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    Senior Member PoorBehavior's Avatar
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    Rigid Fork riding techniques

    For all of you folks going old school with full rigid, what was your most obvious learning point the first time you went out? I finally got my surly 1x1 fork and I now have a mountainbike that feels like it weighs 20 lbs but I am a little curious about the no front suspension experience. Lots of thick roots and such where I ride most often and know some of you folks have some good stories that I might be able to learn from.

  2. #2
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    You would have to use a lot more body english and perfect timing is going to be key. The bike isn't going to work for you, its all you baby (I forget what movie that is hmmm). Prepare to use your arms a lot more in good techy stuff.

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    Colorado Trail Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom
    You would have to use a lot more body english and perfect timing is going to be key. The bike isn't going to work for you, its all you baby (I forget what movie that is hmmm). Prepare to use your arms a lot more in good techy stuff.
    To handle the rigid front end, you will have to use you arm a whole lot more, you are going to be surprised to find out how much work a front shock is doing for you. It will be a great workout for you upper body!
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    Senior Member PoorBehavior's Avatar
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    Sounds like I am going to get a beating. Cool.
    Do you guys use a larger front tire? I was considering picking something up in the 2.5 range to help absorb some of the impacts. I am still a little worried about log obsticles and such more than a foot high and the impact on the way down.

  5. #5
    Too Much Crazy
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorBehavior
    For all of you folks going old school with full rigid, what was your most obvious learning point the first time you went out?
    For me it was learning to 'let go' of the handlebars a bit. Keeping a loose grip on the bars (while still maintaining control) let a lot of the vibration dissipate before it rattled your bones. Also on techy stuff I tend to work the bike more, like the others have said. A lot of weighting/unweighting to smooth out impacts and a lot more 'mini hops' to clear roots and rocks that you might have let a front suspension fork absorb. You will learn to pick great lines too. Well, great if you have no suspension.

    Stick a nice big tire up front also and run it soft. with that 1x1 you should be able to fit a big one. It will provide a little cushion if run at a lower that normal pressure.

    Have a Blast man!

  6. #6
    Digs technical steeps
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorBehavior
    Sounds like I am going to get a beating. Cool.
    Do you guys use a larger front tire? I was considering picking something up in the 2.5 range to help absorb some of the impacts. I am still a little worried about log obsticles and such more than a foot high and the impact on the way down.
    You might get a little more of a beating but that will largely depend on how effectively you use the parts of your body in place of the fork and shock. When I first started riding mtb over 20 yrs ago full-rigid was all there was (well, we did have rather forgiving cro-mo frames) and suspension wasn't even being experimented with yet (the first attempts came soon, though). I rode everything I ride today (I don't do big jumps).

    There is no doubt suspension makes it much easier to go over the rough stuff. I'm not sure that's always a good thing, though; but to each their own. I rode all those years on that full-rigid and now ride a hardtail. My friend rides a FS having moved there quickly from a HT. I am absoultely positive I am a much better rider because I learned all of the little body pushes and weight shifting nuances that were necessary to ride a full rigid well. All my friend really has to do is sit and let the bike absorb the dips, roots and rocks. A side benefit of having to use your whole body is you'll get a better workout of your muscles, too.

    One reason I still ride a HT (and my full rigid, occassionally) is because I like the whole finesse side of the sport; every ride is almost a micro-session of trials riding. I ride a FS when I want to just settle in and enjoy the ride.

    I've rambled. Short answer: Work on your balance; work on using your body as suspension; work on those little nudges, unweightings, and pushes to get you over the roots that you are used to rolling over with suspension. Try to let the bumps flow through your body rather than into it. And, yes; on my full-rigid I run a larger tire in front (not everyone does but I definately prefer it).

    Have fun!
    'My other bike is a bike.'

  7. #7
    Senior Member PoorBehavior's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, it really helps form the right state of mind for me.

  8. #8
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Riding rigid will teach you technique.You will have to ride the bike, and not just hit things and let the bike and speed do the work. Get the technique and those uphill climbs are a doddle after losing two or three lbs at the front end. Lifting that front wheel over a gnarly root is a lot easier, and on the flat, that bike that feels like 20lbs will ride like a 20lb bike. Only problem you may find is downhill, where if you are tight, your shoulders and forearms will die on you. Someone has mentionedit, but don't get a death grip on the bars, but do keep the forearms tight to counter any big lumps that may try and throw you off line. I only succumbed to Suspension forks two years ago, but I only have 80mm forks set as hard as possible. just enough to take the sting out of the trail.

  9. #9
    Te mortuo heres tibi sim? scrublover's Avatar
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    big(ger) front tire, lower pressure. get the stem/bars up as high as they were before, so that you are in the same position if possible. i found a wider handlebar, and a slightly shorter stem made a difference for me as well. improved my steering, and kept my weight back more for those steep techy down spots, without sacrificing much climbing. (it's on a singlespeed, so most of my climbing is done standing anyhow) nice cushy/comfy grips are a good thing as well. (the stem i have on now is aobut 2cm shorter than the one in the pic. i much prefer the shorter, as the toptube on this frame is much longer than on my hardtail bike; i'm now roughtly in the same seat-pedal-bar position on both bikes.)
    I believe the clouds in my coffee more than the weatherman on t.v.

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    Senior Member toyota200x's Avatar
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    I just raced my first race this weekend and I am amazed at how good the single speed guys and gals are. It makes me really want to get a single speed. A single speed sitting still looks so rad. Lets see all your single speed bikes. Ride on.

  11. #11
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorBehavior
    Sounds like I am going to get a beating. Cool.
    Do you guys use a larger front tire? I was considering picking something up in the 2.5 range to help absorb some of the impacts. I am still a little worried about log obsticles and such more than a foot high and the impact on the way down.
    You can go up to 2.7

  12. #12
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    If you use rim brakes, you may be restricted in the size of the tire you use. Rigid is the shizznitty, but take a little extra care on technical downhills, mostly of the small, 1' drop, step down variety, as this was the most unnerving thing about my first rigid rides. Your arms are going to ache the first few times, but it's all good. I went from a 6 pound Judy to a 2 pound Surly 1x1, and that made it very easy to pick the front end up and over rocks and logs. Enjoy!

  13. #13
    eert a ekil yzarc SpiderMike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorBehavior
    Lots of thick roots and such where I ride most often and know some of you folks have some good stories that I might be able to learn from.
    Watch your approach angle with those roots. Especially when the roots are wet.

  14. #14
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpiderMike
    Watch your approach angle with those roots. Especially when the roots are wet.
    Also watch linear ruts going in the direction of your travel. A suspended fork will climb out of them but a rigid fork will get trapped in them. You have to steer into the side of the rut to get out and that usually put me on the ground in a hurry
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  15. #15
    dangerous with tools halfbiked's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by unsuspended
    For me it was learning to 'let go' of the handlebars a bit.

    Its all about the .38 Special

    Hold on Loosely,
    But don't let go;
    If you cling too tightly -
    You're Gonna Lose Control!

    <guitar riffs>


    There is nothing like bombing a rough downhill, eyeballs rattling in your head so you can barely see, arms tingling from the jackhammering bike beneath you. You want adrenaline on a mountain bike ride, without having to drop off cliffs, try keeping up with the full suspension guys on tough downhills.

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by halfbiked
    There is nothing like bombing a rough downhill, eyeballs rattling in your head so you can barely see, arms tingling from the jackhammering bike beneath you. You want adrenaline on a mountain bike ride, without having to drop off cliffs, try keeping up with the full suspension guys on tough downhills.
    When you get fast enough on a rigid on the downhills, look at the lines the full suspension guys take. They may have speed, but it is the bike doing the work. An accomplished Rigid rider will learn to use the bike to the best of his/her abilities. They will not be far behind the full suspension bikes either.

  17. #17
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    Nothing beats dusting a FS guy on a rigid. It is rare, but can be done. Our forefathers learned to bomb fireroads on rigid cruisers, I feel that every mountian biker should ride a rigid at least once, even if to just appriciate the benefit of technology.

  18. #18
    nos
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    Well, I learned to MTB on a fully rigid and can remember being one of the first people at college with a large tube aluminum bike with, suspension!!?? Insane!!. Student loans = Rock shox 21r he he!! Anyways, I remember have to always ride "light" on the rough stuff. What that means is that your hovering slightly off your seat and your grip on the bar is very light with your arms very light. So you are pretty much gonna need to be on your pedals more and learn to see fast. Not as simple as just picking lines to take, but you also need to get your sight and reaction down to where you don't need to think about adjusting. It also helps to ride at night with nothing but moonlight and single tracks wet and full of wet roots by the Mississippi!!

  19. #19
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nos
    Insane!!. Student loans = Rock shox 21r he he!!
    Now that's pain

  20. #20
    Pain Cleanseth Feltup's Avatar
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    One word----bunnyhop.
    It is better to lose clean then win dirty. Don't ride dirty

  21. #21
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    cool thread - I am about to hit the trails for the first time in over a decade - i still have my 1993 rigid bike (24 pounder , butted fork and stays, with Shimano XT & DX - a big deal back then ) and use it as a commuter now but curious to see how my old relic (that goes for my body too!) will hold up off road after all these years.

    It is really funny - like many others here, I rode a rigid bike off road cause that's all there was back then. Prior to that I rode a hybrid, though I should mention I've NEVER done any super crazy DH or highly technical riding.

  22. #22
    Pain Cleanseth Feltup's Avatar
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    Bike Magazine has a big write up about rigid bikes and riders in the new issue.
    It is better to lose clean then win dirty. Don't ride dirty

  23. #23
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgoat
    cool thread - It is really funny - like many others here, I rode a rigid bike off road cause that's all there was back then. Prior to that I rode a hybrid, though I should mention I've NEVER done any super crazy DH or highly technical riding.
    BS (before suspension) I did a ride here in Colorado that's called Saxon Mountain. The ride is a back way to Georgetown from Idaho Springs that involves a whole day of climbing to the top of Saxon Mountain and then a fast very rocky 4 wheel drive road descent into Georgetown. The road switches back and forth and loses around 2500 feet in a couple of miles.

    I was riding with a local legend, Gordon Valentine, who, at 60+ years could kick the butt of just about anybody out there. (He's over 80 now and kicking road biker butt all up and down the Front Range!) Of course we were all riding rigid bikes. The ride down from Saxon Mountain really worked you over. It involved lots of braking and the roughness of the road just beat you to pieces, especially your arms and shoulders.

    When we got to the bottom, Gordon turned to me and said, in his always calm manner, "That hurt a little. My doctor told me last week after I broke my collarbone, that I wasn't supposed to ride for 6 weeks but I just had to do this ride."

    Made me forget about my sore arms.
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    I've never done a trail on a bike with a suspension fork. Your post, cyccommute, reminds me of what mtbing to me is all about. The challenges. The pain. I'll probably buy a FS bike soon. Kind of wondering if riding the trails will feel a bit hollow once I'm on it.

    BTW, Mr Valentine surely is a legend. I'll have to make my 63 year old father whos considering taking up bikeing but is a bit scared of how his body will cope, read that.

  25. #25
    Ogr8nwmypstmksnosnse pgoat's Avatar
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    Ouch!

    I was only a wee lad of 29, 30 or so last time I hit the trails....at 41 I am a bit scared to go offroad as I bruise a bit easier these days....but if a 60 something can ride rigid with broken collarbone I guess I should give it a shot

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