I lack skills, what should I upgrade?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    I lack skills, what should I upgrade?

    I love my rigid Carve 29er SL. I can climb just about anything on it and faster than most. However, point me downhill and I suck. It's not really the bike's fault, I know that. I have a buddy with the same bike who rips it downhill, bunny hopping crap and just throwing the thing around. I want to do that, or at least keep up better.

    Do I…
    1) Get a dropper post? I have LONG legs so my saddle is always high no matter what bike I have. Great for powering up climbs but tough to move around with the saddle up so high.

    2) Get a Sus fork? Maybe it will help with a little control over the roots and rocks allowing me to speed up.

    3) Suck it up and keep working on my skills. I like the rigid, I like the efficiency. I just need skills.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
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    I road a lot of fully rigid in 80s and you need a LOT of skill and a big pair to do any real downhill at serious speed. A suspension fork would help, but just to a point. What about a second bike, full suspension. It is great fun. Yes, you will still need skill development, but you will likely have more fun as you learn.

  3. #3
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    dude get a dropper post, learn how to bunny hop, manual, track stand and use clipless pedals they will allow you to cheat.

  4. #4
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    Also how well do you know the trails, If you know what line to pick, it will increase your speed quite a bit.

  5. #5
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    done

    1done ............. ..................
    Last edited by gonzo; 04-02-2015 at 07:26 AM.

  6. #6
    Phobia of petting zoos.
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    I ride rigid, both in 29er and 26" single speed and a couple of vintage MTBs with gears, a whopping 3x7 of them! I also have a BMX background. That's not to say I'm Captain Flow when it comes to riding rigid, but I don't shun the rigid experience.

    Some thoughts:

    Suspension in the front helps a lot with "bump steer" on corners. But it adds weight. Yuck. Bigger tyres at the right pressure equals better grip. And bigger tyres add a little bit of suspension.

    You have plenty of suspension in your arms and legs.

    Dropper posts are a newfangled thing that I appreciate can help. In the good old days we had QR seatclamps and we stopped to lower them. Or we scoffed at the QR seatclamps and we just got our weight back. I appreciate their advantages but I haven't rushed out to buy one.

    You said it yourself, you just need the skills. That's not an attack on your abilities, unless you're Steve Peat or Sam Hill (etc) then we all have room to improve.

    Ride rigid more and you'll develop those line choices and the ability instinctively lift the front and pop the rear over obstacles. Sounds like you've got the fitness, so work on the handling.

    A bit esoteric, but think "float". Stay loose on the bike and go for the sensation of "flying" over the rough stuff as opposed to riding it. Unweight the bike, look for little jumps and landings to get you over the messy bits.

    Riding rigid is as much in the eyes and focus as it is the legs.

    Good luck and stick with it.

    Grumps

  7. #7
    Wanna ride bikes?
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    you could drop your seat 1-1.5 inches when you get to the trail. it helps in corners mostly.

    a suspension fork will make the most immediate improvement in downhill speed.

    I don't know what your running but wide rims and wide tires are more important on a rigid setup.
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

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

  8. #8
    local trails rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Grumpy View Post
    You have plenty of suspension in your arms and legs.
    Up to a point, just staying loose and letting the bike move under you will help a lot. At least I try to keep weight away from my hands. When the sudden bumps get a little bigger, actively guiding the bike over them becomes necessary: unweighing or even lifting the front, unweighing the rear, finding the precise spot where the rock or root is shaped like a ramp and letting it launch you over the next one. And so on...

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  9. #9
    Trail Ninja
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    A dropper post is like travel adjust for your leg's suspension. Unlock another 4" or so of suspension with one. Definitely beats stopping to raise and drop seatposts, especially on rolling terrain. Used to bend saddle rails and bust my nuts on the back of my saddle, and cracked my GoPro's case (chest mounted) bashing it into my saddle, since I tried compromising with my saddle 1.5-2" lower than optimal, and being too lazy to drop/raise it, before I saw the light of dropper posts. Too awkward to bunny hop with the saddle up high.

  10. #10
    WillWorkForTrail
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    Obviously the answer is develop your skills more. That said, the first thing that went though my head as I was looking at your situation was...get a dropper. Getting the seat out of your way will make you more comfortable and confident with the positioning you need on the bike to go faster down hill.

  11. #11
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    First, you're saddle is no higher relative to your height than for a short person. If you struggle to get behind the saddle though, consider lowering it 10-15mm and see if that helps. You'll lose a little climbing power, but gain so much more in your bike handling that you'll realize a net gain.

  12. #12
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    Good job!

    Quote Originally Posted by khardrunner14 View Post
    I lack skills, what should I upgrade?
    Your skills.
    Ride more!

  13. #13
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    Some good ideas have been mentioned. I'll put out the wide rim wheelset info.
    Chinese 36/30.8 or 38/31.6mm rims with Sapim Laser spokes and brass nipples on DT 350 hubs would be about $620-$700 with an easy build.
    24% more volume for high volume compliance front and rear. Suspension from your tires.
    Increased sidewall support gives you better washout control.
    You get a bigger contact patch and better grab with 3-4 pounds lower air pressure.
    More climbing and cornering traction.
    Other choices are available for more money.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for your input guys. I am a believer in doing things right, and I expected to hear what you all said. I am, without a doubt, planning to work on my skills most of all. I am still considering the other options to help, especially a dropper post. More on that later…

    I'll try to address questions and continue to get a better picture of what will work best for me.

    About my skill level…

    I can track stand a bit, maybe 10-20 seconds or so, I'm working on that.

    I can do slow bunny hops both clipped in and on flats, but not very high

    I can turn slightly while hopping, mostly swinging the bike rear to the left

    I can manual on flat pedals but I'm a bit chicken clipped

    Riding logs up to about 10-12" is no problem


    Anyway…

    I'm 6' tall with a 35 5/8" inseam, 145-150 lbs

    Wheels are Easton XC One SS's and I do not know the rim width. Tires are Spesh GC's 2.3 front, 2.1 rear.

    Solox, I disagree that the proportions are the same with me as with a shorter person simply because seat height is more directly proportional to leg length than it is to height. Since my legs are long, the seat is higher than a guy who is 6' tall and only a 32-33 inch inseam. He might have a longer TT or stem length that he needs.

    Anyway, like I said, I want the skill. Do you think a dropper is a crutch or will it help develop the skill?

    Also, what dropper do I get if I favor simplicity, durability, and weight? I can't drop $400+ on one either, especially if I donno if I will even like it. If I can't spend that much, is it even worth it?

  15. #15
    Wanna ride bikes?
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    i started taking notes on cheap droppers recently as i am also interested. I have no experience with any of them. but the three that stand out so far are

    1. RSP plummet (sorata pro) $115 ebay
    2. Kind Shock eTen Dropper $140
    3. Gravity dropper turbo lp- $275
    Rigid SS 29er
    SS 29+
    Fat Lefty
    SS cyclocross
    Full Sus 29er (Yuck)

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

  16. #16
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    Well, you said height, not inseam. Regardless, your inseam puts your saddle at some arbitrary height. When you stand, your butt is raised some amount higher than the saddle. That difference between sitting and standing is the same, short or tall. Don't pigeonhole yourself by playing the victim.

    A dropper won't help you develop the skill of getting behind the saddle, but should make learning other tech skills easier. Ride more. Do a skills clinic. Everyone is different. I had a huge jump in bike handling after a winter of riding rollers. It helped me get better at letting the bike move around and soak up trail chatter.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the advice, and no, never a victim here. Just trying to understand. My saddle issue revolves around it hitting me in the stomach/chest when I get back. Perhaps it is technique. I'm willing to consider that for sure. Thanks for helping.

  18. #18
    MMS
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    Ride more. Ride the tough sections more than once. Go out to where ever you ride, ride to the spot that gives you problems, "session" the spot. Meaning ride it over and over again, til you get it, or til you get an understanding of how to get it. Heck spend an afternoon at one spot riding it over and over again...the knowledge will transfer to other spots.

    New "must have" parts (dropper posts etc.) won't fix anything, they're at best a band-aid if you don't know what you're doing. You need to learn how your body and your bike "flow". Ride around the neighborhood hitting goofy obstacles around you, go down steps/stairs. Watch the more skilled riders hit things...check out their positioning etc., watch their lines.

    It's about time in the saddle. You will fall down. You might get hurt. BUT...hopefully you'll have FUN...which is what you're in it for anyway right?
    I'm having more FUN than anybody!

  19. #19
    Armature speller
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    Have a look for a TMARS dropper post. Gravity Dropper copy and really cheap.
    Best way to find if they're going to do the business for you.

  20. #20
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    The advantage of using a dropper post is that it lets you get your weight (and therefore, C of G) down, rather than just back. If you have your weight so far back that the saddle is hitting you in the chest then, for most situations, that's too far back IMO.

    I read something a while ago that made a lot of sense to me and changed how I tackled all sorts of situations - it was to the effect that if the bike was suddenly to disappear from beneath you, would you fall on your feet or forwards on your face/backwards on your ass?

    And with rigid forks you never want to do this "riding the fork" thing that some hardtail riders do - as much weight as possible should be through your feet.
    Except for endo turns and stuff like that, of course.

    Re. dropper posts - I like Gravity Droppers and on my singlespeed I have one of the old "Classic" versions with just two positions - up and down. On a geared bike I sometimes find that about 1" down is useful on technical climbing and singletrack but on a SS I find that I'm out of the saddle so much I run with it dropped fully a lot of the time, except for rare (for me) flat trails or on long gradual in-the-saddle climbing.

  21. #21
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    Hmmm… perhaps the leg length/seat height is forcing a higher center of gravity.

    Anyway, I get some ideas such as "float", "unweight", "weight on pedals", and "as low as possible". Good stuff! Not sure how to know when I am doing those things, but I will work on it. I think it should come with more time.

  22. #22
    local trails rider
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    I have never used a dropper ... but I am sure that a lowered seat can make it easier to learn some more technical skills. Whether you want or need to keep using a lowered seat is another question.

    For "weight on pedals", one of my reasons is that taking all the bumps with my hands and wrists would kill my hands, wrists, arms and shoulders in no time. So, think about balancing so that your hands have an easy time. They are there just for control.

    Much of the other things require "reading the trail": where exactly is the smart line (for fun, speed, or conserving strength; which could be 3 different things). That usually takes a bit of riding to figure out.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  23. #23
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    For line selection, don't pick the smoothest line, pick the fastest line. Sometimes they are the same, but more frequently they are not. Up and over that big rock might be faster than going around it. On your low key rides, pick the line that takes you over the biggest rocks and roots.

  24. #24
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    What solo-x said.
    Also keep the mantra heavy feet, light hands in your head. Stay loose, get your weight back, and try to skim over the rough stuff.
    Also, tire pressure plays a big part.

  25. #25
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    A question comes to mind when thinking about your issues with getting behind the seat; how long is your stem? It occurs to me that at 6' with almost 36" of inseam, a standard men's or unisex bike in your size might be a bit long in the top tube. Similar to the problem many females have on them (being typically long legged/shorter torsoed than males). If you are running a 90+mm stem, you might be reaching too far which will hang you up on the seat when you try to get back.

    I used to have a similar problem, though I am shorter legged for my height, on my old '01 Specialized. I had trouble getting behind even a narrow seat. Until I switched from a 90 ish mm stem to a 50 or 60 mm stem. I also went from flat to 2-3 inch riser bars (It was a long time ago), and it was a whole new experience, and getting behind the seat, even at optimal height was a breeze.

    My opinion on drop posts, especially on a SS and rigid is similar to many. Not needed, and maybe even best to learn without it, but it does open up room to use the skills ou have, though it won't make up for skills you have not yet developed.

    Nothing makes up for just riding., Any chance you get, even on the road, around neighborhoods. I grew up on BMX bikes, and hit up every school, park (not skate, didn't have those where/when I grew up) stair set to ride down. I fell a lot, but I got better and better and learned it all. When I was 12, I could bunny hop my BMX up onto a picnic table. Never could on a MTB, but the skill translated still.
    Living in the moment is always better on two wheels.

  26. #26
    SSOD
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    A dropper post is sweet for steep downhill rocky stuff or if your hucking a lot. Just for going downhill, even if its rocky/ rooty will marginally be beneficial with a dropper. If you want to go faster downhill a fork will be better. If you want to go down large boulders with drops, a dropper post is better.

  27. #27
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    Haven't thought much about stem length. Most of the time I ride either a 90mm or 100mm (don't remember off hand). Worked AWESOME for CX races on it. I just put on an 80mm (shortest I have) thinking it might get some weight off the front wheel. Maybe I should try something shorter.

    I am riding a large frame on this bike.

  28. #28
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    You can pick up off brand short stems for next to nothing on Ebay to try it out, if you don't like it, you can go back to your other one.
    Living in the moment is always better on two wheels.

  29. #29
    nothing to see here
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    In this order...

    Dropper post (ffs, just try manually lowering the one you've got first)
    Shorter stem
    Wider bar
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

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