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Flatlanders - how's that modern bike working for you?

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6/30/2020 4:24 PM

Been awhile since I've been in the market for a new bike. Currently riding a 2013 Canfield Yelli Screamy, which had some progressive geometry for the time (and by today's standards would be an XC race bike). Starting to think about picking up a trail bike - something like a GG Trail Pistol or this new Transition looks rad. But I live in a flat region (eastern Maine) - Sure, there's the occasional 50 foot descent, but for the most part it's just flat, rocky, rooty, twisty, technical stuff. There's a lot more slow, slogging, technical chunder than anything else. Not the kind of the up-down gettin' rad kind of stuff that modern bikes seem designed for.

When I'm riding I feel like my bike is just about perfect geometry wise. I can't imagine something that's 3 or 4 degrees slacker, and a few centimeters longer. Feels like it'd just flop around and hang up on things. Am I just a total curmudgeon who needs to hang out with rigid singlespeeders, or do these newfangled bikes actually work on flat trails?

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7/1/2020 7:11 AM

If you like the look of the new trany check out the latest 5010 and tallboy there even more modern. I’d love to try both.

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7/1/2020 7:32 AM

Or maybe the SB115 or the like.

My ultra progressive 150/150 29er trail bike works amazingly on techy climbs, so I see no reason for it to not work on flatter ground. As in better than older bikes in the same class. Better than an XC bike? Nope. Better than a 26" XC bike from days of yore? Most likely.

Your yelli? Might not be that bad. Ideally you'd test a few of the bikes that could have potential for you so you can decide by yourself as to what is what.

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7/1/2020 7:40 AM

Primoz wrote:

Or maybe the SB115 or the like.

My ultra progressive 150/150 29er trail bike works amazingly on techy climbs, so I see no reason for it to not work on flatter ground. As in better than older bikes in the same class. Better than an XC bike? Nope. Better than a 26" XC bike from days of yore? Most likely.

Your yelli? Might not be that bad. Ideally you'd test a few of the bikes that could have potential for you so you can decide by yourself as to what is what.

What ultra progressive bike do you have?

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7/1/2020 7:43 AM

Bird AM9.

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7/1/2020 7:47 AM

Agree with both responses. I live in middle Georgia, and I basically ride the same kind of stuff that you do. Most of us opt for short-travel trail bikes like the Stumpy ST, Pivot-429, TallBoy, etc.

I feel like those are the perfect bikes for the job (for the type of riding we do). And if you wanted to go big, there's probably not much that you could throw at those bikes that they wouldn't take. At least not if you're an older dude, like me.

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7/1/2020 7:52 AM

I had a really steep head angle on my old school 2005 Turner 5 Pack & long stem.
When I bought my 2018 Kona Process 153SE (basically the 2017 frame w/ a hodge bodge of parts), sat the 2 side by side. My reach was almost identical, seat angle was almost identical, but how I settled into the bike was different.

I didn't feel semi-wobbly over the front end. Anything in that "Medium frame/66 degree head angle/450mm reach" version of modern geometry you will instantly be comfortable on.
I put a longer travel fork on it and dropped the stem to the same height I had been at and the only main difference is when climbing, the front wants to lift a hair easier & it can feel a tad floppy. It made it 65 degrees.

I would stay 66 degree and look for a similar seat angle. The 2 things that will drive you mad on shallow trails is a slack seat angle & a 65 or slacker head angle flopping like a fish while you dangle off the back like a fat guy riding an ostrich.

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Trouble Maker. Here to spit truth in the form of sarcasm.

7/1/2020 7:56 AM

The three bikes that I have ridden since 2008 (the Meta was sold to my friend and he had it over for a service when I still had my Giant and was selling it).
https://imgur.com/K491zpo

The cockpit lengths barely changed (logical), the seat to front wheel changes only a little as well (also logical and it changes due to the front end moving), but the rear wheel drops from under the seat immensely. And the wheels grow in size smile

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7/1/2020 9:30 AM

Only thing I'd add is that bikes are way more capable than they were 7 years ago, so it sometimes makes sense to go down in travel. My Patrol is about the same travel as bikes I rode for everything at that time, but it's super boring on easy trails, in a way that the bikes I had before it(reverse cronology: '16 Devinci Spartan, '12 Titus El Guapo, '07 Transition Bottle Rocket) were not.

From what I've seen of your terrain, and your description, I'd be all over something like a Spur, and maybe even downshock it to 100mm rear travel. The trail Pistol is quite possibly too much bike. Probably a worthwhile compromise if you want to go to the bike park a few times a year, but if this bike will only be on the terrain you describe, it's probably more than you need.

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7/1/2020 10:15 AM

I wouldn't go too long or slack for what you say youve got to ride. I would get the new transition and ride the size where you are at the upper limit of its size.

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Beer, Plants, Bikes, Family

7/1/2020 10:16 AM

long slack bikes are great, but you need something to point them down.

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Beer, Plants, Bikes, Family

7/1/2020 10:53 AM

I'd be interested in hearing peoples opinion on steeper seat tube angles. I have tried up to 78 deg and liked it, but I'm in Colorado, so straight up, straight down type of trails. Are people with more flat/rolling terrain finding the steep seat angles and longer front centers to be taxing on their arms/wrists?

I haven't found slacker head tube angles to be an issue on trail either. Steeper HT's definitely have their place. I built a DJ with a 67deg head angle and it's too slack. I'll be making the next one steeper.

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7/1/2020 11:32 AM

Personally I’m just sizing down instead of sizing up

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7/1/2020 11:37 AM

tylerb wrote:

I'd be interested in hearing peoples opinion on steeper seat tube angles. I have tried up to 78 deg and liked it, but I'm in Colorado, so straight up, straight down type of trails. Are people with more flat/rolling terrain finding the steep seat angles and longer front centers to be taxing on their arms/wrists?

I haven't found slacker head tube angles to be an issue on trail either. Steeper HT's definitely have their place. I built a DJ with a 67deg head angle and it's too slack. I'll be making the next one steeper.

every degree steeper has been an enhancement in climbing ability and seated weight distribution for me, so far. that said, my biggest worry about it is knee problems. slack seat angles existed (and still exist on road bikes) so that you don't end up with your knees going too far over your toes.

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7/1/2020 12:14 PM

Where the hell does this myth of knees over toes come from and how the hell is it still active???

What about if you were riding a reverse recumbent bike? The knee would in front of the toes there!

Look at the system. If you rotate the rider (the complete rider) around an axis, what changes? Why would going over the imaginary line of knees over the toes mean anything?

It's a circumstantial myth that has no physiological and physical basis. It's a relic of old geometries, where this, coincidentally, might have had some merit. But for completely different reasons.

Plus, a steeper seat tube angle will likely open up your hip angle, which, as far as I know, should be beneficial.

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7/1/2020 12:35 PM

I think I have similar terrain to you, living in Ontario near the 'Niagara Escarpment' which is ~100 metres/330 feet but you only descend the whole thing at bike parks. Even on a road bike there are not long climbs, but the climbing we have is all steep and punchy - very different from riding out West. My ride today had 400m elevation gain in 20km/1.5 hours and I sessioned some 'downhill' trails (about 1 min) to get there. We also have some very tech rocky, rooty stuff that is pan flat where doing more than 15km feels like a serious effort. For the most part, anything over 130mm here is overkill for most daily riding.
I spent a lot of time on a Trek Stache (29+) 4-5 years ago, and before that had a Trek Remedy (140mm dual sus, 27.5). Both had ~430mm reach for my size large (which is now a small...) with pretty slack seat tube angles (<70) and a 69 deg head angle on the Stache and a 67 on the Remedy. They felt fine at all the trails I mentioned above, although I never took the Stache downhilling. The Stache was definitely a better bike for 95% of my riding/trails (other than the downhilling I chose not to do) though I did take the Remedy out West. I would agree that nothing feels 'wrong' about the geometry of these bikes out East.
I have a Trek Fuel EX 2020 (130rear/150front, 29) now that has 'classically modern' geo - 470 reach, 66 deg head angle, 74 deg seat tube angle. The difference going downhill is pretty stark as it is much more composed and easier to handle rough stuff, though some of that is probably from more riding experience. The seated position feels mostly the same, and my chainstay length is still relatively short. The longer, slacker front end is not an issue for me on climbs, or at least it is not the limiter on me making any climbs here (just my skill). I get stopped more often by my handlebar width (780) then anything geometry wise. The suspension action is much better on my new Fuel, with the front and rear ends being more supple (especially the front) and supportive (especially the rear) than what I had on previous bikes. It makes the more technical stuff easier to manage, even when it's flat. I think the slack head angle also helps as even across flat terrain the suspension is deflecting at a lesser angle and therefore less likely to make you get caught up on stuff (that's my own hypothesis given how it feels). I have also ridden a new Top Fuel (120mm travel front/rear, similar geometry as new Fuel EX but with 67 deg head angle) on my local loop and it was similar but way faster. The lighter weight and more pedalling-optimized suspension really took off, and it only felt overwhelmed when going really fast on rough stuff (which isn't often here). I did not have a chance to try it on anything super technical which would be my only lingering question about the performance of the rear suspension.
Whereas before I felt like I needed two bikes to manage my local trails vs the occasional park days, now with 'modern' bikes it feels fine to have just one. I don't think modern geo has negatively impacted my rides, other than it's made the limited downhills around here pretty easy. More than anything riding more and becoming really tuned in to your bike (whatever it may be) is probably a bigger factor than almost any part of the bike (assuming it works well). I could have gone with a Top Fuel to really optimize most of my local riding but I just changed jobs at the beginning of the year and this was going to be my first time I could travel freely in the summer & fall... ha silly

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7/1/2020 2:32 PM

lev wrote:

long slack bikes are great, but you need something to point them down.

This....

Stumpy evo was great when I took it to NZ, back home in Aus where it's flat as a pankcake in comparison it was understeer city.

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7/1/2020 4:37 PM

Primoz wrote:

Where the hell does this myth of knees over toes come from and how the hell is it still active???

What about if you were riding a reverse recumbent bike? The knee would in front of the toes there!

Look at the system. If you rotate the rider (the complete rider) around an axis, what changes? Why would going over the imaginary line of knees over the toes mean anything?

It's a circumstantial myth that has no physiological and physical basis. It's a relic of old geometries, where this, coincidentally, might have had some merit. But for completely different reasons.

Plus, a steeper seat tube angle will likely open up your hip angle, which, as far as I know, should be beneficial.

KOPS probably came from the 70's or 80's and never had any biomechanical basis, and by the early 2000s road bike fit was moving away from it because not only does it have no biomechanical basis, it doesn't consider an individual's body proportions (so for women, who tend to have longer legs/shorter torso, it's really wack)

I'd love to test something but probably unlikely. I got kids, work odd hours, so I basically just ride by myself when I can squeeze in time. Makes this even more challenging, eh?

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7/1/2020 4:58 PM

I'm in Maine as well and pulled the trigger on a Guerrilla Gravity Shred Dogg (27.5+ set up 150f/130r) and I was worried that I was going too aggressive on the geometry. Nope. So much more stable than my 17 Cannondale Bad Habit, and still plenty nimble in the tight stuff.

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7/1/2020 5:08 PM

bizutch wrote:

I had a really steep head angle on my old school 2005 Turner 5 Pack & long stem.
When I bought my 2018 Kona Process 153SE (basically the 2017 frame w/ a hodge bodge of parts), sat the 2 side by side. My reach was almost identical, seat angle was almost identical, but how I settled into the bike was different.

I didn't feel semi-wobbly over the front end. Anything in that "Medium frame/66 degree head angle/450mm reach" version of modern geometry you will instantly be comfortable on.
I put a longer travel fork on it and dropped the stem to the same height I had been at and the only main difference is when climbing, the front wants to lift a hair easier & it can feel a tad floppy. It made it 65 degrees.

I would stay 66 degree and look for a similar seat angle. The 2 things that will drive you mad on shallow trails is a slack seat angle & a 65 or slacker head angle flopping like a fish while you dangle off the back like a fat guy riding an ostrich.

Ah, I had a 5 spot way back when. Loved that thing so much I keep thinking maybe I should just stick to old school bikes!

Good to know seat tube angle might matter more for my purposes, so long as I don't go too slack on the front end. Sounds like the weight distribution is gonna be most important. Bummer to hear the Trail Pistol might be too much, I really liked the idea of buying a GG, and I like having bikes that can take a beating - I like testing my terrible trials skills and seeing boulder I can climb or huck off, and it ends up with a lot of low speed crashes. I also want to be able to run 2.5 tires with ease, otherwise the The Kona HeiHei has some good looking geometry, maybe that's a Process 134, but less travel would be better). The Spur at 100mm sounds pretty good - anything other bikes I should think of? I won't get it till next year anyway, so no rush.

I'm not sure you mountain folk and comprehend quite how flat my average ride is. Trails don't drain because there's so little elevation. Worn, eroded tree stumps count as climbs. There are a few little 10-15 second downhills in my local spots, and there's one spot within 30 minutes of me that has a 300 foot climb - everything else is pancake, except for the bombfields of glacial debris.

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7/1/2020 6:25 PM

tylerb wrote:

I'd be interested in hearing peoples opinion on steeper seat tube angles. I have tried up to 78 deg and liked it, but I'm in Colorado, so straight up, straight down type of trails. Are people with more flat/rolling terrain finding the steep seat angles and longer front centers to be taxing on their arms/wrists?

I haven't found slacker head tube angles to be an issue on trail either. Steeper HT's definitely have their place. I built a DJ with a 67deg head angle and it's too slack. I'll be making the next one steeper.

Your steeper head angle comment was my main thought in posting this. This whole longer lower slacker movement doesn't work around here, at least not for me. Seems like all these bikes are designed for being out in the mountains where there's ups and downs and cruising into drifty corners and drinking local IPA at the top before smoking a fatty and railing berms, but my trails don't have tops or berms and low speed handling and quickness is the name of the game for me. I just plow through flat fields of baby heads and look for shit off the side of the trail and wonder if, with a couple carefully placed sticks, could I climb up that? Can I pop off X and clear Y or manual all the way to that spot over there? Since I ride by myself, most of the fun comes from pushing myself without risking being found dead by the next rider coming along, so that means low speed challenges. Basically, I want a play bike like this old Yelli (tough, fat tires, playful geo, snappy) but real short travel. Except a 5Spot, I've been on hardtails for 25 years, so this is really new territory.

I think the steep STA actually would be great. My bike's is rather slack and it takes some work keeping the front wheel weighted sometimes. So I'd like a more frontward weight bias.

Anyway, we got one other person from flat as shit on the sidewalk Georgia. Any other riders from places with no elevation wanna chime in? Do i need to just give it up, start golfing, and practice yelling and the neighborhood kids to get off my lawn?

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7/1/2020 9:05 PM

tylerb wrote:

I'd be interested in hearing peoples opinion on steeper seat tube angles. I have tried up to 78 deg and liked it, but I'm in Colorado, so straight up, straight down type of trails. Are people with more flat/rolling terrain finding the steep seat angles and longer front centers to be taxing on their arms/wrists?

I haven't found slacker head tube angles to be an issue on trail either. Steeper HT's definitely have their place. I built a DJ with a 67deg head angle and it's too slack. I'll be making the next one steeper.

Keep in mind the seat angle when climbing is very different to static due to sag. Think 35% sag on the rear and close to 0% on the front on a decent incline. Then add the variable of travel, and a 78° seat angle on a 160mm bike might sag back to 74° on a steep climb. Not sure there's an easy way to do those calcs, but I think sagged angles are more relevant than static.

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7/1/2020 11:28 PM

I live and ride in southern Finland where all the trails are natural twisty forest paths with serious amount of rocks and roots. Also it is really flat here. You basically have to pedal all the time so no coasting. :-)

The previous 4 bikes I've been riding during the last 10 years are (in this order) Giant Anthem 29, Pivot 429C, Yeti 4.5C and now I'm riding a Ripley 4 (with 140mm fork).

So quite a stark difference in geometry if comparing for example the Anthem 29 and Ripley4. :-)

But anyway even though probably my skills and fitness level has also increased during the last decade I can easily say that Ripley 4 is the most capable & fastest bike that I've had. There was some getting used to time from Yeti to Ripley (and also from Pivot to Yeti) but once that is over it's all good.

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7/2/2020 2:35 AM

jaaccup wrote:

I live and ride in southern Finland where all the trails are natural twisty forest paths with serious amount of rocks and roots. Also it is really flat here. You basically have to pedal all the time so no coasting. :-)

The previous 4 bikes I've been riding during the last 10 years are (in this order) Giant Anthem 29, Pivot 429C, Yeti 4.5C and now I'm riding a Ripley 4 (with 140mm fork).

So quite a stark difference in geometry if comparing for example the Anthem 29 and Ripley4. :-)

But anyway even though probably my skills and fitness level has also increased during the last decade I can easily say that Ripley 4 is the most capable & fastest bike that I've had. There was some getting used to time from Yeti to Ripley (and also from Pivot to Yeti) but once that is over it's all good.

Nice to hear. Yeah, that's exactly what we have here- you're pedaling non-stop just to keep going. Thanks!

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7/2/2020 7:19 AM

I think avoiding a enormous wheelbase will be a big plus for the terrain you are riding. I've ridden/demoed pretty much every single long travel (140mm + travel) 29er over the last four years. You can certainly get used to a longer wheelbase, but like you I prefer not having to work so much to throw my bike around or change direction/lines in tight terrain. Obviously do your homework by comparing geometry across different lines and comparing that to what you have. If possible try to do some demos too. FWIW, I personally ride an Evil Wreckoning and one thing in particular about Evil is that their wheelbases are shorter than comparable bikes. I find that because of this that my bike is not a chore to ride in tight choppy terrain whereas others have had more of a tugboat-esque on the same trails. If I was going point you towards an Evil (my friend is the local dealer here and I help with many of the demos) I'd say either the Following or The Offering would work well for your riding and not feel too strange compared to your Yelli (an awesome hardtail, BTW).

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7/2/2020 8:05 AM

Primoz wrote:

Where the hell does this myth of knees over toes come from and how the hell is it still active???

What about if you were riding a reverse recumbent bike? The knee would in front of the toes there!

Look at the system. If you rotate the rider (the complete rider) around an axis, what changes? Why would going over the imaginary line of knees over the toes mean anything?

It's a circumstantial myth that has no physiological and physical basis. It's a relic of old geometries, where this, coincidentally, might have had some merit. But for completely different reasons.

Plus, a steeper seat tube angle will likely open up your hip angle, which, as far as I know, should be beneficial.

smelly wrote:

KOPS probably came from the 70's or 80's and never had any biomechanical basis, and by the early 2000s road bike fit was moving away from it because not only does it have no biomechanical basis, it doesn't consider an individual's body proportions (so for women, who tend to have longer legs/shorter torso, it's really wack)

I'd love to test something but probably unlikely. I got kids, work odd hours, so I basically just ride by myself when I can squeeze in time. Makes this even more challenging, eh?

I've literally, personally, had knee pain from it, from having a seat slammed too far forward when I was young and dumb. it's not some myth. it's the basic bio-mechanics of how your leg muscles and joints work. You're not going to explode your knees like if you do heavy weighted squats with your knees too far forward, but the potential for RSI is there.

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7/2/2020 8:50 AM

groghunter wrote:

I've literally, personally, had knee pain from it, from having a seat slammed too far forward when I was young and dumb. it's not some myth. it's the basic bio-mechanics of how your leg muscles and joints work. You're not going to explode your knees like if you do heavy weighted squats with your knees too far forward, but the potential for RSI is there.

This is quite true or at least depends a lot regarding personal physique and proportions. For example I had to slam the seat all the way back with Ripley 4 even though the seat angle is not the most extreme out there.

Also tried out friends Pole Stamina 180 and I simple could not ride with such a steep seat angle.

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7/2/2020 10:59 AM
Edited Date/Time: 7/2/2020 11:00 AM

If you're on flat terrain 99% of the time and you're thinking you'll swap out to those boingy boingy 2.6" tires, then just get a bike that has front and rear air shocks that you can adjust the stiffness of the ride with there.

Then you can go with a bike with anything from 120-150mm of travel & be close to the ground for swapping turns at speed or putting a foot down. Anything more and your cranks are going to be fairly high off the ground to compensate for the 160-180mm travel.

A rear air shock at 130-150mm of travel can be made to feel as rigid or plush as you want.
Just pick a bike with tuneable air suspension and you can make the travel feel however you want .

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Trouble Maker. Here to spit truth in the form of sarcasm.

7/2/2020 11:10 AM

bizutch wrote:

If you're on flat terrain 99% of the time and you're thinking you'll swap out to those boingy boingy 2.6" tires, then just get a bike that has front and rear air shocks that you can adjust the stiffness of the ride with there.

Then you can go with a bike with anything from 120-150mm of travel & be close to the ground for swapping turns at speed or putting a foot down. Anything more and your cranks are going to be fairly high off the ground to compensate for the 160-180mm travel.

A rear air shock at 130-150mm of travel can be made to feel as rigid or plush as you want.
Just pick a bike with tuneable air suspension and you can make the travel feel however you want .

I'm definitely on team "2.6 feels weird and vague." I actually liked the plus tires in 2.8 to 3.25 more than i like the 2.6s. at the very least, I can't ever see myself putting one in the rear.

I mean casing matters too though. 2.6 with a stiffer casing might feel less odd. I know the conti's i'm currently running are pretty damn big, but they don't feel boingy, and that might be partly the casing.

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7/2/2020 11:17 AM

groghunter wrote:

I'm definitely on team "2.6 feels weird and vague." I actually liked the plus tires in 2.8 to 3.25 more than i like the 2.6s. at the very least, I can't ever see myself putting one in the rear.

I mean casing matters too though. 2.6 with a stiffer casing might feel less odd. I know the conti's i'm currently running are pretty damn big, but they don't feel boingy, and that might be partly the casing.

I got to ride a couple bikes with the 2.6" tires and I understand there are VERY specific places they work. The ONLY places in Pisgah where I thought "Oh...cool" was when I hit sections of gravel road there were either chunked up instead of being packed down or silty granite washes.

I can only assume that in dusty and/or sandy places like south Florida or some of that powdery fire road stuff out west, people would enjoy them.

To me, they just felt like labor at all times, either sucking away my hard cranks at the pedal with a vague acceleration (and I don't really "accelerate" so it felt even more drastic to someone like me) OR when I went to turn and the tire just felt like it would happily find it's own way like one of those rubbery neon frond things they used to sell like crazy at the malls.

Oh...and at times you could feel them squish into the ground and sort of "egg" roll forward like playing on an exercise ball.

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Trouble Maker. Here to spit truth in the form of sarcasm.