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Old 04-18-08, 11:12 AM
Getting older and slower
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Silicon Valley, CA, USA
Posts: 102

Bikes: Beat-up commuter, Chumba XCL for the dirt

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I have had to learn (the hard way, of course) that mountain biking isn't just about sitting in the saddle and cranking. It's about sliding around on the saddle looking for the balance point on uphills, getting behind the saddle on downhills, getting off the saddle entirely in the rough stuff, etc. Road riding is about sitting in the saddle and cranking. That may be part of your issue with the new bike.

My personal experience is that it's very difficult to make the same bike work well on both pavement and trail. You will have to make a compromise somewhere. I would recommend buying a used touring bike for your Japan tour.

That's a nice bike - intended for XC racing I believe - but just looking at that picture makes my wrists hurt! It's OK for a really fit rider to have the bars below the saddle... but that's a bad idea for a novice. I suggest getting the bars at least level with the saddle. You can swap bars and/or stem to get your hands up higher. Lightweight high-rise stems are rare these days, but there are plenty of cheap ones available, so spend a couple of bucks and experiment. And check out Ergon grips. I switched my MTB to Ergon grips and have found them to be a big help.

Also check your saddle position and angle. You may find that pointing the saddle's nose up slightly helps keep the weight off your hands on the flats. You may also find you need a saddle with a wider nose to be comfortable while climbing. Or you may need a wider saddle, period, depending on the structure of your "sit bones".

It may take you a while to get the bike to properly fit you. For me it's a never-ending quest. And you will find that "proper fit" changes with experience and conditioning. It's worth the trouble to get it right.
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