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Old 02-02-03, 01:58 PM   #1
EpsilonArmati
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Brownie Points With EpsilonArmati,

if you can answer a few questions this newbie has (Ok, I'll stop talking in the third person as well):

1) After learning the hardway that 'Mart bikes aren't actually made for hard riding, it's time to get a new bike. Since my dad thought I was a loser for riding so much (Ha!) and said that if I could manage to get into Univ. of Pitt, he would buy me a new bike. So I'm taking him up on his bet, and currently I'm looking at the Diamondback Apex . The guys at the LBS recommended after laughing their asses off when I told them how my 'Mart bike litterally fell to pieces on the trail.

I'm looking to get something in the sub-$1000 range, something that'll work and last without the fancy schmuck. Any other recommendations/comments?

2) Some coach at another college I'm applying to is trying to get me to go so I can join their MTB team. Seems like they do a lot of races; any advice on racing? What equipment will I need? How much does it cost? Etc. If possible, could you, dear reader, provide a few reference links to racing for newbies? I only ride recreationally, but I do ride a lot.

3) Are disc brakes really that good to regular V-brakes (as the ones on the Apex in 1) What dis/advantages do they have? Are they high maintenence? Etc.; I went to a few disc brake manufacturers' sites, but all their information is technical: they expect the reader to already know about disc brakes.

4) What's "travel length" and such? Why would I want a 80mm or 120 mm travel fork?

5) All these new pedals confuse me! Why do I need those ridiculous-looking small ones with the hook on thingies (excuse my technical talk)? What advantages do they have besides making sure that you'll fall when stopping?

That's all for now. Thanks a lot for taking the time to read through and perhaps even answering them. I really appreciate it.
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Old 02-02-03, 02:13 PM   #2
moabrider47
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I don't have a lot of time to reply to this, but there are many recent threads here on the forums about nearly every topic you presented. One of interest to you might be the one in the Mountain Bike Racing subforum about what to expect/what equipment is needed for a first race. There are also many debates regarding the discs vs, V-brake setups here. Might be worth searching some of these discussions in addittion to the suggestions made in response to this post. Good luck in getting the right bike!


-Moab
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Old 02-02-03, 03:12 PM   #3
dirtbikedude
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Here are some links you could check out.


bike results

USAcycling

Products & reviews

SheldonBrown

Also, I would say speak with the coach at the school. See what equipment they use. If he wants you to ride for them he should be more then happy to help you out.
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Old 02-02-03, 06:14 PM   #4
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EpsilonArmati,

I have more time to reply now.

Question 1: Search the forums, especially the mountain bike racing subforum.

2. Disc brakes really are that good over V-brakes, if you get a quality set. I have not ridden a bike nor talked to anyone with the Shimano mechanicals that come on the Apex. Mechanicals can easily rival the stopping power of hydraulics, especially in an XC situation, where the downhills/speed won't be as severe as those experienced by downhillers who often opt for the hydraulics. I know that many people have had very good luck with the Avid mechanical disc brakes, and I have ridden a bike with them. The difference they make is amazing. Perhaps you could get the LBS to swap the discs to Avid's when you buy the bike. If not, they are selling for around $70 at most any mail order place, and they are not hard to install, as they come with instructions. Discs may require a little more time to set up at first for intial setup, and you might have to fiddle around to make sure that you don't have a problem with one of the pads touching the rotor, but I feel that it is worth it. Otherwise, you can just go with a quality set of V-brakes, which will save you some weight, though many disc systems now are not far from the weight of some V-brake systems. Disc brakes should not be high maintenance. You should only have to worry about changing pads and cables, just like a V setup, if you stick with the hydraulics.

3. Travel is the amount of, well, travel that your fork has. When you are riding the bike, the travel is the amount of "squish" your fork has. So, an 80mm travel fork will "travel" about 80mm to absorb hits. You will probably want to stay in the 80mm or so range if you are going to be racing. If this will also be a multi-purpose bike, you might want the extra travel of a 100mm fork. The bike is still certainly raceable. 120mm forks are often found on more trailbike-oriented bikes, and may be a bit too inefficient as a race bike fork. If you have lockout, though, you shouldn't have to worry. I didn't check on the fork that the Apex comes with, but it would be worth finding out. You should also be careful about replacing the fork with one with a different amount of travel because it can change geometry of the bike noticeably by raisng or lowering the front end. Some people don't mind the change, but it would be worth considering if you will be looking at changing the fork.

4. Those "rediculously small pedals" are clipless pedals. They are designed to work with a cleat made by the manufacturer. The cleats attach to the bottom of a specially designed shoe with a very stiff sole meant to make as efficient a use of your power as possible, by keeping your shoes from flexing. They help by letting you pull up on the pedal while pushing with the other, creating a more efficient pedal stroke. They also help by keeping your feet on the pedals over the rough stuff. And they don't guarantee a fall while still attached to the bike. With a little practice, you can become profficient at getting out of the pedals very fast. They also have release tension screws, so you can start out with the pedals letting you out very easily, and increase the tension as you become better to avoid accidental releases. You will fall at first, but is well worth it, especially if you plan on racing.
Good luck with the racing! Hoped this helped some.


-Moab
Edited for spelling/punctuation.
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Old 02-03-03, 11:19 AM   #5
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1) around $1,000 is a great place to be budget wise for what you've described as your plans for riding!

2)regarding racing. Just do it! Click on the Racing Subforum to get some more info. If the coach is asking you to join his team, ask if team members get special deals on bikes, accessories...etc. You may want to hold off buying a bike until you find out what kinda deals you can get through the team. Other than that all you'll need to start is a helmet (should already have) and a NORBA license, which you need to race any santioned event (get those at the race registration tent).

3)You don't NEED disc brakes. Unless you are riding a lot of downhill sections. Vee-Brakes (linear pull) work great for 99% of what most people ride. Plus, if you're planning on racing, they're lighter weight and easier to adjust. I will add that discs are sweet, but cheap ones aren't worth the hassle.

4)Travel was well described in an earlier response, but stick with 80-100 mm for XC and all around riding!

5)Clipless pedals are a definate upgrade once you get comfortable on your bike. They'll help your pedaling effiency and will make you a better rider. However, as a newbie, stick with regular pedals until you get real comfortable on your bike. If your bike comes with clipless, keep em, but buy a second set of pedals. BTW, you need special shoes as well!

L8R
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