|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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there is no discussion of such things as features to consider in various pedals, things like float, tension adjustment, availability of multirelease cleats, etc. these are all factors to consider when selecting a clipless pedal for any use. instead the answerer merely relates the story of modifying a pair of used shoes (which are no longer on the market, thus making the advice even less applicable) and his results with them.
while people's opinions are valuable tools in researching experiences, this answer does very little to provide anything that usefully addresses the question.
Shoes wise I have Northwave Missions, which are more all day than DH, but I used some BMX style spd shoes for a week last year (no idea which brand), and they where a bit flexy for all day, but loads of grip on the platform.
As to cockpit setup, one issue is that if you run high fork with slack HA you may like travel adjustable fork to drop the front end. If you do want to stay slack and high, the short stem 35-60mm will destabilize it well enough at slow climbing speeds so that you get additional control. Wider bars will be then necessary to stabilize things at high speeds.
Stand up, be active!
after all, If you're using all your attention & energy to fight the front end, you're not going to have much left to make any technical moves you need to clean a tricky section.
A great thing about slack head angle is that it is an incentive to stand up more (like harder single ring setups, the "old school" 36t back). Standing up is good for long fireroad climbs as well. I was climbing 1500m on 10-12% sloping asphalt road this summer and I appreciated the capacity to stand up aevery now and then. I was taking one straight seated, then switchback and another one standing, and repeat. That allows you to switch some groups of muscles, so some get at least relative rest. I remember though those few hour long climbs I made long time ago with weak back and hips, where I was just tied to the seat and as soon as I stood up my lower back was giving me terrible pain. This horrible feeling of you position on the bike getting more and more fetal and moving up and down with torso which was just worsening everything.
The bigger the bb drop, the less energy is lost by the rear wheel trying to lift the frontwheel. With twice the bb drop, there is twice more efficiency.
Let her be on top and make her work for it. Then you will have more energy and feel less twitchy for the bike climbs, saving you time.
Very very small pumpkins?
Also, choose the right gear while ascending - it's not always true that the easiest available gear is the best solution. You need to have steady power applied to the pedals during the full rotation of the crank - this helps to keep you more stable when compared to sudden powerful "bursts" often happening when using too easy gear while cranking up that slope.
Oh and +1 to travel adjust forks.
A narrow bar and longer stem pulls your forward, by the stem extension itself.
A wider bar and medium length stem, 70mm or so, does the same thing, but by pushing your hands out wider, drawing your chest closer to the bar.
Do an experiment: Get into a "pushup" position. Place your hands shoulder width apart. Now, move your hands 3" further away from center, in each direction. Are you getting closer or further away from the ground?
I never fully understood why, but guess it's something to do with not rocking or disturbing the bike as much with either my hands and feet. Probably a similar effect to riding one handed.
I make my own. On the muckynutz websites they have flat template images of all their fenders. You paste one into MS Word, size it to an 8.5x11 sheet and you have a full size fender template. Then you go to staples or similar office supply store and buy one of those flexible plastic binders (each cover makes a fender so that's 2 fenders for $1.50). Then you trace the paper template onto the plastic, and BAM. 75 cent fenders. Sure it takes a bit of time, but once you make the template, it's a lifetime of cheap fenders for all your bikes (various colors as well). You can also make your own iterations and customize length of front/back or change the attachment points if you like.
Top notch communication both with Jamie and Bruce, if your looking at getting protected for the winter season then I would luck no further!
I run them front and rear, and can fly through the muddiest trails without goggles, and without getting mud all over my $350 dropper post.
The Mudhuggers look very nice and they're local!
So if you live in an area with sticky mud (clay or similar) I'd recommend a moto style fender
My current stomping grounds are in Ethiopia, not Holland as my profile.
They make an amazing, simple, cheap and easy system.
fit & forget
FWIW, I do like wide bars, I just have an issue saying that 680 is tiny.
I'll happily settle for "If you want to go mountain biking in any modern sense of the term, 680mm bars are tiny."