MTB advice for a roadie

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MTB advice for a roadie

Postby olliewm » Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:35 pm

Hi all. I'm looking for some advice about MTBs coming from a road background. I'm not giving up the road bike as my main whip but my family is growing and so my situation is changing. Basically, I'm looking to buy a bike that will kill 2 birds:

1. carry my 18 month old son in a bike seat on the weekends; and
2. trail riding (Manly Dam etc) a couple of times a month and maybe a couple of Highland Fling style events per year (half fling?)

At this stage I don't think I need a bike that will last forever... if my experience with road bikes can compare, I'm probably better off going for a good frame with standard components which I can upgrade down the track if the bug bites. From what I've seen, a hard tail would probably be my best bet but what are your recommendations in the sub $1000 category? My LBS carries Orbea and Merida and both have bikes in this price range... I have an Orbea road bike which I love but are they any good in the MTB arena? What other MTB specific gear will I need to trail ride (I take it I'm going to have to leave the lycra bibs at home)?

Sorry if this has been done to death but I'm not getting what I need from searching the forum. Thanks in advance!
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by BNA » Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:52 pm

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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby trailgumby » Thu Feb 03, 2011 2:52 pm

Hi Ollie,

There was a recent review of hardtails under a grand in AMB magazine, and the Malvern Star came up as best overall. Best frame, fork and componentry for the money, edging out Giant.

For that kind of spend, though, you'll get a lot more bike for your money buying secondhand a year or two old. You could even fit in a decent full susser for under $1100.

The key piece of information you need to do that without ending up with an uncomfortable ride, is what size bike is appropriate for YOU. I normally work that out off the Horizontal Top Tube measurement, as it's the only one that's standardised across all makes of bike, but you will need to have had some experience on another mtb to know what is comfortable for you.

If you want a guide around Manly Dam, I live pretty much next door so am happy to show you around. There are dozens of other trails within easy riding distance of the Dam as well, some more and some less technical.

What else do you need?
Except for the shoes and pedals, roadie stuff is OK in the short term for mtb. I'd really recommend sticking with flat pedals and sticky-soled DownHiller style shoes to start with, as it gives you easier options for when (notice I didn't say "if") you get it wrong and need to bail out... I'd just buy a set of knee+shin guards so they don't bite chunks out of your shins when you're not looking.

Longer term:
An mtb helmet that provides a bit more coverage of the back of your head is a good idea (eg, Fox Flux). I tend to wear roadie bibs as they are far more comfortable on long rides, I just stick some shy shorts over them like those made by NZO. Once your bike handling skills come up to par, you should go clipless pedals with something decent like Shimano M540's or XT's, along with appropriate shoes.

Full finger gloves like Fox Sidewinders are also important, as they protect your hands better and the thinner palms give you a more direct feel for what's going on under your front tyre.

Sorry 'bout the novel. Hope it helps. :)
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby HAKS » Thu Feb 03, 2011 4:48 pm

My missus just took up MTBing with me and I made her go clipless from day 1. She has thanked me since so I'd personally say go clipless from day 1. If you already use them on the roadie it won't take much to adapt to them on a MTB. Yes you'll have a few clipstacks but even I still have my moments and i' ve been MTBing for 10+years with clipless :P
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby dfc. » Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:34 pm

I have got a Malvern Star and it is very good. It was only about $350 in 2006 but it is still very good!
Visit my website https://sites.google.com/site/dfccyclesandautomotive/Owner of:

2006 Malvern Star Cobra (Mountain Bike)

2011 Trek 7.3FX (Flat Bar Road Bike) Just delivered!
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby trailgumby » Fri Feb 04, 2011 5:34 pm

@HAKS, I'd say it depends on both the bike handling skills you bring, the trail, and to some extent the bike.

If he's only gonna ride Terrey Hills fire trails initially, sure, go clipless from day one. For the singletrack bits of Manly Dam and much of Red Hill... hmmmm... I think he'll enjoy it more and be intimidated less on flats to start with.

The move to clipless happens naturally for most people when the time is right.

I started commuting clipless from Day 1 no problems. My mtb skills acquisition OTOH would have happened a lot faster if I'd ridden flats to start with on the trail.
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby Nobody » Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:23 pm

Another factor is how technical the track is, especially when tight and/or steep. I went from SPDs to flats as my local track ended up being just too challenging in parts for SPDs. Even on flats I've still had many crashes. The second last one I fractured a rib about 10 weeks ago. The last one I believe I fractured my nose about 2 weeks ago (but was running with the bike at the time). :roll: Too many rides I've come home injured. I'm pretty sure I'll never ride on that track with SPDs again.
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby trailgumby » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:05 pm

Deary me, nobody, you have been through the wars, haven't you? Sorry to hear about the injuries. :(

I'm doing a mtb skills course at Manly Dam end of February. The mob I'm going with get you to practice the skills in the playground of the local primary school using sets of drills they've developed that build on each other, before they let you loose on the trail. The plan is to take those drills away and turn them into off-trail play sessions that I can do in the park opposite my house. That way when I'm riding/training/racing they're more automated, and I can ride more comfortably at speed without being so close to the ragged edge. :x

Have you thought about trying a 29er?
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby Nobody » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:53 pm

trailgumby wrote:Deary me, nobody, you have been through the wars, haven't you? Sorry to hear about the injuries. :(
Thanks. I've decided I'll be walking the hardest section until I get a dropper post, and it could be a long time before I get one...

trailgumby wrote:Have you thought about trying a 29er?
Yes. Decided against it. The main reason being I ride alone around a fairly dodgy houso area and so don't want to make myself more of a target with an expensive, unusual looking bike. I've just rehashed my bike with an old Al frame. It is slightly bigger and gives me 2.5cm more between the BB and the front hub (probably like a 29er forces a longer frame). Stem is now shorter by 2cm. It already feels less tippy over the front wheel.
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby trailgumby » Sat Feb 05, 2011 9:58 pm

Fair enough on the 29er. Sounds like the changes to your bike setup have been a move in the right direction. You might pay a small price climbing, but that's a trade-off I'd take... getting wandery on a climb is less likely to hurt you than an OTB. Dropper seatposts seem to be the hot thing at the moment. A few of my mates have just bought bikes with them, and swear by them.

I've thought about one, but put it off becasue I've learned to ride with a lower-set seat (mainly to save my lower back) that seems to have done away with the need somewhat, and also becasue they're harder to find in 27.2mm OD with a remote trigger.

You haven't considered putting a suspension fork back on the front at all?
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby Nobody » Sat Feb 05, 2011 10:27 pm

trailgumby wrote:I've thought about one, but put it off becasue I've learned to ride with a lower-set seat (mainly to save my lower back) that seems to have done away with the need somewhat, and also becasue they're harder to find in 27.2mm OD with a remote trigger.
I have a slightly lower saddle height as per your previous advice. It has helped a little, but obviously hasn't saved me. Move over TG, I'm the real TG. :wink: :lol:
As for availability of posts, CRC appears to have a few Gravity Droppers in 27.2:
http://www.chainreactioncycles.com/Cate ... rtBy=Brand

trailgumby wrote:You haven't considered putting a suspension fork back on the front at all?
Remember, I started racing in the early '90s. I've never had a suspension fork (other than the rubbish ones I've bought with other bikes and replaced them with rigids.) I doubt a suspension fork would have saved me in nearly every crash I've had since resuming MTB. Thanks for the thought though. :)
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby olliewm » Sun Feb 06, 2011 8:50 pm

Wow! I've been away for the weekend and just got back to this thread! There's quite some info here so thanks for the replies...

@trailgumby, I'm not sure about sizing so I think I'm going to go for a new bike this time around. When I was getting into road biking I was lucky enough to loan a mate's bike until I got a handle on what I was after in a bike. Unfortunately, this isn't a luxury I have this time round. I'll go and check out the Malvern Star range this week but if there's anything else I should take a look at let me know.

Clip vs clipless doesn't really concern me too much at this stage. I guess I'll try with flat pedals to begin with and then go from there. Obviously I'm used to SPD-SL pedals so I'm guessing the transition shouldn't be too hard.

Oh, and trailgumby, I'd love to take you up on your offer of a Manly Dam tour. I'll get in touch once I've got my bike sorted!

Cheers, Ollie
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby HAKS » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:17 pm

Each to their own :). I have no idea how technical Manly Dam is so best go with the local knowledge :). I had a few mates go flats at first, then jumped to clipless. They lasted 2 rides and went straight back to the flats and haven't changed since. All good though, I charge past them on the hills & technical climbs :lol:
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Re: MTB advice for a roadie

Postby trailgumby » Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:32 pm

HAKS wrote:All good though, I charge past them on the hills & technical climbs :lol:

Yes, as you do :lol:
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