Buying a new bike

I’m a thinker. Maybe an over thinker? 

What I mean is especially when it comes to tech or bikes, I do a lot of procrastinating.

Mostly this is because I’m no expert.  If I’m honest with myself I don’t really know the difference between a Fox 34 and a Pike or a Shimano Zee and SRAM guide brake. And if I’m really honest with myself, would I truly actually notice the difference when I’m out riding?  Dunno, I’m a pretty average rider and would I benefit from some of the higher performance parts? Doubtful.

I will certainly notice bits that I have experience with and learn from that. So despite my comment about forks just now, I have some idea what I do/don’t want.

So how do I pick a bike?

It’s probably the same as most of you – based on a few of the following 5/6 points:

  1. Price – lets face it budget is the major controlling factor for a bike purchase. Even if you do decide to spread the cost, there’s still a decision to be made “can I afford £40 a month or £60 a month etc”
  2. What’s cool – What’s everybody riding? Do i want to ride what everybody is riding? I remember when everyone around me was BIRD mad! Cotic is popular with my locals at the moment. I bought he Whyte T130 – I don’t regret it but boy are there loads of them around!  I’d like to ride something that isn’t so popular if I can.
  3. Stick with what I know – buy the latest model from a brand you know / have or have had. I ride a whyte full sus and the 905 hardtail gets great reports. But I don’t like the colour!
  4. Steel is Real – I’m looking for a hardtail and us British riders do like a steel hardtail and i ride a steel frame right now. Steel can push the price up a little, but def moves the bike along the cool wall!
  5. Pro Influencers – I’ve been watching GMBN for the last year or and sold myself on the Scout, then since following Matt Jones and seeing the specs, the San Quentin jumped up on my list, until I saw the 4 month wait!!
  6. Round ups and reviews – MBR

So, I’m looking for a new hard tail. I set my budget to a max of £1500 and I have maybe 3 or 4 on my short list… Haven’t made a decision yet so watch this space…

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Ride Through Winter The Hard Way

The Hard Way to Tackle Winter Riding
A Winter’s HardTail

There are many reasons to own and of course ride a hardtail.

As a second bike (assuming your first is a full suspension MTB of some description) it makes perfect sense. We all know the N+1 rule – so why not get a hardtail as your second bike?

They are very fashionable at the moment and in the UK in particular we have a particular taste for them and often in steel. Maybe its the simplicity, maybe its our riding style or maybe its the marketing!

There are a bunch of UK manufacturers making a tidy living out of hardtails – Bird Cycleworks, BTR fabrications, Stanton, Charge, On One etc all have a great line in hardtails and do well in the UK.  I think the profile of XC racing and the 2012 Olympics has also raised the awareness of how capable a 29er hardtail can be and us cyclists do like a new bike.

Hardtail geometry is changing too.  Longer and slacker bikes are turning what was once a tame trail machine into an aggressive trail machine and with right set up a half decent all mountain or trail centre rig.  650b wheels and 140mm forks and I think you have a very capable all year round steed that can cope with most you can throw it at.

So the landscape is changing and hard tails are getting a new lease of life – but that’s not really what I was here to discuss. But it does mean that the list of reasons to ride or even advantages of riding a hardtail is now getting longer.

  • Cheaper – With no rear shock, suspension linkage, bearings etc the set up become simpler and less costly.
  • Lighter – For the same reasons above the bike is simpler and therefore lighter.
  • Quicker – Yes they can be quicker. Shedding the weight and having a direct drive to the rear wheel with no suspension bobbing, acceleration and speed can be increased. They is a point where the benefits of suspension can be a drag – sucking you into berms, absorbing jumps for instance.  Take a hardtail to a trail centre and watch those personal best times pop up on your popular training app – oh alright Strava!
  • Easier to maintain – Now we are getting close to the winter angle I was leading with.  With less frame complexities you have less bearings and frame to clean and maintain.
  • 1 by x – The growing popularity on 1x set ups combined with a hard tail means the simplicity and weight reductions just keep on coming. No front derailleur, one less cable and shifter results in less weight and a few less items you need to look after.

Combine all these benefits with Winter riding and you have a winner!

 

So as the UK trails get wetter and muddier you want a bike that’s easier to clean and maintain then you should consider riding a hard tail.

Mine took almost an hour to clean after Sunday’s ride around the soggy, claggy soil of Wiltshire.

Bucket List Bike

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WTB Vigilante / Trail Boss

If you find a list of “10 things a mountain biker should do“, building a bike is there among them. I honestly didn’t understand why you would do this. I had been looking for a new hard tail for some time and often came to the same conclusion most do, that “you couldn’t build that spec for that money”.  The buying power of bike manufacturers means that its very hard to beat them on price if you want to go down the self build route. Continue reading “Bucket List Bike”