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10-year-old mountain bike... What am I missing?

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10-year-old mountain bike... What am I missing?

Old 10-25-21, 03:41 PM
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Zaskar
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10-year-old mountain bike... What am I missing?

10 years ago, I bought a pretty sweet Cannondale Scalpel Carbon One...
  • DT Swiss Tricon 1550 tubeless wheels
  • HollowGram crankset with SRAM XX chainrings
  • SRAM XX shifters and rear derailleur
  • XO front derailleur, cassette and brakes
  • Lefty 29er Carbon XLR 100mm “fork” with Rockshox Solo Air tech
  • etc.
The bike has been (very) well maintained and has only a couple changes - 1x drivetrain and Shimano brakes. Everything on the bike (jinx in 3... 2... ) works perfectly. I absolutely love this bike. But, I loved my previous aluminum 26" hardtail too... 'til I rode the Scalpel.

So, seriously question: What am I missing? Other than a rear lockout and short stem... what would a 2021 version of an FS XC bike do for me?

Thanks!


Last edited by Zaskar; 10-25-21 at 03:46 PM.
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Old 10-25-21, 05:02 PM
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Geometry wise, top XC bikes continue to get slacker and add more travel. For example, the newest Scott Spark RC has 67 degree head angle (vs 69 on yours I think) and 120mm of travel in front and rear (vs 100 fork and 80 rear on yours?). Geometry is also typically designed for shorter stem and wider bars than were typically specced in 2011 (again using the Spark, it has 740 mm stock bars vs 620 mm stock on 2011 Scalpel 1) . Frames also tend to have more space for wider tires using 142 or 148 spacing in the rear. The Spark RC Pro for example comes stock with 2.4" tires. Otherwise, the difference is in upgradable components. Switching to 1x drive trains with clutched derailleurs removes weight and reduces chain drop. Also frees up space on bars for dropper post and suspension lockout switches. Along those lines, dropper posts are slowly becoming nearly standard even on XC bikes. Basically, this year's FS XC race bikes look a lot like what would have been called Trail bikes in 2011 with respect to slack head angles, wide tires and longer travel suspension. Whether you're missing out by not having any of that I can't say.
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Old 10-25-21, 05:44 PM
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You're missing one fork leg.
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Old 10-25-21, 08:05 PM
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Mainly geometry changes. Component wise, things have not really advanced all that much IMO. You can try a wider bar with a shorter stem on the bike you have. The one thing that might be an issue for that bike is that with the curved seat tube, it might effect how long of a dropper you can run. I think the biggest thing to happen ion MTB in the past 10 years is that everyone finally realized that the dropper post is the biggest game changer since suspension. (took everyone long enough).
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Old 10-26-21, 04:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Zaskar View Post
10 years ago, I bought a pretty sweet Cannondale Scalpel Carbon One...
  • DT Swiss Tricon 1550 tubeless wheels
  • HollowGram crankset with SRAM XX chainrings
  • SRAM XX shifters and rear derailleur
  • XO front derailleur, cassette and brakes
  • Lefty 29er Carbon XLR 100mm “fork” with Rockshox Solo Air tech
  • etc.
The bike has been (very) well maintained and has only a couple changes - 1x drivetrain and Shimano brakes. Everything on the bike (jinx in 3... 2... ) works perfectly. I absolutely love this bike. But, I loved my previous aluminum 26" hardtail too... 'til I rode the Scalpel.

So, seriously question: What am I missing? Other than a rear lockout and short stem... what would a 2021 version of an FS XC bike do for me?

Thanks!

great bike.
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Old 10-26-21, 03:09 PM
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Well, you can compare it to a current Scalpel.



Far and away the biggest change to trail bikes has been "long low slack" chassis which goes along with dropper posts and puts the rider more "in" than "on" the bike when standing on the pedals. XC bikes are not immune, but play it more conservative than trail or enduro bikes, and droppers are not yet endemic. This goes along with a different style of riding, as you might imagine. The fit is now designed for the standing position, hence the long top tubes and short stems and slacker head tubes. The seated position becomes a compromise, hence the straighter seat tubes. This hasn't ended or stabilized yet. This is most obvious looking at the distance from the pedal arm to the wheel, the new bike is maybe a couple inches longer in front.

1x on full suspension bikes prevents the line of chain tension from going all over the map as it used to allowing designers to really dial in the anti-squat. Designs prior to this were trying to find the best balance between the rings, it looks like the 2012 system was optimized around the 26t ring. For 2021, instead of being full carbon flexure, it uses the flexible stays in much the same spot as the rear pivot of a Horst link, so the chain run can intersect the main pivot. This is a little contrast to most XC bikes that are flexing in the chain stay side of the triangle. But honestly neither of these bikes looks all that great in this regard.

Other changes... boost spacing and 1x allowed for wider set pivot bearings, for a stiffer rear. Tires are generally a little bigger. A new bike would still be in warranty. The new bike looks like it will fit two bottles, not sure about the old one.
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Old 10-26-21, 06:47 PM
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try a 1x drivetrain, 12 speed and a shorter wider coclpit to get a few more years out of a good bike
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Old 10-26-21, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Kapusta View Post
I think the biggest thing to happen ion MTB in the past 10 years is that everyone finally realized that the dropper post is the biggest game changer since suspension. (took everyone long enough).
You're not the first person to say this, but I still haven't understood what is so miraculous about this. Everyone seems to point to the seat being in the way but I've never found my seat to be in the way. Last fri I rode with a group, we did 10 miles of flowing singletrack with plenty of jumps, drops, and downhill in just over an hour and I didn't once have a moment in which I thought my seat was in the way. Seems like it would be like having a lockout on my suspension fork, I usually get done and discover I left the fork locked out and never noticed.

OP, can't really help, my mtb is now going on 7 years old and a hardtail. I have enjoyed the simplicity of 1x11 and no chain slap so those are improvements but for me the biggest improvement was going to 29" wheels. I tried fatter tires 29x2.4 and went back to 2.25, didn't like how slow and heavy they felt, doesn't help I'm bad at climbing, tried tubeless and kept burping the tires so went back to tubes but even riding in the Catskills and CT I haven't had a pinch flat on 29" even running 25psi in the back despite being heavy. My wife has a newer, 2yo, c-dale dual suspension and complains of the slacker angles being harder to steer on the tighter trails we have here on Long Island but when riding some of the trails near Bear MTN she does like the way it feels more stable.
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Old 10-27-21, 05:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
You're not the first person to say this, but I still haven't understood what is so miraculous about this. Everyone seems to point to the seat being in the way but I've never found my seat to be in the way. Last fri I rode with a group, we did 10 miles of flowing singletrack with plenty of jumps, drops, and downhill in just over an hour and I didn't once have a moment in which I thought my seat was in the way.
.
This may be a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know”. It is not in your way because you have learned to stay out of its way, so you’ve never learned to take advantage of a low saddle.

It requires a different riding technique and mindset to learn.. but the advantages of getting your weight low - rather than getting it back - is a game changer in bike handling. But this will never happen with the seat all the way up.

So the reason it is in some people’s way and not yours is that they have learned and experienced the benefits of better body positioning, but you still have not.

Look at how DH and Enduro riders are positioned on their bikes, and it becomes obvious why they have always ridden with their saddles dropped.

Also, the steep seat tube angles of modern geo bikes would have been mostly a non-starter without droppers. The first thing I noticed after getting a dropper 16 years ago was that I could run my saddle farther forward.

Last edited by Kapusta; 10-27-21 at 07:28 AM.
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Old 10-27-21, 09:28 AM
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IMO, there's a good chance that the latest technology won't change your enjoyment and may or not improve your performance. Best, IMO, is try to rent something comparable in cost/weight and discern if it's worth it to change. Going to a 1X the next time you need a drivetrain could be the answer, but maybe the newer slack geometry would be to your liking (it's not to mine and I'm back to the "old"). Also, depending on your proclivities, a dropper post may be the Holy Grail or an extra half pound.
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Old 10-27-21, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by 2old View Post
IMO, there's a good chance that the latest technology won't change your enjoyment and may or not improve your performance.
It definitely won't make up for getting ten years older! lol
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Old 10-27-21, 11:27 AM
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To Kapusta's point - adapting riding styles is huge. When I went from the 26" AL hardtail, I had one easy, short ride... then did a race on the 29" carbon FS Scalpel. I swear, the bike is what put me on the podium. There were section - steep, rooty climbs, creek exits, etc. that I would have had to stand and hammer on the old bike. But, since my legs were completely spent, I couldn't... but it turned out, I didn't need to. I sat, spun and let the bike to soooo much more of the work than I was used to. Probably the only time had full-on quad cramps and was smiling!

Darth Lefty thanks for that awesome comparison. Seriously, that should be a sticky.
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Old 10-27-21, 04:19 PM
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You could probably go from 100mm to 120mm and slacken the HA by about a degree.

You can’t gain 10 years worth of geometry, but if you take enough measurements you might be able to find middle ground. You wouldn’t be the first to swap out to a longer fork.

Downside is that you don’t like the way it rides.

John
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Old 10-28-21, 11:23 AM
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Optional: Put a dropper post on it and declare victory. You can ride this happily for the rest of your life.

Default: Declare victory. You can ride this happily for the rest of your life.
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Old 10-29-21, 02:12 AM
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Not missing much. The modern short wide cockpits suck. Bad position for climbing and sprinting. Something new isn't always better for everyone.
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Old 10-29-21, 05:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
Not missing much. The modern short wide cockpits suck. Bad position for climbing and sprinting. Something new isn't always better for everyone.
Modern cockpits are longer, not shorter, and the geo is a clear improvement for climbing due to steeper seat tube angles.
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Old 10-29-21, 12:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Lazyass View Post
Not missing much. The modern short wide cockpits suck. Bad position for climbing and sprinting. Something new isn't always better for everyone.
You have no clue what you are talking about.
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Old 10-30-21, 03:39 PM
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Came across this thread today with a lot of people arguing how things have changed lately and whether it's good.

https://www.mtbr.com/threads/are-new...eting.1195267/
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Old 11-01-21, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
Everyone seems to point to the seat being in the way but I've never found my seat to be in the way. Last fri I rode with a group, we did 10 miles of flowing singletrack with plenty of jumps, drops, and downhill in just over an hour and I didn't once have a moment in which I thought my seat was in the way.
If you think a dropper post is about the seat being in the way...you don't understand the concept of dropper posts.
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Old 11-01-21, 09:34 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
If you think a dropper post is about the seat being in the way...you don't understand the concept of dropper posts.
You're correct then, I don't understand the reasoning which is why I prefer not to be positive or negative about them. They seem to have some positivity but I've no experience with them. When my wife was buying her dual suspension 2 years ago some bikes had them and some didn't but none of the sales people could explain why.
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Old 11-01-21, 09:49 AM
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Dropper post or not is often about hitting a specific price point on a given bike.

It it refreshing though to see how many non-dropper bikes have the frame equipped for the requisite plumbing if the end-user does decide to get a dropper in the future.
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Old 11-01-21, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
You're correct then, I don't understand the reasoning which is why I prefer not to be positive or negative about them. They seem to have some positivity but I've no experience with them. When my wife was buying her dual suspension 2 years ago some bikes had them and some didn't but none of the sales people could explain why.
The reasoning is to lower your center of gravity for stability and safety when going downhill.

Pretty sad that the the salesman didn't know why. They shouldn't even be employed at the bike shop if they can't answer the simple questions.
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Old 11-01-21, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Russ Roth View Post
You're correct then, I don't understand the reasoning which is why I prefer not to be positive or negative about them. They seem to have some positivity but I've no experience with them. When my wife was buying her dual suspension 2 years ago some bikes had them and some didn't but none of the sales people could explain why.
It is a price point thing. A reliable dropper is a hard thing to include on a cheaper bike. How a bike shop person did not know this is beyond me.

But pretty much any decent mtb these days will have made provisions for one to be added, such as a port to run an internal cable, and a seat tube that will allow the extra needed insertion length.

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Old 11-01-21, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
If you think a dropper post is about the seat being in the way...you don't understand the concept of dropper posts.
I’ve never used a dropper, but I thought it was to get the saddle out of the way. Just use your legs like a BMX bike to get low and back.

Do people actually sit on the saddle in the dropped position? Wouldn’t it be too far forward?

I’m just asking

John
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Old 11-01-21, 12:42 PM
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Originally Posted by 70sSanO View Post
I’ve never used a dropper, but I thought it was to get the saddle out of the way. Just use your legs like a BMX bike to get low and back.

Do people actually sit on the saddle in the dropped position? Wouldn’t it be too far forward?

I’m just asking

John
This may be a semantics thing, but think it IS getting the saddle out of the way. When you try to get low with the saddle all the way up, its in the way of you getting low. A dropper gets it out of the way.

One piece of common wisdom that has changed in the last decade is rather than “low and back”, the emphasis now is on just getting “low”. With a raised saddle, you can get low, but only by shifting way back as well. One downside to this is that your arms are in a fully extended position, so you have a limited ability to work the front end through dips, or preload it to pop the front over something, or weight it for traction when needed. In short, having your legs or arms fully extended is bad for bike handling.

Dropping the saddle lets you get low without leaning back, thus keeping your weight more centered, and also allowing you to keep your arms bent which allows you to work the front end of the bike up and down over obstacles.

I will occasionally sit in the dropped position, but only to get a rest on a mellow DH section of trail. There is no performance or handling reason to do it that I can think of.
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