Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation: robinmiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    458

    Bonking ... not feelin' well I hate my bike (or is it me?). Long ramble, but constructive advice wanted...

    This is a bit long, but bear with me..

    A little backstory: I'm 29 now and live in NY city, but I grew up in Vancouver, B.C., and between the ages of 14 and 20, I was an avid mountain biker. I had a 1993 full rigid Specialized Stumpjumper (steel frame), size 16.5", which I upgraded lots of parts on, including the addition of a Softride stem.

    I LOVED that bike. It fit like a glove, I felt like I could flick it around, it was light and responsive, and it went exactly where i pointed it. I know people disparage Softride stems, but it was perfect for me. Despite growing up on the North Shore, I'm not a daredevil rider that enjoyed doing huge jumps - i enjoyed just slipping through the woods, flicking the bike around obstacles, and the feeling that me and the bike were one. The Softride stem did a good job, most of the time anyhow

    The one pictured below is not mine, but is remarkably similar, other than mine being a smaller frame size, my stem wasn't jacked up as much, and I had upgraded to V-brakes and clipless pedals. Other than that, it's damn close, down to the model year and color:




    Anyway, fast forward a few years, and I'm living on the east coast in a big city, and I realize that i really miss mountain biking. The riding around here is quite different, but there are trails, and one summer I go back to my parents' house, dust off the old Stumpjumper, put it in a bike box, and fly back to NYC with it. Soon, i take it out on the trails. It's great, but I get hit by the consumer bug, armed with the excuse that a) this is ancient technology i'm riding on now, and b) this bike is supposedly too small for me now. I bought it when I was 14 (spent all the birthday money i'd saved since I was 8 years old on it), and I was considerably shorter then than I am now. I'm just under 6'0" with a 32" inseam. Everyone said I should be on a 19" frame, not a 16.5".

    So I went shopping.. Being a DIY-er and feeling pretty confident in my bike mechanic skills from my high school days, I decided to bypass the LBS and buy a frame and parts online. I ended up with a 2005 Jamis Dakar XC Pro, their top of the line XC frame, in 19" size, with a Rock Shox Reba, and a mix of parts, but all good stuff.

    Here's a quick crappy cellphone pic of the new bike



    It has a 110mm stem, pretty low riser bars, a 100mm travel fork, and 2.1" tire on the front 1.95 on the back. I used a Rock Shox Reba Race fork rather than the Fox that the stock bike uses.


    Being that I bought the bare frame on eBay, and sourced the parts from eBay and other places, I had no chance to 'try it' before it was bought and built.

    From the first test ride 'round the block, it felt wrong. I was too big. It was so tall. It was heavy, despite using lightweight parts. And when you pedaled it bobbed like crazy, despite the supposedly efficient high end XC-tuned suspension, and the steering felt strange.

    I took it out on the trail and it was even worse. Despite it being a high end 'XC' bike with short travel suspension (by modern standards), it seemed so tall because of the suspension, with the high top tube barely giving me any standover room. The steering felt incredibly sluggish. Where before I could pick my way through a bunch of rocks, steering this monster feels like trying to turn a cruise ship. Going up a steep incline is hopeless. The front end is just too high. Either the front end pops up, or the rear tire spins out.

    It just sucks. I've tried mountain biking 4 or 5 times now with it, and I'm ready to sell it.

    It's true that the trails around here are much different from in B.C. There's little or no elevation gain, just twisty trails interspersed with cobbles or piles of logs.. not my favorite riding, but my old bike handled them just fine.

    The old bike has been turned into a singlespeed, and given to a friend, but I'm still pretty sure that it's a bit too small, despite the new bike feeling too big.


    Anyhow, I guess the point of this is that I'm looking for some advice.

    I know that bikes have changed over the last 15 years, but it seems like my issue is that the new bike appears designed for going fast, in a straight line, more or less downhill. The old bike seemed great for going less fast, but with precision handling, and went uphill like a goat. I guess I'm looking for a new bike that is more like that.

    I imagine that the frame and steering components are the biggest factor. I did try modifying the Reba fork to have 100mm travel (down from 110mm) - it was a pain to take it apart and rebuild it, but it improved the handling a bit. I also flipped the stem upside down, so that it's now about -10 degrees.. That helped a bit too.

    I'm not sold on rear suspension - i agree that it lets you go faster, but it seems to me that on a rigid bike, a slower speed _seems_ faster anyhow, and since I'm not racing.. At the same time, I hate the feel of the rear suspension bobbing around, even when the shock is at quite high pressure and the so called 'Pro Pedal' damping is on, and the added height from the suspension is really annoying.

    Front suspension is probably a good idea though.

    So from my ranting, does it sound like swapping out the Dakar XC Pro frame with a slightly smaller (say, 18") hardtail frame, and possibly a shorter stem (for quicker handling) and flat bars (for a lower front end for better uphill handling) would be a solution?



    Again, any comments or advice are appreciated. Sorry for such a long post!

  2. #2
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    675
    A couple suggestions...

    Get a shorter stem,it will make the steering much more twitchy.

    Put at least a 2.1 tire on the rear,this will help with traction.

    Maybe get a 80mm fork to lower the front profile a bit?

    Or just sell it and get a nice HT.I just did this,I found for what I ride an FS was too much and I never ride it anymore so I am building up an HT to have fun with again.

    At your size I'd think the 19" would be just about right,a 16.5 would be awfully small for you.

    Chris

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    22
    I second the shorter stem.

    I too am just getting used to riding a FS bike after riding a front suspension bike for the last 10 years. I have to say that I love it. its so much easier on the butt. I have gotten to the point that I dont even put it on gated or locked out much. even climbing hills. I just stay seated and there is very little bob.

    Maybe your rear shock needs more air pressure or try locking it out on climbs. Have you tried taking it to a reputable bike shop and having it tuned to fit you?

  4. #4
    mbtr member
    Reputation: scottzg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    2,653
    do you own a shock pump?

    try a 90mm stem. Get a cheapo one.
    Hell is eternally climbing manzanita trail on your singlespeed.

  5. #5
    mtbr member
    Reputation: robinmiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    458
    Yes, i own a shock pump. Would have been hard to rebuild the Reba without one

    The current stem is 110 but when measured seems closer to 115. I'm looking at an Easton EA70 90mm stem and flat bar (which may also effectively shorten the reach a tiny bit).

    Here's my 'fix my bike' order, so far (I don't like the Eggbeaters too much either.. want to go back to Shimano..)


  6. #6
    AZ
    AZ is offline
    banned
    Reputation: AZ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Posts
    19,998
    Shorter fork will help make bike feel livelier , shorter stem will help it steer quicker . The 100 mm fork makes the angles too slack IMHO . Also make sure that your rear shock is set up properly [ air pressure ].

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    2,603
    Whoa. Hold on there.
    You just jumped ahead 15 years in mountain bike technology, and the new stuff feels wrong to you. That's totally normal because a lot has changed. Plus, you're used to riding a 16.5" frame, which is way too small for you. So that makes your new bike feel too big.

    I started mtn biking around the same time as you (though I was older at the time), so I'm well aware of what has changed. It also just happens that I ride a 19" Dakar XC (an 06 Dakar XC Comp). I'm 5' 9.5" and the 19" Dakar is the correct size for me. I actually replaced my stem with a longer 115mm, because the stock stem was too short for me.

    You need to give it more time. You also need to make sure your suspension is properly set up (takes a bit of trial and error). Don't screw up the suspension by pumping it up too high to try to make it feel like a rigid. It's not a rigid. In most cases you will use a lower pressure than is listed in the instructions to get the proper sag and correct feel.
    Don't go to a narrow 23" flat bar. I too enjoy my narrow flat bars on my older bikes, but you need to give a wider (even slightly wider) riser a chance. I run a 24" wide riser on my Dakar, that is still narrow by today's standards but i've found that to work for me. Narrow flat bars start to feel sketchy as the suspension travel gets longer. Go ahead and play with stem length. The modern trend has been towards shorter stems. Shorter stems tend work better with wider bars (and longer stems with narrower bars). I run my modern bikes with a little shorter stems than my old school setups, but I still run rather long stems overall.

    And in an effort to truly get your bike up to modern standards, put a 2.1 on the rear and a fatter 2.3 or so similar up front, and play with lower pressures. There are some nice light fat tires available today that are amazing.

    Then, start riding that bike on trails that are a little more technical than what you usually ride, and you will start to feel the benefits of a modern setup. It's not going to ride like your old rigid. You will experience pedal bob and brake dive, this is the nature of suspension (though modern suspension has improved in these areas). But it will do a lot of other stuff a whole lot better than your old rigid. It will certainly outperform your old rigid going downhill, but you will also find that on technical uphills the suspension helps you maintain traction better than a rigid or hardtail.

    You need to ride it enough so that you start to appreciate the advantages of a modern setup. Then you can make a more informed decision on what you want to ride in the future. Maybe going back to a rigid is in your future, but at least give your modern ride a fair shot.

    I still like my old bikes, but I have a lot more fun on my modern rides (full suspension and hardtails).
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    975
    you left beautiful vancouver to come to NY? it must have been for the money.

  9. #9
    LDH
    LDH is offline
    mtbr member
    Reputation: LDH's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    762
    just do the shorter stem and set your sag to about 20% too firm things up while you adjust. The fork is fine, use the motion control if it has it to keep the bob away. You just need some time to change your riding style , sit and spin as oppossed to just cranking away while standing.

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    834
    Exactly what I felt going from a nimble hardtail to a squishy full suspension bike. First time I was going uphill I stopped to check if my rear tire suffered a flat. These was when the first full suspension were first introduced. Now with propedal or stable platform I would guess they should be crispier pedaling. However, watching the last Olympics, cross-country racers were on hardtails except for maybe 2 on Epics.

    I say look for a nice hardtail frame and switch the parts. Some people still prefer the simplicity, pedaling efficiency and lightweight of a hardtail relative to a full suspension.

  11. #11
    I Ride Alone
    Reputation: Ruger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    289
    Nice Bike!

    Sounds like some good advise here.

    Make sure your suspension is tuned correctly. Set it very firm, You can always soften it up.

    Dont worry about switching components yet, Although that is a pretty long stem!

    How wide are your bars?

    Change one thing at a time.
    Give it a chance.
    The Lone Rider.

  12. #12
    mtbr member
    Reputation: rossp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    255
    Forget the bike - welcome to NYC!!!

    Come along to nycmtb.com - lots of local like minded folks who can help you get sorted out as well as the folks on here. The trails here vary from real rocky tech to fast and flowy so depending on where you're going to ride, that might influence your set up.

    Cheers

  13. #13
    Bicyclochondriac.
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Posts
    13,095
    I think you have already been given some good suggestions here on what you may want to mess with in regards to your set up.

    I would give it some more time. Riding a FS with more modern geometry and cockpit setup is VERY different from what it was 15 years ago (longer top tubes, shorter stems, wider bars, slacker angles, more travel). Not only that, but you are riding a larger size than you are used to. I cannot imagine what the difference in top tube length must be between this and you old bike No wonder this one feels like you are turning a bus. It does take some time to adjust.

    That said, FS is not for everyone. A HT with a short travel fork is what some people find the most fun.

  14. #14
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    16
    Economicly speaking it will be better to give your FS more time. If you do make the switch back to a hardtail, go with a shock absorbing seat post.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    870
    Well next time demo some bikes first...Just b/c something says XC frame doesn't mean it is efficient and doesn't bob like crazy. There are tons of great full squish bikes one can try.

  16. #16
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Whitedog's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    422
    According to bikepedia, your rear shock is a Fox RP3 with AVA (and that looks correct in your picture):
    http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/B...+Pro&Type=bike

    The RP3 has a 3 position propedal. If your rear end bobs too much, select the #2 or #3 position which will cancel some of the bob (that suspension design with the pivot above the rear axle is prone to bob, so you need the 'propedal' engaged to counteract it). You can also play with the AVA to finetune things. Here's the manual:
    http://www.foxracingshox.com/fox_tec...arShock_en.pdf

    That frame is supposed to have a 100mm travel fork. Reba's are common in 100mm, but they have other sizes. Is your's 100mm? Is it the dual air version? Are you running the correct air pressure to get 20 to 25% fork sag? If you have the dual air version, are you running the + air and - air about the same psi to start with?

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation: robinmiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    458
    Thanks for the tips guys. I finally pulled the trigger on the order (it was a busy few weeks and I got distracted). I was waffling between the 90 and 100mm stem (the current one is supposedly 110mm). I went with the 100 in the end, based on the fact that 1cm is actually not insignificant, and for whatever reason the 100mm stem photos I looked at online look a fair bit shorter than my '110m' stem, which is a cheap Tahoma (aka no-name) unit.. perhaps the claimed 110mm length is a bit off. It's only $20 anyhow, so not the end of the world if I have to get another.

    The WTB Velociraptor Race rear tire isn't the lightest but the knobs look nice and aggressive. I guess I'm showing my age, but I miss Specialized Ground Controls... those tires were awesome.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation: robinmiller's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    458
    Quote Originally Posted by Whitedog
    According to bikepedia, your rear shock is a Fox RP3 with AVA (and that looks correct in your picture):
    http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/B...+Pro&Type=bike

    The RP3 has a 3 position propedal. If your rear end bobs too much, select the #2 or #3 position which will cancel some of the bob (that suspension design with the pivot above the rear axle is prone to bob, so you need the 'propedal' engaged to counteract it). You can also play with the AVA to finetune things. Here's the manual:
    http://www.foxracingshox.com/fox_tec...arShock_en.pdf

    That frame is supposed to have a 100mm travel fork. Reba's are common in 100mm, but they have other sizes. Is your's 100mm? Is it the dual air version? Are you running the correct air pressure to get 20 to 25% fork sag? If you have the dual air version, are you running the + air and - air about the same psi to start with?
    Yes, it's an RP3 rear shock. I have never played with the AVA, but I usually keep the RP3 setting on the highest pro-pedal damping, and generally have the rebound set to the quickest, plus the air pressure higher than recommended for my weight. Still feels squishy to me.

    The front fork was a 110mm when i got it, but i rebuilt it to 100mm, as mentioned in the OP.

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    2,603
    Quote Originally Posted by robinmiller
    The WTB Velociraptor Race rear tire isn't the lightest but the knobs look nice and aggressive. I guess I'm showing my age, but I miss Specialized Ground Controls... those tires were awesome.
    I have the velocirapter rear on a couple of my bikes and am very happy with it. Weight varies (one of mine weighed 610g, the other 695g), but overall pretty light for a fairly aggressive rear xc tire. I always go for rear tires that climb well, and the velociraptors do. I usually run mine about 23-25psi, a little more if I expect sharp rocks on the trail.
    Warning: may contain sarcasm and/or crap made up in an attempt to feel important.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •