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
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    ... and if we just ... Tips for a beginner?

    I got a new summer job and one of my co-workers convinced me to give heading out to the local singletrack a try (on my 15" schwinn from about 10 years ago, when i was 10. I'm 5'11", 150 lbs if you can picture that lol) and i had a blast. I shortly after got my hands on a 08' Rock Hopper disc. The trail has some decent hills for NW indiana, switch backs, log jumps, lots of roots, and SAND.

    Some of the stuff i try to do that i can think of:
    • I try to shift gears before hills to aviod messing up the drivetrain
    • try to ride in a lower gear to keep a constant cadance while pedaling
    • stand up and keep weight back while decending to keep control of bike


    I have a lot of common sense of how to ride just from riding a bike as a kid, but im just looking for tips to improve my riding skillz. I have friends out going to school in colorado, oregon, and cali. I cant wait to visit them with my bike. I'm hooked
    Last edited by tkulchawick135; 06-17-2008 at 11:34 AM.

  2. #2
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    Welcome fellow Hoosier!! I'm on the other side of the state in Fort Wayne, if you ever head east, check out the trails in Winona Lake.

    Do you have any questions in particular? Ask away. See you out on the dirt.

  3. #3
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    the biggest tip i can give it get out there and ride. ride, crash, get up and ride again. if something looks too difficult, get off the rig and look it over. if you decide to ride it and clean it, congrats, if not, keep riding, you'll get it. the biggest thing is to learn the bike you are on. learn how it handles. learn what you can get away with and what you cannot.. it will come. most of all... have some fun!!!!

  4. #4
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    Well, when i try to do sharp turns that arent banked, it seems like the tires lose traction a lot on the leaves and dirt. Is it my riding or the tires? What would be some better tires i should take a look at? I do remember some people saying the stock tires on the RH are pretty weak.. and it seems that way to me

  5. #5
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    Relax! Be loose on the bike. Let your body absorb the blow from the trail. Keeping your elbows bent helps alot with that. Dont have a death grip on the hadle bars just a firm one. Also make sure you look down the trail. Dont look just inches in front of your tire but more like 10ft up the trail for things comming. Just look where you want to go your bike will follow. Fall a couple times, after you hit the ground enough you wont even worry about it. Have fun!

  6. #6
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    Also, why do i start feeling a pinch on the outside of my palms mid way thru the ride? the LBS said its probibly from leaning on the handlebars, and he'd adjust my stem so i rode more upright. Sound correct?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate
    Welcome fellow Hoosier!! I'm on the other side of the state in Fort Wayne, if you ever head east, check out the trails in Winona Lake.

    Do you have any questions in particular? Ask away. See you out on the dirt.
    I have heard of that place and i'll probibly head out there sometime soon. I havent had a chance to get out of the area yet, because i usually golf or wakeboard on weekends. I also wanna get out to michigan or southern Indiana. I also heard about a few spots down by purdue... thats where i'll be going back to school in the fall.

  8. #8
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by tkulchawick135
    Also, why do i start feeling a pinch on the outside of my palms mid way thru the ride?
    The exact position of the bar and levers can make a difference.
    Also, there may be a tendency to grip the bar too hard, which obviously leads to fatigue and pain.

    Quote Originally Posted by tkulchawick135
    when i try to do sharp turns that arent banked, it seems like the tires lose traction a lot on the leaves and dirt.
    Tyres can make a difference, so can tyre pressures. Up to a point, lower pressure gives better traction. Too low and you start getting "pinch flats". Any tyre will lose traction if you turn too fast. Braking while turning reduces the amount of traction you have left for turning. You also need to have your weight distribution on the bike so that there's weight on both tyres.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    The exact position of the bar and levers can make a difference.
    Also, there may be a tendency to grip the bar too hard, which obviously leads to fatigue and pain.

    Tyres can make a difference, so can tyre pressures. Up to a point, lower pressure gives better traction. Too low and you start getting "pinch flats". Any tyre will lose traction if you turn too fast. Braking while turning reduces the amount of traction you have left for turning. You also need to have your weight distribution on the bike so that there's weight on both tyres.
    yeah i do have my tires lowered to 38psi (150lbs) and it does make a difference. Thx for the info everyone! Any good XC tire recommendations? Usually just riding packed dirt, no mud or snow or anything yet

  10. #10
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    on packed dirt you can raise your pressure a bit to 55psi. Unless you do a lot of roots or rocks. This will lower the rolling resistance.

    I agree with the fellow above, ride loose, but direct the bike. Let the bike do the work, but don't let the bike steer.

  11. #11
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by mlepito
    on packed dirt you can raise your pressure a bit to 55psi. Unless you do a lot of roots or rocks. This will lower the rolling resistance.
    That kind of pressures would kill me on the local rocky/rooty trails... and I am no lightweight.

  12. #12
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    That's why I said "unless you ride a lot of roots and rocks". You would get bounced around a lot. But he said he rides hard pack.

  13. #13
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    to specifically answer the tires and traction issue.... i grew up riding in michigan. mostly hardpack this time of year with lots o leaves covering the trails. on turns that are not banked, if you carry any substantial velocity upon entering, you will get some tire slide. this is not bad. in fact, it will get you around that turn faster. there are two keys though to pulling this off successfully. STAY OFF THE BRAKES. applying your brakes will make you slide right off the trail and eat it. also, pick your line well.

    it kinda feeds off my last comment of getting to know your bike well and learning what you can get away with. the most important thing is to float over the bike. find that flow (which i myself am struggling with on the new ride) ride a little quicker than you think you should. as someone said before, look 10ft ahead of you. point the front tire and the rear will follow. bite off more than you can chew. and again... have tons of fun. afterall, that is why we go out and try to kill ourselves on the bikes isn't it?

  14. #14
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    Well, i ride at imagination glen. The whole beginning section is a lot of flats, some sand, and just weaving back and forth. Then, theres a lot more logs, rocks, roots, and hills once you get farther into the woods so the tire pressure i have works. I was just curious because i was trying to cruise pretty fast through the beginning section and was wondering about how to not slide around so much. Thanks for all the responses

    On another note, whats the best way to ride up hills? I usually ride like hell, drop the gear down at the bottom of the hill and lean forward while pedaling. Sometimes i need to stand up and pump if im gonna stop.

  15. #15
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    i am a huge fan of the panaracer fire xc . or the smoke.. there are a ton of good tires out there, but these have served me well in the mid michigan area. I am riding in florida now, where there is a lot of sand and they still do pretty well. i am sure your locale and the one that i grew up riding in michigan have similar features.

    you can practice shifting your weight to see where on the bike you need to be for your tires to grip the best. you will never eliminate the slide in the type of terrain you are riding but you can control it most of the time. I am envious of you and your trails.. I get beaches in the middle of woods here. good trails, just not the hardpack and MUD that I am used to.

  16. #16
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    I took off the fast track tires on my rockhopper after the first couple of rides. I got a pair of WTB Weirwolf tires cheap, they get much better traction but don't shed mud that well.

    Around Purdue, I heard there is a group of people trying to make some trails in Lafayette. I don't really get down that way so I don't know anything else. Check out http://www.hmba.org for more info on that. As for Michigan, I recommend TK Lawless park (If you ski it's a few miles from Swiss Valley) and Fort Custer on I-94 just west of Battle Creek.

  17. #17
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    if you're going to lawless, just go north an hour or so and join us at yankee springs! =)

    are you wearing gloves? that will make a difference. i'd suggest finding someone that's decent and taking a lap with them. ask them to point out things that you may want to improve.

    i've learned quite a bit from my more experienced friends and i appreciate their SOLICITED advice.

    btw, when you're down at purdue, check out brown county state park. good stuff.

  18. #18
    Big Gulps, Alright!
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    The fast traks are fast rolling tires. If you're doing trail riding, get something with a little more knob to it...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by tkulchawick135
    whats the best way to ride up hills?
    Depends on the hill

    I ride singlespeed a lot and there it is mainly "start as fast as possible and keep it up if you can".

    If you have a long climb, you want to find a gear you can turn and then just keep winching.

    I like to start short climbs at some speed if possible. Then I look for a spot where I can afford to reduce the pressure a bit for shifting. Or I get out of the saddle to get up the last few meters. It takes some trial and error to find out what you can, and cannot, do.

    When it gets steep, you need to move your weight forward to keep the front wheel on the ground. Not so much that you lose traction in the rear, though. More trial and error...

    Obstacles are much harder going up a hill: in addition to putting your front wheel where you need it to be, you need to pay attention to maintaining some speed while doing it. Going down a hill, the slope usually takes care of maintaining enough speed.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate
    I took off the fast track tires on my rockhopper after the first couple of rides. I got a pair of WTB Weirwolf tires cheap, they get much better traction but don't shed mud that well.

    Around Purdue, I heard there is a group of people trying to make some trails in Lafayette. I don't really get down that way so I don't know anything else. Check out http://www.hmba.org for more info on that. As for Michigan, I recommend TK Lawless park (If you ski it's a few miles from Swiss Valley) and Fort Custer on I-94 just west of Battle Creek.
    Yup, the local specialized dealer does monthly rides, and they are going to lawless in july and custer in august. Hope i make it to both otherwise i'll head there on my own. I like the news about the lafayette trails! i'll check it out.

    Quote Originally Posted by dewthedru
    if you're going to lawless, just go north an hour or so and join us at yankee springs! =)

    are you wearing gloves? that will make a difference. i'd suggest finding someone that's decent and taking a lap with them. ask them to point out things that you may want to improve.

    i've learned quite a bit from my more experienced friends and i appreciate their SOLICITED advice.

    btw, when you're down at purdue, check out brown county state park. good stuff.

    I am wearing gloves. I plan on heading to brown county sometime soon, i hear its amazing! i've been there camping before but they didnt have any riding trails then. Beautiful place. I also heard about 2-3 trails in the indy area. And one more in eastern ill...

  21. #21
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    I forgot about Illinois, my brother-in-law says Kickapoo State Park is a fun ride.

  22. #22
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    yeah! thats the one

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate
    Welcome fellow Hoosier!! I'm on the other side of the state in Fort Wayne, if you ever head east, check out the trails in Winona Lake.

    Do you have any questions in particular? Ask away. See you out on the dirt.
    Awesome to know so many Hoosiers frequent these boards. I'm also fairly new(although I used to ride occasionally years ago) so this forum will be a great resource. Like yourself I'm in Fort Wayne but I'm only here for the summer and I usually live in Indy.

    I've been told by a few people that Summit City was the place to go to get set up. Is it pretty much the best option or are other stores(Koehlingers, Chakras, FW Outfitters) worth looking at. I've heard some great things about a bike called a Forge Sawback but I'm not sure if any of the Fort Wayne stores even sell that brand. I wont be making the purchase for another 2 weeks so I have some time to consider the options.

    Also I've heard Winona is the best in north Indiana but as I'll be going back south in August I was wondering if anyone knew the best trails in central or southern Indiana. Preferably ones that are challenging and either bike-exclusive or at least not popular with hikers or horsebackers. As of right now I'm thinking Brown State park but I may not be aware of others.

  24. #24
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    yeah. summit city. best "real" bike store in FW.

    if you live in fort wayne, you should take a short trip up to fort custer. it's than 2 hours away and great riding. pm me if you want someone to show you around the place!

  25. #25
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    Ride a lot... then ride a lot more

    The best way to learn is to do, and even push yourself a bit out of your comfort zone. If that means pushing a slightly taller gear to get up the hill, then your legs will hurt a bit, but they'll hurt less next time. You'll be up the hill that much more quickly, and you'll be able to ride longer and harder.

    Also, your taint will hurt less.

    Learn to stand AND sit on climbs. Sitting on a climb might be slower, but it is more efficient. There are times to stand and hammer over something as well. Learn when to do what.

    I got a lot faster when I started riding with a heart rate monitor. You get to the point where you learn how hard to push your CV system, and where you go over the line, for how long, and how often.

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