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

    I am going to purchase a new bike- hardtail most likely.

    After test riding several bikes for a long time, I noticed that there are two types of cockpit feel, which mainly depends upon head tube angle:

    sport-low stance vs. upright trail-like position.

    In determining which bike to buy- no matter the price or brand, any opinions as to which is better for a first mtn bike and why? Theoretically, I would like to do both, depending upon the mood, location, etc.

    Thanks,

    Sean

  2. #2
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    Depends what you care about more. Stretched out and down is more effecient for pedaling. Upright is easier and more friendly for the beginner, and is also the better position for lifting the front end so it makes advanced technical techniques easier to learn and execute.
    I call for a mandate to allow only road bikes on trails to limit our speeds and increase our line picking skills-FB

  3. #3
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    Well said 9.8! Determine your style and comfort. I've seen some folks do adjustable stems so they can easily make adjustments to a more upright position. Test ride a few and see what you like.

  4. #4
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    Do you want to race?

    Go with the longer top tube and more stretched out position.

    Do you want to do trail rides with the occasional drop and jump?

    Go with the shorter top tube and more upright position.

    It is easier to race a trail bike than it is to learn how to handle a racy bike on technical trails.

    Me, I like the racy bikes.
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  5. #5
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    Stem modifications

    Is it possible to get a racy bike (longer top tube, etc.), substitute a high stem for a more upright position, and then later decrease the stem height for race-ready position? Is this the same as just having a shorter top tube, or are there differences in center of mass/gravity?

    also, is it possible to change the stem on the trail, almost the same concept as the attitude adjustment on the Specialized Enduro SL (which I know deals more with the front suspension, but you know what I mean)?

    thanks for your answers!

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountain_bike
    Is it possible to get a racy bike (longer top tube, etc.), substitute a high stem for a more upright position, and then later decrease the stem height for race-ready position? Is this the same as just having a shorter top tube, or are there differences in center of mass/gravity?

    also, is it possible to change the stem on the trail, almost the same concept as the attitude adjustment on the Specialized Enduro SL (which I know deals more with the front suspension, but you know what I mean)?

    thanks for your answers!

    Possible? Sure, anythings possible. Would I want to carry around an extra stem? No way. Maybe if you live in the Alps. Otherwise there's no way it would be worth it. Plus your ride buddies would HATE you.
    I call for a mandate to allow only road bikes on trails to limit our speeds and increase our line picking skills-FB

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountain_bike
    Is it possible to get a racy bike (longer top tube, etc.), substitute a high stem for a more upright position, and then later decrease the stem height for race-ready position? Is this the same as just having a shorter top tube, or are there differences in center of mass/gravity?

    also, is it possible to change the stem on the trail, almost the same concept as the attitude adjustment on the Specialized Enduro SL (which I know deals more with the front suspension, but you know what I mean)?

    thanks for your answers!
    There is more to it than just the TT length. The "racier" bike is going to have a steeper head angle and quicker steering. It may even have a lower bottom bracket for a lower center of gravity and better handling.

    The more upright bike is going to have a slacker head tube angle for more forgiving handling. It will be less sketchy when going through the technical stuff.

    You change the stem to tweak the fit on the bike. Not to change the way the bike handles.
    "There are those who would say there's something pathological about the need to ride, and they're probably on to something. I'd wager though that most of the society-approved compulsions leave deeper scars in the psyche than a need to go and ride a bicycle on a mountain." Cam McRea

  8. #8
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    Listen to Frozenspokes....

    he knows whereof he speaks. It's allot easier to race a trail bike than it is to learn to handle a race bike on techincal trails.

    You've noticed the difference between the two. Which one "feels right" to you? That's the bottom line. Which one do you like the best? The bike that you are most comfortable on is the one that you'll ride the most. I get laughed at allot because I use mountain pedals and shoes on my road bike. But I really don't care, I DON'T LIKE ROAD SHOES!!! And I don't like road pedals either. I like to be able to walk in my riding shoes a bit if I have to. Ever try to walk in road shoes with those monster cleats sticking off the bottom. It don't work! My mountain shoes are comfortable and I can hike it if I have to. I do what's right for me.

    So basically our opinions don't matter that much. You do what you like and what feels right. Personally I don't care for the "racer boy" geometry. I'd go for the more trail oriented set up myself. But it's your choice ultimately.

    Good Dirt
    "I do whatever my Rice Cripsies tell me to!"

  9. #9
    local trails rider
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    Most bikes that I see in shops have the stem as high as possible, with spacers under it. You can lower the bar some by changing the order of the stem and the spacers.

    My HT bike has a "longish" 110 mm stem and it is set up as low as possible so that my bar is a little below seat level. I could put on a shorter stem for better descending but then the climbing would suffer.

  10. #10
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    It seems to be an industry standard for the entry level hardtails in particular (sub $800US) to come with a really upright sort of position, mainly because that's what most people are used to from riding Wally type bikes.

    As long as you buy the bike that is going to suit your general style of riding you shouldn't go too far wrong, things can be changed to get it to fit or feel better than it does on the shop floor.
    But remember a race bike will always have race geometry and the same with a trail bike, changing the geometry is somewhat possible by getting a different fork with more or less travel (80mm - 130mm) as the head angle changes by 0.5 degrees for every 10mm travel, but this is also expensive because suspension forks are expensive!

    Yes changing the length and rise of the stem can have effect on more than just your position.

    A short stem with some rise to it leaves you more upright, it also affects how your weight is distributed on the bike which means more weight will be towards the rear wheel compared to the front. This is generally ideal for lifting the front wheel off the ground and also riding down steep hills or riding generally in technical terrain (over big obstacles etc).

    A long stem stretches you out, puts more weight on the front wheel than a short stem and in most cases making the bike reasonably balanced. This is ideal for long rides which are not too technical and climbing up a lot of steep hills.

    The stem size can also affect how the steering of the bike feels (quick & responsive, or stable and slow). Pick one that's too long or too short for the riding you are doing then you will have comfort issues on the bike, such as sore back, shoulders hands and the like. Of course comfort has to do with more than stem length and if you are having issues there would be other things to check first (saddle height etc).

    In saying all that it depends what you're used to, some people prefer a shorter cockpit others like a long one regardless of what they ride. A set up that you are not used to can feel very strange, you may get used to it or you may not.

    Like someone said before me, picking the position that feels most comfortable to you is a good start, but also take advice from the LBS to get a bike that will suit the type of riding you plan to do. There is so many different bikes out there for so many different styles of riding that it's not funny. Unless you're talking about extremes like freeriding or serious downhill, whichever bike you end up with should be more than capable of doing anything you desire it to.
    [SIZE="2"]Life's a bi&*h & then you Ride![/SIZE]

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