The Perfect Bike for S. Wisconsin?


October 19, 2015, 10:04 PM

Right now I'm not far off from that 90's steel hardtail. I'm on a 2006, 26" Soulcraft with, essentially "NORBA Geometry". A 100mm fork, Ti seatpost and high volume tires take the edge off. 90% of the time I find this bike to be perfect. In fact, at Kettles and CR, gears are really superfluous. But it gets overwhelmed at Blue Mound, and tends to oversteer in berms.

Its interesting that just about every bike posted so far  has been an FS bike. I kinda feel like a slightly slacker HT angle, a little more travel in the fork and maybe some plus-sized tires aught to be enough to master anything in the midwest. But I'm trying to get some broader opinions and keep an open mind.


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Nate W.
Club Raconteur

October 19, 2015, 10:10 PM


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Nate W.
Club Raconteur

October 19, 2015, 10:16 PM

In all honesty, I enjoyed the short lap I took on Klei's Stache 29+ at the BYC.  You really notice the super short chainstays. 

It's really peppy for having the biggest diameter wheel/tire combo on the market.

If I was gonna go back to riding a hardtail, it would have + sized tires either 27.5+ or 29+

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TheMayor1
Trail Steward - CamRock
Trail Steward
608-772-7833

October 19, 2015, 11:11 PM

+1 for giving the plus size tires a solid look. Particularly if you are considering going with a hardtail. I have not yet had enough time on one to say for sure. But the time I have had is enough to peak my interest.
+1 also on the dropper post. I thought they were a silly waste of $ until I bought a bike with one. Now I find myself using it all the time. Mine is also infinitely adjustable. You get a quick feel for it after a few rides. I most often just drop the seat an inch or so. Ditto on cornering. It is a huge difference.
Another plus one for the demo/renting of bikes. We have a real advantage around here on the amount of bikes available to demo. If you don't have anything against Trek, get to know Derek at CamRock Sport. He is willing to work with you on the full line of Trek's. Pretty much everything Trek has is available there as they are set up as a full demo center. And you can try many bikes back to back and compare. I don't mean to plug them exclusively, but that is something you won't find anywhere else I know of, and I think not nearly enough people know about it. Also they are the shop I am familiar with. As mentioned Trail This in our area also does rentals of some bikes, and you have access to trails to put tires to dirt. Both are also supporters of CORP.
Of course there is always group rides as well. Throw out a post and often you can get someone willing to let you try their bike. I am always up for that.


~ Chuck Hutchens


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Renegade Rick
Webmaster
Administrator

October 20, 2015, 04:28 AM

I'm not sure there is a perfect bike. I'm much bigger than you, GoodOak, but I'll share my experience anyhow.

First, I demoed that Stache 29+ in Marquette and found it so fun, I kept it all day. I really recommend trying it.

Otherwise, I'm down to only two mountain bikes these days.

I have that salsa mukluk with 2x9 white brothers carbon fork and a set of Nates that I use in the snow and at blue mound and for touring and other places where gears are an asset.

Most of the time though, I'm riding a 2014 kona unit rigid steel singlespeed 29 that I got about two months ago at trail this. It's mostly stock, but I've upgraded to carbon bars, esi chunky grips, and tubeless maxxis ardent tires (2.4 in front) to soften the ride. I recently added a salsa flip lock seatpost clamp to provide the ability to lower the seat for pump tracks or raise it for a bit more efficiency along the military ridge. Mostly, though, I keep the seat at a reasonable height for trails. I've found this bike pretty much perfect for me, pretty much everywhere. It rips at quarry ridge, Seminole, Blackhawk, pleasant view, cam rock, kettle, Levis.

I thought I wanted a steel singlespeed (possibly a honzo) with a suspension fork until I rode the unit. I knew instantly the unit was the one from a quick parking lot ride and bought it on the spot. It just felt right. And it still does. Maybe even better with every ride. I hope you can find the same.

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October 20, 2015, 10:13 PM

Count me among the dropper seat post fans.  Even as I was making the purchase, and installing it on the bike, I was feeling a little silly and wasteful.  But it turns out I use it A LOT.

I have the Fox post that has 3 positions -- high, 1 inch drop, and 5 inch drop.  They make this same post with a 4 inch drop.  In hindsight, I wish I had got the 4.  At the time I bought the post, I mistakenly thought the 5 would be better for me because I'm tall and have a large-framed bike.  But now it's abundantly obvious to me that the amount of drop you want is not based on body or from size, but on the amount of aggression in your riding.  I tend to be cautious and conservative.  I don't do the hardest, steepest downhills.  On the rare occasions my tires are airborne, they're only a few inches off the ground.  For this conservative riding, a 4 inch drop would still be plenty out of the way, but the saddle wouldn't be so low that it couldn't be used for a quick break or to brace against your leg.

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imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

October 21, 2015, 08:29 AM

Count me among the dropper seat post fans.  Even as I was making the purchase, and installing it on the bike, I was feeling a little silly and wasteful.  But it turns out I use it A LOT.

I have the Fox post that has 3 positions -- high, 1 inch drop, and 5 inch drop.  They make this same post with a 4 inch drop.  In hindsight, I wish I had got the 4.  At the time I bought the post, I mistakenly thought the 5 would be better for me because I'm tall and have a large-framed bike.  But now it's abundantly obvious to me that the amount of drop you want is not based on body or from size, but on the amount of aggression in your riding.  I tend to be cautious and conservative.  I don't do the hardest, steepest downhills.  On the rare occasions my tires are airborne, they're only a few inches off the ground.  For this conservative riding, a 4 inch drop would still be plenty out of the way, but the saddle wouldn't be so low that it couldn't be used for a quick break or to brace against your leg.

Having moved two different brand/model dropper posts between 4 bikes I suggest one with infinite adjustment and as much adjustment as possible.

If Trail This has another special buy or price on Thomsons I'd also suggest those. A crash that smashed the remote line with the Thomson was as easy a fix as pliers and the spare derailleur cable. The hydraulic Reverb taking a similar rock hit smash required a near $50 hose kit in order to get the right fitting. Finally, the Thomson is so smooth and free working that you just open it up and let it settle at any height you want with no thought to it.

The opposite of all these discussions is a ride with Jon A. No need for anything but the bike you bought around 20 years ago, and proof that your bike engine is more important than your bike. That said, I'm sure it hurt when I heard the start and saw the end of an attempt to manual some rollers at Blackhawk with cleated shoes, raised seat and bar ends.

:)

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XXX

October 21, 2015, 09:54 PM

I second your notion for sticking to a hardtail. If I could have only one bike for anywhere, but especially for here in Wisconsin, it would be a hardtail 29er with front suspension. FS has it's value for very long rides, but the larger wheel diameter in addition to a more current geometry sounds like it would serve your needs for almost every situation and would be a nice addition to your current ride. Also, a dropper post is worth strongly considering, especially on a hardtail.

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augs
President
Board Member

October 21, 2015, 10:52 PM

Quote
That said, I'm sure it hurt when I heard the start and saw the end of an attempt to manual some rollers at Blackhawk with cleated shoes, raised seat and bar ends.

The bar-ends and cleats had nothing to do with it.  It is possible that saddle height was a factor.  Or maybe it was the head-tube angle.  Could have even been the triple chainring or the V-brakes.  Now that I think about it, the bar-ends and cleats probably didn't help.  I'm just happy to have plenty to blame other than my own ability.  Frankly, it's amazing I can stay upright.

And it didn't hurt.

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XXX

October 23, 2015, 08:23 PM

I've never really been into 29ers. I know that's almost heresy in this crowd. I tried some back in 05'-06' and I felt like they rode like a school bus. I tried my friends 09' Niner, also felt awkward. A few weeks ago I tried a friends rental Specialized 29er FS bike and that was a mess.

So I'm a little tentative about 27.5+ even since it has the same wheel diameter as a 29er. A friend really likes his Stash, so I'll give it a try. Maybe a regular-27.5"-wheeled FS bike would work. I would want a bike that climbs well, especially on technical climbs, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be happy with a head tube angle that was more slack than 68-degrees.

The more I think about it, the more I think I want a bike that has the most "squish" possible, without being detrimental to the ride for Cam-Rock and Kettles. IE, I want something that's going to do more at Blue Mound and other more aggressive trails, but I also want a bike that climbs well and really climbs BETTER on those rocky climbs at BM.

I'm going to keep my current bike and set it up as a singlespeed, and it will slay CR and Kettles, but when I don't have the energy for singlespeeding, I'd like the new bike to be a pleasant alternative.

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imwjl
Pleasant View Trail Steward

October 23, 2015, 09:32 PM

I've never really been into 29ers. I know that's almost heresy in this crowd. I tried some back in 05'-06' and I felt like they rode like a school bus. I tried my friends 09' Niner, also felt awkward. A few weeks ago I tried a friends rental Specialized 29er FS bike and that was a mess.

So I'm a little tentative about 27.5+ even since it has the same wheel diameter as a 29er. A friend really likes his Stash, so I'll give it a try. Maybe a regular-27.5"-wheeled FS bike would work. I would want a bike that climbs well, especially on technical climbs, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be happy with a head tube angle that was more slack than 68-degrees.

The more I think about it, the more I think I want a bike that has the most "squish" possible, without being detrimental to the ride for Cam-Rock and Kettles. IE, I want something that's going to do more at Blue Mound and other more aggressive trails, but I also want a bike that climbs well and really climbs BETTER on those rocky climbs at BM.

I'm going to keep my current bike and set it up as a singlespeed, and it will slay CR and Kettles, but when I don't have the energy for singlespeeding, I'd like the new bike to be a pleasant alternative.

I believe we already told you it's about the bike and not the wheel size. You can't compare older 29rs to what's been out in past few seasons. The 2009 bike comment also has to be thrown away regarding shocks. I have Fox's best from 2009 and 2016 in same travel - no comparison. The "Reaktiv" shocks aren't hype. Also, don't judge a suspension bike if it's not set up right.

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XXX

October 23, 2015, 11:41 PM

You can't compare older 29rs to what's been out in past few seasons. The 2009 bike comment also has to be thrown away regarding shocks.

I realize this. The 2015 Specialized 29er I rode, I'm thinking the wheels coupled with the full suspension just made for too long a wheel base. The 2009 Niner I rode was fully rigid FWIW.

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TheMayor1
Trail Steward - CamRock
Trail Steward
608-772-7833

October 24, 2015, 01:02 AM

You can't compare older 29rs to what's been out in past few seasons. The 2009 bike comment also has to be thrown away regarding shocks.

I realize this. The 2015 Specialized 29er I rode, I'm thinking the wheels coupled with the full suspension just made for too long a wheel base. The 2009 Niner I rode was fully rigid FWIW.
The 2016 Trek models are set up so that the 29er's have the same wheel base and chainstay length as a 26 used to have. There are so many changes made in even the last 2 years that you can not compare.
And I could really care less what folks are riding as long as it works for you. People ask me about my bike (geometry, chainstay, blah, blah) and I often don't have an answer. I just know what feels right for me. I'm just saying don't eliminate options until you get out and ride what is cutting edge. Talk to shop owners and bike geeks. Derek at CRS is a bit timid, but loves to talk bike geek and can tell you the difference in bike design. Also why Trek has went to all but the crazy jump bikes having 29 as a standard, and wheel size based on the frame size.
For me, once I passed 40, full suspension meant I was riding as long as a I wanted without back and other pain. Therefore I was having more fun = no brainer.


~ Chuck Hutchens


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augs
President
Board Member

October 24, 2015, 08:20 AM

There are plenty of 29ers out there that are dogs, but I have ridden one or two newer ones that rode well.  That is to say, as well as a quality 26" bike. 

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XXX

October 24, 2015, 10:12 PM


For me, once I passed 40, full suspension meant I was riding as long as a I wanted without back and other pain. Therefore I was having more fun = no brainer.

Interesting story, I recently got back from a 11 day mountain bike trip. I bikepacked the Maah Daah Hey trail fully loaded, 100 miles in 3 days, then rode with some college riding buds around Bend Oregon (amazing riding out there by the way). We covered about 90 miles of singletrack in 4 days, the last two days were 27 and 33 miles of singletrack. My friends were all on FS bikes expressed amazement that I was not getting beat down by all the riding and how aggressively I was riding in some of the rougher sections.

The thing is, my friends my have had 5" of travel front and rear, but I had tubeless tires pressured down to 24/26 psi, a custom steel frame that's tuned for my weight and riding style, a Ti seastpost that eats up a ton of trail chatter, and most importantly, a carefully fit bike that gives me a well balanced, comfortable and powerful riding position.

So my experience is that a frame that fits, good ergonomics on the bike, and smart component selection are critical.

OK, now I feel like I'm writing some kind of epic monolog.

Last point I want to make is that since the early days that full-suspension bikes were the ultimate form for a mountain bike. There are no front-suspension-only jeeps. I've been biding my time and testing the waters occasionally over the past 20 years while suspension technology improves.

Perhaps now is the time to go FS. But I'd like to buy another bike I can keep for a decade and FS bikes tend to wear out and become outdated.

I guess I should just go ride some bikes.

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