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Are You Riding the Right Bike?

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11/26/2015 11:46 AM


If there is one thing we mountain bikers like to do, it's buy new stuff. And when we do, we are often influenced by a whole bunch of factors, like brand, price, performance, etc. But there is another factor that often comes into play, and that is when our purchase decisions are influenced by the kind of riders we'd like to think we are.

Some of us held on to dual crowns for way too long, thinking "you can't ride what I ride on a single crown". Then, it's "29ers won't hold up under ME", or "pfffff hahaha 120-mm of travel I'm way too rad for THAT".

The more bikes I ride, the more my eyes open. Concepts that I took for granted go straight out the window when a bike shreds harder than I thought it would, or simply when I had more fun than I thought possible on such and such kind of bike. Yet when I try to share these experience, it often falls on deaf ears. "you should really try this short travel trail bike with a slack HA, you won't believe how much fun all our trails suddenly become, not to mention that those long epic trail rides are suddenly a piece of cake". "Oh yeah...sounds great...but there's this drop I'd maybe like to do one day so I think I'll stick to my 170-mm fork and my 2.5" dual plys thanks".

So now we ask you: are you riding the right bike? Have you taken a good look at what it is you actually enjoy doing when you're out riding, and bought the best tool for it? Did you make the leap and would like to tell your story? Share, we all want to hear it! (not all of us are quite ready to embrace the 29+ movement just yet, but hey, we're at least working on keeping an open mind).

11/26/2015 12:49 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/26/2015 12:56 PM

Well, I've worked as a bike mechanic for years, so I've always had access to whatever was the "next big thing". I always have tried to make use of demo programs, and i try to give new things a chance.

When it comes to a proper DH track, a proper DH bike is needed.

Originally, when i was young (and naive) I went with a Santa Cruz Driver 8. The bike was OK, but as my riding progressed, I found that the bike was holding back my progression. It was super short, the angles were somewhat steep, and it just didn't jive with me. I like going fast, and the bike just didn't feel planted in the rough. I was stuck with a "freeride" bike, instead of a "race" bike.

I currently run a session 9.9 27.5, and i couldn't be happier with how the bike performs. The biggest thing my friends and I discussed was the wheel size and frame sizing. There were a lot of haters out there (and currently are) but 27.5 is the real deal (for what i want). It allows me to hold the line, and in a straight away, i can feel the bike pick up mad speed. I can now honestly say that the operator is the only thing holding this bike back. Not maybe as nimble as my driver 8, but this bike is an absolute monster truck. This was the first time i really tried to push the top tube lengths of my bike as well. The Driver was a touch short in a medium, and the session is a touch large in the large frame size, but I instantly fell in love with the extra space. One of my biggest revelations. (next to clipless, and wide bars )


11/26/2015 12:53 PM

Hi, I think so, at this moment i ride a transition Patrol which has 155mm on the back and 160 up front

been racing DH National's and Regional's for the las 3/4 years, and 2 years ago when i knew a national enduro series was going to start i saved up some cash, give also my old FR bike that i had seating around and bought my self a Transition covert

i then continued racing downhill but as around the area i live it's pretty much flat with few low hills i started riding more and more the enduro/trail bike. that year and the next continued to race DH and did like 2 or 3 races per year and that's when the bug for the lower trail bikes started to grow

at the end of last year started to think of racing ful season dh and race enduro (since i think the lighter and more playfull bike suit's me bether and as i do some road riding also the fitness wasn't a problem )

switched to my current patrol

and racing this year i new i had made the right choice, and the result fallowed
with my 3 last nationals being 5º , then a fractured shoulder blade stoped me for almost 3 months and came back with a 4º and a 3 on the last race of the season(i'm elite- 21yo)

now i simply ride this bike for every thing exept road, from xc trail's to Dh tracks

a lithe video and a chest cam

now waiting to read your's


11/26/2015 1:55 PM
Edited Date/Time: 11/26/2015 2:19 PM

I want and or need a new bike but its very likely I'll be riding(2500+ miles a year dirt & street same bike)what I'm on for very long time is it the right bike for me yes at present it is, it rolls it puts a smile on my face I guess I don't expect too much and at 56 years of age it does for me a a good job but I'd really like to be rolling on something newer.


11/27/2015 3:23 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/27/2015 10:28 AM

Guess I'll be the first who admits that I'm usually not on the right bike. I could be on a new 5010 and probably only wish I had more bike 15% of the time? But if I was on a new Bronson I'd probably only wish I had more bike 5% of the time? So might as well go bigger and not miss out, right? Then you get that slippery slope process going and your back to thinking, well if I just got a Nomad I'd personally never "need" more bike than that? And maybe I'd have enough confidence to eventually hit that step down gap to near flat some day? And there you go, I'm back to riding around on the wrong bike most of the time... smile

Mountain bikes are EXPENSIVE! So I'm looking for a new bike, but it's going to have to last me a LONG time! smile I don't have money to buy a new bike every year, or even every time there is a leap in tech. So I haven't had the opportunity to put any decent time on a modern 29er, or any time on a slack short travel mtbike. The last time I bought a new bike, if you wanted aggressive/slack geo, for the most part you were stuck choosing bikes closer to that 170mm front end you were speaking of. Used to be if it was shorter travel it was for XC/marathon. And if you wanted to do more you were putting a longer fork on to slacken it out and double ply tires to soak up the chatter because your suspension wasn't really up to the job. Suspension is SO much better today than even 5 years ago. (and I have suspension much older than that!) You used to "need" more travel to make up for the lack of refinement unless you had a custom tune or very high end adjustable squish. For the majority of riders, a new mid/upper end 140mm travel bike will do everything 170mm did back then. But the majority of riders aren't on brand new bikes... so it makes sense that they are still choosing the heavier longer travel bike, because that's probably what they have to ride. And even if they did just get a brand new bike, they were much more likely to have their purchase heavily influenced by new enduro bikes that ride near as good as a DH bike from not to long ago. And it's still a smaller percentage of them that are on top end all carbon wonder bikes where the stiffness, strength and compliance really come together making a slack shorter travel bike really stand out! (I'd be all up for that Felt Decree you have pictured, amazing that they got the no pivot rear end to work so well!), but knowing the rear end warranty is subject to a "useful product life cycle" makes me worried about the long haul. And I need my bikes to last!

Also, my take on the 29er thing. (not like anyone asked) Tech has progressed by leaps and bounds since I first threw a leg over a heavy wheeled, under geared, flexy, GF back in the day! Recently read a review of last years 9000.00 Trek Remedy 9.9 29er. Sounds like it's as capable a bike and as quick handling as most riders would ever need outside of DH/park. Top suspension, super stiff, pry 27 pounds for my size; awesome! Seems like no reason not to go 29er looking at that bike! But I think when you drop down closer to what the average enthusiasts spends on a mountainbike; say your now looking at a Remedy 8 29er at 33 lbs my size and then it doesn't seem to be such a standout ride. Heavier to get the big wheels going, not as nimble anymore, back to feeling the negative aspects of big wheels. When your at that price point it seems like smaller wheels just make more sense. So if you got the money to throw carbon wheels on a high end Evil the Following build, awesome! Can't really go wrong there. But in the cheap seats, add 4-5 lbs and end up with more wheel flex and not so great IMO. Always going to be lighter and stiffer for the dollar in the most important place mass is located on your bike when you choose smaller wheels.

Course now were all going to go PLUS, (admittedly 3.0 tires make any bike look AWESOME!), and put huge tires and wider, heavier rims on our bikes anyway so I guess all that logic goes out the window...?

EDIT/since I was kinda B!chn about not having any new carbon wonderbikes. I have to say that even though they are either cheap, used, or old; or all of the above. And every bike I own needs something fixed right now. I'm still incredibly lucky for the bikes I have and the riding I get to do! The other day I saw a father and son going out on some budget hardtails and the kid was in awe of my used 4 year old, upgraded, but base model Enduro and I felt pretty embarrassed inside for not being more thankful for what I do have! Mountain biking is AWESOME! smile


11/27/2015 5:03 AM

Up untill last month i was riding a demo, covert and on-one 456. all 26er.

I was hating the fact that i had 3 really well specced bikes that i enjoyed riding but could only choose one for one type of riding.

So i sold them all and got a process 153, that i plan to race in both dh and enduro races this year. Im in love with it.

then going into winter i was thinking i dont really want to destroy my pride and joy on winter night rides so i got a "trail" geo 29er and i must admit im digging it, definitely keen to try a slacked out steel 29er like the last fastforward.

so yes, i do feel like im riding the right bikes, they both fit and i enjoy riding them both. so does anything else matter?


11/27/2015 6:27 AM

I have made the decision to yet again go down on travel and up on size. As I have relative "easy" trails (ok: red to black IMBA rating, but standard Norway grade) where I mostly ride (like 85% of my time), where I never feel I am getting the most out of my Banshee Spitfire. After some really great rides on my Salsa Bucksaw with PRs on relatively gnarly descents, I figured: my skills can handle a lot, and getting a firmer, lighter frame will get me to the place I want. I am now waiting until the shipment of Transition Scouts hits Norway (in March), and will ride the hell out of that one. Ok, I might be missing out on some occations (like enduro races - where I never get above top 50% anyway), but most of the time i think having a shorter travel bike with aggressive trail/AM/enduro geometry will give me more than a 6" enduro machine.

But for winter, I am most definitely on the right bike. Having an FS fat bike makes all the sense in the world on my local trails (that I will keep open with snow shoes all winter). With the geometry of my bike and full suspension, I can keep my riding style unchanged throughout the winter.

I HAVE been on the wrong bikes for 3 seasons now. First I got a one size too small bike, then my bike fitter told me to get a longer stem AKA new frame the next season, which was great until I discovered the benefits of a short stem. Preferring a leant forward position, a new frame it is.

So then: have I made the right decision? I think geometry is more important than travel to go fast (to a certain extent).


11/27/2015 7:47 AM

if you told me a year ago that i'd ride a 29+ bike, i'd have pointed in your face and laughed. i got the trek stache 9 to review and i ended up coming to realize this bike really worked for me. they asked for it back and i didn't want to give it back, so i bought it from them.

for 80% of the riding w/in 30 mins drive of me, this bike is more than enough. most trails are out-and-backs with boring, basically smooth singletrack climbs and tech sections (which are legit) are limited to just a handful of sections. the singletrack on the way down is fun but pretty straight forward. the tech sections are pretty darn fun on the hardtail (especially w/ monster truck tires). on my old trail bike it was hard to get motivated for the climbs. the descents ripped for sure, but going up was more of a chore than it should be.

if i lived within easier access to more tech trails, i'd choose a 5-inch trail bike w/ 27.5 or even 27.5+ setup, but for my daily driver, i'm stoked on the stache, as weird as that is.,3/Trek/Stache-9-29,16381#product-reviews/2208



11/27/2015 10:03 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/27/2015 10:08 AM

I'm not riding the right bike for what I do, and perhaps I'm not riding the best bike for me (in my mind), but I love it !

For the history, I live in north of France who is a flat region, but we have some "slag-heap" (small hills from coal mines old days..) where we buils our freeride & downhill trails, and sometimes I drive to Belgium or Germany to ride some bikeparks.
I used to ride a dirt bike (old Commencal Absolut) and I have been beating the sh*t out of it the last 3 years on those downhill tracks... Everything was really low end components, and I think the bike was really kind with me because a lot of my friends were just afraid to try it for 3 seconds...

Last december, Christmas time, YT did a special offer where they sold their display bikes at a very interesting price. I think I got the "graal", and bought myself the only YT Play DJ (their slopestyle bike) at -47%, with just a REALLY small paint chip ! And even if that was a slopestyle bike with 100mm front&rear, I didn't think of buying the Tues for 200€ more.
So, that's why I think this is not the perfect bike for me : the YT Play DJ is small, I'm 1m81 (5.93f) tall, and I still continue to beat the sh*t out of him every time I ride.. :D

But I love him, I took a lot of level with, and I'm going for every jumps, roots, rocks who stand in front of me, without thinking "I will go full travel on each of them" because I just jump them and have fun. smile

Big bikes are cool, small are funnier (and can go big) !

Une vidéo publiée par Roman Robert (@voxran) le


11/27/2015 1:34 PM

Happy retirement sspomer! Your AARP card will be arriving in the mail!


11/27/2015 1:47 PM

Funny this thread pops up after I was talking // thinking about the same exact thing recently.

I was a DH-bike-only rider for a long time. Recently, after testing the M16C at both bike parks and one of my local DH spots, the most popular trail at the local spot, both the bike and the trail became boring and not nearly as fun. Took the M16C back to a spot that a DH bike is pretty much mandatory, and boom, it came alive again. Just yesterday, I took my 160 bike to that same "boring" popular trail and it was an absolute blast again.

I think the key is finding trails that push the bike's limitations just a tad, keeping us, as riders, on our toes a bit more. That, to me at least, is what makes this sport fun.

I've even started building a CX bike because of this, as the 160 bike is just too much for my purely "fitness" loop. Sure, the 160 bike is fun in some sections out there, but I think once I get back out there on the CX bike I'll be "back on my toes" as far as bike handling goes. Should be fun.


I'd rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

11/27/2015 4:37 PM

mp wrote:

Happy retirement sspomer! Your AARP card will be arriving in the mail!

man, i wish i was retired. i'm no bturman living out of an RV and stuff yet, but you should definitely GET OFF MY LAWN! haha

as for fred's CX bike post. he's going the hipster route instead of the retirement route. i like it.


11/27/2015 7:33 PM

It's interesting. I have a 2013 GT Distortion that, on paper, should be incredibly fun in a wide range of scenarios. I have a 160mm Lyrik on the bike, an X9 1x drivetrain with a guide, fresh High Rollers, Atlas bars and XO Trail brakes. Dropper post and clips for trail use, stubby and platforms for park riding. And truth be told, as a trail bike, it's virtually worthless. At 33 pounds, it's no lightweight, but I simply can't climb on the thing. Descents are a good time, but I can't get the bike to the top of the hill without feeling like I'm incredibly out of shape. When I'm out on it, I'm always out of gas. So I find myself leaving it at home on XC rides in favor of my 8-year old rigid steel KHS 29er that's been cobbled together with mid-grade leftover parts. I can actually climb on it, probably due in no small part to the fact that it's 10 pounds lighter, and rolls faster.

And yeah, the Distortion is fun on the jumpy trails in the bike park, but if I'm there, my Session 88 gets ridden, and the Distortion usually stays locked to the car. I really just feel bad for the Distortion. I put in a ton of work stripping it of its hideous orange paint, building the spec to my liking, and dialing everything in. It was meant to be my do-everything workhorse. It can be a fun bike, but it just doesn't do anything THAT well. I'll likely spend 2016 on it, drop some weight from the thing, fine tune it a bit, and try to love it. Photo



11/28/2015 2:23 AM

This is quite coincidental, I've been thinking about the same question since I bought a Vitus Escarpe which is a 135mm/150 trail bike. Previously Ive been riding 160mm Enduro bikes and the new Escarpe with a debonair monarch on it rides wayyyy better than my previous Megas, YT Wicked, etc. The suspension feels so good I'm looking for tish to drop all over the place like its a free ride bike. It's quicker over rough stuff (yes with only 135mm!) and the bonus is when you turn around to head back up again it feels like an xc weapon! I ride natural terrain in a very rocky area, the trails include some steep techy drops varying from a few ft to a few more and I've dropped a bigger 10ft ish drop on it, all of which it handled with ease. It will take some convincing to get me back on a 160mm bike. The only thing I'd change is the HA - which I have with an Angleset. Then I see guys on Mondraker Dunes and the like doing xc laps and I can't help but think a lot of us are riding bikes that are far too big for the riding. No problem from me but we should all keep our minds open, maybe what's fashionable isn't the best for our riding.


11/28/2015 7:28 AM
Edited Date/Time: 11/28/2015 7:29 AM

For me it comes down to how I'm riding, more than what I'm riding. Mostly when it comes to trail bikes however - DH tracks can be ridden on XC bikes and vise versa, but it's not too enjoyable.

i.e. this season I had a Kona Hei Hei and a Process 153DL. I was probably faster on most trails on the Hei Hei, simply because it covered ground so quickly, especially when it flattened out. The issue for me is that I had to tiptoe through a number of sections to preserve the wheels/tires, and I'd rather be riding without any consideration of gear failure. Finding new lines, gaps, and getting a little wild is what makes riding fun for me.

I've done the 120-140mm thing too, but I find that while those bikes climb and descend impressively, they don't excel in either area and I'd rather climb or descend like an animal, and tolerate the bike's shortfall on the other end.

I'm selling the Hei Hei, bought another 153DL, and don't plan on having another whippet for a while.


11/28/2015 7:48 AM

@M4RT15 I hear ya. I have a Norco Range which is a ripper in a lot of places except where there's an abundance of climbing. Now I'm building up a 650b Nimble 9 for the buff climbing trails around here. least an hour away. The media does a good job selling these 160mm bikes with their writing prowess but ultimately 34 pounds is never going to be easy to push around a hill.

And're fired. Nah. Whatever brings a smile to your face and makes you enjoy it again works, right? Fred ain't no hipster. He's smrt. Challenging himself.


11/28/2015 12:01 PM

xyian wrote:

@M4RT15 I hear ya. I have a Norco Range which is a ripper in a lot of places except where there's an abundance of climbing. ...more

I think either a Nimble 9 or a Niner ROS-9 is going to replace my KHS, and I'll be leaving the Distortion in "Park Mode" as a backup bike... something fun for jumpy spots like Rainbow Canyon. The KHS has some wack geometry and doesn't descend too well at all.

I love the idea of the Nimble 9. For the majority of my riding, both in CA and back in PA, it seems like the ideal bike. 29x2.35, a 120-140mm fork, and DH-like geometry.


11/30/2015 6:45 AM

The one thing that new enduro/am bikes highlight is that weight isn't as important as people think, because even at 29lbs most of these rigs are impressive on the hills. Geometry (steep seat angle and long reach), suspension and tires have a much bigger effect on how much fun it is to pedal a bike around. That said, pretty much the only time I feel I am on the wrong bike is when I am trail-riding my Rallon. It's one of the raddest bikes I've ridden, but lezbehonest - if you aren't spending most of your rides going as fast as you can down steep trails you don't need this bike, or a 6c, Nomad or Reign.

Personal taste - I'd rather ride a 120-130mm 29er aggressively, using the efficiency of the suspension and agile geometry to tackle rolling terrain and have more pop to negotiate rougher sections at speed. I prefer feeling just a bit overpowered for 3 or 4 seconds in the odd techy steep DH section to dragging a rowdier bike around just for that same short bit.