I had a taste of rough trail riding. And, I think I'm hooked.

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by MotownBikeBoy, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. MotownBikeBoy

    MotownBikeBoy Active Member

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    I took my Surly Pugsley out to the local park and rode on some of the rougher, hilly trails. Snow had been beaten down enough by prior traffic that it wasn't too deep, and trails were in decent condition for what I was doing.

    I think I'm hooked, it was awesome. I did things I didn't even think I could do. And I lived to tell about it. Of course, some of the ascents were a bear on 3.75" wide tires, but I made it. Which is kind of where I am in life these days, throwing off the shackles of the past and actually living, which is awesome in and of itself.

    Which, has me thinking (Ruh Roh, as Scooby used to say) ...

    If I wanted to get a REALLY GREAT MB in the spring (March, maybe early April, when it thaws here), could anyone give me some comments or suggestions? I've looked at a couple of the local shops. "My" shop carries high-end for serious cyclists, and that is what I'm thinking, I'd rather make a larger investment in GREAT equipment, I've never had that approach disappoint in other areas of life.

    I went to a couple of "chain" type shops, Performance Cycle and American Cycle and Fitness, just for the hell of it, and wasn't too impressed. Their selections top out in the roughly $2000-$2500 range, and most are far less, more "mass market" type bikes. A lot of Raleigh, for example, the same stuff I see at mass merchandisers, in the one case. Even REI, which is one of my favorite hang-outs, doesn't carry anything much over about $1500 in-store.

    I definitely plan on riding with the cycle club at my gym next year, mostly street/smooth trail riding, most of the guys (and gals) are more into speed/endurance, many are triathletes, but there are a couple of guys in there who said they were into rough trail riding/MB, so I have the potential to hang with some more advanced riders and pick up the craft in a semi-serious to serious way.

    And, the good news, I live in an area of high, often steep, glacial hills with flat terrain on either side if you go about 10-20 miles. So, while Suburban Detroit isn't exactly Moab, I have enough places to ride to justify "Mountain Biking" as an real sport for me, including, actually, a really good piece of hilly woods, about 100 acres, owned by the local school district and criss-crossed with trails, about a quarter mile from my house, and the back 40 of a community college campus about a mile away, also full of trails, that almost COULD qualify as a mini-Moab, the hills there are very high and very steep, in fact, at the top of the highest spot on the paved access road, you can see above the tree-line of the landscape all the way to Downtown Detroit on a very clear day.

    I am pretty much in madly in love with my Specialized Crosstrail Pro Disc hybrid for street riding, so I am considering Specialized first and foremost, but would be open to other manufacturers.

    I am looking at these two:

    Specialized Camber Expert Carbon EVO R 29:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/mountain/camberfsr/camberexpertcarbonevor29

    Specialized Stump Jumper FSR Expert Carbon EVO:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/mountain/sjfsr/stumpjumperfsrexpertcarbon29

    One feature on these that I haven't seen on others is the on-the-fly saddle post height adjustment. That sounds like a great innovation.

    Thoughts? TIA.

    Danny, AKA the crazy dude in Michigan.
     
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  2. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Congrats! Wait till you go out with some spirited single track guys and then you'll be truly amazed at what you and a bike can do.

    Sounds like you've got an open budget and have settled on Specialized. Specialized makes great bikes.

    Personally, I'd go right for the Alu Stumpjumper. Why? I like hardtails, and although I have ridden downhill, I am not a downhiller. I'd prefer the climbing and sprinting efficiency vs. the extra compliance (and weight).

    Why alu? I've dumped plenty on the trail. I've heard the scrape of rocks and logs on various tubes of the frame. Also I'm a big fan of tossing my bike in the back with the other bikes and not stressing the next bike on top of mine. I'm sure CF can withstand a certain amount of abuse, but I'd hate for the sound of those scrapes to be replaced with with the sound of crunches. Probably not an issue with an open budget, but even then I'd still go for the Stumpjumper, just maybe a higher level model. The Stumpjumper speaks to me. Buy the model that speaks to you.

    Other than that don't let my thriftiness disuade you. Sounds like your off road fun is about to take a leap.
     
  3. MotownBikeBoy

    MotownBikeBoy Active Member

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    Thanks. So, are you suggesting something more like this one:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/mountain/sjht/stumpjumpercomp29

    Any disadvantage to a rear suspension? Since you indicated a preference for hardtail, I just wondered if you had any negative experiences with a rear suspension bike?

    Aluminum can take more abuse than a carbon frame? I thought carbon with a higher-strength material?

    Now, if I REALLY wanted to blow the wad on one bike, I would do this guy:

    http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/mountain/sjfsr/sworksstumpjumperfsrcarbon29

    They actually have that in stock at the LBS.

    They actually have one bike over there, I didn't even get past the price tag hanging off the bars, that was $16,000. How crazy is that? You could get a Honda for that, probably. It was a racing bike, personally, my back could never take riding low like that for very long, but if it's your bag, enjoy, I guess. I do know a guy who rides competitively in speed/endurance races, I could see him spending that on a bike -- physician, could afford it.
     
  4. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    My last two MTB's were both hardtail, and steel. A Stumpjumper and a Voodoo Erzulie. The Stumpjumper was powder coated and the finish held up very well under abuse, the Voodoo had scrapes clean down to the frame. Rear suspension has likely come a long way since I last tried one but I remember extra weight and moving parts, which probably hasn't changed much. Not really a negative experience but for 99% of the riding I would do a hardtail is just fine. I also personally like the aesthetics of a hard tail, and my choice of bikes and components since I got into biking has had as much to do with looks as functionality.

    Edit: I would probably go for the SJ Comp if it had to be a Specialized but I'd go with another steel bike if got another MTB, and it would probably be anther Voodoo: http://voodoo-usa.com/bicycles/soukri
     
  5. coneofsilence

    coneofsilence Member

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    I suggest going to a bike shop and doing Demo Rides. Take them to a few local trails and ride it like you stole it. You will know when you find your bike.
     
  6. MotownBikeBoy

    MotownBikeBoy Active Member

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    Yeah, my favorite bike shop, which is a mom and pop independent, will let me do that, I just have to fork over a cc for collateral, or my DL. When I test-rode the Surly, I just gave the manager my CC and told him he might as well get the invoice entered on the computer so he just had to hit "process" or whatever when I got back -- I pretty much knew going in I wanted to buy it.
     
  7. MotownBikeBoy

    MotownBikeBoy Active Member

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    I've never heard of Voodoo. Tried looking them up, but their site wasn't very compatible with mobile computing. I'll have to try tomorrow at work on my desktop.
     
  8. maddogbubba

    maddogbubba New Member

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    I agree with Coneofsilence . if you have the chance to test ride mtn bikes in a setting that suits you , than you should take advantage of it . its been a while since I ,ve been into mtn biking but the approach I would be taking on a new purchase of a high end bike is to focus on a few different bikes at one time and literally dissect the geometries and components and also rider reviews , speak directly with manufactures while on their web site , especially regarding the front and rear suspension controls . These days you really want those controls to be on the handle bars . I was an ok rider at best on a mtn bike - mostly cross country - I just liked the idea of my cross country bike being on steroids , as you can see I,m a firm believer in xlnt suspension and handling as it truly saved me from hitting the ground many of times . . These days I,m only riding road but when I was riding both is when I would set my best times on the road bike .There is something to be said about combining the two different types of riding . As for carbon fiber vs alum . I was at my LBS and had a piece of frame from both , smacked them against a steel work bench ( very hard ) of course the alum had a huge dent and the carbon fiber nearly bounced back and clobbered me ( high end carbon fiber from a scott mtn bike ) it only left a scratch .Definitely sold on high end carbon fiber frames . If you were to have a crash bad enough to ruin a carbon bike - most likely your alum bike would be ruined also .Hope that my short lived biking experiences/career/ideas can help you with your upcoming purchase . What ever you end up doing , it sure sounds like a fun road ahead .Makes me want to go get a new mtn bike Good Luck !
     
  9. MotownBikeBoy

    MotownBikeBoy Active Member

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    Thanks. That was my take on carbon, too, that it was tougher than any metal except perhaps a Titanium reinforced frame.

    Yeah, once I get these crazy ideas in my head, I pretty much follow through. So, I have a few months to research before D-Day. I'll probably rely on a combination of on-line research/advice and the wisdom of the guys at the LBS, they haven't steered me wrong yet. The manager was the one who suggested the Specialized Pro Disc, it was actually about $500 cheaper than another model I was looking at, but after a comparison test ride of both, I was sold on the Specialized, it was much more ergonomically comfortable. And, it's proven to be one sweet ride. God, I think I'd marry that bike if I could! OK, that might be just a little too much, but you get the picture. I know I have spent more time with it since I got it than with the fam, which isn't all bad, LOL.
     
  10. coneofsilence

    coneofsilence Member

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    If it is more comfortable then that is the one you want. Comfort on a bike is very important as spending hours on an uncomfortable bike is a recipe for disaster.
     
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