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Old 01-28-08, 09:35 AM   #1
Duke of Kent
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New MTB racer: Bikes?

So I'm going to be joining the ranks of the MTB crowd soon. I'm a Cat2, hopefully 1 soon, roadie, looking for a way to improve my technical abilities (particularly descents) and also find a way to train in the slop without destroying my road bike.

I've done two MTB races; a Saturday/Sunday college weekend on a borrowed bike. I had less than no skill on the bike: I had to run up the short but super steep incline each time...in my speedplay zero cleat equipped road shoes. Needless to say it wasn't the most enjoyable experience I've had.

This time around, I'm going to give it a go on a bike that fits, with proper MTB shoes. So, my first question is what sort of bike should I buy? I've been looking at getting a BikesDirect bike (http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...tock.htm#specs) and beating that into the ground, replacing things as I go. I want a hardtail, as my friends have had nothing but grief from their various models of full suspension rigs, particularly the linkages.

I know next to nothing about proper set-up, fit, or tire choice (which, as I understand it, is far more crucial in the woods than on the roads). Any tips regarding tire choice, pressure, bike setup (weight distribution?) would be appreciated.

I'll obviously be racing the beginner class to start out, but I expect to move up to at least the expert class by the end of the season. Perhaps I expect too much, but setting the bar too low isn't going to get me anywhere either.
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Old 01-28-08, 05:50 PM   #2
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Expect to get lots of nasty looks as all the guys you just passed going up have to work their way around you heading down

Just make sure the bike has a nice fork for your use (Rockshox reba, fox anything, etc), some light wheels, and decent components (XT or higher, since you're used to nice road stuff) and you'll be good to go. Beyond that, you need to ask specific questions.

That bikesdirect bike is just fine. You may want to swap out the SID though, it will make you more confident downhill if you're not riding a noodle.
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Old 01-28-08, 06:01 PM   #3
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Expect to get lots of nasty looks as all the guys you just passed going up have to work their way around you heading down

Just make sure the bike has a nice fork for your use (Rockshox reba, fox anything, etc), some light wheels, and decent components (XT or higher, since you're used to nice road stuff) and you'll be good to go. Beyond that, you need to ask specific questions.

That bikesdirect bike is just fine. You may want to swap out the SID though, it will make you more confident downhill if you're not riding a noodle.

I'm going to be 62-3kg this summer. Will I really have problems with a fork like that at that weight?

I plan on doing a lot of singletrack riding, particularly descending, at high speed, before entering my first race. I don't want to be "that guy."
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Old 01-28-08, 07:49 PM   #4
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Don't ride muddy trails.
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Old 01-28-08, 11:15 PM   #5
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Don't ride muddy trails.
Care to explain this?

I'm assuming you're referring to the v-brakes as opposed to discs.
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Old 01-29-08, 07:01 AM   #6
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DK- I ordered that Bikes Direct Ti Hardtail ($1900 Motobecane Fly Ti) on that Group Buy Holiday offer because it seemed like a no-brainer, literally couldn't find anything comparable for less than $4K. Always wanted a Ti hardtail (I don't race MTBs, just on the road). The aluminum version of the same bike seems like a great race bike for $1600 or so, it has gotten nothing but positive magazine and user reviews. Hoping the Ti is even better. But that alu $1600 hard tail is a serious 21 lb XC racer for a reasonable price.
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Old 01-29-08, 07:15 AM   #7
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Care to explain this?

I'm assuming you're referring to the v-brakes as opposed to discs.
it kills the trail.
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Old 01-29-08, 08:22 AM   #8
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it kills the trail.
Why don't they pave the trails?
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Old 01-29-08, 08:30 AM   #9
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it kills the trail.
Oh. Yeah I wouldn't do that. The MTB guys on my team are always posting stuff on our listserve about not hitting the trails for a day or two after a good rain.

There's a rails-to-trails path out near my house that I'd take it on during or after crappy weather.
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Old 01-29-08, 09:07 AM   #10
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Don't ride muddy trails.
Kind of a moot point if you ride on ATV trails.
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Old 01-29-08, 11:24 AM   #11
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I'm going to be 62-3kg this summer. Will I really have problems with a fork like that at that weight?

I plan on doing a lot of singletrack riding, particularly descending, at high speed, before entering my first race. I don't want to be "that guy."
I'm about 63kg most of the time as well, and the sid is still a noodle. I'm riding one this season anyway, because it's so damn light, but a Reba is definitely more confidence-inspiring (I've been on a Reba for the past 2 seasons). For someone relatively new to mountain biking, that is a good thing.

Don't bother starting in the beginner class, just go with sport. Beginner does not equal cat 4/5, even though in theory it should. Your average cat 4, if he had the technical skills, would be more like a fast sport rider.
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Old 01-29-08, 11:34 AM   #12
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Not to hijack the thread but it is a question the OP alluded to. I'm getting back in mountain biking myself and just picked up a new ride. What kind of saddle to bar drop is 'normal or average' for MTB? I too am mostly a roadie. I can replicate my road set up, but is that a smart thing to do on a MTB?
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Old 01-29-08, 11:39 AM   #13
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...and to DK's question on tire choice. There is a huge range. The bike I just got came with some Hutchinson tires that are super fast (not sure the model just now). I had been riding another bike with Kenda Nevagal's. Those are really grippy, and slower....way more than the Hutch. I'm not sure I'd race on the Hutch's here in the North East with wet roots and all. Tires are a function of the course basically.
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Old 01-29-08, 11:48 AM   #14
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To answer both questions:

Don't set it up like your road bike. Get the saddle/bb relationship as close as you possibly can, but the bars should be quite a bit higher (assuming you have an aggressive position on your road bike). I keep my bars below my saddle, but not by much. Maybe 5cm. That's a pretty aggressive position for a mtb too.

Tire choice: I ride Maxxis. Which specific tire will change depending on conditions/course/etc.
A couple very basic rules of thumb:
1) larger/more grippy tire on the front. Turning = good. rear tire traction can be compromised in some situations for better rolling resistance
2) wider spaced knobs tend to shed mud better. A tire with close-spaced, smaller knobs will be crap in the mud, but tend to roll faster.
3) ramped knobs = good.
4) smaller, harder tires are not faster! They may feel faster because you are being bounced all over the place, but in 99% of all situations, a higher volume tire will in fact roll faster.

My recommendations for tires: Maxxis crossmark and highroller for hardpack, ignitor for mixed conditions, medusa for mud, swampthing for hella mud. The flyweight/maxxlite series are fun for short track too
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Old 01-29-08, 07:23 PM   #15
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DK- I ordered that Bikes Direct Ti Hardtail ($1900 Motobecane Fly Ti) on that Group Buy Holiday offer because it seemed like a no-brainer, literally couldn't find anything comparable for less than $4K. Always wanted a Ti hardtail (I don't race MTBs, just on the road). The aluminum version of the same bike seems like a great race bike for $1600 or so, it has gotten nothing but positive magazine and user reviews. Hoping the Ti is even better. But that alu $1600 hard tail is a serious 21 lb XC racer for a reasonable price.
When are you getting your hands on that thing?

Iím looking forward to hearing your opinion.
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Old 01-29-08, 09:42 PM   #16
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To answer both questions:

Don't set it up like your road bike. Get the saddle/bb relationship as close as you possibly can, but the bars should be quite a bit higher (assuming you have an aggressive position on your road bike). I keep my bars below my saddle, but not by much. Maybe 5cm. That's a pretty aggressive position for a mtb too.

Tire choice: I ride Maxxis. Which specific tire will change depending on conditions/course/etc.
A couple very basic rules of thumb:
1) larger/more grippy tire on the front. Turning = good. rear tire traction can be compromised in some situations for better rolling resistance
2) wider spaced knobs tend to shed mud better. A tire with close-spaced, smaller knobs will be crap in the mud, but tend to roll faster.
3) ramped knobs = good.
4) smaller, harder tires are not faster! They may feel faster because you are being bounced all over the place, but in 99% of all situations, a higher volume tire will in fact roll faster.

My recommendations for tires: Maxxis crossmark and highroller for hardpack, ignitor for mixed conditions, medusa for mud, swampthing for hella mud. The flyweight/maxxlite series are fun for short track too

Nice. I can get Maxxis tires through a sponsor at a great price. Good to know these things.

About the racing categories:

Can I just say "Hey, dude, Mr. Official. I don't want to start in the beginner class. Upgrade me, homey." ?

And, does anyone ride a bike with a V-brake rear and a disc front? In the slop or snow, I can lock up the rear on my dad's V-brake equipped Diamondback no problem, but I'm thinking I'd need a bit more stopping power on the front wheel. Should I buy a V-brake equipped bike and put a disc on the front?
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Old 01-30-08, 10:26 AM   #17
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When are you getting your hands on that thing?

Iím looking forward to hearing your opinion.
Yeah, I am too. I'm also wondering why PCad went hardtail as well. Seems like age (sorry, man...) dictates full suspension. (does for me: 46). And also being from the same region as he is, the trails I ride are pretty damn technical. I for one couldn't handle them on a hardtail. Give us your insight PCad.....
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Old 01-30-08, 10:33 AM   #18
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Yeah, I am too. I'm also wondering why PCad went hardtail as well. Seems like age (sorry, man...) dictates full suspension. (does for me: 46). And also being from the same region as he is, the trails I ride are pretty damn technical. I for one couldn't handle them on a hardtail. Give us your insight PCad.....
Apparently Ti has a cushier ride than Al. That could be a factor, maybe?
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Old 01-30-08, 11:50 AM   #19
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Ti is cushier, but tends to be flexy under large amounts of power.
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Old 01-30-08, 12:12 PM   #20
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Ti is cushier, but tends to be flexy under large amounts of power.
True, but we're talking PCad, here. Large amounts of power will not be delivered to his bike!

Or mine....I've got the same one coming. I think April is when we're supposed to see them.
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Old 01-30-08, 12:25 PM   #21
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Nice. I can get Maxxis tires through a sponsor at a great price. Good to know these things.

About the racing categories:

Can I just say "Hey, dude, Mr. Official. I don't want to start in the beginner class. Upgrade me, homey." ?

And, does anyone ride a bike with a V-brake rear and a disc front? In the slop or snow, I can lock up the rear on my dad's V-brake equipped Diamondback no problem, but I'm thinking I'd need a bit more stopping power on the front wheel. Should I buy a V-brake equipped bike and put a disc on the front?
Around here you can just register for sport. You don't need a license, and I don't think any of it goes through USA cycling.
As for the V's I think they're fine, but a Disc front would work out peachy as well.
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Old 01-30-08, 06:18 PM   #22
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Zecanon you run the Highroller for XC?
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Old 01-30-08, 11:09 PM   #23
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True, but we're talking PCad, here. Large amounts of power will not be delivered to his bike!
Large amounts of money on the other hand....
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Old 01-31-08, 12:20 PM   #24
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Nice. I can get Maxxis tires through a sponsor at a great price. Good to know these things.

About the racing categories:

Can I just say "Hey, dude, Mr. Official. I don't want to start in the beginner class. Upgrade me, homey." ?

And, does anyone ride a bike with a V-brake rear and a disc front? In the slop or snow, I can lock up the rear on my dad's V-brake equipped Diamondback no problem, but I'm thinking I'd need a bit more stopping power on the front wheel. Should I buy a V-brake equipped bike and put a disc on the front?
I ride maxxis because they send them to me Deals on tires are good. MTB racing tires will last much less time than a road racing tire. Unlike road tires, you don't ditch them when they are too thin and puncture-prone, you ditch them when the tread isn't sharp anymore. For important races, I put new tires on every time.

You can just start in sport. When you buy your licence online, just chose sport. There is no "upgrading" really required.

xcracer - yes. feckin sick front tire for hard conditions.
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