You Say Progression, I Say Potato - Sunday Comics with Taj Mihelich

Jan 24, 2020 at 12:48
by Taj Mihelich  
The mountain bike from the future, the Grim Donut, meets a BMX bike designed the same way.

Like the rest of you, I’ve been anxiously following along with the development of the Grim Donut. This forward-thinking bike takes current trends towards their obvious conclusion. The whole “long, low, slack” thing must be working because riders just keep going bigger and bigger. I keep an eye on my old stomping grounds, the BMX world, and I find it very interesting that the geometry trends seem to be going the opposite direction. "Shorter, taller and steeper" seems to be the motto of the day.

Sure, there is plenty of close to the ground, techie, curb-nibbling going on, but BMX riders are also going bigger than ever before. I saw a bunch of it first hand visiting the Vans Pro Cup events last year. Headtubes have steepened to as much as 76.5º, chainstays that were near 16-inch in the early 90’s have now shortened by almost 3 inches, and sub-8 inch rise bars with a drop stem have been replaced with more than 10-inch tall bars on riser stems!

Extrapolating from those trends is pretty comical.

BMX bike of the future.

I am slowly learning to get along with the mellow steering angles on modern mountain bikes.

Long, low and slack.

The one thing I really don't like about modern geo is that the low BB height means I sometimes bash my pedals on the ground. That odd bob of suspension that results in a jolt from a rock or root I didn't expect my foot to hit freaks me out. I realize this is mostly self-inflicted. I insist on big platform pedals and 175mm cranks (down from the 180s I had to have on my BMX), and I'm sure I don't know how to set up my suspension (and I've gotten fat).

Rather than continuing to complain about it, I have turned to the power of engineering to overcome my rider errors. I'm sure I'm not the only one waiting for this solution.

Full Suspension Pedal design. #probablygoingtopatent

Actually, there's one more thing I don't really like about the "long, low, slack" movement. When I do hop back on my BMX, which I admit is shamefully rare, it feels crazy! The contrast of the way a modern mountain bike handles compared to a BMX is gigantic. I actually have a complete theory about how it is easy to go from small bikes to big bikes, but not vice versa. I'll have to draw that someday.

20 years as a pro-BMXer and thanks to long-low-slack MTBs, my little bike now feels near unrideable.

There are lots of different kinds of mountain bikes of course! There are ones that are less on-trend and loads of different flavors. It can be quite confusing to keep track of them all. You might not even know what kind of mountain bike you have.

Confused by all the different styles of mountain bikes?



96 Comments

  • 264 3
 The chart is brilliant..Great work TAJ!
  • 25 0
 I always love a good flowchart
  • 40 0
 "Do you think Motocross is cool" and "Oh Goodness, you've actually owned a waterbed haven't you" have me giggling every time I read them. Very well done Taj!
  • 7 1
 It's so correct
  • 8 0
 Incredibly accurate and hilarious
  • 22 0
 I couldn't figure out Trail vs XC vs Down Country until now. This makes perfect sense
  • 3 1
 It's awesome, but my bike isn't in there, which makes me feel left out.
  • 5 0
 @MorganBH: Definitely needs a branch for old hipsters on 26" hardtail singlespeeds, and another for young(er) hipsters on slack 29" hardtails.
  • 3 0
 That is like a ifht(or whatever that acronym video group calls themselves) video flowchart. That is absolutely hilarious. I think this is probably my favorite thing you've posted on PB. Spot on.
  • 3 0
 @MtbSince84: Hardtail 26ers aren't just the preserve of hipsters, some of us can't afford a new bike. Plus, my Cotic BFe is a beast, why change just to follow a trend?
  • 1 1
 @MtbSince84: all hardtailers except for dirt jumpers follow answer that says " Yes, I am wearing spandex out in the open"
  • 67 0
 Droppery cranks, 175 for climbing, flick a switch, 125 for the descent.
  • 5 1
 Mad as adjustable crank lengths sound I think I would be up for that. Maybe just me though?
  • 39 0
 You guys really strike pedals on downhills? I always have that problem while trying to manage my way up technical climbs...
  • 1 0
 @jimoxbox: I think it was done in the 90s but not on the fly
  • 1 0
 @jimoxbox: I think would be a great idea if could adjust crank length without it happening when you did not want it to happen?
  • 1 1
 @5afety3rd: 80s with first shimano dx cranks
  • 15 0
 @Boosting: same, 99% on the tech climbs 1% on the downhills but that 1% normally requires that I change my underwear.
  • 1 0
 Yeah, I've suggested it a couple of times. One concept is hydraulic where the positive chamber of one crank links to the negative chamber of the other (and you can open/close the port using some kind of gyro near the bb). The other concept is where both cranks are four bar linkages where one link has a pivot concentric through the bb where it links to the other crank. There would be different ways to open/lock this one.
  • 3 0
 The full sus pedals should be electric so when you bash them on the ground you get a little boost
  • 1 0
 @Boosting: that should be on the flowchart somewhere
  • 1 0
 @vinay: Think some one will make something like that, especially on e-bike since already has a gyro on it already!
Also get battery gyros that are just a fly wheel, that can run for days?
  • 1 0
 @Boosting: Mine have come from trying to maintain speed in flat-ish sections. In the land of the rocks, they all start looking the same, complacency sets in and next thing you know you are on the ground.
  • 14 0
 Same here. After a hiatus from BMX I took up mountain biking. I ride XL 29ers these days. I was visiting my parents' house and decided to bring out the ol'BMX, a 98 HB Taj btw. My knees protruded beyond the bars when I pedaled. Trying to manual resulted in instantly looping out. It felt more like a skateboard than a bicycle. I cannot fathom trying to jump that bike now. I've thought about picking up a 22" wheeled BMX with a long top tube but maybe I'll just stick with my comfy wagon wheelers from now on.
  • 5 0
 You're probably better off with a 24" DJ
  • 8 0
 I'm riding a 24 DJ with a rigid fork but, those 22 BMX's feel niiice
  • 2 2
 When I am actually not broken and able to ride (whuch since late 2017, has been minimal at best) I have had zero issues shredding a 29er trail bike one day, my 26/27.5" DH bike the next morning, bit of DJ and pump track on my 26" DJ and then jumping on my eldest sons 20" at the indoor park. Yes I admit it feels awkward gling between wheel sizes etc for about the first 5 minutes, but then everything evens out. Actually, the day I broke my arm which started all these issues I have, I did DH runs in the AM, then went straight to the BMX track and rode 20, 24 and 26" before I decided I was going to race 24", was a stupid mistake put of the gate that cost me speed and ended up nose diving into the face of the landing on the first jump, fwlt equally comfortable on all wheel sizes that day, just an error in judgement broke me haha
  • 3 0
 Agreed. I didn’t ride BMX seriously when I was younger, so I don’t have any muscle memory to fall back in. I’m completely at home on my 26” DJ, but my son’s BMX is a bridge too far. I can ride it, and it’s a ton of fun, but I always feel like it’s about half a second from dumping me.

I’ve hopped on a couple 22s and those felt much more natural. Still fun, still flickable, but without the chihuahua-level nervousness.
  • 2 0
 I ride a little street geo bmx and I love the thing. I mostly ride our own backwoods jump trail on the mtb and long, low and slack isn’t really the recipe for success there. MTBs are also really expensive to be bailing a ditching into rocks and stuff. Seriously considering getting a 22” instead of the mtb but haven’t ridden one yet. A slightly bigger bmx with a brake that’ll actually stop the bike could be the one.
  • 3 0
 Not to change the subject but, RUBENS NEW PROJECT!! OH MY DAYS!! Big Grin
  • 1 1
 @nojzilla: Right?? Looks amazing. 22” BMX are the future (I hope)
  • 1 0
 I went 24" BMX with a tallish bar setup and it only takes a second to get used to it. You lose some maneuverability (compared to a 20") but it still feels like a proper BMX compared to any mtb. The stupid tall handlebar trend I cannot understand, I found 10" bars with a drop stem and no headset spacers are pretty comfy though.
  • 16 0
 I think the mini suspension for the anti pedal strike full sus pedals might be the next big market opportunity
  • 12 0
 Specialized's lawyers are preparing their lawsuit against Taj.
  • 3 0
 Linkage suspension pedals are the future bro.
  • 11 0
 @scjeremy: the next big PB article: "Horst link vs DW link, which pedals are better?"
  • 2 0
 Except that he's gone for a proprietary pull-shock on the rear. WTH, dude?!?
  • 1 0
 @SJP: Its the Cannondale Jekyll all over again
  • 18 5
 Love it Taj! I am going the other way around, coming from being a total loser on a mountain bike I discovering the blessing that short wheelbase is. I could kind of manual, then got a DJ and after initial shock got better at it. But then I saw a few Insta accounts of BmX racers and bought race BMX ... started to commute on it to learn to control such short wheelbase (still much longer than a “park” BMX). I couldn’t pull anything longer than 3 pumps. Then got back on a DJ and I didn’t use rear brake for manualing more than 10 times since then...

The reality is folks good at BMX and DJ get good at MTB quickly. Cornering comes quickly and MtB Cardio is much faster to develop than learning to whip. Now folks who started riding MTBs... they never get the style, they just don’t...
  • 4 0
 WD is so right on this topic !
  • 2 0
 Worse for kids that start on a “grom” full sus Frown
  • 1 0
 @arthom: it depends. In most cases yes, I agree with you, but for a park rat kid that rides more park in a year than most of us in a lifetime, it will not be as bad as a kid who rides park twice year and rides FS exclusively.
  • 2 0
 Yep, most lifelong BMX'ers are are pretty easy to notice on the mountainbike, preferring to move the bike underneath them. The long, low, an slack trend is the results of people not learning on a BMX bike and using the lean back and close you eyes and hope the bike makes it through method.
  • 3 0
 @OnTheRivet: most people simply Don’t know any better. They probably never rode a BMX or DJ for any meaningful period of time. They don’t ride in skateparks or on dirt jumps, and I mean steep stuff, not some mounds from friday fails. I bought my first DJ bike 12 years after I started riding. Got the head out of my ass and went to humiliate myself in the skate park. Didn’t get too far but the boost in skill on MTB was evident. Then got to dirt jumps and can’t get enough of it. I almost stopped riding in the woods, yet everytime I am hitting lifts on big bike I am faster and faster. And I don’t mean big jump lines, I mean mainly proper DH tracks. As you say it’s about letting the bike move under the rider, being comfortable with it doing some weird angles, at the same time hitting stuff being leaned at all angles. There are countless posts on all forums how to be better on steeps - get a DJ and hit quarters. If you can drop into big quarters, steeps on long travel bikes are easy.
  • 7 0
 The 1990’s all terrain all the way!
  • 5 1
 I’ve got a 2000 C-Dale F700 that I’m reshooting in viper red with ghost flames, complete with a rebuilt Headshok fork and all new factory decals! I’m gonna use it as my commuter bike. The ghost flames were a must because I’d read that ghost flames get you to work 28.99% faster.
  • 3 0
 man i'm still rocking a SC Chamaleon from 2001-2003 as my Xc bike
  • 2 0
 @fattyheadshok: I have a handful of similar vintage Cannondales. After some geometry updates, like short 31.8 Headshok stems, they make brilliant urban rollers.
  • 1 0
 ATB was a well used term in the 80's
  • 2 0
 @panchocampbell: I’ve got a custom built steel hard tail from 2003.
  • 1 0
 @TwoNGlenn: also shortened the stem for a 50mm one and it rocks, it still has 3x9 and v brakes, all Deore LX
  • 2 0
 I mostly ride street nowadays instead of dh (still do both). Switching isn't bad. Going to DH the confidence boost is great from a big heavy bike, and going back to bmx I pump harder. The sizing doesn't bother me too much although I need like 15 mins to get confidence back to carve hard on the bmx

It helped me with a lot of balance and bike handling skills I was lacking coming from mainly riding xc
  • 3 0
 This was one of the funniest ones youv'e done yet, Taj! Funny enuf to get a chuckle outta me a 5:30 AM PST, which is really something. I even used an exclamation point. Thank you.
  • 2 0
 Man, the 2009 Transition Dirt Bag I'm still rocking has the short lived spec 1.5 head tube with a 1.5 steer tube Totem... and I thought I was old skool. TIME Z pedals are old as dirt.. cant for the life of remember when I got them but, they're still smooth as silk.
  • 2 0
 I ride both my mtb and bmx on a regular basis in 3/4 of the year. In winter I pretty much only ride my bmx in indoor parks and it's a fun change. The geo of my bmx is pretty modern and extreme (wtp doomsayer, 10 inch rise bars, etc...) but I love the fact that it actually helps for bike control when I get back on my ''regular'' mtb (process 153 cr 27.5). If anything it helps being more comfortable on the mtb and helps for tricks like bunnyhops, manuals along our trails
  • 1 0
 This is great. I remember all the cool guys in BMX back in the day had super low and super narrow bars, even cutting their Slam bars down. With taller and wider bars, people made fun of you and called them "Gary Ellis" bars. Trends come and go
  • 1 0
 remember the Fit/S&M ad with Dugan and the giant bars?

www.youtube.com/watch?v=apSd1nrRLus
  • 1 0
 Quite often in the summer I'll ride DH all morning and BMX in the evening. The first 10 min on the BMX feels like I'm learning how to ride all over again. Going from a 63 degree headtube and 8in of a squish straight to the BMX has led to many a crashes.
  • 2 0
 For real, I can barely deal with how twitchy the HA feels on my BMX for the first 10 mins at the skatepark... but, I’m not giving up my 64 degree MTB!
  • 1 0
 @tajlucas Chart is bang on. I second your feeling & look forward to your theory regarding bmx bikes feeling crazy once you go long low and slack. I got a 22" bike for this reason lately
  • 3 0
 LOL I like the difference between trail bike and endure
  • 3 0
 "Oh goodness, you've actually owned a waterbed" :-) by the way YES ! LMAO
  • 2 0
 You too!? Oh I don't miss those days Smile
  • 2 0
 @JarrodB: Fall asleep with something sharp in your pocket and drown!
  • 1 0
 That Mountain Bike chart is great, sadly I knew I was downcountry before then the spandex under clothing confirmed it. Awesome.
  • 1 0
 my really old skool ride is my Breezer Lightning --- wheels are still round but soooooo much different than today's products
  • 1 0
 Anyone else thinking that pinkbike is stretching the grimm donut story like its made of gum? not that interesting...
cool chart tho...
  • 1 0
 You hope on your bike and it should feels like a waterbed, but you've got it set up so stiff that it doesn't, in less you huck to flat from 10 feet in the air...
  • 2 0
 That chart at the bottom is excellent!! Smile
  • 2 0
 Lol guacshox on the grim donut.
  • 1 0
 The flow chart has addressed 99.99% of the debates on PB. Where doeth one go from here?
  • 1 0
 Did Levy vaporize on that Grim donut test ride? Inquiring minds want to know.
  • 1 0
 Enough of the slow release! When will we be able to buy these in a book?? Christmas gifts would be a snap
  • 1 0
 Fingers crossed someone just frankenstyles the bmx and mountain bike together...
  • 1 3
 I am not having a pedal strike problem on my 2019 TRANSITION Patrol. I did have some pedal strike problems on other bikes that I demo'd. I think it's all about how the suspension is designed and tuned.
  • 1 0
 Head Angle isn't slack enough on the full suspension pedal...
  • 1 0
 You should probably have two different HAs on that pedal suspension to account for the wedge foot position, you know, while we're nerding out
  • 1 0
 That flowchart had me in tears. So. Funny.
  • 1 0
 I like the idea of taking things extremely, but?
  • 1 0
 Thank you for this, I look forward to these every Sunday.
  • 1 0
 Can relate to the bike change. Felt that between my big hit and a S.S.
  • 1 0
 i miss those awesome drawings from @WAKIdesigns
  • 1 0
 in the first pic the Grim Donut doesn't have a dropper! Oh nooooooo!
  • 1 0
 The chart and pedals are genius.
  • 1 0
 OMG. I did own a water bed.
  • 1 0
 Love it, Taj. Really good stuff this week! Big Grin
  • 1 0
 @Taj Mihelich
Dear taj,
170mm cranks and hope f20 pedals.
  • 1 0
 But my downhill bike actually has a pretty good pedaling platform.
  • 1 0
 "Like out in the open"...classic!
  • 1 0
 You forgot a linkage fork on the mountainbike of the future.
  • 1 0
 im having that chart poster on my mancave
  • 1 1
 Patent that pedal asap before the bike industry steals it
  • 1 0
 FS pedal is genius!
  • 1 0
 That was pretty funny.

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