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Old 09-07-11, 11:39 PM   #1
randy2029
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montana dirt road/forest service road riding - which bike?

The bike I had been using as my commuter and dirt road touring (usually day trips, some overnighters) bike got ripped off. Nothing new there. Anyway, it was a Kona Dew Plus hybrid fully rigid, 700X35 tires. Most of the miles were in town, which it was (still is, for the bastard who stole it) excellent for. Dirt road riding was OK, except for rutted and washboarded stretches, which is not unusual where I ride. On those stretches, it could get pretty squirrly, especially on downhills. Worse, it could get pretty jarring on the hands/wrists/arms.

So I'm looking for a new ride. Here's what I want in a bike:

1) Commuting is 90% of my riding - I ride most days, year-round (this is in Montana, so ~6 months of snow and ice or crappiness) - so this is the priority. I don't think I need suspension or fatty tires for town riding. Use studded tires in the winter.

2) Something that handles better on washboarded and rutted roads, and dampens the jarring, especially that from washboarding. Man, that really starts to suck after 20 miles or so...

Thinking of the Kona Splice 29er. I think it would be a good commuter, and would be more sure-footed and more comfortable on rough roads.

3 questions:

1) Any opinions on this bike for my intended use? Maybe I should just stick with a hybrid, one that can accept fatter tires to reduce jarring and handle better?

2) Considering replacing the front suspension fork on the 29er with a rigid fork (my LBS will swap them out for no extra cost - which is reasonable, because the suspension is worth more). The thinking is that it would shave off almost 3 lbs on a 30 lb bike, and be compatible with a wider variety of front racks (I don't have any now, but an thinking of getting some). Does this make sense? FYI, the shocks can be locked out.

3) Does this thread belong in another forum? Newb here.
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Old 09-08-11, 07:18 AM   #2
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Ugh, sorry for the loss. Bike thieves suck.

Personally, I would go with a 26" MTB with front suspension, and a fork that can be locked out. THat's the most flexible combo in terms of
- range of tires you can put on it
- bomb-proof wheels for loaded off-road touring
- usage - MTB, dirt tour, road tour, commute
- lighter than a hybrid

You can get racks for front (and rear) suspension bikes (Delta, Old Man Mountain).
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Old 09-08-11, 07:26 AM   #3
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Check out Salsa's Vaya and Fargo. Others that would work: Rawland, Surly LHT or Crosscheck, Rivendell Atlantis ($$$). All of these models accept beefy tires for off-road riding, yet have geometries closer to road bikes.
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Old 09-08-11, 07:39 AM   #4
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+1 on what Valygrl says.

Out of curiosity, are you in the Missoula area?
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Old 09-08-11, 07:41 AM   #5
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I would go with another 29er. I recently toured dirt roads in WA and BC on my rigid Fargo and didn't have a need or want for front suspension. I really like the way those big hoops smooth things out. It sounds not believable but several times when I was on washboard I barely felt it.

Have you looked at the Muirwoods 9er. It's a god value for a rigid steel 29er but not suspension corrected. A Karate Monkey would also be a good choice depending on your budget.
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Old 09-08-11, 08:06 AM   #6
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I road the Great Divide from Eureka to Helena this summer. I was on a hardtail 29er and carried my load on a Bob trailer. It was a rough route, and I was very glad to have the front suspension. I would have liked full suspension even more. I could put a rack on the back of my hardtail; with full-suspension I think the trailer would be the only way to go. I put a Thudbuster seatpost on, and was very glad I did. It smoothed out some of the jarring on my bum.
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Old 09-08-11, 09:29 AM   #7
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I'm a former resident of Great Falls. How is cycling out in the Big Sky Country? If all goes well I will be riding through the western half of the state next summer from Yellowstone up to the northern tier. I used to commute to work in Great Falls and had to deal with a lot of ignorant people...more so than other parts of the country it seemed. But that was back in the 70's and so things may have changed. I love Montana and would live there full time if it were possible to find some decent work but there isn't a lot of industry out there. Seems like you have to be born there to get your roots set down.
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Old 09-08-11, 07:39 PM   #8
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I'm in Bozeman, indyfabz.

thanks to all for the helpful comments.
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Old 09-08-11, 08:31 PM   #9
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randy2029, My opinions:
1) The Kona should be fine.
2) Keep the front suspension as I think you're able to lock it out if desired and it's weight is really a moot point. My first tour was on my mountain bike with non lock out front suspension and I had no issues.
3) Most people can only budget time for a couple of tours a year and many use their touring bikes in other roles than touring.

Brad
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Old 09-09-11, 03:45 AM   #10
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I would swap the fork but otherwise you'll be in like flint. it sounds like you're ready for suspension anyway.

I have been a little disappointed in the number of narrow 29'er tires are out there..... its tough to fine nice 29 x 1.5 -1.75 mixed tread tires for a 29'er....... most city 700's and wider 700's are not so great for the 29er setups, they seem like small casings on a 29er wheel or something......can't quite put my finger on it, but wish there were more narrowish 29er tires to benefit the city/touring rider.
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Old 09-09-11, 09:27 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by randy2029 View Post
I'm in Bozeman, indyfabz.
Did a 9-day loop starting in Missoula back on June 29th. Rode 30 miles of dirt on Rock Creek Rd. that spans from I-90 a few miles north of Clinton towards Philipsburg and Skalkaho Highway. It's beautiful back there. I have ridden a good deal in MT and love it. I am moving out there when I hit the lottery.
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Old 09-09-11, 11:06 AM   #12
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If you just can't swing a no compromise commuter and a decent mtb, I'd think a cross check would be be the best compromise. I say this because you should want something more tuned to your commute as that is 90% of your riding. A cross check should make a pretty good commuter and be ok off road with big tires. You might even want two sets of wheels/tires, one set for the commute, one for off road. Quick change.
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Old 09-09-11, 11:13 AM   #13
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+1 on Salsa's Vaya. I ride it more than any of my other bikes. Dirt, pavement, gravel, everything.
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Old 09-10-11, 12:01 AM   #14
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i personally love my vaya, i'd rebuilt it a few tims, from light weight commuter to loading touring, to dirt path and trail fast hybrid racer/thing, tires from 28c to 29x2.0 (tight fight) it does everything.
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Old 09-13-11, 07:18 PM   #15
randy2029
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Thanks again for all the suggestions, folks. I'm on a budget and need to keep the bike down below $700. I'm going to keep shopping.
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Old 09-13-11, 07:47 PM   #16
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A front shock bike with lockouts pretty much fits the bill. What isn't clear is how much of your commuting involves washboard surfaces. There's no way around it, if you're riding bumps shocks are great.
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