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  1. #1
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    Pro bike fitting for the mojo

    [Caution – long post follows. Short version: I am curious what other people’s experiences have been with pro fittings for the mojo and other bikes that are great for both long stretches climbing and aggressive descending, and how you’ve handled the compromise between the two.]

    I learned a lot from a recent bike fitting for my Mojo, which I’ve had for three years now. Spurred in part by the frequent threads that seem to suggest, for example, ‘shorter stems are better’, I wanted to share some observations, and ask a couple questions for those who know more about these things.

    While I am definitely far from expert on fitting, the experience was more in depth than others I’ve done even on my road bikes and it impressed on me that fitting a bike is super individualized, surprisingly sensitive to small changes, and that all the different parts are connected.

    After having a severe back/knee injury and consistent increasing back soreness on my mojo over the past couple years, I dug deep for a good bike fitting. The below is based on an exchange I had with Wade at the Spokesman in Santa Cruz, who did the fitting for me in May. He has tons of experience, really knows what he’s talking about, and I’d recommend highly a visit to see him (thanks Yody!). I’d go again, and I live far far away from SC.
    http://spokesmanbicycles.com/about/f...view-pg438.htm

    So, I went in asking for a shorter stem and longer bars for more downhill pleasure, and also asking for some relief from the back pain so I can do long rides.

    I thought I had a decent fit going in, and as it turned out, my years of riding and thinking about this stuff had let me get pretty close to a decent fit on my own. But while the adjustments Wade made were seemingly subtle (new pedals and cleat position to enable straighter tracking with my knee, new saddle to match my relatively high flexibility, altered seat position, shorter cranks, and a longer stem for my relatively long torso), they made a huge difference in my comfort and pedaling power and efficiency.

    As roadies know, bike fitting is a game of millimeters, little tweaks can have huge effects, and it's all interconnected. We spent almost four hours working on this.

    Since I prefer aggressive XC and AM riding, the rockier and rootier the better, I was nonplussed to see the 110 mm stem Wade pulled out after the fitting, which was the opposite of what I wanted partly based on reading on this forum, and I again asked for a shorter stem, but Wade said, try this out for awhile, it's a strong XC fit. If you want to adjust for more descending, we can do that, but you should know what you're giving up first.

    Still skeptical – I’m 5’7”, long torso/short legs, on a medium mojo. I asked whether I was on the wrong size bike, but he said no, maybe a small if I really wanted something purely for descending tight and twisty, but otherwise M is correct for me.

    During my first few rides (viva Demo Forest!), I could feel my climbing and comfort improved and I felt great on the bike. This was a huge relief, as many or most of my rides are upwards of three hours. The change did not feel dramatic, but that is only because all of a sudden I was not uncomfortable anymore! No squirming around in the saddle trying to relieve pressure on my back, or having to pause and stretch out after a couple hours. Fantastic just to be able to keep going!

    However, after a few weeks back home, it was clear the new long stem wasn't working for me. I was taking at least one full, surprising, low or mid speed superman style endo on each ride. Perhaps my weight was just that little bit too far forward over the front wheel. And this was hitting small stuff, too, little roots or rocks that I wouldn’t have given a look at before the fitting. With the joplin down at high speed, I could still do well on the descents, but while pedaling in the saddle, I felt like a time bomb!

    So, I went back to the previous stem (still 90 mm), and widened the bars to 28.5”. Now I feel pretty good, the back feels fine, but I still notice the difference in overall body position from the 110mm stem – I actually feel heavier on the bars somehow. This is what I’m riding now, but I am still yearning to move the setup a bit more towards the descending side. I spent two weeks in Whistler riding XC with this setup, and definitely felt like I wanted more slack or more rearward weight bias for the rough stuff.

    Overall, I highly recommend doing a pro fitting if you have a bit of spare change. It can help get more out of the bike, and the difference can be dramatic. But, caution - this can get expensive. Overall I spend over a grand on this exercise. I had my eye on a new single speed, but instead I got my mojo to a place I can ride it. Sort of ☺

    Questions:

    I want to stay stretched out climbing power and comfort, but am still feeling like I want to bias the bike more towards descending performance. I know I need to compromise at some level, but I’m hoping that there are some sneaky solutions for this out there!

    -Again, I am curious what other people’s experiences have been with fittings for bikes like the mojo that are great for both long stretches climbing and aggressive descending, and how you’ve handled the compromise between the two. Thoughts?

    -I still feel like I want a shorter stem for descending, but I can already feel that 90 is a bit shorter than I should have for climbing comfort having tasted the XC fit. Aside from “go ahead and try it”, any thoughts on this?

    -I saw an ad for a Cane Creek headset that changes head angle by a degree or more – would slackening out the bike a little help with descending while enabling a stretched out posture, or would this be irrelevant? Has anyone tried this with a mojo. I’m not going to get a new fork at this point, as much as I might like (have the stock 08 32 RLC now).

    -What’s up with bar ends these days? Why are they out of vogue, aside from looking kindof funny? Wade suggests that as a solution to let me have the best of both worlds. Barely see anyone running them these days. What are the downsides, aside from style?

  2. #2
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    I had a pro fit done on my Mojo. I'm 6'1" and change and ride an XL. I had a 90 or 100mm on there before the fitting, and then he out the 120mm. I also asked if I was on the right size frame (even though I couldn't go bigger). He said XL was perfect for my measurements. Honestly I wasn't too thrilled about it. I described the type of riding I do, which is basically XC with some occasional technical trails in the mix. I rode it for a year and decided it was time for a change. I posted in this forum and got a ton of mixed reviews (too lazy to search for it, but it's in here). Basically I came to my own conclusion. I think that fitting the bottom half, where all the power is generated, is ultimately more important than your upper half. It helps you generate the proper pedal stroke and the correct seat/pedal position keep your knees from unnecessary injury and pain. There is definitely something to be said about fitting the controls to your upper body, but if it takes away from your ability to descend, then is it really worth it. Also, you have to throw in a little compromise for climbing (and in your case, your back pain). A 70mm stem seams to be consensus among a lot of riders with mojos (from my limited research). I ended up going with a 65mm 10deg stem and keeping my easton bars (they were already wide). I moved the existing spacers around to drop the stem a little. (I don't remember exact amount in mm). I am very happy with this setup. I don't think it's nearly as bad climbing with a short stem as people make it out to be (I'm not a hardcore XC racer though. This is more of a hobby for me), and the rewards going downhill definitely outweigh any penalty I suffer while climbing. I really like how quick and precise the steering feels now. It might seem twitchy at first, but goes away after one or two rides.

    I would say you should definitely play around with it. You can mark your original pro fit with a sharpie (on your bars) and/or take a picture, so that you can always revert back to the pro fit settings. I'd be willing to bet that you will like the lowered, shorter stem setup. Hope that helps out.

    Can't offer anything regarding bar ends or the changing of head angle, since I have no direct experience with this.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by grandegrande
    I think that fitting the bottom half, where all the power is generated, is ultimately more important than your upper half. It helps you generate the proper pedal stroke and the correct seat/pedal position keep your knees from unnecessary injury and pain. There is definitely something to be said about fitting the controls to your upper body, but if it takes away from your ability to descend, then is it really worth it.

    All well said, in particular this bit. I completely agree.

  4. #4
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    Regarding bar ends, yeah, it's a fashion thing. For many people the term "all mountain" has come to mean something closer to "bike go downhill", which I equate to half-mountain, rather than truly all mountain (both down and up). But that's a semantics versus bike fashion thing and I digress.

    I like to ride my bike up as much as down, and I find bar ends indispensible. I use them on every ride, and don't care what the "bike go down" crowd thinks. My Mojo goes up and down, and it does so very well. Sometimes I even use the bar ends on flatter terrain just to mix up the hand positions and pressure points.

    Best bar ends for me that I've found are the Ergon's that have a small, but usable, carbon barend, and a nice comfy palm-shaped grip area. I ride an hour and a half with these every day and am super happy with them.
    "I thought you'd never love me without my Mojo." -Austin Powers

  5. #5
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    What pedals did he recommend? And did he mention cleat position?

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    Cleats: I had eggbeaters walking into the fit, and Wade suggested SPDs. The reason is that my injury reduced the mobility in back and leg, so that my knee could not track straight over the top on the pedal stroke, with the attendant stress on the rest of my body. He wanted to move my pedals *wider* to help get around this. Eggbeaters have *too much* float for me, because there is no way to adjust lateral position. My fore-aft cleat position and angle was good before the fitting. SPDs enable lateral position through cleat position on the shoe, AND because their threads allow the addition of small spacer(s) to move them out that extra couple millimeters. Yes, out, in my case.

    All of this, again, tiny adjustments, made a huge difference. Cleats, saddle, saddle position, bars, and iterate was the way the day went. Fascinating.

  7. #7
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    You need a large frame and 70mm stem. This stretches you out for climbing and moves your weight behind the front axle for descending. 5'7" seems short for a large but if the fitter thinks a 120mm stem is needed for good pedal power you definitely need a longer top tube.

    Cleat position: climbing and pedal power = cleat on the ball of the foot
    descending/jumping stability and less calf strain = cleat just behind the ball of the foot

    Fork/headangle: I don't know your fork travel but a 150mm one that easily shortens to 100mm will improve both climbing and descending. Also, remember that using the #3 ProPedal setting on a climb will keep you over the front while allowing a softer air setting that lets the bike slacken on descents. I run just over 25% sag with the PP off but with it on the bike mostly stays higher than that. I'm considering a 650b front wheel to slacken things out a little more.

    Get an adjustable seatpost.

    Bar ends: Used to love'em but now that I use 26"+ bars they catch trees too easily so they had to go. Your local trails and bar width may allow'em. If so, I have a carbon pair you can have cheap.

    My opinion on pro fittings: They are aimed at making you efficient and ignore handling. Ideally they are for road/XC and on an AM bike should only be used as a guideline for what the most pedal friendly position is. Handling friendly fit is up to the rider so you have to decide what works for you and how much climbing efficiency you want to give up. Some shops may have a fitter who rides DH and can give some advice in the handling department. Most are XCers.

    I race Pro XC on my Mojo and also use it for sweet descents and jumping so I'm all about keeping a bike efficient while making it a fun handler. The adjustable fork, seatpost, and shock make it nearly perfect for both up and down. The only compromises on my bike are the seat fore/aft and stem length. I use a 70mm and could go for a 90mm on some XC courses. I would like my seat a touch farther forward on steep climbs and an inch back when lowered and riding a pedally descent. Frame makers need to start using steeper seat tube angles to fix this last flaw.
    Last edited by Lelandjt; 09-09-2010 at 10:31 AM.
    Keep the Country country.

  8. #8
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    Interesting observations. Thanks:

    Quote Originally Posted by Lelandjt
    You need a large frame and 70mm stem. This stretches you out for climbing and moves your weight behind the front axle for descending. 5'7" seems short for a large but if the fitter thinks a 120mm stem is needed for good pedal power you definitely need a longer top tube.
    I see where you're coming from, but just can't picture going any bigger at my height and given how I feel on the bike now. But I'll try to ride one when next I get the chance. Buying a new frame, however, would be a really hard sell to the wife!

    Any thoughts on the relative effects on manualability and general ease of handling the bike in the air: body position being equal, would a M/longer stem or L/shorter stem make it a funner bike?


    Quote Originally Posted by Lelandjt
    Fork/headangle: I don't know your fork travel but a 150mm one that easily shortens to 100mm will improve both climbing and descending. Also, remember that using the #3 ProPedal setting on a climb will keep you over the front while allowing a softer air setting that lets the bike slacken on descents. I run just over 25% sag with the PP off but with it on the bike mostly stays higher than that. I'm considering a 650b front wheel to slacken things out a little more.

    Get an adjustable seatpost.
    I would love a longer travel adjustable fork and/or a 650b front wheel, but I've dusted my budget for big bike purchases for the moment.

    PP - I'm generally lazy, set it and forget it guy, but this is a good point, as I certainly feel the steeper angles on the up on the rare occasions I bother with the PP. I'm not sure if this will contribute that much to my issues, as it won't change the relative body position.

    Have been running joplins for a couple years, and could not live without it! It does help a lot with trying to achieve the compromise I'm looking for.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lelandjt
    Bar ends: Used to love'em but now that I use 26"+ bars they catch trees too easily so they had to go. Your local trails and bar width may allow'em. If so, I have a carbon pair you can have cheap.
    Good thoughts on the bar ends - I've at 28.5" and counting, and already coming home with too much brush, not to mention having how to bang through some tight trees. Wider bars might explain the decrease in their popularity, but it seems that they went out of style before bars started getting bigger (?). Still, I'd like to give it a try just for grins - how much do you want for your old ones?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lelandjt
    My opinion on pro fittings: They are aimed at making you efficient and ignore handling. Ideally they are for road/XC and on an AM bike should only be used as a guideline for what the most pedal friendly position is. Handling friendly fit is up to the rider so you have to decide what works for you and how much climbing efficiency you want to give up. Some shops may have a fitter who rides DH and can give some advice in the handling department. Most are XCers.
    Yes, this resonates with my experience. Wade explicitly said that he was setting me up for XC, so that I would be able to adjust later for more DH, but could know what I was giving up. Of course, I'd like to have it all...

    Thanks for these thoughts. I'm leaning towards just getting a shorter stem and bar ends, and messing around with different combinations.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikemikemike
    Any thoughts on the relative effects on manualability and general ease of handling the bike in the air: body position being equal, would a M/longer stem or L/shorter stem make it a funner bike?
    A short stem definitely handles better in the air and makes manualing and playful riding more natural. Comparing the frame sizes, the shorter one will whip around tight turns better and feel more nimble in the air. The longer one will feel more stable and confidence inspiring when hitting bigger jumps and drops. I have a medium FR bike and a Large DH bike. I can tweak tricks faster on the medium but I feel super comfortable and crash proof when airing the large.
    Quote Originally Posted by mikemikemike
    I'd like to try bar ends just for grins, how much do you want for your old ones?
    $20 including shipping. They're Titec carbons. PM me if you want'em.
    Quote Originally Posted by mikemikemike
    I'm leaning towards getting a shorter stem.
    Do it as an experiment. You can probably find a 70mm stem to try from a friend or shop and it takes just a minute to swap it on. You'll feel cramped on climbs but ignore that. Focus on how it affects handling and decide if you like that. Then decide if a longer frame is in order.
    Keep the Country country.

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