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Old 06-24-09, 09:37 AM   #1
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Still trying to get it right...

Back in the 90's, I would read bike reviews talking about how well such'n'such bike climbed...blah, blah, blah.


Now days, every time they review a bike (namely a suspension bike) they always say "pick a comfortable gear and spin you way up the hill.) This is the manufacturer and marketing making an excuse for a bike that has no chance of being an exceptional climber. Sitting and spinning will get you there eventually. The funny thing is that this isn't the quickest way up the hill. I know that the marketing hype now days centers around the 5-6" travel trail bike, but I'm thinking that it really doesn't apply to me. When I had my Jamis XLT dually, I read all the reviews on it that said the same thing about picking a comfy gear and spinning. I must agree that it would get up any hill as long as you did it that way. The problem is that it is obviously going to take forever spinning a 22/34 gear compared to a 32/16. But standing and honking on any suspended bike will cause the suspension to compress and suck up some of your energy. The amt. obviously varies by design.


I'm not telling you anything you don't already know yet...I know. I wanted to test this theory with a couple of bikes that were closer in design than the very different 5" dually and a rigid SS. So lets take the marketing hype out of the picture and just use 2 hardtails...1 rigid/1 front suspended with a lockout.


I’ve been trying to “mirror” the general handing and very basic geometric feel of my two hardtails which I knew was virtually impossible with the given criteria though I was hoping to get within the same ballpark.

Criteria:
Bike #1 has longer TT, so I was trying to compensate bike #2 with a 20mm longer stem length and different saddle position.

Bike #1 has a Fox Float 140 RL 511mm A2C with a low stack headset and fewer stem spacers. Bike #2 is rigid 440mm A2C with a taller than normal rigid fork, extra-tall stack headset, and added stem spacers. So it’s a 71mm taller fork, but subtract the 10mm taller lower bearing cup and extra 30mm stem spacer…and you’re left with only 1” difference.

Bike #1 is a 1x9…Bike#2 is SS.

Bike#1-26 3/4lbs
Bike#2-22.5lbs


Results:
Saddle-to-handlebar length is the same. When seated, they both feel similar. When standing, Bike #1 feels a bit cramped for climbing. Theory: slacker seat tube angle on Bike#1 causes the distance from bars to saddle to be fine, but the saddle is further behind the BB shell than Bike #2. When standing, there is less room from the vertical plane through my BB to the handlebars.

Stand-and-mash climbing seems to be what works best for me. I like to just “get there”. Bike #1 is heavier than Bike #2, but the 9 gears should in theory make up for a lot. Climbing the same steep/long/paved hill on both bikes for testing resulted in more fatigue on my geared bike no matter what gear I used. I climbed it on my rigid in 32/15 and 32/16. I climbed it on my geared bike with the fork locked out in 32/15…32/17…32/34. Stand’n’mash in the higher gears…sit’n’spin in 32/34. I also climbed it on my 3x7 rigid Raleigh in the granny and lowest cog. (26/30 or something like that) No matter what I did, climbing that hill feels pretty easy on the rigid SS with 2:1 ratio.

Why?
1. Weight
2. Geometry causing me to be more cramped on Bike #1
3. Taller front end on Bike #1

Descending…the geo’s of both bikes are comfy. The Float definitely makes a bit quicker work of the tech stuff, but at what price?


I know that if I had access to some more "open" trail networks, I would feel a bit differently about the situation. By "open", I mean a trail with alot of extended DH, long open pedaly sections that aren't exactly "steep climb/roll 20feet / steep descent / roll 20feet / repeat. I don't even feel that I'm taking advantage of my 5.5" fork anymore.

I’m starting to scare myself…

Last edited by ed; 06-24-09 at 10:10 AM.
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Old 06-24-09, 10:11 AM   #2
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I'm not exactly sure what ur gettin at, but it sounds kinda like "I can climb better on my SS" and "fs bikes are hard to climb with"

I think the true advantage of gears is for when you are tired, a ss would be alot tougher for those 12hr+ races. And you can't go as fast down hills

My FS def sucks up some power climbin, but i think it makes up for it by keepin the rear wheel on the ground, I've also noticed I stand and smash differently then i did on a hardtail or on my roadbike, hard to describe it just kinda happens, but its kina like quicker bursts of energy instead of truely honking on the pedals, so i can still sprint up the hill but with less pedal bob than if i wear to truely crank it, I guess its just smashing in a slightly easier gear
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Old 06-24-09, 10:22 AM   #3
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Sorta...I can climb better with my Rigid bike than I can a geared bike that's locked out. (I'm still trying to decide what I'm getting at here too)

I suppose since I've figured out that I'm a standing climber...I'm just contemplating the need for my front suspended bike at all, I guess. I can understand the 12+ hr ride theory...but that won't apply to me until my kids move out and get jobs.
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Old 06-24-09, 10:24 AM   #4
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I'm almost ready to throw the rigid fork over on it to see what it feels like.
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Old 06-24-09, 10:28 AM   #5
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What, no actual times over various climbs with details of distances and altitude? I've been on trails where climbing with a hardtail would be harder to do than on a fs bike (well, the ones I've used or have). I don't race so getting to the top quickly has little value, I'll get there. Overall comfort on a long ride is important to me, I can ride longer distances and climb longer on a full suspension bike...
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Old 06-24-09, 11:02 AM   #6
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Riding up hills fast is lame. Enjoying the agony is where it's at.
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Old 06-24-09, 11:17 AM   #7
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What, no actual times over various climbs with details of distances and altitude? I've been on trails where climbing with a hardtail would be harder to do than on a fs bike (well, the ones I've used or have). I don't race so getting to the top quickly has little value, I'll get there. Overall comfort on a long ride is important to me, I can ride longer distances and climb longer on a full suspension bike...
I think for me...it's how I feel after a few climbs that makes the decision. I can do alot more and still have energy to "have fun" with the geometry/weight/gearing??? of the SS.

I'm still unsure what it is that's making it so much harder.


For times/distances/altitude...I'll have to bust out my man panties and a computer soon.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:06 PM   #8
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I think it is easier because you have been riding ss (more often it seems) and the 2:1 gear ratio is starting to be natural for you. Riding ss becomes easier the more you ride, in my opinion, because you eventually get used to mashing pedals, cadence, trail conditions, picking lines, etc. If you want to further conduct your mini experiment ask someone, preferably someone who doesn't typically ride bikes, to ride the 1x9 and then the next day ask them to ride the ss and after each ride see how they felt, physical exertion, difficulty of climbing. My guess is that more people would like the 1x9 over the ss unless they have massive guads.. which then we know what they would choose.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:15 PM   #9
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short punchy climbs i tend to get up faster on my SS. it's the long drawn out lungbusters and fire road type grinds that end up being faster on the geared bike, where the SS just ends up as a slow grind. they share pretty damn similar setups and geometries.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:19 PM   #10
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I'm a firm believer in lock out. If I ever get a full suspension.... it will have lock out.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:26 PM   #11
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^^ Funny, I've never felt a big need to lock out a fork yet - - even though I have one that I can. Even that big ol' 7" Storm and I have a good understanding of each other to where it really doesn't occur to me.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:28 PM   #12
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I'm a firm believer in lock out. If I ever get a full suspension.... it will have lock out.
why? it defeats half the purpose of having rear suspension anyhow. it's not all about keeping your ass cushy from bumps, but quite a bit about maintaining traction. locking your bike out on anything but a smooth climb is sorta' pointless.

people need to learn to tune and adjust their forks and shocks so that they actually work properly rather than just locking it out to get rid of movement when not wanted.
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Old 06-24-09, 12:50 PM   #13
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I'm a firm believer in lock out. If I ever get a full suspension.... it will have lock out.
Great plan - until you lock it out for the climb & then remember 2 hours later that your rear shock is still locked out.
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Old 06-24-09, 01:43 PM   #14
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I'm just over-analizing crap again. If I start thinking weird crap and start another thread like this again, somebody just publicly shun me.

I just went out for an hour or so on the 1x9...it felt good. I just need to chill out with trying to build a bike that doesn't exist...and try working harder on the motor a bit more. (if the wife and kids will let me out)

I agree with the punchy climbs.
I agree that I've become more comfy with 2:1.
I agree that lockouts on rear suspension are weak.
I agree that fork lockouts on dual suspension bikes are dumb.
I agree that gnar/tech climbs are best suspended.


Most of where I noticed and tested this latest crap has been on long smooth climbs...short punchy climbs...no rocky ones.

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Old 06-24-09, 01:50 PM   #15
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^^ Funny, I've never felt a big need to lock out a fork yet - - even though I have one that I can. Even that big ol' 7" Storm and I have a good understanding of each other to where it really doesn't occur to me.
I agree, unless its super smooth i don't like to lock stuff out, i like to keep my wheel on the ground and use the help to get over bumps ect, I'll use my propedal on really long smooth climbs, but I only ever lock out the fork for those sections where I end up on the road for a bit
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Old 06-24-09, 02:46 PM   #16
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gear your SS for the climbs - as low as whatever you need to get up the climbs on your trails. consider: on long flats it's coast/spin/coast/spin, and longer sections of dh you're coasting anyhow once you've spun out, so being under geared for those, well, so what?

we have lots and lots of short but very steep stuff out here, with lots of short and steep downs spread between sections of flat stuff, with all the roots and rocks. not much smooth. my SS is a 32x21 and with the way the trails are, i've no trouble keeping up with my usual riding buds. yeah we're not norba race pacing it, but we're not exactly crawling either.
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Old 06-25-09, 07:49 PM   #17
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The tires make a lot of difference as well.. Rolling resistance still matters. plus you were on pavement.

look at a road bike they have narrow tires and the gearing on them is much higher, yet they climb much better than a mtb.

SS is ok, but in no way would it be a better climber. on a geared bike you can adjust the gear with the pitch of the climb to keep it going smoother, but on the 1x1 you going to have to mash. Mashing may be quicker, but it can wear you out before the top of a long climb..

just to chime in on the subject I have never used the lockout on my full suspension front or rear.
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Old 06-25-09, 08:40 PM   #18
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Yeah, I dont imagine much need for lockout on today's FS bikes. On URT wally world bikes, yes, but even on most single pivot bikes, I dont know that its really needed (honestly, the only FS bike I've ever ridden was a single pivot, and I felt no need for lockout).
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