which is the total distance the fork can compress. Some do it with spacers and some do it with a dial.

    Some forks have lock out features. Some even have "remote lock out" features. This gives you a switch to hit so you can make the fork completely stiff, which is an advantage when climbing.

    An advantage of a higher end fork is reduced weight compared to an entry-level fork. A highend fork usually weighs more than 30% less than an entry level fork. A lighter bike translates into less effort expended during climbs. Now, you will have to spend some bank to get there, but these usually come with a lockout that has a blow off valve to protect the fork if you forget to unlock it and hit a big bump, the ability to set your spring rate, and rebound rate and some with other adjustments that are more like fine tuning those two adjustments.

    For most beginners, they can tell a difference, but don't know why it is a big difference other than they feel like they have more control at higher speeds - which they do. But you've got to ask yourself, how and why is that important to my enjoyment of this activity?

    Wheel Size:
    I recently bought a 26 inch bike, but have my own reasons why I chose to stick with 26 inch wheels over 29 or 650b. The more I read about 650b, the more sense it makes. The more I read about 29er, the more it makes sense. The more I read about sticking to 26 inch, the more sense it makes. There is a lot of heated discussion about wheel size right now. It really boils down to choice for you. There are a lot of people saying 650b is just a bunch of hype so the bike companies can sell more stuff. There may be some truth to that, buy the reason so many people are playing the "hype card" is because so many companies have tried to force consumers to buy something that they thought the consumer wanted.

    A good case study is New Coke. Here's a company that had a tried and true product until its own diet drink began to erode market share of the global leader in soft drinks. The pie chart showed Pepsi catching up in market share compared to what was then just referred to as Coke. The execs were in a panic, "people prefer a sweeter drink, have you seen the taste tests? We've got to change the formula to make it taste more like Pepsi and Diet Coke! Holy shiz, we're going to lose our jobs - somebody DO something!"

    So they created a product that tasted more like Diet Coke and Pepsi. It won taste tests hands down. It was concluded by everyone in charge that it was a superior product to the current product. And then they launched New Coke.

    I think we all know what happened. But why? What the marketing execs didn't take into account was what they learned in the post mortem: people didn't care what it tasted like because it didn't taste like what they grew up drinking. Coca Cola would do taste tests and people would pick the New Coke and then when they found out, the execs would say, "See, you prefer New Coke - you should buy New Coke!" The consumers would say, "I don't care about your taste test, I'm not buying that crap. Please give me back my Coke."

    Coca Cola forgot that they spent billions of dollars for decades drilling into people's heads that "Coke is Life." The remaining Coke consumers who hadn't switched to Diet or Pepsi would rather consume an inferior product because of the nostalgia. This is completely irrational.

    And I believe that is what we have here. You have a bunch rational of people who ride in a certain way and recognize that one wheel size is better for them in their situation and you have a bunch of people saying, "I don't care that I picked a different wheel size in a double blind taste test, give me my 26 inch wheels back."

    I think the important thing for everyone to recognize is that eventually Coke realized that extreme customization is the key to the future. You may have used one of their new fangled soda dispensers recently. If you don't know what I'm talking about, Coke has a touch screen that lets you "customize your drinking experience." You can have Coke, Sprite, whatever. Oh, you want a shot of grape in that? Here you go! You want to put some cherry in that too? Fine, knock yourself out.

    For these brands (and I use that term instead of manufacturer because, for the most part, they are not doing any actual manufacturing) to say that they are predicting they will be forced to limit consumer choice by eliminating the 26 inch wheel from their lineup is simply absurd. If these brands had a progressive thinker in their marketing departments, they'd be figuring out a way to deliver a bike to your doorstep with any option you want for less money than the old school guys are able to do it. You want a custom geometry carbon frame? Here you go! You want 650b in the front and 24 inch in the back? That's pretty weird, but I'm sure it's going to be awesome for you. You want tubeless Racing Ralphs on that? Knock yourself out.

    There will forever be completely bonkers irrational consumers who choose to purchase products for reasons even they can't explain. The reality is, it doesn't matter. Buy a bike, ride it, smile. Don't buy something because you think you're missing out on something. Only buy something when you know the reason you want to buy it, regardless of what that reason is.

    Pedals:

    Most bikes that come with pedals come with "test ride pedals." They are cheapo plastic or, in some cases, they are inexpensive alloy pedals. The high end bikes come with no pedals.

    Tere are a lot of reasons why people choose to switch stock pedals. If you're having trouble with your feet slipping off your stock pedals, it may be the shoes you are wearing. If you're new to the sport, there is only one brand I recommend for wearing with flat pedals: 5.10s. This companyaway founded by developing climbing shoes with the highest friction and lightest weight rubber in the world. They make several styles specific for MTB, but any of their shoes with Stealth rubber soles will be better than running shoes. If you still want to buy new pedals for aesthetics, or performance, Pricepoint.com has shoe/pedal combo deals for a good price. For a beginner, you can't go wrong with any of the flat pedal/5.10 shoe combos.

    There is a lot of debate as to when someone should go with clip less pedals or stick with flats. Again, you have to ask yourself, how will my experience be different if I get a new set of pedals and shoes? Why am I considering new pedals? I'm going to start a thread to ask people why they ride the pedals they do and come back to this later.
    Not to derail or anything... but is coke zero the same as new coke?? Gawd, I hate coke zero!

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    Hahaha - no.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Trying to get in my 5 posts as well. Asked for some advise in the beginner section and posted a pic of my bike as well. So far I like the forum. It should come in handy, especially when trying to figure out how to maintain my bike.

  16. #16
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    They really should sticky this

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    Quote Originally Posted by deke505 View Post
    They really should sticky this
    They will
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    Good job!

    +1 very good, and a must read for newbies and experienced riders a like!

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    Thanks guys! I keep adding/refining.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  20. #20
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    Any advice? Who knew purchasing a bike could be so complicated!

    I live in Raleigh, NC and decided I wanted a bike to help rid me of the dreaded middle-aged spread. Im 53 and 130 lbs. I stopped by a local bike shop to take a look and figured out I need a short bike (duh), probably a 13-15 frame. But after that I see it can be very expensive!! Im thinking I should get a street bike or a hybrid. The bike store lady suggested that I buy a bike similar to the bike the person I would ride with uses. The guy Im dating used to ride and has a Specialized Crossroads.
    He is in worse physical shape than I am but at 65 Im thinking Ill probably have trouble keeping up with him.

    He lives in Virginia and we travel back and forth every weekend, alternating each time to save the other one from driving so much.. Hes in Martinsville VA where there is an abundance of steep hills, so Im thinking Id need 21 gears to have any hope in making it to the top of em. I expect well do some street riding but mostly taking the bikes to local greenways. Soooo, I need a car bike rack too.

    My goal isnt speed, but weight could be an issue with carrying the thing back and forth.

    I saw this one at the local bike shop, and liked it because it comes with all the stuff that I thought came standard on all bikes that werent made for trails or racing. I like the fenders and rack, a kickstand!, But still have sticker shock from the price of the Felt cafe deluxe 24.

    Whats a girl to do??

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    Since your situation is pretty cut and dry, I'll go ahead and answer within this thread.

    Does your boyfriend know how to work on bikes? If so, here are some suggestions to give you some ideas:

    Gravity Dutch Hybrid/Comfort

    Flat Bar Hybrid Road Bikes - Road - Fuji Absolute 3.0 Flat Bar Hybrid Road bikes

    If he can't work on bikes, then you can take it to a shop and they can assemble it for you for $50-$100. You might wan to pay the premium and buy at a shop because they often throw in lifetime maintenance and such.

    Here is a place to buy a rack. It depends on the type of car you have: Trunk Bike Racks | etrailer.com

    Make sure you buy a helmet. Gloves and padded shorts will make the ride more comfortable. Check that suff out and let us know your thoughts.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  22. #22
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    Btw, the Fuji will be lighter and faster.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Getting Back into It

    I had a MTB about 20yrs ago. Typical rigid frame 15spd Trek. I'm wanting a MTB to do it all. (It will go well with my KTM 950 ADV do-it-all motorcycle) I'd like to do some single track and fire road riding in the mountains and ride the boardwalk at Virginia Beach. I'm thinking a fully suspended bike would be nice. I'm 6' and 200lb with about a 35" inseam. I ride fire roads with my KTM and am no stranger to off-road on motorcycles. I'm looking a some fully suspened bikes on CL, but not sure what I should be looking for. Have set my budget at $500. Any advice would be appreciated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vabuckaroo View Post
    I had a MTB about 20yrs ago. Typical rigid frame 15spd Trek. I'm wanting a MTB to do it all. (It will go well with my KTM 950 ADV do-it-all motorcycle) I'd like to do some single track and fire road riding in the mountains and ride the boardwalk at Virginia Beach. I'm thinking a fully suspended bike would be nice. I'm 6' and 200lb with about a 35" inseam. I ride fire roads with my KTM and am no stranger to off-road on motorcycles. I'm looking a some fully suspened bikes on CL, but not sure what I should be looking for. Have set my budget at $500. Any advice would be appreciated.
    Vabuckaroo: post enough to be able to start a new thread with your answers to the questions above. In short, you'll have a tough time getting a dual suspension for that kind of money.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    are full suspension bikes a pain in the ass to lug around outside the trail?

    I bike to and from work up a three mile, 2.5-6% incline and my current hardtail, an older trek 4900, handles well butbis starting to get a little grey in the beard over time and I'm looking

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mratomix View Post
    I bike to and from work up a three mile, 2.5-6% incline and my current hardtail, an older trek 4900, handles well butbis starting to get a little grey in the beard over time and I'm looking
    Full suspension are typically heavier, more expensive to purchase and increases maintenance costs. Post here to get yourself enough posts to start your own thread, answer the questions and we'll help you find the right bike.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    thanks.

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    lol

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    bump, make it a sticky plz
    They call me non-sequitur

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    I will take this advice

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    Man if that $300 dollar bike guy hates life, I bet I will hate life with my $100 bike lol.

    SOOOOO

    Buying a bike from Wal-Mart = Stupid... Esspecially when you are thinking of making this a hobby...
    Going to bike shop = Could be a rip off
    Craigslist = a bargain for some crap for others

    And to top it all off if you dont know how to work on it... your screwed.

    Man, and here I was hoping to just get up and ride.... I still have all intention to do so!

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    Which should I get the Windsor Cliff 4500 or the Motobecane 450HT? I'm looking for a decent starter under $375

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    Flash: Not stupid - just depends on your goals and how/where you plan to ride.

    Heartwood: you should read all of the buyer's guide.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheHeartwoodStudio View Post
    Which should I get the Windsor Cliff 4500 or the Motobecane 450HT? I'm looking for a decent starter under $375
    I would steer clear of the windsor Cliff 4500, that RST fork is absolute crap(the Suntour on the 450HT sucks too but its better than the RST). I personally would wait a little longer and get some more funds to buy a bike from the next tier. Are you looking for hardtails only? If so I would look into the Dawes Haymaker 1200 and if your not too turned off my a FS bike look at the Dawes Roundhouse 2500, a few members bought the 2500 and really liked it. but yet again they cost more than your budget.

    It only took me a couple mins to go look at bikesdirect.com and look at those bikes, it doesnt hurt to help, anyone can read a sticky, getting advice from people in the real time is much much better.

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    Thanks MTBerNick! My brother happens to be a biker and he also recommended the Motobecane 450HT instead of the Cliff. Mainly because you can replace the front shocks if they blow. You can't do that on the windsor cliff, which means you'd have to get an entirely new bike if that happened. I've purchased the 450HT, just because I know I can always upgrade parts later on. I've been a biker all my life, but since moving to Vermont I haven't been going lately. I'd really like to start up again and doing some more MTBing. I guess what has been putting me off is the fact that we live on a 5 mile hill... so definitely going to start slow. Thanks again for the reply. I will most likely write a in-depth review on the Motobecane 450HT, with pictures. Now why did I have to wait til the start of winter to get one...?!

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    I want to build a bike and I have decided on picking up an xl 2009 stumpjumper pro carbon frame.... it comes with s120 forks and front derailleur. I am 6'2" 240lbs.... is this the right size frame for me? Whats wheels, gears, etc would fit this bike? I am clueless but want to build a biie because it will be more cost effective for me and I can learn the in and outs of the bike.... thanks

  37. #37
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    Mad: read the post, get enough posts to start your own thread, answer the questions and we can help you better.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Sorry I didnt realize the description

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    No worries: You'll just more and better answers with your own thread. Post here a dozen or so times until you can start your own.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Sweet I can start my own thread now

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    Great post, good information here.

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    very useful info, thanks guys!

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    Helped me out alot!

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    I found all the info provided by the above folk very useful. I rest rode about a dozen touring bikes before deciding that I wanted to go big and get a frame custom built to my figure. It is awesome. If you can afford it, do it, go custom all the way.

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    thanks

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    Great info. I hope this becomes more in-depth with addtional info.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gent96 View Post
    Great info. I hope this becomes more in-depth with addtional info.
    What kind of more in depth info would you like to see?
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wmac View Post
    What kind of more in depth info would you like to see?
    Hey, thanks! Ok. Can you delve on bike geometry and how these different numbers affect how the bikes behave on the trail, say climbing and downhill? As a noob, I get confused with this. How can you classifiy a bike as XC, Trail or AM? Is there an industry for this or just rider preference? Thanks again!

  49. #49
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    Geometry: A lot of people make a big deal about a frame's geometry and for good reason - because it effects bike fit and handling. Changing a bike's geometry can make a bike more capable at climbing or descending; turning; more or less stable; more or less comfortable; and more or less efficient.*

    There are a lot of variables to consider when designers develop a frame and, like chaos theory, changing one little variable can drastically effect the outcome of the overall fit and handling of a bike. The good news is, as long as you are within the ballpark of frame size and type, you can change what I'll call the "effective geometry" of a bike without cutting up the frame and welding (or gluing) it back together. I call it the effective geometry because you are not changing the geometry, just the angles in relation to the rider. This is accomplished by changing or adjusting some of the parts that bolt onto the bike. I'll touch on those areas as I explain them in relation to the frame.

    For beginners, disecting a frame's geometry can be a little too far in the weeds when choosing a bike. View the following as an extremely generalized guide to help you understand why one bike may feel different than another and give you an idea as to what people are talking about when they throw around esoteric terms while discussing the mystery of frame design.

    For the most part, certain categories of bikes have a specific type of geometry and each is within a pretty close range of one another. Cross country bikes are pretty close to other cross country bikes' geometry and same goes for all mountain vs AM and down hill compared to other DH bikes. But cross country bike geometry is a lot different than a down hill bike's geometry. Manufacturers tweak their designs within each category to give specific types of fit and handling because some people prefer a certain type of geometry over another because of their body dimensions or riding style.

    There are four basic areas of a frame's geometry that will effect the way it rides: head tube, top tube, seat tube and chainstay. See diagram below:

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/WWxag.png" alt="Uploaded with Imgupr" />

    Let's start with the front of the bike.

    The head tube. There are two measurements to be concerned with: the head tube length and the head tube angle.

    Head tube length can be important if you want a really aggressive (low) handlebar position or a really relaxed (high) handle bar position. You can alter the handlebar position with more or less spacers on the steering tube, but only*within limits (the steering tube is the part of the forks that goes through the head tube and connects to the stem and handlebars). So, for the most part, a short head tube, with no spacers, will allow you to get lower than a longer head tube with no spacers.*

    Since the number of spacers you can use has limits, some people need or want a longer head tube to get a sufficiently upright position, just as some prefer the short head tube to get a sufficiently aggressive riding position. Some bikes with a sort head tube ship with a long steering tube and a lot of spacers to allow you to determine how aggressive of a riding position you want. Others will cut it low assuming you want an aggressive riding position.

    Note: You cannot lengthen a steering tube once it has been cut - you must buy a new set of forks, so, make sure you like the handlebar position before you go cutting off that steering tube! If the bike comes with a short head tube and steerer tube and you want a more upright position, you can buy a set of riser bars. Or, if it's too high, you can go the other way and cut the steerer tube or buy a set of flat bars. Because 29ers' head tube sits higher than a 26ers' head tube, some people are slamming the stem and/or turning it upside down with flat bars to get the aggressive riding position they are used to having with a 26er

    This begs the question, "what's the difference between an aggressive and relaxed riding position?" In short: aerodynamics, leverage and comfort. The lower you are, the more aerodynamic with greater leverage to pull up on the front wheel (and arguably less comfortable and less stable) compared to more upright. So, it's a trade and depends on what is more important to you.

    Head tube angle. For the most part, the more a bike looks like a chopper, the more stable it will be while riding in a straight line. This is why downhill and all mountain bikes have "slack" HT angles - for stability. The less chopper-like the bike gets, the faster it will steer and turn. Careful though, not enough head tube angle and the bike will be twitchy (difficult to ride with no hands) and you'll also likely to be over the bars often.

    Depending on the category of riding a bike is designed for, the angle of the head tube will be within a certain range. XC bikes have a steeper HT angle compared to All Mountain (AM) and Downhill (DH) bikes. Generally, entry-level XC bikes will be a little more slack than race XC bikes.

    However, one can change the "effective" HT angle (slackness/stability and steering speed) by increasing or decreasing the length of the forks. Not all forks are adjustable. However, some are designed and built to allow a rider to change the fork length (travel) by +/- 20mm. This is typically accomplished by altering the travel, or, the distance a suspension fork can compress. A segment of adjustable forks even have a way to adjust the travel (and therefore fork length) with a couple twists of a knob. When you increase or decrease the travel, you are raising or lowering the head tube. In doing that, you are increasing or decreasing the "effective" head tube angle and changing the angle of the forks. Comparatively longer travel will make a bike more slack. Be careful though - if you change the travel more than +/- 20mm, you will void the warranty because you are putting additional stress on the head tube and you might cause it to break.

    Another way is to buy a special "adjustable" headset. The headset is the compilation of bearings and spacers in the head tube. An adjustable headset allows one to adjust the steerer tube angle within the head tube +/- 1.5 degrees. It might not sound like a lot, but 1.5 degrees in either direction can really change the way a bike rides.

    It is also possible to speed up or slow down the steering or twitchiness a couple of ways without changing the travel or HT angle. Putting a longer stem on a bike and/or widening the bars slows the steering down just as a shorter stem and/narrower bars speed it up. This is like the difference between a small steering wheel on a sports car and a big steering wheel on an 18-wheeler. It doesn't actually change the ability of the bike to steer quicker or slower, it just feels like it.

    Changing either the stem or handlebars, or both, will also change your effective reach and put you in a more or less aggressive riding position. Longer stem means you have to bend over farther to reach the grips. Wider bars have the same effect. This may or may not be what you want. You can counter this by moving your saddle forward or backward to compensate for the change in reach. Again, you have to be careful making changes because moving your seat position also changes your effective seat tube angle and, in an essence, also changes the effective top tube length.

    Which brings me to effective top tube length.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/WWxag.png" alt="Uploaded with Imgupr" />

    They call it that because the actual top tube length is the measurement of the top tube from the middle of the seat tube, through the middle of the top tube, to the middle of the head tube. The effective top tube length is the measurement of the middle of the seat tube, parallel to the ground, to the middle of the head tube. The reason these two measurements are different are the same reasons Pythagoras has his own Theorem. More on the importance of top tube angle in the discussion about seat tube length and stand over height later.

    A shorter or longer ETT will dictate how cramped or stretched, or how upright or aggressive the cockpit feels. If you are a person with long legs and a short torso, you'll likely want a shorter ETT. This is also desirable for people who prefer a more upright seating position. The seat tube angle also plays a part in the ETT measurement. The more relaxed seat tube angle, the longer the ETT. Generally, an entry level bike tends to have a shorter ETT and a more relaxed seat tube angle because this allows a more upright seating position. This makes the front triangle of the frame shorter than a race bike which typically has an upright seat tube and longer ETT to give an aggressive riding position.

    Nevertheless, you can customize cockpit length by moving your seat +/- 1.5, inches, which is a common adjustment. In extreme cases, some people opt for a "laid back seat post" which is a seat post with a backward bend in it to give a little more room in the cockpit. This can give another inch or two of rearward seat adjustment. *I've also seen people use a laid back post to bring the seat forward, but I don't recommend you do it.

    When moving your seat forward or backward, you are changing the "effective" seat tube angle (a term I think I made up a long time ago) which is responsible for the position of your butt in relation to the bottom bracket. This measurement is important because it will dictate the weight distribution of the bike while peddling.

    Moving your saddle forward shifts your weight forward, which can make climbing a little easier by keeping the front tire from popping up on you. However, it can also reduce traction during climbs and, on the flats, it will add a little more pressure on the wrists and hands and makes popping a wheelie a little more difficult. Moving your seat back shifts your weight*back, which, conversely, *puts more weight on the rear wheel and increases traction. This can also make climbing while in the saddle a little easier, but it can also cause you to loop out on steep climbs in low gears.

    Lastly, a more relaxed effective seat tube angle is a little more comfortable as it will soak up bumps a little better by letting your seat post flex instead of sending the force of a bump straight up the seat post and into your back.

    When adjusting your seat, make sure your "sit bones" rest on the back of the seat. This will take some pressure off your pelvis and make riding more comfortable (There are different width seats for custom fit) This will also give you some room to adjust your weight forward by sitting on the front of the saddle when climbing.

    Some bikes have a top tube that is more parallel to the ground than others. This is mostly determined by the seat tube length.*

    The extreme examples are XC bikes compared to trials and jump bikes. Trials and jump bikes have a steeper top tube angle to give more clearance between one's groin and the top tube. This allows the seat to be low*and out of the way (or eliminates it in the case of a trials bike). XC bikes have a top tube closer to parallel with the ground to support a raised saddle. In XC, you want to have your saddle in a position for maximum peddling efficiency when seated. This is achieved by having your leg almost at near full extension when the pedal is in the full downstroke position.

    Note: The best way to find the right seat post height is to sit on the bike with the right-side crank in the five o'clock position. With riding shoes on, put your heel on the pedal spindle. If your right knee is bent, your seat is too low. If you are stretching or reaching to touch the spindle with your heel, your seat is too high.

    For XC, if your seat tube length is short and you have long legs, you will need a long seat post. If your seat post sticks up too far past the top of the seat tube, it will break, or it will break the frame. Seat posts are marked with a maximum height. Do not exceed this height. If you must exceed the height, you need a larger frame.

    Pro Tip: you can shave some grams by cutting your seat post shorter. You can measure the distance from the top of the seat tube to the maximum height mark of the seat post (that is inside the frame when you are measuring) and take note of the length. You can then cut that length off the bottom of your post, provided it still extends at least an inch below the bottom of the top tube joint. (If that does not make sense - do not attempt). File the edges of the cut post and make note of your new maximum height.

    If you are short and your seat tube is long, you won't be able to stand over the bike without your crotch painfully straddling the top tube - which is where the "stand over height" measurement comes from.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/WWxag.png" alt="Uploaded with Imgupr" />

    A lot of attention is given to stand over height, which is important, but, arguably, less important than ETT; because, hopefully, you spend more time riding your bike than straddling it. It gets the most attention because most manufacturers sell frames in sizes according to seat tube length and stand over height. A general rule of thumb is to have two or three inches between "you" and the top tube. But this doesn't always give the best fitting frame. Worse is when they recommend a bike size according to height. Most times this is okay, but, sometimes it's really bad.

    Remember the rider with long legs and short torso needing a shorter ETT? Well, paying attention to height or stand over only would possibly recommend a frame too large. Conversely, having short legs and a long torso will require a longer ETT. Sometimes this will result in a larger frame choice that will be grazing the rider's crotch when standing over. However, the cockpit*will be more comfortable when riding compared to a smaller size that gives two or three inches stand over clearance and a hump back. Of course, this can all be "fixed" with a laid back seat post, a longer stem and a set of wide bars - but it isn't ideal.

    The last area of discussion is chain stay length.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/WWxag.png" alt="Uploaded with Imgupr" />

    This area effects stability, agility and weight distribution. The shorter the chain stay, the easier the bike will be to wheelie and the more nimble it will feel. Too short and it will loop out on climbs. Longer chain stays make the bike track in a straight line better. Taller guys riding larger bikes with a relaxed seat tube angle and a long seat post typically need longer chain stays to keep from having too much weight on the rear wheel.

    Those are the four basic areas of geometry and how they relate to handling and fit. As you probably noticed, the frame is just a starting point and the parts you bolt to it can change the handling and fit.*

    Now, let's take a minute and imagine an interactive graphic of a rider on a bike that allows you to*drag each of the areas we discussed and how it makes the bike and rider look. Drag out the front wheel, pull the top of the seat tube toward the rear wheel, make the seat tube longer, make the top tube shorter. You see how changing one changes almost all?

    I made sure to stay away from including angles and inches because different sizes, different constructions and the parts bolted to a frame can move some bikes into different categories. Some XC bikes have slack head tubes. You can make an AM bike a decent XC bike.

    The short of it is, geometry is relative. It's impossible to understand a frame's geometry without putting it into context. It's more of a comparative analysis. Get a bike based on your height and standover and category. As you ride it, you can customize it. If you find yourself wanting your bike to perform a way that can only be accomplished outside the adjustable limits of your current bike, look for a frame with that geometry. If you see a bike that you want, let us know what you plan to do with it and we can help you understand if it is appropriate. For the most part, you can just look at a bike and understand what the category is.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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    Geometry, fit and handling

    Geometry: A lot of people make a big deal about a frame's geometry and for good reason - because it effects bike fit and handling. Changing a bike's geometry can make a bike more capable at climbing or descending; turning; more or less stable; more or less comfortable; and more or less efficient.*

    There are a lot of variables to consider when designers develop a frame and, like chaos theory, changing one little variable can drastically effect the outcome of the overall fit and handling of a bike. The good news is, as long as you are within the ballpark of frame size and type, you can change what I'll call the "effective geometry" of a bike without cutting up the frame and welding (or gluing) it back together. I call it the effective geometry because you are not changing the geometry, just the angles in relation to the rider. This is accomplished by changing or adjusting some of the parts that bolt onto the bike. I'll touch on those areas as I explain them in relation to the frame.

    For beginners, disecting a frame's geometry can be a little too far in the weeds when choosing a bike. View the following as an extremely generalized guide to help you understand why one bike may feel different than another and give you an idea as to what people are talking about when they throw around esoteric terms while discussing the mystery of frame design.

    For the most part, certain categories of bikes have a specific type of geometry and each is within a pretty close range of one another. Cross country bikes are pretty close to other cross country bikes' geometry and same goes for all mountain vs AM and down hill compared to other DH bikes. But cross country bike geometry is a lot different than a down hill bike's geometry. Manufacturers tweak their designs within each category to give specific types of fit and handling because some people prefer a certain type of geometry over another because of their body dimensions or riding style.

    There are four basic areas of a frame's geometry that will effect the way it rides: head tube, top tube, seat tube and chainstay. See diagram below:

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/WWxag.png" alt="Uploaded with Imgupr" />

    Let's start with the front of the bike.

    The head tube. There are two measurements to be concerned with: the head tube length and the head tube angle.

    Head tube length can be important if you want a really aggressive (low) handlebar position or a really relaxed (high) handle bar position. You can alter the handlebar position with more or less spacers on the steering tube, but only*within limits (the steering tube is the part of the forks that goes through the head tube and connects to the stem and handlebars). So, for the most part, a short head tube, with no spacers, will allow you to get lower than a longer head tube with no spacers.*

    Since the number of spacers you can use has limits, some people need or want a longer head tube to get a sufficiently upright position, just as some prefer the short head tube to get a sufficiently aggressive riding position. Some bikes with a sort head tube ship with a long steering tube and a lot of spacers to allow you to determine how aggressive of a riding position you want. Others will cut it low assuming you want an aggressive riding position.

    Note: You cannot lengthen a steering tube once it has been cut - you must buy a new set of forks, so, make sure you like the handlebar position before you go cutting off that steering tube! If the bike comes with a short head tube and steerer tube and you want a more upright position, you can buy a set of riser bars. Or, if it's too high, you can go the other way and cut the steerer tube or buy a set of flat bars. Because 29ers' head tube sits higher than a 26ers' head tube, some people are slamming the stem and/or turning it upside down with flat bars to get the aggressive riding position they are used to having with a 26er

    This begs the question, "what's the difference between an aggressive and relaxed riding position?" In short: aerodynamics, leverage and comfort. The lower you are, the more aerodynamic with greater leverage to pull up on the front wheel (and arguably less comfortable and less stable) compared to more upright. So, it's a trade and depends on what is more important to you.

    Head tube angle. For the most part, the more a bike looks like a chopper, the more stable it will be while riding in a straight line. This is why downhill and all mountain bikes have "slack" HT angles - for stability. The less chopper-like the bike gets, the faster it will steer and turn. Careful though, not enough head tube angle and the bike will be twitchy (difficult to ride with no hands) and you'll also likely to be over the bars often.

    Depending on the category of riding a bike is designed for, the angle of the head tube will be within a certain range. XC bikes have a steeper HT angle compared to All Mountain (AM) and Downhill (DH) bikes. Generally, entry-level XC bikes will be a little more slack than race XC bikes.

    However, one can change the "effective" HT angle (slackness/stability and steering speed) by increasing or decreasing the length of the forks. Not all forks are adjustable. However, some are designed and built to allow a rider to change the fork length (travel) by +/- 20mm. This is typically accomplished by altering the travel, or, the distance a suspension fork can compress. A segment of adjustable forks even have a way to adjust the travel (and therefore fork length) with a couple twists of a knob. When you increase or decrease the travel, you are raising or lowering the head tube. In doing that, you are increasing or decreasing the "effective" head tube angle and changing the angle of the forks. Comparatively longer travel will make a bike more slack. Be careful though - if you change the travel more than +/- 20mm, you will void the warranty because you are putting additional stress on the head tube and you might cause it to break.

    Another way is to buy a special "adjustable" headset. The headset is the compilation of bearings and spacers in the head tube. An adjustable headset allows one to adjust the steerer tube angle within the head tube +/- 1.5 degrees. It might not sound like a lot, but 1.5 degrees in either direction can really change the way a bike rides.

    It is also possible to speed up or slow down the steering or twitchiness a couple of ways without changing the travel or HT angle. Putting a longer stem on a bike and/or widening the bars slows the steering down just as a shorter stem and/narrower bars speed it up. This is like the difference between a small steering wheel on a sports car and a big steering wheel on an 18-wheeler. It doesn't actually change the ability of the bike to steer quicker or slower, it just feels like it.

    Changing either the stem or handlebars, or both, will also change your effective reach and put you in a more or less aggressive riding position. Longer stem means you have to bend over farther to reach the grips. Wider bars have the same effect. This may or may not be what you want. You can counter this by moving your saddle forward or backward to compensate for the change in reach. Again, you have to be careful making changes because moving your seat position also changes your effective seat tube angle and, in an essence, also changes the effective top tube length.

    Which brings me to effective top tube length.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/WWxag.png" alt="Uploaded with Imgupr" />

    They call it that because the actual top tube length is the measurement of the top tube from the middle of the seat tube, through the middle of the top tube, to the middle of the head tube. The effective top tube length is the measurement of the middle of the seat tube, parallel to the ground, to the middle of the head tube. The reason these two measurements are different are the same reasons Pythagoras has his own Theorem. More on the importance of top tube angle in the discussion about seat tube length and stand over height later.

    A shorter or longer ETT will dictate how cramped or stretched, or how upright or aggressive the cockpit feels. If you are a person with long legs and a short torso, you'll likely want a shorter ETT. This is also desirable for people who prefer a more upright seating position. The seat tube angle also plays a part in the ETT measurement. The more relaxed seat tube angle, the longer the ETT. Generally, an entry level bike tends to have a shorter ETT and a more relaxed seat tube angle because this allows a more upright seating position. This makes the front triangle of the frame shorter than a race bike which typically has an upright seat tube and longer ETT to give an aggressive riding position.

    Nevertheless, you can customize cockpit length by moving your seat +/- 1.5, inches, which is a common adjustment. In extreme cases, some people opt for a "laid back seat post" which is a seat post with a backward bend in it to give a little more room in the cockpit. This can give another inch or two of rearward seat adjustment. *I've also seen people use a laid back post to bring the seat forward, but I don't recommend you do it.

    When moving your seat forward or backward, you are changing the "effective" seat tube angle (a term I think I made up a long time ago) which is responsible for the position of your butt in relation to the bottom bracket. This measurement is important because it will dictate the weight distribution of the bike while peddling.

    Moving your saddle forward shifts your weight forward, which can make climbing a little easier by keeping the front tire from popping up on you. However, it can also reduce traction during climbs and, on the flats, it will add a little more pressure on the wrists and hands and makes popping a wheelie a little more difficult. Moving your seat back shifts your weight*back, which, conversely, *puts more weight on the rear wheel and increases traction. This can also make climbing while in the saddle a little easier, but it can also cause you to loop out on steep climbs in low gears.

    Lastly, a more relaxed effective seat tube angle is a little more comfortable as it will soak up bumps a little better by letting your seat post flex instead of sending the force of a bump straight up the seat post and into your back.

    When adjusting your seat, make sure your "sit bones" rest on the back of the seat. This will take some pressure off your pelvis and make riding more comfortable (There are different width seats for custom fit) This will also give you some room to adjust your weight forward by sitting on the front of the saddle when climbing.

    Some bikes have a top tube that is more parallel to the ground than others. This is mostly determined by the seat tube length.*

    The extreme examples are XC bikes compared to trials and jump bikes. Trials and jump bikes have a steeper top tube angle to give more clearance between one's groin and the top tube. This allows the seat to be low*and out of the way (or eliminates it in the case of a trials bike). XC bikes have a top tube closer to parallel with the ground to support a raised saddle. In XC, you want to have your saddle in a position for maximum peddling efficiency when seated. This is achieved by having your leg almost at near full extension when the pedal is in the full downstroke position.

    Note: The best way to find the right seat post height is to sit on the bike with the right-side crank in the five o'clock position. With riding shoes on, put your heel on the pedal spindle. If your right knee is bent, your seat is too low. If you are stretching or reaching to touch the spindle with your heel, your seat is too high.

    For XC, if your seat tube length is short and you have long legs, you will need a long seat post. If your seat post sticks up too far past the top of the seat tube, it will break, or it will break the frame. Seat posts are marked with a maximum height. Do not exceed this height. If you must exceed the height, you need a larger frame.

    Pro Tip: you can shave some grams by cutting your seat post shorter. You can measure the distance from the top of the seat tube to the maximum height mark of the seat post (that is inside the frame when you are measuring) and take note of the length. You can then cut that length off the bottom of your post, provided it still extends at least an inch below the bottom of the top tube joint. (If that does not make sense - do not attempt). File the edges of the cut post and make note of your new maximum height.

    If you are short and your seat tube is long, you won't be able to stand over the bike without your crotch painfully straddling the top tube - which is where the "stand over height" measurement comes from.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/WWxag.png" alt="Uploaded with Imgupr" />

    A lot of attention is given to stand over height, which is important, but, arguably, less important than ETT; because, hopefully, you spend more time riding your bike than straddling it. It gets the most attention because most manufacturers sell frames in sizes according to seat tube length and stand over height. A general rule of thumb is to have two or three inches between "you" and the top tube. But this doesn't always give the best fitting frame. Worse is when they recommend a bike size according to height. Most times this is okay, but, sometimes it's really bad.

    Remember the rider with long legs and short torso needing a shorter ETT? Well, paying attention to height or stand over only would possibly recommend a frame too large. Conversely, having short legs and a long torso will require a longer ETT. Sometimes this will result in a larger frame choice that will be grazing the rider's crotch when standing over. However, the cockpit*will be more comfortable when riding compared to a smaller size that gives two or three inches stand over clearance and a hump back. Of course, this can all be "fixed" with a laid back seat post, a longer stem and a set of wide bars - but it isn't ideal.

    The last area of discussion is chain stay length.

    <img src="http://i.imgur.com/WWxag.png" alt="Uploaded with Imgupr" />

    This area effects stability, agility and weight distribution. The shorter the chain stay, the easier the bike will be to wheelie and the more nimble it will feel. Too short and it will loop out on climbs. Longer chain stays make the bike track in a straight line better. Taller guys riding larger bikes with a relaxed seat tube angle and a long seat post typically need longer chain stays to keep from having too much weight on the rear wheel.

    Those are the four basic areas of geometry and how they relate to handling and fit. As you probably noticed, the frame is just a starting point and the parts you bolt to it can change the handling and fit.*

    Now, let's take a minute and imagine an interactive graphic of a rider on a bike that allows you to*drag each of the areas we discussed and how it makes the bike and rider look. Drag out the front wheel, pull the top of the seat tube toward the rear wheel, make the seat tube longer, make the top tube shorter. You see how changing one changes almost all?

    I made sure to stay away from including angles and inches because different sizes, different constructions and the parts bolted to a frame can move some bikes into different categories. Some XC bikes have slack head tubes. You can make an AM bike a decent XC bike.

    The short of it is, geometry is relative. It's impossible to understand a frame's geometry without putting it into context. It's more of a comparative analysis. Get a bike based on your height and standover and category. As you ride it, you can customize it. If you find yourself wanting your bike to perform a way that can only be accomplished outside the adjustable limits of your current bike, look for a frame with that geometry. If you see a bike that you want, let us know what you plan to do with it and we can help you understand if it is appropriate. For the most part, you can just look at a bike and understand what the category is.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

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