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  1. #1
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    Racing with a Trail bike?

    Hey guys,
    After building up my (12.44KG) 120mm full suspension beast a while ago, I have been training a fair bit and really enjoying XCE and XCC races. I have begun thinking though, that I may not have the best style of bike for the job.
    How much faster would a 100 or 80mm hardtail be, say over a 25min XC loop? One of my weak points is pinches and I reckon that it would help me out a bit there, aswell as being faster overall due to geometry and weight. I have the opportunity to grab a great deal on a carbon hardtail, just wondering how much of a difference it would make!

    (Edit: I am around the mid field of CAT B mens if that matters)

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Who knows really. You would have to do extensive testing on both bikes to really find out. I would be willing to make the assumption that if your current bike is in good shape that the difference would be marginal.

  3. #3
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    There have been magazine tests and anecdotal reports about hardtails vs full suspension, but I don't think there are any hard conclusions about what's fastest. It depends on your riding style and the kinds of courses you ride.

    If you have a 27lb 120mm bike, I'm guessing you might have some heavier wheels and tires. You might get a lot of benefit from a race-day wheelset, with light tires and light rims.

  4. #4
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    I'd have to agree that maybe a light weight, race day only wheelset would set you back less and prob make a bigger difference than the HT, but also depends on the "great deal" for the HT. You didn't mention what wheels and tyres you;re running, but you can pick up a Stans wheelset using Crest rims for about $500 US which weigh about 1650g IIRC and with tyres you could drop as much a a pound deoending on what you' running now.
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  5. #5
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    When you wanna take racing to the next step get a race machine. But if you are just out there having fun don't sweat it. I'm in the process of wanting a race bike. But my 22.5lb steel 29er gets the job done for now.
    Raised in a Chicken-Coop by Chickens

  6. #6
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    I am currently running Rocket Ron and Racing Ralph tyres on Spank Oozy rims, so a fairly light combo, but definitely not the lightest. Not sure why it weighs soo much, as I have slx cranks, stylo race finishing kit, elixir cr brakes and x.9 gears .

  7. #7
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    I've raced on my 28lb. Nickel a couple times with success, and will this weekend at Hammarby. Yes, I give up a few pounds to the 80mm carbon hardtail crowd, but does it make a huge difference? Are you carrying a few pounds of fat that you don't need? I just make sure I am ready to pounce through technical sections and downhills where I can take lines they won't.

    If I was more serious about XC racing, I would have bought a Blur or Superlight. I just do it for fun anymore, and I get that out of it It's fun to be the ex BMX racer/DH racer who owns a road bike for fitness.

  8. #8
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    In that case if you plan on getting serious or already are then look at the HT as an option then, because 120mm travel is generally overkill for more XC courses - of course where you are this might be different, so evaluate carefully.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bloober View Post
    I am currently running Rocket Ron and Racing Ralph tyres on Spank Oozy rims, so a fairly light combo, but definitely not the lightest. Not sure why it weighs soo much, as I have slx cranks, stylo race finishing kit, elixir cr brakes and x.9 gears .
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
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  9. #9
    Rod
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    It depends on the course. Where I usually race a 80mm hardtail is all you need. It's super smooth with additional smooth added in for your enjoyment. In North Carolina I was destroying the hardtail crowd on the downhills on my anthem, but my anthem is overkill in most of my races.
    There is not much choice between rotten apples.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrbigisbudgood View Post
    Are you carrying a few pounds of fat that you don't need?...
    I think you have to be pretty damn fast already before the bike it going to make a big difference to you. A lot of us can lose a few lbs of fat (and if you are really serious about being faster on a bike then losing upper body strength/ muscle mass).

    One difference that nobody brought up is the efficiency of the OP's FS bike. If your tuning is off you will end up with a lot of pedal bob and lost energy going into your shock.

    It's also pretty easy to drop a lot of bike weight by going to "race" wheels and tires.
    Get it unlocked.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bloober View Post
    I am currently running Rocket Ron and Racing Ralph tyres on Spank Oozy rims, so a fairly light combo, but definitely not the lightest. Not sure why it weighs soo much, as I have slx cranks, stylo race finishing kit, elixir cr brakes and x.9 gears .
    SLX cranks are durable, but they ain't the lightest cranks out there.

    Spank oozy's look like solid rims and a good choice for a 120mm bike that will see hard use. Compared to stans crest rims though, they are heavyweights. Oozy's come in at 420 to 435g, while the crests are 340g. That could save you almost 1/2 lb of rotating weight, which is a lot. Plus you can run your tires tubeless without a rubber strip with stans rims, just using the yellow tape.

    With tires, are you running UST tires by any chance? UST tires are heavy pigs. Probably not but it should be mentioned just in case. Those schwalbes are pretty good race tires I think.

    If you really want to be a weight weenie with this bike, make a spreadsheet of all your components. Find weights for all of them and enter those in. Preferably weights from a 3rd party and not from the manufacturer. Then find weights for some light weight versions of those components. Rims and tires are #1, but a carbon bar can be a good place to save some weight. Divide the difference in grams but the amount you'd have to pay for the component and you get the grams per dollar ratio - the components with the highest grams per dollar ratio should be the first to be replaced.

  12. #12
    is turning a big gear
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ansible View Post
    ... Divide the difference in grams but the amount you'd have to pay for the component and you get the grams per dollar ratio - the components with the highest grams per dollar ratio should be the first to be replaced.
    This can be a very [s]fun[/s] expensive [s]hobby[/s] obsession

    Edit - Really? You can't strikethrough here??
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  13. #13
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    .02

    I your doctor would recommend that you lose body weight, then start there first!!! Wayyy cheaper and wayyyy more affective than cutting a couple of pounds off your bike!

    Once you are pretty darn fit, then it is easier to justify taking the next step and buying $$ a full on race rig imo..

    Although, some would argue that a beautiful new race rig is exactly what inspires you to get ON THE BIKE and LOSE THE WEIGHT...

    If you must....then do as someone else mentioned and invest in a good lightweight wheelset and tires for race day perhaps..

    Hardtail vs. full susp?? You really need to analyze the course in my opinion. Out where I live, the terrain is pretty tame, so imo, a hardtail 29er is the way to go for an endurance and XC race rig mix.

    On occasion, I miss my full susp, but it is very rare! A hardtail may require you to pick cleaner lines....which really is a good thing anyways when racing...

    .02

  14. #14
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by estabro View Post
    This can be a very [s]fun[/s] expensive [s]hobby[/s] obsession

    Edit - Really? You can't strikethrough here??
    + focus on rotating weight as a priority. i would place more value in cutting weight from a wheelset than a seatpost and stem for example. maybe he mentioned that already...?

  15. #15
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    I would stick with or get the bike that you'll want to ride all the time and race on from time to time. This could be your current full sus. or a new hardatail. If you enjoy riding the bike you got then a new light wheelset will make a world of difference whether you're racing or not. Once you become a pro or cat 1 then you can get your race bike. Just my two cents though.

  16. #16
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    I usually race on my Superfly, but there are some course where it is very technical and have decided to use my 28lb Rumblefish at those events. Of all of the races I have done this year my best results have been on the Rumblefish. Really comes down to the course, but if you get into serious racing you will need several bikes.

    Race Pro/Cat 1

  17. #17
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    Has there been any tests done with lap times, alternating bike type (HT or FS) or bike weight?

  18. #18
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    It's not to the benefit of anyone who can pay for it to construct a test. And, I think it would be pretty much impossible to rigorously test HT vs. FS. The test riders would be able to tell the difference. Bike weight is a little easier - bikes could be ballasted invisibly. It would still be difficult to test well, though, given that duplicating the conditions each time is almost impossible.

    Fat Cyclist gave it a shot on his blog. He mentions why his methods are flawed. But I think you'll have a hard time finding anyone who does it better.

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  19. #19
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    I started racing on a AM bike. Actually it was a Turner Sultan with a 130mm front fork and weighed in at 31lbs with my Stan Flow rims. The difference between it and my "built for XC" bikes is the handling and efficiency. I don't think bike weight plays as big of a role as many think. I see a lot of the local Cat1's and regional pro's on 25+lb bikes. I think it's the handling characteristics where the differences start to take shape. 80-100mm forks tend to make the bike easier to corner with and more responsive. Less pedal bob from the suspension seems to help with climbing and accelerating. I didn't pick up minutes when I switched from the Sultan to an XC fitted Lynskey Pro29 but I was able to more efficiently race. I wasn't so tired from fighting the bike in the corners and it felt like I was putting more power to the back wheel when I stepped on the pedals. It's a little tougher on the back but at the same time XC is about going as fast and as efficient as you can and I can definitely corner, climb, and accelerate better on a XC oriented setup than my AM setup.

  20. #20
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale View Post
    I started racing on a AM bike. Actually it was a Turner Sultan with a 130mm front fork and weighed in at 31lbs with my Stan Flow rims. The difference between it and my "built for XC" bikes is the handling and efficiency. I don't think bike weight plays as big of a role as many think. I see a lot of the local Cat1's and regional pro's on 25+lb bikes. I think it's the handling characteristics where the differences start to take shape. 80-100mm forks tend to make the bike easier to corner with and more responsive. Less pedal bob from the suspension seems to help with climbing and accelerating. I didn't pick up minutes when I switched from the Sultan to an XC fitted Lynskey Pro29 but I was able to more efficiently race. I wasn't so tired from fighting the bike in the corners and it felt like I was putting more power to the back wheel when I stepped on the pedals. It's a little tougher on the back but at the same time XC is about going as fast and as efficient as you can and I can definitely corner, climb, and accelerate better on a XC oriented setup than my AM setup.
    Seems like you would be a tad faster on the XC rig, based on the above statements

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by rydbyk View Post
    Seems like you would be a tad faster on the XC rig, based on the above statements

    Faster yes, but not like 10 minutes faster. Probably picked up a few minutes on a 1:30 race and likely even more on the 2 hour+ races. I was a little naive in the beginning thinking it would mean I'd jump from mid-pack to the podium. While the bike helped, building an engine and learning to handle the bike as flew through the corners actually made me faster. The bike is simply a tool.

    I think a lot of times, in this forum, riders/racers think that changing wheels and/or adding parts or getting a new bike will make them that much faster. Typically it doesn't and if it does they were probably using something really bad prior. Your motor and pain threshold (which you gotta build, you can't buy) and your bike handling (again it's acquired not bought) make you fast not the bike or the parts...

  22. #22
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    I thin bike weight makes less diff to clydes (which I'm guessing dontheclysdale is)... Dropping bike weight means OVERALL weight (bike+rider) goes down by a smaller % the more the rider weighs.
    For me, moving to lighter/stiffer bike DID result in cutting a few minutes off my time. And in a 1.5 hr bike race the diff between mid-pack & podium IS usually only a few minutes, esp in Cat 2 & above...

  23. #23
    mnoutain bkie rdier
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    Quote Originally Posted by dontheclysdale View Post
    Faster yes, but not like 10 minutes faster. Probably picked up a few minutes on a 1:30 race and likely even more on the 2 hour+ races. I was a little naive in the beginning thinking it would mean I'd jump from mid-pack to the podium. While the bike helped, building an engine and learning to handle the bike as flew through the corners actually made me faster. The bike is simply a tool.

    I think a lot of times, in this forum, riders/racers think that changing wheels and/or adding parts or getting a new bike will make them that much faster. Typically it doesn't and if it does they were probably using something really bad prior. Your motor and pain threshold (which you gotta build, you can't buy) and your bike handling (again it's acquired not bought) make you fast not the bike or the parts...
    yes yes...agreed. gotcha

  24. #24
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    If B is the same as USAC's Cat. 2 or a the older Sport class, a few minutes by the end of a 90 minute race is probably one or two positions further up in the pack.

    Whether or not that's worth much is another matter. And, in my area at least, the front runners are usually fairly strung out, then a lot of people finish relatively close together, and then the stragglers come in.

    I tried two endurance races this season, and given how close together the times are at the ends of those, I'm lusting after my next bike even more.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  25. #25
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    I have a Trek EX8 that weighs a little over 27 lbs. 120mm travel and far from stock. Also have a Trek Top Fuel 9.8 heavily modified 100mm bike. Not sure what it weighs but on the same 12 mile loop the Top Fuel is consistantly 2 minutes faster. I weigh 170 and have no weight that I can lose so the lighter bike makes a difference for me.

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