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  1. #1
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    Clydes Mountain bikers: Any trouble with basic skills (wheelies)?

    Good day!

    Question for other Clydes who mountain bike. Do you have trouble with some of the more basic MTB skills like bunny hops, wheelies & manuals? I ask because I've weighed 200+ since I was a teenager and started riding and I have never been able to wheelie or manual and my bunny hops might mount a curb at best. I have been attempting to practice the manual lately (since it leads into other skills) and can still barely get my front wheel off the ground. Trying to sort out of it's my weight holding back the initial pickup or if I need to look at my bike fit. I was up to 274 at my heaviest, got back on the bike at ~250 and now 206 - aiming for something in the ~170.

    Edit: What I ride could be useful info! I'm 5'10".

    494WiAJ.jpgBike.jpg
    Last edited by Lord_Emperor; 08-15-14 at 09:40 AM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    I've been doing wheelies since I was a kid. I learned on a banana seat bike, which made it super easy. I eventually transferred that skill to a mountian bike, and it impresses my kids. LOL

    Same with bunny hopping. In fact I was trying to teach my oldest son how to do it the other day and managed to pull them off just fine.

    I've never really manualed before ... though I suppose I could have and just never knew what it was called.

    FWIW I'm 265, ride an old Trek MTB with front suspension.

  3. #3
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    nice to see an old school FSR all polished up like that

    You problem lays in the the bike setup. It's simply to small for you and having a 140mm stem on there puts too much weight over the center of the front axle. Working with what you have. Treat it like a BMX bike. Try to lower the seat post a few inches, this will help shift your balance naturally to the rear tire and straighten up your back and use the suspension to help assist you getting the front wheel off the ground. Play in the short grass with flat shoes before attempting with clip ins if you use them.

    You at 206# is not holding you back, but you have to learn this skill set and it will involve some falling, some smile and allot of fun, repeat as often as you can. Better yet, probably one of the better vids I found a while ago on this matter
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSqkKtnMM_U

  4. #4
    Pedal Pusher/Pundit mcrow's Avatar
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    I think some skills are harder to do on full suspension bikes if the suspsension is too soft. If the front and rear sqat when you attempt a hop it makes it a lot harder. I have a hardtail MTB and can hop up to curb height and do a 40-50ft wheelie. I find it harder to do now than when I was younger and had abs, now I'm about 50 pounds heavier at about 224.

  5. #5
    Pedal Pusher/Pundit mcrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    nice to see an old school FSR all polished up like that

    You problem lays in the the bike setup. It's simply to small for you and having a 140mm stem on there puts too much weight over the center of the front axle. Working with what you have. Treat it like a BMX bike. Try to lower the seat post a few inches, this will help shift your balance naturally to the rear tire and straighten up your back and use the suspension to help assist you getting the front wheel off the ground. Play in the short grass with flat shoes before attempting with clip ins if you use them.

    You at 206# is not holding you back, but you have to learn this skill set and it will involve some falling, some smile and allot of fun, repeat as often as you can. Better yet, probably one of the better vids I found a while ago on this matter
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSqkKtnMM_U
    Yeah, good point I do think the bike looks too small given the seat height. MTBs are not meant to fit like that, most of the guys I know that race will have their seat their MTB quite a bit lower than on a road bike because you tend to spend a lot less time on the saddle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    nice to see an old school FSR all polished up like that
    Thanks! I love my bike and try to take care of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    You problem lays in the the bike setup. It's simply to small for you and having a 140mm stem on there puts too much weight over the center of the front axle. Working with what you have. Treat it like a BMX bike. Try to lower the seat post a few inches, this will help shift your balance naturally to the rear tire and straighten up your back and use the suspension to help assist you getting the front wheel off the ground. Play in the short grass with flat shoes before attempting with clip ins if you use them.
    You sound like you know what you're talking about! Any additional insight on the bike fit?

    I've never thought of my bike as too small if you mean overall. I measured it as 18" "T-T" and I'm 5'10" - basic charts put it right in the suitable range. Is this incorrect? FWIW I commute 28Km/day and have ridden up to 49Km continuously without any back or leg discomfort.

    As to the stem I think you must be right, I can't get any weight back while holding on to the handlebars. I noticed this last weekend trying to ride down some stairs as well. I could swap in a shorter or more angled one easily enough but how much change should I start with and does this bring about any other concern?

    Anything else you can recommend in regards to fitting the bike to me better?

    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    You at 206# is not holding you back, but you have to learn this skill set and it will involve some falling, some smile and allot of fun, repeat as often as you can. Better yet, probably one of the better vids I found a while ago on this matter
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSqkKtnMM_U
    Tagged to watch later.

    Quote Originally Posted by mcrow View Post
    Yeah, good point I do think the bike looks too small given the seat height. MTBs are not meant to fit like that, most of the guys I know that race will have their seat their MTB quite a bit lower than on a road bike because you tend to spend a lot less time on the saddle.
    It's setup as best I can for road/commuting right now. I drop the seat when I'm experimenting.

  7. #7
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Emperor View Post
    I measured it as 18" "T-T" and I'm 5'10"
    sadly you have you numbers crossed up when you bought the bike or the frame geometry rules have changes so much since the late 90's. MTB uses seat tube in inches for measurements same was roadies but they are metric. That part hasn't changed much

    for most 26" bikes, You'd be fitted to a medium frame bike at 5'10, 17" seat tube or 432mm. This part doesn't matter as much as the overall top tube length. Same 17" frame will yield a effective top tube of roughly 590mm or 23.2" long. This number is more important to the frame size and how you fit/control on the bike. If you're measuring 18" effective top tube, you're at 457mm. A difference of 132mm or roughly 5 inches. Probably the reason why the 140mm stem doesn't feel out of place to you. And I'd imagine you're still pretty upright riding position?

    Keeping everything neutral if you had a 17" frame, your stem and handle bars would be slightly behind the front wheel's axle making the bike much easier to control and way less twitchy. Typically a MTB XC bike will have a 70-100mm stem on it. Yet very nimble & flickable., short the stem in this case would make it more relaxed geo to ride and front end more lofty. Can you fit a shorter stem on that FSR? Yes, but than you will start having fit issues, such as hitting your knees on the handle bars when the road/dirt points up and when you have to get off the saddle to pedal. Or even with turning.

    As setup, I can see why it's such a struggle to get the front wheel up or feel very uncontrollable. FYI, My full suspension MTB has a 50mm stem and my singlespeed MTB racer has a 90mm.

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    OK you've got me all uncertain now so I've just been measuring my bike in every way I can find.

    Textual form if my sketch is too terrible:

    Seat tube C-T: 480mm ~ 19"
    "Virtual" seat tube centre of BB to line level with where top tube meets headset: 545mm ~ 21.5"
    Top tube weld-to-weld: 520mm ~ 20.5"
    "Virtual" top tube from headset weld to seat post: 530mm ~ 21"
    Stem: 115mm ~ 4.5" (from middle of fork to middle of handlebar) 30
    Seat is level

    Bike.jpg

  9. #9
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    now that sounds better!!!! sorry to freak you out but sounds like now you know your bike specs, win win

  10. #10
    Senior Member mrodgers's Avatar
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    Use to ride wheelies, bunny hop, and endo all the time as a kid. I don't ride a mountain bike now, I'm on a hybrid, but I can't wheelie at all now (nor on my old mountain bike that my daughter occasionally rides.) I can bunny hop, but it feels like I'm going to break the bike with my now 215 lb coming down.

    I have to ask, what the heck is a manual? I've never heard of that.
    Ride no faster than your Guardian Angel can fly!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
    Use to ride wheelies, bunny hop, and endo all the time as a kid. I don't ride a mountain bike now, I'm on a hybrid, but I can't wheelie at all now (nor on my old mountain bike that my daughter occasionally rides.) I can bunny hop, but it feels like I'm going to break the bike with my now 215 lb coming down.

    I have to ask, what the heck is a manual? I've never heard of that.
    It's like a wheelie "performed without applying torque to the rear wheel at all, but instead by moving the rider's body backwards relative to the bike, and then pulling back on the handlebars near the end of available travel." (Thanks wikipedia).

    Quote Originally Posted by jsigone View Post
    now that sounds better!!!! sorry to freak you out but sounds like now you know your bike specs, win win
    Yep now I have this handy sketch. Is the bike correctly sized for me?

    Can you give any advice recommendations how to make the bike better for me in terms of learning basic skills and trail riding?

  12. #12
    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Yes, that bike is gonna be harder than most to wheelie on. It's a '90s bike with '90s XC geometry. Steep seat tube angle puts weight well forward of where easy wheelie CoG is. Long stem does some more of that. Even that saddle contributes. It's a really short and wide saddle which effectively steepens the seattube even more. On a longer, narrower-tailed saddle your sit bones would be at least a couple of centimeters back from where they are with that one. The short rails also make it impossible to slide the seat back to a spot where it's a decent distance behind the bottom bracket. Looks like the tip is about inline with the bottom bracket spindle. This is pretty far forward, extreme even for Time Trial/Triathloners, who love saddle-forward positions, but usually have the nose of the saddle 2 or 3 cm behind BB.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 08-15-14 at 10:28 AM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Emperor View Post
    Can you give any advice recommendations how to make the bike better for me in terms of learning basic skills and trail riding?
    Seatpost with more setback.
    Saddle that you can sit farther back on and/or can slide further back in the clamp.
    Fork with more travel (don't go for too much travel as that could stress the headtube unduly.)

    I don't know if I'd go to too much trouble. Riding wheelies usually isn't crucial. Changing your bike to make wheelies easier would make it less capable XC rig. It wouldn't be as fast of a bike if you make it wheelieable.
    Last edited by LesterOfPuppets; 08-15-14 at 10:49 AM.
    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

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    Quirky Grifter LesterOfPuppets's Avatar
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    I've only owned one MTB I could manual. One that I got at Salvation Army and flipped on CL. Rode it for a month or so just for fun. I'd slam the saddle and with that short reach it was really easy to get my ass over the rear axle (crucial for manuals)

    1980ish Free Spirit Sunbird fixed * 1996 Mongoose IBOC Zero-G * 1997 KHS Comp * 1990-ish Scapin * Lemond Buenos Aires Triple

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    Yes, that bike is gonna be harder than most to wheelie on. It's a '90s bike with '90s XC geometry. Steep seat tube angle puts weight well forward of where easy wheelie CoG is. Long stem does some more of that. Even that saddle contributes. It's a really short and wide saddle which effectively steepens the seattube even more. On a longer, narrower-tailed saddle your sit bones would be at least a couple of centimeters back from where they are with that one. The short rails also make it impossible to slide the seat back to a spot where it's a decent distance behind the bottom bracket. Looks like the tip is about inline with the bottom bracket spindle. This is pretty far forward, extreme even for Time Trial/Triathloners, who love saddle-forward positions, but usually have the nose of the saddle 2 or 3 cm behind BB.
    So I could possibly look at some combination of shorter stem, seat post with some offset and a different seat. How much adjustment should I start with? I understand that a few cm can make all the difference with something like this. I actually think my seat can go back about 2cm on its rails if that's going to make a good place to start.

    Quote Originally Posted by LesterOfPuppets View Post
    Seatpost with more setback.
    Saddle that you can sit farther back on and/or can slide further back in the clamp.
    Fork with more travel (don't go for too much travel as that could stress the headtube unduly.)

    I don't know if I'd go to too much trouble. Riding wheelies usually isn't crucial. Changing your bike to make wheelies easier would make it less capable XC rig. It wouldn't be as fast of a bike if you make it wheelieable.
    Thanks! You answered while I was typing the above. I don't really want to wheelie just to "show off" but just to gain the capability for taking drops and getting up obstacles. Well OK I would probably show off a bit too.

    A fork is probably out of my budget but the other things are doable.
    Last edited by Lord_Emperor; 08-15-14 at 11:41 AM.

  16. #16
    Pedal Pusher/Pundit mcrow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrodgers View Post
    Use to ride wheelies, bunny hop, and endo all the time as a kid. I don't ride a mountain bike now, I'm on a hybrid, but I can't wheelie at all now (nor on my old mountain bike that my daughter occasionally rides.) I can bunny hop, but it feels like I'm going to break the bike with my now 215 lb coming down.

    I have to ask, what the heck is a manual? I've never heard of that.
    A wheelie and manual are similar but with a wheelie you pedal and a manual you don't.

    So you might manual when going down a hill or coming off a trick depending on what sort of bike you're on.

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