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Mountain bike vs cross bike for developing better handling?

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Mountain bike vs cross bike for developing better handling?

Old 09-21-17, 03:51 PM
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Mountain bike vs cross bike for developing better handling?

If I want to develop my bike handling skills, like navigating rough terrain, doing bunny hops, etc., would having a more comfy mountain bike hinder my development more than a cross bike? I figure the cross bike will force me to pay more attention to the trail, but I think I'd do that anyway on a mountain bike.

I'm a roadie, trying to develop better technical skills. Right now, I'm considering selling my caadx (ultegra hydraulics) for a less expensive hardtail that I'm not afraid to beat around. At the moment, I have a road bike, a cross bike (also backup road bike), and a commuter/tourer (could be a low end backup road bike). The number needs to stay below 4 (because I have self discipline). I figure I could expand my horizon a little bit if I sell my cross bike, and get a hardtail 29er, which I can turn into a hybrid anytime I want, because I have spare 700c disc wheels from the cross bike. Has anyone faced this dilemma before? Should I stay with the cross bike for developing my handling, or go for a 29er?
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Old 09-21-17, 04:46 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic
If I want to develop my bike handling skills, like navigating rough terrain, doing bunny hops, etc., would having a more comfy mountain bike hinder my development more than a cross bike? I figure the cross bike will force me to pay more attention to the trail, but I think I'd do that anyway on a mountain bike.
If you're riding "rough terrain" then proper line picking at speed(or while crawling up a slabby climb), body position, weighting, ratcheting, manualing, dropping, bunny hopping etc. will happen more quickly, with less potential for bike and body damage, on a mountain bike.
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Old 09-21-17, 05:11 PM
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I suspect that the best bet would be a rigid mtn bike. Like with a cross bike, the rigid frame will force you to use skill to negotiate stuff that would be easier on a non bike, yet the fatter tires and overall more robust construction will fare better during your learning curve.

BTW - if you have a real winter where you are, take the bike out on frozen lakes. When I was young and immortal, friends and I used to play a sort of bike Polo on the local pond. I think that as much as anything honed by sense of oneness with the bike.
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Old 09-21-17, 08:47 PM
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Single speeding on a mountain bike is great. The fad from a few years ago has left some nice used ones for sale, both rigid and suspended. I'd suggest looking for short stays and big tires.
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Old 09-22-17, 09:16 AM
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mtb for sure!
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Old 09-22-17, 10:52 AM
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Find the nearest track and start BMX racing.
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Old 09-22-17, 10:58 AM
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Or do real cyclo cross racing..

the courses tend not to be like rooty single track, but the thing you have to do is be fast, or lapped,
soon after the race starts..






....

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Old 09-22-17, 11:32 AM
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man, you got a pretty sweet cross bike...just ride that on some singletrack and on grass with off camber turns, or some gravel, or some sand and get used to handling it. Practice cornering while keeping your speed through those corners and also practice dismounting and mounting on some grassy field someplace.

Some of the trails I ride are kind of underkill for a mountain bike, so I ride the cross bike on them and it really opens up the fun factor and sharpens the handling skills. If you got to keep the number of bikes down, then I would personally keep the cross bike you got and make it my go to bike for skills training...plus you don't have to drive someplace to use it. Most of my cross training happens in a park in the center of town and I can just ride from my house to it.
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Old 09-22-17, 01:54 PM
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Spect:

You are going to be able to push yourself and your skills a lot farther on a mountain bike.

CX bikes are for agility, MTB is to be able to go fast in really rough terrain. I can go a lot faster on my old school mountain bike than on my cross bike on a technical trail. Fast descents are even faster on a modern mountain bike.

Really where will you be riding? Mountain bikes are best on trails, CX best on routes that are not too flowy or to bumpy/sandy. That and of course if you need suspension….

Yeah, a ridged single speed MTB or CX is going to force you to have good skills (and to slow down a bit) where a more downhill oriented MTB or fat bike is going to cover up a lot of your poor riding technique…

As the car guys say – would you rather drive a fast car slow, or a slow car fast?
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Old 09-22-17, 11:33 PM
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My opinion, a hardtail 27.5 and hit rough areas... I'd even say a used 26.... You don't need something expensive to do technical unless you plan on doing airtime, 8-9 speed stuff can be very durable and cheap. You may end up going a little slower than the other people you are not racing right? You'll still have fun, get the skills and they will transfer. My personally.. I can do a lot more technical and handling on a cheap old 35# flat bar 26in than I can on any dropbar regardless of weight, quality, or tire size.

Last edited by u235; 09-22-17 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 09-24-17, 05:49 PM
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27.5" A nimble full suspension mountain bike with flats.

I rode CX for years to extend my biking season.
I would train in my local trails, but after switching to MTB I became a better rider. MTB forced me to use my bike rather than get off and run. There are obstacles you simply should not scale on a CX bike that are acceptable on MTB. Also, MTB can be more forgiving. If you hit an obstacle improperly, your suspension compensates for your lack of skill.

FS improves your confidence faster by letting you ride over rougher terrain without as much penalty.
Flats are safer to dismount and more confidence inspiring. Flats also encourage proper cycling technique during hops jumps etc. I race MTB and CX clipped in but, I have twisted my ankle falling off a mountain side while still clipped into my bike.
29" is faster in longer flowy trails and 27.5 is faster in tighter technical. but more importantly, the front end is easier to raise
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Old 09-25-17, 04:12 AM
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What Panza said, more or less. However, the generation of 29er trail bikes with slacker front ends are plenty easy to manual. The 27.5s are still easier to throw around when lifting both wheels, if that's your thing.
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