Ask Pinkbike: Whistler, Sprocket Size, and Capable XC Bikes

Jan 30, 2018
by Pinkbike Staff  
Ask Pinkbike Header

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.





Is One Day in the Whistler Bike Park Worth It?

Question: Pinkbike user @Robv asked this question in the Downhill forum: We are planning a family trip to BC, and I'm hoping to spend a little time in/around Whistler. Of course I would like to ride when I'm there. Unfortunately, it looks like I will only have one day..... Also: I've never ridden downhill. (I have done several years of MTB though, and started dirt jumping/skate park last year). My questions are: is it worth it for just one day? Should I just book a bike and go for it? Where should I start? I'm not looking for the big jumps and drops for obvious reasons, but would like to get some air. Any other tips ?

bigquotesYou should definitely plan on hitting up the Whistler Mountain Bike Park, even if you only have one day to ride. There's a reason it's become such a popular destination - there aren't too many places in the world with such a wide variety of incredible trails. Just like at a ski area in the winter time, those trails are all clearly marked with signs that indicate their difficulty, and there are options for riders of all abilities, no matter if you're a complete beginner or your name is Rémy Métailler.

The Whistler trail map even has the trails listed in ascending order, from easiest to hardest, allowing you to gradually work your way up to more challenging features. Start with a couple green trails to get warmed up, and then give something like B-Line or Crank it Up a try. After that, you can choose your own adventure depending on how comfortable you're feeling. If you don't want to tackle the mountain on your own, there are a number of lesson and guided tour options to choose from.

Be careful though – Whistler's addictive, and there's a good chance that you'll find yourself begging your family to stay 'just one more day...'
Mike Kazimer


Santa Cruz V10C review test
One day in the Whistler bike park probably won't be enough to satisfy most riders, but it's better than nothing. Photo: Laurence Crossman-Emms.






Why Are One-By Sprockets So Huge?

Question: @woofer2609 says in PM: I'm curious as to why there aren't any 1X drivetrains offered on the market that have the ability to run a 22 or 24 tooth narrow wide chainring. I am aware of the ability to run a 26t on Race Face Aeffect cranks, but then this negates having a bash guard, which most would agree, is almost a necessity, and doesn't match the rock crawler ability of the 22 or 24t chainring.

This would seem to make sense for a few reasons:
- weight savings (smaller rings all around, you could easily rock it with an 11-36t rear)
- durability (no need to run faster wearing aluminum 42t+ cassette rings)
- better ground clearance due to a smaller diameter chainring/bash guard
- less cross chaining if offset is the same as current 1X systems

As another plus, it's much cheaper and less wasteful to replace one front sprocket when it wears out as opposed to 10 still usable cassette sprockets when only one is worn out. Is this a case of planned obsolescence, or are there practical reasons?



bigquotesGood question. The simple and partially correct answer is that fashion dictates larger chainrings (big man, big chainring). Comical as it may seem now, industry insiders told me that when SRAM was first pushing XX1 one-by drivetrains, they were told flat-out, by key Swiss and German dealers and bike makers that they wouldn't buy in if the chainrings were smaller than 40 teeth.

The scientific reasons are more compelling. Smaller chainrings increase the moment (leverage ratio) on the chain. That means, if one compares two drivetrains with the same 1 to 1 gear ratio, say, 34t x 34t, and 24t x 24t, the power output to the rear wheel would be the same, but the chain tension between the 24/24 sprockets would be greater.

Presently bicycle chains are stressed to the physical limits of the alloy steel they are made from, and the narrow dimensions of their plate-to-pin interfaces dictated by the confines of 12-speed cassettes. Tension often hits 1,100 pounds, which is close to the chain's breaking strength. Designing around smaller sprockets would accelerate sprocket wear and destroy chains.

Another reason is that most anti-squat kinematics are dependent upon a given size chainring, and switching to a significantly larger or smaller one will mess up that relationship. SRAM based its choice of chainrings to some degree upon the middle sprocket of a three-by crankset (32t or 34t), which is where most anti-squat geometry evolved from.
RC

SRAM GX Eagle
SRAM's Eagle gearing was designed to maximize the time spent in the middle range of the cassette to extend the life of the drivetrain. Riders of greater or lesser strength are encouraged to choose a chainring size that will accomplish the same thing.




Capable Cross-Country Bike

Question: Pinkbike user @bridgermurray asked this question in all-mountain, enduro, and cross-country forum: This is a weird question but I'm wondering about peoples' opinions on this. With cross-country becoming more technical, what cross-country bike currently on the market is the most progressive and aggressive when it comes to handling rougher, longer courses and downhills? For the record, I'm not asking about 120mm-travel trail bikes or steel hardtails, but proper 100mm-travel race bikes like Trek's Top Fuel or Specialized's Epic hardtail. The Scott Spark looks like a decent candidate, with a 68-degree head angle, long reach, and low bottom bracket. Any other suggestions?

bigquotesA capable cross-country rocket can be a blast to ride; fast and efficient, but way more competent than an old-school race bike that's sketchy to ride on anything more difficult than IMBA-approved bench cut. I haven't ridden one yet, but you're right about the Spark - it looks like a forward-thinking cross-country rocket. I have two other suggestions for you, too, the first being Cannondale's Scalpel-Si. The new Scalpel has a 69.5-degree head angle, but its Lefty fork sports a proprietary 55mm fork offset that relaxes the steering more than you might think. This, along with a frame and fork that feel extremely solid, makes for a relatively capable cross-country package.

My other suggestion would be Rocky Mountain's Element. Its adjustable geometry can be made relatively relaxed, and while it feels like an out-and-out race bike when on the gas, it's far more stable and forgiving than its predecessor. This new model is less punishing all around and more anchored, especially when there's not much traction. And if money isn't a concern, you'll want to keep an eye on anytihng that Unno has cooking. One thing to keep in mind is stem and handlebar selection; if you're going to run a comparatively short, 50 or 60mm stem, you might want to jump up to the next frame size to compensate and get the benefits of a longer wheelbase.
Mike Levy

Cannondale Scalpel-Si
Cannondale's Scalpel Si is more capable than its numbers suggest.



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


185 Comments

  • 71 1
 Even better if you can make your "one day in whistler" a weekday. Even if it's a little rainy...you'll spend way more time on the trail and not in line...and your poop eating grin will have a little bit of mud between your teeth...
  • 23 1
 This was exactly what I was thinking. One weekday is worth at least two weekend days.
  • 5 0
 Please note that all weekdays are not the same, though. I was there for three days last fall (two days in the Park + 1 day for Into the Mystic + Lord of Squirrels) and it was definitely busier on thursday than on wednesday. So I guess the closer to the beginning of the week, the better. Smile
  • 26 0
 And many visitors also should be aware of the HUGE local network of trails both immediately in and around the village, but on all of the mountains in every direction, including Blackcomb. Sure, you have to do it the old fashion way and pedal up it, but it's so worth it! Quite a bit different experience than riding the park, so I'd recommend that everyone do both!

And then stop in Britannia Beach and go ride. And then stop in Squamish and go ride. Then stop again for a lap down Cypress. And while you've already committed to riding the shore, might as well go hit Seymour and Fromme. Then after lunch, head just next door over to Woodlot for a lap or three before rolling through Sumas Mountain before it's time to go grab a cold one. Then enjoy your drive home all freshened up from all that R & R vacation time!
  • 15 0
 And if you only have one day, don't waste your time on green trails, unless you really enjoy shredding fire roads. Anyone who isn't riding a mountain bike for the first time can do at least B-Line.
  • 2 1
 @Robv Go for it! It will be the best thing you ever do in your life. I only had one day last June to hit the park. Been to Whistler tons of time snowboarding but it was much more fun on a bike. It brings a smile on my face every time I think about the fun had. If you can handle skate parks and dirt jumps you will be rite at home. Mike is rite, you will be begging the family to stay at least another day.
  • 3 1
 Not to shoot down your desire to ride the Park, but if you haven't ridden many bike park(s) you might not want limit your time to just the park. Nothing like starting at a place considered by many to be the very pinnacle of the sport, but then again the local health clinic is full of weekenders looking to get a taste of the bike park by riding trails that are way over their skill and experience level. On the other hand there are a ton of local xc / free ride / epic trails in town that suit a more well rounded ride experience that will test most folks fitness and skill. Just saying it might be worth tuning up your bike park skills before dropping in!
  • 14 0
 @Pedro404: But it is worth a ride to do Del Boca which is marked green....
  • 1 0
 @paulskibum: True, and Shady Acres.
  • 3 0
 The 1st time I was there was for 2 days. 1st day a slightly raining day which was awesome! 2nd day was riding trails on the other side of the valley and only saw one other biker. Black diamonds on that side are no joke!!! Best mountain biking in my life.
  • 5 0
 @paulskibum: best damn green trail in the world!
  • 3 0
 Just spending a day in lift lines at the Whistler bike park is educational. Add some riding to it and that one day will influence your mountain biking for many more years.
  • 7 0
 He called the shit poop!
  • 1 0
 A 2015 March ski trip was a complete snow drought so the shop let us trade our ski rentals for mountain bikes and we went out in the Lost Lake single track area for a few hours of riding that still brings a smile to my face when I think about it. Your family can even easily ride the gravel criss-crossing the single track on hybrids if they so desire. My son did some of the (much) longer and technical single track out there a few summers ago and that's on my bucket list along with a (very conservative) trip up to the lift served trails.
  • 2 0
 @boxxerace: for a non-local you've got it dialed! You obviously have been in the Vancouver/Whistler area before. I've often flagged down cars with foreign license plates that have bikes on racks to give them similar tips. But don't forget Coquitlam's Eagle Mountain and, if you're out at Sumas, you're 30 min away from Vedder, which is phenomenal when it's a bit drier.
  • 1 0
 @rrolly: Thanks for the heads up on Coquitlam & Vedder, I've not yet ridden at either. And yeah, I love BC. I'd live there if I could. We spend our summer and fall in BC, spending as many weekends and weeks up your way as we can.
  • 1 0
 @Pedro404: del boca vista is pretty rad
  • 52 2
 A 22t chainring with an 11t sprocket is 1:2 ratio. You'll spin out pretty quickly.
  • 61 0
 I was wondering why "spin-out" wasn't mentioned in the response, as that would be my number one reason to not go smaller than a 28t. If your top speed is 10km/hr, sure, go as small as you can.
  • 3 1
 This!
  • 6 0
 Came here to say this too. The answers given are small differences. The real reason I'm not running 22x10 is above 15 mph I won't be able to pedal!
  • 11 0
 Must be a trials rider
  • 20 5
 Personally, coasting down beats walking uphill/hike-a-bike any day of the week.
  • 19 2
 @woofer2609: Man I’m just the opposite. Would rather hike it and have something for the downhill.
  • 77 0
 Stop the press! I think I've solved it!
WHy not have two (or more) chainrings up front? - Best of both worlds!
One day it might catch on...
  • 4 2
 @woofer2609: Not if you don't have steep hills. And honestly, with expanded cassettes these days, why would you need smaller than a 28t?
  • 1 0
 He was talking about downsizing the cassette as well.
  • 9 0
 @mammal: All I seem to ride is steep hills (mostly local North Shore rides, some Kootenays), so I think it comes down to what one rides, and if they're more focussed on blasting up a hill, or blasting down it.
If you like to ride shuttles, or more rolling terrain, well, yeah, smaller front rings make no sense, but if I tried to ride more than 25km/h down most of the trails I ride, I'm not skilled enough that I wouldn't probably die or injure myself. When I'm rolling down a fire road, or riding the road home, afterwards, I just coast. Higher gear inch numbers just aren't needed.
The thought behind smaller than 28t is that as mentioned, you avoid inefficient cross chaining (ie 34t front- 42t rear) by running closer to the middle cogs of a lighter weight, more durable, all steel 10 or 11-36t (at most) rear cassette. No need for expanded cassettes where the middle cogs are relatively untouched.
I like the idea of 1X, but the idea of a 50t rear cog seems to fly in the face of some the logic presented of why 1X was created (lighter weight).
To match the rather conventional lowest gearing of a 22t/36t 2X system, you need to run a 28t 46t 1X (I have one bike with each of these gearing set ups). The top 2 cogs of the 1X are aluminum and wear quickly, and it creates a rather abrupt chainline.
  • 2 0
 Exactly what I was thinking @tremeer023.
  • 1 3
 I have to admit I don't anything about gear ratio or any of that stuff.. but I wish I could have a 28t chainring for easier climbing.. I have a 42t granny cog but I'm too lazy to climb with a 30t chainring
  • 2 0
 When Suntour used to make drivetrain, they made the Microdrive which is pretty much what you mention with the 1x flavor. I think they introduced the 11 sprocket at this time to offset the small 22t. Remember at this time, the consensus was 28t for the smaller chainring and 12t for the cassette. If we could make stronger chain, we could consider a 22t but you would need at least a 8t to keep the same ratio. Shimano still judge 10t being too small to be a sound mechanical design so 8t sounds crazier. (even if e13 has been able to make a 9t) We might need to make the rear axle smaller or to redesign the whole cassette. The benefit could be lighter weight and eventually lower the bb a bit (thru you could still hit the pedals in the ground). We should never say never and these dimensions are standard on BMX (btw, they use beefier chain than don't need to shift). It sound like a fool today but you could be a prophet tomorrow!
  • 3 0
 One more idea, smaller chainring/ cassette and oversize chain / bigger teeth size-spacing to offset the load: double or triple new standard for the win.
It would be a killer move to make all our transmissions obsolete.... Sram is filling a patent as we speak :-)
  • 5 0
 @jejsd: or we could go 9s 10-42 with a 28 or 25 front. The chain would be more durable and we would have range. this explanation given for the chain being weak brings up why 11 and 12 spends suck we whent past 9 for more range in a time when lots of people refused to drop front gears we are past that now we could have great 9 10 speed ranges that have amazing range and durability as well as being similar or lighter weight with more clearance.
  • 3 0
 Because he's a flowrider. Not pedaller.
  • 5 1
 @woofer2609: I agree with some of your thinking, this 1x12 has led to ridiculously priced cassettes as well as more unsuspended weight on the back wheel influencing the suspension.

Most people don't need a 32x50 ratio so they end up increasing the size of their front chainring to compensate. My personal opinion is that the majority of riders can get what they need out of a 1x11 by simply going with a 28 up front if their hills are really big. Don't get me wrong, I applaud the technological advancement of 1x12 but I think we have reached the turning point for the 1x drivetrain. I feel that a look at optimizing a gearbox solution is a better direction for future development
  • 1 0
 @woofer2609: honestly just buy a 46 or 50 tooth cassette and put a 28 on the front if you want something small. Once you try it you'll realise the real world downsides are almost zero. The weight saving you will get with a more compact set-up is almost nothing
  • 4 0
 Wow, here I am riding a 1x with a 38tooth oval ring, and standard 11-36 XT cassette. I rather not spin out of gearing as opposed to a big cog. Then again, I can work a low cadence well climbing
  • 3 0
 I run an 11-34 cassette with 32t ring and it pretty much does everything. Might move to a 30t ring next just for the steep hills but standing up when climbing gives you a better all round workout.
  • 1 0
 @HerrDoctorSloth: I'm running a 34t chainring right now, but I totally agree. I used to get a hard time about running a 36t from the people I rode with and people on here. People don't seem to understand that high cadence isn't the only way to climb. It's actually less taxing on me to slow cadence climb with more speed. I've heard that it's tough on the knees, however I've had a major knee operation and it's never hurt my knees, only made me stronger. Doesn't make any sense because stress on the knees mainly comes from incorrect saddle height when seated.
  • 1 0
 Actually 2:1, but you'll still spin out pretty easy unless you can pedal at 130+ rpm.

That said, I've run a 2:1 on singlespeeds for years and can keep up with just about anyone on actual trails - fire roads and pavement though...
  • 1 0
 @Ozziefish: Brilliant!
  • 3 1
 @woofer2609: If you're worried about chain line and durability get a single speed.
  • 1 0
 Stainless steel front ring maybe??? Wolftooth have one but it isn't cheap but is supposed to last 5-10 times longer.
  • 1 0
 @jejsd: smaller chain pitch would allow smaller chainrings and cassettes with the same ratios.
  • 1 1
 @SonofBovril: 50t??? I've been riding a 36t on my spare wheels for the last few weeks with a 32 oval up front on a 29er and make it up most things around here. 42t on a 275 would be a walk in the park.
  • 1 0
 @SonofBovril: 28 won't fit on many bikes, and even if it does it will increase your anti-squat. The standard 32x42 is fine for 27.5, but is a bit tall for 29er trail riding.
  • 43 0
 Out of necessity because of my age (73), I run a 28t wolftooth oval chairing with a Sunrace 11-42 cassette on my Superfly and it works well. My axiom is, the older you get, the smaller the chainring.
  • 32 1
 You sir, are an ispiration to us all. Ride on!
  • 1 0
 thats actually impressive on a 29er! I have a 30t oval with a 10-42 on mine, and I could use one lower gear! 28t is not super low by any stretch of the imagination!
  • 40 2
 come on RC, that chainring explanation is kind of silly.

Fact is, it is impractical to make a ring smaller than 10 or 9 depending on who you ask (at least in the context of standard chains and a 12mm axle passing through that cog). Most riders want a high ratio over 3:1, so 28 or 30 is where the ring falls out. Threre's no way to start with a 22 or 24 and have the high gear people want.

it's not fashion, it's not the tension in the chain, it's the fact that you just can't get the required ratio.
  • 11 6
 This. I spin out 32 to 11 on flat on 27.5” wheel on soft dh tyres... I don’t know who rides those 28t chainrings even on 29ers. If I ride in the bike park and case/overjump a jump in a flow line and need to pedal to clear the next one, my current 34 in the front is on the lower end of what I can take. I’d gladly have 36. The last thing you want to do at speed is to crank fast to the jump. What you want is a something hard to push against to keep your balance. Anyhoo, 28t to 50t back is something special...
  • 19 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I'll give RC the benefit of the doubt and figure he assumed everyone realizes that a 22 tooth chaining is way too low, and was giving alternate explanations.
  • 4 1
 @WAKIdesigns: Indeed, I run a 36 x 10-42 and sometimes wish for a more forgiving climbing gear but spinning out is unacceptable.
  • 5 1
 @hamncheez: so assuming that he assumed the guy asking already knew the answer, RC decides to make up some stupid shit as an "alternate" explanation, that's benefit of the doubt?
ok
  • 2 1
 @hamncheez: you’d br surprised how many 28-30t coped with Eagle I have seen last summer in trail centers and bike parks... quite a few to say the least
  • 1 0
 I don't understand how the guy asking the question had in his mind?
Never tried 24 front with 11 rear and the associated spinning downhill (or even on flat), or never rides downhill?
  • 5 2
 @WAKIdesigns: To be fair though WAKI - a lot of trail riders dont hit jumps etc of any real size, especially lines that need to you spin out a 34T ring to be going fast enough.

I do 100% agree though - 28x50T is insane but for us shimano guys we dont get such big cassettes anyway so have to run smaller rings than with SRAM setups.

All about perspective and where / how you ride too. - I have not raced in a long time so spinning out on a fast section for me isnt a big deal at all and my local riding doesnt really have any features that you need to mash at to be able to clear at a very high speed - A 30T ring is just fine with a 44t cassette.

At the end of the day, a certain DH rider cleared every line without a chain without much problem (silly comparison time...)
  • 1 0
 @Racer951: yes totally yes and yes. But as I said, riding my not long&slack enough bike with too much travel with soft DH tyres, riding to/from the woods (no matter where I ride I rarely just get out of the car and hit the climb right away) I am on the 34t front and 13t rear (second sprocket) on relatively flat asphalt. When I had even shorter and steeper bike, namely nomad, I was on 32-11 with 1ply 26" tyres, almost spinning out. i am totally spinning out 34-11 on a 26" hardtail with less knobby tyres. So I like to have a margin to crank it if something goes wrong. And I am a keyboard warrior. Everyone here is faster, stronger and more skilled than me and jumps better to top that. So what do you mean with a lot of trail riders don't hit big jumps? My impression here is that everyone is an ex-pro and they chose a small bike because non WC trails are too easy for them... oh my tongue has just burned a hole in my cheek... Anyhoo, what I mean is: pardon me for: "if I can do that, anyone can" Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: On my hardtail with 26" wheels, 32t (oval) ring and 11-32t (9sp) in the rear, I spin out on flat asphalt and when climbing the steepest stuff I sometimes run out of gears. So what? There is always a point where you're going to spin out and something steep enough to not have light enough gearing. For the majority of what I ride it is good enough. Why would I get gearing that's great for riding asphalt? And there will always be occasions where you can go "oh sure I messed up but if I'd have had that piece of equipment (bigger wheels, wider gearing, more suspension etc) I'd still have made it". But that merely transfers the challenge to a trickier place. So you didn't need to bail at that lower speed because you still had gears. Bailing is a skill too and I'd rather be forced to practice it at a lower speed than at the higher speed where even the heavier gearing you run isn't sufficient.

I guess this is the eternal dialogue people need to have with themselves. Sure I like a bit of suspension, stability and wheels that roll over the small bits to not have to bother with that. But then comes the stuff I need to be involved with. If my bike takes that away from me too it is going to drop me off at even nastier conditions where it goes "sorry, can't help you here, good luck". And yes even though I can't sustain going full tilt with 32(oval)x11t I can sprint long enough with it to get up to a speed enough for some decent jumps. And I'm by far not doing jumps as long as what olympic BMX racers are doing (with even lighter gearing).

As for the original question, if a smaller chainring really is the aim and drivetrain wear is a concern, it is about time shorter cranks become available. That will reduce the load on the chain and sprockets. I'm running 165mm cranks on my mountainbike (something from Truvativ with Howitzer bb) though in mountain unicycling 125 or 115 is more common. You're laughing now. I tell you, after the next fashion cycle of baggy/tight, bearded/shaven, bright/understated and of course a couple of new names for the same middle of the road type of mountainbike riding we'll be seeing much shorter cranks in mtb as well. There will be a short delay as the marketing hype now has become to not introduce any new standards. But as soon as that has flow over there will be company brave enough to realize the shorter chain links to enable smaller sprockets and we'll be seeing shorter cranks to go with this too.
  • 1 0
 @vinay: "oh sure I messed up but if I'd have had that piece of equipment (bigger wheels, wider gearing, more suspension etc) I'd still have made it“

That’s devils own words.

I don’t care about the load since I haven’t broke a chain that wasn’t 1.locked with chain lock 2. crossed as hell and under load or spinning chaotically (my obvious own fault). If someone wants to talk to me about such details like chain loads, let’s talk giant saucers with huge offset that kill both chains and freehub bodies.

And I will keep my 175 cranks to minimize rock strikes in my rocky terrain, (counterintuitive but quite true) if I moved to mountains cranking fire roads I’d totally go 170
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: It is not about breaking chains. It is about deformation. A stretched chain wears sprockets much faster and should be replaced. The sooner it stretches, the sooner it needs to be replaced. The higher the loads, the sooner it stretches. So yeah I can understand that there are reasons to keep these loads at bay. Then again, it isn't about me. It is about the rider in the article who prefers to ride with smaller rings. And my response is, if you want both (smaller rings without increasing load on the chain), ride with shorter cranks.

I've broken some cheaper single speed chains on my commuter bikes. Not at the rivet, just the actual link plate. Not sure why, probably fatigue due to a poorly aligned wheel or so. I'm using KMC e-bike chains now pretty much exclusively for both commuter as well as mountainbikes as these don't try to be light but at least claim to be more stretch proof to cope with the combined input of rider and motor. Never broken any of these.
  • 2 0
 @vinay: a non issue for me. I haven’t noticed increased chain stretch. But as a troll I don’t ride and run XTR chains cuz I’m posh. That kmc you speak of sounds interesting
  • 1 0
 @Uuno: @Uuno: I asked the question. The access roads and trails I tend towards have 8-14% grades, 30-60 minute climbs. This means you use at most 5 gears on your cluster, but mostly the 2 biggest, so you're left with 8 or 9 unused rings and 2 that are worn out. The 2 biggest cogs wear out twice as fast (aluminum), and paying 2x as much for a replacement cassette. It's wasteful.
You're focussing on the downhill end of gearing, which is fine if you shuttle, ride flatter terrain, or love to stand and pedal, but where the trails can't be ridden that fast down by most people, higher gearing is totally useless.
The gear ratios also tend to be really far spread apart (ie. Shimano 11-46 goes from 37t to 46t)
  • 3 0
 @woofer2609: sounds like 2x is made for you
  • 2 0
 Fair enough. It is quite striking indeed that back in the days 22t was the standard granny gear to smash the steepest stuff at snail pace. Of course with larger cassettes these small granny gears have become less and less necessary. But to now say chains and sprockets suddenly are not up to it is a bit over the top. This reminds me of the time I swapped a chain the evening before a ride with mates and hadn't checked properly whether everything still worked under load. I used to ride 22-32-bash in front and 11-32 in the rear. It turned out the middle ring was skipping so much it became useless so I ended up riding everything with the granny. Obviously it was a lot of sprinting and pumping but I kept up surprisingly well. It definitely inspires you to ride efficiently and find the backsides to gain speed wherever you can. It was fun actually. And 22 front 11 rear isn't that bad. Technically it is similar to 32 front and 16 rear. Still usable if you're willing to sprint.
  • 1 2
 @vinay: you cannot climb steepest stuff on 22t even with 11-32 cassette. You’ll have less grip compared to harder gearing. Same goes to 50t spinning saucers. It’s a regeneration gear. One of the first things I heard from seasoned XC racers about steep technical climbs: downshift before you hit tricky bits. Forgot about it for 5 years until I switched to 10sp 1x, 32-36 and became a climbing god within a year, cleaning pretty much everything considered as rideable.
  • 3 0
 @WAKIdesigns: you cannot climb steepest stuff on 22t even with 11-32 cassette. You’ll have less grip compared to harder gearing." Are you kidding? Try a 2 plus hour uphill,your climbing god will be begging for a 22t granny.Grip is mostly dependent upon tire/knob profile,gear choice,not so much.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: ? If it doesn't work for you great, don't use it, but to say "you cannot" use that gear is quite audacious. The 9-14% grade hills around here seem extremely well suited to the lowest gear of a 22t 11-34 combo, especially when climbing for 45 mins-2 hours, 4-6 days in a row. If the trail is not super technical and steep, the "bail out" gear can be a nice change from building up lactic acid in your legs on longer rides.
It's a pretty simple principle; the heavier the load, the fewer reps you can do, and vice versa. Of course body language, sitting on the nose of your saddle, and especially momentum, are all tools to help climb. Sometimes it just works best to spin.
  • 1 0
 @wickedfatchance: are we talking steep as grade or steep as steepness to length to exertion to God knows only what else ratio? I meant steep as steep as fk that makes your heart rate go to max within 15 sec. on such grade too low gear will spin out. Nobody including Richie Rude could climb climbs like mine for longer than 2 minutes,max 3, because almost ho human being can go on max pulse for longer time. This is what I refer to as steep. And you have to keep momentum to go over roots and rock steps, and tou can’t crank slowly because you will spin out or wheelie. That’s Because it’s steep not kind of steep for as for a 2h climb. I can do these too. Also I’ve done 30min climbs on fireroads that were steepish and filled with loose rocks. You can’t ride these for a long period of time either. I have a hard time using fireroad/ road of any kind and any length as a proof of climbing prowess. Come over here, 2,5h over 100m hills will wear you out like 4h in Alpine. High pulse zones and spinning out on rock edges will make you rethink “steep” Smile
  • 26 0
 Did one day in Whistler this summer and it was well worth it. Here's my suggestion: rent a bike in Squamish before driving up. It's way cheaper (like half the price) and then you can end your day with a lap down Half Nelson, which is poop-your-pants fun.
  • 11 0
 Coastal Culture in Creekside is very good value for bike rental. Rocky Mountain Maiden for $90.
  • 2 0
 Totally worth it. First time we tried any kind of DH my wife & I rented bikes and hired a guide/instructor at Whistler for the whole day. Relatively spendy but a totally fun day. That place is worth whatever time you can get.
  • 7 0
 The only downside is if you run into any mechanical issues. You will then have to pay the shops in Whistler to fix it and wait a while. Whereas they will do it on the spot for free if it's their own bike.
  • 5 0
 If you need to rent consider looking at one of the shops on the Blackcomb (upper village) side. It's 5min walk away from the main village and rentals can be 20% cheaper.
  • 3 0
 One run from Top of the world to A Line at Whistler is worth it more that any Bike Parks in the world!
  • 2 0
 @GloryBoy00: thanks for the input!! Trying to make it to whistler on a budget
  • 1 0
 Definitely don't go with the official rental fleet, the smaller shops have significantly better bikes for similar prices
  • 3 0
 @donpinpon29: Whistler on a budget? Guess you've never been. That said, it doesn't matter how much it costs,it's Whistler!!!
  • 1 0
 @johannjenkinson: That’s a great point.
  • 1 0
 @Zumbi33: used to roadtrips in europe where you can hit 6 bike parks easily. Wondering how much you need to bring your own bike from spain to whistler for lets say 10-14 days. Any idea? Maybe get off the beaten track a bit too
  • 2 0
 @donpinpon29: I'd definitely think about brining a bike for a stay that long. Squamish, Sunshine Coast, North Vancouver, and Bellingham Washington are all right there and the riding is incredible, as well as the scenery and camping. Bring a bike that can pedal rather than a DH bike. Mid-long travel trail bike will slay all of these places.
  • 26 1
 Now answer the real questions like:
What is the optimal size of the mustache for speed to creeiness ratio
  • 86 0
 28.99
  • 3 4
 @pinhead907: Why not just say 29? does -1mm of mustache really allow you to fit in more creepiness?
  • 6 0
 @jstnrt: 1 c-hairs worth.
  • 12 1
 @Robv
I would recommend to go for a nice rental and instructor package combo in Whistler. They will rent you the bike , a full face helmet and pads ect. As well. You will get slotted into a group matching your skill level and be lead by an experienced friendly rider ( probably an Aussie or Kiwi ) with local knowledge. You will be surprised how quickly you will progress in a few runs with some good instruction and fellowship.
You will have a blast and have a better chance in my opinion of the ride ending in beers and not tears. Smile
  • 15 4
 Oh, and if you are from America, the trails are harder than you think. Don't take it personal, it's a Canadian thing.
  • 10 0
 The silliness that passes for expertise at Pinkbike is sometimes mind boggling. The reason a 1x cannot go much lower than 28 or so chain ring is not an imaginary "moment (leverage ratio)". It is simply because even with a 10 cog in the back you simply would not have a high enough gear in front. The only solution is a bigger and bigger cog, so you can put a larger chain ring and have back a decent high gear.

Actually, a better solution might be to put a second chain ring in front! What an idea!!!!!!
  • 33 0
 whenever i try to shift into a bigger chainring my seat magically drops down.
  • 3 0
 @duzzi Hahhah Big Grin yeah when I get old I’ll get dirty pinky granny for trips to the mountains. I’d rather have that than fricking 50t Le Grande Patera Dentata
  • 2 0
 @duzzi : what's imaginary about the leverage ratio?
I agree it's a detail compared to the obvious issue (high gear being too small), but nothing imaginary in that
  • 1 0
 @Uuno: the leverage ratio obviously matter. But it is the ratio that matters not the size of the front chain ring taken by itself. There is no "moment" associated with a smaller chain ring. A bigger front chain ring might reduce friction by some infinitesimal amount, but otherwise it makes no difference to use a 26 or 36, or what used to be a standard 26/28+38, or a dual 36+50 like on many road bikes.
  • 2 0
 @duzzi: d=175mm cranks, you apply F=500N, that's 87.5N.m of torque. That goes into the chain, and the resulting tension in the chain decreases with chainring diameter increase. Let's say 80mm chainring (how many teeth is that?) Implies 1093N on the chain... Etc

So yes, with a chainring twice as small, the chain sees double strain.
  • 2 0
 @Uuno: yes, but so what ... the same happens if you spin at 100 vs 70 rpm. Chains are built to operate with chain rings 22 to 50 ...
  • 1 0
 Moment isn't imaginary. It's well defined in both physics and engineering.

Do you think you could lay down the power on a 10 tooth x 10 tooth drivetrain?
  • 1 0
 @hllclmbr: yes of course it is well defined, too bad that the same effect is referred above both and "moment" and "leverage ratio", which have nothing to do with each other. But the point is, again, that the claim is nonsense. Chains work perfectly fine with 20-22 chain rings.
  • 11 2
 I have a hard time believing the Scalpel’s increased 55mm offset on a 69.5 degree head angle is going to feel better in tech than the reduced 42mm fork offset on a 69.5 head angle like the new Epic. Increased fork offset reduces trail, making steering quicker and less stable. Transition’s SBG is a DH-oriented step to reducing fork offset, and Specialized’s new reduced fork offset Epics are expressly designed around stabilizing a steeper XC head angle. Reduced fork offset has always felt more stable and less reactive to obstacles. 29ers got to increased 51mm fork offset as a de facto standard to “sharpen” their steering when designed for trail use with slacker head angles. Remember 29ers with 72 degree head angles and 44mm offset? It was weird. Now we’re on the next step of progression, which is just-steep-enough head angles for xc racing, stabilized with less fork offset.
  • 1 0
 Yes, this
  • 3 1
 It will change though. The new Spark has geo in the ways of 2012 trail bikes like the first 5010. Unno XC bike goes to 66,5 as far as I am concerned while at the same time they don’t make their bigger bikes super long and slack.
  • 8 1
 I have the Scalpel SE (longer travel, 120/115 version of the SI) which has a 68.5 degree HA and the same 55mm offset lefty, and can only say you have to try it to believe it. It doesn't make any sense on paper, but then when you ride it the bike will surprise you all over the place. It doesn't feel like a slacker bike (I've ridden the fuel ex, evil following, and Santa Cruz Hightower LT for comparison), it just feels...different. And surprisingly capable. Like every time you get into something that the front end won't handle it just does. I dunno if it's the stiffness of the lefty or weird as hell HA and offset but it works.
  • 2 0
 @WAKIdesigns: The scott spark on paper may seem like it's a pretty forgiving trailbike geo based on the HA, but have you ridden one? It's kind of a mesh of geo, 2012 trailbike, and new school 29er xc, as the stack height is low low low, so even given the HA, it makes the spark feel extremely twitchy and I honestly hated it when demoing the scott reps bike. The YETI ASRC was not mentioned by @mikelevy but is a perfect example of trailable xc race bike.. but maybe because it's not in their current line up anymore?
  • 1 0
 @BamaBiscuits: Actually I demoed that same bike, and it did rip downhill pretty good! I completely forgot about that experience.
  • 1 0
 @manchvegas: I did ride one in lower spec, but haven’t ridden one with my own setup, that would be 35 stem and 750 renthals. So stack height wouldn’t bother me.
  • 1 0
 @WAKIdesigns: I can't really describe it, but rode it through my local trails I've been riding for years, and it just was so twitchy and lacked any liveliness. Even on doubletrack it still wasn't as fast as my ASRC and they are about the same weight around 23lbs.
  • 2 0
 @manchvegas: It is probably trailable XC bike then Big Grin If I had some money for a trail bike that I could race XC with from time to time I'd go for Process 111 or Camber Smile So yea I'm with you.

BTW how many of you heard of Sam Hill getiing 7th on Australian XC nationals? I'm shocked and stunned Pinkbike hasn't covered this. Seat all the way up the ass and flats... bejesus... that's impressive in all possible ways: how strong he is and how he hasn't fallen off the bike. Anyone who tried to ride a HT as fast as possible with high seat with flats knows how freaking terrible it is.
  • 7 0
 I feel like whistler isn’t a “one day” type of event. If there is a trip being planned. Try to stay for a couple days. That’ll give you a chance to try all the trails, pick a few you like, and rip as hard as you can. I’ve been there a few times for a total of 2 weeks, still haven’t appreciated the full extent of the place.
  • 2 0
 I was there for two days and rode everything multiple times...one day would have still been a blast.

Not sure how you've been there two weeks and not appreciated the full extent (minus adjacent riding ala Squamish)
  • 4 0
 Sometimes, you gotta take what you can get.
  • 5 1
 I have a Scott Spark RC (100mm, the Spark is 120mm) and am amazed at its technical capability. I'm pushing DH times equal to my old Trance when I use bigger tyres. And I'm faster on it on loops and climbs and descents than any of the many Anthems I've owned. And ignore the extra cables as the TwinLoc is amazing and sets it apart from all others.
  • 2 0
 I couldn't agree more. I love my Spark so much that I ended up buying a Genius for the Bike Park.
  • 8 0
 Capable XC rig: Kona Hei Hei.
  • 2 1
 Came here to say the same. But more important than head angles and fork offsets it's the use of dropper posts,IMO. New bikes with modern geometry need it.
  • 5 0
 Yeah, the current Hei Hei is literally their World Cup race bike and yet it's 68 degrees head angle, super standover, plenty of room for a dropper, VERY shreddable. The Honzo Carbon follows really a similar tack (but it's a hardtail).
  • 1 0
 Agreed. Hei Hei is a very, very capable bike.
  • 1 0
 The Kona Big Unit is a decent XC hardtail, with the same geometry concept, and is made of metal instead of plastic \m/
  • 1 0
 Specialized epic with 120mm fork and dropper
  • 1 0
 Also came here to say this. My 2016 with dropper, short stem, long reach and nice wheels can do tech and go fast (or as fast as my wimp legs can).
  • 1 0
 Even the Kona Process 111
  • 2 0
 @drhodes54: the Process 111 is a fantastic bike, don't get me wrong--one of the most confidence-inspiring bikes I've ever ridden--but it is HEAVY and doesn't pedal well up hills. It is not an XC/marathon-suited machine.
  • 1 0
 @bmck: Yeah fair enough. I only have my 29er plow bike to compare it to, Its all relative.
  • 1 0
 @bmck: Ditto on the 111 - super fun but a bit of a tank for XC. Given how well received it has been, it is surprising that Kona seems to have dropped it from the Process line-up.
  • 4 0
 The Canfield EPO is a frame that is cross country light but has trail bike angles. It's also amazingly fun to ride. You can build them super light if you wish but most people (me included) run them as a very light trail bike with slightly burlier parts.

It is a hardtail though so it has it's limits but I leave my enduro bike home a lot more than I though I would.
  • 1 0
 Mine weighs 25.5lbs with good, AM tires on it and a Pike. The most fun bike I own and surprisingly even more capable than anticipated. I keep setting PRs up and down.
  • 1 0
 Canfield geometry is a riot (I am very sorry)

Seriously though I own a Riot and it's so much more playful--to the point of lunacy--than a 35lb 29er has any right to be
  • 3 0
 Yeah but the Specialized Epic fs also has a 69.5 degree head angle, and because of the 42 mm offset, has a bigger trail number than the Spark and the Rocky mountain and the Scalpel Si. The 55 mm offset on the Scalpel decreases trail.
  • 3 0
 I got addicted to Whistler in one day. First time there was for business. Last 3 times on my own dime. Rent a proper DH rig somewhere in the village ( lots of choices) Hit the green area than like Mike said " go to B- line and Crank it up. If you have your own full face helmet, bring it. I don't like wearing rental helmets. The bikes are fine though. Be prepared to plan a next trip back.
  • 1 0
 And the next...
  • 3 0
 @mikelevy
What do you mean by: 'The new Scalpel has a 69.5-degree head angle, but its Lefty fork sports a proprietary 55mm fork offset that relaxes the steering more than you might think.' ?

I read up on fork offset and trail in the last few days and as far as I understood all of that, increasing the fork offset reduces trail and results in less stability at higher speeds and more maneuverability at lower speeds.

I'm not sure what you refer to.
  • 6 1
 Bike parks your surrounded by people that love bikes, can’t get better than that
  • 2 0
 Last year I did a family trip to NZ and managed to squeeze in one day of riding in Queenstown at the bike park. I was really hoping for shuttle laps on Rude Rock, but even with months of planning it fell apart at the last minute. Having never ridden DH, it was a blast to hit the park. Everyone was super nice, had some amazing scenery and finished the day exhausted with a big smile on my face.
  • 5 0
 Mike - XC Capable Rigs what is your opinion on the Tallboy 3? Or is that too all mountain/trail?
  • 1 0
 I've ridden the new tallboy 3 and the new scalpel si and I felt like the tallboy 3 pedaled slightly better than the scalpel si but also felt way nicer and more fun in techy sections due to the more trail like geo. Only downside of the Tallboy is that it's a bit heavier but unless you're racing Cat 1 or pro level I think its worth it.
  • 1 0
 @21Sauvage: I’m a middle-aged desk jockey that is now in the mode of riding cool events as opposed to going out for pure speed. I currently have a tallboy 2 but would like a little bit more stable geometry given how cross-country races are suddenly getting more difficult. My superfit friend who is approximately 45 pounds lighter than me has a Cannondale scalpel black inc. it’s a fantastic bike but being a frequent shop regular at a Cannondale dealer I’ve seen too many lefties in the fully compressed position to ever trust running one. You can tell me that they’ve improved them, you can tell me that they now more reliable but I always go back to the fact that if I trained for six months for an event and my fork fails I am S-O-L. I have never had an issue with the recent (2000+) rock shox or fox product.
  • 1 0
 As an SC option, dont overlook the Highball. i do a little XC racing and see the Highball always well represented. I upgraded to a 120 fork and love the change. Versatile too.. swapped out the Fox 120 for an ENVE solid fork and did a roadie century in under 6 hrs.. including blowing a tire while manualing over some RR tracks showing off to the pelaton.
  • 1 0
 Specialized epic with 120mm fork and dropper. Capable as
  • 1 0
 @21Sauvage: I actually own a TB3 and I agree with you that is is a great bike, but it is on the heavier side. The frame honestly seems almost overbuilt, which is fine by me as I have snapped carbon frames before.
  • 1 0
 TB3 is awesome. There are people who have won XCM races on them, but it is an inherently heavy frame. However, the bike can be stripped down pretty well and made into a fairly light XC whip. Wheels, fork, dropper...they can all be changed for a lighter one to drop the weight.
  • 2 0
 I have the TRS cassette with a 9t rear cog and a 28t up front. It's nice having a tiny ring, but when you are in 28:9, you get a lot more chain slap than with bigger rings because the chain sits so close to the stay. My Patrol has good protection on the stay, but it is super noisy
  • 5 0
 Fascinating info about the leverage ratio on chains!
  • 4 0
 A few years back a buddy of mine had a broken front derailleur and could only use his granny gear. He ended up snapping one of the rear cogs (4th or 5th gear back in the days of 9speeds) clean in half pedaling as a result of the extra tension that could be put on the drivetrain despite the same gear ration. @samuelthecamel
  • 1 0
 @surfhard987: I think it had more to do with the high torque engine powering my bike! and no it wasnt an e-bike
  • 1 0
 No Matter how many days you spend in Whistler, it wont feel like enough. You'll kick yourself later, if you're there and dont ride. Even for one day. I've been lucky enough to have visited Whistler 7 times. ranging from 3 days to 12 days at a time. Departing is always depressing.
  • 1 0
 Absolute Black makes a 26T narrow wide that fits a 64BCD crank, which paired with an 11-40 cassette is pretty dang close to 24x36 gearing or a 26T with an 11-42 is about the same as 22x36. The top speed is still trash though, which is why we use huge cassettes. With a 22 or 24T on an 11-36 cassette you will easily spin out on the flats. A 30 or 32T chainring with a 10-50 Eagle will get you comparable climbing gears but with a much better top speed.
  • 2 0
 I haven't seen a Scalpel Si review here on PinkBike lately. But recently I rode it and it's amazing how that machine helps you trough almost each surface.
  • 2 0
 Sprocket size 28t front and sprocket size 14t on the rear anything else is just a huge lie being sold to you by some industry knobjockeys.
  • 3 1
 You forgot to mention it climbs like a demon and decends like a goat. Also, carbon.
  • 1 0
 Definitely go riding there for the day! Just be careful you don't f*** yourself up. Everybody gets amped up and mangles themself in Whistler...
  • 1 0
 Pyga Stage is also an interesting XC race bike with 69.5 head angle and pretty short chain stay. Worth checking out.
www.pygaindustries.com/product/stage/#frame
  • 1 0
 Also check out the new Giant Anthem 29. I test rode that bike and it felt awesome. The rear suspension feels endless for a 100mm bike. I will definitely consider it as my next XC bike.
  • 3 2
 I run a 26 tooth on front. 11-36 9speed on back. Works awesome and is super cheap
  • 7 0
 I guess that you have no interest in riding fast?
  • 1 1
 @turbohippy: I ride faster than most
  • 1 0
 Whistler Bike Park is fun, but the non-lift access trails (and Whistler has tonnes of them) are even better.
  • 1 0
 You'd need a 6t small cog on your cassette to get any speed out of a 24t chainring and that's not going to happen.
  • 1 0
 Whistler mid-week off season late Sept. early Oct. best bet...but stupid expensive...trip of a life time thoughSmile
  • 1 0
 I'll add another bike to the aggro XC race category, the BMC Agonist. Looks pretty good on paper...
  • 1 0
 what is the best place to ride in Australia /NSW because some people are aussies
  • 1 0
 Someday I will make it to whistler, but then I will want to go back right?
  • 10 12
 @Robv Why not skip the park and ride the incredible self-propelled trails in Whistler, Pemberton, Squamish instead? You will have a much more memorable time and the risk of injury will be much lower.
  • 4 2
 See that attitude is gonna make my local trails way busier.

Keep the tourists in the bike park. (Although half nelson was sorta made to keep the tourists off the rest of our trails)
  • 4 0
 Wow. You sure got down voted! Noone wants to hear an alternate opinion.

But I'm with you. My family had a few days in whistler and we hated the place. I guess good if you're into Canadian Tourism(tm) but many many other places in Canada I'd rather ride my bike, but then I like going up hills.
  • 1 0
 Is the Remedy in the pic being tested?
  • 2 0
 That picture is from their GX Eagle first look. And since it's running SRAM wheels, and not the stock bontrager wheels, I'd guess it was a whole bike built up by SRAM for the test ride, not a trek remedy review bike.
  • 1 0
 @JaredHarzan: TBH, I wondered about the Sram wheels, but was hopeful...
  • 1 0
 Great questIons. Great answers.
  • 6 6
 One day in whistler is like having one day in Disney land.
  • 13 0
 Still better than 0 days.
  • 4 2
 how can the best bike park compare to a theme park?????
  • 3 1
 @dirtmiester: Bike parks your surrounded by people that love bikes, can’t get better than that
  • 6 0
 Not quite,whistlers cheaper, the lines are alot shorter, and the foods better!
  • 9 0
 That's like saying "one day in heaven is like having one day in hell."
  • 2 0
 @goytay: And also not entirely lame. Whistler's always gotten my money, Disney's only had it once.
  • 3 0
 DISMALAND sadface place.
  • 1 0
 Hold my beer!
  • 2 0
 And living there is like working in someone else’s Disneyland. But you don’t do it for the money and prestige. You do it for the days off.
  • 4 1
 @BiNARYBiKE: I would pay money not to go to Disneyland and I would give half of my pink toe for one day in Whistler if that make any sense.
  • 1 0
 @robv
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