Monday, September 2, 2013

Mountain Bikes... Approaching the Beast

Carrera Kraken Mountain Bike
Of all the lakes in the vicinity, I had to fall in love with the one on top of a mountain, accessible only via a steep rough gravel road. I have been up there in a car with friends a few times now. But what I really want is to be able to go on my own - ideally without motorised help. My tentative plan was to ride up the paved part of the mountain on my roadbike, then hike the remaining 2 miles up the gravel lake road - either leaving my bike hidden in the woods below or dragging it along. 

"Or..." said my friend Keith, "I can lend you my mountain bike, and you can ride all the way up through the woods."

Quickly I began to mutter something about it being too much trouble, but Keith saw right through that and laughed. "No it's not, we ride the same size bike. Lower the saddle and off you go." 

Damn. Quick, say something to make this sound like a bad idea, I thought. But I could come up with nothing, other than the truth - that I feared the mountain bike. That I would rather sit through a root canal than have to ride one 6 miles up a winding forest path with 1,500 feet of climbing, and then - gulp! - back down. 

Carrera Kraken Mountain Bike
But I said none of these things. And two days later I found this propped against the side of the house when I came home. 

So... Oh my God, I don't know where to start. Beefy aluminum frame, suspension fork, 2" knobby tires, narrow straight handlebars, disc brakes, and a drivetrain with a triple crankset and thumb shifters. The bike is a Carrera Kraken - an inhouse brand of the UK department store Halfords. However, this is not a "department store bike," as the concept is known in the US. According to locals in the know, Halfords actually sells very decent quality budget road and mountain bikes. Keith's bike is a good few years old and everything is a little rusty - though it all works fine.

Carrera Kraken Mountain Bike
The bike is a Small (16" frame with a 56mm virtual top tube) and the fit feels pretty good to me. I wouldn't mind it if the handlebars were a tad lower, but what do I know about mountain bike sizing (how upright are you supposed to be?).

What took the most getting used to was the super-high bottom bracket. I kept playing around with the saddle height and it took me a while to set it properly; I couldn't believe how high I had to make it in order to get good leg extension. Being on the bike felt a little strange at first as well - so high off the ground! The disc brakes are insanely grippy, especially the front, but modulating them became intuitive with some practice. Slowly, the fear began to turn to curiosity.

Carrera Kraken Mountain Bike
I spent an easy afternoon with the bike, just trying to get to know it and get comfortable with the idea of riding it. There is a back road with some steep pitches just outside my door, as well as woodsy stretches of dirt, gravel and grass I could try. Skeptical that on a bike this beastly-looking I could handle the long steep climb up to the lake, one thing I wanted to do was see how it went uphill. As it turned out, not bad - even on pavement, with those knobby tires. The gearing is low enough to climb a fairly steep pitch seated, so I don't have to worry about stalling out. Standing up on the pedals feels different than on a roadbike - like I have to heave myself forward more forcefully to get my butt off the saddle - but once I got used to it, it was fine. And descending felt much, much nicer and less scary than I anticipated - the bike has an easy, tame feel to it when going around bends.

So... I think I am ready to try riding this thing to the lake and back. The path through the woods is winding dirt for the first part (with roots and things, but nothing too bad), then loose rough chunky gravel for the final stretch. There is nothing technical there, so if I can take 6 miles of straight climbing on a mountain bike and then not get scared and do anything stupid on the descent, I should be fine. And look: I will be using this bike for transportation to the lake, not for "mountain biking" as such, so please don't think this is the beginning of an interest in mountain bikes. I mean, that would be crazy.

48 comments:

  1. Welcome to dirt! Watch out, it is very addictive :-)

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  2. V - If you have never ridden a mountain bike before, I am worried about you being out there in the woods alone. Why not borrow another bike and have your friend come with you the first time?

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    1. He has another MTB, but I honestly feel safe enough on the route in question not to require supervision. Wouldn't think twice doing this alone on a CX bike or 650Bx42mm rando bike. The MTB is the only new factor here - it's not single track through a bog or anything.

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  3. I'll be interested in your experience as I've been looking around for a more off-the-road type bike.

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  4. Finally! You're trying a mountain bike.

    Couple of things:

    "narrow straight handlebars" - I guess you meant to write "wide, straight handlebars". Mountainbike bars are much wider than your road bike drop bars. I can't picture how anyone would call them narrow.

    "I couldn't believe how high I had to make it in order to get good leg extension" - you don't need a full leg extension on a mountain bike. It is not a road bike! In fact, in most cases you don't want full leg extension at all. Depends on the trail. Going downhill, drop that saddle lower to keep your body weight closer to the ground. Often, you would have to move your butt back and hang it off the saddle while standing on pedals (Your belly will be almost touching the saddle). This is the best way of riding steep declines.

    Good luck!

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    1. I have decent, though not full, leg extension on the bike now and even that required jacking the saddle way up compared to how high (off the ground) I normally have it. But if I set it any lower than how it is now, my knees hurt when climbing.

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    2. The knee pain could be a lot of things. I would guess it's more likely due to a forward saddle than to a low saddle.
      Another possibility is you've just been riding a lot and at a high level and the knees are warning you.

      One of my better racing results was a second in the hillclimb at Slatyfork. Some stranger had just done a little test ride on my Bianchi Project 7. The saddle was 2 inches low. The starter pistol sounded unexpectedly and I took off. Saddle height made no difference. Mountainbikers cannot set their saddles with the precision of a roadbike because the saddles go up and down constantly.

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    3. I disagree with the comments about not having proper leg extension. It's just as important on an MTB as on a road bike. There are also techniques for descending on an MTB that you will need to learn. It's good to go the 1st few times with a skilled mountain bike rider. It will be a lot more fun with the right knowledge.

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  5. It's so much fun! I no longer ride technical stuff......too old.....I started in 1983 in my 30's......but I still love the rest. Was always trailing behind the guys because I was way more cautious than they were about going over the drops and edges and over logs and such. I became a way better rider in spite of myself. You are way ahead of the game, considering the dirt rides you have done on road bikes. It is whatever you want to make it and it is just another bike. Buuuuut......,how about a fatbike now......oh wait, that's for me. Have fun!

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  6. Definitely different, certainly fun. Keep thinking I am going to get one some day.

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  7. One of the things I find interesting about mountain bikes is the different approach to sizing. Mountain bikes generally come in fewer sizes than road bikes, but at the same time, offer accessories to make the size dynamic (such as dropper seat posts). My understanding is that the logic behind this is that mt biking position is less static than road biking - more standing and/or weighting the pedals so as to use your legs to help absorb shock from bumps.

    WIth that said, mt biking is a wonderful sport, with a something to offer a wide range of participants, from very beginners (dirt trails, away from cars) to extreme adventure seekers. It's a shame that too mt biking so often gets categorized on the extreme side, when really the vast majority of mountain bike trails fall somewhere in the middle.

    Good luck with your new adventure. :)

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  8. Like most things, the first time is a little scary, but you learn to love it. I put the knobbies back on the Hunq yesterday just to go play in the dirt today!

    Marc

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  9. ?!?

    Crazy?

    What is crazy about riding a mountain bike?

    It is just a bicycle.

    Seriously though, have fun with it. Riding off road is one of the best things a person can do for improving their bike handling skills short of riding on ice (that is fun too). Depending on how tough the trail is, you will get plenty of practice with out of the saddle work and letting the bike "float" under you.

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  10. Velouria, I think this post (and your upcoming adventure) are really interesting. I'm curious to see what you think of the MTB. I started riding MTBs in high school (when they became trendy), though I'm not a "scary trails" girl. The bike, with a front shock and fat, nobby tires, is very comfortable from one standpoint, though when I pulled it back out and started riding again in 2007, I found the aggressive riding position uncomfortable enough for longer trips that I almost stopped riding altogether. I also found the extra friction from the bike's fat tires more than a little frustrating (a product of being 29 at the time vs. 16, I suppose). I had missed biking, though, and thanks to your blog, I found my way to a more upright style of bike (in my case, a Linus Dutchi, which so far I really like; she lives inside 99% of the time I'm not riding, though, so no real rust concerns). I still have the MTB, and I am planning to make it and my mom's old French mixte 10-speed into suitable riding bikes for transport alternatives (mostly through a minimal rack and fenders, so they are serviceable, but don't stray too far from their original design; e.g., I'll leave handlebars intact). Finally, the gearing on my MTB (a 1996 Trek 8000) is superb, and has been the only thing I miss about going to a 3-speed (though I don't think I'd need 21 gears). I like the idea of having a little something in the stable for a number of different weather conditions and terrain.

    I look forward to your next review.

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  11. Excellent new venture. I look forward to hearing more about your off road impressions. Note though that the name "mountain bike" covers a multitude of types, and that there are many different types of off road riding. I went through a number of them until I came up with something that is far closer to a road bike than the typical high-bb, straight-bar, suspended type. Since I prefer dirt track and dirt road riding to technical singletrack, and since any off road riding involves pavement riding to get there, I finally ended up with a Fargo with Nitto B 135 Rando bar, a 38/24 double with close ratio 9 speed in rear, and new, and rather wonderful Schwalbe Furious Fred 700CX55 mm tires. The Fargo's low bb and relatively short tt (~ 57 cm effective for the M size) make it fit much like my road bikes, albeit with higher bar. It won't do for very technical stuff, but then, I don't really care for that anyway, and it handles surprisingly well on hills and twisty paths. IMO, far nicer than a typical, high-bb mountain bike for the riding I do.

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  12. You know, you keep saying you have no interest in racing cyclocross, but you keep inching closer and closer... ;-)

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    1. I think racing cyclocross specifically is pretty unlikely. I prefer the kind of racing where you actually ride the bike all of the time and not just some of the time : )

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  13. Where should your bars be again? Put them where you like.

    Watch this - I'll make a recommendation which shall be ignored, then you'll come around to it. Drop your saddle going down.

    Everyone knows this, but it will be a big deal to you.

    Anyway you seem to be 'skeptical' about a lot of standard bikey things. Like riding dirt will improve your bike handling. Believe I said that.

    A little rust? More like dual rasps for eating baby seals!

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    1. I'll try dropping the saddle on the descent. Or rather, before the descent. Not quite that handy with the allen key yet.

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    2. Hmm, I would never "drop my seat" to ride downhill on a mountain bike. And I would want full leg extension for power when climbing.

      Going down a steep grade on a mountain bike, you should lift off the seat and shift your rear end back, extending your arms. You need your center of gravity way back to keep from being thrown forward over the handlebars when you hit a bump, or need to brake. Remember, that bike has a front shock and if you bury the tire in a good bump, the shock collapses to absorb the bump, which lowers the front of the bike - maiking it easy to go over the handlebars if your weight is not way back. Plus, that bike is a hard tail. If you sit going downhill on a bumpy mountain bike trail, you will have a pretty jarring ride - if you are not thrown off all together. Downhill on a mountain bike, you keep your rear lifted off the seat.

      Going up hill, you do want to sit unless it gets really steep. In any case, you should lean way forward going up hill to get the center of gravity over the bike.

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    3. Doesn't appear to be a problem mate:http://instagram.com/p/durAYcAvd_/

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  14. Unless you are piloting the MTB as a fat-tired road bike you generally use a lot less leg extension. When you want leg extension you lift your butt. With a high BB and road-height saddle the things are tippy. The handling potential of the bike is only achieved with a lower saddle.

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  15. How low should the saddle be compared to "road-height?"

    As I replied to an earlier comment, by "good extension" I mean knees don't hurt.

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    1. The saddle should be low enough that when you hit a bump/rock/root/hole unexpectedly (you can't see them all) the sudden blow to the nether regions does not throw you straight off the bike. For an ordinary range of obstacles a little room to flex the knees will save a lot of falls. Is that 2cm lower? 3cm lower? I can't ride your bike for you and I'm 3000 miles away so it's only something you think about or file away or forget entirely that might or might not be useful.

      I have trouble with the idea of being so highstrung and finely tuned that 2cm would make all the difference between function and pain. Go to the races, watch the racers grab a spare bike after a mechanical. If the spare is too big they "race" a cooldown lap and it's over. If they start trying to tune and dial-in that spare they aren't racing and they weren't racing. If the bike is 2, 3, 4cm small they're back in the race almost as if they had one of their own bikes. Looks funny, races fine.

      Looking at the picture up top with eyes that learned bike before triathlon existed and before there were special bikes for TT it looks like pure track position to me. Track sprinter even. Do trackies have knee pain? Um, yeah. Do riders who sit on the rivet all the time have sore knees? Yeah they do. So I'm not surprised that up or down your knees sense some limits. But they're your knees. I'm not in 'em. If you're sure the variable that matters is seat height, take care of your knees. Unfortunately if the way to take proper care of your knees is to ride at road height you'll not have the full MTB experience.

      I think Jim has it just right. Drop your saddle for the descent. A lot. When you get to the bottom you'll be having so much fun you'll forget to send the saddle back up. Half an hour later you'll put it up. And the bike will ride fine.

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  16. Proper saddle height is proper saddle height--this 'saddle has to be lower' crap is silly. When you're pushing the edge on an MTB you weight your feet, not the seat... sheesh.

    Not saying it's not worth dropping the post going down--you can jump higher without hurting yourself. ;)

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  17. Just remember the correct number of bikes to own is N+1... there's always room for another. Although I've settled on three as being pretty good comprise- DH sled for those fun days at the mountains (nothing like the thrill of going 40+ mph down a dirt road in full body armor knowing if things go "wrong" you'll just bounce and be okay), a Surly Ogre (rigid do all 29'er)that tour and rip it up in the woods and a Cross Check for mixing up road rides with sections of dirt or just cruising forever in comfort.

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    1. Joking aside, I don't actually have an interest in either proper mountain biking or in acquiring a mountain bike - if a ride can be done on a roadbike with some fat tires stuck in it, that's my preference. If I were at home, I'd simply do this on my Honey CX bike and there would be no drama. That said, mountain biking is neat and impressive, and I can certainly appreciate it from that POV.

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    2. "I think racing cyclocross specifically is pretty unlikely." "Joking aside, I don't actually have an interest in either proper mountain biking or in acquiring a mountain bike..." Those who have been following this blog since early days, "Lovely Bicycle" indeed, will not be surprised if you wind up having to eat these words. The twists and turns and revelations of your cycling experience are what keeps it interesting.

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    3. "The twists and turns and revelations of your cycling experience are what keeps it interesting."

      Word.

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  18. When I got my first mountain bike in about 1987, my road bike sat idle for long periods because this new thing -- bombing around steep, rocky trails -- was so fun. But in recent years the road bike has gotten the most use, because it's easier to just hop on and ride from home. And it's fun to ride fast on pavement. Both styles of riding have their merits. Love 'em both.

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  19. I'm sure this will be fine. A couple years ago several of us rented bikes for trail riding in California. Some were experienced cyclist and some were not. At the end of the weekend everyone managed the dirt and rocks and crazy steep terrain w/o mishap and lots of good memories. The low saddle height is a good idea....But on another note, you now mention you'd do this on your Honey CC bike if it were back home. I also recall you have a Rawland, and and cargo, and a Seven, and a Brompton, and a custom fixie and mixte or maybe two, and more than a couple vintage loop frame bikes, and even a sweet custom single speed! i'm simply loosing track! Would love to read a post about your bikes and how you store them all. Are you ilke Jay Leno and have a warehouse complete with a in-house mechanic? I can't believe you keep them outside and know that i constantly trip over my two bikes which are stored inside.

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  20. You know, one of the cool things about this blog is that you are so often writing about trying new things. I get to remember those same new experiences from a hundred years ago and get fired up about trying some other new, new stuff.

    Mountain bikes can be just so much fun, I loved discovering them in the pages of the roadie magazines in the 70s when I was an infant and they were called Klunkers. Building my own from an old Schwinn and my extra BMX stuff was my first big Bike Hackjob. Fun with a CAPITAL "F". My first "real" Moutainbike was an 83' Shogun that was more like my new Mercian roadbike than my current CX bike is. It seemed like it could go anywhere and it took me places bikes never used to go. Now it wouldn't be able to keep up with a decent Hybrid offroad. But it would still be fun to have it back to bang around on and remember being 19 again. I hope you have fun and don't worry too much about the details. Heck,It's a bike, you can ride the hell out of a bike now, slap it around if you want.

    I'm on the verge of swapping for a 7 year old long travel dually to go out and see what all those 35 year old kids are up to in the hills. I won't be "fast" but I bet I'll have a fine time and it'll all feel NEW.

    Your writing about riding Brevettes and long Gravel rides with your cool new friends was the last nudge I needed to get out and try some of that myself, it's been so much fun and I'm getting to experience something new on a bike again. I feel like I should write you a check.

    Spindizzy

    I keep wondering what you'll try next, let me know if you ever need a 20" BMX to wring out.

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  21. Oh, and another thing, one of the reasons for having multiple bikes is we can loan them out like books. It gives us opportunities to be generous by lending and by borrowing from those who want to be our friends. I suspect you have bikes you could borrow in more places than most of us, I think that's fairly wonderful.

    Spindizzy

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  22. Mountain biking is the most fun you can have on two wheels, and it forces you to improve your bike handling skills and learn fundamental techniques like how to spin a low gear for long periods. The other great thing is that you become more familiar with your machine; because your bike regularly gets coated in dust and muck, you end up having to do a lot of basic maintenance - like cleaning and lubricating your drivetrain - that you wouldn't necessarily do if you rode exclusively on-road. Getting muddy is fun. Bombing down dirt trails is mad fun. Wiping out on loose gravel is slightly less fun but can be a valuable learning experience nonetheless.

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  23. That fork is so rusty...does it even work?. Anyway, if you say that you could do that path on your 650 rando bike, I don´t think you have to worry about real mtb tricks and problems, relax and enjoy!
    Oscar

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  24. It's a good idea to lower the seat a bit more than you usually would to allow for repositioning over varying terrain. The handlebars are higher because of the front shocks. This compensates for the dip. I'm no expert but I rode a mountain bike for a while.

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  25. Hearing others’ comments on off road riding and thinking more about what makes it pleasurable: for me, at any rate, the joy of off road cycling is less that of clearing technical singletrack and fast, bumpy downhills than the combination of riding in nature and on terrain that is challenging but not technical; this on a bike optimized for the purpose. And while rando-type bicycles with 42 cm tires might be fine on firm dirt and gravel, I can’t imagine that they are the best dirt all rounders -- the tires would be too narrow and hard, the riding position optimized for pavement with higher gearing and lower bar; I wonder too if low trail is the best geometry for dirt? On the other hand, one needn't ride a tippy-feeling full suspension machine either; in fact there is great pleasure in learning and practicing the skills needed to ride this terrain on a simple machine whose only suspension is its fatter, softer tires and your body english. My choice for years has been a "rigid" mountain bike with high drop bars, 55 to 65 mm wide tires run at low pressures on wide rims, and a 2X9 setup where most riding is done on -- say -- a 44X14-34 (this for a 26" wheel machine; I build my own cassettes) and the 28 or 30 t granny used only for the occasional steep hill or sand bog. Bikes like the Fargo carry this one step further by having a lower bb and shorter tt to make the bike feel less tippy and more (to my taste) “natural”.
    I have to emphasize how much more pleasure I get from such an off road bike properly designed and set up for my particular riding preferences -- just as one might prefer a classic steel road bike to the latest carbon fiber design.
    Lastly, there have been some very wonderful off road tires designed in the last few years; Schwalbe's Racing Ralphs -- which I've not used, but which are light and supple full on knobbies that weigh less than 500 grams; and their Furious Freds with vestigial tread that are amazingly supple and weigh an amazing but honest 360 grams in the 622X50 mm size (they measure 54 mm on my 44 mm rims) and that are fast, fast, fast on pavement and firm dirt and do well enough in deep sand. These also come in what must be a truly wonderful 2.4” width in the 559 bcd size. A far cry from wooden Farmer Johns!

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  26. Cuidado! You might get hooked!
    For me, road bike riding is like a meditation, and mountain biking
    like dancing.
    It's all good.
    You can go down some amazing paths on a mtb though.
    Keep us posted!

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  27. Speaking of steep gravel paths, you were missed at D2R2 this year, Velouria!

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  28. I thought you began your cycling career on a dept store mtb? Guess you've come around full-circle.

    FWIW, like most cycling "debates", the saddle height thing has many different approaches, and each approach has its zealots who will proclaim theirs as the best/only way. And, like most cycling "debates", your best bet is to figure out which approach works best for you. (hint: the best approach may be different for different trails, as well as for different bikes.)

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  29. Clearly, this blog is not aimed at mountain bike enthusiasts, and certainly, the readers are much more familiar with urban/city riding and/or touring. I do think the readers are interested in learning and do want to understand proper cycling technique for efficiency and safety. That said, and with no intention of dis'ing anyone, some of the above discussion about technique would give any experienced mountain biker fits. I imagine a lot of is is conjecture by those with experience mostly on paved surfaces (including chip seals!). Simply Google images for keywords "mountain bike hard tail" (which the bike pictured in the post is), and you will see the seat on a mountain bike is typically up high at the same hight as the flat handle bars. There is no other form of cycling that inherently cries out for efficiency in pedaling than mountain biking. Try climbing 5 or 10 miles of single-track at a 10 or 15 % average grade with your seat lowered. Nope, you want to be super efficient when you're facing that kind of climb.

    If you look closely at a mountain bike, you will see that the bottom bracket is a good half to full inch higher than a similarly sized (meaning for the same individual) road bike. That extra height is for ground clearance for your pedals when climbing uphill over rocks and bumps. Then when you descend, you stand on balanced pedals - again, for ground clearance and also to get that rear end off the seat.

    All of the above discussion is aimed at hardtails. Full-suspension bikes are a different animal.

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    1. Up vs. down. Search for dropper posts.

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  30. The betting world does not see you with a mountain bike any time soon. However, if you find a friend who is into it the odds change dramatically. Still, we see you on mountain trails and isolated spots before we see you on a touring expedition. .. Just letting you know :)

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  31. Velouria, what a pity you are starting off on such a poor example of a mountain bike.

    The forks should operate smoothly to glide you across rough stuff. Those forks, with the deep layer of rust on the stanchions, look as if they would be reluctant to compress let alone to rebound under control so as to absorb the next hit. More likely those forks will be dead and clunky. If the forks are that bad, how are other critical parts such as head bearings and brakes?

    Please don't judge mountain bikes by the standard of that one. A good hardtail (and the Kraken can be good, given the entry-level spec) is a joy to ride.

    Key to good control downhill is ride position: no need to lower the seat from the optimum ride height (straight leg with heel on the pedal always a good starting point), just hover over the seat in the attack position, saddle nose gripped gently between the upper thighs ready to shift weight sideways or front to back, forefingers resting on the brake levers, your quads doing the shock absorption. The bike will do the rest, a good bike is always more competent than you are.

    You will find that MTB requires far more delicacy and finesse than road riding: pinpoint steering and the careful balance of weight and traction between front and rear wheels become vital.

    DavidF

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  32. elbows and knees bent and sticking out, keep your head up and look where you wanna go, and dont forget to breath!!

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  33. If you ride a mountain bike like it's a mountain bike and not just a fat tire road bike you will get air, you will ride over dropoffs. When you land the bike it is necessary to take the impact by flexing your knees. If the saddle is at road bike height you don't have the possibility of much knee flex before you impale yourself on the saddle.

    Mountain bikes go down grades far steeper than exist on paved roads. Go down a 45 degree pitch with saddle at road height and you will land on your face. Correct posture on a steep descent is butt 1 millimetre above the rear tire and butt behind the rear axle. From that position it will even be possible to use the front brake. If you can't use the front brake you are just riding out of control. If your butt is to be just barely clearing the rear tire the saddle has to be out of the way.

    Sure, if the project is a long steady grade over reasonably smooth track the saddle can be higher. If the track is so smooth and uniform full road height is reasonable just ride a road bike.

    Dropping the saddle an inch or so (moderate trails) may reduce ultimate power output a couple per cent. So what. Falling on your face reduces power output to zero. For ordinary riding where you ride somewhat within your ultimate limit and where sudden bursts of energy will be slanted more towards torque than power the reduction in power output is probably under one per cent. Significant only at TdF.

    Any rider finely tuned like a Ferrari and only able to ride if the saddle is within a couple mm of some theoretical optimum is confined to the smoothest of trails. I suppose it's physiologically possible someone could have that limited a range. That someone won't be a mountain biker.

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  34. I'm hardly tuned like a Ferrari -- more like an abandoned '68 Dodge -- but I could not ride singletrack or any difficult terrain well with a saddle far differently placed than on my road bikes. I've never had a problem with dropoffs -- ie, with getting my butt far back over the saddle; that is rather a matter for bar placement and type than saddle height, though I admit my technique is cautious and slow rather than bombing and fast -- I ride fat tired, rigid bikes. I'd define the technique as shoving the saddle into your belly or chest.

    But the point is that "mountain bike" is a term that covers a huge array of vehicles and uses, from putzing around flat gravel canal paths to serious goat trails. Me, it's dirt and gravel roads and jeep trails, and a bike designed for these is far better on such terrain than a road bike.

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  35. Okay, so looking at this post I'm thinking of department store bikes and believe you when you say it's different there than it is here, but just the same I'm thinking of all those folks I've known, or seen, who rely entirely on their department store bicycle. They've maintained it for years. They depend on it. They really know no different and it's become a family member. I respect those folks. Your photographs remind me of all those who simply value their bikes, even though they are not high end they are what matter and what connect so many to things in life which provide meaning and sustenance. A photo series of these kinds of bikes is something I'd love to see. The beautiful things about bikes is they are available to most and that's lovely. Sorry for moving away from the point of this post....Best. S

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