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  1. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by hybridbkrdr View Post
    That was an interesting well-thought out way of putting it. If there was a Michelin Tracker or Continental TourRide in 2.2 inches for 700c, then I'd go with a 29er for everywhere touring. It's kind of weird though that I may go with a 26 inch bike for touring if I can't get those tires in that size.
    How about a Schwalbe Big Apple? They are supposed to have a version with lighter sidewalls which rolls easy. There are 50 and 60mm versions.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    If you are going to be riding primarily gravel roads, I'd go with a straight up 26" hardtail mountain bike. It has several advantages over hybrids and/or cyclocross bikes for gravel and loose surface roads. First the tires are wider so it will roll easier over irregularities on a gravel road. A thin tired hybrid or a thin tired cross bike requires more skill to ride on a loose surface than a mountain bike. Where a thin tire will dig into soft patches, a wide mountain bike tire (2") will float over the soft stuff easier.

    Second, a front suspension...especially one with a lock out on the front fork...does more than just provide you with comfort. The suspension allows the wheel to ride up and over irregularities. This makes control easier because the tire doesn't get trapped in ruts.

    Finally, a mountain bike will do most everything that a road bike will do, only slower. A road bike can't do everything a mountain bike does...even a hybrid or cyclocross. Just because you don't have mountain bike terrain like my state does, doesn't mean you can't find places to explore on a mountain bike.

    Look at a Specialized Rockhopper ($880) or something similar. A fork that can be locked out is always a plus.
    Hey there Cyccommute!

    The OP says that he's mostly riding on "flat" roads, made of "packed gravel", with some loose spots. For crying out loud, you would only advise a hardtail for that! Compacted gravel, is the equivalent of concrete. Road bikes daily ride on concrete surfaces. There was no mention of roots, rocks, boulders, or crevices. The OP is for all intents and purposes, riding for the most part, on concrete, with an occasional, spot of loose gravel.

    How many times have I successfully traversed loose gravel on my road bike with its 28 mm tires?...I'll tell ya!..A bunch!

    Besides, many hybrids come with wide tires or they are capable of having them installed. The Jamis Coda, for example comes standard with 32 mm tires and can take up to 38 mm's. Some hybrids are capable of having even wider tires installed. There is no terrain within the OP's domain that requires a full blown MTB.

    However, if he'd prefer a MTB, it wouldn't appear weird or strange-looking, due to the graveled terrain. However, from a practical perspective, a MTB is just a tad much. Also, the OP has to keep in mind that the the front suspension is going to add weight and it has more moving parts. More moving parts in time, spells more maintenance, expense, and lost time. Just keep it simple! That's what I'd say, unless you are enamored by the adventurous look and mystique of MTN bikes.

    Hey, I've suggested a few MTN bikes already, but just to limit options to MTN bikes on that terrain is like I said, "Just a tad much". The OP shouldn't feel restricted to MTN bikes and rule hybrids out completely. Hybrids afterall, would mean less maintenance and less mass, as well.

    - Slim

    PS.

    Though I must admit, I do like the adventurous look and mystique about a mountain bike!

    *****

    I guess, I'm always expecting to see mountains somewhere, whenever I see 'em is all.....
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-29-11 at 01:31 PM.

  3. #28
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kc0yef View Post
    At 140lbs I would go with a cruiser 3 speed and coaster brake then if your feeling better get a cyclecross still under $1000 total and you will have two bikes
    Tip: The front chain ring on most Cruisers is a 44 tooth ring. The small expense of switching the front chain ring to a 38 tooth ring will make the 3 speed a sweet ideal gear set for city or country riding.
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

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  4. #29
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hybridbkrdr View Post
    That was an interesting well-thought out way of putting it. If there was a Michelin Tracker or Continental TourRide in 2.2 inches for 700c, then I'd go with a 29er for everywhere touring. It's kind of weird though that I may go with a 26 inch bike for touring if I can't get those tires in that size.
    I'd go with a 26" wheel for everywhere touring because the wheels are stronger.
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  5. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Tip: The front chain ring on most Cruisers is a 44 tooth ring. The small expense of switching the front chain ring to a 38 tooth ring will make the 3 speed a sweet ideal gear set for city or country riding.
    Totally agree that it's a good idea to gear down a 3 speed. I've had a few 3-speeds and they could all benefit from lower gears. The powertrain just doesn't need the ability to cruise at 20mph on a 3-speed...you'll never get most 3-speeds to go that fast except downhill or with a stiff tailwind due to their fenders, upright position, and the fact that they're normally ridden in street clothes.

    However it's much easier to put on a new rear sprocket. They come in up to 23 tooth versions. You pry off a c-clip, remove the old sprocket, slide on the new one, and replace the clip. Oh, and lengthen the chain.

    Cruisers have an important comfort advantage in that you can ride the large saddles without padded shorts. However, I do find road bikes or MTBs can be easier on the back in a way because you carry some weight on your arms.

    There's also the single, three and five speed cyclocross or track-style bikes on bikesdirect...they have one which has a 5 speed internal gear hub and the ability to take 42mm tires.
    Last edited by garage sale GT; 10-30-11 at 08:22 AM.

  6. #31
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    The OP says that he's mostly riding on "flat" roads, made of "packed gravel", with some loose spots. For crying out loud, you would only advise a hardtail for that! Compacted gravel, is the equivalent of concrete. Road bikes daily ride on concrete surfaces. There was no mention of roots, rocks, boulders, or crevices. The OP is for all intents and purposes, riding for the most part, on concrete, with an occasional, spot of loose gravel.
    "Gravel" can cover a very wide variety of surfaces. It could be packed gravel, it could be loose gravel, it could be dirt, it could be sand, etc. It could be graded regularly to smooth it out or it could be left to develop all kinds of washboards or potholes. Even a smooth gravel road can develop washboards, ruts and surface irregularities over a very short period after a road grader runs down them to smooth them out.

    Yes, there's no mention of roots, rocks, or crevices. But WestTx28 also doesn't mention that the roads are hard packed or loose or like concrete or, for that matter, any other kind of surface. If you don't know what surface you are going to ride on, pick the bike that is made to ride on all surfaces. Road bikes do hard surfaces well. Hybrids and cross bike do many surfaces okay. Mountain bikes...especially hard tail mountain bikes with a fork that can be made rigid...do anything you throw at them equally well.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    How many times have I successfully traversed loose gravel on my road bike with its 28 mm tires?...I'll tell ya!..A bunch!
    Yep. I've ridden dirt roads on loaded touring bikes, road bikes with 19mm tires, and mountain bikes. It's not impossible but if I had to do it every day or if I were new to bicycling, a mountain bike with a front suspension would still be easier to deal with then a thin tired bicycle...and 32mm is a thin tire for dirt surfaces.

    Riding a rigid bicycle with any width of tire on it requires more skill. My past includes many, many, many miles on rigid mountain bikes. I wouldn't go back. Suspension forks, like I said, do more for control than for comfort.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Besides, many hybrids come with wide tires or they are capable of having them installed. The Jamis Coda, for example comes standard with 32 mm tires and can take up to 38 mm's. Some hybrids are capable of having even wider tires installed. There is no terrain within the OP's domain that requires a full blown MTB.

    Those tires are still rather thin for a deep sand road which is a possibility for any gravel road in farm land.

    You are only thinking about mountain bikes in mountains. Terrain isn't just steep hill climbs. Terrain is all surfaces. A mountain bike is built to handle all kinds of terrain and all kinds of surfaces. The Rock Hopper I suggested has an 80mm fork on it that will handle ruts that can from in dirt roads quite well without a huge amount of travel that might be useful in more severe terrain.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    However, if he'd prefer a MTB, it wouldn't appear weird or strange-looking, due to the graveled terrain. However, from a practical perspective, a MTB is just a tad much. Also, the OP has to keep in mind that the the front suspension is going to add weight and it has more moving parts. More moving parts in time, spells more maintenance, expense, and lost time. Just keep it simple! That's what I'd say, unless you are enamored by the adventurous look and mystique of MTN bikes.
    It's not too much at all. Yes, front suspension adds some complexity but not all that much and it's a trade off for control and comfort.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Hey, I've suggested a few MTN bikes already, but just to limit options to MTN bikes on that terrain is like I said, "Just a tad much". The OP shouldn't feel restricted to MTN bikes and rule hybrids out completely. Hybrids afterall, would mean less maintenance and less mass, as well.

    - Slim

    PS.

    Though I must admit, I do like the adventurous look and mystique about a mountain bike!

    *****

    I guess, I'm always expecting to see mountains somewhere whenever I see 'em is all.....
    I limited my suggestions to a mountain bike because of what they can do. It's not about how they look. Looks have nothing to do with it. They are a much better tool for the kind of job that WestTx28 wants to do than any of the other choices. The others will work but they aren't as well suited for the job.
    Stuart Black
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  7. #32
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    A suspension fork can use up a little pedal power. As it cushions the force of small bumps it dampens away part of the force, and the bike doesn't roll down the far end of the bump as hard as it rolls up the face of the bump. If at all possible, the most efficient solution is to let the tire do the cushioning, although if it's really rough, it's better to have a fork than to bounce down the trail because bouncing the bike up and down requires work, which comes out of your pedaling.

    Some say a suspension fork can save you from being knocked off the bike due to obstacles but it can work against you too. If your wheel falls into a deep enough hole or rut, the front of the bike will become much lower, and the amount the suspension compresses can determine whether you get thrown off in front of your bike or not.

  8. #33
    Senior Member Monster Pete's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage sale GT View Post
    Totally agree that it's a good idea to gear down a 3 speed. I've had a few 3-speeds and they could all benefit from lower gears. The powertrain just doesn't need the ability to cruise at 20mph on a 3-speed...you'll never get it to go that fast except downhill or with a stiff tailwind.

    However it's much easier to put on a new rear sprocket. They come in up to 23 tooth versions. You pry off a c-clip, remove the old sprocket, slide on the new one, and replace the clip. Oh, and lengthen the chain.

    Cruisers have an important comfort advantage in that you can ride the large saddles without padded shorts. However, I do find road bikes or MTBs can be easier on the back in a way because you carry some weight on your arms.

    There's also the single, three and five speed cyclocross or track-style bikes on bikesdirect...they have one which has a 5 speed internal gear hub and the ability to take 42mm tires.
    3-speeds definately tend to be geared too high. You'd think 2nd gear should be a flat ground gear, but then 1st isn't low enough for ideal hill climbing, and 3rd is too high to be much use. I set mine up with 3rd gear as the level ground gear, with 1st and 2nd used for climbing and acceleration in traffic. If you spin out on a downhill section, you can coast. For a 5-speed it might be wise to set 4th gear for level ground use, 5th being used on downhills and in tailwinds.

    I definately prefer a more upright posture if I'm not in any particular hurry, but for this a supportive, sprung saddle is something I wouldn't go without. With anything other than perfectly flat handlebars, you more than one hand position which can allow you to get lower out of the wind. I have a bike which I retrofitted with drop bars, set slightly above the level of the saddle. This gives me two 'aero' positions and two that are more upright. Drop bars don't have to be cranked all the way down below the saddle.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

  9. #34
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    Cyccommute says:

    "Gravel" can cover a very wide variety of surfaces. It could be packed gravel,
    it could be loose gravel, it could be dirt, it could be sand, etc. It could be
    graded regularly to smooth it out or it could be left to develop all kinds of
    washboards or potholes. Even a smooth gravel road can develop
    washboards, ruts and surface irregularities over a very short period after a
    road grader runs down them to smooth them out.
    Whoooaa____!

    Wait a minute, Cyccommute! The OP has already mentioned in post #3, that the gravel is mostly "packed" and that the terrain is for the most part, "flat". We don't have to become involved with all the variations of gravel types and presentations, because that says it right there, "packed gravel" and "flat". A flat packed graveled road, is the equivalent of a concrete road. Flat means flat, without the washboard-effect. Also, the word "flat" excludes potholes. Of course, an occasional pothole here and there, is common. Too many potholes would exclude the OP's reference to a basically "flat" terrain.


    Yes, there's no mention of roots, rocks, or crevices. But WestTx28 also
    doesn't mention that the roads are hard packed or loose or like concrete or, for
    that matter, any other kind of surface. If you don't know what surface you
    are going to ride on, pick the bike that is made to ride on all
    surfaces. Road bikes do hard surfaces well. Hybrids and cross bike
    do many surfaces okay. Mountain bikes...especially hard tail mountain
    bikes with a fork that can be made rigid...do anything you throw at them equally
    well.
    No, Cyccomute. The OP clearly states in Post#3, that the gravel is packed. The gravel is packed and the terrain is flat. Packed compacted gravel in essence, is concrete. Concrete is for all bikes! It's just that MTN bikes run a little slower on concrete and give the rider the sensation of sluggishness. That's a feeling you don't quite mind, when you're grinding up a hill, or rolling over roots going downhill. However, it can become monotonous real fast, when your velocity is negated by your vehicle's own inherent incapacity to roll at your desired rate. On a flat unencumbered road, a MTB can give the impression of being inefficient and self-retardant. At that point, a MTB may be able to do many things, but one thing it can't do, is move quickly.

    Yep. I've ridden dirt roads on loaded touring bikes, road bikes with 19mm
    tires, and mountain bikes. It's not impossible but if I had to do it every day
    or if I were new to bicycling, a mountain bike with a front suspension would
    still be easier to deal with then a thin tired bicycle...and 32mm is a thin tire
    for dirt surfaces.
    Hybrids on a concrete surface with 32 mm wide tires are more than adquate for the occasional loose gravel encountered. If both your 19 mm tires and my 28's, could survive loose grave, then 32's wouldn't have a challenge at all ...BTW - 32mm is NOT thin!


    It's not too much at all. Yes, front suspension adds some complexity but not
    all that much and it's a trade off for control and comfort.
    Front suspension is implemented for the sole purpose of comfort. It's the extra added weight that aids in the control of the MTB. Increased mass comes with certain inertial benefits that might not accompany other aspects of cycling. Simply put. The greater the mass, the easier to keep the bicycle moving in a straight path. Any bike can be made heavier. Touring bikes are an excellent example of this phenomenon. Touring bikes are just fine moving in a straight path, but when you attempt to change directions, that's when they may offer some resistance. Hey, but I digress...Therefore, greater control?..Yes, in a straight line! However, greater control changing direction, or turning?...No way! However, comfort-wise, they're just great!


    I limited my suggestions to a mountain bike because of what they can do. It's
    not about how they look. Looks have nothing to do with it. They are a much
    better tool for the kind of job that WestTx28 wants to do than any of the other
    choices. The others will work but they aren't as well suited for the job.
    Well, if WestTx28 wants to move along on concrete and not feel the real excitement of experiencing the element of optimum speed for cycling on that graveled terrain, he just may feel inclined to select a hardtail over a hybrid.
    However, it's really not about speed here. The OP primarily just wants some exercise. Riding a MTB on concrete certainly will give him a lot of exercise for sure!

    Most respectfully my friend,

    - Slim

    PS.

    Of course, depending upon the mountain bike specs and the hybrid specs, it could very well be a dead heat.
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-30-11 at 12:32 AM.

  10. #35
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    Hey guys, I didn't mean to start anything here. See why I'm so overwhelmed! So many ways of going about this sport. Running is easy, throw on some shoes and go. And shoes are cheap enough, relatively speaking, to try them all.

    Anyway, I made a trip to a bike shop today and spent some time with a great guy who was very helpful. We spent a lot of time talking about how I plan to ride and the surfaces I plan to ride on. He is a proponent of a cyclocros type bike as well. I had the opportunity to get on several of various manufacturers. I looked at Specialized Crux & Tricross, TREK Ion (I think), and Salsa Chili Con Crosso & Vaya. No test rides yet, my stress fracture isn't healed up enough for that. A couple of more weeks. I think the Specialized Crux and Salsa Vaya aren't cyclocros bikes but more cross utility which looked pretty good to me. Getting on the bikes and hanging out in the shop for a while got me pretty fired up. I probably bumped my price point up to the level of those bikes. He suggested I come back in a ride a few to get the feel of them. They also have a fit specialist who will spend time with me once I make a decision. As I've read from many of the threads on this site, I am totally sold on the knowledge and services of the local bike shops.

    After the bike shop trip I drove my prospected biking roads and found it is mostly pretty well compacted gravel or crushed stone over tar. I'm not sure what you call that surface but it makes a pretty smooth road but the aggregate is still pretty large unlike cement or asphalt. I found that I can create routes that avoid much of the loose spots.

    The OP primarily just wants some exercise

    This is true but not exercise to lose weight or get in shape. I know running fitness and biking fitness are entirely different as are running and rowing. Similar to rowing, I see cycling the way I want to approach it as a power-endurance activity. I am a marathoner and am used to pushing my body pretty hard. I want to get to the point where I can go out for a good hard two hour ride similar to an hour tempo run or something like that. I just wanted to clarify my objective.

    Here is a random question - Can you outrun a dog on a bike? I don't run a lot of those back country roads because of a few scares with dogs in the past. Just curious.

  11. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestTx28 View Post
    Hey guys, I didn't mean to start anything here. See why I'm so overwhelmed! So many ways of going about this sport. Running is easy, throw on some shoes and go. And shoes are cheap enough, relatively speaking, to try them all.

    Anyway, I made a trip to a bike shop today and spent some time with a great guy who was very helpful. We spent a lot of time talking about how I plan to ride and the surfaces I plan to ride on. He is a proponent of a cyclocros type bike as well. I had the opportunity to get on several of various manufacturers. I looked at Specialized Crux & Tricross, TREK Ion (I think), and Salsa Chili Con Crosso & Vaya. No test rides yet, my stress fracture isn't healed up enough for that. A couple of more weeks. I think the Specialized Crux and Salsa Vaya aren't cyclocros bikes but more cross utility which looked pretty good to me. Getting on the bikes and hanging out in the shop for a while got me pretty fired up. I probably bumped my price point up to the level of those bikes. He suggested I come back in a ride a few to get the feel of them. They also have a fit specialist who will spend time with me once I make a decision. As I've read from many of the threads on this site, I am totally sold on the knowledge and services of the local bike shops.

    After the bike shop trip I drove my prospected biking roads and found it is mostly pretty well compacted gravel or crushed stone over tar. I'm not sure what you call that surface but it makes a pretty smooth road but the aggregate is still pretty large unlike cement or asphalt. I found that I can create routes that avoid much of the loose spots.


    This is true but not exercise to lose weight or get in shape. I know running fitness and biking fitness are entirely different as are running and rowing. Similar to rowing, I see cycling the way I want to approach it as a power-endurance activity. I am a marathoner and am used to pushing my body pretty hard. I want to get to the point where I can go out for a good hard two hour ride similar to an hour tempo run or something like that. I just wanted to clarify my objective.

    Here is a random question - Can you outrun a dog on a bike? I don't run a lot of those back country roads because of a few scares with dogs in the past. Just curious.
    Hey there WestTx28!

    Thanks for the clarification, apparently it was needed...

    Anyway, the dog question is a good one. I've been chased by dogs when I was just cruising along, and they were at full speed. Those dogs can easily catch you, if they get too close before you realized it! Usually, if I'm pedaling at my regular pace (at about 15 mi/hr), and I spot a dog chasing me, I can out pace the dog, handily. In most cases, if a cyclist is already pedaling at a good pace, and a dog starts to chase him, the cyclist, most likely can out pace him. However, some dogs run like cheetahs, and if they really want to catch you, they will!

    Most dogs are just bluffing and enjoying the chase. If you stop, they usually stop, too! It's really difficult to judge, because each dog is different and each case is different.

    However, a bottle of pepper spray or slightly diluted ammonia should resolve the dog issue, immediately!

    Now on to the bikes! Sounds like you really enjoyed your day..Getting those cycle juices flowing and that's a good thing! Before you know it, you'll become obcessed like a this one guy I know, who's got it really bad!

    Glad you're getting fitted, that's the first and foremost thing! Then you'll know your size for certain. Once that's done, you've just got to go all around and ride all of the bikes you can, until one of 'em cries out for ownership. Once you've found you're actual bike, the final fitting will then be executed.

    I will personally endorse the Salsa bikes. Those would be the first of my choices. I'd side-step Specialized. I'm not impressed with their customer service department. Insofar as Trek goes, I'd think you would be much better off trying their Steel Cross Lane, instead of the Ion. The price difference is substantial and the Lane has decent componentry!

    Did the salesguy try to point you towards any mountain bikes or hybrids?

    -OR-

    Were you more or less being self-directed?

    - Slim
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-30-11 at 12:06 AM.

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    Been reading all evening again. I'm kinda liking the Salsa Vaya for my purposes. Salsa has two buildups available, Vaya 2 which uses SRAM components, and Vaya 3 which uses Shimano. Any opinion on this bike in general and the component set?

  13. #38
    Senior Member robberry's Avatar
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    Can you post a picture of the roads you plan on using? I think that would be the best start.

    If the gravel is really well packed, a hybrid would be the best (and lightest) option. If it's a bit loose in spots (and you want a more aggressive riding position), a cyclocross bike would work. Last but not least, if your roads are more gravel than street, a hardtail mountain bike would be in order.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WestTx28 View Post
    Been reading all evening again. I'm kinda liking the Salsa Vaya for my purposes. Salsa has two buildups available, Vaya 2 which uses SRAM components, and Vaya 3 which uses Shimano. Any opinion on this bike in general and the component set?
    I checked Salsa's website out for the Vaya. I think that they could do better on the components for the money. Of course, you could have the sale contingent upon a component switch. I mean, for that kinda cash on the Vaya 3, I would expect at least Alivio and Deore, or possibly even 105 and Deore XT, but Sora is like right next to the bottom.

    In general for road bikes the shimano componentry pecking order goes like this:

    Dura Ace > Ultegra > 105 > Tiagra > Sora > 2200 > Hog Snot

    For MTN bike componentry, it basically goes like this:

    Deore XTR > XT > LX > Deore > Alivio > Acera > Altus > Tourney > Moose Turds

    On the Vaya 2, they have Sram Apex. Sram Apex is generally compared to 105, so that's pretty good there. Apex is particularly good on hills.


    Sram Road componentry pecking order basically goes like this:

    Red > Force > Rival > Apex ..

    Sram MTN bike componentry pecking order goes like this:

    Sram : XX > X.0 > X-9 > X-7 > X-5 > X-3

    - Slim
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-30-11 at 11:14 AM.

  15. #40
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage sale GT View Post
    Some say a suspension fork can save you from being knocked off the bike due to obstacles but it can work against you too. If your wheel falls into a deep enough hole or rut, the front of the bike will become much lower, and the amount the suspension compresses can determine whether you get thrown off in front of your bike or not.
    If a suspended wheel falls into a rut, the suspension gives a bit and allows the wheel to climb up out of the rut. If a rigid fork gets down into a rut, the wheel can't climb out of the rut. Often, the wheel can't be countersteered away from the rut so the wheel gets trapped in the rut and you crash. That effect was the very first thing I noticed about riding with a suspension fork long ago...even before I noticed the fork taking the edge off the bumps. That's why it's easier to ride a suspended bike than a rigid bike off-road.
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    WestTx28, Sometimes the simplest of questions can generate debate, you'll get used to it.

    Back on topic, I'd suggest a hard tail mountain bike over a hybrid. Mine is old enough to pre date lockable suspension forks, that's not an issue. I also use a dual tread design tire that is made for hard packed surfaces, but works nicely also on pavement.

    I've ridden my touring bike on gravel paths and even with 35 mm wide tires the soft spots can be an issue. It's not that a hybrid is a bad choice, just that a mountain bike is a little better choice IME.

    Brad

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Wait a minute, Cyccommute! The OP has already mentioned in post #3, that the gravel is mostly "packed" and that the terrain is for the most part, "flat". We don't have to become involved with all the variations of gravel types and presentations, because that says it right there, "packed gravel" and "flat". A flat packed graveled road, is the equivalent of a concrete road. Flat means flat, without the washboard-effect. Also, the word "flat" excludes potholes. Of course, an occasional pothole here and there, is common. Too many potholes would exclude the OP's reference to a basically "flat" terrain.
    WestTx28 provides some more clarification of the road surface but you can't assume that a flat packed gravel is the equivalent of concrete. I've had plenty of opportunity to drive down flat packed gravel roads...even at high rates of speed...and I would never assume that they are 'the equivalent of concrete'. This road is about as flat as you can get. It's also packed gravel. But it has enough loose material on it that riding a skinny tired bike on it would be difficult.




    Part of the reason that I drive roads like this one at high rates of speed (70mph) is because of the washboarding. Washboards can develop just about anywhere where a wheel hops. They usually develop on some kind of incline or corner but I've experienced them on this road on dead level ground too.


    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    No, Cyccomute. The OP clearly states in Post#3, that the gravel is packed. The gravel is packed and the terrain is flat. Packed compacted gravel in essence, is concrete. Concrete is for all bikes! It's just that MTN bikes run a little slower on concrete and give the rider the sensation of sluggishness. That's a feeling you don't quite mind, when you're grinding up a hill, or rolling over roots going downhill. However, it can become monotonous real fast, when your velocity is negated by your own vehicle's own inherent incapacity to roll at your desired rate. On a flat unencumbered road, a MTB can give the impression of being inefficient and self-retardant. At that point, a MTB may be able to do many things, but one thing it can't do, is move quickly.
    No. Again, you can't assume that 'packed gravel and flat' is the same as concrete. It is not. On the road like I show, a thin tired bike would be thrown all over the road as it hits rocks of roughly 3/4" to 1" diameter. That takes much more energy than a mountain bike that floats over the obstacle.

    I also suggest a mountain bike with a lockable fork. Once things get smoother...like real concrete...you can lock out the fork and save a bit of the energy that goes into the shock.

    A mountain bike is also fully capable of being used for very long distances. I've ridden mountain bikes from 25 to 100 miles on jeep trails, dirt roads, trails, over mountain passes, etc. I've toured for 350 miles carrying all my own gear on one. I can't go as fast as a road bike on pavement but I can go a whole lot faster once the pavement goes away than any thin tired bike can.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Hybrids are anything but tired.
    Not tired as in 'I'm tired and I'm going to bed' but tired as in 'having tires on the bicycle.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    If both your 19 mm tires and my 28's, could survive loose grave, then 32's wouldn't have a challenge at all ...BTW - 32mm is NOT thin!
    It's not that the tires are damaged on loose gravel. It's that a thin tire digs into the gravel rather than float on top of it. And, yes, 32mm is a thin tire when compared to a mountain bike tire which is more typically 2.1" (53mm)

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Front suspension is implemented for the sole purpose of comfort. It's the extra added weight that aids in the control of the MTB. Increased mass comes with certain inertial benefits that might not accompany other aspects of cycling. Simply put. The greater the mass, the easier to keep the bicycle moving in a straight path. Any bike can be made heavier. Touring bikes are an excellent example of this phenomenon. Touring bikes are just fine moving in a straight path, but when you attempt to change directions, that's when they may offer some resistance. Hey, but I digress...Therefore, greater control?..Yes, in a straight line! However, greater control changing direction, or turning?...No way! However, comfort-wise, they're just great!
    Perhaps you should learn a little something about the history of mountain bikes. Suspension is added reduce impact on the rider from obstacles on the trail or road. However, it is a happy circumstance that it also increase the control of the bike. An unsuspended pneumatic tire does a little bit of the same thing as a suspension fork by allowing the wheel to compress a little and ride over a road irregularity instead of being deflected by it. But a pneumatic tire is limited in the amount of impact it can take and thus ends up deflecting more than rolling over the obstacle.

    A suspension fork allows for greater deflection and the wheel rides up and over larger (and even smaller) obstacles so that the bike can travel in a straighter line. On old rigid mountain bikes, you had to be very careful about picking a line. If you tried to ride over something that was too large (roughly 2" was the limit), you'd often end up in a heap.

    With a suspension fork, you don't have to be as careful about picking a line and with rear suspension you don't hardly have to worry at all. The bike floats over all kinds of stuff.

    And the addition of a suspension fork isn't about adding weight to the bike. That just happens because you have a mechanism with more parts. Every suspension fork manufacturer with a fork worth purchasing is doing everything they can to bring weight down. There's a limit to how low they can go but it doesn't stop them from trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by WestTx28 View Post
    [FONT=Tahoma]
    Anyway, I made a trip to a bike shop today and spent some time with a great guy who was very helpful. We spent a lot of time talking about how I plan to ride and the surfaces I plan to ride on. He is a proponent of a cyclocros type bike as well. I had the opportunity to get on several of various manufacturers. I looked at Specialized Crux & Tricross, TREK Ion (I think), and Salsa Chili Con Crosso & Vaya. No test rides yet, my stress fracture isn't healed up enough for that. A couple of more weeks. I think the Specialized Crux and Salsa Vaya aren't cyclocros bikes but more cross utility which looked pretty good to me. Getting on the bikes and hanging out in the shop for a while got me pretty fired up. I probably bumped my price point up to the level of those bikes. He suggested I come back in a ride a few to get the feel of them. They also have a fit specialist who will spend time with me once I make a decision. As I've read from many of the threads on this site, I am totally sold on the knowledge and services of the local bike shops.

    After the bike shop trip I drove my prospected biking roads and found it is mostly pretty well compacted gravel or crushed stone over tar. I'm not sure what you call that surface but it makes a pretty smooth road but the aggregate is still pretty large unlike cement or asphalt. I found that I can create routes that avoid much of the loose spots.


    This is true but not exercise to lose weight or get in shape. I know running fitness and biking fitness are entirely different as are running and rowing. Similar to rowing, I see cycling the way I want to approach it as a power-endurance activity. I am a marathoner and am used to pushing my body pretty hard. I want to get to the point where I can go out for a good hard two hour ride similar to an hour tempo run or something like that. I just wanted to clarify my objective.
    Before you commit to any kind of purchase, try the bikes (or something similar) on the roads you want to ride. See if you can borrow something similar to what you are thinking of purchasing or see if you can rent something. Perhaps the shop will let you do a longer test ride.

    Cross bikes are very hot right now but do be aware of the issues. They do require more skill when things get dicey. One thing I didn't address above is the issue with drop bars. Drop bars are going to put you further over the front end of the bike. This tends to load more weight onto the front wheel and if the surface turns soft, the front wheel digs in more. That makes riding on dirt even more challenging, especially for a new rider.

    Drops are great. I ride them a lot. I've even ridden a loaded touring bike with drops on dirt roads for several hundred miles. But I've got decades of bicycle handling experience on all kinds of surfaces. You may not.

    Quote Originally Posted by WestTx28 View Post
    Here is a random question - Can you outrun a dog on a bike? I don't run a lot of those back country roads because of a few scares with dogs in the past. Just curious.
    Can you outrun a dog on a bike? Maybe. On asphalt or other hard surfaces. On dirt and gravel not so much.

    Should you try to outrun a dog on a bike? No. It usually only triggers their chase response. I've always found the best course of action is not to take action. Stop. Yell 'NO!' or 'GET HOME' in as loud and deep a voice as you can. Work on their pack mentality. Dogs are generally cowards. We've breed them to be so. They usually look on humans as a pack leader and most won't challenge you.

    There are some exceptions but a dog that does challenge won't do too much if you whack him across the nose with a bicycle wheel. That's a lot easier to do if you are stopped and have the bike between you and the dog
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Sram MTN bike componentry pecking order goes like this:

    Sram : X-3 > X-5 > X -7 > X - 9 > XX
    That order is reversed and you left out X.0 (which is above X.9). So the correct order would be (from high end to low end):
    XX > X.0 > X.9 > X.7 > X.5 > X.4 > X.3

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    If a suspended wheel falls into a rut, the suspension gives a bit and allows the wheel to climb up out of the rut. If a rigid fork gets down into a rut, the wheel can't climb out of the rut. Often, the wheel can't be countersteered away from the rut so the wheel gets trapped in the rut and you crash. That effect was the very first thing I noticed about riding with a suspension fork long ago...even before I noticed the fork taking the edge off the bumps. That's why it's easier to ride a suspended bike than a rigid bike off-road.
    You ride shallow ruts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by robberry View Post
    Can you post a picture of the roads you plan on using? I think that would be the best start.

    If the gravel is really well packed, a hybrid would be the best (and lightest) option. If it's a bit loose in spots (and you want a more aggressive riding position), a cyclocross bike would work. Last but not least, if your roads are more gravel than street, a hardtail mountain bike would be in order.
    They both have the same ability with loose spots because you can pretty much put the same tires on either one. The cyclocrosser is better for smoother or better packed roads because you can get lower. It's probably lighter too, because it's outfitted with race gear and isn't made for casual riding.

    Didn't think of the washboarding, though. Any non-suspension bike might be a truly miserable experience unless you can find a place to ride on the shoulder without it. However, you can't do like cyclo and ride a full suspension bike at a higher speed the suspension soaks up all the bumps, because you're losing a small but significant amount of power every time the suspension dampens away a hit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WestTx28 View Post
    Been reading all evening again. I'm kinda liking the Salsa Vaya for my purposes. Salsa has two buildups available, Vaya 2 which uses SRAM components, and Vaya 3 which uses Shimano. Any opinion on this bike in general and the component set?
    I tend to choose Shimano, just have used their equipment for decades.

    Brad

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    WestTx28 says:



    Hills are kind of subjective. I would say some slight hills but mostly flat.
    This fact is good to remember...


    Pretty much 100% gravel /crushed stone county roads. Mostly packed but some loose spots. I would think it would be pretty rough on tires.
    This fact is also good to remember....


    After the bike shop trip I drove my prospected biking roads and found it is mostly pretty well compacted gravel or crushed stone over tar. I'm not sure what you call that surface but it makes a pretty smooth road but the aggregate is still pretty large unlike cement or asphalt. I found that I can create routes that avoid much of the loose spots
    These facts are really good to remember...

    ******************************


    Cyccommute says:

    WestTx28 provides some more clarification of the road surface but you can't assume that a flat packed gravel is the equivalent of concrete. I've had plenty of opportunity to drive down flat packed gravel roads...even at high rates of speed...and I would never assume that they are 'the equivalent of concrete'. This road is about as flat as you can get. It's also packed gravel. But it has enough loose material on it that riding a skinny tired bike on it would be
    difficult.
    I think that stating the road is mostly smooth and that he has found a route in particular that is almost exclusively smooth says it all! Therefore, let's move on! The road is flat, smooth, and gravel-compacted.
    It's not a dirt road with patches of loose rocks and pebbles. It's smooth______. That sounds even more like concrete to me.



    This is primarily rocky dirt road, that contains some pebbles. It most certainly is not smooth... - Slimrider


    Part of the reason that I drive roads like this one at high rates of speed
    (70mph) is because of the washboarding. Washboards can develop just about
    anywhere where a wheel hops. They usually develop on some kind of incline or
    corner but I've experienced them on this road on dead level ground too.
    Roads with washboards are usually not described as being smooth.

    No. Again, you can't assume that 'packed gravel and flat' is the same as
    concrete. It is not. On the road like I show, a thin tired bike would be
    thrown all over the road as it hits rocks of roughly 3/4" to 1" diameter. That
    takes much more energy than a mountain bike that floats over the obstacle.
    When the OP describes the roads as being smooth and flat, with compacted gravel, I think I have every right to assume concrete. That's practically the very definition of concrete.

    I also suggest a mountain bike with a lockable fork. Once things get
    smoother...like real concrete...you can lock out the fork and save a bit
    of the energy that goes into the shock.
    This is a true statement. That's why I suggested several MTN bikes with the lockout option. However, the more I think about it, the more I'm leaning towards a hybrid, due to the concrete consistency description.

    A mountain bike is also fully capable of being used for very long distances.
    I've ridden mountain bikes from 25 to 100 miles on jeep trails, dirt roads,
    trails, over mountain passes, etc. I've toured for 350 miles carrying all my
    own gear on one. I can't go as fast as a road bike on pavement but I can go a
    whole lot faster once the pavement goes away than any thin tired bike can.
    This is also a true statement that would never be contested.

    It's not that the tires are damaged on loose gravel. It's that a thin tire digs
    into the gravel rather than float on top of it. And, yes, 32mm is a thin tire
    when compared to a mountain bike tire which is more typically 2.1" (53mm)
    I was not only speaking of the tires not being damage, when I stated that they "survived". Though that fact was being emphasized, my intention was to merely state that the thinner tires were successful at meeting the challenge of loose gravel, in addition to not being damaged. In other words, they successfully met the challenged, unscathed.


    Perhaps you should learn a little something about the history of mountain bikes.
    Suspension is added reduce impact on the rider from obstacles on the trail or
    road. However, it is a happy circumstance that it also increase the control of
    the bike. An unsuspended pneumatic tire does a little bit of the same thing as
    a suspension fork by allowing the wheel to compress a little and ride over a
    road irregularity instead of being deflected by it. But a pneumatic tire is
    limited in the amount of impact it can take and thus ends up deflecting more
    than rolling over the obstacle.

    A suspension fork allows for greater
    deflection and the wheel rides up and over larger (and even smaller) obstacles
    so that the bike can travel in a straighter line. On old rigid mountain bikes,
    you had to be very careful about picking a line. If you tried to ride over
    something that was too large (roughly 2" was the limit), you'd often end up in a
    heap.
    Nobody needs to learn more about the history of mountain bikes to understand shock absorption. The two are related in the same manner that any vehicle that rolls over trails, roads, streets, or highways, are related. Just like cars have springs, tires, and shock absorbers, bikes can and often do have them, as well. Whenever, a spring has been installed on a bicycle, its fundamental purpose, is shock absorption. That goes for springed seats, as well. Anytime components are added for the purpose of shock absorption, it has indeed been added for the ultimate purpose of the users comfort. Tires are technically, a part of the suspension system, insofar as they mitigate the variant vibrations of the road. In general, the wider the tire, the more suspensional support we receive from the increased surface area of the tire that directly contacts the road. This also increases the rolling reisistance of the tire, and contributes to slowing the vehicle down, or decreasing its velocity.

    Therefore, wider tires with thicker tread, generally means greater rolling resistance, and slower movement.
    Furthermore, the smaller the tire, the faster the acceleration, but the slower the overall speed over a greater distance. The efficiency is increased with greater air pressure within the tire. However, comfort gets sacrificed.

    With a suspension fork, you don't have to be as careful about picking a line and
    with rear suspension you don't hardly have to worry at all. The bike floats
    over all kinds of stuff.
    The only problem with a MTB is when its on smooth surfaces. There, it lacks the efficiency of a hybrid, due to the wider tires and the slower gearing effects.

    And the addition of a suspension fork isn't about adding weight to the
    bike. That just happens because you have a mechanism with more
    parts. Every suspension fork manufacturer with a fork worth purchasing is
    doing everything they can to bring weight down. There's a limit to how low
    they can go but it doesn't stop them from trying.
    No. The purpose is not about weight. The purpose is about comfort which then allows you to have greater control, as a result of the comfort enhancements. Suspension systems weren't originally designed for control. They were originally designed for comfort. Control was a collateral concomitant benefit from comfort designs in the beginning. Of course, the front suspension with all of its mechanicals, contributes much to the weight of a MTB. This then heightens the inertial affects, by aiding in the maintainence of a specific straight line course. It also, hampers turning or altering straight-line motion.


    Before you commit to any kind of purchase, try the bikes (or something similar)
    on the roads you want to ride. See if you can borrow something similar to what
    you are thinking of purchasing or see if you can rent something. Perhaps the
    shop will let you do a longer test ride.
    I agree with this, OP. This is excellent advice!

    Cross bikes are very hot right now but do be aware of the issues. They do
    require more skill when things get dicey. One thing I didn't address above is
    the issue with drop bars. Drop bars are going to put you further over the front
    end of the bike. This tends to load more weight onto the front wheel and if the
    surface turns soft, the front wheel digs in more. That makes riding on dirt
    even more challenging, especially for a new rider.
    While I agree with with the assessment here. It won't be too relevant, if the roads are smooth, flat, and the gravel is compacted. With drop handlebars, more hand positions will be made available. One can ride with hands on the hoods, for a more relaxed riding position, or one can lean forward, latching on to the end-hooks below, to assume a more aerodynamic and aggressive riding position.


    Can you outrun a dog on a bike? Maybe. On asphalt or other hard surfaces. On
    dirt and gravel not so much.
    This is quite true!

    Should you try to outrun a dog on a bike? No. It usually only triggers their
    chase response. I've always found the best course of action is not to take
    action. Stop. Yell 'NO!' or 'GET HOME' in as loud and deep a voice as you can.
    Work on their pack mentality. Dogs are generally cowards. We've breed them to
    be so. They usually look on humans as a pack leader and most won't challenge
    you.
    To this, I say, "Poppycock"! You have to make a really good judicial decision at some point. There are some dogs that you can indeed out-pace. This is especially applicable in the case where you've gauged enough initial distance between the two of you. Also, if it's a stray dog and not a part of your routine route, just outrun him. If you sense that he's gaining on you, just face-spray him. After getting sprayed once, they usually will try to avoid you the next time.

    I say, don't dismount until it's the absolute last resort. Last resort meaning, the dog is already upon you and within striking distance of your bike (they will bite your bike). Last resort could also mean, that this dog is aggressive, the spray option failed, and it's inevitable that the dog will catch you within a couple of seconds. Then that's when you'll have to issue harsh demands and dismount. Otherwise, just roll and spray!...Roll and spray! Don't stop rolling, just keep spraying!

    - Slim

    PS.

    I like Cyccomute and his well-versed theories. He's obviously quite a gifted fellow! However, the dismount tactic with some dogs will unfortunately end badly. Also don't ever let a dog bite your bike while you're still on it, because soon, you won't be!
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-30-11 at 03:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seb71 View Post
    That order is reversed and you left out X.0 (which is above X.9). So the correct order would be (from high end to low end):
    XX > X.0 > X.9 > X.7 > X.5 > X.4 > X.3
    Thanks, Seb71!

    I'll correct that now!

    - Slim

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garage sale GT View Post
    You ride shallow ruts.
    Nope. And a rigid bike has much more trouble with any kind of rut...shallow or deep...than a suspended bike does. It's why mountain bike riders put up with the downsides of suspension.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post

    I think that stating the road is mostly smooth and that he has found a route in particular that is almost exclusively smooth says it all! Therefore, let's move on! The road is flat, smooth, and gravel-compacted.
    It's not a dirt road with patches of loose rocks and pebbles. It's smooth______. That sounds even more like concrete to me.
    Concrete is concrete. It is a very hard surface that doesn't move around...well only slowly. Gravel, even packed gravel, isn't as hard nor is it a hardened surface. The rocks that make up the surface move around when vehicles drive over them. Vehicles tend to move the loose stuff into piles and make ruts. Suspension interactions tend to make standing waves in the surface, i.e. washboards. That simply can't happen on a concrete road.

    Gravel roads require regular grading to keep them smooth but that grading causes some of the problems that occur regularly on gravel roads.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    This is primarily rocky dirt road, that contains some pebbles. It most certainly is not smooth...
    No. That road is a smooth gravel road made from crushed rock laid down on top the native soil. That is quite typical of a smooth graded gravel road in my area of the country and isn't all the different from gravel roads that I've ridden my bike on in Vermont, Nebraska, Kansas, Utah, Arizona, Connecticut, New York, Washington, Oregon, and many other states. I've also ridden concrete (and asphalt) roads in all those states. They are very, very different.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Roads with washboards are usually not described as being smooth.
    Washboarding is a common occurrence on any gravel road no matter where they are nor how steep or flat they are. That's the primary reason that gravel roads have to be graded from time to time with road graders...to get ride of the washboards that develop from the suspensions of cars. Even flat smooth roads.


    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    When the OP describes the roads as being smooth and flat, with compacted gravel, I think I have every right to assume concrete. That's practically the very definition of concrete.

    Got to admire your bulldog tenacity. You are wrong but you stick to it until the very end


    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Nobody needs to learn more about the history of mountain bikes to understand shock absorption. The two are related in the same manner that any vehicle that rolls over trails, roads, streets, or highways, are related. Just like cars have springs, tires, and shock absorbers, bikes can and often do have them, as well. Whenever, a spring has been installed on a bicycle, its fundamental purpose, is shock absorption. That goes for springed seats, as well. Anytime components are added for the purpose of shock absorption, it has indeed been added for the ultimate purpose of the users comfort. Tires are technically, a part of the suspension system, insofar as they mitigate the variant vibrations of the road. In general, the wider the tire, the more suspensional support we receive from the increased surface area of the tire that directly contacts the road. This also increases the rolling reisistance of the tire, and contributes to slowing the vehicle down, or decreasing its velocity.
    Suspensions on bikes and suspensions on cars aren't about comfort. They are primarily about control. Comfort is a secondary effect. Try driving a car that has a very soft suspension like an old Cadillac very fast vs driving a sports car with a stiff suspension. The Cadillac will wallow down the road and not hold corners well, i.e. it's control is poor. It's comfort is wonderful but that limits it's abilities to go fast.





    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    No. The purpose is not about weight. The purpose is about comfort which then allows you to have greater control, as a result of the comfort enhancements. Suspension systems weren't originally designed for control. They were originally designed for comfort. Control was a collateral concomitant benefit from comfort designs in the beginning. Of course, the front suspension with all of its mechanicals, contributes much to the weight of a MTB. This then heightens the inertial affects, by aiding in the maintainence of a specific straight line course. It also, hampers turning or altering straight-line motion.
    Front suspension (or even full suspension) doesn't hamper turning. A suspended mountain bike doesn't have problems with cornering. If anything, it's easier to corner on a suspended mountain bike than a rigid one. The suspension allows the wheel to ride up and over irregularities and hold it's line better than a rigid bike will. The rigid bike will deflect off the irregularities and makes the steering less predictable. Basically, a rigid bike becomes a pinball, bouncing from one bumper to the next.

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    To this, I say, "Poppycock"! You have to make a really good judicial decision at some point. There are some dogs that you can indeed out-pace. This is especially applicable in the case where you've gauged enough initial distance between the two of you. Also, if it's a stray dog and not a part of your routine route, just outrun him. If you sense that he's gaining on you, just face-spray him. After getting sprayed once, they usually will try to avoid you the next time.

    I say, don't dismount until it's the absolute last resort. Last resort meaning, the dog is already upon you and within striking distance of your bike (they will bite your bike). Last resort could also mean, that this dog is aggressive, the spray option failed, and it's inevitable that the dog will catch you within seconds. Then that's when you'll have to issue harsh demands and dismount. Otherwise, just roll and spray!...Roll and spray! Don't stop rolling, just keep spraying!
    Try thinking this through. You are trying to outrun a dog. He has more speed than you do. You need to hang onto the handlebars to get the most speed out of your bike as you try to sprint away from him. But you are telling WestTx28 to keep pedaling as fast as you can while grabbing for your dog spray. Then you have to aim it and spray it and sprint away and watch for things that are going to get in your way. That's a whole lot going on.

    Then the dog is upon you and you have to stop, get off the bike, get the bike between you and the dog, and not end up in a pile on the ground. The dog, by the way, generally isn't stupid enough to bit the bicycle, they are going to bit you because you are the meaty bit that they are after. There are numerous stories on the Bikeforums about dog bites. I've never read one about the dog bitting the bicycle.

    The more prudent course is to stop the dog before it even gets close to you. I have never, in 30+ years of riding carried spray nor have I needed to. If you understand how a pedator's instincts work, i.e. they seldom will mount a frontal attack on prey, you can use that to your advantage with dogs. If you also understand that dogs know exactly where they are in 'the pack', i.e. that they aren't ever going to be the top dog in the dog/human pack, you can also use that to your advantage.

    Try to outrun them and you are prey. Stand up to them and you are the alpha dog.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

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