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  1. #1
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    Tips for riding trails for the first time...

    Hey guys,

    I'm a MTB enthusiast and wanted to get into the trail stuff. I wanted to get advice from the experts before hurting myself or anybody else. If you know of any good reading on a web site, please post the link.

    I have an 95 GT Zaskar with all XT components. I recently upgraded from cantilever to V-brake. Also went from clip to clipless. Maybe need to replace the fork and the rest of the components as they are getting worn.

    Anyway, can you share your tips on:

    1) techniques (I'm a trail newbie, just mention them and I'll google them)
    2) clothing
    3) safety
    4) (put your own field here...)

    Thanks !!
    Mariano

  2. #2
    one less horse cryptid01's Avatar
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    1)Techniques: wheelie, bunnyhop, suicide no-hander

    2)Clothing: optional but recommended

    3)Safety: First. Always. Well, most of the time, anyway. Wear a helmet at least.

    4)Find someone to ride with who's at a similar skill level.

  3. #3
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mariano
    Hey guys,



    I have an 95 GT Zaskar with all XT components. . Maybe need to replace the fork and the rest of the components as they are getting worn.
    Seriously. In the last 10 years fork travel has increased to the point that even the lowest amount of travel will screw the handling of your current bike by raising the front end and slowing your steering. Keep the old bike as a commuter and throw your $$$ at a new ride. The money you'll throw at this one to upgrade it will buy you a bike that will slaughter what you have even with upgrades

  4. #4
    Senior Member iamthetas's Avatar
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    first off get used to the new pedals before hitting the trails.find someone who is better than you but patient. find an easy trail and take it slow. do it over again as many times as you need to before going to more extreme stuff.look up braking tecniques. they are not hard but need practice. most important have fun and dont worry if you dont get it right the first time. if you need to walk that big hill do it.and keep trying till you make it. there are some areas that will take practice in the right angle,gear,speed and the direction you hold your tongue to get through them.you will fall,you will not get it right always, and when you get done you will be better than yesterday.practice practice practice and have fun.welcome to the forum
    for the creation was subjected to futility,not willingly , but because of Him who subjected it in hope...that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:20-29
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    Raiyn, the way I see it, I'd rather spend $$$ gradually as I learn to ride. When I bought this HT, I looked for a cheap used with good components. Now it is time to move on, but would like to experiment more before spending big bucks on a new ride. i can always take the upgraded components to a new frame.

    To be honest, I feel the use of a suspension fork, but can't tell if it's stiff or not, or how it affects the bike handling. So why go for a new ride if I haven't learned enough?

    The way I see it: if you want to learn to drive a sports car, buy a cheap Mustang and then go for a Viper. Don't learn from a Viper...

  6. #6
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mariano
    Raiyn, the way I see it, I'd rather spend $$$ gradually as I learn to ride. When I bought this HT, I looked for a cheap used with good components. Now it is time to move on, but would like to experiment more before spending big bucks on a new ride. i can always take the upgraded components to a new frame.

    To be honest, I feel the use of a suspension fork, but can't tell if it's stiff or not, or how it affects the bike handling. So why go for a new ride if I haven't learned enough?

    The way I see it: if you want to learn to drive a sports car, buy a cheap Mustang and then go for a Viper. Don't learn from a Viper...
    The $500 bucks you'll spend on upgrades will buy you a competent bike that will allow you to grow in the sport. You're throwing money down a rat hole with your current ride. TRUST ME ON THIS I do this stuff for a living.

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    Well, I might have a misconception then. I believed that if you look for good deals, it would cost almost the same to build your bike than buying a complete one.

    The only reason why I wouldn't like to spend $500 on a new ride is because I haven't seen a $500 ride with XT components. I used to ride a brand new $1300 GT Zaskar and liked the ride. I thought to stick to it while I learn and then upgrade to a better ride.

    What do you think?

  8. #8
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Number 1 concern is commitment. Only try something when you are ready to ride it out. I don't know how many time *I* or people I was riding with got into accidents on because they wouldn't commit. In reality biking is pretty easy...its always in your head if you have a problem with something, you will be suprised by what your bike can do

  9. #9
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mariano
    Well, I might have a misconception then. I believed that if you look for good deals, it would cost almost the same to build your bike than buying a complete one.

    The only reason why I wouldn't like to spend $500 on a new ride is because I haven't seen a $500 ride with XT components. I used to ride a brand new $1300 GT Zaskar and liked the ride. I thought to stick to it while I learn and then upgrade to a better ride.

    What do you think?
    How old are these XT components? if they're the same age as the bike - you ain't going to miss much

  10. #10
    Senior Member iamthetas's Avatar
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    maybe im missing something here but I thought the question was about learning to ride and not whether the bike met specs. I believe we have all at one point or another been in a spot where someone gave advice and we did not listen. lets not get into a urinating match over the bike.like Mael said try it and see if you are going to commit to this and then upgrade.a $50, $500,or $5000 bike is of no value if you do not ride it
    for the creation was subjected to futility,not willingly , but because of Him who subjected it in hope...that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Romans 8:20-29
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  11. #11
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    Yes, the question was not whether my bike meets the specs or not. Anyway, I appreciate any feedback from experienced riders on anything that might be useful to me.

    The XT components are old as the bike. However:

    - The brakes are 2004 XT V-brakes
    - Shifters and brake levers have never been abused and operate smoothly
    - Derailleurs operate correctly

    What I need to change, because it could be a safety hazzard, is the chain, the crankset and cassette. So far it happened two times that the chain got stuck in the crankset and wouldn't like to see that happen if I hit a trail.

    Also, as Rayin suggested, I'm concerned whether the fork is going to affect the ride or not. So I was thinking that I might do this to get going:

    Change crankset: XT $270
    Change cassette: XT 8-spd $45
    Chain for XT: $25
    New fork: $100~$200

    Seat post is ok, frame is not abused and in good shape, brakes are new, cables are cheap, wheels are still in good shape, I already have new tires, brackets (hubs?) are in good shape, have new clipless pedals, etc.

    In the future, with more experience, I could change the frame (HT or FS), change the wheels and still keep the XT components (maybe change the cassette for a 9-spd and new shifters).

    I am looking for info in:

    1) techniques: how to handle rough terrain, gravel, loose dirt, downhills, turning, riding over roots or rocks, wet conditions, braking, how to position the body when going downhill, braking and rurning (I had the painful experience of landing with my ( )( ) in the frame... ouch)

    2) clothing: I'd rather do it with clothes. What kind of clothing? should I expect several falls? jerseys and shorts? regular shirt and jeans? tight or loose? layers or light clothing?

    3) safety: helmet of course. Do you generally protect your knees, elbows or wrists? Generally I'm not prone to accidents, but if I have to wear them...

    4) (your tip here...)

    Thanks!

  12. #12
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mariano
    The XT components are old as the bike.

    Also, as Rayin suggested, I'm concerned whether the fork is going to affect the ride or not. So I was thinking that I might do this to get going:

    Change crankset: XT $270
    Change cassette: XT 8-spd $45
    Chain for XT: $25
    New fork: $100~$200
    !
    Swap your XT brakes onto this.
    http://www.specialized.com/SBCBkMode...zhqb2iw.j27007
    You're blinded by the fact that the components that you have are XT, nevermind the fact that they are 10 tears old. I can assure you that the Geore level equipment on the bike I linked to will shift as well if not BETTER than what you presently have. Plus for the equipment that you're looking to purchase you have all new stuff PLUS a new frame that's actually WORTH upgrading. But what do I know? I only work on bikes for a living. The frame is fine, but it's not worth the upgrades that you want to do

  13. #13
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iamthetas
    maybe im missing something here but I thought the question was about learning to ride and not whether the bike met specs. I believe we have all at one point or another been in a spot where someone gave advice and we did not listen. lets not get into a urinating match over the bike.like Mael said try it and see if you are going to commit to this and then upgrade.a $50, $500,or $5000 bike is of no value if you do not ride it
    I think Mael was talking about when your riding. I have seen lot's of riders crash becuse they were holding back and trying not to crash.When you see a section that you are unsure about, pick out your line and commit.Thats how you progress.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

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    Try and find a riding partner thats better than you....but is willing to help you, and not just run off ahead. Itd help you so much to learn in person, and watch what they do...other than that, raise your seat up and stay seated most of the time

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    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raiyn
    Swap your XT brakes onto this.
    http://www.specialized.com/SBCBkMode...zhqb2iw.j27007
    You're blinded by the fact that the components that you have are XT, nevermind the fact that they are 10 tears old. I can assure you that the Geore level equipment on the bike I linked to will shift as well if not BETTER than what you presently have. Plus for the equipment that you're looking to purchase you have all new stuff PLUS a new frame that's actually WORTH upgrading. But what do I know? I only work on bikes for a living. The frame is fine, but it's not worth the upgrades that you want to do
    Raiyn, he's showing a new fork estimate around $100 to $200 Does that seem low to you?

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    I'm curious...you're an enthusiast...but you've never been on a trail before...how does that work? You've had your bike for 10 years...but never ridden it?

    from what it sounds like, everything works on the bike. am I wrong? If everything works, why not go out and ride it? learn the techniques that you need for mountain biking, and from there, you'll find out whether you should uprgrade anything or buy a new bike.

    that said, the thing that has changed the most in the past 10 years is definitly the fork design. cranks, derailleurs, shifters, etc, have changed shape, but fundamentally, they are very similar. I think you'd be very dissapointed in the change that a 270 dollar crankset would make.

    So, if you've got that 500 bucks buring a hole in your pocket, i'd say to spend it on a 400-500 dollar fork. dont waste your money on a new crank, etc.

  17. #17
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phatman
    I'm curious...you're an enthusiast...but you've never been on a trail before...how does that work? You've had your bike for 10 years...but never ridden it?

    from what it sounds like, everything works on the bike. am I wrong? If everything works, why not go out and ride it? learn the techniques that you need for mountain biking, and from there, you'll find out whether you should uprgrade anything or buy a new bike.

    that said, the thing that has changed the most in the past 10 years is definitly the fork design. cranks, derailleurs, shifters, etc, have changed shape, but fundamentally, they are very similar. I think you'd be very dissapointed in the change that a 270 dollar crankset would make.

    So, if you've got that 500 bucks buring a hole in your pocket, i'd say to spend it on a 400-500 dollar fork. dont waste your money on a new crank, etc.
    I was just thinking this! Ride the bike you have for a while until you have a problem with something.
    When you get to be a good rider you may find something on that bike you don't like then.
    Don't upgrade for no particular reason.

    If you pay anywhere near retail price it's a less money to buy a new bike than to buy the parts and build one. It's like buying parts at a dealer and building a car....yikes plus the result is better.
    Or maybe it's like rebuilding a computer and still using a 28k modem.

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    I'm a newbie myself but what I'm finding out is you have to shift your weight forwards and back when going up and down hills to keep from falling on your back or going over the bars. Also you have to use your arms a lot more mountainbiking than I'd expected. Also what mtnbiker66 said Maelstrom said is very true. I've found you have to kind of get in a rythm when biking and go with it. You can't stop or try to ride rougher parts too slowly. In fact, they are often smoother if you go through quickly and you'll be less likely to fall. I think this is probably more important than worrying about a fancy components- as a newbie you can't tell a difference. I hate how my cheap fork bobs up and down when riding fast on pavement, but when on a trail, I can't tell a difference. If I were you, I'd make sure the bike you have is safe and ride it till you can get a new one.

  19. #19
    Wood Licker Maelstrom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtnbiker66
    I think Mael was talking about when your riding. I have seen lot's of riders crash becuse they were holding back and trying not to crash.When you see a section that you are unsure about, pick out your line and commit.Thats how you progress.
    Thanks thats exactly what I was saying.

  20. #20
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    Wow, great feedback, guys !!

    Raiyn, the link is not working, can you post it again? I realize that you know much more than I do. That's why I'm asking for feedback. Actually, I never thought of trying other components than XT. I thought that nothing could outperform XT components (but XTR). Thanks for the tip !

    Safety: I need to change at least the chainrings ( ~$80), the chain and the cassette. The chain got stuck between the chainring and the frame a couple of times and that was dangerous. I'll wait to see how I handle the bike before getting a fork or buying a new ride.

    I had the bike for 10 years and most of my miles were done in a big city. My bike only suffered the abuse of jumping on and off sidewalks, and some close encounters with cars and buses. My handlebar ends saved my fingers many times. I used my bike to go to school every day, and I would get right behind a bus to get into the "suction zone", reaching speeds of 35mph. I was crazy and stupid back then...

    The tip on commitment is great. I use my arms a lot and have a good feel of the wheel and fork movements. What I can't figure out is where to put the weight on when going uphill, downhill or turning: rear or front wheel? I should keep my seat post down, I like it very high but seems that it doesn't apply to trails.

    I got my clipless pedals and shoes today. They are heavy !!! Ritchey and Exustar shoes... maybe made a mistake here.

    Just of a curiosity: is there any significant difference between newer frames and old frames? sometimes there are good deals on old frames. Are they worth looking for if you don't have the money for a new one? From what you said, old forks and used components are not a good idea.

  21. #21
    Senior Member Billy Brown's Avatar
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    This has a ton of stuff you should read on technique. Plus, it has quite a bit of other useful and useless info.

    http://www.faqs.org/faqs/bicycles-faq/mountain-bikes/

  22. #22
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mariano

    The tip on commitment is great. I use my arms a lot and have a good feel of the wheel and fork movements. What I can't figure out is where to put the weight on when going uphill, downhill or turning: rear or front wheel? I should keep my seat post down, I like it very high but seems that it doesn't apply to trails.

    Seat down for jumping and exteme grade. Traction is best uphill if you can keep your @$$ on the seat, loose gravel etc requires more weight rear to keep traction. Try leaning back a bit more and lifting the wheel. Cornering will depend on the bike geometry and corner -no straight answer =practice.

    Just of a curiosity: is there any significant difference between newer frames and old frames? sometimes there are good deals on old frames. Are they worth looking for if you don't have the money for a new one? From what you said, old forks and used components are not a good idea.
    Old frames are good, avoid racing bikes that WERE raced.
    The idea for me is that a new chromoly race frame is around $800. To build it up, maybe 800 again.
    If (and I did) you can get a sweet used frame for a couple hunnies, sure.
    Older HQ may be worth a retrofit.
    We're talking frames with peoples names on them, handbuilt.

    Moots
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    Going to cost more than a new bike though.

    Go new Kona.
    Last edited by jeff williams; 02-12-05 at 02:46 PM.

  23. #23
    Senior Member swifferman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mariano
    Wow, great feedback, guys !!

    Raiyn, the link is not working, can you post it again? I realize that you know much more than I do. That's why I'm asking for feedback. Actually, I never thought of trying other components than XT. I thought that nothing could outperform XT components (but XTR). Thanks for the tip !

    Safety: I need to change at least the chainrings ( ~$80), the chain and the cassette. The chain got stuck between the chainring and the frame a couple of times and that was dangerous. I'll wait to see how I handle the bike before getting a fork or buying a new ride.

    I had the bike for 10 years and most of my miles were done in a big city. My bike only suffered the abuse of jumping on and off sidewalks, and some close encounters with cars and buses. My handlebar ends saved my fingers many times. I used my bike to go to school every day, and I would get right behind a bus to get into the "suction zone", reaching speeds of 35mph. I was crazy and stupid back then...

    The tip on commitment is great. I use my arms a lot and have a good feel of the wheel and fork movements. What I can't figure out is where to put the weight on when going uphill, downhill or turning: rear or front wheel? I should keep my seat post down, I like it very high but seems that it doesn't apply to trails.

    I got my clipless pedals and shoes today. They are heavy !!! Ritchey and Exustar shoes... maybe made a mistake here.

    Just of a curiosity: is there any significant difference between newer frames and old frames? sometimes there are good deals on old frames. Are they worth looking for if you don't have the money for a new one? From what you said, old forks and used components are not a good idea.
    Nothing except XTR is better than XT. But your XT components ARE 10 YEARS OLD. This makes a huge difference. What was top of the line 10 years ago, is not top of the line now.

    Buy yourself the RockHopper and move your brakes over. (If link is not working, search Specialized Rock Hopper or you can go with the Kona Blast). Paying for the bike as a whole will get you all the upgrades you wanted to buy, new frame, new rims, new hubs etc. You won't get an XT crankset but i'm not sure how much of a difference you'll be able to detect.

    Trust everybody and buy a whole new bike, the $550 you were going to spend on just components (Btw, you will not get a quality fork for under $300 [unless you buy used]) will get you a whole lot more.

    P.S. Just in case: buying bike components seperately and building a frame up will typically cost a lot more than buying it from the dealer pre-made.

  24. #24
    I drink your MILKSHAKE Raiyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mariano
    Wow, great feedback, guys !!

    Raiyn, the link is not working, can you post it again? I realize that you know much more than I do. That's why I'm asking for feedback. Actually, I never thought of trying other components than XT. I thought that nothing could outperform XT components (but XTR). Thanks for the tip !
    <<<<<<<<<<SNIP>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Just of a curiosity: is there any significant difference between newer frames and old frames? sometimes there are good deals on old frames. Are they worth looking for if you don't have the money for a new one? From what you said, old forks and used components are not a good idea.
    Here's that link again http://www.specialized.com/SBCBkMode...zhqb2iw.j27007 you have to pick your area (on the "One Moment Please" page)
    Newer frames are setup for today's longer travel forks. The forks we use today for XC were considered downhill level travel back 10 years ago (heck most of them have more travel than the DH forks of that era. ) If you try to put one on a older frame that wasn't designed for the amount of travel you're front end will be signifigantly higher than it was before and all of the resultant angles will result in a poor handling bike (as I stated above)
    Last edited by Raiyn; 02-12-05 at 11:02 PM.

  25. #25
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    Yep, you convinced me with that last one. Why bother upgrading if I know it is not going to work correctly. It's like my old Pentium II which I upgraded to 512MB RAM: it the same old slow thing...

    I'll ride my bike until I feel the need of getting a new ride...

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