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Need bike recommendations (Warning: I'm weird)

Old 10-21-21, 05:58 PM
  #1  
Dr1v3n
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Need bike recommendations (Warning: I'm weird)

Hi all,

I currently have a road bike and one of these gravel bikes. I tried out some cheap no-name mountain bike (it was actually called a "Prime Alpine Sport" but good luck finding it on Google) because that's all I could rent. I noticed that the bike was much heavier, but since the tires were even wider than my 700x44C WTB Raddlers, and slightly "more aggressive", I noticed that I was able to roll over a few more things that I wouldnt be able to on my gravel bike, and the off-road climbing was also a bit nicer. Not a ton nicer, but a bit nicer.

What I've been doing is actually riding mtb trails on that gravel bike, in addition to flatter trails... Underbiking for sure.

So, I'm looking to buy a mountain bike, preferably in the 2-3k USD price range (because I know you'd ask, but these numbers aren't firm), maybe 3.5k at most. I know, you're going to ask what type of riding I like to do. Basically, I ride dirt trails in Southern California where the terrain is very rocky with both large and small rocks. I'll ride fire roads and single track, but I tend to prefer the wider roads.

The hardest part for my gravel bike is getting up extremely steep dirt hills, and also braking when descending these hills. This is where things get tricky. I love to climb, but with every climb comes a descent. I would prefer whichever bike I buy has the most optimal gearing and perhaps even weight for climbing very steep stuff... But it can't be a total piece of junk at descending either as what goes up must come down... But if I had to pick, I'd prefer something that's better at climbing than descending.

Finally, I actually prefer drop handlebars, and I'm wondering if A) You could recommend a mountain bike with a suspension fork that comes with them, OR B) I could just get a bike with flat bars that is at least capable of taking drop bars in the future. If you really must know, I prefer the neutral hand position of drop and hoods on my bikes, as I've suffered from carpal tunnel in past and it's worked great for me on my bikes so far. I also dont really have any type of steering/control problems when I ride my gravel bike on trails now, so not sure I need all that extra leverage.

I do have a question: Assuming I don't want to do crazy jumps and crap like that, should I be safe with a hardtail on most descents?

Basically, I just want to descend fast so that I can get back to climbing, as that's my favorite part.

Appreciate the recs!
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Old 10-21-21, 06:11 PM
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velojym
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I've spent a grand or so on my NOS Fire Mountain, with a 1x11 Deore drivetrain and a Judy fork. While I like it fine the way it is, I'm also very used to drops, and might slap one on this bike some time. The only reason I've been slow to do this is the front brake... I mounted a hydraulic disc, but that doesn't have to be set in stone (heck, I haven't even trimmed the hose yet). Not sure whether I'd keep the suspension fork on it, or go with a rigid monstercross type.

I am, however, intrigued by Surly's Corner Bar, which would allow me to keep everything else intact...

Last edited by velojym; 10-21-21 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 10-21-21, 07:48 PM
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Salsa Fargo. Mine has evolved a bit since 2013. 2.5 hookworm rear, 3.0 fat be nimble on a surly rabbit hole up front. 48cm VO rando bars, Still had bar end shifters here, now it is a single speed.
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Old 10-22-21, 07:18 AM
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In your price range I would suggest these.

https://www.ibiscycles.com/bikes/ripley-af

https://www.specialized.com/us/en/st...=300706-175252

However, I would not suggest drop bars for mountain biking on trails.
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Old 10-22-21, 08:31 AM
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Salsa Cutthroat can take big tires and is drop bar capable --- basically a drop bar mountain bike - the front end is even suspension fork compatible if you want to add one later



As prj71 said though, you might re-consider the bars and try the flat bars with some Ergon grips or something -- maybe even some Jones' H bars --- so that said and since i am a Yeti fanboy (and you arent afraid of spending some money it seems) --- The Yeti ARC hardtail frameset is 2k if you can find one. It will take some very careful parts selection and looking for deals from The Pro's Closet and other places like that to get one built at $3500 or so, but would be fun to try

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Old 10-22-21, 08:52 AM
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For the riding you seem to be describing, you likely want either a lightweight cross-country hard tail mountain bike or wide-tire capable rigid gravel/adventure bike (like Salsa Fargo or Kona Sutra). Large volume tires will make a big difference relative to your current bike and might be enough "suspension" for you. If you need a bit more, something like a Lauf fork is inbetween a rigid bike and a standard MTB suspension fork. But as others have mentioned, before you commit to a drop bar setup, try out some of the various flat bar options. They can make a big difference in how much control you have on those bumpy downhills.
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Old 10-22-21, 08:18 PM
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Pay attention to top tube length. Road bikes designed for drop bars generally have shorter top tubes than bikes designed for flat bars. This is because your hands are a few inches farther forward when positioned on the hoods of a drop bar bike than they are when positioned on flat bars. I would imagine this difference is even more pronounced with mountain bikes designed for short stems.

I ride a drop bar mountain bike because of arthritis at the base of my thumbs which just won't let me firmly grip flat bar brakes without a great deal of pain and further damage, but I agree with the others here that you should try Ergon grips and a couple different flat bars before committing to drop bars. I rode flat bars for 30 years and wish I still could.

I couldn't find a full suspension frame with a sufficiently short top tube when I was looking a few years ago. Fortunately an old friend who builds frames offered to build me a hardtail.



Brent
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Old 10-29-21, 06:59 PM
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New, your basically describing a Salsa Cutthroat or Stooge Scrambler.
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Old 11-01-21, 09:18 AM
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Just to expand why ergon grips are recommended. Like wing road bars the Ergon grips have a wide "platform" to support your palm to reduce tunnel carpal problems. They help me but are not perfect.
You are talking about such a wide array of possible bikes and personal opinions and given the state of the supply chain I would recommend buying used. IF you make a mistake in your guess then there is no showroom loss. I am getting to the point I need a full suspension again rather than it being a feature for climbing etc. My back just can't take the large drops any more on my hardtail. But I like full suspension unlike some. So it's advantage might depend on how old you are as well.
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