ransom SuperDork
10/24/12 11:30 p.m.

[EDIT: By way of explaining the thread topic; I believe it's a phrase I once heard, possibly by Peter Egan, about being out of sorts and uncomfortable on a motorcycle. Google fails me for proper attribution.]

Okay, maybe I'm just getting old and can't learn new tricks, but...

My progression of mountain bikes started with a Fisher Hoo Koo e Koo in about '89. Later I got a Wicked Fat Chance, and eventually replaced it with a Klein Attitude Comp (circa '99). Each of these was an evolution. The Fat was just a nicer bike than the 'Koo, and the Klein showed that as nice as the Fat was, time had marched on.

Earlier this year I picked up a Kona Kula. I'm frankly startled at how odd I feel on it. I did test ride it, and part of the deal is that it had different forks on it, and at some point I'm going to have to swap out for something more structurally sound than this Fox unit.

But is there some fundamental shift in the last decade in terms of how XC rigs are set up? I know bar ends have gone the way of the dodo, and apparently the overall riding position is more rearward. I think I need to learn to get my weight over the front end more actively in corners, and then bask in the ease of getting my weight back in gnarly stuff. I dig the pedaling position.

I just... Haven't felt this out of sorts on a mountain bike in a long time. I never really got totally back on track after breaking my Klein's frame (they replaced it under warranty), when I built it back up with a too-tall, squishy Marzocchi. But the new riding position, with modern, what feel impossibly wide handlebars, and suddenly having disc brakes... I feel like a beginner all over again.

Sorry for the ramble. Anybody else have to go through this adaptation?

ultraclyde Dork
10/25/12 6:11 a.m.

Yes and no. The bike I ride now is a far cry from the bike I started out on. I've been told Konas tend to have a unique feel, but I've never ridden them.

I have a 26" dual susp Specialized XC bike that I love and feel perfect on. I have a hard tail Niner single speed that everyone else raves about, but after two years, I just feel odd on. I'm currently changing the cockpit radically to try to make it better.

Popular riding style has gotten more upright and gravity influenced, but pure xc rigs are still out there. If you prefer them, cut down your bars and rock on.

octavious Reader
10/25/12 6:51 a.m.

I'm relatively new to mtn biking. I started off a few years ago on a Specialized Hardrock. It was less than $300 and got me going. After about a year I was curious in the 29er craze and the single speed (SS) craze so I bought a rigid Origin8 SS 29er off CL for $250.

After one ride on the SS I was hooked and I rode it almost entirely for the next season. Towards the end of that season, and since the Hardrock had just been gathering dust, I figured I'd take the Hardrock back out and try it. It felt soooo akward and weird. The whole cockpit felt just off, and after riding a rigid any bounce from the fork just felt really weird.

The 29er feels like the bike I rode as a kid. And sort of like a big wheel at the same time. (Maybe my bikes as a kid were too big for me?)

I think the new riding trend is to put more of your body weight over the rear wheel so your rear tire doesn't spin and loose traction. Notice I said "I think."

PHeller UltraDork
10/25/12 8:42 a.m.

A few different things:

1) Suspension has completely changed the way bikes feel. A bike with no suspension and 390mm axle-crown measurement will always feel different from a bike with a 430mm, or 480mm, or a 550mm (160mm travel). Its just the nature of the beast. Some describe oldschool rigid geometry as "twitchy" other describe it as "quick" or "direct". I think it feels weird. The best thing you can do is lower/flip your stem to achieve a lower cockpit for that "attack" feel.

2) Chainstay length has become progressively shorter. This makes a bike easier to lift the front wheel, more nimble and aids in descents. Your average mid-90's hard tail mountain bike had a 17.5" chain stay length. That was on a 26" wheel. Today, that's about average for a 29" wheel with 3" more outer diameter. This is why many old-school folks like the feel of a 29er over a 26, and why many kids who have moved up from BMX hate the feel of 29er and like the feel of a 26" wheel, because the modern geometry matches more of the feel of a BMX bike than that of a classic MTB.

My opinion is this: Modern geometry will make you faster for the same amount of fitness. You put the same guy on a bike from 1995 that cost $800, and a bike that costs $1200 today, and he'll be noticeably faster, more confident, and his bike will probably hold together better than that of 17 years ago. Disc brakes, suspension, wheel size, shift mechanisms, all have improved to really allow riders to achieve things not possible in the past.

PHeller UltraDork
10/25/12 8:53 a.m.

Another thing that has changed has been selection. It used to be you went into a store and you said "I need a mountain bike" and they'd put you on one, and it'd be like most every other mountain bike on the market.

Then came full suspension. It was considered "high end".

Then came carbon fiber. It was considered "race".

Then came 29" wheels.

These day, you've got go into a bike shop knowing exactly what you want.

ransom SuperDork
10/25/12 12:53 p.m.

I'm probably going to try lowering the bars a bit, and besides that I'm guessing a bunch more time on the bike is the main thing.

I'm definitely rusty, as I've only been on the mountain bike really sporadically the last few years. It just feels weird for it to feel so weird.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
10/25/12 1:21 p.m.

I went from a rigid bike (Stumpjumper circa, umm, 1999?) to a fully suspended Rocky Mountain ESTX about 4 years ago. It didn't take much to make the jump, but I think that's in large part due to the design of the RM. In particular, it's got a suspension that resists squat under power really nicely. In car terms, it's a double wishbone rear instead of a strut, which means better camber control and more control over the roll center Anyhow, I didn't have to adjust my riding style dramatically from the years of body english used to make a rigid work properly. I've tried other suspension bikes and never felt as comfortable on them. The one big thing was to get over the back wheel on faster rough stuff and just let the bike deal with it.

One thing I can do with the RM is adjust the travel both front and rear. By shortening it up, I make the bike more compact and I get more of the feel of the rigid bike. It's definitely more responsive. I rode it like that, only opening up the travel for fast sections, for a while. Then I started gradually running more travel and now I leave it on full travel almost all the time. So I guess maybe I did adjust my technique, but I had the luxury of being able to ease into it.

I do run a slightly longer and lower stem, partly due to having a long upper body.

I haven't tried the full suspension in the eastern riding conditions I grew up on. My riding now is all hard pack dirt (no mud) and rock singletrack, and the suspension loves it. If I was back in Ottawa, I'm not sure the suspension would make a dramatic difference on most of my old favorite trails.

asterisk New Reader
10/25/12 5:11 p.m.
ransom wrote: ...I'm guessing a bunch more time on the bike is the main thing.

This. As someone mentioned, more trails are gravity oriented and modern geometry reflects that.

Since you are somewhat local, check out the newish Sandy Ridge trail system. Far more fun than trucking around Forest Park or other metro trails.

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