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.
mtn. biking 101
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.
Results 1 to 21 of 21
  1. #1
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    One year of Riding, A Few Questions/Problems

    Hello all! I have officially as of today been riding for one year and loved every minute of it from finally getting over that difficult section of trail to my first OTB experience. My bike was a bargain and has been so reliable that I have never regretted my purchase.

    After a year of riding I have noticed some slight problems that I would like to know what the solutions are to. I was hoping that you more knowledgeable riders could help me out.


    1. My first problem is slippage. I know to keep my bike under me and not to lean off it during swerves and turns, but still on especially loose gravel and slanted sections of flat trail I have slid out so many times that I've grown timid when I approach certain trail situations and brake out my momentum way too much. I am by no means a skilled rider yet, and there are times where I have to remind myself to keep the bike under me, but I feel like there are times that I still slide a bit either way.

    2. My next problem is lower back pain. I have heard that this means I need to adjust the tilt or height of my seat but I am not sure which way I need to do so or if I have heard or read correctly that it really is the source of the problem.

    3. Next is bum pain. I went to my LBS and got my bones measured but the saddle that they said would fit me was unfortunately well out of my price range. I am mostly a budget rider and I don't want to spend a lot of money for something that is barely a problem. I wear padded shorts and it's only at the 16-18 mile mark that I start to feel the pain.

    4. Lastly is headaches. I ride wearing a helmet and I ride in the heat of central Texas. At first I thought that perhaps I was being dehydrated but even with a camelbak and water bottle full of water the headaches seem to still occur. I've tried using powerade/water in my water bottle and I've tried using a pre work out blend in my water bottle. Both didn't seem to increase or decrease the headaches I have by the end of the ride.

    I want to know what riding techniques and what gear would be things that help me with my problems. Like I said I am a budget rider so I am not looking to deck out my ride (2011 Trek 29er Marlin) with expensive changes but I am open to reasonable upgrades if they fix my issues.

    Thanks to any who reply!

  2. #2
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    1. Two things that I think will help you for this problem. First is to learn how to weight/unweight the front and rear of the bike in order to gain traction when braking, turning, and going through loose terrain. There are videos on this that you can check out. Second is better tires. The tires that come on your bike are low end Bontrager OEM stuff. They're not made for really loose terrain or low traction areas. They are a recreational tire with low rolling resistance. Better tires go a long, long way.

    2. Lower back pain can be due to many factors. For me I make sure that I stretch out really well before and after the rides. Another thing that will help is to focus on core muscles. Strong obliques and abs will take a lot of strain away from the lower back.

    3. Saddle is one of the most important components to me. I usually buy new take offs on ebay of the saddle that I want with a big discount. But to me $50 bucks is worth the comfort.

    4. What helmet are you using, is it comfortable on your head? Do you clinch your teeth or tense up you neck or jaw while riding? This could just be a relaxing issue, or it could be something more.

  3. #3
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    I'll have to look more into this weighting issue and give it a go. Can you recommend a good pair of tires that won't break the bank for me or would I have to take it to the tires forum?

    I do a lot of core work outs but I only really got into working out regularly a few months ago so I'll stay at it and see if it eventually gets better.

    I'll keep my eyes posted then on ebay and the likes for something that will work for me. Might have to get sized up again since I don't recall the mm.

    I have a pretty old Giro Venti that feels pretty comfortable except when I have certain sunglasses on. When I have a certain pair on it presses just slightly on the right side of my head and starts to hurt after an hour or two of riding but not badly. I have no idea if i clinch or tense while riding. I'll have to be mindful of it next time I ride to find out.

  4. #4
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    Have you been fitted to your bike? Poor fit/position can lead to some of the issues you describe.

  5. #5
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    I got the bike used but it was the same size as the Trek 29er I got fitted for an almost purchased new from my LBS so the fit should be good.

  6. #6
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    I'll have to look more into this weighting issue and give it a go. Can you recommend a good pair of tires that won't break the bank for me or would I have to take it to the tires forum?

    I am a big fan of Schwabe tires (particularly racing ralph and nobby nic). My NN are some of the best all round traction tires I have used. Mud, dry, loose, packed, rocks, roots. Again I watch Ebay for new take offs. I got a brand new set of Nobby Nics for Just under $50 shipped on ebay. Maybe go to the Texas forum and see what people are using for tires in your area.

    I do a lot of core work outs but I only really got into working out regularly a few months ago so I'll stay at it and see if it eventually gets better.

    It could be from multiple factors, but I know core strengthening and stretching will help. What size bike are you riding, and how tall are you?

    I'll keep my eyes posted then on ebay and the likes for something that will work for me. Might have to get sized up again since I don't recall the mm.

    I have a pretty old Giro Venti that feels pretty comfortable except when I have certain sunglasses on. When I have a certain pair on it presses just slightly on the right side of my head and starts to hurt after an hour or two of riding but not badly. I have no idea if i clinch or tense while riding. I'll have to be mindful of it next time I ride to find out.
    It could have to do with the glasses you are wearing or the lenses. If they make your eyes strain or give too much pressure that could be an issue.

  7. #7
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    If you aren't overly concerned with rolling resistance I personally have had great experience with WTB Velociraptor tires. They don't wear out very quick and hardly ever give me issues with slippage also im fairly certain they have gotten cheaper online. What is your riding position like? I know my problem was that I was too hunched over with a long and low stem. If you're in a similar situation maybe look at a higher rise stem or bar. Hope this helps

  8. #8
    My little friends
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    Those Velociraptors mentioned should help you with the washouts; very grippy on the loose turns. Core strengthening goes a long way to help with back pain; work on that a bit. As for the headaches, are you pre-hydrating? You should be pretty much wizzing clear before you start the ride; playing catch up with hydration in the heat does not work. I always need to take a "pit stop" either before I ride, or shortly into it.

  9. #9
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    What part of central Texas see you riding in?

  10. #10
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    Washing out on turns can be caused by multiple things, or a combination of things. Tires, first and foremost, need to be capable. The next thing I'd look at is your body position relative to the bike when cornering with speed.

    When you corner hard you need to keep your body fairly upright and not lean over with the bike moto style. You should keep your center of mass over the bottom bracket while leaning the bike over into the turn. If you are moving over to the side WITH the bike then you will push the tires loose much easier. In conjunction with the proper lean technique you need to actually weight the outboard pedal and the front end. You need to feel like you are pushing the front end into the ground to make it stick. If your weight is back or too neutral relative to the front end, then again, the front end will wash out much easier.

    I think the reason it's hard for many of us to really push the front end and weight it down on high speed turns is because we fear it breaking loose, so we naturally keep our weight back a bit feeling it will be much easier to recover if something does break loose. The reality is if you watch skilled riders they do just the opposite, they stick that front end into the ground and have a very aggressive stance over the bike while doing it. The caveat is that when it does break loose, it will do it in a hurry! It's a balancing act, you can't over do it.

    I'm by no means a master at cornering, just passing along some things I've picked up on over the years. I'm always trying to push that front end into the ground when I get the chance and man, when it all comes together it's awesome. You'll then find out what "carving" a corner feels like.

    If you have a bank you can lean with the bike, on level ground you look a little more like this guy. not a great pic but it's the first thing that popped up.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails One year of Riding, A Few Questions/Problems-nice-get-elbow-out-terry..jpg  


  11. #11
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    How much tire pressure are you using? What do you weigh? Off-camber turns and loose gravel will always be tricky, but correct tire pressure and nice tires can at least improve things. Line selection helps too - there's not always a good line, but sometimes you can widen your turn radius by starting at the outside, falling toward the inside, and drifting out again as you pass through a turn. And, keep your eyes open. Old ruts, terrain features, berms, etc. are all your friends.

    For saddle pain, the Late Great Sheldon Brown has a good article on his web site. Start with good setup.
    http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html

    Not all saddles work for everybody, but there are ways to get nice saddles for cheap if you just can't make it work. I think my favorite only cost me about $35. My local used shop had a bin full of them. Bike coops have them around. Retail bike shops often have a few as new bike takeoffs. And of course, there's EBay.

    Back pain, for me, is both a fit issue and a fitness issue. Sooner or later, on a long ride, something's gotta give. So sometimes my back hurts even though I think my bike fit is as good as it's getting. But if my fit's off... my back will hurt a lot sooner. Sheldon talks about bike fit, but if you want to try from the ground up, I like this article better.
    http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm

    Record your current setup first. If you can't improve upon it following the Peter White article, you won't have lost anything.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  12. #12
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    Going to have to start keeping my eyes posted for Take Offs. Maybe I can snag a nice deal on some new tires or a saddle or both.

    My bike size is 20" and I am exactly 6' tall.

    I'll give my aviators a try for riding again once i supper glue the damage they took from falling out of my car. They were more comfortable and didn't apply any pressure like my back up pair of shades. Eventually i'll get some riding glasses since my contacts tend to dry so easy if wind gets in my eyes that I need something.

    Going to look around for the Velociraptor tires and see what I can find. I am willing to sacrifice roll for grip, especially on the trails that I have been riding lately.

    I usually prehydrate a little bit but I'll give it more attention next ride. Especially with how hot it's been this season.

    I ride in Austin Texas. Going to hit up some of the more curvy parts of Walnut Creek and practice my cornering. That trail has several sections of flat winding turns that I can't ever seem to keep full momentum in without washing out or kissing a tree.

    I weigh 145lb and run 36 PSI on technical trails, 38 PSI on average trails, and 44 PSI on flat trails when I am going to speed and distance.

    Yeah I am getting better at line selection ever since I made the wrong choice and had my first OTB experience.

    I'll give those websites a look and try and toy with my fit and see if I can improve anything with it.

  13. #13
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    That's a lot of psi for your weight. Are the tires tubeless? If so going to 28 (maybe even less) would help. If not tubeless I would try dropping the psi from 36 in increments to see if that helps.

    I also ride in the Austin area (live in Georgetown).

  14. #14
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    That's a very high pressure for your weight! That could be a main culprit in spinning out. I run tubeless and run about 25 psi in back, 22 up front and I weigh 175. Different tires with lower pressure will give you lots more grip.
    2012 Salsa Horsethief
    2005 Independent Fabrication Deluxe

  15. #15
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    They are not tubeless. My tires read that they are to be inflated to 30-50 PSI so would that mean that I should drop them all the way down to 30 PSI? Could I go lower than 30 with out compromising the tire's integrity?

    Oh excellent. Such a nice riding community in and around Austin. I live in Round Rock. Haven't been out to lake georgetown yet but planning on maybe visiting it this weekend if the weather can hold up.

  16. #16
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    It it's definitely worth giving 30 psi a try. There's always a risk of pinch flatting but it's worth the experiment in my opinion.

    The trail around lake Georgetown is awesome (if you like rocks).

    You should also check out the single track off of bushy creek.

  17. #17
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    I'll give it a shot then, or at the very least drop it down to like 31-32 PSI.

    Yeah I used to teach children's mountain biking at the YMCA down there off Brushy Creek and I would end the lessons with a ride a short way into the single track.

    That only lasted a week though as the kids obviously got a little bit frustrated and hurt out there. Fun track though, I still have to bail on several parts of it especially towards the hilly side.

  18. #18
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    Those pressure ratings are written by lawyers. My tires say min. pressure 35 psi and I run them at 25 psi with no problems. I weigh 175, use tubes, and honestly can not remember the last time I pinch flatted.

  19. #19
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    Regarding cornering, have you checked out the video thread at the top of this forum? Mountain Biking Skills Videos Watch the straight line and cornering video. I struggle a bit with tight downhill corners and have been working on some of the techniques in that video.

    What type of back pain are you experiencing? Muscle soreness or sharp pains? Muscle soreness can be relieved with stretching exercises and building up your core muscles. Do some ab crunches, leg lifts, etc. a few days a week. This will build your ab muscles and take some of the pressure of your lower back muscles.

    If you know what your sit bone measurements were from when the bike shop measured you for a seat, you should be able to find a decent seat online that is more affordable than what they were trying to sell you. Amazon, Price Point, Nashbar, etc. all have good selections and you can check out the customer reviews as well.

  20. #20
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    This is why I love these forums. I learn something every time I visit them!

  21. #21
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    At 140 lb, I was riding 20 psi front/25 rear.

    The bad thing that happens if you run too little pressure is a pinch flat. BFD. Keep dropping your tire pressure until either you flat or your tires start to wallow in turns. Go back up 5 psi. Be happy. :-)
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

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