|Like everyone here at Pinkbike, I'm a proponent of running a handlebar wider than the tiny 680mm model that you've been using. Yes, going to a wider handlebar is going to slow the steering down and make the bike feel less twitchy, but this will be something that you'll likely notice more at higher speeds than when you're snaking your way up a slow, technical climb. Having said that, I'm going to put most of the blame of your wandering ways on riding technique, and the good thing about that is that it doesn't cost you anything to fix. Basically, the steeper the hill you're riding up becomes, the more your center of gravity is shifed towards the back of the bike, which in turn makes your front end very light feeling. Less weight on your front tire makes it hard to steer, obviously, so make a conscious effort to slide up on your saddle until the nose of the seat is in a place where you'd usually prefer it not be. At the same time, bend down at the waist to move your head lower to the stem. The combination of your lowered weight and you moving forward on the seat will make a world of difference, but you should still ditch that skinny handlebar. - Mike Levy|
|I personally use Crank Brothers Mallets as my pedal of choice, and when it comes to performance and fit I still can't find anything to top my old pair of Shimano DX shoes. I bought them in 2011 for $30, and they had already had a hard life. An hour or so with a drill to move the cleats back a further 5mm from maximum to get the ball of my foot over the axle. I also drilled some holes in the footbed to give some extra flexibility and allow more of the sole to sit on the pedal body. The Mallets are easy to clip in an out of, and the adjustable pins mean you can set them to grip your shoe as much as you want, giving the feeling you are used to with flats rather than that floaty feel of standing on an icecube. I feel that you also gain more control as you can feel and manipulate the bike more. This pairing gives me the closest feeling I have found to flat pedals from any combinations so far. Above all of this I think the main benefit of a Mallet type pedal is, that if you are unclipped, especially in some mud or tech, you can just stomp your foot back on and carry on riding with a good level of control and grip compared to anything else. - Paul Aston|
|Getting sprayed in the face by cold, wet mud for hours at a time is no fun, which is why a simple fender can be worth its weight in gold. Here in the Pacific Northwest, some sort of front fender is a necessity for late fall and winter riding, where rain and mud are almost guaranteed. The huge moto-style fenders that were once en vogue have fallen out of favor for sleeker, yet still highly effective solutions. Basically, the goal is to block the mud that's getting flung up by the front wheel, and there are two main ways to go about this, with the store bought versions of each available for less than $20 USD.|
The first method involves affixing an old tube, or using a pre-made solution like Race Face's Mud Crutch, between the fork's crown and arch. This is effective, but occasionally the tube or fabric will buzz the tire, and I've found that it doesn't provided quite as much protection compared to an under-the-arch fender, something along the lines of what Mucky Nutz or Marsh Guard offer. There are DIY methods to make this style of fender as well, and whether you use an old milk jug or the front cover of a spiral bound notebook, 20 minutes of arts and crafts time should be enough to rig up one of your own.
When it comes to rear fenders, I usually go without - a little extra dirt on my back doesn't bother me, especially considering how much mud is going to end up on my knees and shins, and I've found that shorts with a water resistant rear panel do well enough to keep me comfortable on those soggy rides. If you really want a rear fender, there are simple plastic solutions that attach to the rails of your seat and extend six inches or so back, enough to block a portion of the mud that's getting tossed up by the rear wheel. - Mike Kazimer
Easy to install, and very effective, these two fender styles go a long ways towards making wet weather riding more enjoyable.
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