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  1. #1
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    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!

    Hey guys (and gals), not new to 29ers but new to Full Suspension bikes and one by drive trains so thought I'd start a build/ride thread to document my transition from Rigid Single Speeding to the sweet new modern Geo single track shredder I just ordered. Also to ask for help figuring out how to get my bike dialed in for fit and function, the difference between LSC and the other one for example :P

    The new bike I just ordered is a 2019 XL Transition Smuggler with the GX build in Outlaw Orange. Hoping to get it next week.

    For a little (ok a lot) background I got my First mountain bike in 1998 - The Schwinn Moab and rocked that thing for ~15 years but was'nt a super consistent rider. Skiing was my main sport and a dose of dirtbikes, crotch rockets, Harleys, even a stint golfing for a while (shudders).

    Fast forward to 2012 and I've sold all the motorized toys, quit golf and gotten pretty fat and lazy. I set a New Years resolution to lose 40 pounds by my Birthday (October) and get a new mountain bike as a reward. Crushed that goal and lost almost 50 pounds by August. I was a SAHD at the time and my budget was $1,000- the money I got selling my good ole Honda XR400.

    I'd been researching bikes and realized I was'nt getting much for a grand and I hated the chain/shifting issues on my old bike and couldn't really afford a "good" cassette set and a fair amount of our local trails are reasonably flat here in Maryland. So I decided to grab a Kona unit Single speed. Meant to upgrade the fork to a shocked fork at some-point but never did.

    Been averaging 600+ mile s a year since then and ridden in like 10-15 different states including renting a couple FS set ups out in the Vegas area and Moab.

    So now that I'm 5 years in and really really enjoying and committed to the sport it's time for a serious upgrade! Also we love to travel and the SS was'nt cutting it - Last year In new Hampshire I did so much walking I should have just went on a hike, bike was more like a wheel barrow I was pushing up the mountain.

    AND the kids are in school full time and I'm back to work so I got the OK for a $5k Budget for my 40th Bday bike present. Of Course my 40th isn't until next year but somehow I sweet talked my wife into letting me get it this year---something about safety with the rigid fork throwing me off line being dangerous

    Alright - Have to head to dinner - Next post later on how I landed on the Smuggler.

  2. #2
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    Nurse_Ben posted this in one of the other threads and I thought it was a pretty good explanation of what is what..
    https://shockwiz.zendesk.com/hc/en-u...Suspension-Has

    I was able to do something similar with my wife and convince her to let me get the bike at the beginning of the year seeing as my 40th is in September. Luckily I was a "standard" size for mtb's and was able to get my GG Smash.

    From everything I have seen/read you will love the Smuggler. Actually was looking at that as one of the bikes I would get prior to the Smash. Ended up going with the Smash and love it.

    Anyways, good luck with the new bike once you receive it!!

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    Nurse_Ben posted this in one of the other threads and I thought it was a pretty good explanation of what is what..
    https://shockwiz.zendesk.com/hc/en-u...Suspension-Has

    Anyways, good luck with the new bike once you receive it!!
    Hey Greg thanks for the good luck and the shock resource. Have to read through that more when I'm looking at the shock.

    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    I was able to do something similar with my wife and convince her to let me get the bike at the beginning of the year seeing as my 40th is in September. Luckily I was a "standard" size for mtb's and was able to get my GG Smash.

    From everything I have seen/read you will love the Smuggler. Actually was looking at that as one of the bikes I would get prior to the Smash. Ended up going with the Smash and love it.
    Nice!! Your wife must be as cool as mine. Yeah, I was on the fence between 3 and 4 and I demoed the 3 and probably could have made it work but really wanted the 4/XL. Awesome you got yours though and glad your loving it.

    I hope so!

  4. #4
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    Bike decision!

    So at first I was planning on getting a hard tail, potentially something like the Kona Honzo maybe. But after renting a Trek Fuel EX8 I realized how much fun a Full Suspension could be. Then I rented a Transition Patrol for 3 days and was convinced - yes the tuning/maintenance/cost is worth it to go FS.

    I first looked to Kona because I've been really happy with my Unit. But it seems like their two most popular bikes were the Process (more travel then I wanted) and the Hei Hei (less travel then I wanted). Their new-ish mid travel bike the Satori has seemed to be met with pretty poor reviews, low sales, and honestly just had a sort of strange look to it.

    Then last Fall I had the opportunity to meet up with some of the Guerrilla Gravity employees and riders and they seemed like a really great small company and they got on my short list. Fast Forward to February-ish when they announced their new American Made carbon and I was watching video, reading reviews, even listened to a few podcasts on them and decided to go with their mid-travel Trail Pistol.

    I spent a couple months pouring over build options and even had the chance to demo one at the Dirt Rag Dirt fest in PA through a Can Creek event. Bike was awesome! Unfortunately in my size with their new manufacturing process the date has been pushed back a few times.

    I had initially been ok waiting until June, and then July but when it got moved to late 3rd QTR or later I started having some second thoughts about riding my current bike another full season. AND to top it off I'm soon to go on a month long road trip and the possibility of having a new FS rig to break in on the trip started sounding really appealing.

    So the search was on with availability admit-tingly being a large consideration. I still wanted to stick with a smallish brand, not necessarily as niche as GG but maybe not the Trek/Giant/Specialized type stuff. I did consider the Trek Fuel EX8 which would have a been a good value at $3,500 with the GX build but I didn't want to be locked to their proprietary "Reaktiv" shock situation.

    I knew for sure I wanted : 29" wheels, GX Eagle, 120 rear, 130-ish front.

    Main considerations were :

    Evil Following

    Transition Smuggler

    Santa Cruz High tower

    The Evil was almost $900 more then the other two and no way I wanted to inch towards $6K. They also do online only it seems? And I have no/little mechanical experience so I was really hoping to get it built out by someone else. And most shops provide at least a year of free tunes and you typically save the ~$150 or whatever in shipping doing it that way (put towards some pedals!)

    The High tower was actually my next choice partially because I've seen tons of Santa Cruz in Magazines/youtube over the years and partially because my LBS carries Santa Cruz and I'd like to give them the business and have them for tunes/support. But Alas there are no XL Hightowers to be found!

    So on to Transtion, back when I was searching out stuff on GG I ended up listening to a few other Vital MTB podcasts including the one with Kevin Menard - The transition owner/founder (one of two I believe) and it seemed like a pretty cool company. Also talked with a guy from Bellingham back in Moab last Fall and he had great things to say about them; as did the folks At Chili Peppers bike shop where I rented the Patrol.

    Lo and behold - XL Outlaw Orange in stock and ship out in two days. Called a couple local shops to inquire about getting it that way and one guy was really knowledgeable - talked to him on the phone almost 20 minutes on a Saturday - Turns out he was a high school kid; works there part time - guy was like an encyclopedia of bike Brands/specs/geo

    So I went down yesterday and threw down the ole Southwest Visa and made it official. Kind of a small old school shop compared to my regular LBS but only about 45 mins away and 20 from one of my main current jobs so it works. Ordered directly from the owner (other guy was in school!) and he said he'd build it up as soon as he got it and give me a call.

    All goes well I'll have it for my trip leaving next week. In some respects it may seem like the final decision was a bit rushed after the GG delay and it was but I was wearing a bit thin on specing out options, shocks, wheels, etc and really just wanted to get riding. And a lot of the parts/style is pretty similar among-st brands. Don't think you can go too wrong with a modern $5K bike; Think I'll be pretty happy overall.

    Biggest compromise is not getting the Cane Creek Coil I really wanted. Figure worst case I run the Fox air for this year and if I still want the shock I'll pick it up over the winter. If it costs me $500 I'll consider that the cost of riding this season and it'll be worth it (paid ~$300 just to rent the Patrol for a 3 day weekend last year)

    So, that is where I landed.

  5. #5
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    Nicely done... Like I said above, I am sure that you will be more than happy with the Smuggler, it was definitely on my short list of bikes to ride but my concern was opposite of yours, I wanted slightly more travel. This is why my Smash ended up being perfect. I had looked at Norco, Canyon, YT and Commencal as my other short list-ers but overall GG won out.

    If your trip happens to lead you across the country into Northern NV territory hit me up. Can't wait to see the new bike day!

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    Transition makes good bikes, sturdy and good riding, you should be happy.

    Sorry about GG, they're just bogged down by the process, maybe next time!

    Like Greg said, if you get out Tahoe way we'll ride.

    Edit: For the coil, check out the Bomber CR, super nice and not expensive ($350), similar to the Vanilla. I like it more than the CCDB and as much as the RSSD
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  7. #7
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    Youíre in for a shock going from a SS to a Smuggler.

    Every Transition Iíve ridden is meant to go down, and goes up very poorly. They are not efficient bicycles.


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    Nicely done... Like I said above, I am sure that you will be more than happy with the Smuggler, it was definitely on my short list of bikes to ride but my concern was opposite of yours, I wanted slightly more travel. This is why my Smash ended up being perfect. I had looked at Norco, Canyon, YT and Commencal as my other short list-ers but overall GG won out.

    If your trip happens to lead you across the country into Northern NV territory hit me up.

    Can't wait to see the new bike day!
    Thanks, Surprised you made it through that book...brevity not my strong point! Who knows I could wind up wanting more travel; but I think it's a good place to start.

    I wish, those trails you ride in that Carson City off road video look amazing! This is just a southeastern family road trip; going to try and squeeze some mountain biking in. Usually I try and get out early in the morning as my kids are pretty late sleepers so my wife can chill with book/coffee and not have to do too much extra kid watching. Just got her a bike though and my older daughter a new bike so can try and get some additional beginner miles in with them potentially as well.

    Me too Really hoping it comes in time for me to take it for a spin on my usual ride; going to be tight though since he said 5-7 business days plus build and we are leaving Friday morning (next Fri)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Transition makes good bikes, sturdy and good riding, you should be happy.

    Sorry about GG, they're just bogged down by the process, maybe next time!

    Like Greg said, if you get out Tahoe way we'll ride.

    Edit: For the coil, check out the Bomber CR, super nice and not expensive ($350), similar to the Vanilla. I like it more than the CCDB and as much as the RSSD
    Hope so!

    Yeah no worries, and maybe next time for sure.

    Thanks for the offer to you and Greg. Not heading west this year.

    I'll keep it in mind, probably gonna run the stock this whole season and I'll consider the coil over winter.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Youíre in for a shock going from a SS to a Smuggler.

    Every Transition Iíve ridden is meant to go down, and goes up very poorly. They are not efficient bicycles.
    Yeah it's going to be a lot different for sure.

    What I'm sure it'll be fine, I'm in Suburban Maryland - not exactly known for our mountains and I'm coming from the SS so used to working pretty hard for my ups.

    Have you ridden the Smuggler? Sounds like it's a lot more efficient for climbing then it's 29er big bro Sentinel.

    My typical 11 mile home loop only has ~400 feet of climbing. I climbed Captain Ahab last Fall on my rental Transition Patrol which is about 1,200 feet and it seemed fine. I didn't have the tech skill for some of the climb but the long stretches I pedaled alright.

    Guess I'll find out soon enough, don't think I'll have many climbs on this upcoming trip though.

  11. #11
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    long post ahead, so Tl;DR is that you need to learn how the Transition likes to be ridden.


    I rode SS exclusively for 10 years. I had a geared road bike, but only for commuting. MTB was SS only as it was the only MTB I could afford. very much your same situation...wanted to save some cash and got hooked. fast-forward 7 years and I move to Colorado up to the mountains. I wanted a new bike so I saved up my cash. after 3 years, I got a great deal on a Trek Fuel EX9 and pulled the trigger. it's been 2 years now and I'm finally in love with the Trek the way I was with my Bianchi and feel like I know the bike as well as I did my Bianchi.

    my biggest hangups were pretty much all related to the "new geo" and not the gears or FS.

    Sizing: I was between sizes and had to do a lot of adjusting of things like moving the saddle way forward and getting a 35mm stem. wider, flat bars were also new and hard to get used to since I rode Alt bars for so long. I went with a size larger instead of the smaller size, so that may have affected my learning curve a little. I might have felt more comfortable going with the size down.

    Slack front end: my Bianchi, while "progressive" in 2007 was very steep compared to Trek, and I was very used to how the front end handled. it carved at speed and was very stable at slow tech. the Trek "flops" the front on slow tech (especially climbs) and it took a while to get used to that. the other part is that I used to be able to do what I call a "thrust bump" with the front end where you shove your arms forward to bump the front tire up over an obstacle when going slow in tech. the Trek doesn't do that very well because of the angle of the fork. you have to lift more than push, if that makes sense.

    Long: the Trek hangs the rear wheel up on obstacles a lot more than the Bianchi did. slow tech in rocks, bumping over things, I sometimes get caught on the rear wheel. the Trek is also harder to manual and hop. some of that is the weight (23lb SS vs a 30lb FS), but the length is noticeable. same with how quickly it whips corners...it's not as nimble. it's also barely fits on my bike racks...both roof trays and the hitch trays. just something to think about.

    the Trek definitely likes to be ridden a certain way, and that took some learning. your Transition will have that and you'll have to figure it out in order to enjoy it. I've actually had to become a more aggressive rider to enjoy the Trek because it likes to be plowed through things and is not very good at slowly picking lines through tech the way I used to on my SS. now that I've been riding it for two seasons (one of which we had a baby so I only got in about 500 miles) I'm much more familiar with it and how it handles. I've forgotten the Bianchi and how it rides and that has helped. I'm definitely faster on the trails I ride on the Trek and I'm definitely having more fun on it. so I have no doubt you'll enjoy the Transition.

    lastly, forget what you know about standing and mashing. you will hate life trying to do that on your FS.

    J.
    are you a bike shop owner? or a custom builder? I want to talk to you about your website

  12. #12
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    Was the Ripmo on your list at all? I am in the exact situation, GG-wise. That email hurt.
    My current ride is 15 yrs old, so giving up a season of riding a new bike doesn't seem appealing.

    Since the delay was officially announced, I've gone back and forth from buying a used interim bike until my Smash shows up, to just waiting, to buying one of the other bikes I had considered instead of the Smash. The others I thought about are exactly the bikes you mention, but I also am considering a Ripmo (XL can be shipped this week).

    I'll be demoing the Smuggler and Ripmo for sure, both get really good reviews for Front Range CO trail riding. If neither of those can convince me to cancel my GG order, and I can't find a used bike that makes sense, I might just suck it up and get by with demos and my current bike, a '04 Enduro. There seems to be a magic pull about the Smash I just can't get away from, and the fact that I can turn it into a Trail Pistol (which would essentially give me a Ripmo and a Smuggler in one) is really appealing.

    I don't think I can go wrong on any of these bikes, but I'm trying not to let the emotional blow of the GG delay entice me into a bad decision for my situation. Thanks for posting this and adding some perspective to my dilemma.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayson44 View Post
    long post ahead, so Tl;DR is that you need to learn how the Transition likes to be ridden.

    I rode SS exclusively for 10 years. I had a geared road bike, but only for commuting. MTB was SS only as it was the only MTB I could afford. very much your same situation...wanted to save some cash and got hooked. fast-forward 7 years and I move to Colorado up to the mountains. I wanted a new bike so I saved up my cash. after 3 years, I got a great deal on a Trek Fuel EX9 and pulled the trigger. it's been 2 years now and I'm finally in love with the Trek the way I was with my Bianchi and feel like I know the bike as well as I did my Bianchi.

    lastly, forget what you know about standing and mashing. you will hate life trying to do that on your FS.

    J.
    Hey Man, thanks for the thoughts and post.

    Interesting, I'd hoped for love at first ride! But I'm sure it will take some getting used too. It's easy to get hooked isn't it? It's a great sport.

    I know, that's gonna be the thing I miss the most. Curious to see if I'll get used to seated climbing or use the lock out to stand some or what. Most of my local ride is rolling so I'll not really have the option to lock out. But even on the small hills there I much prefer standing. I tried that first hill on a demo a couple weeks back and almost wrecked right over the bars. Between the gear I was in being way to easy and the fork diving it was pretty jarring.

    my biggest hangups were pretty much all related to the "new geo" and not the gears or FS.

    Sizing: I was between sizes and had to do a lot of adjusting of things like moving the saddle way forward and getting a 35mm stem. wider, flat bars were also new and hard to get used to since I rode Alt bars for so long. I went with a size larger instead of the smaller size, so that may have affected my learning curve a little. I might have felt more comfortable going with the size down.

    Slack front end: my Bianchi, while "progressive" in 2007 was very steep compared to Trek, and I was very used to how the front end handled. it carved at speed and was very stable at slow tech. the Trek "flops" the front on slow tech (especially climbs) and it took a while to get used to that. the other part is that I used to be able to do what I call a "thrust bump" with the front end where you shove your arms forward to bump the front tire up over an obstacle when going slow in tech. the Trek doesn't do that very well because of the angle of the fork. you have to lift more than push, if that makes sense.

    Long: the Trek hangs the rear wheel up on obstacles a lot more than the Bianchi did. slow tech in rocks, bumping over things, I sometimes get caught on the rear wheel. the Trek is also harder to manual and hop. some of that is the weight (23lb SS vs a 30lb FS), but the length is noticeable. same with how quickly it whips corners...it's not as nimble. it's also barely fits on my bike racks...both roof trays and the hitch trays. just something to think about.
    So my 2013 Kona Unit was actually stolen out of my Garage Halloween weekend in 2015. I was still broke and I loved the bike so I ordered a 2016 Unit, unfortunately it didn't come until April. But the 2016 is a lot more modern, longer, slacker, and then of course I've been on 29's for 6 years. So hopefully I won't have quite the learning curve you did coming from the 2007.

    Sizing - So in height (6'2") I'm on the verge of L vs Xl with most brands, but with reach/wingspan (6'6") I'm pretty squarely in XL mostly. Still probably could make either work but hopefully it'll be OK. Reach on Kona is 483 increasing to 500 on the Smuggler - 17 cm is what like 5/8 of an inch, no idea how noticeable that will be.

    Slack - HTA Kona - 69 vs 66 on the smuggler so it's slacker but not a ton. Not sure I understand what you mean with the thrust bump. I usually lift the handles more or time a hard crank of the pedals to lift the wheel and lift the bars together.

    Wheelbase - Kona - 1170 vs Smuggler - 1242 - So about 72mm, 2.75 inches longer; again not sure the ride implications of that difference. Hauling it in a 8 ft pickup bed so that shouldn't be an issue with racks at least.

    ---------

    But, only time will tell

    I'd hoped to ride both still; but thinking maybe hanging the Kona up at first will be better. Don't really feel like taking two bikes on the trip so that should be a pretty good trial/ break in period. Should get to ride a little more often and longer then my typical week at home; plus little rides around campground with wife/kids and stuff can start just messing around with it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by G_T View Post
    Was the Ripmo on your list at all? I am in the exact situation, GG-wise. That email hurt.
    My current ride is 15 yrs old, so giving up a season of riding a new bike doesn't seem appealing.
    Oof, sorry your in the same boat.

    You know it was'nt on the list, and if Ibis was I'd lean more to the Ripley I guess. I honestly haven't really remembered hearing or reading or even knowing of Ibis until I started reading on these boards last Fall some. I must have read or seen them somewhere and not paid attention?

    They look pretty sleek with the finish and paint job, similar GX spec comes in around $4,899. Just weren't really on my radar I guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by G_T View Post
    Since the delay was officially announced, I've gone back and forth from buying a used interim bike until my Smash shows up, to just waiting, to buying one of the other bikes I had considered instead of the Smash. The others I thought about are exactly the bikes you mention, but I also am considering a Ripmo (XL can be shipped this week).

    I'll be demoing the Smuggler and Ripmo for sure, both get really good reviews for Front Range CO trail riding. If neither of those can convince me to cancel my GG order, and I can't find a used bike that makes sense, I might just suck it up and get by with demos and my current bike, a '04 Enduro. There seems to be a magic pull about the Smash I just can't get away from, and the fact that I can turn it into a Trail Pistol (which would essentially give me a Ripmo and a Smuggler in one) is really appealing.
    I considered that buying and then re-selling a used one as an interim approach, ultimately combination of laziness and impatience ruled it out for me I guess. It's gonna be a hard and unique situation for everyone. A big part of it for me was my upcoming vacation; it's a family trip but even if I get to ride like 6-8 days that's a fair amount of riding and in some fun new places vs my usual spots.

    By the time you go around and demo a bunch and think on it you'll probably have a better idea, though it sounds like you want to wait. I agree with the pull toward the Guerrilla Gravity - it's a really cool thing they are doing. Like you said if the demos don't wow you ride what you got now and wait to get it.

    I just made a really fast decision from the time I read about the delay Friday night to Monday morning ordering the Smuggler. Only thing I can think is a combination of the trip deadline and my being "over" the decision making - to be honest (don't know if you read the other GG thread) I was wearing a little thin on the decisions in general re: wheels, shocks, GX vs NX etc. so the "click buy" was having some pull. Which is ironic because the ability to customize was/is one of the biggest draws for GG.

    Quote Originally Posted by G_T View Post
    I don't think I can go wrong on any of these bikes, but I'm trying not to let the emotional blow of the GG delay entice me into a bad decision for my situation.

    Thanks for posting this and adding some perspective to my dilemma.
    Yeah the can't go wrong did weigh on my decision process. Any of these bikes are awesome, even if one is awesome-r there is the old bird in the hand worth two in the bush to consider. But I hear you on the emotional decision, I worried about that too.

    Yeah man, good luck with your decision.

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    Still no word on the new bike. Going to give them a call tomm to check status.

    Been having a pretty good few days on two wheels though.

    Thursday night made it out on my local loop and actually hit a PR. I don't use Strava or a super exact record keeping but I use an app called "map my run" (thinking of switching to Strava though with the new bike for the cumulative stats). Previous record was hour 21 minutes and change, this time was one hour 18 minutes 30 secs. Usually more like 1:30-2:00 with breaks,sessioning, etc.

    I was in considerably better shape the last time so I think it's more of my downhill and technique that I've improved more so then the fitness aspect. Also one traffic light each way on the paved section so that can always influence a few minutes.

    Saturday did a fun family ride over on the Eastern Shore of MD on this trail that starts at the Chesapeake bay and traverses Kent Island (about 5 miles each way). We usually ride it out to a place called The Crab Deck for lunch and ride back. First time my youngest has made it the whole 10 miles!

    https://www.traillink.com/trail/cross-island-trail/

    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-fathers-day-bike.jpg

    Sunday made it out for another loop at the normal spot but did a few different new sections and switched up some of the order (up the downs, vice versa). Also messed around on a new wood section they just built, need some practice. Harder then it looks!

    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-20190531_192352.jpg

    And then today, the new pedals arrived. Went back and forth on Diety, One up, and crank brothers. Finally just went with the Crank brothers since they were a bit cheaper and all looked similar.

    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-pedals.jpg

    Hopefully I get a call tomm, gotta get packing on Thursday!!

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Youíre in for a shock going from a SS to a Smuggler.

    Every Transition Iíve ridden is meant to go down, and goes up very poorly. They are not efficient bicycles.


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    Not sure which you've ridden and which you haven't.

    My Smuggler goes up just fine. Not the best, but for a 4-bar/Horst link bike, very, very well. In fact, I'd say it climbs as well as my OG Pivot 429, with DW link. And that's on flats vs being clipped in on the 429.

    The Sentinel, not so much. It goes up fine, but if you're doing a lot of miles with a lot of vertical, it's not the bike I'd choose. Same for the Patrol. I have not ridden the Scout, but my 13 year old climbs just fine on hers.

    No doubt there are better climbers out there, but as a total package, it's a fantastic bike!

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    A 120mm horst link bike, I don't think you need to worry about how it pedals... Sure it won't be as direct as a ridgid SD, but that's the point.

    Looks like a great bike OP.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    Youíre in for a shock going from a SS to a Smuggler.

    Every Transition Iíve ridden is meant to go down, and goes up very poorly. They are not efficient bicycles.
    Quote Originally Posted by skiahh View Post
    Not sure which you've ridden and which you haven't.

    My Smuggler goes up just fine. Not the best, but for a 4-bar/Horst link bike, very, very well. In fact, I'd say it climbs as well as my OG Pivot 429, with DW link. And that's on flats vs being clipped in on the 429.

    The Sentinel, not so much. It goes up fine, but if you're doing a lot of miles with a lot of vertical, it's not the bike I'd choose. Same for the Patrol. I have not ridden the Scout, but my 13 year old climbs just fine on hers.

    No doubt there are better climbers out there, but as a total package, it's a fantastic bike!
    I asked the same question whether they'd specifically ridden the Smuggler and didn't get a response.

    I switched to flats a couple years ago as well, glad to hear they are climbing well for you.

    Nice, hope I feel the same way

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    Quote Originally Posted by cassieno View Post
    A 120mm horst link bike, I don't think you need to worry about how it pedals... Sure it won't be as direct as a ridgid SD, but that's the point.

    Looks like a great bike OP.
    I'm not worried about it, and like I mentioned up thread not doing too many big climbs here in the Baltimore/DC suburbs.

    Thanks!

    -----------

    So bike came in Tuesday; but hasn't been built yet!!! Talked to the shop guy yesterday and he said they were going to try and build it in the afternoon. Asked to call when he's done, and haven't heard back.

    Don't want to bug the crap out of him or have him rush the assembly; but also really want to get it today. May give him another hour or so and then try him again just to check progress. The shops ~45 mins away but can easily turn into 1.5 hour or worse with Thur/Fri afternoon rush hour beach traffic since it's towards the Eastern Shore of MD.

    Could even try to grab tomm since I'll be heading to the shore for first stop of our trip; but wanted to have more time to get the packing figured here at home then rushing in their parking lot.

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    Well with not much time to spare, it's here!!

    Picked the bike up around 4 today, looks pretty good. No real chance to ride other then a few minutes around parking lot at bike store and my neighborhood. It poured today so trails were muddy and I didn't really have time to ride with ALL THE PACKING.

    I realized we have a lot more money in bikes then we did last summer with 3 of the 4 of us getting new rides this year. On top of that my daughters went from a 16" and 20" to a 20" and 24". So jamming everything into the pickup any which way was'nt going to cut it this time; especially as many times as we are moving and packing/unpacking.

    So I spent the last 3-4 hours rigging up the truck and trying a bunch of combinations of bike orders/rotations. Kind of like the least fun and most rushed version of Tetris ever. To add to the fun it rained about half the time.

    But I think I got it dialed in now. Got it so that there are some wooden dividers between each bike to keep the gears/cassettes segregated. And the wood is all down low so it really only contacts the rubber. Also had to move and re-arrange most of my tie-downs and stuff to work with the new config. Wound up being able to get my bike on the outside so if we are somewhere I'm the only one riding (likely to happen at least twice that I can think of) I can get mine out without having to unload the other two big bikes

    Also made a last minute itinerary change by adding a night in Ocala so I think I'm going to get to try the Santos bike park out one morning

    This weekend we'll just be at the beach so I'll ride it around the campground messing with gears/shocks/dropper a bit. Tuesday we'll be in Williams burg Virginia and I'm hoping to ride a t a place called Freedom park. That'll probably be my first real ride to get some impressions from.

    The bike and box in the truck - (looks like plenty of room without the camping gear and other 3 bikes!)

    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-engineered-2-party.jpg

    The Smuggler!!

    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-new-bike.jpg

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    Nice, enjoy!

    The more I see that Outlaw Orange, the more I like it. Better than my Bone Gray/Black one, even!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtbkenny View Post
    Well with not much time to spare, it's here!!

    Picked the bike up around 4 today, looks pretty good. No real chance to ride other then a few minutes around parking lot at bike store and my neighborhood. It poured today so trails were muddy and I didn't really have time to ride with ALL THE PACKING.

    I realized we have a lot more money in bikes then we did last summer with 3 of the 4 of us getting new rides this year. On top of that my daughters went from a 16" and 20" to a 20" and 24". So jamming everything into the pickup any which way was'nt going to cut it this time; especially as many times as we are moving and packing/unpacking.

    So I spent the last 3-4 hours rigging up the truck and trying a bunch of combinations of bike orders/rotations. Kind of like the least fun and most rushed version of Tetris ever. To add to the fun it rained about half the time.

    But I think I got it dialed in now. Got it so that there are some wooden dividers between each bike to keep the gears/cassettes segregated. And the wood is all down low so it really only contacts the rubber. Also had to move and re-arrange most of my tie-downs and stuff to work with the new config. Wound up being able to get my bike on the outside so if we are somewhere I'm the only one riding (likely to happen at least twice that I can think of) I can get mine out without having to unload the other two big bikes

    Also made a last minute itinerary change by adding a night in Ocala so I think I'm going to get to try the Santos bike park out one morning

    This weekend we'll just be at the beach so I'll ride it around the campground messing with gears/shocks/dropper a bit. Tuesday we'll be in Williams burg Virginia and I'm hoping to ride a t a place called Freedom park. That'll probably be my first real ride to get some impressions from.

    The bike and box in the truck - (looks like plenty of room without the camping gear and other 3 bikes!)

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The Smuggler!!

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    That's a lot of detail.

    Bike looks AWESOME. You will no doubt love it.

    I'm also a long-time Kona Unit rigid SS rider, am picking up a Following MB tomorrow AM. ~Cheers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skiahh View Post
    Nice, enjoy!

    The more I see that Outlaw Orange, the more I like it. Better than my Bone Gray/Black one, even!
    Thanks!!

    It's pretty sweet; interesting finish too with the Matte instead of the usual glossy. Almost looks darker in person then on camera too, maybe because of the Matte? Regardless I like it though, matches my other orange bikes!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1 View Post
    That's a lot of detail.

    Bike looks AWESOME. You will no doubt love it.

    I'm also a long-time Kona Unit rigid SS rider, am picking up a Following MB tomorrow AM. ~Cheers.
    Lol, sorry after all that work I had to share my packing triumph with somebody!

    Thanks, I sure hope so. A Lot of coin and no more big B-days on the horizon so it's gotta last me a while

    Nice!! How come your making the switch, think you'll still ride the Unit some?

    I looked at the Following too, looked pretty nice! Enjoy it and congrats on new bike day.

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    NICE dude!! Bike looks awesome so now get out and shred it!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtbkenny View Post
    Nice!! How come your making the switch, think you'll still ride the Unit some?

    I looked at the Following too, looked pretty nice! Enjoy it and congrats on new bike day.
    Thanks. I imagine I'll always ride a SS - fun as hell, cheap, minimal maintenance. Having a second "trail" bike allows me to keep the SS rigid which I prefer. But I've never been totally satisfied with my trail bike. The Following is my 3rd try in 8 years and will inherit parts from a Pivot 429T (too small, marathon geo). I was weary of putting a 51mm offset fork on a frame typically spec'd with a reduced offset fork (e.g. Smuggler) so picked up a XL Following on sale last month.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtbkenny View Post
    I looked at the Following too.
    You're better off with a longer reach than the Following has. I don't have your torso length or wingspan, yet the XL Following fits me almost ideally.

  27. #27
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    I'm wondering how you and your Smuggler are getting along?

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    Holy thread abandonment!!

    Sorry guys, left for about 4+ weeks right after getting the bike and then returned to visiting family/house guests, catching up at work and just haven't had much computer time.

    Quote Originally Posted by gregnash View Post
    NICE dude!! Bike looks awesome so now get out and shred it!!
    Hey thanks Greg. I've been riding it a lot... some shredding but still much to learn it would seem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1 View Post
    Thanks. I imagine I'll always ride a SS - fun as hell, cheap, minimal maintenance. Having a second "trail" bike allows me to keep the SS rigid which I prefer. But I've never been totally satisfied with my trail bike. The Following is my 3rd try in 8 years and will inherit parts from a Pivot 429T (too small, marathon geo). I was weary of putting a 51mm offset fork on a frame typically spec'd with a reduced offset fork (e.g. Smuggler) so picked up a XL Following on sale last month.
    For reals, already running into more maintenance then I'm used too!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ryder1 View Post
    You're better off with a longer reach than the Following has. I don't have your torso length or wingspan, yet the XL Following fits me almost ideally.
    Something feels a bit strange with the reach but I can't pinpoint if it's the length or the Geo. When I first started riding it was killing my wrists like I was putting way to much pressure on them sort of leaning forward. It would be comfortable standing but hurt sitting. Seems I've mostly adjusted to it now though so not sure what/if I'll adjust. It feels almost more natural when I've got the dropper lowered a bit which makes me thing maybe a bar with a slight rise could be beneficial. I'll likely give it the rest of the season and consider changes over the winter.


    Quote Originally Posted by G_T View Post
    I'm wondering how you and your Smuggler are getting along?
    Hey there, thanks for asking. Mostly pretty well, some good times, some bad times. Hard for me to comment on the Smuggler specifically compared to any other modern wonder bike because it's been a lot more adjustment then I anticipated going to suspension, dropper, gears....I mean it's really night and day from what I've spent the last 6 years on.

    But I'll try to do some review in my next post....

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    So, I've been riding the bike ~2 months now and put maybe 200-250 miles on it. This post is more on my thoughts of switching to this type of bike in general.

    First off I'll say it's been a lot more of a transition then I expected. Someone up thread talked about taking two years to fall in love and feel dialed with the new bike coming from Rigid SS'ing. I hope it won't take that long...but it also hasn't been just jump on and kill it either.

    Some of it is just mental, practice, repetition - just for example I've almost flipped/jammed my knee/etc. multiple times when I go to crank down on a flat or downhill section forgetting I'd left it in a super easy gear from the climb. Really really miss standing to climb too, that was always one of my favorite parts. Sitting and grinding in a granny gear feels kind of "boring" comparitvley.

    That being said the gears are pretty sweet when you get into long sustained climbs or really steep stuff. Finally made it up to one of the more difficult places near me last two weekends and was climbing stuff I'd always had to walk. Also did a long ride (~40 miles) a couple weeks back that was like 25 road/gravel miles and 15 dirt miles from my home to a friends house. Surprisingly my road/gravel time was'nt much faster then on my old bike but I think it left me considerably less gassed for the dirt part at the end (the FUN part!)

    The suspension is interesting and fun, def makes it easier/smoother to go faster down the hills. Riding Rigid for so long it's hard for me discern how much of it is the fork vs the rear shock, obviously some of both but what percentage is each I don't know. For example if I could have gotten 70% of this from a fork alone would a hard tail have suited my needs.

    The dropper is LEGIT; wish I'd had this years ago -gives so much confidence in gnarly stuff. First few rides I'd find myself occasionally like should I have lowered the dropper? Oh shit let me lower it and then it be too late and stuff like that.. but think It's getting more intuitive now. Part of that was also the first 8-10 rides I did were on vacation on un-familiar trails. On my home trails it's much easier to know when to use it of course.

    So I like the bike, but I don't quite love it yet. Part of me has second guessed a bit if a hardtail with a dropper and a 1 X 12 (or even kept the SS) would have been more suited for my style.

    Part of me also wonders if I really have the skill/knowledge/experience to know the difference between a ~$3K bike and a $5K bike-- $2k is a lot of money for my family/situation so I didn't spend the money on this thing without a lot of thought.

    I was talking to the guys at the bike shop a bit the other day about those concerns and they were saying if I'm feeling that way now I may not in a year or two as I could kind of grow into the bike. Regardless' it's mine now and I have no plans to get rid of it or anything but thought it was worth sharing that in case others are in similar thoughts/spots.

    I tell you in some ways one thing I thought about on my vacation seeing some of the groups at a lot of riding areas is mountain biking in some ways is like two sports-

    The lycra clad ex roadies banging out miles and skipping obstacles and the dirt bike/bmx type converts rocking baggies hitting jumps/features etc.

    I tend to consider myself sort of in the middle - I was never a roadie but I did get back into mountain biking in part for the fitness/cardio aspect and then later got hooked on the adrenaline/fun aspect. I did dirt bike for ~15 years but it was always trails/hare scramble type stuff... never got into the motocross type stuff.

    Anyway. long winded point I'm trying to make is riding this bike feels so so different that I'm still getting used to it. Did have probably my best most satisfying and fun ride on it yet last Sunday though so I'm getting there

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    Now on to the bike itself!!

    Fit/comfort - Other then the initial wrist soreness I mentioned everything else has felt pretty good. Long term we'll see if I make some handlebar changes or not. Saddle is pretty comfortable, feeling pretty good on the bike especially like how it feels like your in it more as opposed to on top. Feels like it would be much less likely to go over the bars (assume that's the STA??) - Obviously the dropper helps with this too but even without lowering it just feels like a more stable position.

    Handling - Seems awesome, no issues so far with the longer wheel base in tight turns - not something I was concerned about but have heard a bunch of folks mention. The suspension really lets you charge through stuff and stick to the trail. Feels a lot safer and less tiring then the Rigid on descents for sure.

    Pedal strikes - Have def had more then I used to. Don't know how much of this is lower BB and how much is unfamiliar terrain the first month of riding. But even on my home trails I've def hit more. Haven't had a really bad one that's launched me or stopped me really but do need to be a bit more careful it seems.

    Eagle - It's been flawless, shifts every single time up or down with no issues yet. Pretty quiet too which I like, one of the things I always liked on the single speed was not having the "chain slap" sound. Granted not ahving ridden the NX or any others I can't compare but the GX has been great.

    Suspension - Have not even begun to make adjustments or fine tune anything. been running fork wide open and shock basically in the middle. Will need to start learning and playing with this some but just not there yet.

    Speed - It's pretty fast!! Rocking down stuff for sure; kind of nuts sometimes. One of the things I was looking forward to with the new bike was trying to get in some group rides. Been on two since I returned from my trip and kept up much better then when I tried to ride with the old bike - fitness wise I was fine keeping up with the group on the Rigid SS but just could not do descents at their speeds. Still staying towards the back of the group a bit while I dial in my skills but considerably easier and more fun to ride in the group.

    Wheels/Tires/hubs - I like the sound of the higher engagement hub humming a long noticeably but not super loud like the I-9's. Probably still running the tubless at too high a PSi for most folks. Need to get a more accurate gauge and experiment a bit with it. Traction on the minions has been great in everything from sand to clay to mud, etc.

    Dropper - Working great and a game changer for sure as I mentioned last post. Went down a STEEP section of my local loop I'd never even considered on the old bike last group ride.

    Brakes - A little meh on them so far, they work and all but don't seem like as instantly responsive as I thought they'd be. I mentioned it to the shop guy and he through they were fine but may try to adjust them a bit (need to figure out how to do that...)

    Paint job - downside of the Matte finish is it seems pretty hard to clean. I'm not one to care to much about being showroom condition but it's pretty scuffed up and lots of black/grease marks already so keep that in mind if it's important to you.

    THE BAD-

    Have had a couple issues with some super loud squeaking/creaking and some stuff coming loose. First thing was the drive side crank came loose a couple times and needed tightening multiple times. I THINK they may have led to some stuff getting in it while it was loose and contributing to the creaking. I re-loosened it and sprayed the crap out of that area while flexing it in different directions during a wash and seem to have eliminated the creaking. <fingers crossed> cuz it was really annoying and loud.

    But then on my ride last Sunday I seem to have completely lost my "axle nut thing" Don't even know what the heck this piece is called but it's on the drive side and seems to hold the axle in - On my old bike you had a nut on one side and a qucik release thing on the other side. This bike has like two nut things but with a hex key hole instead of an actual nut. Of course I un-knowingly rode how many miles like this and my tire (or more likely maybe a rock or something lodged in tire?) actually wore a little groove into the chain stay piece.

    I took it into the shop to get that piece replaced and to do a basic initial tune up now that I've broken it in a bit. Pisses me off that apparently Tranistion is charging them for the piece but he said he'd take care of it and not charge me for it.

    My question to you more knowledgeable folks is - Is that something I should be checking the tightness/tension of every certain number of rides/miles or is that something that shouldn't have came off?

    So, anyway it's in the shop until end of next week probably waiting on that part. Looking forward to getting it back tuned up and getting after it again on my local stuff now that I'm starting to get the hang of it!!

  31. #31
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    Interesting read. I too am an avid SSer and prefer rigid. The simpler the better. But I do put a sus fork on for certain races, necessary evil.

    I also do endurance racing on a Kona Hei Hei CR/DL 120/100. Super fun, fast, and capable bike. It's really excellent, and I like it way more than I thought I would, but it's got a lot of buttons and levers and moving parts, plus more maintenance. Quite the opposite of the SS.

    I've had my eye on the Smuggler for about a year as my out of town adventures lately have been on terrain that demands a little "more bike." I've pushed the Hei Hei as far as I'm willing to. Even though it's tough as nails and I've pounded on it pretty hard for the last year (6'3" 205lbs, CAT 1 racer) it's never done me wrong.

    I'm finally ready for a proper trail bike that can take bigger hits. The Smuggler is enough to be fun when I'm out of town but not "too much bike" that it wouldn't be fun locally. Anyway after much consideration and time I've just ordered the new Kona Process 134. Love everything about it on paper, it will be here in another 10 days or so. Can't wait!

    Sorry, I'm getting a little OT. My point is that yes, there's a dramatic difference between your old bike and the new one. It will take a little time for you to "learn" how to ride the new bike and feel comfortable with it. The Smuggler is a killer bike, I'd gladly own one, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best bike for you. Riding style, local terrain, personal preference, etc. Many variables.

    I'm not suggesting you sell it, quite the opposite. I'm fully on board with Smuggler geometry. Spend some time with it and give it a chance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mtbkenny View Post

    Some of it is just mental, practice, repetition - just for example I've almost flipped/jammed my knee/etc. multiple times when I go to crank down on a flat or downhill section forgetting I'd left it in a super easy gear from the climb. Really really miss standing to climb too, that was always one of my favorite parts. Sitting and grinding in a granny gear feels kind of "boring" comparitvley.
    You can still do it, but obviously it's a lot less rewarding compared to a rigid SS which is the most efficient pedaling MTB ever. You just need to lower your expectations about efficiency. To some degree what you give up on the climbs you gain on the down hills.

    The suspension is interesting and fun, def makes it easier/smoother to go faster down the hills. Riding Rigid for so long it's hard for me discern how much of it is the fork vs the rear shock, obviously some of both but what percentage is each I don't know. For example if I could have gotten 70% of this from a fork alone would a hard tail have suited my needs.
    A suspension fork and a dropper on a hardtail go a long way, regardless of wether or not you have gears or SS.

    The dropper is LEGIT; wish I'd had this years ago -gives so much confidence in gnarly stuff.
    Yeah, game changer. Droppers on everything!

    Part of me also wonders if I really have the skill/knowledge/experience to know the difference between a ~$3K bike and a $5K bike-- $2k is a lot of money for my family/situation so I didn't spend the money on this thing without a lot of thought.
    You don't have to be skilled, knowledgable, experienced, or even ride a lot to justify any bike purchase IMO. Ride whatever puts the biggest smile on your face. Period. There is no right or wrong, it's just about what you enjoy the most.

    If you want to ride a 170mm Enduro bike in Florida, do it. If you want to ride your cyclocross bike in Whistler BC, do it. If either of those scenarios makes you giggle hysterically as you go down the trail then you're doing it right. (in theory, not so much in reality)

    Anyway. long winded point I'm trying to make is riding this bike feels so so different that I'm still getting used to it. Did have probably my best most satisfying and fun ride on it yet last Sunday though so I'm getting there
    That's a good sign. You don't really have a lot of time on the bike yet to be fair. Granted I ride more than most but for reference I did 4,000 miles last year. Give it some more time and learn a few new tricks.

    Honestly you're in a great position skills wise. Starting on a rigid bike has taught you good habits that will translate well to a full suspension bike. As opposed to someone who started on a full suspension bike and learned bad habits that a full suspension bike covers and allows you to get away with.

    Lastly, there's a reason why modern Trail hardtails are so popular, possibly the most versatile and fun bikes around. It strikes the perfect balance of efficiency, capability, fun, does everything bike around. Shreddy good fun. Otherwise you can build a fleet of 9 bikes and always have the right tool for the job.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtbkenny View Post

    THE BAD-

    Have had a couple issues with some super loud squeaking/creaking and some stuff coming loose. First thing was the drive side crank came loose a couple times and needed tightening multiple times. I THINK they may have led to some stuff getting in it while it was loose and contributing to the creaking. I re-loosened it and sprayed the crap out of that area while flexing it in different directions during a wash and seem to have eliminated the creaking. <fingers crossed> cuz it was really annoying and loud.

    But then on my ride last Sunday I seem to have completely lost my "axle nut thing" Don't even know what the heck this piece is called but it's on the drive side and seems to hold the axle in - On my old bike you had a nut on one side and a qucik release thing on the other side. This bike has like two nut things but with a hex key hole instead of an actual nut. Of course I un-knowingly rode how many miles like this and my tire (or more likely maybe a rock or something lodged in tire?) actually wore a little groove into the chain stay piece.

    I took it into the shop to get that piece replaced and to do a basic initial tune up now that I've broken it in a bit. Pisses me off that apparently Tranistion is charging them for the piece but he said he'd take care of it and not charge me for it.

    My question to you more knowledgeable folks is - Is that something I should be checking the tightness/tension of every certain number of rides/miles or is that something that shouldn't have came off?

    So, anyway it's in the shop until end of next week probably waiting on that part. Looking forward to getting it back tuned up and getting after it again on my local stuff now that I'm starting to get the hang of it!!
    Who sold you that bike? Sounds like a really poor assembly job. If the crank loosens and creaks, the arm needs to be pulled, cleaned, and regreased. Don't use water to solve creaking!

    Yes, you also need to check fasteners every ride in the beginning and every few rides therafter cuz stuff will loosen as you bounce down the trail. And if you lose something that you failed to notice getting loose, that's not Transition's fault, just saying ...

    Anyway, you made a really huge shift, old school rigid hard tail single speed to a modern full suspension geared bike. Really, the only way you could have made it harder is if you came from a unicycle

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Smuggler is not the best gateway for someone coming from your background, it will take you a while to relearn how to ride a mountain bike. The Smuggler is an advanced trail bike for experienced riders.

    The good news: It's not the bike
    The bad news: It's the bike

    If you were coming to this sport with no experience, you'd probably be better off, but it is what it is. In time you will probably come to like the Smuggler, but it may not be the end all and be all of mountain bikes for you.

    So now that you have the bike it's kinda up to you to learn it, otherwise I'd say try a different frame, something I little less progressive.

    Strangely enough, my riding partner is about to make nearly the same move; he's coming from an XC SS racing background, though he does have a suspension fork, and he does had an old bike with gears, and he was looking at the Smuggler and the Trail Pistol. He chose the Trail Pistol, has been waiting a few weeks already, should be an interesting transition.
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    A couple set up tips to ease the transition (pun):

    Swap tires for a set of Rekons, this will increase efficiency, speed up handling, and reduce weight. Think of as a way to make the bike feel less like a tractor.

    Get some shorter cranks arms, 165mm, this will reduce pedal strikes and make the bike feel more active. You should be able to order some arms only, reuse the BB and chainring.

    Consider a lighter weight fork: The new Revelation fork on the NX is heavy as ****, as is the Fox 36 on the GX build; not sure which one you bought, but you could easilly get by with a Fox 34, Pike, MRP SL, or similar fork which would reduce weight and make the bike feel a little less rigid.

    I know the fork upgrade is a bit pricey, so perhaps look into picking up a used fork on Pinkbike.

    Also look at getting some help with the suspension in terms of set up, since this is your fist suspenion bike there are lots of things that can affect set up and being a noob is not gonna lead you down the right path. A skilled tuner could help, not easy to find, not generally at your LBS.
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    The weight penalty of a Fox 36 over a 34 is ~200g. Hardly worth an additional $900 investment. You could easily save that much weight by swapping a tire or two where weight is far more important. Plus the 36 is more adjustable and probably the best fork on the market, so hence a move in the wrong direction (possibly).

    I have no idea what the weight difference is between a Pike and a Revelation. What's the main difference, aluminum vs magnesium lowers? Are the dampers significantly different in weight?
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

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    So maybe I was a bit negative/unclear but I like the bike. Just taking a bit more time to dial it in and get used to it then I expected.


    Quote Originally Posted by *OneSpeed* View Post
    Interesting read. I too am an avid SSer and prefer rigid. The simpler the better. But I do put a sus fork on for certain races, necessary evil.

    I also do endurance racing on a Kona Hei Hei CR/DL 120/100. Super fun, fast, and capable bike. It's really excellent, and I like it way more than I thought I would, but it's got a lot of buttons and levers and moving parts, plus more maintenance. Quite the opposite of the SS.

    I've had my eye on the Smuggler for about a year as my out of town adventures lately have been on terrain that demands a little "more bike." I've pushed the Hei Hei as far as I'm willing to. Even though it's tough as nails and I've pounded on it pretty hard for the last year (6'3" 205lbs, CAT 1 racer) it's never done me wrong.

    I'm finally ready for a proper trail bike that can take bigger hits. The Smuggler is enough to be fun when I'm out of town but not "too much bike" that it wouldn't be fun locally. Anyway after much consideration and time I've just ordered the new Kona Process 134. Love everything about it on paper, it will be here in another 10 days or so. Can't wait!

    Sorry, I'm getting a little OT. My point is that yes, there's a dramatic difference between your old bike and the new one. It will take a little time for you to "learn" how to ride the new bike and feel comfortable with it. The Smuggler is a killer bike, I'd gladly own one, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best bike for you. Riding style, local terrain, personal preference, etc. Many variables.

    I'm not suggesting you sell it, quite the opposite. I'm fully on board with Smuggler geometry. Spend some time with it and give it a chance.
    Time will tell I guess if I ultimately prefer the Rigid SS vs the new ride. Could be I choose one over the other dependent on the trail/day. For now though I figured I'd try to give the Smuggler 3-4 months exclusively to get used to it.

    I looked at both the Hei Hei and the 134 and love the Unit so had initially wanted to stay with Kona since I'd been happy with them. Not totally sure what swayed me over towards the smaller/MTB specific brands but here I am.

    Agreed that it will take some time to re-learn. It almost feels in some ways more like my old dirt bike then my Unit.

    No intentions of selling! Gonna give it a long chance My bike budget is spent for a looooooong time.
    You can still do it, but obviously it's a lot less rewarding compared to a rigid SS which is the most efficient pedaling MTB ever. You just need to lower your expectations about efficiency. To some degree what you give up on the climbs you gain on the down hills.
    Yeah, changing my expectations is part of the key. I'm not really too much of a "time" guy and don't strava or race or anything. But I do track my times on a basic GPS app and guess I thought I'd just like immediately be faster. But so far not so much. Like you said you give up on the climbs and gain on the downs I guess.

    Part of it is also just pushing myself more like being in a harder gear on flats and what not vs a casual cadence. It's also been a brutally hot Summer so I've been a bit gassed.

    A suspension fork and a dropper on a hardtail go a long way, regardless of wether or not you have gears or SS.

    Yeah, game changer. Droppers on everything!
    Agree!! maybe next year I'll look into getting a dropper for the SS.
    You don't have to be skilled, knowledgable, experienced, or even ride a lot to justify any bike purchase IMO. Ride whatever puts the biggest smile on your face. Period. There is no right or wrong, it's just about what you enjoy the most.
    I agree with that and it's all about smiles per miles. my point was just if I could be just as a happy on a $3K bike the other $2k could be spent on some camping gear, new skis, a couple trips, etc.

    But, is what it is. Not gonna stress over it. Part of my reasoning was that I can't go swapping bikes all the time so if I wanted a good all around bike to last me 5+ years I want to get a pretty damn good bike to start with. I also HATED gears not shifting back before I went SS so a high end drivetrain was my #1 priority and they are usually attached to high end frames and suspensions

    That's a good sign. You don't really have a lot of time on the bike yet to be fair. Granted I ride more than most but for reference I did 4,000 miles last year. Give it some more time and learn a few new tricks.

    Honestly you're in a great position skills wise. Starting on a rigid bike has taught you good habits that will translate well to a full suspension bike. As opposed to someone who started on a full suspension bike and learned bad habits that a full suspension bike covers and allows you to get away with.

    Thanks, I'm optimistic. It's been a bit of a strange couple months riding wise really - 4 weeks out of town, 2 weeks only did a couple group rides, one 40 mile ride that was mostly non-technical but I managed to have a really bad wreck, and only 3 solo normal local rides.

    I have pretty decent fitness and basic riding skills. Last two years is when I really started working on skills/techniques much. Before that I was mostly riding for fitness and just getting away a bit.

    My goal is to put 5000 miles (minimum) on this bike so I get down to $1 per mile cost. So I've got a longwaytogo to figure it all out!
    Lastly, there's a reason why modern Trail hardtails are so popular, possibly the most versatile and fun bikes around. It strikes the perfect balance of efficiency, capability, fun, does everything bike around. Shreddy good fun. Otherwise you can build a fleet of 9 bikes and always have the right tool for the job.
    I could end up back there eventually and that was my initial thought and would be totally fine for my home trails. But we like to get away a couple weeks (or more) each year and I want to travel to some harder/bigger stuff and didn't want to be renting bike I was'nt familiar with all the time. A few years ago I'd have never considered FS - thought they were too heavy, too in-efficient, too expensive (that parts still true) - but once I rented and rode a couple and realized there were now low/mid travel options that were a bit of "best of all worlds type" I decided to take the plunge.

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    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Who sold you that bike? Sounds like a really poor assembly job. If the crank loosens and creaks, the arm needs to be pulled, cleaned, and regreased. Don't use water to solve creaking!

    Yes, you also need to check fasteners every ride in the beginning and every few rides therafter cuz stuff will loosen as you bounce down the trail. And if you lose something that you failed to notice getting loose, that's not Transition's fault, just saying ...
    .
    I talked to them (dealer, not transition) about it today and they said if it creaks again bring it back and they will do just that. Sounds ok right now.

    Ok, that's what I need to know. Gotta start doing that I guess. 6 years on my old bike I never tightened anything, I figured a FS would be more forgiving, not less. But I guess there are more moving parts.

    Yeah transition charged them for the part but shop did the labor for free so I paid the ~$20 for part.

    Anyway, you made a really huge shift, old school rigid hard tail single speed to a modern full suspension geared bike. Really, the only way you could have made it harder is if you came from a unicycle

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the Smuggler is not the best gateway for someone coming from your background, it will take you a while to relearn how to ride a mountain bike. The Smuggler is an advanced trail bike for experienced riders.

    The good news: It's not the bike
    The bad news: It's the bike

    If you were coming to this sport with no experience, you'd probably be better off, but it is what it is. In time you will probably come to like the Smuggler, but it may not be the end all and be all of mountain bikes for you.

    So now that you have the bike it's kinda up to you to learn it, otherwise I'd say try a different frame, something I little less progressive.

    Been a while since I unicycled

    But yeah it is a huge shift, and I get what your saying about the transition/not the best gateway. I'm just not in a position to buy a dropper, then a modern hard tail with an 1X drivetrain, then a bike like the hei-hei with a small suspension, and THEN jump to the all around trail bike.

    That's just way to expensive, even re-selling the bike sI'd lose/spend to much to depreciation. Could try to go used but the XL's aren't as prevalent as the M/L and I'm a noob on bike maintenance as well (hence Rigid SS) so that would all cost money too depending on the condition of the bikes.

    So yeah, I'm going to learn it. Just a matter of how long it takes

    A couple set up tips to ease the transition (pun):

    Swap tires for a set of Rekons, this will increase efficiency, speed up handling, and reduce weight. Think of as a way to make the bike feel less like a tractor.

    Get some shorter cranks arms, 165mm, this will reduce pedal strikes and make the bike feel more active. You should be able to order some arms only, reuse the BB and chainring.

    Consider a lighter weight fork: The new Revelation fork on the NX is heavy as ****, as is the Fox 36 on the GX build; not sure which one you bought, but you could easilly get by with a Fox 34, Pike, MRP SL, or similar fork which would reduce weight and make the bike feel a little less rigid.

    I know the fork upgrade is a bit pricey, so perhaps look into picking up a used fork on Pinkbike.
    My MTB budget for the rest of this year is zero so no changes happening right now. I was under the impression the Minions were a pretty good tire and the Fox 36 was an upgrade from the 34 so not sure why I'd want to downgrade.

    I've never understood the obsession with bike weight being a heavier guy myself. I'm sitting around 225-230 these days and should be more like 210 so I can cut that weight a lot cheaper.

    I may consider some shorter crank arms next Spring if the pedal strikes continue or get worse. I'm a little nervous for a bad one to wreck me on a ridge and send me over a hill!

    What's the downside of shorter cranks?

    Also look at getting some help with the suspension in terms of set up, since this is your fist suspenion bike there are lots of things that can affect set up and being a noob is not gonna lead you down the right path. A skilled tuner could help, not easy to find, not generally at your LBS
    Need to work on this for sure. Talked to a couple guys today they seemed pretty knowledgeable at the shop. Need to just experiment too. Haven't really touched any adjustments yet.

  38. #38
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    Itís not that a Fox 36 is an upgrade over a Fox 34, they are the same fork, just packaged differently; the 36 has larger diameter stanchions and stiffer crown-steerer. Typical a 36 is specd on burlier bikes that have more than 140mm travel. Itís an overkill on a short travel bike unless the rider is aggressive.

    Same with your tires, I ride Minions but I ride aggressively, fast, I ride hard technical terrain. I could get by with Rekons, but at a certain point Iíd lose traction at speed and get hurt or Iíd trash the tires.

    So yeah, in time you might benefit from having a 36 and Minions, but itís equally likely youíd never need that much fork or tire, meanwhile youíre hauling around an extra 600gms of rubber and aluminum with no added benefit.

    Maybe a Christmas present?

    I know your budget is blown, but a tire swap would make a big difference in how the bike rides.
    Guerilla Gravity Shred Dogg
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    First of all, sweet bike! More pics!

    I did something similar, though less extreme last season. I mostly ride a rigid 1x1 and had a 26" Salsa Ala Carte hardtail that felt too XC when I moved to Northern NM from the DMV area. Bought a used Santa Cruz 5010V2, rode it for a season. It was a fun bike, definitely taught me some things (like the value of a head angle <70*). It was great for all-day rides, much easier on the body. But I found I was having less fun. Had a lot of BB and pedal strikes in slow tech. The ability to just point and shoot through most anything was kinda dull. I'm also not one to take drops over 2.5-3'. Ended up selling and buying a geared 29+ hardtail. It fits my riding style much better, and for longer days when I want gears and suspension it's a blast. On 4+ hour rides it beats me up a lot more than the 5010 did, but I don't mind. 29+ loves to be ridden like a singlespeed (store momentum and charge over things). However, I still ride the 1x1 the most out of my bikes (I commute on dirt a few times per week).

    Maybe if I stuck with it I would have been converted, but the pull of the rigid SS was too strong for me after riding it for 12+ years. Maybe the 5010 was too close to an XC bike for me to appreciate it's virtues over rigid.

    Glad you're enjoying the Smuggler! TLDR; I think you'll most appreciate it most if you can get in some longer riding days and/or start incorporating jumps and drops into your rides. Maybe check out the IMBA Epic trails in PA or VA? Or a trip to Massenutten or Bryce bike park.
    Stache 7 --- Rigid Surly 1x1 B+ --- Dirt Drop CrossCheck

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Itís not that a Fox 36 is an upgrade over a Fox 34, they are the same fork, just packaged differently; the 36 has larger diameter stanchions and stiffer crown-steerer. Typical a 36 is specd on burlier bikes that have more than 140mm travel. Itís an overkill on a short travel bike unless the rider is aggressive.

    Same with your tires, I ride Minions but I ride aggressively, fast, I ride hard technical terrain. I could get by with Rekons, but at a certain point Iíd lose traction at speed and get hurt or Iíd trash the tires.

    So yeah, in time you might benefit from having a 36 and Minions, but itís equally likely youíd never need that much fork or tire, meanwhile youíre hauling around an extra 600gms of rubber and aluminum with no added benefit.

    Maybe a Christmas present?

    I know your budget is blown, but a tire swap would make a big difference in how the bike rides.
    Even if the shock is overkill for my usage does'nt seem like it'd be worth swapping to just save a little weight.

    I'll think about the tires down the road, figure I owe it 6 months stock to get used to it before I mess with it too much (outside of figuring out shock adjustments, etc.)

    So Christmas could work timing wise, see how I feel by then.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frs1661 View Post
    First of all, sweet bike! More pics!
    .
    Thanks!

    My pics are slacking huh? Her's a few from my southeastern Road trip -

    Willaimsburg VA area Freedom trail network-
    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-gravity-cavity.jpg

    Sherman branch trail network near Charlotte NC-
    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-bike-sherman-branch.jpg

    Chewalca state park, AL
    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-bike-alabama.jpg

    Santos Trailhead, FL
    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-santos-trailhead.jpg

    Alafia River State Park, FL
    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-florida-bike.jpg

    Jekkyll Island, GA
    From Single Speeding to Smuggling!-bike-meets-beach.jpg

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frs1661 View Post

    I did something similar, though less extreme last season. I mostly ride a rigid 1x1 and had a 26" Salsa Ala Carte hardtail that felt too XC when I moved to Northern NM from the DMV area. Bought a used Santa Cruz 5010V2, rode it for a season. It was a fun bike, definitely taught me some things (like the value of a head angle <70*). It was great for all-day rides, much easier on the body. But I found I was having less fun. Had a lot of BB and pedal strikes in slow tech. The ability to just point and shoot through most anything was kinda dull. I'm also not one to take drops over 2.5-3'. Ended up selling and buying a geared 29+ hardtail. It fits my riding style much better, and for longer days when I want gears and suspension it's a blast. On 4+ hour rides it beats me up a lot more than the 5010 did, but I don't mind. 29+ loves to be ridden like a singlespeed (store momentum and charge over things). However, I still ride the 1x1 the most out of my bikes (I commute on dirt a few times per week).

    Maybe if I stuck with it I would have been converted, but the pull of the rigid SS was too strong for me after riding it for 12+ years. Maybe the 5010 was too close to an XC bike for me to appreciate it's virtues over rigid.

    Glad you're enjoying the Smuggler! TLDR; I think you'll most appreciate it most if you can get in some longer riding days and/or start incorporating jumps and drops into your rides. Maybe check out the IMBA Epic trails in PA or VA? Or a trip to Massenutten or Bryce bike park.
    Glad I'm not the only one not having more fun with the point and shoot method. Sure finding harder trails is an easy solution to that but my local easy trial is a 1 mile bike ride from my house and it's hard to beat that convenience.

    Over time maybe I'll still whip the Rigid SS around here for fun/exercise and use the Smuggler on more Epic pursuits. But for now trying not to swap back and forth while I learn the ins/outs of the smuggler more. Or maybe I fall in love with the Smuggler and the SS is relegated to campground cruiser, who knows.

    I agree that longer and harder rides would be more fitted for this bike, and I'd like to learn to jump more/better as well. All in time hopefully

    I've only been single speeding baout half as long as you (~6 years) so maybe I'll be easier to convert :P

  43. #43
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    How is the bike working for you these days?

    If you miss some of the responsiveness of your old bike you can firm up the rear end of the Smuggler by adding more air and/or more compression damping. You'll give up some comfort, but the shock will still help on the bigger hits. Plus you'll be able to stand up and stomp on the pedals if you enjoy that.

    Playing with air pressure and shock settings is free and can change the feel of the bike a ton.

    You don't need to spend any money on that bike. Ride what you have and replace/upgrade when things like tires wear out.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by vikb View Post
    How is the bike working for you these days?

    If you miss some of the responsiveness of your old bike you can firm up the rear end of the Smuggler by adding more air and/or more compression damping. You'll give up some comfort, but the shock will still help on the bigger hits. Plus you'll be able to stand up and stomp on the pedals if you enjoy that.

    Playing with air pressure and shock settings is free and can change the feel of the bike a ton.

    You don't need to spend any money on that bike. Ride what you have and replace/upgrade when things like tires wear out.
    Hey Vikb, nice to hear from you.

    To be honest life has been getting in the way of biking here lately. Since my last discussions on the bike I've only managed about 4 rides, 3 of those with friends/my wife and pretty casual pace - only one by myself and that one was pretty rushed and just did my normal loop.

    Sounds like what I need to do is get out, repeat the same section of trail with different settings and make some notes. Just not sure when exactly that's going to be.

    No plans to spend any money on the bike right now. Still feeling like I have to much pressure on my wrists so may try a riser bar in the Spring but I'll see.

    Bikes also still creaking like crazy so may take it back into shop soon. Supposed to have a big bike event in Early October and trying to decide if I want to get it in before that or not...be nice to have it quieter but if they have it for a week+ cuts into what small amount of training time I have left.

    Though to be honest when I was out Monday I couldn't believe how far my fitness has fallen since Late July when I was riding 2-3 time a week. I had planned on doing the 55 mile option but may drop to the 35. Not even feeling as stoked on that as I usually am really. Don't think it's the bikes fault; just been having a lot of other stuff going on so biking has dropped out of focus for the moment.

    Hopefully I'll get my MTB mojo back here soon!!

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    I am going the other way. I have a Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol and just built up a stainless steel hardtail single speed.

    I see why you like it. But, I honestly like both. The TP allows me to go fast and do stupid stuff. A hardtail is a lot more precise, but still a bunch of fun.

    I like having at least two bikes

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    Quote Originally Posted by cassieno View Post
    I am going the other way. I have a Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol and just built up a stainless steel hardtail single speed.

    I see why you like it. But, I honestly like both. The TP allows me to go fast and do stupid stuff. A hardtail is a lot more precise, but still a bunch of fun.

    I like having at least two bikes
    True, that's a good point. And I have no plans to sell the Kona so I'll have them both.

    Long term I'm sure I'll start to use both for different applications. Riding the Rigid SS when I go with my wife (super beginner) for example would probably be more fun and better exercise since shes going to be pretty slow for a while.

    So far I've just been trying to get used to the Smuggler still so haven't been jumping back and forth.

    I'm still a bit leary on the going fast and doing stupid stuff...as much as I want to working in construction I have to be careful not to interrupt my livelihood with injuries too much. The ~3 month collar bone recovery and being off work still lingers in my mind a bit.

    I initially thought the FS bike would be safer since it's less likely to throw your front wheel crooked or buck you off; but now I'm not so sure since it lets/encourages you to go so much faster.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cassieno View Post
    I am going the other way. I have a Guerrilla Gravity Trail Pistol and just built up a stainless steel hardtail single speed.
    Umm, yeah. We're going to need to see that.
    Rigid SS 29er
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    Stop asking how much it weighs and just go ride it.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtbkenny View Post
    Sounds like what I need to do is get out, repeat the same section of trail with different settings and make some notes. Just not sure when exactly that's going to be.
    That sounds like a good plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mtbkenny View Post
    No plans to spend any money on the bike right now. Still feeling like I have to much pressure on my wrists so may try a riser bar in the Spring but I'll see.

    Bikes also still creaking like crazy so may take it back into shop soon.
    Compared to your old bike the new bike has a much steeper seattube so that pushes you up on top of the BB/pedals which is great for climbing steep terrain, but so great for cruising on more mellow terrain. Putting more weight on the hands is one of the downsides to that position. You have a limited amount of adjustment by sliding your saddle backwards on the rails of your dropper. That will move your butt a little further behind the BB. It's free so it's worth trying to see if that helps.

    Bummer about the creak. I hate those and I will tear a bike apart to solve that problem as riding a noisy bike is so aggravating to me. Unfortunately finding where creaks are coming from can take a lot of work and often they are found in the place you least suspected. Good luck. I hope you get it licked soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mtbkenny View Post
    Supposed to have a big bike event in Early October and trying to decide if I want to get it in before that or not...be nice to have it quieter but if they have it for a week+ cuts into what small amount of training time I have left.

    Though to be honest when I was out Monday I couldn't believe how far my fitness has fallen since Late July when I was riding 2-3 time a week. I had planned on doing the 55 mile option but may drop to the 35. Not even feeling as stoked on that as I usually am really. Don't think it's the bikes fault; just been having a lot of other stuff going on so biking has dropped out of focus for the moment.

    Hopefully I'll get my MTB mojo back here soon!!
    You can only do what you can do. Don't force it. Life does happen. If you push yourself hard into the hurt locker at a long distance event that's going to make you want to ride even less.
    Safe riding,

    Vik
    www.vikapproved.com

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