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  1. #1
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    Handling trouble on new bike

    I just got my 1st "real" mountain bike (upgraded from a dept store bike) and I'm having trouble keeping the front wheel pointed where I want it. The main thing is that the front wheel wants to move back and forth when I'm pedaling in a straight line. It also seems to want to move outside in turns, but I don't know if that's the same issue or something unrelated.

    I'm a beginner rider, so I'm not sure if it's lack of skill or something about the bike geometry, fit, etc.

    Details about the bike (in case any of this is relevant)
    DiamondBack Release 1 (full suspension)
    150mm fork
    66* head tube angle
    1160 mm wheelbase
    40 mm stem
    780 mm bar

    Any insight or suggestions? I want to like this bike, but if I can't get this sorted in the next week or so I may have to return it.

  2. #2
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    What you've got there is a VERY nice bike, but as you've noticed it handles differently than anything you'll find in a dept store. That's a good thing. The wheelbase is likely longer and your body position on the bike is different, which is better, but when you're not used to it this can be disconcerting at first.

    The side-to-side wheel movement is normal for a bike with that head tube angle at slow speeds. It helps keep the bike more stable when going faster. With a little practice it's no biggie.

    The turning issue - if I had to guess that's partially due to the longer wheelbase and mostly due to lack of familiarity with the bike.

    If it's a fit issue, you've neglected to give the info that can help with that (your height and the bike size).

    Whether it's the right bike for you...well, that's not so easy to answer w/o more info.

  3. #3
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    I'd probably have to watch you ride to see your positioning on the bike.

    A fair number of novices that buy full suspension bikes think that means they don't have to stand up when descending. Not saying that's you, just that there are so many things you could be doing that need to change that it's tough to do more than take a shot in the dark and hope to hit a mark.

    Maybe if you search for instructional mountain bike videos on you tube, you'll find some useful. Some of the Fluidride - Ride Like a Pro videos you'll find there are very good. I had the DVD and would watch one segment at a time and practice after that to make it part of my style. There are several others that offer great advice from very knowledgeable people. . . . and some not so great offerings too.

    I would suggest not trying to change too many things at once. Find one thing to address and practice it until it becomes natural, and then move on.

    Also, a bike with a 66 head tube angle may be a little difficult to steer if your previous bike had a 71 HTA and that might be what you are feeling.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the responses. That's really helpful.

    As for fit, I'm 5'8", and the bike is a size Medium. I'm within DB's height suggestion (5'7-5'10) for that size. I'm pretty sure the saddle height is right for me. Not sure what else Is needed for fit (aside from a trip to LBS).

  5. #5
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    As the others have said, the geometry on your new bike is a LOT different than on your old dept store bike, the head angle is probably 4-6 degrees slacker. With your new bike there are several things that could be causing your issues...
    first up the wheel flop, as mentioned is part of having such a slack head angle...
    ...second on the front pushing on corners, more than likely it's you not weighting the front enough to keep the grip on the longer front end. It could also be partially the suspension setup, so being new to this, you might have too much air on the fork and/or not enough is the shock, causing the bike to "sit back" and slacken things out even more. As was said, check YouTube for skills videos, there's loads and they will help a bunch, looks for videos from Lee Likes Bikes/Lee MacCormack, Ryan Leech, Fabien Barel to name a few of the good ones, but there's LOADS of stuff out there for free or you can join a site like Lee's or Ryans.

    http://www.leelikesbikes.com/
    https://www.ryanleech.com/
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  6. #6
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    Chances are, most of this is due to the fact that you're a beginner and don't have all the skills yet, as well as the fact that it's a new bike that's VERY different from your old one.

    The wheel wandering thing you mention is loosely called "wheel flop". And yeah, that's what a slack head tube angle bike does at slow speeds. You'll adapt to it with time on your bike.

    Turning is going to be a bigger learning curve for you, I think. Long wheelbase bikes with slack head angles like to be LEANED OVER to turn. My current bike fits that description, and it's a LOT different from the bike I rode previously. I had to get used to this very thing. It didn't take me all that long to adjust, but I had also been riding a good bit longer. But initially, it did surprise me how differently it handled. Once I adjusted, though, I found that my cornering improved significantly. Faster, more stable, more fun. Even on relatively flat trails. Adjusting to this will probably require you to spend some time working on skills.

    Watch some skills vids on cornering, and possibly consider taking some skills courses/clinics. I don't know how beginner you are, and what you're comfortable with, but the first step on cornering is doing some body position/range of motion drills to get comfortable putting your body where it needs to be when you lean the bike over. Someone posted a video from "Skills with Phil" on Youtube where he showed a bunch of these body position drills in a parking lot practice session. He's got a ton of stuff for beginners for you to play with and get comfortable with your bike.

    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0Q...NF9k9fiNXkqn_w

    The fit sounds like it's roughly going to be good. That's not to say you have your saddle/bars adjusted properly. Can't tell that without aforementioned videos of you riding. But I'd generally agree that 5'8 is pretty solidly a medium. That's my height/bike size (though some brands seem to think such a height is at the edge of a small/medium, which I think is BS).

  7. #7
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    As a new forum member, I have I say... you guys are great. I appreciate all of the thorough responses.

    My takeaways so far are (1) that's how a 66* bike is going to feel, especially at first, and (2) with time and practice I should get used to it.

    That said, is it a fair conclusion that a bike with less slack, shorter travel fork, and shorter wheelbase will be a lower learning curve? Looking at a Marin Hawk Hill with 67.5 HTA, 120mm travel and 12mm shorter wheelbase in my same budget range. Components aren't as good but if it's less learning curve it may spell more fun.

  8. #8
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    Yes, it should help quite a bit and probably be better suited to you, if your user name is accurate Did you buy it from Performance? If you did, think it's easy to return and exchange it and also you could do a quick little spin inside the store or parking lot to see if you feel the difference between them.

    Quote Originally Posted by oldmanknees View Post
    As a new forum member, I have I say... you guys are great. I appreciate all of the thorough responses.

    My takeaways so far are (1) that's how a 66* bike is going to feel, especially at first, and (2) with time and practice I should get used to it.

    That said, is it a fair conclusion that a bike with less slack, shorter travel fork, and shorter wheelbase will be a lower learning curve? Looking at a Marin Hawk Hill with 67.5 HTA, 120mm travel and 12mm shorter wheelbase in my same budget range. Components aren't as good but if it's less learning curve it may spell more fun.
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??

  9. #9
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    Just make sure you set the suspension up properly, especially the sag... a soft rear shock and firm form fork would make it feel really odd.

    The short travel steeper head angle bike might feel a little better to you at first but its just a matter of getting used to it.... I went the opposite way, I had a 160mm front/150mm rear travel bike but switched to a steeper lighter less travel bike because I moved somewhere with only smooth trails and very little elevation and it felt very strange... twitchy and like I was going to flip over the bars. felt normal in a week or so (probably less) *If I ride my gravel bike only for a week the mountain bike feels weirdly floppy for the first mile or so.

    give the bike and the trails you will ride some thought, it looks like a really great "do everything" mountain bike to me.... even though my 120mm steeper HT bike (Specialized Camber) is perfect for my local trails Im kinda maybe regretting not getting a bit more bike as I start to travel further to ride.

    I would not get hung up on the wheel base... our trails are tight and I can get around them just as fast if not faster on my XL 29er as many do on smaller sized and 27.5 bikes with short chain stays. they might have a slight advantage on a tight switchbacks but I have it easier on short really steep rooty climbs.

    just make sure its set up for you, personally I have never had a perfect fit... always need a stem swap, tinker with seat for/aft, spacers under stem, move levers and often even bars.

    *** if you are new to this I think leaning towards a slacker/beefier bike makes trying harder trails and tech easier than with a steeper less travel bike.

    *** just re read your post... I bet/guess the short stem and wide bars are what you are feeling the most vs your department store bike ... you will get used to it in a long ride or two.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Lee View Post
    Just make sure you set the suspension up properly, especially the sag... a soft rear shock and firm form fork would make it feel really odd.

    The short travel steeper head angle bike might feel a little better to you at first but its just a matter of getting used to it.... I went the opposite way, I had a 160mm front/150mm rear travel bike but switched to a steeper lighter less travel bike because I moved somewhere with only smooth trails and very little elevation and it felt very strange... twitchy and like I was going to flip over the bars. felt normal in a week or so (probably less) *If I ride my gravel bike only for a week the mountain bike feels weirdly floppy for the first mile or so.

    give the bike and the trails you will ride some thought, it looks like a really great "do everything" mountain bike to me.... even though my 120mm steeper HT bike (Specialized Camber) is perfect for my local trails Im kinda maybe regretting not getting a bit more bike as I start to travel further to ride.

    I would not get hung up on the wheel base... our trails are tight and I can get around them just as fast if not faster on my XL 29er as many do on smaller sized and 27.5 bikes with short chain stays. they might have a slight advantage on a tight switchbacks but I have it easier on short really steep rooty climbs.

    just make sure its set up for you, personally I have never had a perfect fit... always need a stem swap, tinker with seat for/aft, spacers under stem, move levers and often even bars.

    *** if you are new to this I think leaning towards a slacker/beefier bike makes trying harder trails and tech easier than with a steeper less travel bike.

    *** just re read your post... I bet/guess the short stem and wide bars are what you are feeling the most vs your department store bike ... you will get used to it in a long ride or two.
    I second everything Ray Lee says here. The bike we get used to is the bike that feels right whether or not it really is right. Youre used to an old dog so your new DB feels weird but rest assured that the DB is designed to provide superior performance on singletrack. You need to ride it to get used to the way a proper bike handles. It wont take long and once things click, youll think, Wow, this bike lets me fly!
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus View Post
    ... but rest assured that the DB is designed to provide superior performance on singletrack. ..
    Bah. Maybe you on your single track, but not me on my single track.
    Do the math.

  12. #12
    since 4/10/2009
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Lee View Post
    Just make sure you set the suspension up properly, especially the sag
    give the bike and the trails you will ride some thought
    I think these comments definitely bear emphasizing. The more suspension travel your bike has, the more critical setup becomes, because smaller differences in settings make bigger differences in real behavior of the suspension.

    But beyond that, I think it's also particularly critical to match the bike to the terrain and your riding style. A 150mm trail bike makes a good bit of sense as an all-rounder if your rides include big mountains and burly terrain. Some people actually enjoy being over-biked for their riding, but I'm not particularly one of them. I'm good being a little over-biked on some occasions if I will also with some regularity push the bike through terrain that really takes advantage of its capabilities.

    For example, I'm not out pedaling a downhill bike all over the place because I might visit a lift-accessed trail system once every few years. Meh, not really worth it. My last bike purchase was a Salsa Bucksaw full suspension fatbike. I was a little over-biked for most of my riding when I bought it, but the bike was capable of some other stuff I might do a dozen times a year or so. I've moved to a place with bigger, burlier terrain, and I find that I'm a bit underbiked on probably at least 3/4 of my rides, at least for part of the ride. Today, I did a ride that had more than 1500ft of descending and enough chunk that I felt like my teeth were going to rattle out of my head. The palms of my hands are legitimately bruised from the pounding. I think my next bike is going to be about a 140-150mm travel bike. Not going to get rid of the Bucksaw, because it's great for other things. It's just not as well-suited for everyday Pisgah riding as other bikes might be. My wife rides a 140mm Juliana Furtado (same bike as a Santa Cruz 5010, basically), which is an outstanding bike for the terrain, but yet still not a pig when the trail character changes to smoother, flowier stuff.

    If I lived somewhere else or had different preferences, I'd probably make a different bike choice. But as it is, I really enjoy chunky stuff.

    With OP living in Dallas, I can really only wonder what factors pushed him to a 150mm trail bike. Do you travel/visit any mountainous areas? I know there's some chunky stuff in Dallas. Is your riding style to charge hard through that stuff and let the suspension do its job, do you tend to finesse it, or do you try to avoid as much chunky terrain as you can? Did you want the extra suspension travel for extra comfort for the stuff you DO choose to ride? There are no wrong answers to any of these questions, but the answers to them can help point you towards something that might be as close to an "ideal" bike for you. Lately, I find that it's EXTREMELY DIFFICULT to buy a terrible bike. But it's easier than ever to buy the wrong bike FOR YOU.

  13. #13
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    Harold, as for what factors pushed me to 150mm bike... it was a great deal on a '17 FS bike with good components. I only realized it might be too much bike after riding it a few times. I thought "too much bike" meant "spent too much money", now I am beginning to see there's more to it than that.

    As for my terrain and riding style... I ride what most of you would likely consider boring beginner trails. And i often take the bypass around harder obstacles. I've been riding for a year but am still very conservative (which is probably why my dept store bike hasn't fallen apart). With time and a proper bike, I'm sure I will get better and braver, but at 45 my sense of self-preservation tends to outweigh my sense of adventure. Damn, that sounds really sad when I go back and read it But at the end of the day, I'm having a great time on the easier stuff and I guess that's what matters.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldmanknees View Post
    Harold, as for what factors pushed me to 150mm bike... it was a great deal on a '17 FS bike with good components. I only realized it might be too much bike after riding it a few times. I thought "too much bike" meant "spent too much money", now I am beginning to see there's more to it than that.

    As for my terrain and riding style... I ride what most of you would likely consider boring beginner trails. And i often take the bypass around harder obstacles. I've been riding for a year but am still very conservative (which is probably why my dept store bike hasn't fallen apart). With time and a proper bike, I'm sure I will get better and braver, but at 45 my sense of self-preservation tends to outweigh my sense of adventure. Damn, that sounds really sad when I go back and read it But at the end of the day, I'm having a great time on the easier stuff and I guess that's what matters.
    In that case, I'd probably be looking at a less burly bike for beginner type riding in the Dallas area. Probably worthwhile to buy a LITTLE more bike so you have room to grow as a rider, but the one you wound up with is more than just a little bit more bike, it sounds like. The aforementioned 120mm FS trail bike is probably a pretty good spot to look. Lots of different bikes in that category. While it will likely still be quite a bit longer/slacker than your old bike (with a similar wide bar/short stem cockpit), it will be a little less so than the DB.

    You'd probably still be fine with a nice hardtail, honestly. There are also some longer suspension travel "trail" hardtails on the market, too, that can fit 120-140mm forks. But there are fewer of them. Stuff like the Salsa Timberjack, Santa Cruz Chameleon, Guerrilla Gravity Pedalhead, etc. Something like that will still be a HUGE improvement over your old bike.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldmanknees View Post
    Harold, as for what factors pushed me to 150mm bike... it was a great deal on a '17 FS bike with good components. I only realized it might be too much bike after riding it a few times. I thought "too much bike" meant "spent too much money", now I am beginning to see there's more to it than that.

    As for my terrain and riding style... I ride what most of you would likely consider boring beginner trails. And i often take the bypass around harder obstacles. I've been riding for a year but am still very conservative (which is probably why my dept store bike hasn't fallen apart). With time and a proper bike, I'm sure I will get better and braver, but at 45 my sense of self-preservation tends to outweigh my sense of adventure. Damn, that sounds really sad when I go back and read it But at the end of the day, I'm having a great time on the easier stuff and I guess that's what matters.
    Yep, if you're having a great time, that is what matters! It does sound like you are over-biked, though.
    Quote Originally Posted by Oh My Sack! View Post
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  16. #16
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    I have no idea what the riding around Dallas is like, and my comments are general, not specific to the OP. IMO beginners benefit from being on a bike that is a little slacker than the norm in their area. A slack HTA combined with a short stem make it pretty difficult to go over the bars, and less likely to crash when when things get hairy. This will build confidence and then the next bike can be more xcish if so inclined. Trouble is that most entry level bikes are pretty steep. If my first couple of bikes were longer and slacker than they were I would have been less scraped up.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  17. #17
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    If I could do ONE thing differently when I was learning to ride, it would be to take lessons from a coach in person.

    There are some things that are not intuitive in mt biking and a coach will make things a lot more fun and a lot less painful.

    It's likely your current bike is fine, it sounds like a decent all-purpose bike. But again, a coach will be able to see you and the trails you're interested in riding and may make suggestions.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    Turning is going to be a bigger learning curve for you, I think. Long wheelbase bikes with slack head angles like to be LEANED OVER to turn. My current bike fits that description, and it's a LOT different from the bike I rode previously. I had to get used to this very thing. It didn't take me all that long to adjust, but I had also been riding a good bit longer. But initially, it did surprise me how differently it handled. Once I adjusted, though, I found that my cornering improved significantly. Faster, more stable, more fun. Even on relatively flat trails. Adjusting to this will probably require you to spend some time working on skills.
    Yup... going through this now.

    The difference between my 27.5 Slash and the new 9er Slash is pretty huge. But, it forces me to use proper technique... with the 27.5 I could ride lazy, and I didn't even realize it was allowing me to keep some bad habits. On the 9er, you just can't get away with it, and like you, cornering is improving and the bike has ridiculous grip when you use good technique.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by oldmanknees View Post
    Harold, as for what factors pushed me to 150mm bike... it was a great deal on a '17 FS bike with good components. I only realized it might be too much bike after riding it a few times. I thought "too much bike" meant "spent too much money", now I am beginning to see there's more to it than that.

    As for my terrain and riding style... I ride what most of you would likely consider boring beginner trails. And i often take the bypass around harder obstacles. I've been riding for a year but am still very conservative (which is probably why my dept store bike hasn't fallen apart). With time and a proper bike, I'm sure I will get better and braver, but at 45 my sense of self-preservation tends to outweigh my sense of adventure. Damn, that sounds really sad when I go back and read it But at the end of the day, I'm having a great time on the easier stuff and I guess that's what matters.
    I dont know your local trails but that sounds like me at 45! (Or 46-47) Im now 50 and riding stuff I never thought I would not only my local trails but uplift downhill when I can.

    4 years ago or thereabouts I was riding a XC HT bike took all the bypasses etc.
    Now Im riding a 140/130 and feel under biked on some trips. The difference really though is the bike is much more stable pointed downhill.

    As was mentioned previously though, getting technique and looking into a skills course helps. Take some time off a trail to learn to jump where consequences are minor ...



    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  20. #20
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    I think you'll be happy on either of the 2 bikes mentioned and they'll both have a fairly similar learning curve from the dept store bike. Plan for what you might be doing 3 years from now, whether that's progressing towards harder stuff or just plain old enjoying where you're at and having a blast.

  21. #21
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    What Harold mentioned earlier about leaning over is HUGE. I remember my first corner that I barreled into with my first "real bike" sent me straight over the other side wondering what the hell just happened. It didnt turn at all.

    Once you get a little more comfortable you will find that its actually harder to resist the leaning (natural human tendency) than it is just to let your body and the bike lean over through the turn. The bike wants to do it, we just seem to want to fight it.

    My girlfriend was the same way. I gave her a heads up about leaning and first turn she goes straight over the berm. LOL. Just takes a little bit of time!

    You will love that bike!

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