Alright, so I'm biking with this kid a week ago. He's not really my "friend" so I'm going to call him a "kid." Wow I bet you're all glad that I got that out of the way. Ok, so I think I'm a pretty good rider until he comes along. He races NORBA and recently got 3rd in the sport class in a a race he did around here.
I have a Specialized Rockhopper FSR XC (full suspension and discs), and he has a Trek 8500 also with discs. First difference: full vs. hardtail. Second difference: he has tubeless and I have tubes. His tires were also at a higher PSI than mine. Three: his seat was really high, while mine was just normal height. Four: he is 6'3" and I am 5'10". My question is this: he is not very strong at all, I am a lot stronger than him in general; legs, upper body, ect... Not to show off, but this just confused me because he was just so dam fast on the trails. He was definately showing off, but he was still fast. This brought me to the question of what makes a good biker, the bike or the rider?
Transition Dirtbag, Kona Roast 2002 and specialized BMX
Some will say 80% rider, 20% bike etc...but really its a combination of too many things. Did he spin faster at a hard gear? Long legs help create a misconception of strength. Tall thin guys are not weak by any means. Maybe he was fresher? Tubes vs tubeless...not sure if that matters to any major degree.
Some people are just genetically there, maybe he had more confidence in corners? Maybe when thing got a little rough he picked a better line or better yet blew through the tech stuff without worrying about finding the cleanest line? Maybe this is a pound for pound thing. Him at 170 is stronger than you pound for pound at 150 for example (a russian weight lifter proved this many time called the pocket) How are you measuring strength, weight bench or just guessing. I am stronger than anyone I have ever ridden with (including pros) and I am not anywhere near their speeds.
For the simple answer, in the end the best rider will always be the best biker regardless of skill. Take two equal riders and stick them on a huffy vs a race bike, the race bike will win by a signifigant margine. I think when it comes to normal people, like myself, the bike plays a BIG role. Confidence, comfort and just plain loving your bike have a way of making you better.
Confidence, comfort and just plain loving your bike have a way of making you better.
Thats what I think. Confidence is something that makes the bike around 20-30% of it. Either confidence in yourself. (Cornering and such) or confidence in the bike (Knowing it will make it thru the rough stuff). Thats why I'd say its 70% rider 30% bike. Maybe its me. But the bigger the bike (on DH courses) the more confidence you have. (ex. DC forks verses SC)...hopefully someone will understand my loosely nit jumble of words.
2004 Raleigh Talus, 2001 Motobecane Vent Noir (Custom build for heavy riders)
It may sound stupid, but being "one with your bike" helps.
By that, I mean having a properly fitted bike, that you re extremely familiar with.
I'm definately not a good rider, I usually just power through anything technical, but my friends think I'm some hotshot....all that's going on is I know my bike, what it can take (far more than I can dish out), and how to get it to go where I want it to....that's it. Now, getting enough skill to use finesse and picking lines and such will come in time...but for now I'll just use brute force and just power through any obstacle that gives me a dirty eye....
....oh, and I still get dropped by wiry highschoolers.