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Old 04-30-12, 07:37 PM   #1
Specialized2k10 
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What I have learned since my first time mtb

My first ride was the the first sat of dec of last year. I'm def a roadie but like to mtb once in a while. I have about 200 miles on mtb.

1. It's just as addicting as road cycling.
2. It's a lot more expensive than road cycling mainly because of suspension.
3. I suck descending. I love it on a road bike, I hate it on dirt.
4. My handling skills are terrible on single track
5. A slammed stem isn't always a good thing on a mtb.
6. A 70mm stem helped my handling a lot.
7. I like flat bars over riser bars.
8. Inflating tires close to recommended max psi is never a good idea.
9. Sometimes Its better to get off and push up hill instead of trying spin and tip over.
10. I never knew my leg could shake out of control when doing technical single track.

What are some of the things that you learned after a few months of riding?
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Old 04-30-12, 08:58 PM   #2
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In response to 3- lower that seat!
In response to 8- no it is not a good idea. i run my tires at 20 psi.


Trying to remember back to my first few months, and the tips that I found useful....
1- Use one (maybe two) fingers to brake.
2- Skills such as wheelies and bunny hopping actually have uses
3- Don't grip too hard on descents lol
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Old 04-30-12, 11:10 PM   #3
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Hmm... I'll give this a shot.

1. Ride, Ride, Ride. You can just jump on a bike and ride when you're on the road, on a BMX on dirt, etc. On a MTB on "real" trails, you need to practice more to get good.
2. Loosen up. It's weird. I used to do BMX dirt jumping when I was younger. I thought I was already loosened up, because hey, I know how to ride a bike pretty well from my past. MTB is different. The looser the better. Barely hold on to that bike. Just stand over it, legs bent acting like shock absorbers, and go. Let the bike do whatever it wants under you. You'd be amazed at how much it can just bounce around under you without you crashing.
3. Trust your tires. Still getting this one myself. I'm afraid to go into turns at high speed when they have lots of really choppy stuff leading into them. I'm always worried I'm going to crash due to poor traction. Lately I've been heading at those turns quickly, then right before the turn, just brake hard and try to stop as quickly as possible. It gives me more confidence to trust my tires and the grip they have.

OP, as for MTBing being more expensive, I'd say think more of how they relate. You don't Need super-duper awesome newest tech FS MTB to ride some trails any more than you need the most super awesome light weight plastic("carbon") bike with 11sp electronic shifting Campagnolo equipped road bike to ride around on the road. Totally decent entry level MTB ~ $500. Nice FS MTB with nice components ~ $2000+ and the sky is the limit. Would that be fairly similar to a decent entry level road bike or a nicely spec'd carbon road bike?

And yeah, lower that seat, loosen up your grip and body, trust those tires, and go rip some downhill. Just don't be afraid to fall. You're gonna fall. It won't be as bad as you think it will. I assure you people on this forum crash All the time. And you only occasionally see a thread where someone actually scrapes themselves up enough to make a thread about it. You'll be fine.

Last edited by 3speed; 04-30-12 at 11:13 PM.
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Old 04-30-12, 11:35 PM   #4
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I have the same issue with tires. The sound of tires riding over gravel gets me nervous. I start feeling like my wheel is going to wash out. I know I'm death gripping those handlebars because
my hands are sore after descending. I don't know if it's my fork but I always feel like my hands will slide off the bars because of all the bouncing.

And about expense, maybe it's just me. I've been wanting to upgrade fork but I can't find one thats within my price range, and I'm only looking for a xc fork. I've seen prices for those triple crown downhill forks. Wow!

Ps. I've been nervous about descending that I actually thought about buying a full face helmet. Even though, I don't do anything remotely close to what that helmet is intended for. Did my research and read that they are pretty uncomfortable if you climb with them. I already crashed a few times, tore my rotator cuff when i fell in January. I want to test ride a better fork and see if my bike feels smooth and not like a jackhammer like it does right now. . Time will tell. Later.
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Old 05-01-12, 12:07 AM   #5
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^ Haha, well I guess don't listen to me about not really getting hurt then. I wonder if maybe you managed to tear something because you were tense, like you're describing when you descend. And yeah, a fork upgrade is pretty much the one thing that definitely can be expensive. To me that's something specific kinda like if you wanted to upgrade your brifters on a road bike. Ever look at a new pair of Dura-Ace brifters? $$$. Maybe MTBing is a little more expensive as far as individual parts goes. Anywho, what kind of fork do you have now? What's your budget?
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Old 05-01-12, 12:28 AM   #6
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Right now I have a manitou axel. My budget is about $200. I'm thinking about a rock shox recon silver I saw at a lbs for $230. Or something used for about $150. Like I said, I only have 200 miles On the mtb in 5 months. I'm not trying to put too much into it. Just something that will make it more enjoyable. I've seen tora 302 go for about $120 on eBay. Problem is that right now I need to replace my road wheelset. My rear has cracks and the front might not be too far away. I'll keep researching, or maybe even rebuild/tune up the axel and see how it goes.
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Old 05-01-12, 08:17 AM   #7
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I'd recommend you don't lower your seat. Yes it will help you descend easier but it really burns your thigh muscles out when pedaling on flat or up hill trails. I too used to ride with my seat slammed down and finally people were able to talk me into raising it up to where it should be and I couldn't believe the difference. I had more energy at the end of rides and could pedal up hills so much easier once my seat was positioned right. You could always stop before a descent to lower your seat and then raise it back up after you ride down, but that's a pain in the butt. Another option is buy a telescoping seat post. My buddy has one with a handlebar mounted lever. He can lower the seat down for descents and then raise it back up with out ever stopping his bike. It works like an office chair does when moving it up and down. Finally, just do like I do and get your butt off and behind the saddle on the steep stuff. Remember, proper saddle height for a mountain bike is the same as for a road or Cross bike.

As far as what I learned when first starting to mountain bike? Practice with your clipless pedals in an open grassy field before getting out on the trail. I fell over SO many times because I'd forget I was clipped in, haha.
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Old 05-01-12, 09:32 AM   #8
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Welcome to the world of dust and mud. It is a blast and different fun on two wheels. 200+ miles is starting to get your trail legs. That gravel crunching sound is scary at first. The day will come when you learn to control skid and learn how it behave under you. But like all evil things, just when you think you know how to handle it it dishes you a bowlful of trail rash.

Something I haave learned and relearned on my full suspension. Don't mess with the lockouts once you start descending. Keep both hands on the bar. And speaking of bars, I like a flat bra myself. I've got a riser right now, but prefer the level bar.

I'm still playing at seat position and leg extension. I moved my seat forward @1.5" and raised it some. That allows me to use more hip pedaling on flats and climbing and get behind the seat a tad quicker on descending. I'm not sold on it, just playing with options. A dropper post is probably what I need to consider. A lower center of gravity on the downhills is helpful.

What type pedals are you using. I switched from clipless to pinned platforms with 5.10 shoes. I like the instant escape factor.
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Old 05-01-12, 09:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Specialized2k10 View Post
Right now I have a manitou axel. My budget is about $200. I'm thinking about a rock shox recon silver I saw at a lbs for $230. Or something used for about $150. Like I said, I only have 200 miles On the mtb in 5 months. I'm not trying to put too much into it. Just something that will make it more enjoyable. I've seen tora 302 go for about $120 on eBay. Problem is that right now I need to replace my road wheelset. My rear has cracks and the front might not be too far away. I'll keep researching, or maybe even rebuild/tune up the axel and see how it goes.

YUP-its a sign from the bike powers above-RIDE TRAILS!
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Old 05-01-12, 12:41 PM   #10
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I have my seat height dialed in...I think. I don't have a problem climbing. Unless its super steep. I also did realize that the flat bar helps me keep the front wheel down. With the riser bar, I have a problem that the front wheel tarts lifting on steep grades if I don't move forward. I'm not much of a descender on trails yet. Don't plan on it for now, either. I know I have to practice it though.

I don't have an issue with clipless. I have thousands of miles on clipless pedals on road. Already had my learning falls. As of right now I have SPd cleats. I have thought about those pedals you mentioned but I'm not sure if the climbing would be harder. The bike I bought came with some SPd pedals, I use my older cycling shoes and just bought the cleats. Swapping out pedals would probably be about $100. Rather not spend it and save for a fork.
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Old 05-01-12, 01:51 PM   #11
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I like a flat bra myself.
I would also recommend against padded bras for mountain biking. Personally, I like the Nike Compression ones.
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Old 05-01-12, 02:42 PM   #12
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I would also recommend against padded bras for mountain biking. Personally, I like the Nike Compression ones.
Leave it to the grad student to catch a misspelling. I am so embarrassed!
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Old 05-01-12, 05:05 PM   #13
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Question: i did the zip tie on the fork and got about 50mm travel on a 100mm fork. Is this normal? I went over rock garden and rutted terrain. It wasn't just smooth dirt hills. I was at a bike shop last week and I could tell the fork on a $4000 bike felt soft and glided smoothly. My fork, I need to push hard to get it to move. Which is normal? How much travel is avg on 100mm forks?
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Old 05-01-12, 07:40 PM   #14
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You should get 100mm of travel on a 100mm fork. That said, I've ridden an Axel and I don't think I ever got the full travel out of it either. Part of it was because it was a cheap fork that didn't have the right weight coil in it (and I wasn't about to spend money on it to make it better), and part of it was probably because it's just not a very good fork.

So when I descend on a road bike, for the most part, my butt is on the saddle. One of the big differences with a mountain bike is, when descending, I'm rarely, if ever, sitting. That lets you move your weight freely around the cockpit, lets your legs act as suspension, and lets the bike move beneath you. And when the trail points down, you can move your weight backward, such that your weight is over the bottom bracket. I've found that it sometimes feels like you're not as far back as you think. There'll be times when I think my weight is waaay back, and then I go over the bars...which means my weight wasn't far enough back at all. Same with climbing. There'll be times when I think I'm way over my bars, but then the bike flips backwards, so clearly I wasn't far enough forward.
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Old 05-01-12, 08:26 PM   #15
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after about 17 years of riding, i've learned that no matter how much i know, i still don't know how to really ride a bike.
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Old 05-02-12, 06:32 AM   #16
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After two years of riding, I've learned that I'm pretty much the best rider around...when I'm riding by myself.

Also the best thing you can do to improve handling (adding on to what's already been said) is to look where you want to go. Not just immediately, but about as far ahead as you can see. It's amazing how responsive your hand-eye-coordination is if you just allow it to be. And that way, if/when you do catch a handlebar on a tree or something, you're likely to land more gracefully because your body is still aimed down the trail rather than at said tree.
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Old 05-02-12, 09:27 AM   #17
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Another truism-whatever you stare at is where you will go. Pick a good line and stare. If you choke and stare at what you want to avoid-ouch!
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Old 05-02-12, 06:52 PM   #18
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I've learned that I don't know how to turn properly, especially on banked turns. I'm comfortable over technical stuff (as long as there aren't sudden drops on the side) like rocks, roots, even stairs, but I just can't turn very well. Part of it is a lack confidence in my tires, but mostly I think it's just lack of experience. I have a tendency to want to lean myself over instead of the bike and I can't tell if I need to shift my weight more forward or back.
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Old 05-02-12, 09:19 PM   #19
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There was a video a while back that encouraged staying centered and perpendicular on turns, just lean the bike into the turn. I am learning to do that and gaining confidence. I used to lean with the bike, now I am learning to trust the equipment, takes time. Also, someone here mentioned pushing the front tire into the turn. That was another one that took me a while to get comfortable with. I am surprised how helpful that little trick was.

I was just checking out some Youtube videos thinking I would bring a few over. Sounds like you have been hitting the Ytube lately. Thanks for asking the questions. I am back to learning a few tricks. That got me in trouble a while back. Stay in your comfort zone.
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Old 05-03-12, 04:06 PM   #20
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I know I asked about Fork travel earlier. What difference does travel make? Let's say I'm only getting 50mm travel instead of 100mm. How different will they feel? Also, how would you know when you have your suspension setup the right way? I know it depends on each individual but I'm wondering what I should start looking for.
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