Tires or technique

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Posted: Jul 4, 2022 at 1:57 Quote
It depends I would say, in winter last year I had some Magic Mary softs on the front, there was a section of slippery cobble stones near me...it wasn't ice, they were just slimey and wet. I literally couldn't even pedal at 5mph without the tyre wanting to slip on flat ground and throw me off the bike. It literally felt like I was riding on ice. I put a DHF and it didn't slip a quarter as much. So I would say technique for most riders on normal grippy terrain is the most important but there is certainly types of terrain that are more tyre dependant. Slimes rock, thick wet mud where fat tyres just float and don't cut through to the base layer, overly aggressive knob patterns that get squirm on on loose shale etc...in very loose conditions tyres can play just as if not even more important a role than technique.

Posted: Jul 5, 2022 at 11:29 Quote
Everyone making great points here.
Approach -
I see a lot of bikes in SoCal set up for point and shoot trails. All that matters is straight, fast, gnar trails.
I come from a moto background and I focus my setup around handling and cornering. A platform that supports your technique. I think too many focus what everyone else is doing rather than focusing on the ride experience they are looking for.
In your case, we go out searching for answers and everything ends up being sheep following sheep. While there are standard that just work and those become popular, that doesn't mean it is the best for your riding style and bike setup.
Tires -
For tires - is a Minion DHF or DHR more grippy or more predictable? Does grippy help you more or does something more predictable help more? Does lower pressure layout the tire more and grip more or fill more squirmy? Will more tire pressure actually bit more pushing into the soil and cracks in hard pack? Is a softer compound better on hard pack or tread that is more evenly spaced to put more tire on the surface?
Too many people want the tire to do the work and not put the technique to the tires. If you put different tires on you have to ride to the strengths of the tire. For example, if you are riding a tire with a vague transition you might have to approach the apex of a corner completely different. The weight might change how breaking works and feels. You are managing mass, grip, and forces against the surface. I don't ride Minions anymore but one strength of the tire is straight line grip in braking. A minion you have to ride with hard straight line braking, then allow the suspension from being upset and back to balance and roll more through the apex of the corner. This starts to get into where your bike sits in the travel, rebound, and grip. Where in the travel can change how your bike feels in a corner. Different bike designs can change a lot of geometry through the travel. So does static geo really matter? Lots of chit chat about high pivot. Lots of stability there but no one is saying they corner better. All things to think about as your suspension is going into a corner, in compression or rebound and at the same time your tire is in transition. A bad bike design and or set up wrong could be a horrible mess when the suspension and tires at the same time are in transition. It is a very unstable moment for a bike.
Technique -
Body position is everything. Form and technique. How a bike is built will require different rider input. Personally I like a bike on the little smaller size. This allows my rider input into the bike to have a greater effect. For some this feels more unstable. For some a larger bike will feel more planted and stable. That could mean the bike natively is more stable or the body position is in a better place. but often times that larger bike won't respond to rider input as much. It will be more stable to a point, and then its not very forgiving. It will go from you riding the bike, to you just going for a ride where ever that bike wants. Still it is all what you are comfortable with and what trails you want to ride. A smaller bike will give you what you are putting into it but will require more movement and strength. Think Jack Moir. A lot of bike input but still can stay smooth on the trail. The bike suspension never really looks upset. He can put the smaller bike where he wants on the trail and that means speed.
Put it all together -
I think there is an interesting point with a bike. Its that float state. It is where you feel the bike above the surface. Like a water ski, hydrofoil, or F1 car aerodynamics coming into play with the grip and suspension. What does your bike feel like when it is up in this float state? When you are skimming off the surface, the suspension and tires are on the edge contact? This is where you want to put your focus. When you are feeling the flow and your bike is working like poetry. What is the bike doing at this moment? Is the front end trying to bite but pushing out? is the tire pressure too low and squirming, the suspension rebound wanting to push out as you lean over the bike? Is the suspension packing when you brake and not following the ground giving you traction? Where does the suspension ride? Is it so soft that it dives and then you change body position which takes weight off the front end? Something is happening in there for you.
A few ideas -
I'm not saying do what I do and I wouldn't saying I'm set on one class of mountain biking. Just an example. I like riding everything. DH comes easy for me. I don't climb well but love technical climbing. I like a ride that has everything but I'm totally down for a steep loose bushwacking ridgeline adventure. With that, here are a few things I've found that have become non-negotiables for bike set up for me.

Tires - I like an all around light weight trail tire that is predictable everywhere. Has great straight line and transition. Has good grip, soft, can bit into the surface but be loose enough to "steer with the rear" when needed. Can also accelerate very quick and can climb anything.
Stem - I like 35mm stems. They are quick and precise.
Suspension - Must give good rider feedback. I don't want to feel numb to the trail. Sits higher in the travel but planted in the mid stroke and not soggy. For me this is Fox
Brakes - I like firm brakes that have light modulation but bite pretty early in the stroke. Fresh pads or Galfer on Shimano XT or XTR. The lighter modulation allows me to respond quicker to bike reaction and respond with bike input.

All said, look for what is going to solve your bad points with the bike. Focus on how the equipment effects your riding style. Heck, your shoes can change how you want to move around the bike. Everything is at play. Nothing is perfect. A predictable bike you will feel the most confident on.
And you are only doing something wrong if you are not working on it. You will figure this out and feel more confident. Also be forgiving to the trails. SoCal Summer is loose and slippery. Nothing is going to fix seasonal conditions. So allow differences as the trails change. Some change every day and some trail never change at all.

Good luck

Posted: Jul 5, 2022 at 22:28 Quote
A 2.6 minion is a foldy bouncy piece of shit.
Cut it up and throw it away
Mount a 2.5
Different tire entirely.

Posted: Jul 20, 2022 at 19:05 Quote
@devindevore, nice write up- thanks. I've been into going fast for a long time (raced RX-7s in the 80s, instructor at Road Atlanta, then was a inline speed skater (marathon and longer distances) then competed in inline downhill. I've been a roadie since the 80s, but MTB came late in life, age 50. I'm 57 now, still chasing the speed dream. btw, dinged my thumb in that last crash, 3 weeks later still hurts. I think I sprained it. Then I got covid, so just now getting back on the bike.

@englertracing, yeah, I want to try the 2.5 or even 2.4. There are a few moments I think I like the 2.6 but its too soft, not confidence inspiring.

Posted: Jul 20, 2022 at 19:12 Quote
blazekelly wrote:
For what it's worth my gf has a Carbon Honzo and I have a Chromag Stylus (similar to the two bikes you switched between) and find that I have to ride them quite differently. So you may just need to get used to it and alter your technique a little

Yeah, the carbon honzo is really good at going up or drifting down the fire trails. It gets really darty when the trail gets rough. The Chromag just plows through it. It takes more core strength than the honzo, but that's likely because I ride it on more technical trails. Both are fun, but are very different beast

Posted: Jul 20, 2022 at 19:19 Quote
CSdirt wrote:
Agree with others…your technique needs work. It’s either line choice or breaking but not the tire.

Practice slow in fast out cornering. I guarantee it will feel slow but your time will be faster, guaranteed!! Very few riders actually complete their breaking before turning. The easiest way to spot this is the proliferation of breaking bumps mid corner. If you are breaking mid corner (over breaking bumps) you f*cked up.

A low side via loosing front wheel grip is 100% rider error. A different tire like Assegai would not save you.

I always brake ahead of a turn, but think technique wise, I need to get more weight over the front. When braking really hard, I tend to hang off the back a bit to max out the traction. The Chromag is pretty long and slack, so maybe the thing I'm not doing well yet is getting back over the front enough before leaning in.

Posted: Jul 21, 2022 at 6:38 Quote
squawker wrote:
CSdirt wrote:
Agree with others…your technique needs work. It’s either line choice or breaking but not the tire.

Practice slow in fast out cornering. I guarantee it will feel slow but your time will be faster, guaranteed!! Very few riders actually complete their breaking before turning. The easiest way to spot this is the proliferation of breaking bumps mid corner. If you are breaking mid corner (over breaking bumps) you f*cked up.

A low side via loosing front wheel grip is 100% rider error. A different tire like Assegai would not save you.

I always brake ahead of a turn, but think technique wise, I need to get more weight over the front. When braking really hard, I tend to hang off the back a bit to max out the traction. The Chromag is pretty long and slack, so maybe the thing I'm not doing well yet is getting back over the front enough before leaning in.

That sounds like the most obvious solution. Especially if your bike is slack, you need to get your chin over the stem in corners, weight forward. Also, try dropping your heals and getting your upper body lower/closer to the frame when you brake. Hanging off the back will make you lose traction on the front and reduce leverage on the front wheel/handlebars. Hanging off the back is only necessary in the steepest and jankiest of terrain if your bike is slack.

Posted: Jul 21, 2022 at 8:33 Quote
squawker wrote:
I always brake ahead of a turn, but think technique wise, I need to get more weight over the front. When braking really hard, I tend to hang off the back a bit to max out the traction. The Chromag is pretty long and slack, so maybe the thing I'm not doing well yet is getting back over the front enough before leaning in.

You want to get the bulk of your braking done before the turn. IOW, stop braking before you turn so you have time to get centered on the bike. In the real world this isn't always possible or the fastest but generally that should be your goal. Also, only get back as far as you have to when braking so you don't have to reposition as much for the corner.

I've also noticed with slack hardtails with short chainstays that this is a bigger issue. They require more effort to balance front to rear. Whereas on an enduro bike with appropriately long chainstays you can mostly just stay centered.

Posted: Jul 21, 2022 at 8:55 Quote
jeremy3220 wrote:
squawker wrote:
I always brake ahead of a turn, but think technique wise, I need to get more weight over the front. When braking really hard, I tend to hang off the back a bit to max out the traction. The Chromag is pretty long and slack, so maybe the thing I'm not doing well yet is getting back over the front enough before leaning in.

You want to get the bulk of your braking done before the turn. IOW, stop braking before you turn so you have time to get centered on the bike. In the real world this isn't always possible or the fastest but generally that should be your goal. Also, only get back as far as you have to when braking so you don't have to reposition as much for the corner.

I've also noticed with slack hardtails with short chainstays that this is a bigger issue. They require more effort to balance front to rear. Whereas on an enduro bike with appropriately long chainstays you can mostly just stay centered.

Good point. This is a big issue with hardtails. With a full suspension bike, if the suspension is tuned, the whole bike sinks toward the ground under hard braking. With a hardtail, the front fork squishes and the geometry gets steeper so that makes sense why the OP has to hang off the back

Posted: Jul 22, 2022 at 20:22 Quote
I like all the technique suggestions from everyone and that getting forward is a great place to start. I think if you want to start messing with bike setup playing with your cockpit is free, and getting more wight on the front of the bike may be just a combo of a small technique change and a little bar roll or brake roll to make to bike feel a lot more confident. plus as long as you keep track of the adjustments they are free and easy to undo if they arent working.

Posted: Jul 23, 2022 at 23:09 Quote
trevortheskier wrote:
I like all the technique suggestions from everyone and that getting forward is a great place to start. I think if you want to start messing with bike setup playing with your cockpit is free, and getting more wight on the front of the bike may be just a combo of a small technique change and a little bar roll or brake roll to make to bike feel a lot more confident. plus as long as you keep track of the adjustments they are free and easy to undo if they arent working.

you could lower the grip height by putting some spacers above the stem. it kind of forces you to weight the front wheel more. you'll know it's too low when its too scary on the steep stuff.

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