Sunday, November 18, 2007

Bike tech notes

Random bike setup tech notes....

I tried something a little different this year. I put the 100mm fork onto the hardtail. My hardtail was built about 10 years ago and has a steepish head tube 71.5 and was built around a 70mm fork. This prooved to be a super quick telepathic combination until you made a mistake or got tired. And on terrain like Brush that can happen a lot.

Since then I put a Black 80mm SPV on it and it has felt really good. Nice manners but still quick. I've been wanting to try a 100mm on it to make it more of an all around setup for some of the bigger downhills like Beast and Old Farm, while hoping that it can still climb and single track.

The 100mm fork has about and 1" taller Axle to Crown A/C compared to the 80mm, so I dropped 1" of spacers.

Just sitting on the bike felt ok, not too tall. Steering was slower, it required a lot more hip action, muscling to get the bike to corner. But it was also more stable. Climbing wasn't too bad, but it did require more body english to keep the front wheel down. A good thing was it forced me to get better at the 'floating' type of pedaling where you float your butt right above the tip of the saddle in order to maintain the precious balance bewteen keep the front wheel tracking on the ground and maintaining traction in the rear. I was able to climb some stuff that I hadn't in a while.

Those cleans weren't because of the bike it was because of better positioning.

But overall, I didn't really like the 100mm on there. Maybe the head angle got to be too slack, or maybe it just wasn't designed for that big a fork. For whatever reason it just didn't feel balanced or right. I'm still not giving up on a 100mm fork/hardtail. I think that a more modern geometry hardtail specifically designed around a 100mm fork might still be a really good bike for this terrain. Maybe a 71degree head tube/73 degree seat tube built around a 100mm?

Anyway it just felt like I was doing a disservice to the hardtail by not playing to it's stengths which are quick accelerations and quick handling. It rides pretty well with the 80mm fork and downhills better than you'd think compared to a XC dually.

So I put it back on the Azure. Which brings up my second topic: falling in and out of love with the Azure once or twice a year. I've seen this pattern emerge with my dually vs the hardtail. Where I lose the love for it a little and feel like it might not be better than a hardtail.

I'm pretty sure that overall I'm faster on the Azure. It downhills faster, in the long run it mitgates against fatigue from trail chatter, and it climbs technical terrain very well. The hardtail is slightly faster on smoother climbs, and it generates the perception of being faster but my speculation is that it isn't that much faster on certain sections. But I've found that every 6 months or so I have to go through this whole process of getting myself to realize this fact.

I think what happens is that over the course of several months of riding the dually, is that I start to get a little complacent. And stop 'working' the bike. You know pumping the transitions, weighting and unweighting with the bike and just riding aggressive: attacking in stead of just being a passenger. This promotes the feeling that the I am not getting enough out of the dual suspension to overcome the weight penalty of it.

So I then go to the hardtail. And am immediately rewarded with instant feedback from each pedal stroke. It just shoots forward up the hill. The handling is a tad quicker so single track carving brings a big smile, although it also can bring a face full of dirt too. Riding a hardtail around here forces you to be 'on it' especially on the rocks and chatter and technical climbing. So my riding gets a little more aggressive again. I'm forced to do it. And I start attacking again and riding better.

I then go through the requisite steps of thinking of a new hardtail, or getting some issues on mine fixed. Specing out parts, thinking if I should sell the dually, thinking of a Ti hardtail, maybe a single speed, etc...Start checking out ebay, etc..

But the fatigue also starts to set in, and I see that I can't keep up on downhills as easily, and on climbing I see small loses in speed with each root that I don't have the timing or energy to unweight properly for.

And then I'll pull out the Azure again. I'll start from scratch. Go through my whole setup routine for the suspension for the fork and rear shock. Go through the itterative process of setting rebound. And then ride. The aggressiveness from riding the hardtail carries over and I'm rocking and carving and back in love with the Azure again. Just like that, until the process repeats itself in another 6 months or so.

So, conclusion. I love my Azure. I love my hardtail. I need both sometimes. One helps the other. Please remind me of this next time I even think about selling the Azure.


At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hear on this as I have FS & HT bikes and I seem to pick out the HT's the most for racing and even training on. With the HT I just enjoy the ride and can go downhill just as fast as my FS. It's on the braking bumps and chatter bumps that it suffers some.

At 5:21 PM, Blogger Wes at East Coasters said...

I've seen some bikes set up like this and can definitely see the handling advantage it might give but that position puts a lot of strain on the shoulders putting them into a seriously internally rotated state. That's where the "elbows in" position comes from, since it keeps the shoulders more neutral. You can counteract those effects but working the external rotators to keep the rotator cuff strong.
Yeah, I know, I'm a fit geek....

At 6:59 PM, Blogger ashwinearl said...

wes, any suggestions for specific exercises for external rotators?

At 12:30 PM, Blogger Wes at East Coasters said...

Check out these. These are ones I've had pretty good luck with and I have a history of shoulder issues:

At 6:42 AM, Blogger GreenLightGo said...

Good stuff on the love/hate relationship with the Azure. I'm in the same boat with my 5" dually and 29er HT. Glad to see others have mental quandries too!


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