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  1. #1
    fc
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    Too much bike VS Too little bike.

    Talking about bike rear travel, does one purchase (or use) a 0-100mm bike, a 130mm or 160+?

    I want to develop an article that is point/counterpoint on this subject maybe.

    It's classic personal preference but it's good to draw out the issues that affect this decision. It's a very cool story because there are merits to each side and it's good that the rider has a good options. It just takes some insight to bring out the motivation from each corner and how it can benefit the rider.

    Do you want a bike that will complement your strengths or one that will support you on your weaknesses?

    Are you advancing your skillset each time you ride or are you perfectly happy to pedal and just get out.

    Are you riding local, simple trails only or you seeking out the most challenging terrain in the area and going on road trips at every opportunity.

    Where do you stand in this spectrum and what choices have you made? Happy or looking to play in the other side?Too much bike  VS   Too little bike.-screen-shot-2018-05-18-6.45.20-am.png
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  2. #2
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    Happy just to pedal and get out. That said, the right LT bike with a steep seat-tube angle can keep me out there pedaling for a lot longer.

  3. #3
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    If I could afford more than 1 bike, I definitely would have a couple. But since I canít, I need a bike that can handle any Enduro and some local DH racing. Yes, it feels sluggish and heavy on most designated trails in Ca. But it still works, as Iím about to go pedal some fire roads right now.

    160mm 29er.

  4. #4
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    130mm x 27.5Ē...I live in the Bay Area! 130 can handle most everything, it does become a handful when it gets chunky My bike works fine for Downieville, SC, Tahoe...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by griz View Post
    130mm x 27.5Ē...I live in the Bay Area! 130 can handle most everything, it does become a handful when it gets chunky My bike works fine for Downieville, SC, Tahoe...

    Same, I buy and ride a bike that is good for 90% of the terrain I ride on. For me that is a 140 front/130 rear 29er Intense Primer.. the bike I have had prior were the OG Ibis Ripley and and Pivot 429 trail. They were in the same travel range as the Primer but have vastly different geometry's...

  6. #6
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    800 mm. There are currently two trails in California that allow this much travel but advocacy groups are pushing for more. Wave at me and get on the trailwork crew this weekend for free dreadlock beer and maximum stokage.

  7. #7
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    160 or more. I need a do-everything bike. Climbing isn't the fun part for me, but the Capra climbs just fine and I don't have to worry about whether going off something too big will bottom out the suspension.

  8. #8
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    160mm 29er. Frequently take trips to areas I have never ridden and it is nice to have the travel when I need it. I also live ~20min from lakes basin and mills peak, and close to downieville. The long travel maximizes fun on those trails. More travel than I need for Hough and south park, but still have plenty of fun on it. I am looking to just get outside and have a good time on the bike, not trying to get a KOM. The bike climbs fine if that is the mindset.

  9. #9
    fc
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    There's also that Need Vs. Want issue. And that money thing. Sigh.
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  10. #10
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    I have 130mm 27.5. Half the time I wish I had something more to give be more confidence on the gnar, and half the time I want something less for long adventures. So I think that means I'm perfect!

  11. #11
    fc
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    Quote Originally Posted by shmadge View Post
    I have 130mm 27.5. Half the time I wish I had something more to give be more confidence on the gnar, and half the time I want something less for long adventures. So I think that means I'm perfect!
    It's like the times you can't decide wether the temperature is too hot or cold. It probably means it's perfect.

    I'm finding that goals/style has a lot to do with it. Are you trying to get faster uphill or better downhill? Or both?
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  12. #12
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    I have been grappling with this for about 17 years now, ever since I decided I needed a Bullit because I was living in Downieville, then realized I hated it most of the time.

    I can enjoy big bikes, in a guilty pleasure kinda way. But the reality for me, especially now that I am solidly into my 50s, is that I top out around 150-160mm on how much I can really use ALL the suspension, regardless of where I might be riding. And that's the max travel that I feel I can use when riding at my limits. This is all parsed in terms of personal preference here, but the new generation slack front, steep seat, short-to-mid travel bikes are singing siren songs to me. 120-140mm rear travel, 140-150 front, somewhere around 28-29 pounds with a steep seat angle, and I can ride one of those bikes anywhere, anytime, any terrain.

    Perspective is weird in this way. We used to charge some super gnarly stuff on hardtails with 68mm elastomer forks and rim brakes. Too much travel, no matter how sophisticated it is, (and aside from the fact that big heavy bikes with lots of travel still suck to climb uphill with) I feel like I am disconnected from the trail.
    Last edited by MtotheF; 1 Day Ago at 10:50 AM.
    hold my beer...

  13. #13
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    the focus these days is on making really efficient enduro bikes, so i'd have to say 140-160mm 29ers are kind of the way to go, i have yet to demo something in that category that feels sluggish on the climbs and doesn't feel great going down.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    It's like the times you can't decide wether the temperature is too hot or cold. It probably means it's perfect.
    Haha yeah, Bay Area problems

    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    I'm finding that goals/style has a lot to do with it. Are you trying to get faster uphill or better downhill? Or both?
    I'm good enough uphill but would like to be better downhill. So yeah there is an argument that I would have been better off getting a bike to balance me out, e.g. bigger.

    No regrets, my bike (5010) is super fun on the trails I like the most. And climbing is fun on it, not a pain.

  15. #15
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    I just want to ride. If I know that my bike is more capable than the rider then I don't have any equipment worries... the only thing that determines whether I can or cannot ride something is me. This is why I love my Ibis HD3. It fits me well (we short people are gradually, by millimetres at a time, being stretched into ever longer bikes, which is a worrisome trend considering that a lot of manufacturers don't make an XS). Sure, I could climb faster on an XC hardtail, but then I wouldn't have the confidence in the chunk.

    There are lots of people out there who believe that you should buy a bike that will force you to improve your skills or die trying (or at least get off and walk). I don't really care about that... if I can't ride a rock garden on a rigid hardtail, so what? If I'm getting off and walking every 50 yards then it's just a hike with extra gear, and it's not enjoyable. I want my bike to make up for my own deficiencies and keep on going even when I'm not sure what I'm doing. With 150/160mm of travel, my bike does that admirably and I am happy.
    - Jen.

  16. #16
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    I have a 140mm/114mm Yeti 4.5 29er. Perfect for everyday rides around the greater Bay Area. Do I wish I had a longer travel bike? Hell yes, sometimes when things get choppy. Will I buy one anytime soon? Most likely not.

  17. #17
    fc
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    There's the old adage that simple, no travel, under-equipped bikes will IMPROVE your skills.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.
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  18. #18
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    I like simple. I don't mind being under-biked. I'm trying to push my skill levels and don't mind that my bike exposes my weak areas. I'm young enough that I can still deal with the jarring drops and all the rocks. So I'm still riding a hardtail and potentially shopping for a new hardtail later this year.

    Well, all those reasons and that good full suspension bikes are expensive. I'm not willing to settle for some of the bad components on entry level trail bikes, or out-dated geometry and dying standards on used bikes. Otherwise I think I could be totally smitten with a 130-150mm trail bike

    Maybe because it's a more realistic goal or I'm foolish and wearing rose-tinted galsses, but what I really find myself wanting is a rigid beater/klunker bike to mess around at the pump track and hurt myself on the trails

  19. #19
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    All these new LT bikes pedal so well compared to models of past. I'd rather have more travel to play with, especially around here.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    There's the old adage that simple, no travel, under-equipped bikes will IMPROVE your skills.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.
    I think that depends on what specific skills your talking about, and maybe on how you learn from what happens on the trail

    For example, with a 120mm hardtail I have learned a lot about body position and weight transfer on rocky descents. If I'm not good enough I will really feel it and maybe get bucked off, and if I do well I feel smooth and fast. From demoing a few FS trails bikes in the past, I could still feel the consequences of my mistakes but the bike bailed me out and without losing to much speed either. The ride still felt relatively smooth and fast unless I really screwed up. So if I'm paying attention I can still learn a lot with a FS trail bike. For some that are trying to improve their skills I can see how that would still work great, but for people that take a more passive approach to skills it might not force the issue enough to help them progress much. But mountain biking is supposed to be fun, not just a skills clinic, so go with the FS bike if that's what gets you out on the trails more

    I also think there are skills to riding a long travel bike that can only be learned on a long travel bike, and there are skills to carrying huge speed through a really chunky trail that can't be learned without a bike capable enough for that

  21. #21
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    I have always preferred a bike that is a little more than I need. Nice to know that if I make a mistake a little extra travel will be there to hopefully keep me behind the handlebars. Also don't ever want to own more than 1 bike as cannot imagine maintaining 2+ bikes.

    Currently ride a 2018 Yeti SB5.5 Turq XO1 Eagle and feel like I have finally found the right bike that is light enough for the long climbs but still aggressive enough to have fun on the important part of the ride (going down obv).

  22. #22
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    I can mostly keep up with friends on their 160+mm Nomads or Enduros on my 140/140 during downhills. I'm saving up $$ for a 150-160mm DVO fork for that bike, and spending $$$ on a no-suspension, carbon fork, 2.8" tire build at the moment. I started this crazy sport on a no-suspension steel bike, and want to experience that and the fat tires with the new build, which can easily tackle some local trails that I am starting to see drop-bar gravel bikes show up on. I do have a lot of fun on Tahoe lifts, and tend to rent a long-travel sled I don't have to worry about for those situations. I'm super happy with the 140mm rear travel for 95% of NorCal trails.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mahgnillig View Post
    If I know that my bike is more capable than the rider then I don't have any equipment worries... the only thing that determines whether I can or cannot ride something is me.
    ...
    I want my bike to make up for my own deficiencies and keep on going even when I'm not sure what I'm doing.
    So sometimes the bike is what determines if you can or cannot ride something successfully?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    There's the old adage that simple, no travel, under-equipped bikes will IMPROVE your skills.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.

    I whole heartedly agree with that. When I start feeling like I'm becoming a lazy rider I strip the gears off my hardtail and throw the rigid carbon fork back on, then ride that exclusively for a few weeks. When I get back on the full suspension rig, a Guerrilla Gravity trail pistol with a 150 fork, I always set a few PR's both up and down on the first few rides.

    Rigid bikes teach you to really be in tune with your tires. You'll learn exactly how much slide is too much and what you can get away with. The other big gain from riding rigid is it forces you to much more active on the bike.

    I also don't pick and choose trails based on bike. I'll take my GG on a long xc ride and I'll take the rigid ss on the steepest gnarliest that Northern California has to offer. It makes me a much more versatile rider.


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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Endubro45 View Post
    I have always preferred a bike that is a little more than I need. .....

    I think this is key. And we never know exactly how much we need with changing conditions.

    If one is getting better and improving then you're sometimes pushing beyond the comfort zone. Also one can make mistakes. Or maybe just not perfectly dialed that day.

    If it can save one from injury, hospital or down time, it's good.
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  26. #26
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    I totally agree with everything you guys are saying. I started off with downhill bike because I thought they were cool, and downhill bikes are dirt cheap on Craigslist. Rode the shite out of my SC V10 with very shitty MTB skills and the bike has saved me several times. But the more riding gave me much more experience with slowly made me better. Got a tall boy 1 and noticed that I really had to focus to ride it properly and couldn't just smash through the terrain. Each is so different but nowadays I ride my tall boy much more often, as it's more challenging and just fun. Though I often find myself maxing out my suspension and kinda wish I had a 160mm bike...but then I just ride the V10 and am all smiles again.

    That said, I still want a nice long travel 160mm 29er, or at least I think I do. Maybe I should rent one and find out.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    There's the old adage that simple, no travel, under-equipped bikes will IMPROVE your skills.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.
    I think it does. My friend got an xc Hardtail that he originally intended to just use for fitness training for his Enduro racing. But he said he actually learned a ton of skills riding that bike on gnarly trails, line choice being a big one. On a 160mm bike you can just plow through stuff rather easily, but on a Hardtail being smooth and picking a good line is key.

  28. #28
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    Budget aside, I think skill level/fitness plays a big part.

    Someone relying on the bike to compensate will probably have more fun on something with a little extra squish. Someone with a lot of skill might have a blast on a short travel bike ripping through technical stuff. Someone who isn't in great shape probably won't notice a big difference between a a short travel bike that climbs really well and a big squishy bike, cause they're super gassed, while a fit person will appreciate the extra get-up-and-go of a shorter travel bike.

    On my local trails, I can ride them on my rigid and have a blast. So I guess I'd rather not have too much bike. I like to hammer it uphill, and the big meaty 29ers and energy sucking long-travel suspension isn't for me.

    150mm 27.5er seems to strike a great balance for me, damn capable uphill and down.
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  29. #29
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    Yeah I think money is the bigger thing defining what I get. I end up looking at jack of all trades type bikes instead of having multiple for different situations. I rather spend the money on 1 really nice one and two mediocre bikes.

    SB-66, 5010, Tallboy are what I ended up with at one time or another more recently. I feel 110-130 fork travel works great in Norcal as a do everything type of setup. The rear im still not sure. A hard tail could do it here no problem, but I dont want to put my body through that.

    I would rather have a little bit more travel than necessary than a little under. When I was starting out I was looking at 160 travel bikes because more is better right? After lugging those pigs around I realized it wasn't worth it and rarely used all that travel. Now I realize around 100-110 is what I need 90% of the time with the trails I ride, so upping it a little to 120-130 seems to be my sweet spot.

    If I was to get two bikes, one would probably be a hardtail with 110 fork and a FS with 150 fork.

  30. #30
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    I just buy two mail order bikes for the price of one name brand bike and call it a day. 130mm AM hardtail for anything I want to go fast on or pedaling around town. And a 180mm FS bike for chunky and nasty stuff. I'm a firm believer the bike doesn't really matter much as long as its a nice bike and your not trying to race at a pro level.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Talking about bike rear travel, does one purchase (or use) a 0-100mm bike, a 130mm or 160+?

    I want to develop an article that is point/counterpoint on this subject maybe.
    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Do you want a bike that will complement your strengths or one that will support you on your weaknesses? I didn't think of it that way. My new (to me) bike has more travel, and is burlier. I was bottoming out my modified 5010 even with an MRP ramp control. With my new 160 fork I have yet to bottom out, and the MRP is set to 0. My thought was I wanted more bike to "grow into" rather than being at the limit of the old bike
    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Are you advancing your skillset each time you ride or are you perfectly happy to pedal and just get out. I try to advance by practicing different things each time, but sometimes I just want to pedal and don't think about skills
    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Are you riding local, simple trails only or you seeking out the most challenging terrain in the area and going on road trips at every opportunity.I try to get further away as often as possible. If I could I'd go to Auburn, and Downieville, or Tahoe every weekend to ride the best stuff, but mainly I ride around the bay area, but I do prefer to ride the most challenging terrain possible even if just a short ride
    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Where do you stand in this spectrum and what choices have you made? Happy or looking to play in the other side? Isn't the grass always greener on the other side?
    replies in red

  32. #32
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    Some other factors are:

    Are you a simple guy or are you highly technical and fascinated with research, settings and materials of new bikes?

    Are you happy just to get out and ride or are trying to beat your uphill records? Or are you trying to descend faster/radder?

    Do you just ride in a couple convenient spots or do you try to find new terrain each time?


    First options above usually go with 'less bike'.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick-e View Post
    replies in red
    why thank you. Great share.
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  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    There's the old adage that simple, no travel, under-equipped bikes will IMPROVE your skills.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.
    Absolutely it does! It teaches you how to handle your bike and use your legs and arms as suspension. It teaches you how to manipulate your bike to get it around and up and over obstacles. Basically, it teaches you to be a dynamic rider and so when you do move to a full suspension, you have the skills to not just "hang on and let the bike do the work".

    Best example I can think of that is maybe analogous is to improve your skills as a hitter (in baseball), one of the best things you can do is to practice with a wooden bat. It'll improve your bat speed, bat control, and will help you hone in on the bat's sweet spot. If you always use aluminum, you are not forced to think about these things because an aluminum bat typically has a bigger sweet spot and does not break, like a wooden bat would, if you catch the ball at the end or at the handle.

  35. #35
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    I once saw a very beginner woman at Arastradero riding a very high end downhill bike in full armor. Huge smile on her face. The best bike is the bike that motivates you to ride it.

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    dang..i cant even remember what amount of travel my bike has..

    i just remember, "more than my old bike"
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boomchakabowwow View Post
    dang..i cant even remember what amount of travel my bike has..

    i just remember, "more than my old bike"
    If you did a blind taste test of various travel/geometry bikes, do you think the average mountain biker could pick out the differences correctly?

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    If it can save one from injury, hospital or down time, it's good.
    This is a good point, but I think there is a huge caveat: modern bikes, especially the new enduro bikes, can help you to and will encourage you to carry more speed on nasty trails than ever before. So when you do crash it will likely be at higher speeds and with bigger potential injuries.

    Which reminds me of another question: How soon can me make half-shell helmets a thing of the past for trail riding? Helmet tech has progressed by leaps and bounds over the tiny, fragile roadie helmets of the 90s. If there is anything I would like to see catch on in the mainstream from people copying EWS riders, it would be full face or convertible helmets

  39. #39
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    ^^ After a day of full face helmet riding at Skeggs in July.

    Too much bike  VS   Too little bike.-ulzvtbr.jpg

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    ^^ A day of full face helmet at Skeggs in July.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Haha, I should take some selfies before summer and after to compare!

    I live in Chico and am well acquainted with heat. I just bought a Super 3R this year and so far, so good. We'll see when the real heat shows up! The chin bar is very breathable but I can see the cheek pads getting hot. Just have to keep moving fast! The new Fox Proframe looks even better for summer but I couldn't find the same deals and I wanted a convertible helmet to dip my toes in the water. I have faith that further engineering focus on full face helmets can make them more than cool enough

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    I once saw a very beginner woman at Arastradero riding a very high end downhill bike in full armor. Huge smile on her face. The best bike is the bike that motivates you to ride it.
    I think there's something to be said about getting out there and doing it. That's a beautiful thing.

    But.... using the right gear can make the experience much, much better, safer, fun.
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  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by sfmtber View Post
    Absolutely it does! It teaches you how to handle your bike and use your legs and arms as suspension. It teaches you how to manipulate your bike to get it around and up and over obstacles. Basically, it teaches you to be a dynamic rider and so when you do move to a full suspension, you have the skills to not just "hang on and let the bike do the work".

    ...

    They said the same thing when front suspension, rear suspension, disc brakes, droppers, gears, big tires where introduced.

    "People should learn on bikes without those since they will get lazy and not learn."

    I'm still not convinced.

    I think riders can learn a LOT better/faster/safer on bikes that are dialed for the task at hand. Suspension will not eliminate a rock, a log, rut on the trail. They'll just give you a better chance and options.

    I get the wooden bat analogy but biking has a high risk of injury involved. And using a bike with a little sweet spot makes one miss so many riding and learning opportunities.
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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    They said the same thing when front suspension, rear suspension, disc brakes, droppers, gears, big tires where introduced.

    "People should learn on bikes without those since they will get lazy and not learn."

    I'm still not convinced.
    Riding my rigid MTB and CX bike on singletrack absolutely improved my skills. That being said, having someone LEARN on a bike with no suspension is another story, and a quick way to make someone hate the sport.
    East Bay Parks AKA East Bay Cattle Ranches

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    Smaller bikes taught me bike skills like line choice, scandi-flicks, drifting, and general bike control. Bigger bikes taught me jump skills, bike skills at speed, and line choice at speed.

    for new trails with any kind of tech i prefer a big bike. for the same old trails i prefer a small bike.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    I think there's something to be said about getting out there and doing it. That's a beautiful thing.

    But.... using the right gear can make the experience much, much better, safer, fun.
    Definitely!

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    They said the same thing when front suspension, rear suspension, disc brakes, droppers, gears, big tires where introduced.

    "People should learn on bikes without those since they will get lazy and not learn."

    I'm still not convinced.

    I think riders can learn a LOT better/faster/safer on bikes that are dialed for the task at hand. Suspension will not eliminate a rock, a log, rut on the trail. They'll just give you a better chance and options.

    I get the wooden bat analogy but biking has a high risk of injury involved. And using a bike with a little sweet spot makes one miss so many riding and learning opportunities.
    Look at the evidence, there are local 16 year old kids who have never ridden a rigid bike in their life, and are as skilled as many pro riders were just 10 years ago. Will riding a variety of styles make one a better rider, absolutely. Is it necessary to start on a rigid bike to become a great rider, no.
    Last edited by 5k bike 50cent legs; 1 Day Ago at 11:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    There's the old adage that simple, no travel, under-equipped bikes will IMPROVE your skills.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.
    Is it that you don't agree with it, or that you don't want to agree with it?

    Personally, I agree with it. I don't think that being able to read the cleanest line on a trail (up or down) would ever be a disadvantage. That's what riding without suspension (or minimal suspension) teaches, in my experience.
    "When life gives you lemons...say f@%k it, and bail"

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonmason View Post
    Is it that you don't agree with it, or that you don't want to agree with it?

    Personally, I agree with it. I don't think that being able to read the cleanest line on a trail (up or down) would ever be a disadvantage. That's what riding without suspension (or minimal suspension) teaches, in my experience.
    Yeah, but the cleanest line isn't always fastest. So a minimal bike can't teach you everything. Sometimes that fast line just isn't doable unless you've got some squish. I think riding both types of bikes have their merits.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    If you did a blind taste test of various travel/geometry bikes, do you think the average mountain biker could pick out the differences correctly?
    there is no way. they would feel, the quality maybe..not the quantity.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    There's the old adage that simple, no travel, under-equipped bikes will IMPROVE your skills.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.
    Agreed. It varies between people but I felt like my line choices are different between rigid, hardtail, and full suspension. I think a lot of people assume that you're going to use the same style across every bike. Personally, I didn't level up until I went from a hardtail SS to a mid travel full suspension bike. Then I went and tried a hardtail again and realized I leveled up pretty well. Now I'm on a shorter travel full suspension and I feel that I'm still progressing. I feel like moving on from my SS hardtail to a more capable bike encouraged me to actually learn how to ride the trails that the bike was made for to the point that I can ride the same trails now with less capable bikes in a safe and fun way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    ^^ After a day of full face helmet riding at Skeggs in July.

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    Nothing wrong with t little head once in a while!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe_510 View Post
    Yeah, but the cleanest line isn't always fastest. So a minimal bike can't teach you everything. Sometimes that fast line just isn't doable unless you've got some squish. I think riding both types of bikes have their merits.
    This is why you need N+1 bikes.

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    One thing missing from this thread is fatigue factor. I'm in my 50s and I'm not going to bore you guys with my list of injuries and surgeries. I like to have as much suspension as I can comfortably pedal so that I can ride longer and in more comfort on the downs. I'm not worried about shaving a minute off of my climbs because I don't race. My current 160r/170f stead pedals pretty well and almost as good as a shorter travel trail bike in my climb/trail mode. I can keep it in trail for single track and the less technical descents, then open it up as necessary. Since most of the climbs on my local rides are the long, fire road types, I can easily keep up with the guys riding shorter travel rigs. If I did a lot of riding that required technical climbing or was more of the east-coast type, I would probably get something a little different.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5150m3 View Post
    One thing missing from this thread is fatigue factor. I'm in my 50s and I'm not going to bore you guys with my list of injuries and surgeries. I like to have as much suspension as I can comfortably pedal so that I can ride longer and in more comfort on the downs. I'm not worried about shaving a minute off of my climbs because I don't race. My current 160r/170f stead pedals pretty well and almost as good as a shorter travel trail bike in my climb/trail mode. I can keep it in trail for single track and the less technical descents, then open it up as necessary. Since most of the climbs on my local rides are the long, fire road types, I can easily keep up with the guys riding shorter travel rigs. If I did a lot of riding that required technical climbing or was more of the east-coast type, I would probably get something a little different.
    Agree, agree!!! Fatigue, safety and human error.

    Riding 'more bike than you need' is akin to riding with a helmet. It's like a little extra padding.
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    I think both too-much and too-little bike have a role. As others have mentioned, the line choice and riding style will be different. Slowly picking your way down a techy descent on a rigid bike and bombing that same descent at speed on an enduro bike strike me as pretty different skills, and I don't think that one necessarily informs the other.

    But if I had to choose only 1, I'd rather have too much bike.

  56. #56
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    Another relevant factor is 'riding too much tire' or 'too much protective clothing'.

    Should you ride an Ardent or a Minion? Knee pads or not? The trade-offs are very similar.

    Do you want to ride in the razor edge of safety/dh vs. speed/simplicity compromise or do you want a lot of buffer?
    Last edited by fc; 1 Day Ago at 03:53 PM.
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    And then there's riding too much beer.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid Duffman View Post
    But if I had to choose only 1, I'd rather have too much bike.
    There is a balance. If too much bike is a DH bike it can be limiting. That's where I have been at for years and I have biked that much because of it. Shuttle / Lift assisted only.

    I am getting a probably too much but should be great 140/140 29er that will open up a lot of the areas around here to me.

    I mentioned this "too much bike" idea to a bike shop employee. His response was "just ride faster." I think there is a fair amount of truth to that.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    And then there's riding too much beer.....
    I just bought (and am wearing a pair at work) 4 pairs of BEER socks from the NLZ add on the right of this screen for MTBR Deal of 75% off. They came in like 2 days. Good cheap fun. MTBR DEAL ‚Äď NLZwear

  60. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    They said the same thing when front suspension, rear suspension, disc brakes, droppers, gears, big tires where introduced.

    "People should learn on bikes without those since they will get lazy and not learn."

    I'm still not convinced.

    I think riders can learn a LOT better/faster/safer on bikes that are dialed for the task at hand. Suspension will not eliminate a rock, a log, rut on the trail. They'll just give you a better chance and options.

    I get the wooden bat analogy but biking has a high risk of injury involved. And using a bike with a little sweet spot makes one miss so many riding and learning opportunities.
    Definitely not advocating that all riders start out riding on a hardtail. All I'm saying is that riding a hardtail does improve your skills and if it doesn't, then honestly you're not doing it right or you're not trying very hard.

    I remember somebody saying the same thing, i.e. skills improvement, about Single Speeds and pump tracks...

    (why does this feel like the camelback, enduro bro pack (i mean hip pack), bottle cage discussion all over again)

  61. #61
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    My main goals when I ride are to enjoy nature, talk with friends, and to let the stress of normal life fall away. I don't care about advancing my skills every ride. I don't particularly want to go fast. I don't track any stats: no gps, no speedometer, nothing.

    I want enough challenge on a trail that I need to focus on my ride. Without that challenge, such as on a fire road, my brain might continue to focus on work stress. I don't want that. But it doesn't take much of a challenge to be enough. I don't have time for much by way of cycling road trips, so I stay local.

    The majority of bikes today have to much suspension for my taste. I like enough to take the edge off, but it doesn't take much before I feel disconnected from the trail. I once rented a Nomad at Downieville to see what extra travel was like. I hated it. Returned the rental, got back on my 100mm bike I had at the time and enjoyed the riding the rest of that trip much more.

    Currently ride a Ripley with 120mm travel. It's a little too much. There are some downhills I take at full speed without paying much attention. The bike just soaks everything up. I would enjoy it more if I had to be more alert to the obstacles. My previous bike with 100mm was stolen and I didn't see anything on the market with less than 120mm that seemed any good, so 120mm it is. It's mostly ok even if it's not perfect.

    When I want a bit more of a challenge I ride my Salsa Vaya with 32c slick tires. That's good fun. I'm slow on that bike compared to the same trails on a mtb, but really enjoy it.
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  62. #62
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    I would rather be caught with too much than too little .

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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    There's the old adage that simple, no travel, under-equipped bikes will IMPROVE your skills.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.
    agree not to agree

    Your forced to constantly pick "better lines" that may not always be better.

  64. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by TraxFactory View Post
    agree not to agree

    Your forced to constantly pick "better lines" that may not always be better.
    Ha, ha... you're awesome.

    I rode a rigid fork for a few years and learned a little bit. Would have learned a lot more if I had a dialed bike.
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  65. #65
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    These big travel bikes, at under 30 pounds, make riding comfortable. I for one, ride a 160/140 travel, 29er Riot, that allows my beat down body to simply ride. At 50, and a lifetime of construction, I am no burly dude, and these modern big travel bikes allow me to ride 200 days per year. I met a group of 60-70 yr olds in Sedona AZ, that ride 5-6 days a week. Go out with that group and its a slow motion meat grinder, but they do it, almost every day. They all ride 160-170 travel bikes, and rarely get off the ground, but they sure as hell cover some ground. I doubt they would ride 2-3 hours a day on a hardtail in that rocky, chunky, desert environment. Same for me. Arthritis in my hands is bad every night, and I may switch from XT brakes to SAINT, not because I need them for stopping, but I need them for comfort, and less hand fatigue for the next days ride. XT work fine, but my hands curl up while I sleep. Comfort as I get older is why I ride a more capable bike. But then there are the 3000-5000 ft descents, where you actually need that travel. That's an awesome feeling using the bike to its limit. Every day riding on local trails, not so much.

  66. #66
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    I want a bike that will capitalize on my strengths. I'm a better climber than descender. I took a three day class with A Singletrack Mind a few years ago and I'm still implementing what I learned. I'm ready for a refresher. It helps that my friends are always pushing the envelope, and I'm holding onto their wheels more and more. I also noticed a change after starting strength work. Definitely less gassed and stronger out of the saddle.

    I have enough bike for most local trails and races. I get out of my comfort zone at Downieville baby heads, and in the steeps, but am getting better. I ride familiar technical terrain faster to keep it challenging.

    I got the itch for a new XC ride and test rode eight bikes the week before and during Sea Otter. I liked a few bikes, but not $6K's worth of like.

    Given my XC riding focus, I'm in the 100 mm rear travel camp. Especially since I upgraded my shock. I can really tell the difference vs. a few years ago.
    We take care of your technology needs so you can focus on what's important.

  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe_510 View Post
    Yeah, but the cleanest line isn't always fastest. So a minimal bike can't teach you everything. Sometimes that fast line just isn't doable unless you've got some squish. I think riding both types of bikes have their merits.
    Agreed, and well said. I just think it's important to remember that one can learn just as much from being underbiked as they can from being overbiked.
    "When life gives you lemons...say f@%k it, and bail"

  68. #68
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    Quote Originally Posted by boomn View Post
    So sometimes the bike is what determines if you can or cannot ride something successfully?
    The bike is often what determines whether I can or can't ride something. If I rolled up at the top of a gnarly looking rock garden on a rigid hardtail I'd probably just walk down. On a 160mm bike I'd probably have a go. Some people like a challenge where physical injury is the penalty for failure, whereas I prefer to minimise the risk. My idea of a great ride is one where I can get back on the bike and ride again the next day. This is not to say that I never ride anything challenging, but for me the type of bike I'm riding is definitely a factor in the difficulty of obstacles that I'm willing to tackle. Getting hurt sucks.
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    I used to think that less is more, now i'm starting to see it as being better to have more.

    For one thing, if having a bit too much tire (like 2.5dhf front and rear) saves me from crashing because I had too little tire (2.3dhf front and rear, for example), I think its better. I've also got away with my 125mm rear travel bike for everywhere but i've started to see that although its good for most trails, the extra missing travel, short wheelbase, and not slack at all xc geometry hurts my ability to attack the trails like I want to. I'm at the point where i'll give up rolling speed and efficiency for the extra bit of safety and ability to attack trails with 100% effort everywhere. I'm saying this as someone who has been using a modded xc bike for things it wasn't ideally designed for including steep rocky downhills, it definitely is a bit sketchy and i've crashed where a slower "too much bike" would have handled trails with ease.

    There are lots of components to the ideal bike and travel really isn't as important as other things, but I think if you are talking about too much or not enough travel, it just depends on the individual trail. If you can tackle 90% of the trail and that trail is pretty rough, then not having enough bike to really hit those insane 10% parts of the trail might be fine. Likewise, having just a tiny bit more travel than necessary is probably fine on most trails.

    I guess it depends too on if you are pedaling everywhere or if you are living for those insane downhills, then whetheror not you value efficiency or plush takes over there.

  70. #70
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    Very good insight. Much appreciated. I posted this same thread on the General and All Mountain forum and there's gems there too.
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  71. #71
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    In NorCal, I'm down to 2 bikes. A 150mm slack bike and a 130mm less slack bike. I sent off the SS, the racing hardtail, the road bike to other places where they're a better fit. When I'm here, I usually like to ride steeper and technical trails mixed in with some XC so I don't see a need for a 100mm bike when I plan on hitting something steep and scary during a 30 mile ride.

  72. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by MtotheF View Post
    I have been grappling with this for about 17 years now, ever since I decided I needed a Bullit because I was living in Downieville, then realized I hated it most of the time.

    I can enjoy big bikes, in a guilty pleasure kinda way. But the reality for me, especially now that I am solidly into my 50s, is that I top out around 150-160mm on how much I can really use ALL the suspension, regardless of where I might be riding. And that's the max travel that I feel I can use when riding at my limits. This is all parsed in terms of personal preference here, but the new generation slack front, steep seat, short-to-mid travel bikes are singing siren songs to me. 120-140mm rear travel, 140-150 front, somewhere around 28-29 pounds with a steep seat angle, and I can ride one of those bikes anywhere, anytime, any terrain.

    Perspective is weird in this way. We used to charge some super gnarly stuff on hardtails with 68mm elastomer forks and rim brakes. Too much travel, no matter how sophisticated it is, (and aside from the fact that big heavy bikes with lots of travel still suck to climb uphill with) I feel like I am disconnected from the trail.
    You and I have similar thoughts on this. I too am in my mid 50's and change bikes often. Used to charge shit in the early 90's with fully rigid then 60mm up front.
    I have had a lot of XC bikes and several "enduro" style bikes with 160 or more. 140-150mm is all I can use these days trying to be cautious while still "ripping" the DH.
    Just ordered the new Stumpy 29 long travel and I am really stoked for this thing. I ride Annadel mostly with several trips to the Sierras each year.

    My feeling is a little more travel than what is needed 75% of the time is just right!

  73. #73
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    I think this is key. And we never know exactly how much we need with changing conditions.

    If one is getting better and improving then you're sometimes pushing beyond the comfort zone. Also one can make mistakes. Or maybe just not perfectly dialed that day.

    If it can save one from injury, hospital or down time, it's good.
    I think the injury potential is the wrong way of framing this discussion. Any of those things that you describe can happen on any bike, any day. One is just as likely to push past their comfort zone on a 6" full suspension bike as they are on a rigid bike. The only difference being, in my opinion, that the situations one gets into on a bigger bike produce a higher cost of failure.

    I'd argue that you see more people being injured by being overbiked, and as such overly confident, than by those that are 'underbiked'.
    "When life gives you lemons...say f@%k it, and bail"

  74. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    There's the old adage that simple, no travel, under-equipped bikes will IMPROVE your skills.

    I'm not sure I agree with that.
    I don't agree with that. Riding a Knolly Warden for a couple of years made me a better rider so now I can rip the same trails on a HT.

    Newbs should start out with more travel and slackness so they don't get hurt as the build skills.

    I also believe that the next bike should cater to your weakness, not reinforce your strength. Better climber than descender, get a better descending bike.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  75. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by mahgnillig View Post
    I just want to ride. If I know that my bike is more capable than the rider then I don't have any equipment worries... the only thing that determines whether I can or cannot ride something is me. This is why I love my Ibis HD3. It fits me well (we short people are gradually, by millimetres at a time, being stretched into ever longer bikes, which is a worrisome trend considering that a lot of manufacturers don't make an XS). Sure, I could climb faster on an XC hardtail, but then I wouldn't have the confidence in the chunk.

    There are lots of people out there who believe that you should buy a bike that will force you to improve your skills or die trying (or at least get off and walk). I don't really care about that... if I can't ride a rock garden on a rigid hardtail, so what? If I'm getting off and walking every 50 yards then it's just a hike with extra gear, and it's not enjoyable. I want my bike to make up for my own deficiencies and keep on going even when I'm not sure what I'm doing. With 150/160mm of travel, my bike does that admirably and I am happy.
    ^^^What she said.

  76. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    If you did a blind taste test of various travel/geometry bikes, do you think the average mountain biker could pick out the differences correctly?
    No, not the specific numbers such as "oh this is 140mm". But I bet everyone could discern the best "quality" of travel.

  77. #77
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    For a single bike, I'm squarely in the "less bike than needed" camp, for two reasons:

    1. I think that being underbiked does help develop certain skills, although I agree that to ride higher consequence features, it certainly helps to be over biked.

    2. I think it's generally more fun to pedal around a shorter travel bike, encouraging riders to get out more, than to pedal around a big bike and always feel a bit bored or weighed down.

    That said, I'm in the N+1 bike camp, and I like having options, and I like having lots of travel for when I travel....

    But for local riding, I'd rather have a short travel bike that encourages me to get out on whatever riding is available, rather than a bike that encourages me to drive somewhere that makes it interesting to ride.

  78. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Talking about bike rear travel, does one purchase (or use) a 0-100mm bike, a 130mm or 160+?

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    If itís ok with you, Iím going to flip this right back at ya?

    Given that youíve just recently tested the Trail429 and I know youíve long term tested a Switchblade too. Both VERY similar bikes in geometry, suspension platform, wheelsize and both with the infamous SuperBoost.

    Which one would you prefer to ride the most often? The 135/150mm or the 120/130mm bike?

  79. #79
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    Guys, stop messing around and just answer this simple question: what's the best bike in the world?

  80. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    Guys, stop messing around and just answer this simple question: what's the best bike in the world?
    Pipedream Moxie.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  81. #81
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    Pipedream Moxie.
    Hard to get in the US. Where to buy?? I was looking to build one up for my son or daughter, and just gave up.

  82. #82
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    Moxie Enduro Hardtail | 27.5/27.5+/29er Compatible

    I'm in Canada (similar to California) and ordered from the UK.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  83. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5k bike 50cent legs View Post
    Guys, stop messing around and just answer this simple question: what's the best bike in the world?
    Oh thatís easy!

    Itís my Pivot Switchblade Team XX1 Eagle 29, thereís no other bike Iíd rather get caught on an unfamiliar trail with, closely followed by my 29 Plus Waltworks. In all seriousness mid travel 29ers will do just about anything you ask of them these days and 29 plus tyres are surprising, true all rounders. This has been my findings anyway.

  84. #84
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    Faster is not always funner. Funner is not always more/less travel. Sometimes, funner is having the extra 30% capability to really push it or launch when everyone else has to stick to the A-line. Sometimes funner is being able to pedal through a level turn at 25mph. Sometimes funner is being able to pop off every little feature on a light bike. Sometimes itís a heavy bike into a rock garden at Mach 5. Why are you riding?
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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    Interesting topic but the question is somewhat invalid because very few folks that I know have just one bike.

    I like to be under biked when riding solo or racing because a shorter travel bike is generally more efficient but may beat you up a bit.

    I like to be over-biked when doing group rides because it is very seldom that I'm going to be the slowest person so efficiency takes a back seat to being able to do the big lines and not getting so beat up that I can't ride the next day.

  86. #86
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    One Bike to rule them all.
    160-170mm trail bike with suspension that can be adjusted to near lock-out for the vanilla trails, and a full Party-Mode for when it gets moar serious. With just one bike (that is clearly a bit much for the Bay) I can push the envelope when the terrain allows for it, and when I'm out adventuring, its on my rig that I know well both mechanically and in terms of trail feel.

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by fc View Post
    Some other factors are:

    Are you a simple guy or are you highly technical and fascinated with research, settings and materials of new bikes?

    Are you happy just to get out and ride or are trying to beat your uphill records? Or are you trying to descend faster/radder?

    Do you just ride in a couple convenient spots or do you try to find new terrain each time?


    First options above usually go with 'less bike'.
    FC, This is a really interesting topic at the moment. I currently own the Sb100 (100mm), the Hightower LT (150), and the pivot Firebird (170).

    The yeti Sb100 and Hightower LT ha e really made for an interesting case study. They have similar angles on paper. At least for the first ride I had the same tires on them. I can say that there is such a huge difference in how these bikes behave and itís not all squish and climbing efficiency. The way the sb100 carries speed and pushes out of corners on trails less than -6 degrees is very impressive, however on steeper trails the Hightower can carry more speed because of how well it handles the chatter. Short travel bikes always felt so limited before because of the xc geometry, think 70 degree head angles. But now you can get 67 degrees or slacker on a variety of travels. I used to think ride as much travel as you can pedal, itís just a weight and efficiency penalty but the short travel completely changes the way I ride trails I thought I knew inside and out. Sometimes for the better sometimes worse.

    The second topic is what bikes should be compared to each other. Should we use weight class, geometry?

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