Ask PB: My First DH Race, Larger Frame Causes Problems, and Tame Those Nasty Cables

Mar 10, 2015
by Pinkbike Staff  
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Here at Pinkbike we get inundated with all kinds of questions, ranging from the basic "Can I have stickers" to more in-depth, soul searching types of queries like if you should pop the question or what to name your first child. Ask Pinkbike is an occasional column where we'll be hand picking and answering questions that have been keeping readers up at night, although we'll likely steer clear of those last two and keep it more tech oriented.



First Time Racer

Question: Pinkbike user Roguee asked this question in downhill forum: I'm doing my first DH race next week. Do you guys have an tips for staying calm during my run? Or just any tips in general would be helpful! I've ridden the track a few times and I'm feeling confident, so I think it's a good venue for my first race.


bigquotesI remember being scared shitless before doing my first downhill race! Actually, I remember being pretty scared before all of the racing that I've done over the years. If I could go back in time I'd tell myself that it's all about fun - as much as you may want to end up racing World Cups, you need to forget about all that and just have fun. I'd recommend doing two things: first, concentrating on staying loose and finding flow is going to see you going a lot quicker than if you're really attacking the course and blowing every corner, which then forces you to panic and sprint as hard as you can out of them. That's when you forget to breath and hold your breath by accident, which obviously compounds your issues. Think about momentum and the smoothest lines, not winning or catching the guy in front of you. The other big one is to have your bike ready to race - it sucks to be amped up for your race and to have paid good money only to see your run ruined due to a flat tire because you didn't check the air pressure. Relax, have fun, concentrate on being smooth and having flow, and don't forget to make sure your bike is dialed. - Mike Levy

Sam Hill taking the outside line while most others went a bit more inside over the rocks.
Forget about channeling Mr. Hill for the first race run of your life - your day will be much better if you concentrate on just having fun. Photo by Paris Gore



Why Does My Larger Frame Corner Poorly?

Question: DonkeyLunch asks in the All Mountain and Cross-Country Forum: I've just switched from a 2010 Marin Attack Trail, size small, to a 2012 Yeti SB66, size medium, and I feel like my bike is drifting a lot more when cornering. I wanted to go to a longer bike with a shorter stem and these are the only parts that have changed. I'm running the same forks and tires as before and the bike felt otherwise great first ride out. I've gone from a 70mm to a 40mm stem, so I feel I should be relatively centered on the bike in relation to my old position. The head angle is one degree steeper. Do I just need to think more about getting my weight over the front on the new bike or something? I'm usually pretty fast and like to ride with a clean, feet up style. I feel like this could start to hold me back.


bigquotes I looked up the geometry of the 2010 Marin Attack Trail and the 2012 Yeti SB66 that you moved up to, and you have good reason to wonder about the change in handling. I could only find the medium-sized numbers for the Marin, but the effective top tube was 1.3 inches shorter than the medium-sized Yeti. Considering that you jumped up from a small-sized Attack Trail, the increase in the top tube length would be closer to two inches (50mm). Switching from a 90 to a 40-millimeter stem may have maintained the same reach as your previous bike, but the combined effect of the new stem and the Yeti's longer top tube has moved your weight back about three inches behind the front wheel. You'll need to learn to ride lower and farther forward over the bike in all phases of your riding, especially when cornering, in order to properly weight the front tire.

To assist this transition, I'd suggest switching out one or two headset spacers to lower your handlebar and, if you are not already riding a wide bar, switch to a 780-millimeter-width model. The wider handlebar will force your upper body to hover over the front of the bike and help teach you to keep it there. I assume that you are not a big guy and while wide bars are fashionable, there is an optimal width for each person. After three or four months, when you have dialed in your Yeti's handling, you can cut the bars a bit shorter to free up your upper body so you can throw your weight around to better manage technical sections. (something that many DH pros have done as of late). - RC


Yeti SB-66
Yeti's SB66 was one of the first trailbike designs to feature substantially longer top tubes to correct for shorter stems. Anyone who plans on purchasing a new ride should pay close attention to both the reach and top tube length of the bike and largely ignore its stated sizing. Presently, designers are all over the map on the subject.



Brake and Derailleur Housing Length?

Question: corockymtnrider asks in the 29ers forum: Recently I had a 2015 FSR Carbon Expert Evo Stumpjumper built. The shop that built it wants to leave the cables really long. It makes sense when they spin the handlebars 180 degrees and tell me that it's to keep them from snapping in the event of a crash. This I can understand. However, it looks both sloppy and dangerous. So they pulled the cables down a bit, where they are a little slack underneath the frame by the crank, but even there it seems like they might catch on branches or stumps I navigate over on the trail. My question - do you find it more of a hazard to have the cables long (where the handle bars can spin 180 degrees, OR is it better to get them cut shorter and risk an accident that might dislocate a cable?


bigquotesLeaving the brake and derailleur housing long enough to allow for a full 180 degrees of handlebar rotation might be a touch excessive, unless you picture yourself doing X-ups in the near future, but you do want to have enough room to keep from kinking a cable or pulling a line out in the event of a crash. Pulling the cables further down underneath the bottom bracket isn't the way to accomplish this - there should be just enough slack in that area to allow the rear suspension to go through its travel without pulling on them, and that's it. Pull the housing snug against the bottom bracket, let the air out of the shock and compress the rear suspension all the way through its travel. Once the shock is reinflated you'll be able to see exactly how much slack there needs to be under the bottom bracket shell.

Once you have that part of the equation figured out, you can then determine how much housing you can afford to trim up front. I'd say somewhere around 130 - 140 degrees of handlebar rotation should be enough movement to avoid issues if your bike takes a tumble. After everything is trimmed down the housing will only stick out a few inches in front of the stem, but if things still look too cluttered for your liking, a little electrical tape in key locations can help help organize a rat's nest of housing. You can use a few wraps of tape to hold your rear brake and derailleur housing together, which will help keep them from rattling around against your stem or handlebar and create a cleaner look. - Mike Kazimer

Cable routing.
A little time with a roll of electrical tape and some cable cutters would help clean up this mess.



Have some unresolved tech questions? Jump in the Pinkbike Forum and we'll look to answer it for next time.


78 Comments

  • 28 0
 Use cable ties to stop the brake and derailleur cables from flapping about, works pretty well.
  • 15 0
 Yep, zip ties / cable ties / zap straps - whatever you call them, they all work well, although I've found that they are more likely to slide out of position compared to a couple wraps of electrical tape. Either way, it's usually better than nothing.
  • 3 0
 yeps , me too, zip tied my cables...kinda always have! Looks clean, no messiness , an no cables bobbin back an forth while riding! Get-r got-r done.....
  • 8 0
 How about a little attention to detail? That pic of moondraker cockpit is atrocious! Unwind the cables firstly, shorten cables so they take a similar curve and then use w/e means you want to secure them together. It's not rocket science...
  • 21 0
 Here's a suggestion for tidying up cables:
www.pinkbike.com/photo/11996540
www.pinkbike.com/photo/11996539

Cable tie(s) with short piece of clear tubing between the cables. Works a treat.
  • 3 0
 Would be hard to over tighten the cables with electric tape as well
  • 2 0
 I've got a good amt of excesses cable, but Wyeth effective routing and zip ties, they stay where i want them to hassle free. Lots of zip ties haha
  • 3 0
 Heat shrink can be used aswell, bit laborous perhaps and not everyone likes the look of it.
  • 2 0
 In cases where cables move a slightly different amount tape can be a problem. Zip ties allow independent movement.
  • 6 0
 Sounds like the shop were too lazy to cut them so thought they would try and bluff the customer into thinking it was a good idea.
  • 4 0
 Or a rider got a shorter stem, wider bars, or a used set of brakes.
  • 2 0
 Nothing worse than spaghetti all over the handlebars Wink
  • 2 0
 Make sure to clip zip-ties in a way that does not leave a sharp edge to catch. I've been cut by zip-ties that were not cut flush, they can be sharp as hell.
  • 24 0
 As for the first race advice, flow rather than balls to the wall speed is defiantely good advice. If you wanna win, you gotta make it to the finish line.
  • 10 0
 I think it's probably different for everyone, but what works for me right before a race is to not think about it until I'm in the start gate. You're probably gonna be at the top of the hill waiting to start for a half hour or so, and that's prime time for jitters. just lean against something and spin, take a piss, and think about something else like girls or boys or whatever you're into. Then once you're in the gate just look as far ahead as you can and get ready for the first corner or whatever's first. and definitely make sure your bike is ready, mechanicals are frustrating as hell.
  • 3 1
 The thing that always helped me before a race, was to just concentrate on my own race run. I wouldn't think about anyone else's run, or how I would do compared to anyone else. Just try to focus on your own run. Also, I found that visualizing my race run in my head a couple times, before my race run, helps add some confidence.
  • 8 0
 Go Pro the course and watch it in fast motion a bajillion times.
  • 2 0
 Slow motion too
  • 26 0
 It helps me relax before a race to remind myself that no one gives a s==t how I do except me.
  • 1 0
 good point,@codypup but don't let yourself care too much, i've seen some delicate egos come into play when it never mattered in the first place.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, no one else gives a damn really.

Alas, I am still learning how to approach races. I did my 3rd ever DH race at the weekend and it was frustrating to see how much slower i would hit sections in my race run than when I would section that part of the track. Not much use hitting it flat out in practice if you cant go anywhere near that speed in your race run. It has happened in enduro races too (in which I'm more experienced) where I go really slow on one stage and then very fast on the next despite feeling wrecked after the slow one and fresh after the fast one. Obviously being relaxed and breathing right must play a role in that.

I figure the best way of addressing that is to do more full DH runs instead of only hitting the track fully once or twice. That way when I do a race/seed run its not a completely new experience where I'm trying to put an entire run together for the first time in weeks maybe.
  • 1 0
 Found a really important trick was to have a good warm up before the race, even when doing a local amateur event (you see the top pro pedalling on turbo trainers at big events).

One venue in S-East England called Aston Hill had a great fireroad at the top of the start area, it was easy to keep an eye on the roll-call / time for your race run, and do some gentle pedalling around with some short sprints on the fireroard to get your aerobic system ready, and help your warm up / stay loose.

Nothing better than arriving in your start slot after 10-15 minutes of warm up, and being able to put down some proper power and flow down the track, without the shock your body feels if going in cold
  • 3 0
 I sit on my bike with the handlebar propped up against a tree, then pedal backwards while in the queue for the start line. Its like the poor mans turbo trainer Smile No resistance I know, but my legs are spinning at least.
  • 4 0
 Damn it.. there goes my reverse turbo trainer patent.
  • 1 0
 After my first race i found myself red lining it all the time and crashed a few times. Next one i used a heart rate senson to beep when i got over 170bpm. It helped me ease off when i was going too hard so i didnt fatigue and make big mistakes.
  • 18 1
 advice for your 1st race. drive to the event yourself. don't take a ride with your buddy who's chronically late. don't sit in your buddy's driveway waiting for him to get his shit together, either. go by yourself. get there early. make sure your bike is working. relax, warm up, have fun. get there early.
  • 11 0
 First race: Any downhill race, do a course walk at least once over the weekend. I used to walk the course at the end of each practice day, even the courses I rode weekly. There are so many benefits from having a different perspective! You can see lines and obstacles that you'd otherwise just blow by even at cruising pace. It makes previously mentioned visualization so much easier and more effective. It was probably an obsessive tendency of my teenage years, but I used to take 100's of photographs on my course walks and study them. Occasionally the night before the race shuffling them all and seeing how close I could come to putting them into correct order.

Good luck and have fun!
  • 11 0
 First dh race guy...breathing is deffo key, when you set off and get into the first corner make yourself take a deep breath, it certainly helps me compose myself. Remember to keep your head up!
  • 7 2
 SB66...Front drifting... New longer bike... check how much travel you are getting from your fork. It may be too stiff. front stepping out is the first sign of too high a spring rate. Use compression damping if it feels too soft after that. whatever you do. Don't fit cow horns to the front. Wider bars move your c of g further front the tyre contact are and will make the problem worse. just my opinion.
  • 8 2
 Autocorrect causing you issues betsie? Wink
  • 2 9
flag wuzupjosh (Mar 10, 2015 at 15:25) (Below Threshold)
 maybe he should suck it up and get low :p those bikes are sick at cornering , idk what hes talkin bout
  • 4 0
 I agree with betsie, stick with the bar width you're used to and adjust your position. Like he said, wide bars with wrong position will only make the problem worse. I had the same problem going from a small brodie to a medium ibis. The solution for me was to get the seat really low so you can get your bod low and parallel to the top tube in the corners. Long tube bikes need a completely different approach to weighting from what you're used to with a tight short wheelbase bike.
  • 4 0
 These are the most positive comments on this topic I've ever seen , Keep it up Pink Bikers
  • 4 0
 If you're entering your first race, visualize the shit out of it. in all your spare time in the training and race days, that way even though you've only ridden it 10 times, it can feel like 100. And make sure to match your breathing and pace to your visualization. Allow yourself to feel the track. Take some deep breaths before you start and go have some fun!
  • 1 2
 i like to come to races the wed night , rid ehard thurs day and friday , then beat the chair lines sat and only do a couple , you waste more time waiting in line to do a practice run on saturday then y ou do riding .
  • 1 0
 exactly, thats why visualization is key.
  • 8 5
 I wouldn't say an absolute max of 180 degrees of bar rotation is too much at all. Slopestyle riders regularly ride with much more and have no issues. It should be perfectly easy to allow this much housing without risking snagging anything. If they had left enough to do a full 360 I would understand the concern but personally I think having your cables start to get damaged at 140 degrees rotation is almost certainly gonna cause problems in a crash.
  • 10 2
 slopestyle riders also generally have about 3 foot extra, so they can fit a couple of bar spins in before running out of cable. because there is so much excess, they are just able to wind it around the stem to get rid of it. quite frankly that would look ridiculous on a trail bike, especially since i dont know many people who do bar spins on trail bikes...
  • 9 1
 It seemed like @corockymtnrider was concerned about aesthetics, which is why I gave him guidelines about how short he could go with his housing. I didn't get the impression that bar spins were of much concern to him.
  • 2 7
flag wuzupjosh (Mar 10, 2015 at 15:23) (Below Threshold)
 if hes concerned about aesthetics then he should go with 3 cables instead of 5 or some thing ..
  • 6 0
 Gabriel didn't actually say bar spins were a concern, he just pointed out that more than 140 is workable. I would never do 140 - my bars turn 180 regularly when I crash and id rather not damage more than I need to
  • 1 0
 @mikekazimer The x-up comment in the article made me chuckle.
  • 3 0
 Here's the geometry for the 2010 Attack Trail; S, M, L:
cdn3.volusion.com/sb4jw.nuvx9/v/vspfiles/photos/7706060041030-3.jpg
21.8" ETT is really short, even for a small, and Yetis run longer than average; 2" is a big jump.
  • 2 0
 The yeti might just be too big. I'm 5'11 and usually ride a large bike including yetis but with the sb66 I like the medium better or it's just not as responsive or playful.
  • 1 0
 @Ecarlson, same here, I'm 5'10" and usually ride mediums and sometimes longer smalls (prefer 22.5-23" ETT) for their playfulness, but I went with a med for my ASR-5 (23.7") and it was a different game than I'm used to. It is stable and fast, but definitely not as playful or responsive.
  • 3 0
 Another tip for the race: Keep it all between your own two ears. Do not focus on what other racers or doing, or how fast they are, or other things you can not control, such as the weather or course conditions. You can only control what YOU do. Set goals that have nothing to do with outcome. Don't get tied up in your time, or what place you might get. Think about how you're going to execute your turns, or how you're going to keep your form going over whatever drop or obstacle you encounter, or whatever. Focus on your technique and strategy -- what YOU will do to execute. Every time your thoughts begin to wander from something you can't control, bring it back.
  • 5 0
 My first DH race was so magic I remember !!! !!!! you just discover that racing's the best thing you can do
  • 3 1
 Better use heat shrink tubing to bundle up all the loose cables in the front when you first set up a new bike and cut everything to length. Its cheap, easy to do and stays clean. Comes in all kinds of colors and can be bought in 3ft sections at your local electronics store. Electrical tape moves and will come lose at the end, you will have all the dirt stick to where glue used to be and will soon look like a total junk show. I have all the cables bundled up in two neat strings one coming from the left and one from the right side of the bar. only a fixie can look cleaner...
  • 1 0
 I'm with you on this, been doing it for years and its the neatest way.
  • 5 0
 I've seen this done before, and it looks cool, but isn't it a hassle when you need to change derailleur housing?
  • 2 0
 What size of tubing would you recommend?
  • 2 0
 @bikeboardorblade depending on how many cables and hoses you want to pack together you will obviously need different sizes.
You should choose one that slips over easily. those tubes do shrink quite a bit.
Simplest way to figure out the right size for your application is to measure around the cables you want to bundle up with tape measure and order the next bigger available size.

for two cables i use this:
www.frys.com/search?search_type=regular&sqxts=1&cat=&query_string=%233222371
but honestly its quite tight to set up.

@slumgullion. Yes it absolutely is. You would have to cut it open with a exacto which is easy but if you want to put it back on you would have to take of the brake lines to be able to slip the new tubing over. I usually do it when i set up a bike first and so far i never had to exchange the housing before selling the bike again so no issues for me yet.

oh by the way. I started doubling up in areas where the cables might rub against each other or against frame/fork.
  • 1 0
 Thanks!
  • 3 1
 Regarding bike set up, don't ignore changing suspension setting to get the bike to turn quicker or slower. If the bike is drifting, raise pressure in the rear or more compression damping. Maybe make the fork ride lower in the travel too. The effect of raising the rear is steeper HA and quicker steering. If bike is jack knifing, or oversteering, do the opposite. Volume spacers are key in this regard...
  • 1 0
 On the note of the frame sizing question. I'm hunting for a longer travel-type hardtail frame that has sizing comparable to the Yeti described above. I.e., longer top tubes with shorter seat tubes. I'm looking at the Chromag Stylus in their M/L frame right now; it has a 17.5 seat tube, and 23.75 effective top tube. The large only has 0.25 inch more top tube, but is a 19 in the seat tube, and that doesn't seem justifiable. I'm thinking something in the 17-18 range for seat tube and 24.5-ish range for effective top tube. Does anyone know of anything?
  • 1 0
 The 23.75 effective top tube is a typo on the Chromag website. I believe it should say 23.5. Before I had the M/L stylus I had the large Stylus. TT felt great with a 40mm stem but the seat tall and TT didn't have a lot of stand over for me. So I swapped it out for a M/L with 60mm stem and it's great..
  • 1 0
 For my downhill races, walk the coarse, then walk the coarse going up hill. You will see a different view, what I call the shadows, help you find little nooks that you can use. And like everybody else says. Have fun, talk with other riders, just like a weekend with the Boys.
  • 1 0
 Thanx much for the first race advise. I just completed my first race. I was terrified. they called out thirty seconds and I remembered this article, or I remembered "relax and have fun". I did this and now cannot wait to race again.
  • 4 4
 For the large frame issue. So how can you give any advice without asking the first most important question RC, how tall are you dude? Messing with headset spacers is for fine tuning the cockpit position, not for making a bike fit properly. So yes bike fit. again...without knowing how tall dude is can't give any real advice. Only advice that can be given is...compare the stack/reach from your marin to your yeti, and equate the stem length from the marin. Those number will tell you a lot. Other then that..if you're a small frame fitting guy then nothing in the world will make a medium frame fit/handle correctly...vice versus.

For the dude with the hose/housing issue. Simple answer...cut them and make it right and clean. Don't be a redneck mountain biker and use zip ties, duct tape or whatever...don't be lazy and do it yourself or take it to a shop and have it done.
  • 5 1
 It is safe to assume that Donkeylunch is moving up to a much longer bike when one considers his input and the significant differences between the small Marin and medium Yeti. The headset spacer suggestion is not a fit issue, it is to bias his weight towards the front end of the bike. He states that the reach is similar, so my assumption that he is too far back also holds true. I've made a thousand or so custom mountain bikes, so I'm pretty confident on this one.
  • 2 0
 RC; The recent shift to longer top tubes and shorter stems confuses me.

Theory: Assuming the same reach and stack (and head angle) are achieved with the 2 diff setups, then the wheel base is longer and the front axle is farther forward relative to CG and handle bar. You would therefore need to get more forward on the bike to weight the front wheel the same amount.

Real world anecdote: I've gone back to longer stems (50mm to 70mm on my trail bike and 35mm to 50mm on my freeride bike) with big improvements in cornering and I no longer feel too far over the bars. I'm 6' tall and ride a sz L 2014 Uzzi and a sz M 2015 Spider comp 29.

So why are shorter stems/longer top tubes better?
  • 2 0
 If i'll have my first national race at 19 years old, can i still become a pro?
  • 6 1
 yes , just get first alot and slowly move into pro men
  • 7 0
 Pro should be the farthest thing from your mind. Worry about being the fastest guy at nationals for now. Remember that at the next level everyone was the fastest in their national races.
  • 7 1
 Just make sure your sufficiently lubriacted before moving into a pro man.
  • 3 0
 I have so much cable rub they have made a rubbing indent in my frame
  • 1 0
 Best advice to the racer is remember to breath! Everyone gets that stress sitting at the gate, it disappears the second you start.
  • 2 0
 As for first race Do not push to hard out starting gate, as getting out of breath at start will slow you down big time!!!!!
  • 1 0
 Was it clementz who said you should weight your bars going into turns? Maybe due to the bike length you've just got too much weight on the rear end of the bike.
  • 1 0
 Zip tie with one of the small bushing rings from a broken bit of chain, works a treat especially when you colour match your cable ties to your frame Wink
  • 1 0
 After becoming so accustomed to the look of larger wheel sizes, the frame size of that yeti dwarfs those 26" hoops
  • 1 0
 I use self-fusing rubber tape: no adhesive and works just as great as electrical tape.
  • 3 6
 It would seem though that on the larger framed bike there should be more peace of mind as you land drops and jumps though...
  • 2 0
 wat
  • 2 0
 How so? Just because the frame size is larger does not mean that you have more travel. True, you may have more material but that doesn't necessarily mean more strength. With a larger sized frame you have less maneuverability on the bike. Making drops and jumps harder to land.
  • 2 5
 Electrical tape is for electrical work. It belongs NO where on a bike!
  • 2 2
 But it's great for wrapping around your rims to go tubeless.
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