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.
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  1. #1
    mtbr member
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    Question on upgrades

    Im sorry if this is either a really dumb question or if the answer is super obvious, but when do or when should I start upgrading? Ive got a Felt q620 and its completely stock. I am certainly in the market for pedals, other than that, what are some common "first" upgrades. I appreciate the noob help.

  2. #2
    Yes, that's fonetic
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    Hard to say not knowing your parts spec, but why worry about upgrades already? Upgrade the first thing that breaks.

  3. #3
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    Upgrade your riding by doing lots of it. Upgrade the bike as it breaks. Pedals are a good upgrade, but that's all I would do for now. When you're ready for an upgrade, you won't need anyone else to tell you what it is, you'll know.

  4. #4
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    I appreciate the replies. The reason I ask is I smashed the plastic bash guard the other day, but I am having trouble finding a good bash guard to accommodate the 3 rings. I also don't use the large ring, so I asked myself is it worth it to go to 2 and get a bash guard that way? It was just a thought, and I figured I would throw the idea out there. Again I appreciate the replies and advice.

  5. #5
    Yes, that's fonetic
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    That plastic thing was to keep your pants from getting caught in the chain, not a true bash guard. If you don't use the big ring, then a swap to a bash guard is definitely a worthwhile mod, especially if you do much trialsy riding.

  6. #6
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    ^ good to know. Thank you.

  7. #7
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    I am doing pedals on my bike this week, along with upgrading the shifters and brake levers. Reason for that is I have those Shimano All in One things, and I cracked the plastic cover pieces on them in a wreck. I would rather just have seperate components so I don't get stuck replacing both again. Everything else is working good. I may end up at somepoint taking my 8 speed bike up to a 9 speed, which would involve new chain, cassettes, and derailers, but I am fine with the 8 speed for now.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by somexiridemybike View Post
    Im sorry if this is either a really dumb question or if the answer is super obvious, but when do or when should I start upgrading? Ive got a Felt q620 and its completely stock. I am certainly in the market for pedals, other than that, what are some common "first" upgrades. I appreciate the noob help.
    pedals, tires, saddle, grip, stem ( not so much an upgrade as for better fit), after that it starts getting expensive.

  9. #9
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    If you're going to throw money at your bike, make it fit you first. Sometimes that requires a new stem or a new saddle. Good tires are highly worthwhile. The new pedals will help you to be more stable on the bike, so that's a good one too.

    After that, fork, brakes, wheels, kick yourself for spending more than you would have if you just bought the Nine Comp in the first place. Seriously - upgrading piecemeal has to be the most expensive way going to get to a nice bike. And a lot of people end up with pretty uneven builds doing that.

    Try not to buy crap for the drivetrain until it wears out.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
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    If you look around on ebay you can get good deals on the shifters you need. There are Deore 8 speed shifters for like $26 shipped on there. Brake levers are also cheap, but you may need new cables/housings. Which are also cheap if you get the jagwire kits.

    I have been looking for a lot of small stuff like that because I am bring a bike back from the grave. For no real reason...just feel like polishing a turd.

  11. #11
    My little friends
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    Upgrade the pedals, (time for clipless?), and tires, if they are not the best tread for your riding locations. There is no reason to replace any component that is not giving you a problem. Since you are just starting out, YOU are the limiting factor of your bike's performance, and until the limit is set by the bike, go ride it and enjoy it as it is!

  12. #12
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    I thought about clipless, but I have reservations. Just dont think I can do it. I appreciate the replies! Looks like its time to ride

  13. #13
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    There have been a lot of situations were I think Clipless would have benefited me greatly. However, there is at least twice as many situations where I have said "I'm glad I was clipped in!"

  14. #14
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    So here'e the main question I have about clipless. Since one is clipped to the pedals, there is no doubt more pedal power in the sense that you have power not only on the downward pump but you also have power on the up. How noticeable is it? I imagine you use less energy or at least use your energy more efficiently.

  15. #15
    Single(Pivot)and Happy
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    There are studies of "clipless vs. platforms" if you really care to search.

    I ride both types of pedals. If you are going to ride flats, invest in a pair of shoes that have thick, stiff soles and a "sticky" rubber compound. The "go to" shoes for flats are 510's.

    A lot of riders choose skate shoes. Remember, many skate shoes have sticky rubber compounds for grip but also have thinner soles so that one can feel their board. I have rode specific models from DC, DVS & Globe with satisfactory results. Other brands most likely will have specific models that will work.

    Pedalling technique is just as important with clipless as with flats. Poor technique with clipless will negate any upward power transfer. Proper clipless setup, foot position and float will reduce stress and strain on your muscles and joints.

    Many beginners shy away from clipless for fear they will not be able to detach their feet and fall. As you learn how to ride clipless you will fall over. So practice in an area where when you do fall over you will not get hurt. Once you set up your pedals correctly and learn how easy it is to detach, you will be able to keep your feet on the pedals, control your bike with hip rotation and detach your feet without thinking.

    Flats with appropriate shoes can accomplish all of the above except for one thing: keep your feet connected under all circumstances. Many riders will say they have never had their foot slip off their pedals. All it takes is one time for your foot to slip, it's always at the least opportune time. Learn how to ride both flats and clipless and you will be a better rider, IMO.
    The suspension of your bike sucks if it's different than mine. Really. It sucks. Big time.

  16. #16
    Picture Unrelated
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    Quote Originally Posted by somexiridemybike View Post
    So here'e the main question I have about clipless. Since one is clipped to the pedals, there is no doubt more pedal power in the sense that you have power not only on the downward pump but you also have power on the up. How noticeable is it? I imagine you use less energy or at least use your energy more efficiently.
    For anyone but the highest level elite riders there is no difference between the two pedal systems in terms of pedaling efficiency. Pulling up on the pedals has been proven through clinical studies (since the 70s) to be an inefficient way of pedaling. Despite what everyone says, you aren't a second class biker if you don't use clipless pedals. The ability to pull up may not be efficient, but it's a handy way to get out of a jam for someone riding a singlespeed or geared too high.

    There are benefits to both and it's worth trying clipless when your bike handling skills are ready. I would say once your whole local trail system is well within your comfort zone then I would give clipless a try; it's probably a conservative approach, but that's usually how I roll.

    More information and opinions can be found in multiple threads across the board (it's a hot topic, to say the least) so do some searching reading. I most recently posted about this here: Regret going clipless?
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  17. #17
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    Quote Originally Posted by somexiridemybike View Post
    So here'e the main question I have about clipless. Since one is clipped to the pedals, there is no doubt more pedal power in the sense that you have power not only on the downward pump but you also have power on the up. How noticeable is it? I imagine you use less energy or at least use your energy more efficiently.
    There is no extra power transfer on the "up" in normal pedaling.

    I think it makes the very bottom of the pedal stroke a little better, and it very much improves the stability of my feet on the pedals.

    Note that someone with good form can still use the bottom of the stroke effectively in flat pedals, and nicer flat pedals and purpose-built MTB flat pedal shoes are supposed to have very good stability.

    I like my clipless pedals. But I think a lot of the claims about what they do for a rider are grossly exaggerated.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    There is no extra power transfer on the "up" in normal pedaling.

    I think it makes the very bottom of the pedal stroke a little better, and it very much improves the stability of my feet on the pedals.

    Note that someone with good form can still use the bottom of the stroke effectively in flat pedals, and nicer flat pedals and purpose-built MTB flat pedal shoes are supposed to have very good stability.

    I like my clipless pedals. But I think a lot of the claims about what they do for a rider are grossly exaggerated.
    So I gather a few things based on what I just read.....the guy at the LBS was full of **** when he told me that.....I think he wanted to sell me a clipless setup.

    Quote Originally Posted by zebrahum View Post
    For anyone but the highest level elite riders there is no difference between the two pedal systems in terms of pedaling efficiency. Pulling up on the pedals has been proven through clinical studies (since the 70s) to be an inefficient way of pedaling. Despite what everyone says, you aren't a second class biker if you don't use clipless pedals. The ability to pull up may not be efficient, but it's a handy way to get out of a jam for someone riding a singlespeed or geared too high.

    There are benefits to both and it's worth trying clipless when your bike handling skills are ready. I would say once your whole local trail system is well within your comfort zone then I would give clipless a try; it's probably a conservative approach, but that's usually how I roll.

    More information and opinions can be found in multiple threads across the board (it's a hot topic, to say the least) so do some searching reading. I most recently posted about this here: Regret going clipless?
    Yeah, I have come to realize the topic is popular. I will look into that thread and others. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Boulder Pilot View Post
    There are studies of "clipless vs. platforms" if you really care to search.

    I ride both types of pedals. If you are going to ride flats, invest in a pair of shoes that have thick, stiff soles and a "sticky" rubber compound. The "go to" shoes for flats are 510's.

    A lot of riders choose skate shoes. Remember, many skate shoes have sticky rubber compounds for grip but also have thinner soles so that one can feel their board. I have rode specific models from DC, DVS & Globe with satisfactory results. Other brands most likely will have specific models that will work.

    Pedalling technique is just as important with clipless as with flats. Poor technique with clipless will negate any upward power transfer. Proper clipless setup, foot position and float will reduce stress and strain on your muscles and joints.

    Many beginners shy away from clipless for fear they will not be able to detach their feet and fall. As you learn how to ride clipless you will fall over. So practice in an area where when you do fall over you will not get hurt. Once you set up your pedals correctly and learn how easy it is to detach, you will be able to keep your feet on the pedals, control your bike with hip rotation and detach your feet without thinking.

    Flats with appropriate shoes can accomplish all of the above except for one thing: keep your feet connected under all circumstances. Many riders will say they have never had their foot slip off their pedals. All it takes is one time for your foot to slip, it's always at the least opportune time. Learn how to ride both flats and clipless and you will be a better rider, IMO.
    I have just the crappy stock pedals now and I ride on a pair of DC shoes that I picked up on the cheap. They work for me shoe wise and are very comfortable.......I am used to the skateboard/bmx world as that is where I started.

    Thanks for the tips all, that has really shed some light on the situation. Now, time to research more into clipless.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by somexiridemybike View Post
    So I gather a few things based on what I just read.....the guy at the LBS was full of **** when he told me that.....I think he wanted to sell me a clipless setup.
    Well, not full of **** per se, just spitting out the same regurgitated misinformation that everyone has been clinging to for the past few decades. It wasn't that long ago that you had maybe three types of pedal upgrades to choose from: toe clip, clipless (see, that's where that name comes from), and bear trap. Given the options, clipless actually was far superior during that time. Today, however, we have multitudes of improved options at our disposal; big wide flats with sharp traction pins and stiff soled sticky shoes are a revelation in pedaling choices. Most bike shop employees simply see what the pros are running and run that themselves so it's natural to hype the products you like best.

    I was skeptical at first, having drank the clipless KoolAid for at least a decade and I spat the same garbage about how it was superior just like most every other bike shop employee does. I started to open my eyes when I tried lift-served biking for the first time. I ran flats with some skate shoes I had and I amazingly didn't slip pedals constantly. I could also pedal (to the extent that bike was able). I still ran clipless for many years after, but I would more frequently take out my bike with flats on it. After I got my latest bike, I bought a pair of Straitlines and haven't looked back; that bike still hasn't had clipless pedals attached to it 3 years later.

    The best thing you can do right now is ditch the "crappy" pedals you have and get a pair of wide, pinned pedals. Don't worry about ditching your skate shoes, they'll be fine on a good pedal. I spent two seasons on DC shoes with my Straitline pedals and I didn't have any issues with grip. I recently changed to 5.10 Impact 2 and it's a fantastic difference, but if you're on a budget your money will go farther by buying good pedals for decent shoes first than it will to buy great shoes and use them on crap pedals.

    Like I alluded to, this topic is the hot button right now. You probably won't find a more hotly debated topic in the bike world; I'd say it is more contested right now than 26 v 29 v 650b. One thing that is very important is that you understand that there is no right answer. You need to make the decision on what you want to ride and you need to realize that you are free to change your mind at any point for any reason. The bike I ride 90% of the time has flat pedals on it, my singlespeed (which I am too weak to ride frequently) has clipless pedals on it. After a while, getting out of clipless becomes second nature. Like you need to learn to enter and exit clipless pedals, you need to learn how to pedal efficiently and how to position and angle your feet to stay on your flat pedals. I'll reprise my summary here:

    Beginners should use (good) flat pedals, always.
    Intermediate riders should try both and run the one they prefer.
    Expert riders don't care what pedal you use because they know someone who rips on both types of pedal.
    Toe clip pedals suck.
    Don't you hate it when a sentence doesn't end the way you think it octopus?

  20. #20
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    Wow! Awesome post man. Thanks a lot I really appreciate that. I think I have some good info to use moving forward and I certainly have a few things to think about. Again, thanks!

  21. #21
    local trails rider
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    Stop worrying about pedals and upgrades and ride that bike

    - when parts wear out or break, replace them with something that will work at least as weel as the old parts
    - if you find that something does not suit you, think about replacing it
    - I think it is good to ride on flat pedals until you are confident riding whatever your usual trails have to offer

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  22. #22
    Trail Tire TV on blogger
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    lots of good advice!!! right on down the thread (wait .... is this MTBR? where am I? )


    hey, somexiridemybike, i noticed you're in Manchester, CT, come down to the Groton, Bluff Point adventure series in Aug. there is actually going to be a professional rider who is going to give a basic skills class on MTB (don't ask his name as I can't remember now)

    but the questions and stuff you've been asking and trying to figure out will be most likely covered, and there will be LOTS of others just like you there!!
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  23. #23
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    Thomllama, I saw that and was planning on going. As long as work doesn't get in the way I'm there! Thanks for the heads up.

  24. #24
    Trail Tire TV on blogger
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    Quote Originally Posted by somexiridemybike View Post
    Thomllama, I saw that and was planning on going. As long as work doesn't get in the way I'm there! Thanks for the heads up.
    call in sick... of working on Sundays
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  25. #25
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    It's time to upgrade when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your bike/component is holding you back.

    For instance. I started on a walmart bike and never needed to upgrade because I was like, dang, this is fun.

    My skills werent good enough to warrent an upgrade either.

    But once my skills got better and I demod good bikes, I realized I needed something better.

    It should happen naturally.

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