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  1. #1
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    Slow speed handling and bike sizing question

    I have been riding a v1 XL turner Sultan practically since they have come out. For the most part I love this bike except for super twisty trails. Recently my club has put in a tail that has a slow speed switchback that I am having a terrible time riding. Now I am not the most skilled rider in the world but I am competent enough that I should be riding this no problem.

    It has me focused on my bike again and I was wondering if this could be a "fit" issue. I pretty much size in between the L and the XL (6' 1.5"). I know I could ride this stuff when I had my motolite so I really do feel like it is the bike and for the most part I have been dealing with it for 2 years. I have always described the sultan it as an "oil tanker" with regard to its steering in the tight stuff.

    My questions are, is this a symptom of a bike that is to large? I know when I went from the reba to the fox fork it seemed to steer better but it was a small change. Are there some other things I should be looking at? There is a L v1 sultan that may be for sale locally but I don't want to make the purchase unless I think it is going to improve my riding. I appreciate any feedback.
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  2. #2
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    The difference between the two sizes is wheelbase , the large being somewhat shorter . Head tube angles are the same . You would see a small improvement in slow speed handling , probably not enough to make a huge difference . A steeper front angle would do more to quicken it up . Can you run less travel up front ?

  3. #3
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    I don't think you would have that much easier of a time on the smaller frame, unless the XL is way to large for you. Post a photo of your bike. I ride an El Cap which has a huge wheel base and ride everything my buddies on 26" bikes can.

    Are you having problems climbing up the switch back or going down it?

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    I also ride an XL ETT 25.4" ish frame, am 6' 2", and noticed that negotiating tight switchbacks, both uphill and down, improved substantially when I replaced my riser bar with a 17 deg sweep flat Pro Moto bar using the same stem, a counter-intuitive result for descents. I also flipped 10 my deg stem and removed some spacers under it which helped too. The Salsa bar with the increased sweep shortens the cockpit dimension almost an inch, it's a really wide bar tho and I had to cut about 1 1/4" off both ends because the scrub oaks kept reaching out to grab me. The big sweep bar also made my hand discomfort disappear on long rides, especially on descents. To compensate for the shorter reach during long climbs I installed Titec Shorties on the ends. I love this combo.
    Last edited by esXso; 09-12-2009 at 08:42 PM.

  5. #5
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    Getting more control over the front is important. The shorter wheelbase will absolutely help but try what these guys are suggesting first. The Sultan does have a slightly long wheelbase so it take a slight change in style as well. Try different things like leaning less or leaning more. The try turning your front wheel a split-second quicker than usual and shifting your weight forward a bit.

    I say the same things and then I see a guy on a XXL monster of a bike make that same dang switchback I struggle with. Honestly, I'd prefer the Sultan with a half inch shorter WB but technique and setup can overcome this- just takes time. If not, get a smaller size- it stimulates the economy too.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by esXso
    I also ride an XL ETT 25.4" ish frame, am 6' 2", and noticed that negotiating tight switchbacks, both uphill and down, improved substantially when I replaced my riser bar with a 17 deg sweep flat Pro Moto bar using the same stem, a counter-intuitive result for descents. I also flipped 10 my deg stem and removed some spacers under it which helped too. The Salsa bar with the increased sweep shortens the cockpit dimension almost an inch, it's a really wide bar tho and I had to cut about 1 1/4" off both ends because the scrub oaks kept reaching out to grab me. The big sweep bar also made my hand discomfort disappear on long rides, especially on descents. To compensate for the shorter reach during long climbs I installed Titec Shorties on the ends. I love this combo.
    6'3" here, also with an XL V1 Sultan. Moved to Miami last year and had a heck of a time on Oleta - tight/twisty and uber-roots. Made several changes similar to esXso. Currently, I run a WB Fluid 110 fork, with a 510mm AtoC and 42mm offset. I don't find steering slow, it actually pretty stable, particularly when pointed downhill. Next upgrade though is a fork - so I suspect when I go to the Fox or Reba, that steering will speed up a hair with the increased offset.

    1- Got the Brian Lopes skills book and studied - so I knew what "right" looked like
    2- Ditched my 90x0 Thomson and Easton XC70 low rise for a 100x6 (inverted) and Salsa Pro Moto 11 deg flatbar. More forward weight bias - so I could better utilize techniques learned in step 1.
    3- Got out in the street and practice small circles until I made myself dizzy
    4- Got out to Oleta as often as possible and sessioned sections that kicked my rear.

    <a href="https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/NpzE79giQvT69bWbLaJ5JQ?feat=embedwebsite"><img src="https://lh3.ggpht.com/_2W6rELw9q40/SmJvavdmvsI/AAAAAAAADZo/Ibx873Hs6RU/s800/Sultan.JPG" /></a>
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  7. #7
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    Hi thanks for all the answers it really helps.

    AZ.MTNS
    I could run less travel up front. I think the fox will accept a spacer, I also thought about going to a G2 fork but I am not sure if the expense justifies the return.

    supersize
    see pic below. The switchback is a gentle slope down. Looking at it while standing there I cannot believe I am having such a problem with it but I am

    esXso
    I recently switched to the same bar I have been playing with the spacers and have not noticed a huge difference in handling.

    Flyer
    I have tried different techniques and a lot of my riding style has changed as a result. I have learned that I have to turn and lean into a corner slightly earlier than my 26" brethren. I still for some reason cannot figure out the slower speed tighter stuff.

    GreenLightGo
    I run the fox with 44mm offset. it seemed to help coming off the old reba with 38mm but I am not sure how much of it was mental (it was awhile ago I did this). I run a 115mm 0 deg stem with promoto 17 deg flat bars. I may have to play with cockpit size a little.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by BeerCan
    Hi thanks for all the answers it really helps.

    AZ.MTNS
    I could run less travel up front. I think the fox will accept a spacer, I also thought about going to a G2 fork but I am not sure if the expense justifies the return.

    supersize
    see pic below. The switchback is a gentle slope down. Looking at it while standing there I cannot believe I am having such a problem with it but I am

    esXso
    I recently switched to the same bar I have been playing with the spacers and have not noticed a huge difference in handling.

    Flyer
    I have tried different techniques and a lot of my riding style has changed as a result. I have learned that I have to turn and lean into a corner slightly earlier than my 26" brethren. I still for some reason cannot figure out the slower speed tighter stuff.

    GreenLightGo
    I run the fox with 44mm offset. it seemed to help coming off the old reba with 38mm but I am not sure how much of it was mental (it was awhile ago I did this). I run a 115mm 0 deg stem with promoto 17 deg flat bars. I may have to play with cockpit size a little.

    Ok - Those bars are good - try dropping a spacer (throw it on top of the stem so you don't cut the steerer yet). I think maybe your seat is up a bit too high as well - judging from the position of your left leg, that is about the angle you want your knee bent when the crank arm is at the bottom of the stroke. At a glance, your setup looks pretty good. I'm thinking small changes with more emphasis on technique.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenLightGo
    Ok - Those bars are good - try dropping a spacer (throw it on top of the stem so you don't cut the steerer yet). I think maybe your seat is up a bit too high as well - judging from the position of your left leg, that is about the angle you want your knee bent when the crank arm is at the bottom of the stroke. At a glance, your setup looks pretty good. I'm thinking small changes with more emphasis on technique.
    GreenLightGo makes a very good point- having your seat too high can cause a host of issues- but for tight/windy stuff especially if you are pedaling throug makes it very tough to get your weight positioned right- It also appears that you may be back over the rear of the bike which will also make the bike feel less responsive on tight singletrack. I would take a look at an overall bike fit which would help you dial in your position over the BB for height and fore/back seat postion, the best place to start with any bike, you reall don't want to "extend" the top tube length with a laid back or slid back seat but rather just position yourself above the BB correctly.(the Ned Overend "mtb like a champion" gives a decent set-up guide if you can't find a good LBS that offers a fit-)

    I also ride a Sultan and have used an 09 Reba 100mm and now a 120mm Fox but always a 90-100mm 0 deg rise stem with a 660-685 or so wide bar which speeds up the steering quite a bit from your 115 and the Salsa ~710??? wide bar- these two things may add to your "tanker" feel-

    By the way from just the pics it is hard to tell but the bike does not look obviously too big- though it is tough being between sizes for sure-
    I Just wish I could ride more!


  10. #10
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    I had exectly the same problem you have. I am 6'2" and used to own a L Turner, so I doubt that a smaller size will give you a ground braking improvement. In tight turns the Turner Sultan simply stinks. I tried pretty much everything, incl. the proposals mentioned above (100mm G2 fork and low wide handlebar combination got me the best results but still not acceptable). Since I also owned that time a Superfly and a Scott Ransom the Sultan in the end did not see the trails anymore.

    I assume somebody riding fireroads and not at all twisty singletrails may be happy with the Sultan but for me it just did not work out. I sold the Sultan only after 4 months (as recommeded to do so by Tuner customer service!) and replaced it with a L Niner RIP9 09.

    And the Niner is just amazing...

  11. #11
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    I have had a fitting on this bike already. I did wobble naught ($$). So the bike is set up according to that fitting except for the seat height. You guys got that issue anyway, I just put 180mm cranks on the bike and forgot to lower my seat accordingly

    The WK fitting took me from a 90mm stem with a low rise bar to the 120mm with the flat bar (I was wrong about 115mm earlier). Overall it feels comfortable, but I seem to have the same steering issues with both setups.

    I am just at the point that I need to figure out if it is me or the bike because I am getting sick of it. I lowered the seat post and dropped some spacers on the stem. I went for a ride but unfortunately it poured rain on me so I could not tell if there was a difference.
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  12. #12
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    Trying to help...

    People have asked me about riding rigid - what does that have to do with Sultans on switchbacks?!

    This: When you are stretched out in a long cockpit, you have to shift your weight almost uncontrollably to reach your outside grip in a tight turn. This biases your weight to the outside instead of to the inside, as well as unweights your rear tire - a combination for failure on tight uphill switchbacks.

    It applies to rigid as well because someone with a stretched out cockpit riding rigid gets beat to a pulp by their bike because they can't absorb shock with their arms because they have to reach too far, so their elbows are always straight or locked. And when they have to steer, they cannot keep their front tire tracking on rough terrain - they simply can't reach that far, so they get hit after hit rather than following the contours. This gives some people a bad first impression of riding rigid.

    Some combo of bars, stems, and spacers will give you the ideal posture and weight distribution to serve you well in most, if not all conditions.

    Keep in mind, longer stems or wider bars = farther reach when steering tight turns. They probably both slow down your steering as well.

    I'm not saying you need a smaller frame, and I would not suggest moving your seat at all.

    Off topic: I have always wondered how a WK bike fitting applied to off-road cycling - do they set you up for all-mountain, XC, XC race, DH? How do they know what works for your riding venues, style, and ability?

    -F

  13. #13
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    I have had better luck with switchbacks when using a dropper post. Bang it down for the switchback, then pop it right back up after.

    Certainly or a shorter wheelbase bike will help, but it is mostly technique IMO. I did notice slight improvement in my switchbacking going from a large to med frame, but the difference was minimal.
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  14. #14
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    Fork angle looks a little slack to me. Also seat looks too high as has been mentioned. Also if the rear shock doesn't have enough air in it, it might make things worse too. If you are sitting on the bike and blowing through most of your travel I would think that would make it steer poorly.
    My brain went from "you probably shouldn't say that" to WTF!

  15. #15
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    Practise

    Coming from a motorcycle background - there's a saying to the effect of the best improvement you can make to your bike, is to improve the rider.

    What GreenLightGo says is spot on - go out and practise circles and slow work. You'll be amazed at the improvement regular 10 minutes sessions in the local carpark can make to your riding. Yes, riding position makes a difference to your baseline, but your skills make a much larger difference to the whole riding experience.

  16. #16
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    Couple of handling thoughts...

    Quote Originally Posted by BeerCan
    I am just at the point that I need to figure out if it is me or the bike because I am getting sick of it. I lowered the seat post and dropped some spacers on the stem. I went for a ride but unfortunately it poured rain on me so I could not tell if there was a difference.
    Hey BeerCan, I appreciate your being willing to ask for help with this challenge. Don't get discouraged - by asking questions and practicing, you're just making yourself a better rider.

    Not sure since I haven't seen you ride, but I do NOT believe your bike is the problem. You look quite comfortable in the picture and nothing is drastically out of whack. Personally, I found I was able to handle slow, tight switchbacks BETTER on my 29er. Here are a couple of thought about your bike handling...

    1) If you are taking a switchback on a descent, you probably should be behind the saddle and not perched on top of it. You should feel your weight in your feet (particularly your outside one), not your butt. You'll have more control of the bike and more confidence with a lower center of gravity.

    2) Don't fear the front brake. Most of us went through a period when we absolutely would not TOUCH front brake on anything facing down, for fear of the dreaded ENDO. After you've ridden more, you'll find that to really control your speed, especially in tight spots where you have little room to turn, you have to feather both front and rear brake (just keep your weight back and down). This will help you get the wheel around while you are almost stopped. On that note...

    3) Practice your track stand. Instead of putting a foot down while you are waiting for your buddies, point your front wheel uphill, keep your eyes up and balance there, feathering your brakes and using gravity to keep you upright. Being able to basically stop any time you need to to change directions will help with your swithback.

    4) Swing it wide. As long as the terrain allows for it, you'll have an easier time on switchbacks swinging wide as you enter them. This gives your rear wheel more room to track after the front one.

    5) Look where you want to go. Again, I haven't seen you ride, but a lot of riders lock their eyes right on the trouble spot in front of them. As you enter a switchback (or any turn, for that matter) your eyes should be on the exit. Your body will figure out how to get you there.

    These thoughts are only suggestions offered with the intent to help. Keep trying - you'll get that switchback and it will feel great

    E

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