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  1. #1
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    SoCal League : what type bike

    Our high school is joining the league this year and we are all wondering what kind of courses the races will be on. The kids will be purchasing bikes soon and are curious what type of bike would be well suited for the type of racing done. Heights range from 6'3" to 5'2". Some have raced in the past and others are just starting out in the sport. Should they go hardtail or dual suspension? 26, 27.5,29? Any help and suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Within budget..... No need to buy an expensive bike to get started. We see them all, 26 to 29, rigid to full sus, Wall Mart to custom. My best advice would be to have them spend some time riding a few, and spend within budget.

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    Hey there! Glad to hear that another school will be joining us. The courses in the socal league are very fast and nontechnical. 29er is definitely the way to go on these courses. The improved rolling speed will automatically bump you up a few places (I know because a teammate did this last year and he jumped up 15 spots). And I'd suggest getting a hard tail for the lighter weight and reduced price tag. Our courses as so smooth and nontechnical that a FS rig really isn't needed.

    Good Luck!

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    Penn addressed the financial concerns but didn't address the actual course conditions. My Name is Patrick Liddy, I won Freshman D1 last year and am going into JV this year. For the first four races I raced a 2012 S works Stumpjumper Ht Size Large. I felt that for three out of the four courses, (Vail, Beach to Boulders, and Keyesville) the hard tail was fine. At the 2nd race in the series, Riverside, I was caught off guard by the high frequency bumps, and felt like I needed a full suspension. For the last two races, (Los Olivos and States) I raced my 2013 Epic S-works XX1. Personally, I think that the benefits of a full suspension outweigh the slight loss in efficiency. For your team, I would consider a hard tail 29er. I Absolutely would not consider a 26 or 27.5 wheel size. 29er is undoubtedly the way to go. Depending on the budget, I would ask a local bike shop to give you a team discount on some 2013 Specialized Stumpjumper expert Hardtails. You should be able to pick one up for under 3,000 new. My local bike shop, Montrose Bike shop, gives a 20% discount on all bikes and merchandise to Socal League riders.

    Patrick

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickrl32 View Post
    Penn addressed the financial concerns but didn't address the actual course conditions. My Name is Patrick Liddy, I won Freshman D1 last year and am going into JV this year. For the first four races I raced a 2012 S works Stumpjumper Ht Size Large. I felt that for three out of the four courses, (Vail, Beach to Boulders, and Keyesville) the hard tail was fine. At the 2nd race in the series, Riverside, I was caught off guard by the high frequency bumps, and felt like I needed a full suspension. For the last two races, (Los Olivos and States) I raced my 2013 Epic S-works XX1. Personally, I think that the benefits of a full suspension outweigh the slight loss in efficiency. For your team, I would consider a hard tail 29er. I Absolutely would not consider a 26 or 27.5 wheel size. 29er is undoubtedly the way to go. Depending on the budget, I would ask a local bike shop to give you a team discount on some 2013 Specialized Stumpjumper expert Hardtails. You should be able to pick one up for under 3,000 new. My local bike shop, Montrose Bike shop, gives a 20% discount on all bikes and merchandise to Socal League riders.

    Patrick
    How close was Jacob to you in the overall standings last year? It's gonna be fun to watch you guys duke it out this year

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    Quote Originally Posted by HSracer View Post
    How close was Jacob to you in the overall standings last year? It's gonna be fun to watch you guys duke it out this year
    HSracer,

    Jacob kind of lost it the last couple of races. We were close the first couple of races, but I was pretty much on my own for the rest of the SoCal races. Unfortunately, I came down with the flu the week before states, so I had a really bad race. I ended up finishing sixth, behind 3 SoCal riders. JV is going to be tough this year because there are quite a few really fast kids coming directly to JV. By the way who are you and what class did you race?

    Patrick

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    Geez, some really good info and some really bad advice, all mixed together. All on MTBR, go figure

    Wheel size doesn't matter.
    Price and dealer support can be everything.
    If budget is a big issue, go HT. Always.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in South West Utah

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    You're saying the wheel size and bike doesn't matter? This coach asked what type of bike would be best suited to the courses. 29er is an obvious advantage. If you don't care about giving your kids the best chance to win then the wheel size doesn't matter. Thanks for repeating my points about the hardtail and dealer support, but that was a useless and inflammatory post.

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickrl32 View Post
    HSracer,

    Jacob kind of lost it the last couple of races. We were close the first couple of races, but I was pretty much on my own for the rest of the SoCal races. Unfortunately, I came down with the flu the week before states, so I had a really bad race. I ended up finishing sixth, behind 3 SoCal riders. JV is going to be tough this year because there are quite a few really fast kids coming directly to JV. By the way who are you and what class did you race?

    Patrick
    I raced JV last year and placed 16th or 17th overall. Not too bad considering it was my first year and I wasn't really on a race bike. I've actually been training this year and have a new race bike so next year should be good

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickrl32 View Post
    You're saying the wheel size and bike doesn't matter? This coach asked what type of bike would be best suited to the courses. 29er is an obvious advantage. If you don't care about giving your kids the best chance to win then the wheel size doesn't matter. Thanks for repeating my points about the hardtail and dealer support, but that was a useless and inflammatory post.
    I am a coach. I know how it is to start a team and to have everyone asking the "what bike" question. For 90% of kids, it comes down to money. Not the size of wheel. Wheel size is not where you should begin your search, nor is starting off with your experience with $10,000 bikes. A FS 29er is the ultimate bike, I fully agree, but a good one doesn't come cheap. Hence your suggestion that they start looking at a bike startin under $3000 is ridiculous. The parents on my team would have a heart attack and mutiny if I suggested that. I'm glad it works for you but it is not a suggestion you should be making. I'm sure the new coach rolled his eyes at it as well. My suggestions stand. If you felt my post was inflammatory (I didn't point any fingers), then maybe the shoe fit.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in South West Utah

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe View Post
    I am a coach. I know how it is to start a team and to have everyone asking the "what bike" question. For 90% of kids, it comes down to money. Not the size of wheel. Wheel size is not where you should begin your search, nor is starting off with your experience with $10,000 bikes. A FS 29er is the ultimate bike, I fully agree, but a good one doesn't come cheap. Hence your suggestion that they start looking at a bike startin under $3000 is ridiculous. The parents on my team would have a heart attack and mutiny if I suggested that. I'm glad it works for you but it is not a suggestion you should be making. I'm sure the new coach rolled his eyes at it as well. My suggestions stand. If you felt my post was inflammatory (I didn't point any fingers), then maybe the shoe fit.
    I don't think he was suggesting that everyone get those bikes, however his perspective might be a bit off considering he's riding all S-Works bikes. I would suggest something like the Rockhopper 29. It's pretty cheap, especially if you get it used. I think you'll find cheap 29ers have replaced yesteryears cheap 26ers

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    Quote Originally Posted by HSracer View Post
    I don't think he was suggesting that everyone get those bikes, however his perspective might be a bit off considering he's riding all S-Works bikes. I would suggest something like the Rockhopper 29. It's pretty cheap, especially if you get it used. I think you'll find cheap 29ers have replaced yesteryears cheap 26ers
    Good suggestion. I do agree on the whole 29er thing. I only ride 29ers but...these days 26ers come real cheap. I think many people would argue with the 29er makes you faster thing, mainly Nino Shurter, but we shouldn't be arguing wheel size in this forum.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in South West Utah

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    Suggesting that this coach look at a high quality bike is far from ridiculous. I would argue that more than half of the kids in the SoCal league have a so called "expensive" bike. I'm fortunate enough to have parents that can buy me the best equipment to make the experience more enjoyable and to make me more competitive, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't have stated my experiences with the bikes I have ridden. I don't know about your team, but I ride with a number of competitive teams, and there isn't one person on a bike under 3,000 dollars on any of the teams. Every competitive kid I know has a high quality bike. Not necessarily because they are well off, but because they are dedicated and found a way to make it happen. Maybe we have varying opinions on what expensive is, but that is no reason to say that I am giving bad advice. You have to remember that you are the adult and I am the high school student; you should not be rolling your eyes at anything a high school athlete is trying to contribute, and you're simply ignorant if you believe that the bike doesn't matter to the student rider. I said your post was inflammatory because the only thing you added was that there was good and bad advice provided. You then went on to re iterate what penn had said. Because the OP didn't mention a specific price point or even anything about a budget, so I suggested what I consider reasonable.

    Patrick

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    I'm with Silentfoe on this. I have 10 seasons as a High school Coach with 2 teams; founder/director/coach/fundraiser. The focus on the podium is overworked for 85% of the racers/riders. In addition, they ride between 10 and 12 times more in training than on the race course. The real importance is the experience, especially if you are just trying to get things going. Once a rider starts to excel, and that will show no matter what they ride, then you worry about a heavy focus on the bike. By that time the team and its leadership may have found ways to make some nice deals through the League or local sponsorship.

    Buy smart. Hardtail, discs, 3x9 with a service contract at an LBS so you aren't doing all the wrenching.
    I don't rattle.

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    If this is how you interact with people, let alone a teenager, I'm glad you're not my kids coach. Here's a hint -- explain your position (like you did above) -- rather than throw out an unsupported statement. I think you'll find you be more effective "coach" that way.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

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    [QUOTE=PeT;10781551] Here's a hint -- explain your position QUOTE]

    Or we could have a conversation instead of neg repping people right? Maybe you should have a dog in the fight before you step in behind the scenes to throw rep around. Thanks anyway for the advice.

    You get all kinds of advice on this site, hence my glib comment which wasn't directed at anyone for sake of hurt feelings. Apparently the injured party identified themselves though.

    My advice was sound and based on experience which, excluding B.M., is more than the other posters.

    I am genuinely interested in helping the O.P. and I kept it simple.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in South West Utah

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    I'll sum it up for the OP. A 10,000 dollar super bike isn't at all necessary. I raced on an old 26er with v-brakes and did just fine. Find a cheap, somewhat upgradable HT. 29er takes precedent over 26, but anything is good.

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    Berkeley Mike, I'm not sure how you could side with silent foe on this. His post was undeniably inflammatory, and nothing more. I can't believe you agree with his stance that the bike doesn't make a difference at all. We all know that is completely false. I'm sure that you know being an experienced coach, that a high quality bike makes the entire experience better. But this isn't a thread to discuss the ethics of buying an expensive bike for a high school athlete ( I believe there are multiple threads for that) the OP simply asked what type of bike is best for the courses that his kids will experience. We all agreed that the best balance of performance and economy would be a 29er hardtail. What makes me defensive is an adult coach who posts a rude and inflammatory comment in response to two high schoolers who are simply trying to offer their opinions. His posts tell me a lot about his character, and I am sure that his team's results reflect the same thing.

    Patrick

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    Ok. Please show in quotes where I was "inflammatory", the "bike doesn't make a difference at all" or any other comment that was "rude".

    Otherwise I have just been giving direct and clear responses to bad information based on little experience.

    Edit: Unless directly asked by the O.P., I'll opt out now. This didn't need to get to this point.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in South West Utah

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    Quote Originally Posted by Silentfoe View Post
    Or we could have a conversation instead of neg repping people right? Maybe you should have a dog in the fight before you step in behind the scenes to throw rep around.
    Low-value flip answers deserve negative repping -- it should be everyone's "fight". I didn't negative rep you because I disagreed -- there was no substance in that post other than snark, hence the negative rep. I think the negative vibe that runs through mtbr is disturbing and that you didn't think your comment wasn't directed at anyone is indicative of the pervasiveness of that sentiment. I immediately saw it as a shot at someone who was trying to be helpful (and who had the courage to ID themselves and the foresight to give their credentials), and I also feel it's a shame that you as a "coach" with so much "experience" still apparently don't seem to see it.

    To the OP -- I agree it's most important to get kids on serviceable bikes and riding, but all else being equal (meaning $), many in the Colorado league have also found greatest success on hardtail 29ers of all pedigrees. My kid moved from a mid-range 26" full suspension to a nice 29er (used, might have been $3K when new) and moved from top just outside of top 10 to top 5 (field of ~50) - enough races on both bikes over a two-year span to make me think there was something to it beyond just randomness in the sample. What really works in terms of value is picking up the used bikes from people who know how to take care of them and are moving to their next ride -- it helps to have experience in judging the quality of the bike and knowing if the previous owner kept up on the maintenance. Perhaps you have that capability, but around here a friendly bike shop owner and his mechanics have hooked several of the kids up with nice used bikes as a customer moves on to their next "super-bike" -- works out for everyone (kid gets a potentially great bike at a mid-line bike price, shop sells new bike to rich guy, rich guy gets something in return for his "old" good bike). Perhaps you might cultivate a similar relationship with a local bike shop.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

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    Geez, some really good info and some really bad advice, all mixed together. All on MTBR, go figure

    Wheel size doesn't matter.
    Price and dealer support can be everything.
    If budget is a big issue, go HT. Always.


    I felt that the first paragraph was completely unnecessary, and I'm not sure about you, but when people say that the advice I gave was bad, I get offended

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickrl32 View Post
    Geez, some really good info and some really bad advice, all mixed together. All on MTBR, go figure

    Wheel size doesn't matter.
    Price and dealer support can be everything.
    If budget is a big issue, go HT. Always.


    I felt that the first paragraph was completely unnecessary, and I'm not sure about you, but when people say that the advice I gave was bad, I get offended

    Cool down there Patrick. Let it go. You're arguing with someone who has years of experience over you. Don't be so defensive. You can learn a lot from these guys. Look up what the word sophomore means, seeing as how you are one and are acting like it.

    On a side note, to OP. Good luck! Can't wait to see you guys out there! If you don't already know, Matt Gunnell is the Socal director and a great guy, so if you have any questions I'm sure he'd be happy to help.

    For more info: SoCal

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    Pat and racer,,, My best advice would be to read between the lines. Foe offered great advice, maybe a little coarse, but still great advice. B Mike echoed the same. Nothing wrong in what you both stated and I would hope the adults read it in the same between the lines way. At this point, the only wrong answer would be to give up entirely and fold the team.
    In a way, I am sure the OP knew the answer but maybe wanted supporting advice. When starting a team, the last thing you should think about is advising an expensive purchase,, and yes 3K qualifies as such no matter where that lies in the MSRP food chain. Wheel size should be a concern, but not a limiting factor in the purchase. Several of you described moving up from 26" when ready, getting better along the way, and this should also be an option for the OP. My belief is to get the kids started, and get them hooked. I am their coach, not their parent, in no way should I dictate a family money decision. Now, I can recommend, help find deals, but their budget is their budget.

    LIke I said earlier, we have them all show up on Sunday, and I see the same smiles, high fives, exhaustive grunts, from every wheel size and frame material rider.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickrl32 View Post
    Berkeley Mike, I'm not sure how you could side with silent foe on this. His post was undeniably inflammatory, and nothing more. I can't believe you agree with his stance that the bike doesn't make a difference at all. We all know that is completely false. I'm sure that you know being an experienced coach, that a high quality bike makes the entire experience better. But this isn't a thread to discuss the ethics of buying an expensive bike for a high school athlete ( I believe there are multiple threads for that) the OP simply asked what type of bike is best for the courses that his kids will experience. We all agreed that the best balance of performance and economy would be a 29er hardtail. What makes me defensive is an adult coach who posts a rude and inflammatory comment in response to two high schoolers who are simply trying to offer their opinions. His posts tell me a lot about his character, and I am sure that his team's results reflect the same thing.

    Patrick
    From this I am not sure what you know and you seem ready to presume much for the sake of a line of thought. That may be just your process but it isn't mine.


    The OP is starting his participation and asking a question about type of bike for the course. My answer is not so much for the course but for the success of the program. As such I am suggesting that it is not the right question. That may be where you and focus differently. As a leader I value priorities, timing, practicalities, the ongoing vitality of the team, its support system, and the essential value of experience.

    Absent those considerations teams can simply fail. Unless a team can continue as a whole, no one rides.
    I don't rattle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HSracer View Post
    Cool down there Patrick. Let it go. You're arguing with someone who has years of experience over you. Don't be so defensive. You can learn a lot from these guys. Look up what the word sophomore means, seeing as how you are one and are acting like it.

    On a side note, to OP. Good luck! Can't wait to see you guys out there! If you don't already know, Matt Gunnell is the Socal director and a great guy, so if you have any questions I'm sure he'd be happy to help.

    For more info: SoCal
    HSracer,

    I look forward to meeting you at the first race, and wish you luck in varsity. As for my post, I wasn't trying to re light the argument. If you look you will find that SilentFoe asked me to post what I thought was inflammatory.

    Berkeley Mike,
    I have absolutely no doubt in your coaching ability and believe that you handled the response significantly better than SilentFoe. I, lacking the experience of coaching a team and also being an independent rider, cannot know what it takes to keep a team going, but, there was no reason for Silent Foe to say that my post was "really bad advice." If he had read my post more carefully, he would have found that I said, "depending on the budget" for my suggestion of what I consider a mid-line price for a quality bike. As far as the "we all agreed, etc.." We did all agree. Every single poster said that a 29er hard tail would be best for the money, and the other two points are completely obvious. The OP asked what the best bike would be for terrain, he didn't mention price. Im sure that he is well aware of his riders' budgets as their coach. But a budget is just that- A budget- it shouldn't dictate the majority of you bike purchase. It means you have to stay in a certain range, but it shouldn't be the deciding factor on the bike you purchase. As I said, I can't speak on the intricacies of running a team, but I think a bike budget should be the last thing on anybody's mind.

    Patrick

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeT View Post
    If this is how you interact with people, let alone a teenager, I'm glad you're not my kids coach. Here's a hint -- explain your position (like you did above) -- rather than throw out an unsupported statement. I think you'll find you be more effective "coach" that way.
    Sometimes you just have be pretty firm. What works with your kid doesn't work with others.
    I don't rattle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by patrickrl32 View Post
    But a budget is just that- A budget- it shouldn't dictate the majority of you bike purchase. It means you have to stay in a certain range, but it shouldn't be the deciding factor on the bike you purchase... I think a bike budget should be the last thing on anybody's mind.

    Patrick
    Ok. Listen bud. I'm glad your parents can buy you any bike you want. I really am, good for you. However it has made you seriously out of touch, as evidenced by your above quote. A budget is EVERYTHING when it comes to purchasing a bike. If it wasn't everyone would be riding bikes like ours. You have once again given bad advice. If you don't like it being pointed out, go somewhere else because the interwebs is not the place for you.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in South West Utah

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    Silent Foe,

    I thought you said that you would stop posting unless asked by the OP. Can you just not resist arguing with a high school athlete about a topic which you brazenly quipped upon without the question even being asked? I feel genuinely sorry for the kids and parents who have to deal with you as a coach. Maybe we have some bad blood because I posted about my bikes, but that's no reason to attack a kid online because you don't agree with my opinion. Maybe I have a different idea of reasonable, but I still said depending on budget, a hardtail 29er would be best. You have said nothing different.

    Patrick

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    Re: SoCal League : what type bike

    Quote Originally Posted by patrickrl32 View Post
    Silent Foe,

    I thought you said that you would stop posting unless asked by the OP. Can you just not resist arguing with a high school athlete about a topic which you brazenly quipped upon without the question even being asked? I feel genuinely sorry for the kids and parents who have to deal with you as a coach. Maybe we have some bad blood because I posted about my bikes, but that's no reason to attack a kid online because you don't agree with my opinion. Maybe I have a different idea of reasonable, but I still said depending on budget, a hardtail 29er would be best. You have said nothing different.

    Patrick
    Man up already!
    You have entered an internet discussion.
    Stop using your "kid" status. It obviously doesn't stop you to argue, so why should anybody be softer on you?
    You accuse others from attacking you while you go ahead and use personal assaults.

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    Jazzaniova,

    The only reason I am repeating "kid, high school athlete, etc" is because these coaches are supposed to be mentors to us. I don't want anyone to be soft, but I expect adults who believe themselves to be mentors to act like mentors. Going into a thread and starting an off topic argument with rude quips is not what I wouldn't consider mentor-like.

    Patrick

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    Re: SoCal League : what type bike

    Quote Originally Posted by patrickrl32 View Post
    Jazzaniova,

    The only reason I am repeating "kid, high school athlete, etc" is because these coaches are supposed to be mentors to us. I don't want anyone to be soft, but I expect adults who believe themselves to be mentors to act like mentors. Going into a thread and starting an off topic argument with rude quips is not what I wouldn't consider mentor-like.

    Patrick
    Respect goes both ways Patrick.

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    Jazz,

    I believe respect has to be earned.

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    Take a break Foe, remember what it was like to be a brash young teen. Of course his opinion seems right to him, no mater to what degree of "wrongness".

    Pat - Here it is if you want an honest coaches opinion - I understand what you are saying, but it just doesn't work that way for everybody. Price is a major deciding factor to most, and it is even more critical here when the athlete may or may not finish the series, sign on for next year, or continue biking at all. You have heard it before and I will say it again, the bike alone will not make you a better or faster rider. Now go out and put in some time on our training plan....

    (This advice also comes from a parents perspective)

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    Patrick is not on a team.
    I don't rattle.

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    Mike,

    Not really sure what you are getting at, yes I am independent but I train with crescenta Valley. So no, I do not have a perspective on how a teams logistics are handled, and I apologize if I offended anyone with my out of touch sense of budget. I certainly didn't mean to start an argument over budget in a thread asking solely about opinions for what kind of bike would suit the SoCal league courses the best.

    Patrick

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    The point is, P, that your lack of engagement with how everything must work together, as you are solo no matter who you say you ride with, limits your experience. That you can only see as much of the question as you can understand makes appreciating the fact that the OP is entering steam in competition anew irrelevant to you.
    I don't rattle.

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    Whew....thanks for all the replies and suggestions. I've been researching a lot regarding the pros and cons of different wheel sizes and frame types and they all have their merits. We've been fortunate to have a couple of local bike shops help us out by giving us terrific discounts that most of the kids would be able to purchase better spec bikes. They want to be as competitive as possible and will buy bikes more specific to the type of racing done in the league. If its a 26' type of course then that's where we will lead them, if it's 29" then maybe that's another aspect to consider. Here's a theoretical question, our youngest rider is 5'4", skinny as a rail and a billy goat up the hills. He will buy a new bike and is considering a 29er. Would he be at an advantage or disadvantage if he stayed with his 26" with the terrain? The information by different companies and bike shops have not been helpful. Hence, the post I made since you would all have experience with kids that are around this build. Budget is always a concern but we just want to make sure that the choice of equipment we suggest would help the kids enjoy the sport more. As a coach, we want to maximize their first experience with racing. P, that is a sweet set-up you've got going. Silentfoe and Mike B...I hear where you're coming from. Gentlemen, this discussion has been very helpful.

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    You get more bike for the $$$ with a 26r. You pay a premium now for 650b since its a new standard. And 29rs have come a long way in weight and geometry.

    Expensive 26rs have terrible resale value.

    It often is the rider and not the tire size or suspension.

    I think the answer to the original question is preference, budget, rider size, etc. etc..

    I would be mostly concerned with how the bike is fit to the rider after the purchase. Seat, seat position, bars, bar position, stem, proper frame, appropriate tires.

    With so many HS riders supported by non-riding parents this can be a concern.

    Whats better? A $5000 bike that does not fit, or a $2000 bike that fits properly?

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    Mttron, you make an excellent point, I think for a rider that is 5,4, a 29er may be too big. If you can find a nice 27.5, that would probably be best. 26er would probably be the second choice after the 650b. But if he has exceptionally long legs, a 29er may work in a size small or xs.

  40. #40
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    Your youngest rider is 5‘4"? I assume they're still growing? How tall are their parents? Sizing a kid on a bike is such a hard thing. No parent wants to spend good money on a bike just to have their kid grow out of it. I have 5 kids, I know it's hard.

    Like has been said, 26ers are essentially dead and have horrible resale value, but if that is what fits best, go for it. A good team is like a family in that once a kid grows out of a bike, you always have other kids who are coming along who'd probably love to buy it.

    However, if this kid is growing, get a 29er, especially if they are looking to hang onto the bike for all four years (most likely). Of course the disadvantage is that the bike may not fit optimally the first year or even the senior year if they grow too much. Kind of an iffy game to play but I have lots of parents who do it.

    Most cheap 26ers start about $350 and go to about $700 at bike shops these days. It's hard to find anything nicer because the companies just aren't making them anymore. 27.5 isn't worth the effort IMO but, that's just my opinion. Nino Shurter won the world cup a couple of times on one but that doesn't mean anything to us. I have a similar kid on my team to the one you describe. He rides a Giant Talon 1 27.5 and loves it. It'll be a great bike for him. 29ers have a lot of obvious advantages and they are easily found these days. You can find cheap ones for about $500 and they run all they way up in price. I would stay away from full suspension for several reasons. 1-they aren't worth buying until you spend at least 2k. 2-even at 2k, you'd get an exponentially better hard tail. FS vs ht doesn't even out until you spend 5k+. FS are nice but I have yet to see a course anywhere where it is a decided advantage. 3-these kids aren't old enough where they can't bounce back after a rough day on a HT, I can't do that for sure.

    Good luck out there.
    I'm a mountain bike guide in South West Utah

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    thank you patrick,

    I can't speak for your West Coast trails. I am in New York State, and yes my son is racing in the recently formed NICA New York League.

    Another point I wall make regards all the choices related to drive trains. In my opinion this is way more important than tire size. 3x9 , 2x10 , converted 3x9 to 1x9 , 1x11 , etc etc. Can the kids shift properly ? What is least problematic ?

    I do my Bike Assembly, and my own Bike repair (except for wheel building and repair) my most important tool and source of knowledge is my "Local Bike Store".

    Find A Good LBS and Stick With Them !

    All these debates on 26, 27.5, 29 and tire pressure go on and on....

    Now Fat Bikes are the Cats Meow.

    Get your team members to work with a LBS, learn some basics on set up and repair, you will also find the internet and youtube as a good resource in learning some of these basics.

    But, most important is the LBS!

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    In my experience getting a bike to last 4 seasons for a growing teen is unlikely. It can work for the girls as some of them have done most of their growing. A 14 y/o frosh boy, though, can show up at 5' 4" and grow 4-6 inches in the next year and still just top out as an average 6 footer. I had one boy from big stock go from 5' 8" to 6' 7" in 4 years.

    Several of my boys were fit 3 times over a single season. You'd be riding with them and they looked awkward or complained about not feeling good on the bike. It was like watching bamboo grow.

    So what this reveals is that the first bike may have a window of about a year. The way we got around that was that we provided bikes for many who weren't ready to spend (for any number of reasons) from a fleet of bikes we made from donations. They were mostly small sand mediums and often used for many years. By the end of a season these were mostly sub-25lb XT bikes always kept in great tune, fit, and rubber. This takes a lot of time and talent and resourcefulness.

    Sometimes we would sell these bikes to the kids for $150-200 or roll them under another rider the next year. They weren't sparkly new and a new rider might look askance at it...until a JV or Var rider would walk up and say, "I started on that GT. I see it has new carbon bars now." They'd throw a leg over it, hammer it a bit, lock it up at top speed, maybe wheelie, and hand it back. "You'll like this one. It was a great bike." Building respect for bikes is a part of building the team culture. And a bond was just made between a raw freshman and a team leader.

    The most important factor is a bike that fits and works well. It is what keeps the riders rolling and enjoying what they do. How a team administration shapes the execution of those goals is critical to the success of the team, which might be different for the pursuit of the Podium for a small handful of riders.
    I don't rattle.

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    Good advice everyone. You guys hit the nail on the head. We've been focusing too much on wheel size that we failed to see the other factors that would affect performance, Yes, fit is very important as well as bike handling skills, attitude , and the willingness to train hard. There is still room for him to grow and perhaps we will let them use their old bikes until they see what racing is all about. They are all eager and excited to ride. Now, the next thing we need to figure out is what bikes the coaches will buy for themselves so they can train the kids properly. See u guys on the trail...

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheCapMan View Post
    Good advice everyone. You guys hit the nail on the head. We've been focusing too much on wheel size that we failed to see the other factors that would affect performance, Yes, fit is very important as well as bike handling skills, attitude , and the willingness to train hard. There is still room for him to grow and perhaps we will let them use their old bikes until they see what racing is all about. They are all eager and excited to ride. Now, the next thing we need to figure out is what bikes the coaches will buy for themselves so they can train the kids properly. See u guys on the trail...
    For me? A 2002 Cannondale Scalpel 800... : )

    Like I have said in previous posts, the main thing is to get a bike that fits within budget. New or used, it really does not matter. Just get them on the trail and to the race. Let the rest work itself out.

    My team is lucky enough to race against Carson Beckett, there is no possible excuse for our guys to think a bike will make them fast enough to catch him. Therefore, we train, we have fun, and we break bikes..

    A note about LBS support. We love our shops and source parts from them, but we teach our kids how to wrench for themselves. Just figured it was part of learning the sport. Just like advocacy and trail maintenance.

  45. #45
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    Good luck!
    I don't rattle.

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    What an interesting thread. Thanks for all the perspectives.
    The Idea Family is new to NICA this year and new to organized racing in general. Budget was among the first things considered for a child who has never raced before and who may or may not decide to stay with the activity (Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball, legos, baseball and Boy Scouts come to mind). I'd hate to spend $1000 on a bike that ends up sitting in the garage next year at this time because interest has waned. So we got him a bike I don't think he can break and I don't think he'll grow out of. It's used so it's already pre-scratched, but I don't think I'll be willing to pass it down to anyone but me. A more expensive bike, purpose-built for racing would be something we can consider after the first year or two. If he does well and we think better equipment will make a difference, we could consider new wheels or mixing in some carbon bits here and there to lighten things up. There is nothing I'd like better than to be able to make the case that a $2000 bike is appropriate for a 15 year old boy. He will have to be doing pretty well for Idea Mom to buy into that.

    I believe the OP was looking for the type of courses are out there as well and how that relates to the types of bikes for his team members. This being the age of the go-pro there is video evidence of what is out there on the courses they will be racing this year. If you go to the SoCal Dirt site they have all the race sites listed. You can google the race sites and you might be able to find a couple video that show parts of the courses from prior years. It may not be precise, but it gives you an idea of what you might encounter.
    To the original poster and the other coaches who have responded, thank you from a grateful parent, for sacrificing your time and energy for the good of your teams and those kids. This NICA organization seems very well run and based on my experience with the coach in area, the experience is the thing. Where you place in relation to the others is, and will be, kind of beside the point. So much so is the experience the important thing, that it is woven into the NICA guidelines. Start the kids on bikes now. Maybe they will stay on the bike and stay fit-er than they would have been sitting on the couch watching the big screen. Watching Single Track High, seemed to really highlight the team experience. Speaking of which, in that movie, the NorCal league went to Boggs Mountain for one of their races. That happens to be the site of the State race this coming year. Seems like you can get a feel for the state course by watching Single Track High.
    It will be nice if my son is competitive but it will be nicer if he tries his hardest and learns how hard he can work in the preparation. My son's goal for the year is to finish every race. That is perfect. Finish the race and try your hardest. At the rate he breaks things, finishing a race is not guaranteed.
    Last edited by idea man; 11-10-2013 at 10:16 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by idea man View Post
    finishing a race is not guaranteed.
    …it never is. Great goal. Good plan on the bike. This all has to fit for the family.

    There is limit to how much NICA really understands the experience as a cultural event; it is not their focus or their expertise. That said, much of the value is experiential. One of the benefits is that families are a big part of race day. Pot luck food, sharing tasks, being very close to race prep and the racing itself. It is very festive.

    The other benefit is that as parent you will be near all of the other team mates and you get a really good look at who your kid is hanging out with, how the team interacts and the value system which evolves as the season progresses. A couple seasons of that and the moms generally buy-in.

    Over a couple of seasons some of the expense is reduced as start-up costs are amortized over time: bike, helmet, gloves, glasses, kit, shoes, pedals. Once exposed to the "normal" costs of the sport and a proven dedication from the athlete, bigger money gets spent.

    But for now, get him rolling on something safe, that fits, and is not stupid. The rest will follow.
    Last edited by Berkeley Mike; 11-13-2013 at 08:43 PM.
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