|I've spent a bit of time on an RZ 120 and found it to be a great bike, but you're correct in assuming that the spec on yours isn't ideal for having fun on rough, rowdy trails. The very first change that I would make, which is also one of the least expensive, is to ditch the bike's stock stem and handlebar for a shorter and wider setup. It looks like you have a 90 or 100mm stem on there, so try out a 60 or 70mm to start with, although be aware that this will make your front end tend to wander more on steep climbs - it's always a trade-off. The next thing to do would be a dropper seat post, which is going to cost you a lot more than the bar and stem, but it will add major shred-ability to your steed. More aggressive and larger volume tires wouldn't be a terrible idea, either.|
You're likely also considering replacing your 120mm travel fork with something longer, which wouldn't be a bad idea, but don't go overboard here: choosing one with more than 140mm of travel is going to have your RZ feeling unbalanced and awkward. If it were me, I'd ride the bike for a while after installing the new cockpit and dropper post before running out to buy an expensive new fork. Suspension setup is key, as a;ways, and you may just need to run more air pressure, and therefore more rebound damping, in order to be in more control. Remember that skill, not travel, is the important thing here. As for bottoming out the shock on flat landings, you should be using all your travel at some points of the ride, so long as it's not too hard and too often, and flat landings are never a good thing, anyways. Measure your sag and maybe run the shock a bit firmer, with anywhere between 20 and 30% being acceptable figures. - Mike Levy
The RZ 120 is a fine trail bike, but it needs a few changes in order to maximize your fun when things get rough.
|Most riders go through stages when we lack the confidence to carry speed or hit stunts that may have seemed easy at an earlier moment. Coming off an injury can require a lengthy period to regain one's confidence, as I recently discovered. I would suggest riding with a small group of friends who possess better skills and who are supportive to the point where you can be frank with your situation, so you won't be uselessly worried about your image while you fight your demons. Following more competent riders will ease you back up to speed and make technical features seem more do-able.|
Sessioning troublesome sections is something that Pro DH riders do at every track and it is an invaluable tool for every rider who needs to tame a section of trail. Another technique I often use, which was mentioned in the thread, is to get a big bike and hit a bike park for a couple of days to 'tune up." Most flow features can be hit at various speeds and degrees of skill without consequence and aboard a more capable DH bike, you will quickly adapt to watching the scenery go by at mach speed.
A trick that I learned from motorcycle racing was to "talk my way around a lap." After crashing in practice, or during a race, I would verbally go through the steps as I entered and exited the turns and features - a ritual that quickly got my rhythm back. I still use that technique today: "Get a few pedals in ...Don't get too far off the back ...Pull up right here ...Keep an eye on the landing." It's a cheap trick, but it gets me out of the passive and into the active riding mode.
Finally, consider enrolling in an advanced skills course where there are no expectations except for improvement. You can eradicate some of your bad habits while you are at it, and you may exit the course a far better rider than you were in the prime of your previous riding. The key to regaining confidence is to accept where you are at the moment, and start your comeback with a plan. - RC
Session high-speed or technical trail segments to learn the better line choices and gain confidence to flow through the parts where you may have jumped on the brakes. Confidence comes from knowledge and understanding. Break down your demons into smaller, digestible pieces and then sew them back together with a final speed run. - Whistler Peak Leader Training photo
|The only real system I know of is the Freelap system. If you buy the stopwatch, which has the option of countdown beeps to get you started, then you can use only one pole at the end of your track to trigger the watch. Most people use one pole at top and bottom, but this nearly doubles your startup cost - maybe talk a friend into getting a watch and a pole too, then you can have a start pole, or even better a split time and the added challenge of racing your mates. The Freelap system seems to be reliable and isn't affected by the weather or trees like using a GPS systems or phone app. A big advantage of the Freelap system is that more and more bike parks are starting to have them installed permanently so if you have your own watch you can use their poles without the hassle of setting them up yourself or forgetting about them and leaving them in the woods. All of that being said, at $499 for a MTB Junior Starter kit, which includes one watch, a handlebar mount and two poles this might not be the kind of 'value' you were looking for. - Paul Aston|
Freelap systems may not be cheap, but could help you iron out your weaknesses and get faster over time.
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