Thoughts on riding a modern 29er for the first time...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Thoughts on riding a modern 29er for the first time...

    So today I rented and spent a few hours a “modern” mountain bike, specifically, a Norco Optic 29er...

    https://www.norco.com/cmsb/uploads/b...-grey-teal.png

    This was the first time in my life I’ve ridden a bike other than my own, which is a 2009 Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29er...

    https://bicyclebluebook.blob.core.wi...9_red_09_z.jpg

    I was really curious to see how the modern bike compared to my decade-old bike. I rode on some good XC and flow trails, with a nice mix of forest cruising, rocks and roots, stream crossings, as well as a machine-built flow trail section with berms and tables. (I should add that I’m mainly an XC rider and not a downhill or big air biker—I mostly roll all the features.)

    I’ll also add that my 2009 GF bike has some significant upgrades—including larger rotors, Shimano hydraulic brakes (replacing the original crappy Avids), and a SRAM NX Eagle 1x12 drivetrain.

    So I think it’s fair to say the comparison was mainly between the geometry and frames, the handlebars (the Norco has wide bars/short stem while my GF has narrower bars, 650mm, and a long stem), and the suspension.

    In a nutshell, I thought the modern Norco was, overall, only *barely* better—if at all—than my ten-year-old bike. Granted, I’ve been riding my GF for a decade and know it intimately, so I’m obviously comfortable on it. But the Norco was a nice bike, and I was totally open to feeling every difference, and to anything feeling better, more responsive, easier, smoother, or whatever.

    On the positive side, I definitely noticed an improvement in the modern suspension. It just felt a bit smoother on the hits, maybe a tiny bit plusher while still feeling very supportive. But the difference wasn’t huge—it was pretty minimal for the kind of XC riding I was doing. And I’ve never noticed anything about my 10-year-old Fox suspension that I don’t like (I’ve maintained it well).

    On the less positive side, I didn’t feel the wider bars provided any advantage at all, and actually felt less comfortable because my arms were spread out wider, resulting in slightly more stress on my wrists. The narrower bars on my GF mean my arms are at a comfortable right angle to my torso at exactly shoulder-width. And the wider bars/shorter stem felt less snappy and responsive than the narrower bars/long stem on the GF. The only place I noticed a slight advantage of the wider bars was on short, steep climbs—the wider bars seemed to help with front wheel wobble/flop at slow speeds.

    The Norco also had a dropper post. I’ve really been wanting to try one for a while. I ride with a roadie-style seat and have gotten to where getting behind the seat is effortless and second-nature. (Remember, I’m mainly an XC rider.) I didn’t really notice any advantage of the dropper post; I dropped it for some steep downhill sections and didn’t feel like I rode any differently than what I’m used to. For a different style of riding (maybe on different terrain or getting big air) I can see where it could really help...but for my style of riding, it just seemed kinda pointless.

    So overall, I was happy that my 2009 GF with upgraded drivetrain compares very favorably with the modern bike. I didn’t even remotely finish riding the modern bike and think “OMG I’ve got to ditch my old GF and get a new bike!” Instead I found myself thinking “Ok, this is a nice bike, but I’d rather be on my GF.”

    Scott
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  2. #2
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    That bike seems a little rough around the edges.
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  3. #3
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    And your thoughts on that experience would be?...
    The cake is a lie.

  4. #4
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    The wide bars craze has certainly jumped the shark with most trail bikes being spec'd with 780-800mm bars. It's kinda like the fat ski craze from 2012-2016ish when every company was making at least one model in the 125mm+ waist width zone. Almost no one makes skis that fat anymore and if they do its usually a pro model in a single length. You see this in many industries (oooooh wider is better, lets go even wider that'll be great!) only to see things come back to earth in the proverbial sweet spot. Personally, I think that sweet spot is somewhere in the 700-760mm range depending on the rider.
    All good things in all good time

  5. #5
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    Sometimes a bike just does not fit with you. I had been riding 26" HT with 3x9 and rim brakes that I build in 2003. I did not see many miles until 2013 and then I rode it a lot. Somewhere in 2015 (maybe 2016) I demoed a new Pivot Les and Mach 429 short section of my local loop. Did back to back on these bike and my 26". My 26er was faster on strava and just felt pretty darn good. The other bikes felt fine, but not leaps and bound better. I knew they were, but only a little bit. Thy never seemed to mesh with me.

    Then Feb 2016 right after a fast pre-ride lap at 24hrs of old pueblo I test rode a friends 2012 SC highball. Wow. That bike gelled with me and bought it on the spot. I did not race it since I needed to the cockpit dialed in and get the the tires I liked on it, but it just clicked with me. Never road the 26er again. Rode that bike for 2 solid years until last year where I got a 2018 Epic. The epic is better, but not leap like the highball compare to the 26er, but still noticeable faster. Sold the highball, but still loved it.

    Now I also have to say feel changes over time. I am sure if rode my 26er it would feel very different from how it did back then. Just due to feel of my current bikes. I even wonder if would have liked my epic had not gone to the highball first.

    So don't judge all newer 29er by the one bike.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mizzaboom View Post
    The wide bars craze has certainly jumped the shark with most trail bikes being spec'd with 780-800mm bars. .
    Gosh, yeah. I don't know what width the bars on my new bike were but I think about 4" eventually got cut off of them. Shoulder width feels just fine to me thanks.

    I've heard that part of the "shrinking" of ski widths is because early rise tips allow skis to float without having to add extra width. So they're returning to something more narrow to improve handling and edge hold and allowing the camber profile to provide float. It's all a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to this snowboarder though.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dir-T View Post
    Gosh, yeah. I don't know what width the bars on my new bike were but I think about 4" eventually got cut off of them. Shoulder width feels just fine to me thanks.

    I've heard that part of the "shrinking" of ski widths is because early rise tips allow skis to float without having to add extra width. So they're returning to something more narrow to improve handling and edge hold and allowing the camber profile to provide float. It's all a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to this snowboarder though.
    Don't want to get too off track, but yes that's part of it. The other part is those super wide skis, no matter the rocker profile, are really only useful in overhead blower pow (with very few exceptions).
    All good things in all good time

  8. #8
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    I don't think very many people who have been riding the same bike for the last ten years are going to hop on a modern bike and love every aspect. It takes time to adapt to such a big jump from what you're used to. You're not going to use a dropper for the first time after riding with the seat high all those years and suddenly change how you ride. When I started mountain biking I thought that the size large bikes were huge (I'm 6'5"). The shop actually had to convince me to buy the XL...Why, because I learned all my bike handling skills on a BMX bike. There wasn't anything wrong with the XL bike, there wasn't anything wrong with me... I was just used to a 20" BMX bike.

  9. #9
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    In 2015, I demo'd several 29ers and hated them. In 2018 I demo'd several 29ers and loved them.
    The changes in geometry and parts work for me. They might not for you, and that's okay, but it may also be that you are so used to what you're riding that it would take some time to get to the point that you like the changes.

  10. #10
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    I can get used to, and even like something new with enough time on it, but I also am plenty comfortable with my bikes the way they are. I do enjoy hitting up demo days on a regular basis and usually like the demo bikes I ride, even if they are different from what I am used to.

    The biggest thing I noticed after the most recent demo day (PIVOT) was seating position on the bikes. On a newer bike, I find myself sitting a lot more upright and with the bars a lot closer to me than I am used to (I typically ride 10 year old XC oriented hard tails with 80-90mm stems and 710mm bars). The steep seat tubes had me using different leg muscles than I normally use and my legs were actually sore for a couple of days afterward. I have demoed a bunch of bikes with droppers, but didn't play with them enough until this time to see any benefit. I doubt I'll be running out to buy a new TRAIL 429 or a MACH 5.5, but I may be closer to riding with a dropper one of these days.

  11. #11
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    You get to save money. Stick with what you got.

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  12. #12
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    Just a reminder, I never said I didn’t like the modern bike—just that I actually didn’t notice much difference between it and my ten-year-old bike with the same drivetrain.

    If the meaning of innovation and evolution is that things get better, then I’d suggest that evolution in mountain bikes is extremely incremental, because to me the 2018 Norco was not leaps and bounds better than the 2009 Gary Fisher. I’m not so attached to my 2009 GF that I wouldn’t freely admit it sucks if I thought the 2018 Norco was light years better, but the difference just wasn’t easy to notice.

    I honestly don’t know where the Norco Optic fits into the range of modern 29ers? Some might say it’s a shitty bike (though it costs around $3K so I assume it’s decent).

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

  13. #13
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    I have an similar (vintage & geometry) Turner XC (4") 29er. Long chainstay's were common then. These, combined with steeper HA's than current, and longer stems, provide a bike that doesn't need a lot of body movement to get great front-end traction, and to inspire a lot of confidence in "tamer" terrain.

    Conversely, modern geometry with much shorter chainstays, and with slacker head angles, put a lot more weight on the rear wheel, thus require a much more active riding style in order to get the most out of them. They're also much more capable, which means that on tamer trails, they can be "boring" to ride. I have a blast on my old rig with shallow-tread 2.2/2.1 tyres.

    As the old saying goes, it's horses for courses.

    The sad thing is that if you want to replace your GF HiFi, I can't think of a single lower-cost bike that has similar'ish geo. The just superceded Pivot 429SL is far less aggressive than most, and Ventana's can still be had...but $$$.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by PuddleDuck View Post

    ...modern geometry with much shorter chainstays, and with slacker head angles, put a lot more weight on the rear wheel, thus require a much more active riding style in order to get the most out of them. They're also much more capable, which means that on tamer trails, they can be "boring" to ride...
    I agree with this.

    What these newer bikes let you do is ride much more advanced trails in a much faster, more aggressive style than old geo bikes. It takes many folks a lot of time and lots of balls to push these newer bikes as hard, and fast, and high as they can go.

    If you don't have the trails or desire to push these new bikes hard its likely you'll see little benefit over an older style bike.

    We've got a lot of real nifty trails where I and can make the most of the geo. And I've got a thing with just having to try to get better, higher, faster all the time - and there is no doubt these bikes let me do it.

    Its not just the geo. It's the quality of the suspension, the dropper posts, the tires, the wheels, the shorter offset forks. This all adds up to a wickedly fun, aggressive ride.

    A bike that I can now ride stuff I'd ridden on my SC Bullit years ago, is a bike I'd take on a spin with xc dudes without worry. They are versatile because they are so capable.

    And its the bars. Anything shorter than 780mm and my hands and pinky fingers are hanging off the ends. I've got very long levers. The days of turning a bike by turning the bars is over. Its all about the lean.

    New bikes are _so_ much better now.

  15. #15
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    I smell something fishy ;-P

    Gets behind XC bike!?

    Is that when truing rear wheel?

    Smoother? It's XC it's smooth no matter what!

    Ride some All Mountain on both bikes & then report back.

    PS - please forgive me, I've been watching a lot of Honest Trailers and can't seem to let it go

    PSS - then there's the ugly factor comparison +1 for the GF

    Honest Trailer completed.

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  16. #16
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    Thoughts on riding a modern 29er for the first time...

    It’s always awesome when you realize what you have is exactly what you want.

    To stir the pot....
    It won’t matter to you because your bike fits your style, but the glory of ‘new’ 29ers isn’t that a 2019 120mm FS is leaps better than a 2009 120mm FS.

    It’s that a 2019 150mm 29er will still plow through everything a 2009 150mm FS will, BUT it pedals as well or better than a 2009 120mm FS.

    It’s almost getting to the ‘eat your cake and have it too’ situation. You can ‘all-day pedal, and ‘shuttle-monkey’ on the same bike.

    Again, not shaming your bike. It’s awesome that it works so well for you. Ride it till it breaks man.


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  17. #17
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    A "few hours" ain't enough.
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  18. #18
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    I have the opposite problem from the OP. Every new bike I ride, I love.

    In 2009 I was riding a Scott Ransom LTD. That was one sick bike. In fact, I still have it.



    But the fact is, that $3k Norco Optic the OP rode absolutely destroys it. I don’t even know where to begin.

    But hey. Whatever puts a smile on your face.
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  19. #19
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    Things like the geometry changes (the handlebar width/stem length is only part of that) take some time to figure out. They reward some adjustments to your riding style to really work, and you've gotta work a bit to learn what you need to do to unlock the potential. Sometimes, you'll lose something on certain trails.

    For example, I was riding a new trail (grand opening) that's more of a bike park sort of place in the middle of town (Tannery Knob in Johnson City, TN). Machine built, mostly flowy trails (one of them is less on the flow, and more on the chunk and drops). IMO, the right sort of trail to cram into a pretty compact park in the middle of a city. The blue trails on up all had some fairly tight switchbacks and with my bike, I was using every inch of space available on them. It was less the wide bars, and more the LOOOOOONG wheelbase of the bike. An older geo bike would be a bit quicker on the switchbacks, but honestly I'll take that knock with the stability the new bike gives me on pretty much everything else.

    Speaking of that, back when I was riding older geo bikes, I had ZERO interest in ever getting air. The bike just felt dangerous doing so. My bikes now, not at all. I'm still sketched by too much air, owing to my long history with bikes that were terrifying in the air. I have a lot of precedent to overcome. But today I was hitting a bunch of tabletop jumps on the blue trails and felt great doing it.

    The dropper post also takes an effort to learn to use. You can't just grab one and automatically take advantage of it. What it does is make available to you positions and movements that simply aren't available to you with a high fixed seatpost. It should make sense that it's going to take time and practice to learn to use it and take advantage of it.

    IMO, it's actually BEST for cross country trails with lots of short ups and downs. On big mountain trails, it's not that big of a deal to raise the post for the climb and use a quick release clamp to drop the saddle manually for the down. People have been doing that for forever. The dropper post lets you use those positions that become accessible to you on rolling terrain and for short, technical ups.

    The simplest of what you get to access is a LOW body position that you simply can't get with your ass in the air. Gives you much more stability on the downs. You also get more range of motion that you can use when you're working through a technical obstacle (even when climbing) or when working on tricks and such. Which, frankly, modern bikes with long wheelbases and big wheels actually require more of.

    It's kinda like platform pedals. You can go from riding nothing but clipless pedals for 20 years to mastering platform pedals in a couple hours. It's not gonna happen. Same with a dropper post. Same with adapting to a bike with notably different geometry (especially one designed around a style of riding that you don't currently do).

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Finch Platte View Post
    A "few hours" ain't enough.
    Insert juvenile wisecrack here >_ _ _ _ _ <
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    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Finch Platte View Post
    A "few hours" ain't enough.
    100%. If you think one ride is enough to learn and adapt to ten years of bike evolution then I think you're mistaken.


    But also if you're a more XC-type rider who doesn't push it on the downhills as much then the improvements i trail bikes over the last decade won't be quite as meaningful for you too.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    New bikes are _so_ much better now.
    I think you have to qualify this by adding, "for steep and rough terrain". The mellower the trail, the less advantage there is.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  23. #23
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    I was totally a non believer in the wide bar fad......until my new bike came with 790mm wide bars. Initially I thought I would try them, then cut them down. I've kept them at their length and now believe that it is not a fad and when I ride bikes with less than 750mm, they feel weird and abnormal.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    I think you have to qualify this by adding, "for steep and rough terrain". The mellower the trail, the less advantage there is.
    Completely agree. I think that is what most of my post was getting at IIRC.

  25. #25
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    Personally, I think most people are way over biked for the trails they ride. If you primarily ride flow type XC trails, a hard tail from 10 years ago will work well and might even be better then some of the modern bikes. Steep head angles are frowned upon today but honestly, if you know how to ride, it makes for a fast XC bike.
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  26. #26
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    A couple of things.

    First, I think a different 29er might have left a better impression. No offense to the Optic, but there are better in the same class. I felt the same way the first time I rode a 29er (2011). In fact, I recall thinking that I would never switch. But, a year later, and ever since, I've been rolling on 29ers. One exception in the middle of that was a period on a 27.5 and that just wasn't for me.

    OTH, I bet if the OP rode that same 29er 3 more times, he might change his tune. One try is certainly not enough to draw the line.

    Wider bars: Oh yes. The added leverage is monumental. However, the industry needs to follow SQLabs and offer bars with more inward bend. Wide bars with only 8 degrees bend inward hurt my wrists after a while, too. IMO, 10-12 degrees of inward should become the standard. I am impatiently waiting for someone to offer a CF 35 clamp wide bar with 10-12 degrees of inward bend.

    Dropper post: Absolutley. Simply put, a rider cannot get the same low center of gravity by getting behind a stationary saddle. Dropper FTW. It's a game changer when the trail goes downward steeply.

    Modern Geo: Another win. Makes the bike more capable in different situations.
    life is... "All About Bikes"...

  27. #27
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    There has been almost no significant change in MTB for the last ten years. Most of the industry novelty, or never ending discussions around here, revolve around minute changes in geometry. The significance of those changes, the "modern geometries" announced pretty much every six months, are very questionable, in the sense that any geometry is a compromise. (A 66 degree head angle will descend, maybe, a bit better than a 68, and it will climb, maybe, a bit worse.)

    Shorter stems make a difference, but again people have been using those for more than a decade.

    Wide bars, say 10 cm more than you are used to, also feel very different, but again how wide to go is very much related to habit, terrain, and body type. I ride a 76 wide bar, and I should maybe cut off a couple of cms, mostly for added comfort, but I never get around it ... the bar works fine as is.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davide View Post
    There has been almost no significant change in MTB for the last ten years...
    For real?


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  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbkrmike View Post
    For real?
    Right? I wonder what that dude would consider a "significant change"?
    Just like a raindrop, I was born to fall.

  30. #30
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    Bikes still have two wheels and handlebars... basically nothing has changed since the 80's when they got rid of the third wheel and steering wheel.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davide View Post
    There has been almost no significant change in MTB for the last ten years. Most of the industry novelty, or never ending discussions around here, revolve around minute changes in geometry. The significance of those changes, the "modern geometries" announced pretty much every six months, are very questionable, in the sense that any geometry is a compromise. (A 66 degree head angle will descend, maybe, a bit better than a 68, and it will climb, maybe, a bit worse.)

    Shorter stems make a difference, but again people have been using those for more than a decade.

    Wide bars, say 10 cm more than you are used to, also feel very different, but again how wide to go is very much related to habit, terrain, and body type. I ride a 76 wide bar, and I should maybe cut off a couple of cms, mostly for added comfort, but I never get around it ... the bar works fine as is.
    You're looking at small changes that cumulatively change one dimension- front-center. Front-center has changed dramatically over the past 10 years, like 4-6".
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  32. #32
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    TLDNR past op

    Not everyone can make use of/ see the value in/ the improved capability in the modern equivalent of what they've had. That's fine.

    I think if you pushed the limits of your old bike much, you'd have definitely noticed some improvements in capability and confidence.

    I don't know anything about either bike, but could just be you don't like the Norco. I don't love every bike I ride either, but also wouldn't write off all new bikes because of it.

    Enjoy whatever you ride.

  33. #33
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    Dropper posts make a huge difference in cornering speed and control. They're not just for the downhills.

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  34. #34
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    You just saved thousands! But like many have said, it takes more than one ride to really dial it in and get used to the differences so you can really understand how it can/can't improve your riding. Heck, that's been true with every bike I ever had...just suspension and tire pressures alone takes a few rides to tweak.

    Example - my current bike is the first one I've ever had with a dropper. I've ridden NE singletrack for 30 years so it took me a good 10-12 rides to just begin to get the hang of it. Not a lot of flowy downhills but plenty of steep and boney terrain with consequences.
    All those years of blasting through knarley terrain resulted in that seat position being part of my technique. With my seat suddenly out of the way I had to adjust my technique...I had to force myself to use it because I never felt NOT having it was slowing me down. Now I use it constantly.

    One thing I never considered regarding a dropper was what it did for my FULLY EXTENDED position. Being 6'4" I had set my seat height at a little less than full extension. Having seat high enough for full leg extension was nuts for much of the terrain I ride. I discovered the dropper finally allowed me to set it up for full leg extension when desired and now I can easily drop it out of the way for everything else.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davide View Post
    There has been almost no significant change in MTB for the last ten years. Most of the industry novelty, or never ending discussions around here, revolve around minute changes in geometry. The significance of those changes, the "modern geometries" announced pretty much every six months, are very questionable, in the sense that any geometry is a compromise. (A 66 degree head angle will descend, maybe, a bit better than a 68, and it will climb, maybe, a bit worse.)

    Shorter stems make a difference, but again people have been using those for more than a decade.

    Wide bars, say 10 cm more than you are used to, also feel very different, but again how wide to go is very much related to habit, terrain, and body type. I ride a 76 wide bar, and I should maybe cut off a couple of cms, mostly for added comfort, but I never get around it ... the bar works fine as is.
    I think Dave Turner said it best:

    "We have seen some of the big companies go from moderately misguided and largely crap advancements in the early days, to creating smoke where there was no fire. Most of the big companies are now creating micro changes, some proprietary, some as new "standards." all for nominal performance gains, but with maximal marketing opportunities. The managers now realize that in order to create big marketing opportunities, you have to have something to feed the public from one year to the next.

    I think it is actually cost effective at their massive size to just drag and drop a few millimeters here or there, order up some new bits from the parts and accessory companies, then spend the next 18 months telling everyone their new bike is insane and to get a new one or your next ride will suck. And that is hard on all the smaller companies, as we do not have the economies of scale to effectively amortize as many tooling changes. Don’t get me wrong, today's bikes are the best ever, but many of those changes have done nothing to actually improve our ride, and have been created primarily for a marketing opportunity or cost savings - to the great pain in the ass, not only for me, but for the hundreds of thousands of riders trying to keep their bikes working for a reasonable amount of time."
    It is the Right of the People to Alter or to Abolish It.

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    As far changes being incremental, I think that's insanely incorrect.
    The difference between my '14 high end bike, and my '19 high end bike is just tremendous. And as a result i'm radically faster on the newer bike.

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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    I think Dave Turner said it best:
    Did he say this before or after being left behind to near irrelevancy?

    "blah, blah.... don't get me wrong, today's bikes are the best ever but, blah, blah.... buy my outdated but really expensive bike, because improvement isn't really improvement until I jump on board and market it as improvement."

  38. #38
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    1) the type of bike you just rode isn't suited best for your riding style and/or conditions

    2) you JUST spend a FEW hours riding a bike not yours, the first time in 10 years and you feel it is as good as your old bike (to simplify the comment). Imagine how good the new bike will feel when you get it dialed in.

    I had a 26" hardtrail that I thought was unstoppable. The new bike is 100% different and felt awkward. Today, the 26" bike feels awkward and I can only ride it with folks where we are just cruising around the trails not doing stupid stuff. I assume my 2000 Stumpjumper would be similar geometry to your GF? My 2016 Stumpy is pretty amazing in contrast.


    I understand where you are coming from. But one ride isn't realistic in terms of stating how a new bike is the same as an old bike, aside from the suspension changes.
    But it sounds like the new geometry doesn't match your current riding style or not best suited for the conditions you ride on.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by d365 View Post
    Did he say this before or after being left behind to near irrelevancy?

    "blah, blah.... don't get me wrong, today's bikes are the best ever but, blah, blah.... buy my outdated but really expensive bike, because improvement isn't really improvement until I jump on board and market it as improvement."
    The RFX and FLUX are two fantastic bikes that can compete with anything out there but are not marketed heavily. The CZAR is exactly what it is designed to be, a fast XC bike. The cyclocross is an amazing do it all bike. People buy what they are sold. And I mean sold. Not purchased. Sold.
    It is the Right of the People to Alter or to Abolish It.

  40. #40
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    Mountain bike development _had_ to come a long way. We started out on near road bikes with flat bars and slightly wider tires. Our sport is so young, how could it not have evolved? To suggest it stopped evolving just a few years ago doesn't make sense. The money pumped into our industry is relatively small. Our companies didn't have all the dollars for massive R&D to move advancements along that quickly.

    I personally was a holdout. Yeah I can still have fun on an older style/geo bikes but they just ride differently. The biggest "set" of change, I'd say, is how a dropper post lets you get low, and really turn the bike by leaning it over. The wider bars, slacker HTA, shorter stem, shorter offset forks, and longer reach - all that comes together in that realm, or skill. For AM, trail, DH that's where its at. Pure XC riding/racing, where you are still perched up, steated and pedaling through all the turns, benefits from a relatively steeper STA and shorter reach - so you can keep that front end planted without big body weight shifts. People riding that style and trails no doubt see less benefit from the newer geo. But if your style and trails are less XC and more AM, then the newer bikes are the ticket.



    Seems some posters are boldly implying we've been suckered into buying the latest and greatest.

    Hmm...

    Maybe you'd be better off upgrading your rig with a bell and basket.

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    Seems some posters are boldly implying we've been suckered into buying the latest and greatest.

    Hmm...

    Maybe you'd be better off upgrading your rig with a bell and basket.
    Sorry, I did not mean to imply that, I meant to state that.

    I don't think anybody is saying that bikes are not getting better. They are. But in no way do they make bikes from 5-10 years ago obsolete. The changes have been incremental and for many people, may not be any better. I do agree that if you ride big terrain, the new move to slacker and lower is great. But for those who live in the east, and ride tight twisty stuff where 7 MPH is good, it is kinda stupid.

    I would also argue, and have repeatedly, is that the biggest advance in mountain biking was the development of the 1X drivetrain. That allowed all the SP and HL bikes to propagate like they have. That advance is closely followed by the dropper post and bells and baskets that attach with 6mm Allen wrenches
    It is the Right of the People to Alter or to Abolish It.

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    That's an awful lot of words to resist what has been a total game changer in the market. I am willing to bet that if you rode a modern bike for a week, you'd never ride your old bike again. I definitely can sympathize with the fit thing, no two bikes fit the same and even minor changes in fit make riding any other bike awkward at first. But the differences in geometry from ten years ago to now is remarkable and for the better, with one caveat. I hope they don't go too far with the wheelbase/slackening movement. My current bike has a 67.5 degree head angle and it feels totally stable to me. Perhaps a bit more would be tolerable, but much more than that and it'd be too much.

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    I'll just echo what others have said and follow up with my personal experience.


    I had a 2012 Camber that I rode for quite a while. I purchased a new Stumpjumper a couple of months ago. I'm STILL figuring out how to ride the SJ and what I can get out of it vs. the Camber. Dropping the seat, sinking into the bike on turns and flow,... the newer geometry lends itself to a different style of riding. I probably could have ridden similarly on my old bike, but this bike just seems to naturally lend itself to a much more aggressive "moto" style of riding compared to my old XC bike.

    My jump from a 2012 bike to a 2019 bike isn't as drastic as the OP's jump, I've been on the new bike for a couple of months, and I'm still learning the proper way to get the most out of the bike. 6 hours in a single day isn't enough time to really cast judgement on new geo vs. old geo.

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    Thoughts on riding a modern 29er for the first time...

    Quote Originally Posted by twodownzero View Post
    I am willing to bet that if you rode a modern bike for a week, you'd never ride your old bike again.
    I’ve been riding a modern mtb for almost three years and I still enjoy riding my short top tubed, steep head angled, low tech, rigid SS 29er mtb every time I get on it.
    They both have their place where I live, in the east.
    The 71 head angled bike is more precise and works great for general riding, in twisty stuff with punchy climbs, and slow speed tech and is quick and efficient, up to a point.
    The 67.5 FS 29er is great on big mountain days with long climbs and long downs. It seems less precise and can feel wonky on slow speed stuff and steep climbs. Both are good at what they are good at.
    The dropper post could be a fantastic addition to any mtb! It truly is an improvement. I wish I could fit one on the rigid bike but I can’t.
    What is XC anyway?
    It seems to me that XC is just general riding with ups, downs, drops, rocks, roots, smooth stuff, rough stuff, tech features, etc. Like what, I assume, most mtbers do.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Sorry, I did not mean to imply that, I meant to state that.

    I don't think anybody is saying that bikes are not getting better. They are. But in no way do they make bikes from 5-10 years ago obsolete. The changes have been incremental and for many people, may not be any better. I do agree that if you ride big terrain, the new move to slacker and lower is great. But for those who live in the east, and ride tight twisty stuff where 7 MPH is good, it is kinda stupid.

    I would also argue, and have repeatedly, is that the biggest advance in mountain biking was the development of the 1X drivetrain. That allowed all the SP and HL bikes to propagate like they have. That advance is closely followed by the dropper post and bells and baskets that attach with 6mm Allen wrenches
    Who said your bike was obsolete? Ride what you like. But the new bikes are amazing. If you wish to ride your time capsule bike, have at it. I'm on your left.

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    Very high expectations, so try some other bikes.

    I rode an Enduro for 10 years and loved it everywhere but climbs.

    Still, prefer geometry today much more over 2004 rendition. I always have multiple bikes and during and after Enduro, have not found a bike that rails like that one. A big part of it is I spent so much time on it,the connection=confidence.

    The new Geo. Says get up on front of bike, and move around. It has taken me a while to adjust. Wish I had rode a dirt bike when younger.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vespasianus View Post
    Sorry, I did not mean to imply that, I meant to state that.

    I don't think anybody is saying that bikes are not getting better. They are. But in no way do they make bikes from 5-10 years ago obsolete. The changes have been incremental and for many people, may not be any better. I do agree that if you ride big terrain, the new move to slacker and lower is great. But for those who live in the east, and ride tight twisty stuff where 7 MPH is good, it is kinda stupid.

    I would also argue, and have repeatedly, is that the biggest advance in mountain biking was the development of the 1X drivetrain. That allowed all the SP and HL bikes to propagate like they have. That advance is closely followed by the dropper post and bells and baskets that attach with 6mm Allen wrenches

    Ha

    East coast rider here too. Just got back from a 3 hour ride. I hear ya about the slow tech (which I love to ride) but I've found that slacker, longer bikes vs shorter, steeper bikes each have their pros and cons even in the slow tech and there may be no clear winner for that round. On a longer slacker bike you can attack those tight and twisties, littered with big chunk much more aggressively now not being afraid of the ol' "over the bars" you got with shorter, steeper bikes. On steep tech, or fast tech the new bike completely destroy the older stuff.

    I was a serious hold out. First when suspension came along, then when 29ers came along, then when slacker bikes came along, then when longer bikes came along. I've been late to the party on all that - I questioned it all, and doubted it all. Both on DH bikes and trail bikes. About the only thing I was an early adopter was a dropper post (was racing Super D at the time. Had the original Gravity Dropper post, and still do on my kid's bike.) But once I put the time into riding these newer bikes, well, they are a whole heck of a lot better...

    ...if you are someone who likes to push your limits on challenging terrain. Some folks can go out and just cruise along. I can't and these newer bikes just let you go harder and faster, and if that's how you roll, then they are better.

    Are they so much better as to make the average 5 to 10 year old bike obsolete? Not necessarily, but I think it depends on what the rider wants out of their bike.

    Keep this in mind... how many of the riders do you see that are consistently utilizing most of their bike's potential. For every one rider I see making the most out of their rig I see more than 10 who don't. So, for the majority of riders these new bikes likely are not better. So in a way you are very right - at least for most riders. For me, no.

  48. #48
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    You can go shockingly fast on modern geo bikes even when in really tight chunk.
    As long as your willing to bounce off a tree or 3. It's so fun.
    I personally find 5 year old mountain bikes to be totally obsolete. If you have spent time on modern MX bikes, you'd have to go from say 1985 to 2016+ model years in an MX bike to equal the difference I feel from my 2014 Bronson to my '19 Foxy. A well maintained 20 year old dirt bike I can go just as fast as a newish one. I'm like 10% slower actual times on a 5 year old mountain bike. In my opinion, they are just now figuring out this mountain bike geometry stuff. They were way way off for a long time, and it makes sense when you consider how young the sport really is.

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    Last edited by Suns_PSD; 06-18-2019 at 06:25 AM.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg View Post
    Front-center has changed dramatically over the past 10 years, like 4-6".
    ...almost all of which is increased stack.
    In my experience reach has actually gone down in the last 20+ years.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  50. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    East coast rider here too. Just got back from a 3 hour ride. I hear ya about the slow tech (which I love to ride) but I've found that slacker, longer bikes vs shorter, steeper bikes each have their pros and cons even in the slow tech and there may be no clear winner for that round. On a longer slacker bike you can attack those tight and twisties, littered with big chunk much more aggressively now not being afraid of the ol' "over the bars" you got with shorter, steeper bikes. On steep tech, or fast tech the new bike completely destroy the older stuff.

    ...if you are someone who likes to push your limits on challenging terrain. Some folks can go out and just cruise along. I can't and these newer bikes just let you go harder and faster, and if that's how you roll, then they are better.

    Are they so much better as to make the average 5 to 10 year old bike obsolete? Not necessarily, but I think it depends on what the rider wants out of their bike.
    Well put...due to my size (6'4") and need for an XL framed bike, I chose 27.5" model just to give me a bit more maneuverability in the tight NE terrain. Although it's much longer and a bit heavier, the new Kona (see sig) has been stellar and there's no comparison to the bikes I've owned the last 30 years. It's just so much more fun to ride and push through challenging terrain.

    I got the Kona in Jan 2018. It replaced my 2012 SC Heckler (26" / XL) which I absolutely LOVED. I spent some time replacing tranny, cranks, BB, etc on Heckler and got it 100% ready as a backup. It has not left it's position on the wall of the garage ONCE.
    12 Santa Cruz Heckler
    18 Kona Process 153 AL/DL (27.5)...:thumbsup:

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shayne View Post
    In my experience reach has actually gone down in the last 20+ years.
    As in effective reach when running a 150mm stem and a 73* STA with setback post?
    You're possibly right, and that is the very problem with looking at figures in isolation...

  52. #52
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    Great thread—thanks to everyone who’s replied!

    Gear threads here (and in any forum) always tend to split along lines of ability/preference. As others have said above, the hardcore, performance-obsessed riders will almost always find a lot more differences between bikes, period. I’ve talking about the people who live on their bikes, and ride a lot (like every day or many times a week).

    These riders, while possibly the majority here on the MTBR forums, are absolutely NOT the majority nationwide. Fanatics in any outdoor sport are always a small percentage of the whole. Most riders are like me—they get out far less often, and as a result are not as skilled technically—and choose not to push our envelopes because we just don’t need to.

    I’m 56 years old, and my riding ability peaked years ago. Since then, I’ve been perfectly happy to simply maintain (more or less) my ability, and my enjoyment from the sport comes both from riding trails I like repeatedly for fitness and to get to know them really well in all seasons—and riding new trails in new places—with the caveat that I rarely (if ever) ride trails that are any more difficult than what I normally ride.

    I have zero desire to catch big air, and no desire to get into downhill riding (e.g. buy a downhill bike and gear up in full-face helmet and pads). I have zero desire to get into trials riding or to ride super-technical terrain.

    I do understand the joys of pushing your envelope and achieving extremely high-level technical mastery of a sport; I did that years ago in whitewater slalom racing (which is the most technically difficult form of whitewater paddling, period).

    Interestingly, in whitewater racing, technique and conditioning account for 80-90% of a racer’s speed. The boat (e.g. technology) ultimately accounted for very little. I’m guessing this is true of mountain biking too.

    Anyway, my point (which yes, someone else made above) is that for me, a 10-year-old bike (especially one with an upgraded 1x12 drivetrain) is STILL more bike than I’ll ever use. If I had thousands of dollars laying around I’d happily get a new bike, but I don’t—and thankfully I don’t need to.

    Scott

    EDiTED TO ADD: Vespasianus posted a quote from Dave Turner that's right-on: it's incredibly difficult to reconcile "innovation" in bike design from the REQUIREMENT (it's not optional) for every bike company to come out with new products every year. Let me restate that—regardless of whether their bikes are actually any better or not, every bike company MUST "innovate" or die.

    And it's absurd to think that EVERY new model of bike that is built is somehow "better" than the previous year models. They aren't. Most of the time, bike builders just tweak things—making lateral changes (e.g. not better) and market them as "improved." Because they can't market them any other way. ("We've CHANGED our bikes!" said no bike company ever.)

    The reality is that innovation comes in isolated jumps: the full-suspension bike, the 29er, the 1x drivetrains, the dropper post. (Sorry, but handlebar width is barely a blip in the overall innovation curve.) Everything else inbetween the jumps barely registers—just tiny, incremental changes. Sure, overall bikes may get better (in some cases), but anyone who believes that 100% of "innovation" is actually REAL innovation is a sucker for marketing.
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

  53. #53
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    How boring must riding be for you if you don't try to get better?

    Regardless of what you call it, the changes to mountain bikes taken as a whole over the past 20+yrs require the rider to adjust their technique. Less so in the past 10yrs, but it's still there. And that's not even accounting for getting better. That's just to ride the same. If you make that change all at once, you've gotta take the time and make the effort to figure out the differences. Riders who did lots of little incremental changes during the interim aren't going to feel the same difference. I was talking about this last night with a buddy going the other direction. Going out and buying a 20 yr old high end mtb after being comfortable riding more modern bikes. The differences aren't inconsequential.

    You can argue until you're blue in the face about whether those differences are better or not. But they ARE different, and riding confidently on each one is going to take adjustments and adaptations on the rider's part.

    If you, as the rider, are unwilling to be flexible enough to figure that out and maybe learn something along the way, then you should just stop looking at anything new. Period. Maybe ought to stop riding new places while you're at it. You might be presented with something on the trail that you'd have to figure out how to ride because you've never done it before. That would involve learning and improving. Would hate for that to happen.

    As for me? I enjoy learning new things. I'll be learning new things until I die. That doesn't mean I'm going to take up downhill racing at 65. It doesn't mean I'm going to be riding increasingly risky things as I age. But it does mean I'll be working to ride better every time I throw my leg over my bike.

  54. #54
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    "Modern bike" are not better everywhere. On many trails a modern 29er is no better, and no more fun than a 10 year old 26er (assuming the 26er is in good shape).

    However, modern bikes are way more capable. XC bikes are way better on aggressive trails and big travel trail bikes are way better on easy trails. Personally, I am comfortable riding my new XC bike on trails that in the past were beyond XC bikes.
    "The best pace is suicide pace, and today is a good day to die." Steve Prefontaine

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    Personally, at 6'5" modern 29ers are a god send.

  56. #56
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    It simply sounds like you don't have/ride the type of terrain that allows the newer geometry to shine. Out here in the Rockies, there's simply no comparison. I still have an older 29" HT Motobecane Fantom that is similar enough to your GF. I ride it a lot, but only on relatively tame terrain. My 6ish" travel FS 29" Remedy with 150mm dropper is a completely different experience when it come to climbing and descending typical mountain trails around here.

    I've ridden in the Midwest a little, and frankly, my Motobecane would suffice for most of what I rode there, though I'd still prefer something like an Epic or Top fuel. My Remedy would be an overweight boat anchor there.

    AM.

  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    Ha

    East coast rider here too. Just got back from a 3 hour ride. I hear ya about the slow tech (which I love to ride) but I've found that slacker, longer bikes vs shorter, steeper bikes each have their pros and cons even in the slow tech and there may be no clear winner for that round. On a longer slacker bike you can attack those tight and twisties, littered with big chunk much more aggressively now not being afraid of the ol' "over the bars" you got with shorter, steeper bikes. On steep tech, or fast tech the new bike completely destroy the older stuff.

    I was a serious hold out. First when suspension came along, then when 29ers came along, then when slacker bikes came along, then when longer bikes came along. I've been late to the party on all that - I questioned it all, and doubted it all. Both on DH bikes and trail bikes. About the only thing I was an early adopter was a dropper post (was racing Super D at the time. Had the original Gravity Dropper post, and still do on my kid's bike.) But once I put the time into riding these newer bikes, well, they are a whole heck of a lot better...

    ...if you are someone who likes to push your limits on challenging terrain. Some folks can go out and just cruise along. I can't and these newer bikes just let you go harder and faster, and if that's how you roll, then they are better.

    Are they so much better as to make the average 5 to 10 year old bike obsolete? Not necessarily, but I think it depends on what the rider wants out of their bike.

    Keep this in mind... how many of the riders do you see that are consistently utilizing most of their bike's potential. For every one rider I see making the most out of their rig I see more than 10 who don't. So, for the majority of riders these new bikes likely are not better. So in a way you are very right - at least for most riders. For me, no.

    Well said and I think I agree with you in many way. I also think we romanticize things. I have this old steel Stumpjumper with a Z2 fork that is at my parents house. I love that bike and will never let it go. Last fall, I rode it on some trails and honestly, the next day, I thought I had been hit by a car. Granted, that bike is now over 20 years old (!) but still, I did not expect to feel like that. And this was on pretty tame trails.
    It is the Right of the People to Alter or to Abolish It.

  58. #58
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    I would sum up this thread as: You don't know what you don't know, and can't use what you can't use.

  59. #59
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    Any new and different bike that feels as good on the first ride as one you are 10 years used to, is gonna feel ridiculously great once you get used to it.

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    I went from a 2001 Hardrock, demo'd a Mojo 3, bought a 2017 Diamondback and now a Salsa hard tail.

    • The first impression for me was the huge tire way out in front. LOTS of flop. Manageable. Made it feel like a monster truck, and harder to pedal no-hands.
    • The second impression was the feeling of relief of never having to shift the front ever again.
    • Third was that I liked good rear suspension pretty well. The 5-6 inch front suspension is nice but I'd already upgraded my Hardrock long ago with a 4" air fork so it wasn't a quantum leap different.
    • I had my old brakes pretty dialed for all they were just crappy V brakes. I had them well adjusted and they bit fine. Hydro disks are an improvement but I think the hydraulic system is more of an improvement than the disk / caliper.
    • The extra wide handlebars on the Mojo were too wide but the Diamondback and the Salsa were fine. Not everyone goes all the way off the deep end, the more premium you buy the more on-trend you have to tolerate.
    • Lastly I still have no idea what to do with a dropper post. I'll figure it out someday.


    I'm not going back.

  61. #61
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    Sorry cant comment relating specific to 29er, but can on the wide bars, dropper posts and slack front end.

    I was like you, never noticed not having a dropper until I got one. Once I did it felt weird and the bike unstable until I got used to it, over time my riding style changed to suit. Now if I go back I find the seat getting in the way a lot! Even contemplating putting a dropper on my XC bike.

    Wide bars also took a bit of getting used to, but I have found much better in rough ground. Smoother XC stuff I still don't mind the skinnier bars still on my XC bike.

    Slack front end again depends what you're riding, Its all a trade off. I ride some very steep country, It can be done on my slacker trail bike, but wanders all over the shop. Steep XC bike is much more planted up the very steep stuff. Opposite for heading down. If you are only doing moderate ups and downs both ride well. But do get a little more high speed stability with the slacker front ends.

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hurricane Jeff View Post
    I was totally a non believer in the wide bar fad......until my new bike came with 790mm wide bars. Initially I thought I would try them, then cut them down. I've kept them at their length and now believe that it is not a fad and when I ride bikes with less than 750mm, they feel weird and abnormal.

    Same! I tried to go from 780mm bars to 740mm bars and it felt totally unnatural. I promptly switched back and wont ride less than a 780mm. Totally personal preference though!

  63. #63
    Trail Cubist
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    Just for the record...a few people made assertions about my OP (and me personally) that are totally off:

    • I liked the modern 29er! (2018 Norco Optic). I just didn't find it leaps and bounds better than my 2009 GF 29er.

    • Everyone says "Give the new bike more time and you'll love it!" I never suggested otherwise. But I love my 2009 bike too, and for my riding style have never had a single issue with it. There's not one thing about it I've thought "this isn't good" about or thought "this could be better" (except the drivetrain, which I upgraded to a modern 1x12 and is awesome now).

    • Someone said "You don't know what you don't know and can't do what you can't do." I wouldn't argue with this—but it's true of everyone. Saying this doesn't imply that some people here know everything and some don't—it's all a continuum. At some point in all our riding experience, everyone stops making a priority out of becoming the most badass Olympic-caliber rider and just wants to ride and enjoy, period. That's where I am.

    • As others have said, the "best" bike for any individual varies depending on the individual, their personal preferences, the terrain they ride, their ability, etc. It's entirely possible for an older bike to be the "perfect" bike for one person while being a disaster for someone else. Anyone who makes comments like "old bikes suck" needs to add to their comment "but this can't be proven and it's just my subjective opinion." :-)

    One day my 2009 GF will die, and I'll replace it. And if that doesn't happen 'til 2022, everyone will be saying (three years from now) that "those 2019 bikes really sucked because ________." LOL Unless you believe that mountain bike evolution is finished—and today's bikes are officially the pinnacle of all possible designs.

    My point is that (in my subjective opinion) a lot of bike design is actually cyclical—and it's not true that things just get better and better and better and (etc. to infinity and beyond).

    I am going to get a dropper post and see how it goes.

    Scott
    29er wheels are dangerous. They may cause you to go faster which can result in serious bodily injury. —Jim311

  64. #64
    OFS old, fat, slow
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post

    I am going to get a dropper post and see how it goes.

    Scott
    IMHO, it doesn't sound like you'll get any benefit from a dropper with the terrain and riding style that you enjoy currently. But, OTOH, I would have said the same about your decision to invest in 1x12. Whatever floats your boat, dude! Enjoy the ride.

    AM.

  65. #65
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by SWriverstone View Post
    Just for the record...a few people made assertions about my OP (and me personally) that are totally off:
    On MTBR?? Impossible!

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