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Late to the party: Long-Travel Bikes

HOME FORUM RIDING FEELS GOOD FORUM TALKING ABOUT BIKES Late to the party: Long-Travel Bikes

This topic contains 23 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  jheene 2 years, 10 months ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 24 total)
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  • #818306

    Atom
    Participant

    So, I’ll admit it. I used to go around saying that people with 5, 6 inch bikes in Ontario were way over-doing it and pretty much implied that people with these bikes were talentless tools, with the bike-handling skills of an occasional bike-commuter. Maybe not as bad as all that, but I honestly couldn’t understand it. Why dumb-down the trails with a couch on wheels? I liked my bikes sharp-handling and short traveled.

    After riding XC bikes to their very limit, I picked up a Kona Process 111 last year. What a great bike. It was my first taste of the new-school geometry. Still short-travel, but burly/stable enough to handle some terrain. I took it out west this summer and it was great. That bike handles like a dream (not a great peddler though).

    But then I got that new bike itch and a used 2017 Trance came online not far from home at a good price and I snapped it up. 150/140 mm. My bike friends think I’m crazy, but I’m a Giant guy. I don’t even know why myself. I bought a longer-travel bike because I’ve decided I’m going to BC every summer barring major injury or bankruptcy. It’s where I’m happiest.

    Now I know, there’s no downside to some more travel. This bike is light, pedals like a dream and handles the hits way better than something with 100-110 mm ever could. Does it dumb-down XC trails? Yeah, a little. My last ride on my Giant Anthem (I kept it as well as the Kona) was at the 24 hour this year and you can’t beat an XC race bike on a course like that. It’s lightning.

    However, if you’re not racing, the XC race bike doesn’t make much sense. But you probably already knew this.

    #818316

    FastTimes
    Keymaster

    I think a 130/140mm 29er is perfect for Ontario. It really depends what you want to ride though I suppose. I’ll rarely ride Albion and go WELL out of my way to ride places with rock and terrain that rewards a burlier bike. My 110/130mm Tallboy is plenty for most but if you want to enduro some of the local gems, it’s a bit under-gunned. The Hightower at 135/150mm gives up little on the way up but gives it back in spades on the way down. I also prefer it over an xc bike for all day rides.

    I think it’s cool to see guys riding less bike and conquering the terrain, but it seems the opposite occurs in Ontario. Rather than hone their skills, many are dumbing down the lines and terrain to suit their ability and equipment. I believe many ride trails like Albion and assume that is what all trails should be like, where I think it’s borderline torture to ride that stuff. I know you have the skills and ride it all on whatever you have so I agree with what your saying, but I don’t think that is the norm these days in Ontario.

    I’ve seen lots of riders out on trails they have no business on complaining that it’s “too hard”. Most of us see the crux on trails as a challenge and opportunity to improve our skills. Given that rocks and roots are being removed from just about every trail system in the region, I don’t thin that is how everyone looks at the situation before them. Trails that would have at one time been challenging on an XC bike are now CX loops and trails that used to actually merit a 6″ trail bike are now ridable on way less bike. So I know there is this notion that guys are riding couches and calling the trails easier, but the fact is they really have become way less challenging on any bike. Personally, I’ve gone back to a hardtail, even 100% rigid, to challenge myself again on these trails.

    #818317

    Renegade Hardware
    Participant

    Luckily where I ride still has the tech spots. I’ve been on a range of bikes from hardtails to FR bikes. On a 134 now, and looking for 150/160 frame for the new year. Modern bikes pedal great for the most part, and if you’ve already honed those skills over the years and want to ride lift access trails, it’s a no brainer these days. If I was racing XC or stuck around the GTA, I’d be looking at another hardtail as a primary, but I’m not and I’ll take speed, control, and the ability to hit harder trails, bigger drops, and lift access DH. Also looking for a HT/CX bike too, for those trails Marc’s describing.

    And agree with Marc, but he knows where I stand. haha. When the Don was my daily habitat, I ended up on a CX bike most days. It’s really just that tame now.

    #818319

    FastTimes
    Keymaster

    If you’re looking for a CX bike @renegade-hardware , I’d seriously consider a groad bike that accepts both 700x45c as well as 27.5×2.25”.

    I think many of us in the past bought CX bikes greatly because they accept bigger tires and are more suited to off-road riding. These new all-road bikes are ultra capable on/off road. Most have greater B.B. drop, relaxed but quick handling geo and are great for long hauls on mixed terrain. I’d say they are better than a dedicated CX bike for just about everything other than racing CX.

    #818321

    Renegade Hardware
    Participant

    been eyeing the gesalt from marin as I have a good deal from them, getting a demo model. But down to look at other choices. Prob end up putting 2″ tires on it if they fit. haha.

    #818323

    FastTimes
    Keymaster

    Check out the 2018 Bombtrack Bikes lineup too.

    #818328

    Renegade Hardware
    Participant

    Those look killer but are out of my price range. I’ll be doing an entry level build, focusing on strength and value, not paying attention to weight. My spooky supertouch was a gucci build (all king, shimano pro, etc), this time I’ll be putting that $$ into my trail bike, keep this one simple. The goal is something that I can still ride trails with. As soon as I took my CX bike out of the GTA I got flats everywhere! haha. Can you imagine someone left rocks on a trail?……..

    #818332

    matthewg
    Participant

    I have a trek remedy (140mm front/back, 29er) that is wicked for longer rides and when it gets a bit more gnarley. With bontrager SE4’s doesn’t really feel like it’s too under gunned for blue (I do get some arm pump at blue but I feel that is more me being soft rather than the bike) or more downhill oriented trails. Recently I picked up last years chromag stylus with a 130mm pike on the front. I ride the don alot and I believe it’s pretty perfect for the don. It’s fast and playful and overall alot more lively on the trails. It’s brought me back to my DJ days but it doesn’t sacrifice anything while trail riding. It’s nice to be able to monster truck more technical zones on a bigger bike but it’s been really fun to get back onto a hardtail.

    I’ve always wanted to ride the process 111 as it seems like a pretty good compromise of a little give in the back while having a solid pedalling platform (maybe it’s not so great tho as you mentioned, Atom) in more of an allmountain body. A planned trip out west or east always makes the decision of what bike to buy more difficult. But unless you are riding the bike park you probably want to stick to a trail bike anyways and rent a dh bike for the few days in the park. It really sucks if you feel like your bike is holding you back from hitting a bigger drop or jump but I feel like geometry (and a dropper!) is more important than amount of travel. If you are riding primarily ontario I think it would be a bit overkill to get anything more DH oriented than the trance/remedy/hightower/jeffsy/stumpjumper or a similar 140mm travel bike.

    Anyways, a bit of a rant, but it’s been nice to go the other way and get back onto an aggressive hardtail. It’s pretty easy to be caught up in a ‘more travel the better’ mindset specially since these newer longer travel bikes pedal like the old full-squish XC bikes on the way up and rip the downs like the old freeride/dh bikes – they are pretty incredible!

    #818334

    FastTimes
    Keymaster

    The Process 111 is a very capable bike and under a guy like Atom, likely enough for everything we have here. You could ride most of Blue on it but you would get worked and skitter around quite a bit. I personally wouldn’t feel comfortable with that level of traction at those speeds. I know guys who do and have mad respect for them, so it can be done. I’ve ridden many generations of the Trance and that is a perfect Ontario bike. Super efficient, light and can be run with a fork ranging from 140mm to 160mm. I also ride with a few guys on Remedys, including at a recent trip to Bromont where we climbed and descended most of the new enduro style trails. That bike can certainly handle the chunder, specially with beefier wheels like Matt mentioned. The 5010 is also pretty damn amazing here. Norco Optic as well.

    That 130-140mm travel range seems to be the sweet spot as far as being efficient on the climbs and capable enough on the descents. Fork and wheel choices making an even greater shift in their trail manner. They generally climb better, with improved traction, so unless it’s about getting to the top as fast as possible, there is no downside in that respect. I guess I would prioritize by choosing a bike that gets me down safely with the biggest smile on my face over one that gets up a hair faster and has me puckered, or worse yet, opting out of anything fun on the way down.

    I know I can ride my Hightower, even Hightower LT, up anything if I dig a bit deeper but there are definitely things I wont point my Tallboy down. I guess I feel there isn’t much point in making it up if you cant make it down. Climb up and walk down? No thanks. I have done way more enduro style riding over the past few years, climbing vs taking the lift, and I feel I am using these bikes to their potential and getting what I personally like out of them. I love big days with lots of climbing and descending and this seems like the right tool for the job, specially with like minder riders in your crew. Actually enjoying this more than taking the lift and riding down on the DH bike.

    The bikes are all so good these days, I don’t think you can make a bad choice. It really comes down to what your sweet spot is and at one end you are willing to give a bit up.

    #818335

    Renegade Hardware
    Participant

    Process 111, I’d wait until the redesign. The current one is fairly steep, and has incredibly poor pedaling performance for a ‘trail’ bike if front rings larger than a certain size are used. The reason for this is the location of the main pivot in relation to the chain-line. The pivot is much lower than a 32 ring, which causes the chain to pull the suspension down under load, which causes bob. There is nothing you can do about it other than run excessive LSC, or run a smaller ring, like 30T or less (Which is too small for some people, myself included). The new process design relocates the pivot higher up so it’s in line with a 32T ring, even slightly above it which will cause the suspension to slightly extend or stay neutral under load. Having tried this, my 134 for 3 seasons now, and the 153, the issue is clear. Swapping to a Evil 29er that wasn’t even sprung for me (undersprung) it pedaled better up hills at 3stage this fall, it was almost comical to see the difference in pedal induced bob. Its important to look at suspension design over travel amount, as a 140mm Troy/Django/Trance/etc is going to pedal a LOT better than a Process 134, 111, etc.

    I’d feel happy riding on any amount of travel, heck we raced DH on hardtails for years, ride CX bikes on trails, etc, but for all out speed on the good trails or DH’s a decent amount of squish and a good stable suspension design is the dogs balls and cats PJ’s. Heck the new Slayer pedals better than the altitude but the enduro team raced on the alt as it has more plush suspension. Food for thought: travel isn’t the full story.

    #818336

    jcitizen
    Participant

    I just bought a process 111 and it’ll be my first squishy bike since my 2009 Stumpjumper! I’ve been 100% hardtailing for about 5-6 years and chose the 111 cause 1, it’s so close to my Honzo in geo and 2, cause I’m not ready to go full-enduro as 90% of my riding is in the Don/southern Ontario. I was actually quite happy to keep hardtailin, but I find my body is just not up for it anymore.

    I’ll be running my 2017 process with a 140mm fork (and 30T ring!), which brings it to about 67 headangle (same as my honzo), which for me feels great with wagon wheels. If I was riding down bigger steeper hills more fork might be nice, but I find wagon wheels and long forks start to feel a bit unruly on the don’s tight switchbacks, I also don’t like how divey things get with a longer fork in the tight stuff like motown etc. The geo isn’t super aggressive, but then, neither am I. I’m so used to a hartail – and always preferred them – that the 111’s short rear travel was very appealing to me. Transition Smuggler looked cool too, but the tire clearance was crap and everything else was boosted, which my newer CK hubs were not…

    I’m sure a lot of these new 140+ bikes climb well for what they are, but I personally like a bit of trail feedback, and trying bikes that just monster truck over stuff is a little boring to me. If I lived out west I’d be all over the the newer Rocky Altitude, but in the don I’m not looking to make things way easier, just way funner. I think short travel aggressive bikes make a lot of sense for many riders who wanna have a blast on trails but aren’t hitting insane rock gardens or doing 6 foot drops.

    #818338

    micah356
    Participant

    About the 111 – everything posted so far here is true. But I run a 28t. I spin out once in a while on the road, but have never done so on a trail. Anything that steep and I’m probably not pedalling. It will never be an amazing pedalling bike, but as mentioned, the chainring size makes quite a difference.

    #818339

    Renegade Hardware
    Participant

    @jcitizen That’s what I did for mine, run a longer fork to help slack it out a bit which definately helped tame it down a bit. The 111 geo seems better and the 153 is good, but the 134 was some odd duck it seems like. Oddly enough, they changed it to be slacker last year iirc.

    Here’s the 111/134/153 pivot location:

    note how it’s lower than the 30T ring.

    New design:

    Note that it sits inline with the 34T ring.

    Small difference but will affect it quite a bit. Good move running a smaller ring, it will make the bike pedal better for sure. Other than that, the bikes are solid. I can’t complain on the build, I love the double shear pivot design! It collects mud pretty bad but all in all it’s been ok, so you should really enjoy it in the Don with the 140mm fork.

    #818348

    jcitizen
    Participant

    About the 111 – everything posted so far here is true. But I run a 28t. I spin out once in a while on the road, but have never done so on a trail. Anything that steep and I’m probably not pedalling. It will never be an amazing pedalling bike, but as mentioned, the chainring size makes quite a difference.

    Do you find cassette wear has been affected? I rode a 28T for a bit and the whole drive train (chain/cassette/chainring) was worn to shit in record time. The mechanic wondered if maybe the extra torque from the baby ring was putting extra stress on the whole system, that and my quads of steel.

    I’m not looking forward to standing and pedalling on the process, but I really look forward to going down & off stuff. I seem to switch frames pretty often now, so it’ll probably be in the classified in less than two years, haha.

    #818349

    micah356
    Participant

    I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary, but it’s only been one season, and I’m not usually particularly hard on my drivetrain.

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