MAMIL Matt - struggling on a bike lane near you soon

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Johnmcl7
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MAMIL Matt - struggling on a bike lane near you soon

Postby Johnmcl7 » 12 Apr 2017, 01:48

What places are you able to buy the bike from? I wouldn't bother with a full suspension bike unless you could get one of the decent budget ones (Boardman or Calibre I think at the moment) as otherwise it's a waste of money, you end up with a pretty heavy bike that doesn't ride well normally.

Although there's a raft of different wheel sizes at the moment, the market is largely boiling down to the following sizes:

27.5/650b (27.5x1.8 - 2.5) - These are now the standard mountain bike wheel size and replace the 26in standard which is mostly being phased out now, the 27.5 wheels are slightly larger and intended to give some of the bigger wheel benefits of a 29er without the increase in size. It's a popular size for most size and favoured over the bigger wheels for large travel bikes to give them better agility.

27.5+/650b+ (27.5x2.8 - 3.2) - This is the 'plus' standard (there are others but this is the most common size), you have a 27.5in rim but the tyre is wider and often the rim is as well. It's seen as a sweet spot between all the different standard, the plus wheel has a similar diameter to a 29er so bike companies can use existing 29er geometry and the wider wheel gives more grip but without going as far as the bulky fat bikes. The advantage of the bigger wheel is more grip and traction particularly on natural trails not purpose designed for cycling although as it's a new size, the parts are still fairly thin on the ground and the 'plus' definition is quite a loose one - there's companies selling bikes barely wider than existing 27.5 bikes but labelling them as plus..confusingly the tyre width measurement isn't always that accurate.

29 (29x1.8 - 2.5) - These were the next wheel size standard to come after 26ers, they offer a larger diameter which means they can carry speed better and clear obstacles quicker which makes them great for fast cross country riding. Some people dislike the bigger wheel for the lack of agility which is why 27.5in bikes were brought in, the 29ers are a good choice for a hard tail but for full suspension, the market is mostly going away from 29er's. Some bike manufacturers will market the smaller frames with 27.5in wheels and the larger frames with 29in wheels to keep a similar balance but you don't need to be tall to need a 29er.

26 fat (26x3.8 - 5.2) - The fat bikes mostly use a 26in rim but much much wider than any others, they start at around four inches and now go over 5inches on monster 100mm rims. These massive tyres offer huge amounts of traction primarily for use on snow, sand and mud or where conventional bikes would struggle for grip.

To be honest I don't think it will make much difference when getting started, it will largely be between 27.5 and a 29er but until you've been riding a bit you won't have much of an idea what you want in a bike. The problem with a lot of the official bike reviews is that they're written by very good riders who will be using the bike in probably quite a different way to the likes of us, when I read discussions about bikes and people are talking about the rebound rate of the fork and the damping properties etc. I don't really get it, either my bikes are squishy or they're not is about as far as I go with suspension. I think any decent spec £500ish hardtail will be a solid off road bike and if you really get into mountain biking, you'll have a better idea what you want from a bike if the HT isn't suitable.

When I knew nothing about mountain biking I started off with a bog standard ex-hire hard tail (26in wheels and 100mm coil suspension) which I rode for about a year learning to ride off road at night and taking it down stuff that would be rated black at a trail centre, never really had any issue with the bike. I decided to splash out and go for a full suspension 29er after liking this type of bike at a demo day, with the big 29in wheels and the fairly short 120mm suspension (putting it between the XC race bikes and the longer travel enduro bikes) it was a superb bike for rocketing along the countryside and the rear suspension was great for soaking up bumps on long downhill stuff particularly for endurance races and long rides.

When I'd learnt to ride the hardtail over winter and in the dark, I was fairly slow and cautious plus I didn't know any better but coming into winter again with much better skills and a much better bike, I struggled with the conditions and ended up crashing it a lot, losing confidence, crashing it more etc. For the next winter I bought the fat bike having seen how well others had tackled difficult winter conditions I wanted one of my own which went so well I was never really able to ride the 29er again as I didn't like the skittish feel of the narrow tyres so rode the fat bike the rest of the year.

Although it's a lot of fun to ride the fat bike it's not great in dry conditions or at trail centres where it's getting no benefit from the big tyres but they are dragging plus as the bike has no suspension it's hard going on the body when doing fast downhill stuff. So I decided to go for a 29+ hard tail, this is a more unusual size - it's similar to 27.5+ but using a 29in rim instead which makes for massive wheels. A couple of companies offered these tyres on their tourer type bikes but Trek designed a clever frame that could accommodate the massive wheels but without being too long allowing for a fast playful bike with big wheels. I didn't initially like the bike as it didn't have the float or raw grip of the fat bike but once I got the hang of it, I've come to really enjoy it over the fat bike as it can carry a lot of speed and flies over stuff no problem.

Even after four years of riding and four mountain bikes, I'm still not sure about my current setup...the Stache is quick but it's hard going on my legs since there's a lot more work controlling the back of the bike rather than have suspension soak it up. I've had my eye on a full suspension fat bike (which will take 29+ tyres) or a 650b+ full suspension bike but I know in reality they won't do what I want, the FS fat bikes are just too bike and don't use great parts, there's also the concern that I've almost had some big crashes on the Stache so perhaps having the speed limited a bit by the hard tail design is good as an FS bike would be quicker.
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Postby matt » 12 Apr 2017, 13:17

I can only buy from here John and up to £1000.

https://www.cyclesolutions.co.uk/mounta ... Price=1000

I've been reading some of the bikes have a 2*10 or 1*11 or 12 chain set up. Made me think more about keeping my crosstrail for the daily commute and getting a more focussed 27.5 trail bike for the weekends. I.e. not trying to get a trail bike that can also commute.

Not sure where I can try a 29er in anger so think we're aligned that a 27.5 is a good starting point.

Budget wise, I'm happier at the £500 but as this is salary sacrifice it's roughly 30% saving off list price so spending more upfront to get better parts and saving money on upgrades is important I think.
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Postby Johnmcl7 » 12 Apr 2017, 20:25

'1x' systems currently the in thing with mountain bikes where you have no front derailleur and a wider range of gears at the back. Proponents of the system point out it's simpler, more reliable and lighter than a multiple chain ring system but I feel it's hugely overhyped and it's not something I would spend more money to get. I have a 2x10 setup on my fat bike (22/36 chain rings and 11-32 on the rear cassette) and a 1x11 setup on the plus bike (30 chainring on the front and 10-42 on the back), the plus bike can't take a front derailleur due to the frame design. I'd heard so many glowing recommendations for a 1x setup but couldn't really see it being that much of a difference and now I've got a 1x bike, those are still my thoughts. It's really as you'd expect you just don't have a front derailleur, I'm mostly on my own in this view but prefer my 2x10 as I can quickly jump gears using the front derailleur, the gear range is wider and the cassette is far cheaper - £20 for the 10 speed vs £80 for the 11-speed (and that's a budget one).

In terms of getting better parts, you need to careful that you are actually getting something more worthwhile because in a lot of cases you're not. Better groupsets may offer better features like for example if you want Shimano 11-speed then you need SLX or better as Deore is 10-speed and Acera/Alivio are still 9-speed but beyond that you're not getting much for your money, the cheaper parts still function well and reliably. With brakes for example a pair of Shimano Deore XT's cost twice as much as a pair of Shimano Deore's but there's little difference in them, the XT's have an adjustable lever I believe but the much cheaper Deore's offer the same power and performance. There's also a chance you'll smash up your shiny new parts and they'll need replaced anyway, with my FS 29er I was debating between the SLX and XT version of the bike as you'll frequently see recommendations that you shouldn't buy anything less than XT but couldn't see any real advantage and went with SLX, the bike needed new front brakes after a destroyed them in a crash just three weeks after buying.

If you did get a £500 hardtail and really wanted to get into more serious riding, fitting better parts isn't going to do to that as it will make little difference instead you'd likely want to move up to a mid or longer travel full suspension bike. My first MTB was mostly just entry level Deore stuff, technically I could have put a better drivetrain, brakes and fork on but it really wouldn't have made much difference to the bike's capabilities and instead I put the money towards a 29er FS instead. You seem to regret your hybrid purchase because it's not quite what you wanted, you still seem to be in a similar position in that you're not sure exactly what sort of bike you want so I'd be cautious about buying a pricier hardtail only to find in a few months that's not what you want either.
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Postby matt » 13 Apr 2017, 11:21

the beauty of the work scheme is the money comes off the top of the paycheck, so I never see it and it's split over 12 months + a 7% fee at the end. I think this rules out a FS bike as I'll never have the lump sum to get bike from new. have you got an idea of what they start at second hand?

the bike hire place has the following bikes for demo:
Marin, Whyte, Pivot and DMR.


As i'll already be on the daimond back myers in the morning, are there any makes / models from that list you would recommend to have a play on?
can only see Marin as an option on my bike to work scheme:
https://www.cyclesolutions.co.uk/mounta ... Price=1001

it's £25 for three hour rental up to three bikes. Realistically to do a loop and back I guess that's only a couple to play on.

edit:
a friend has just planted this seed too:

http://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/sites/de ... _2015a.pdf

100 mile from winchester to brighton... OOF!
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Postby matt » 14 Apr 2017, 22:54

John, I learnt a lot today!

I really like both hardtails and FS bikes. I instantly felt quicker on the full suspension on faster sections, but instantly felt slower on the more cross country sections. I started off on the hard tail and the tyre pressure was too high, but amazing how much a quick soften and the grip came alive. I then struggled to get a seat position I liked but ended up more towards the high to stop me from standing up all the time.

Once we got onto the red section I swapped onto the FS bike and it weirded me out on the gravel as it was just floating through it, but then going down rooty bits the thing came alive.

I didn't get a chance to talk to the bike hub and view their bikes to demo but tempted to give them a call now I have a feeling for what I like and to maybe try out a 29er or 27.5+ If I can find one.

My heart is saying try and demo this or drop even more on an FS bike:
http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/calibre-bos ... ke-p347143

My head is saying go hard tail and try and keep it to the 5-700 as my fitness will never make up for the heavier FS set up and if i'm really committing to the south downs route then hardtail should make it easier. At one point my friend was free wheeling on the hard tail and I had to change up a gear to keep up!

https://www.thecrownestate.co.uk/media/ ... forest.pdf

I also need to think about what type of riding I'm going to most of, beyond commuting I have a feeling it will be more towards the cross country bridal paths rather that downhill as the closest one near me is 40 mins away and has no lift so is walking back up.
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Postby Johnmcl7 » 15 Apr 2017, 00:23

That Calibre is meant to get a decent FS bike and a great choice for the money, not heard anything about this Voodoo but they're generally well rated:

http://www.halfords.com/cycling/bikes/m ... ntain-bike

And Boardman:

http://www.halfords.com/cycling/bikes/m ... nsion-27-5

I'm not sure if you can still get another ten percent off with a British Cycling membership.

What was the full suspension bike and were you locking out the rear suspension? Unless it was a fairly big travel bike, it shouldn't really be much different pedalling or hill climbing, my FS bike was mid-travel one at 120mm and had no issues pedalling it at speed or hill climbing. I don't think weight makes as big a difference as people claim as the fat bike is easily the heaviest bike I have and for me it's the fastest up hill and cross country, while the plus hard tail is a bit nippier on the downhill stuff. I'm still split over an FS bike myself as I lost a lot of money on mine and it's better suited to trail riding which I don't do much of hence I tend to favour bigger wheels.

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Postby matt » 15 Apr 2017, 23:26

it was an older nicolai bike with "retro" 2.4" 26" wheels and slightly less slack front end compared to the diamond back. It was a lovely set up, breaks were easy to pull with one finger and was just about managing with the single cog. I was getting off up the hills on both bikes to be fair and never used the easiest cog in the myers either.

I'll have to ask my mate for the details, but they both had the same forks on the front (rockshock sektor) and the nicolai had an x-fusion air shock on the rear whatever that is.

Might not be the weight, but definitely felt harder to maintain momentum on the full suspension. I'm wondering if I get more confident will it even out, but assume it's always going to be tougher up hill on an FS bike.

I'd not heard about the voodoo until this review put the hardtail as best in class for £750 despite being closer to the 500 categories:
http://www.mbr.co.uk/reviews/hardtail/m ... view-video
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Postby Johnmcl7 » 16 Apr 2017, 02:49

It depends on the FS bike how good they are at pedalling and going uphill, it's an area newer FS bikes are better at and there's even up to around 140mm/150mm FS bikes which are pretty decent all round thanks to the current Enduro trend. I saw the pictures you sent but it's hard to tell how much travel it's running.

I've seen Voodoo consistently get recommendations for their hardtails around the £500-£600 mark.

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Postby Replicant » 17 Apr 2017, 19:21

That Nicolai sounds like an out of date FS DH bike from a few years back.

I still use my Boardman Team FS which I bought 4 years ago on the Cycle to Work scheme. Halfords also had it discounted at the time and the total cost to me was about £600.

I have ridden FS bikes for about 20 years now. My Boardman is so light I wouldn't bother with a hard tail now.

As for that ride Matt - watch this space! I have just got back on my bike after 4 months of knee issues. I am looking to eclipse my charity ride from last year.
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Postby Johnmcl7 » 18 Apr 2017, 01:07

+1 on the Techpond MTB idea, I was thinking if Matt ever did get a bike it would be good to take my bike down and go for a good ride somewhere.
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Postby Replicant » 18 Apr 2017, 10:03

Johnmcl7 wrote:Source of the post +1 on the Techpond MTB idea, I was thinking if Matt ever did get a bike it would be good to take my bike down and go for a good ride somewhere.


Happy to give you a guided ride around the South Downs as I know most of it between Brighton and Chichester.
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Postby matt » 18 Apr 2017, 10:12

how tough are the downs Chris, is it just one big hill after another?
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Postby Replicant » 18 Apr 2017, 13:55

matt wrote:Source of the post how tough are the downs Chris, is it just one big hill after another?


It all depends on where you start. The Downs run east to west and you tend to get a valley/break every 5 - 10 miles. You can start riding on fairly elevated parts and then its undulating until you reach a valley which you will need to go down and back up the other side. Once you are on the top parts there isn't a huge variation from one hill top to the next. The tracks themselves are a dream when dry and are flinty bits on top of hard-pack chalk although the flints can cause punctures.

For example, I can ride from Arundel to Devils Dyke and there are only 3 significant climbs to complete over the 18 miles. Of course to get back again you double that to 6 over 36 miles. In the summer I quite often get to do a 15 to 20 mile loop between 1 and 2 hours.

Look at this persons blog for a ride report to give you a good idea. http://www.thefitbits.com/2016/08/cycling-south-downs-way-amberley-to.html
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Postby robbo » 19 Apr 2017, 23:43

robbo wrote:Source of the post Um, what's a crosstail?


matt wrote:Source of the post https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid ... 7985153031

jack of all trades bike, not as quick as road bike, not heavy duty enough for downhill but a pretty solid commuter.

you should defo buy it!


took me ages to realise it's a name for a bike, not a type of bike!

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