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  1. #1
    Senior Member daintonj's Avatar
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    Technique Advice Needed

    I recently bought a cross bike and have been riding it on the roads with skinny little tyres and loving it, for my weekly off road adventures I've been sticking to my MTB. Well it felt like it was time to get the new bike dirty and I took it on a loop that I find challenging on my MTB (I'm not very good).

    It was terrifying going down steep, rooty (damp) singletrack that was covered in slippery mud and had quite a few sharp corners. However, I think I'm doing it wrong and need advice

    1) My tyres are Conti Speed Kings - are they having a joke with that tread or do people really get up steep muddy technical climbs with tyres like that? Everytime I tried to get some oomph the back wheel would spin uselessly.

    2) Cornering - Are you meant to do something different to MTBs as I overshot one corner, nearly hit a tree on another and fell off the bike on what I'm convinced was actually a straight.

    3) Brakes - These Shimano cantilevers really don't stop as fast as I was expecting. I know about switching to different pads but wanted to check to see how normal this is.

    4) Downhills - Is there something special about technique for going down steep hills on the drops? I had my arse hanging over the back wheel but still felt like I was about to go over the front. Is there anything else I can do?

    I'm seriously considering using my cross bike as a road only bike until I can get my bike handling skills to an acceptable level but would really appreciate any practical advice.

  2. #2
    Senior Member c_m_shooter's Avatar
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    You should probably start on a trail that you do not find challenging on your mountain bike. I rotate my handlebars back afew degrees when I'm going out on moutain bike trails because I find the hoods more secure when going down steep hills. Did you go over the front or were you just scared? I got used to it pretty quick. I haven't found a tire yet for Cross or Mountain bike that will give good climbing traction in mud.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.
    May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. -Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Super Biker Mtn Mike's Avatar
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    Yeah I don't think there's any magic formula. Cross bikes won't do as well as mountain bikes on really technical trails. But here's a few things that I've learned: I like to stay in the drops for fast, steep decents. I find that I get better leverage on the brakes, and my hands feel more secure on the bars when it gets bumpy. Mud tires do wonders for mud; I've been using the Michelin Mud tire. I wish it weren't so expensive ($45? per tire), but I'll keep using them because they work better in mud, dirt and grass.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mtn Mike View Post
    I like to stay in the drops for fast, steep decents. I find that I get better leverage on the brakes, and my hands feel more secure on the bars when it gets bumpy.
    +1

    Bartop interrupter levers are also great for steep descents, you can get your arse back even farther.

    You can't expect a cross bike to work as well as a mountain bike on the kind of terrain you described. You just can't.

  5. #5
    Senior Member daintonj's Avatar
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    Thanks. I didn't expect it to be as easy as the MTB, I was just unprepared for how scary and difficult would be and wanted to make sure I wasn't doing anything completely wrong. I'm now re-assured but have decided that the changing of mudguards and racks is a pain to do every week so I'm going to use my MTB on the trails for now.

  6. #6
    antisocialite dirtyphotons's Avatar
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    it'll get easier. plus for the nontechnical stuff you can go a lot faster.

    p.s. i too like my mtb for a lot of my trail riding, horses for courses. when i do take the cross bike out i don't bother taking off the rack and fenders though (unless it's race season, in which case they're already off).
    Quote Originally Posted by Sheldon Brown
    Because when fashion conflicts with function, I vote for function.

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