I am a beginner MTB'er. I am a bit large at 5'9" and 245. I have a hybrid for the road and wanted to get into the woods abit. Last fall I purchased a Felt six 70 (26"). Seemed like a decent bike. It had Manaul disc brakes and a suntour XLT front fork. After riding awhile I was getting beat up pretty bad. I live in VT and roots are everywhere. I was not happy with the brake so I upgraded to a set of Shimano Hydro's and they were a huge improvement. The front shock made me bounce all over the place. So I looked around and found a decent price on a Suntour Epicon air ride fork. It has improved the bounce considerably, but the roots still pounded me pretty hard. So I put the bike up for the winter and have been trying to decide what to do for spring.....
Is it a combination of things (my weight, bike, tire size, fork?) that are causing the problem? It honestly was not much fun for me to ride even on the beginner trails. When I hit a root it just transfers through my hands first then the rear tire hit and my back gets jolted...... It was very discouraging!
So I am trying to decide if I should just stick to riding my Trek 7.3 on the road and give up on the MTB or should I look at improving componets or buy a new MTB that is more suited for my riding conditions? Budget is tight so if I need to upgrade the bike I would probably look for a used bike and/or componets. Are there any older bikes that would fit me needs???????
Franken-mountain bike, mid-90s Performance TR1000, 1990 Cannondale ST400
I think your bike is fine for the type of riding you describe. I'm 5'8", 230 lbs, and my trail bike is a franken-mtb hardtail I cobbled together, with a Suntour XCR-MG fork (though I did put a considerably stiffer spring in it). Until I upgraded the drivetrain this winter, it was essentially your bike but with a 7 speed drivetrain instead of a 9.
Tire pressure and size are something to consider, as narrower tires or those with more air in them will absorb less of the impact. I generally run anywhere between 28 and 34 psi in 2.1" wide tires, generally starting at 34 and then letting some air out as needed if I don't like the way the bike feels/handles (especially in my front tire, which tends to slip out under turning at higher speeds if I've got too much air in it).
How are you approaching the roots? Do you just run straight into them, and are you seated or standing? Of course, you're always going to feel some of the impulse transfer through the bike, but generally when I'm approaching roots I'll stand up and pop up the front wheel right as I'm crossing, and then let my legs handle the shock of the rear. If there's only one or two roots and not much chance of faceplanting, I'll sometimes transfer my weight forward a bit as the rear wheel crosses to reduce the jolt some as well. If there happens to be a whole tangle up ahead where I cannot do what I've described above, I tend to slow down and just sort of crawl over them.
Oh, and a decent set of gloves will help absorb the shock to the hands, as will letting your elbows bend a little.
Make sure your fork sag is set properly and slow down your rebound setting. The fork should sag about 25% of its travel when you are seated on the bike. If you have a 100mm travel fork, it should sag 25mm with you on it. Adjust the air pressure in the fork until you get the proper amount of sag. You can use a zip tie on the fork leg to see how far it sags. The rebound setting on the fork controls how fast the fork bounces back after hitting something. Slow it down so the fork doesn't instantly transfer the shock to the handlebars. You'll have to experiment to find the right rebound setting for your terrain. Too slow and the fork won't rebound fast enough to keep it from packing up(becoming progressively shorter and stiffer) on successive hits. Too fast and it will transfer the shock to the handlebars.
Wilier Zero7, Litespeed Tuscany, Santa Cruz Superlight
Originally Posted by Zephyr11
Technique makes a huge difference. Light hands, heavy feet, with your weight centered over the bottom bracket. And don't be afraid to get out of the saddle and let the bike move underneath you.
What he said. Assuming you're coming up on patches of roots, stand up, stay relaxed and keep the front wheel light, and let the bike bounce around beneath you.
if your trails are ALL roots, you might need to consider full suspension since it's unlikely you can stand 100% of the time. I finally went to full sus after a 12 hour race, where my hard tail beat me to death over successive laps.