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Cross bike vs 29er for developing handling skills?

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Cross bike vs 29er for developing handling skills?

Old 09-21-17, 03:51 PM
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spectastic
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Cross bike vs 29er for developing handling skills?

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, 10:12 PM
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This is my opinion I do not know if you or others on this form will love/ like or hate it, but it's my opinion. I have been cycling for over 40 years, which , if you are not familiar with it... before mountain bikes came even out, so yea I am an old time roadie. I did cyclocross racing in the seventies (I was terrible). Soon after mountain bikes came out, I bought one, and saw the advantages with the handlebar style, hands on shifting (as opposed to hands off shifting like downtube shifters, where you are unable to shift when off the saddle) also, I loved the brake lever style. I find road handlebars/ brake levers to be dangerous in many tricky off road situations.

A some point, with the emergence of the mountain bike, I predicted that the cyclocross bike market would actually vanish.
I hope it does not sound too strange but I have this theory that mountain bikes are for off roading and drop/ road handlebar type bike are better suited for on road riding.
Bottom line, I think that you should work on your off road skills on some type of flat bar type of bike, instead of the less safe road-type bars. I do not know if this helps.
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Old 09-21-17, 11:20 PM
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For a different experience, you might enjoy a rigid singlespeed 29er. It will improve your bike handling(and teach you about managing momentum.) I have a geared full suspension 29er, a singlespeed hardtail 29er, and a rigid singlespeed 29er. I mountain bike on my rigid singlespeed more than the other two combined. (I also have a CAADX, btw. That's my preferred bike for paved and gravel roads.)

My rigid singlespeed is a Trek Superfly SS(aluminum) which Trek no longer offers, but the Surly Karate Monkey is a popular bike and steel is a noticeably more comfortable ride than aluminum for a rigid MTB.

https://surlybikes.com/bikes/karate_monkey_ss/bike_info
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Old 09-22-17, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post
For a different experience, you might enjoy a rigid singlespeed 29er. It will improve your bike handling(and teach you about managing momentum.) I have a geared full suspension 29er, a singlespeed hardtail 29er, and a rigid singlespeed 29er. I mountain bike on my rigid singlespeed more than the other two combined. (I also have a CAADX, btw. That's my preferred bike for paved and gravel roads.)

My rigid singlespeed is a Trek Superfly SS(aluminum) which Trek no longer offers, but the Surly Karate Monkey is a popular bike and steel is a noticeably more comfortable ride than aluminum for a rigid MTB.

Karate Monkey SS | Bikes | Surly Bikes
the single speed, rigid mtb was suggested to me before. I don't quite understand it. what's the attraction there? you can lock out the fork to make it rigid. and gear changing makes it a little more versatile. yea, single speed is more robust and reliable, but I feel like it would be limiting.
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Old 09-22-17, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Pendergast View Post
For a different experience, you might enjoy a rigid singlespeed 29er. It will improve your bike handling(and teach you about managing momentum.) I have a geared full suspension 29er, a singlespeed hardtail 29er, and a rigid singlespeed 29er. I mountain bike on my rigid singlespeed more than the other two combined. (I also have a CAADX, btw. That's my preferred bike for paved and gravel roads.)

My rigid singlespeed is a Trek Superfly SS(aluminum) which Trek no longer offers, but the Surly Karate Monkey is a popular bike and steel is a noticeably more comfortable ride than aluminum for a rigid MTB.

Karate Monkey SS | Bikes | Surly Bikes
On a different note, I HAD a SS All-City Nature Boy Disc. SUPER sexy bike but IMO is the worst of both worlds. I bought it with the intention of bumming around in fall/winter as to avoid beating up my road bike too much. I came to the conclusion that it was not what I thought it would be (for me, not in general). It was not that fun in the woods/trails and not that fun on the road. Unless you are whipping it around on flat gravel trails or some fun mud, it's not worth the spend. For someone trying to improve their technical abilities on the road, I would look at the other end of the spectrum and get a MTB.
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Old 09-22-17, 08:16 AM
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Not sure where you live but here in Wisconsin you can't ride a cross bike on most of trails at any kind of speed or you'll be replacing tires and rims. Get the bike that works for where you ride. I use a 29 hardtail to try to get better. I'm glad I have a front fork, allows me to attempt larger obstacles. Remember that on a MTB you use the tires a lot more than on a cross bike - you bounce them off rock gardens and lean into them on corners. When I switch to cross bike I have to remember to be gentler on the tires.
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Old 09-22-17, 09:31 AM
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Sort of related...Riding a hardtail helps teach good bike handling that is masked by full-suspension. FS for a new rider can create bad habits on the trail. Not that one needs to buy/ride a HT before a FS...
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Old 09-22-17, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
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?
I would go for the 29er HT. It is going to let you experience a different kind of bike and what you learn from it will inform how you ride your road bike in the rough.

You might even end up enjoying mountain biking for it's own sake.
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Old 09-22-17, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by bikeme View Post
Sort of related...Riding a hardtail helps teach good bike handling that is masked by full-suspension. FS for a new rider can create bad habits on the trail. Not that one needs to buy/ride a HT before a FS...
Not really. Riding a FS bike is just different.
If you try to ride FS bike like a hard tail, it's slow and awkward. If you try to ride a hardtail like a FS bike you're going to be on the ground in a hurry.

Line choice is important for both, but with FS you want to keep your weight centered and steady. Let the suspension work, not your legs.
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Old 09-22-17, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by spectastic View Post
the single speed, rigid mtb was suggested to me before. I don't quite understand it. what's the attraction there? you can lock out the fork to make it rigid. and gear changing makes it a little more versatile. yea, single speed is more robust and reliable, but I feel like it would be limiting.
I bought my first singlespeed to use as a tool to improve my fitness, not expecting to enjoy riding singlespeed as much as I do now. Climbing involves a lot of pedaling while standing which will indeed whip a person into shape. I gear mine pretty low and that does limit me to using them for actual mountain biking. (If you're wanting a bike that does fairly well on roads and mountain bike trails, you probably are better off with gears.) Riding rigid singlespeed on trails is just more engaging to me--you have to be much more aware of line choice than with suspension and you have to take care to conserve your momentum moreso than with gears. It also has the benefit for me of keeping my speed down on mountain bike trails while still making the trails interesting. I'm more likely to get injured badly at the speeds I ride a bike with suspension if I crash than at the speeds I ride my rigid bike. Since I do almost all of my riding alone that's something I take into account. Minimal bike maintenance is also a plus.

It's not for everyone, but those of us who like rigid singlespeeding tend to like it a lot.
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Old 09-25-17, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by bikeme View Post
Sort of related...Riding a hardtail helps teach good bike handling that is masked by full-suspension...
There is absolutely no validity to that statement whatsoever.
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