Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mountain Biking Basic

Before You Buy a Mountain Bike - A Buyers Guide

Buying a mountain bike can be a bit frustrating and can take some time. This guide will help you put some thought into it before you lay down the cash and make the process go a bit smoother
Determine Your Price
There is virtually no limit to how much money you can spend on a new mountain bike. To keep your spending under control, figure out what price range you are willing to pay for your new bike and try to only look at bikes within that price range. I do not recommend buying a bike from a mass-merchant store such as Wal-Mart or Costco. Support your local bike shop and get a better product and much better service.
Find Your Style – What Kind of Riding Do You Want To Do
Mountain bikes are designed for several different riding styles and terrain. You will need to figure out what type of riding you will be doing most of the time. Is it smooth trail riding, cross-country racing, all mountain cruising or lift accessed gravity mayhem? Make sure the bikes you look at fit your riding style and not the sales staff’s.
· Do I Need a Women's Specific Bike
· What's My Suspension Style

Improve your MTB brakeswith high friction EBC disc pads in compounds for all riding styleswww.ebcbrakes.com
Full Suspension or Hardtail ? – Comfort vs. Efficiency
I always recommend a full suspension mountain bike if you can afford it. Hardtails, without rear suspension, are lighter weight and pedal more efficiently but full suspension designs offer more comfort and better control. You will want to decide based on your price range, riding style and terrain.
· FAQ - Full Suspension Vrs. Hardtail
· How Much Suspension?
The Component Conundrum – Find Your Favorites
It is nearly impossible to compare mountain bikes component to component. There are simply too many combinations. I recommend finding a few components that are most important to you for comparison and make sure the rest fall within some sort of minimums for your price range. I usually start with the fork and then look at the wheels and rear derailleur.
· Component Reviews
· Disc Brakes or Rim Brakes?
· Standard or Tubeless Rims
Sales, Seasons, and Bonuses – Get a Good Deal
Mountain bike prices can fluctuate significantly during the year. The main buying season is from spring through summer. If you are lucky enough to be able to wait until the right price comes up, usually in the fall and winter, you can save a few hundred dollars. You will also find that a lot of bike shops will offer discounts on accessories or other products and services when you buy from them. There is nothing wrong with buying last years model if it fits your needs.
Find a Good Dealer
Finding a good dealer can be more important than getting a good price. Find a dealer that cares more about selling you the right bike than selling you the more expensive one. A good dealer should have a clean repair shop and you should feel like you can trust them.
Test Ride, and then Test Ride Some More
Test ride as many bikes as you can in your price range and riding style category. You will find that some bikes will just feel right while others don’t. The more bikes you ride the better feel you will have for what you like and what you don’t.
· How to Set Your Seat Height
· Proper Seat Position
· How to Set Your Tire Pressure
Do Some Research – Read Some Product Reviews
Product reviews are a great way to find out about a mountain bikes performance and reliability. Look your bike up before you buy it and make sure there isn’t anything someone else discovered that you might not like.

BMC TE O2 - Hardtail xc

Scott Spark 30 - Full Suspension xc

Cannondale Taurine - Hardtail Frame

Jamis XCR - Full Suspension frame

Q. What is the Proper Position of My Bike Seat - Good Bike Seat Position

Setting proper bike seat position for your body is an important part of every bike setup. Using the right seat position for your body will help keep your joints healthy, give you better endurance, and more comfort.
As with your seat height adjustment you should learn what seat position your body likes and then use it whenever you have to pedal for any significant time on any bike.
A. There are two adjustments to your seats position on the seat post. The first sets the horizontal position of the seat with respect to the bike. The second sets the angular position of the seat.
When setting seat position, the most important thing to consider is your comfort. With that in mind use the following guidelines to steer you in the right direction.
The horizontal position should be set so that when your pedal is at the very bottom of its stroke, the front of your kneecap is directly above the pedal axle.
The seat angle should be set so the seat is generally level. Beyond that your comfort should lead the way. You should feel like the bones in your rear end are doing most of the support work but you shouldn't feel like the seat is trying to push you forward or rearward.
If you are experiencing issues with numbness in the crotch area while you are riding, there is a good chance that a change in your seat position can help fix the problem.
This can be greatly effected by the seat itself, but as far as position goes, adding a little forward angle may help.

Q. What Should My Bike Seat Height Be? - Setting Proper Pedaling Bike Seat Height

Setting proper bike seat height for your size is an important part of every bike setup. Proper seat height adjustment helps ensure joint health, pedaling efficiency, and comfort while riding your bike.
It helps to know where your body likes to be while pedaling and to use this position when you pedal for any significant period of time on any bike.

A. To find the right seat height position you need to sit on your bike with your feet on the pedals. Position one pedal at the very bottom of it's stroke. Your seat height should be adjusted so that in this position your knee is bent at around a 25 to 30 degree angle. It's that simple.
It is important to note that this applies to pedaling situations only. There are a lot of situations on a mountain bike that you should have a lower seat position for safety as well as improved agility.
I always use a seat post quick release so I can adjust my seat height according to the riding conditions. It is helpful to mark the seat post where it enters the frame at the positions you like to use for quicker adjustment.
Take a moment before each ride to think about the trail and where you might want to set your seat height, and don't be afraid to adjust it while you ride

Q. What tire pressure should I use in my mountain bike tires?

Riding with an appropriate mountain bike tire pressure can make a huge difference in how a ride feels and how much control you have over your bike.
Mountain bike tire pressure that is too high will make for poor contact with the ground and a less controllable ride, while mountain bike tire pressure that is too low will make your tires behave unpredictably and will make them susceptible to pinch flats.
A. The appropriate mountain bike tire pressure can vary significantly between rider to rider and tire setup to tire setup. Trail conditions and the type of terrain can also greatly effect what tire pressure you should run.
The real trick is to find out exactly what mountain bike tire pressure works best for you and your setup under normal conditions. You can then learn to adjust this pressure for different trails and terrain as needed.
Here's the best way I have found to get to the right pressure for your setup:
Find a good reliable pressure gauge or a pump with a pressure gauge. Use this same gauge or pump the whole time you are making adjustments. Gauges are notoriously inaccurate so if you switch around it will make things much more difficult.
Start with a higher pressure somewhere around 40-50 psi (3-3.5 bar)for for 2.2-2.3 inch tires.
For tubeless systems, start much lower, 30 to 40 psi. The heavier you are or the smaller your tires, the higher pressure you should start with. Ride with this pressure for a while and get a feel for how the tires hook up in corners and on loose dirt.
Now, drop the pressure by 5 psi (0.35 bar) in each tire. Once again get a feel for how this new setup rides and compare it to the previous setting. You should feel some improvement in tire hookup with the ground and a little more stability. If you don't notice any difference drop the pressure by another 5 psi (0.35 bar).
What you want to find is the lowest pressure you can ride without sacrificing pinch flat resistance. You get a pinch flat when your tire rolls over an object and compresses to the point where the tire and tube literally get pinched between the object and the rim of the wheel. This commonly results in a snake bite or double puncture in the tube.
Continue to reduce tire pressure by 3-5 psi (0.1-0.3 bar) until you feel the tires are hooking up well. If you go too far, you will start getting pinch flats, so stop dropping pressure in your tires as soon as you feel you have good control or you no longer notice any improvement between pressure drops.
If you start feeling your rims contact objects or if you start getting pinch flats, raise the pressure back up in small intervals.
In tubeless systems, since you don't have to worry about pinch flats so much, you can run much lower pressures and some occasional rim contact is OK, but if you start denting your rims, burping air out along the bead, or if you feel the tire roll under the rim during hard cornering, you have gone too low.
There is another balance you play with tire pressure. Lower pressure does increase rolling resistance. However, some argue, the increased control and climbing traction makes up for the extra effort needed to compensate for the extra rolling resistance. I lean toward running nearly as low pressure as you can get away with. Cross country racers may decide to sacrifice a little control for a little better efficiency.
Once you find a comfortable tire pressure setting, learn what your tire feels like when you squeeze it with your hand. When you know what your tires should feel like you can always get the right pressure, with any pump.

Mountain Bike Safety Tips - Ride in Control

There are a lot of ways to improve mountain bike safety. Some will argue, including myself, that wearing a helmet is the single most important step you can take. However, the second most important step should never be overlooked; you should always ride in control.
Riding in control not only helps prevent crashes, it keeps others on the trail safe as well. When you ride out of control, you loose the ability to adjust to the terrain and environment as you pass through it. This can and does lead to dangerous crashes and injury to yourself and others.
Mountain biking is inherently dangerous and we all like to push the limits sometimes, but there is a fine line between pushing the limits safely and pushing them recklessly.
Follow these steps to stay safe on the trails and on the right side of the danger line.

1.Gear UpAlways wear a helmet and any other appropriate safety equipment for the riding conditions.

2.Never Ride Beyond Your AbilitiesThere is no shame in walking sections of the trail you don't feel confident enough to ride, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise.

3.Use Appropriate Equipment for the TerrainSome bikes are better for different situations. Just because you can see tire tracks, doesn't mean you can ride it with your bike.

4.Keep Your Speed In CheckAlways keep your speed at a level that will allow you to adjust to any unforeseen obstacles or changes in trail conditions.

5.Know The TrailNever push the limits on a trail you are not familiar with. You need to get to know the trail you are riding at slower speeds before you can ride it like the trails you're used to.

6.Slow Down for Blind CornersYou never know what or who is around a corner when you can't see past it.

7.Stop and LookStop and look at sections of the trail that look like they may pose a challenge before you ride them.

8.Plan on the CrashAlways look at the consequences of crashing in a particular section or on a particular stunt before trying to ride through it. Sometimes a section can look easy to ride but can have deadly consequences to a crash.

9.Start Small, Go BigWork your way up to obstacles and stunts. Find ways to practice moves in less difficult and dangerous situations or at lower speeds before committing yourself to something more dangerous.

10.Play It SmartIf you think what you are doing is not the smartest, you are probably right. Think about what you are doing and trust your instincts.

This article is dedicated to all those who have lost their lives mountain biking, including Adam Don who died in a freak mountain biking accident, and who's family inspired the this article.

Q. Should I Mountain Bike on a Wet Trail? - Riding Wet Trails

Mountain biking on wet trails can be very damaging to the trail, especially in certain soil types. Riding and damaging a wet trail can not only lead to accelerated erosion but can lead to trail closures. So, when is it ok to ride a wet trail?
A. In some particularly damp parts of the world, if you don't ride when it's wet, you simply won't be able to ride. In these areas as well as other areas where mud and erosion are not an issue, riding in the wet is just fine. However, in most areas riding it simply isn't acceptable.
In almost all cases you shouldn't ride on a trail when it is muddy. When you ride in the mud you are significantly contributing to trail erosion, and you seriously effect the quality of the surface of the trail when it dries out.
Trail damage and erosion is one of the most effective reasons people use to get trails closed. You shouldn't be surprised to find a trail that has been ridden in the mud one day closed to mountain bikers another.
A mountain biker should always make a conscious effort to preserve the environment they are riding in.
This includes an honest evaluation of the trail condition and an effort to minimize damage to it.
That said, there are some other issues to riding wet trails.
Damp trails are particularly fragile, so, as always, avoid hard braking and locking up your wheels.
Don't go around puddles, go straight through them. If everyone goes around the outskirts of a puddle it damages the sides of the trail and widens it. Going through the puddle keeps the trail at the same width and minimizes trail damage.

Necessary Mountain Biking Accessories
A Guide to What You Need

The beginner mountain biker can get a little overwhelmed when they first walk into a bike store to buy their first mountain bike and all of the mountain bike accessories they will need to start riding.

There is no shortage of mountain bike accessories and related product that you can buy. The sales staff will certainly sell you anything they can but the real question for beginners and bikers on a budget is not what mountain bike accessories are cool, but what you need to have to make your rides safe and enjoyable. Start with these accessories and you won’t come up short on the trail.

1.The Bike Helmet – The Most Important Mountain Bike AccessoryThis is a shameless plea, but please wear a bike helmet. Nobody should be on a bike without a helmet. There have been too many people with serious head injuries that could have been prevented if they were wearing a helmet.
Modern mountain bike helmets are both comfortable and stylish and everyone on the trail wears one.

2.Mountain Bike Gloves – A Mountain Bike Accessory for Comfort and SafetyWhen you ride, your hands can take a beating. Beginners who tend to keep a death grip on the handlebars can be especially brutal on their hands. Your hands are also one of the first things to come down to the ground when you crash and everyone crashes at some point. Mountain bike gloves are a great mountain bike accessory because they take the beating for you. I recommend full-fingered gloves over the cutoff finger type. Don’t get caught red handed.

3.Mountain Bike Shorts – Ride Longer and Stay ComfortableThe first few mountain bike rides you take can be a bit uncomfortable on the rear end. Your body does adjust to this after a few rides, but bike shorts are a great accessory that can help keep it to a minimum. Fortunately, the days of the tight fitting Lycra mountain bike shorts are over. You can still buy them and some racers still use them but the more comfortable padded mountain bike shorts of today look and feel much more casual.

4.Mountain Bike Shoes – Pedal More Efficiently and Keep ComfortableYou need to pick the type of shoes you wear depending on the type of pedals you have and the type of riding you want to do. If you have clipless type pedals, as I recommend for most types of riding, you will need to get some mountain bike specific shoes to accept the special cleat for your pedals. A good mountain bike shoe will be durable, comfortable and should have a stiff sole for better pedaling efficiency. You should also pick the right shoe for the terrain you will be riding in.

5.Eye Protection – Protect Your Vision from Wind, Bugs, and DirtSomething in your eye can run you right off the trail and into trouble. Eye protection such as sunglasses or clear-lensed glasses help keep your eyes free from debris as well as protect them from the wind that can cause your eyes to tear and blur your vision. Make sure you use non-breakable lenses for safety.

6.Hydration System – Keep Yourself Hydrated for Better Energy and HealthBring either a water bottle with you or as I recommend take a hydration backpack such as a Camelbak or similar product. It is easy to let yourself get dehydrated so bring water with you and drink it on the trail to keep your body running properly as you ride.

7.Trail Repair Kit – Make It Home When it CountsIts not to hard to get stuck in the woods if you don’t bring the most basic mountain bike accessories for the most common repairs on the trail. To be prepared bring a multi-tool designed to repair bikes, tire levers and a patch kit for fixing flats, an extra tube in case your tube us un-repairable, and a mini-pump

Q. Why Does Your Bike Stuff Stink So Bad?

Let’s face it. Some peoples stuff just stinks. The worst is when you can smell the people you’re riding with. It’s one thing if you can smell your own stuff, but when the people riding behind you can smell you as well, you’ve crossed the line.
If your stuff smells, there is hope. Follow some guidelines and you don’t have to smell!

A. The main source of smelly stuff is helmets, gloves, and clothing that don't dry out properly. I know, your helmet makes for a perfect spot to put your gloves, but don't do it! Don't put your gloves inside your helmet after you ride, make the commitment to place both your helmet and your gloves somewhere where they will dry separately and quickly.
The same advice applies to shorts and shirts. Never ball your clothes up somewhere where they won't dry out properly after a ride.
To solve the dryout problem I use two tricks. First, I don't immediately pack anything away after a ride. If I drove to the trailhead, I leave it all out in my car until I get home. Second, If and when I do pack my stuff up, I don't ball anything up, and I use an open meshed bag that allows everything to continue to dry quickly.
Finally, there is nothing wrong with washing your stuff regularly. Really, you should wash your shorts and shirt after every ride, and if its necessary, you can do the same with your gloves and helmet padding. I keep multiples of everything around so I can rotate them through my normal clothes washes
Ride Safely & Intelligently!

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