I finally stopped crippling my El Rey
I've been riding my 3 year old El Rey since it was new with a Reba fork set at 80mm. I've had lots of troubles steering this bike, as it really loves going straight. Every steering mistake I've made over these 3 years has been steering wide on turns because this bike just didn't want to to make the turns. Every turn was a fight.
I'm 6'3 and have the 23" El Rey, so it's just a touch to big for me. A 21" would probably be better at my height, but the older style El Rey had better standover in the 23" size than the 21" size and I liked the seat tube gusset much better on the 23".
A friend in the industry who knows bikes much better than me looked at how the bike fits me and told me to boost the fork up to the 100mm setting. I thought he was nuts because everyone knows that increasing a fork length increases the head-tube angle which slows down the steering. The last thing I wanted to do was slow down the steering on this as I was already steering wide everywhere. But I trust this guy as he knows bikes much better than I do and I had my LBS rebuild my Reba and set it to 100mm.
What a difference. This bike now goes exactly where I want it to go without hesitation. I've had several rides on this new fork length and this bike just seems perfectly dialed. I cannot believe that a small 20mm difference on this gigantic bike made such a huge difference in handling. I'm having so much more fun on this bike now.
I thought I would pass this story along since it flys in the face of conventional wisdom I've read on the interwebs regarding steering angles.
That doesn't surprise me. The website says its set up for 100mm. The Old El Rey was a slower steering bike to begin with. Its amazing how small tweaks can make a huge difference on the bike though.
"...when your ride is nearly over, it seems to have lasted but an instant..."
When you say steering do you really mean cornering? I steer my bike at slow speeds, like a tricycle. I corner my bike at higher speeds. In general a slacker bike will descend and corner better but will be harder to climb and steer.
Yah. Cornering. At the 80mm setting, I just could not lean the bike over as it always felt like it was going to slide out. I tried multiple super knobby front tires, but they always were giving way. So I was truly steering. Now I can corner!
I do find that the extra inch of height on the front end does make the granny gear climbs a bit trickier. I need to get my weight further over the front of the saddle to keep the nose down. Locking out both front and rear suspension helps.
Can you put the stem lower, maybe flip it over to get lower?
If you have a riser handlebar try a flat one.
Now that you have the handling on turns going well, tweaking for the climb will make it that much nicer to ride.
I've got a straight stem that is sitting directly on top of the headset with no spacers. I'm also running no-rise bars. I don't think the stem height is an issue, as the cockpit fits me fine. This is also a rather short 90mm stem as the bike is a bit too long for me.
I just lock out the fork for the climbs and it works much better that way.
I climbed a trail that had dozens of switchbacks (both up and down) yesterday, and I was able to ride them all. The last time I went to that trail I was cursing around each corner. I'm a happy clown.