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.
In this case, a Google search will probably just end up making you more confused than when you started. Choosing the right bike size isn't as easy as it once was, but with a little research and a few test rides your chances of getting a bike that fits you perfectly are better than ever.
The best place to start is by looking at the manufacturer's geometry chart for the bike you're interested in. In many cases, there will be a list of recommended heights for each size, which will provide a good starting point. However, things get a little trickier when you find yourself between sizes, which is going to be a common occurrence given your height. 5'10” is typically right between a medium and a large, and you'll need to look at a few other numbers and think about your riding style before deciding which way to go. This is when a knowledgeable local shop can be an asset – they should be able to talk you through the differences in each size and help you make a decision.
I'd also recommend demoing a bike before you buy whenever possible, whether that's by attending an organized event, through a shop, or just snagging a buddy's bike for a ride or two. Riding both sizes of the bike you're considering will make it a lot easier to come to a final decision.
If you decided to go a little further down the geometry rabbit hole, one of the numbers that you'll see tossed around when talking about frame size is 'reach.' Reach is the horizontal distance from the center of the bottom bracket to the center of the head tube. That number is used to provide an indication of how long the bike will feel when you're standing out of the saddle, the position you should be in while descending. It doesn't tell the whole story, but it's something you can use to compare two different bikes and get a rough idea of what might work best for you. There are other geometry numbers that are worth paying attention to, like the seat tube angle and effective top tube length, but visiting a local shop and ride a whole bunch of bikes to see what works for you is the best tactic to avoid getting too overwhelmed by numbers and opinions.
Bike sizing can get confusing due to the fact that every manufacturer's geometry numbers vary slightly.
Tough & Cheap Rain Jackets?
Question:@captainjack07 asks in the Bikes, Parts & Gear Forum: Is there a wet weather riding jacket for dh/enduro/bikepark that can withstand a crash or two? I guess I'm thinking something waterproof or really water-resistant, fairly breathable, maybe tougher materials on the elbows/forearms, and doesn't cost $200-$400 because, well, I'm going to crash in it (and I am not a dentist). There's a chance whatever I buy doesn't even make it through an entire day before I destroy it. So, is there anything out there like this? What do you all wear or suggest?
Waterproof, breathable, and tough is a tricky combination to find when it comes to rain jackets, especially since many of them are designed to be lightweight and packable rather than being able to withstand cartwheeling through blackberry bushes.
You didn't mention what your budget is, but there are plenty of options in the $80 - $100 range that should do the trick. I'm a fan of Marmot's Precip jacket – it's simple and effective, with pit zips to help with ventilation, and it's easy to find it on sale for well under $100. The fabric is moderately tough, but don't expect miracles - it can still rip if you end up sliding through a boulder field or run right into a spear-like branch. If that's too much money, secondhand will be the way to go. Outdoor stores often have a consignment section, where you might be able to score one of those expensive jackets for a fraction of the price.
If you somehow found a nice dentist that was willing to buy you a $200 jacket, Leatt's DBX 5.0 would be my recommendation. It's not light, and I wouldn't really want to pedal around in it all day, but the fabric is incredibly tough, and should be able to handle all of your crash-filled rides.
On that note, if you do find a cheap rain coat, it might be worth investing the money you saved in a lesson or two. Crashing every once in a while is expected, but if you're regularly flying off your bike there's probably room for improvement in your technique. And just think how much longer your equipment would last if you spent less time rolling around on the ground...
There's a massive number of rain jacket options out there, some that are much better suited to the rigors mountain biking than others.
I’m 5’10, 190 lbs with gear, I ride pretty hard. I ride a variety of trails including steep, loamy and rocky chutes, big drops, very fast chattery sections, as well as mostly flat XC style trails.
When I’m riding in the more technical trails the bike obviously usually feels much better all around compared to the XC trails considering the geometry. However on any drop more than like 3 feet as well as just jumping around the trail the bike tends to bottom out harshly. I have the largest volume spacer in the shock running around 200 psi. Is there any way to further increase the progressivity of the shock? Any suggestions to make the bike feel more planted and comfortable without running lower pressures? I’ve messed about with the rebound and I think I’ve got it feeling pretty good on 90% of the time.
Any other shocks that might help? I’ve looked into MRP's progressive coil, seems like a good option to me considering the more planted feel of a coil with a more progressive design. Would that be more progressive than an air shock with a lot of tokens? Transition says the sentinel has quite a linear design...
The first step that I'd take is to check the amount of sag . Transition recommends running between 32-35%, but if you've already maxed out the number of volume spacers, the next step is to try slightly higher air pressure. Give it a try with 25% sag and see if that helps. It'll feel a little firmer throughout the entire stroke, but hopefully that extra support will help keep you from blowing through the travel as easily. It's worth checking your fork setup while you're at it – if you're running it extremely firm, that could be forcing your weight further back, and causing you to put more force into the rear shock than a more balanced set up would.
As far as potential upgrades, I'd recommend against a coil shock, even one with a progressive coil. As you mentioned, the Sentinel has a fairly linear suspension curve, which means that there's a chance you'd still need to overspring it in order to avoid having the same problem that you're already experiencing. A Float X2 would be my recommendation. You'd gain the ability to adjust high-speed compression and rebound, but the biggest selling point is the newer version's generous bottom-out bumper. That bumper makes it nearly impossible to experience a harsh bottom out, which is exactly what you're looking for. You'll need a 205 x 57.5mm shock, which can be a little harder to find, but a good shop should be able to reduce the stroke length of a 205 x 60mm shock for you by adding in a 2.5mm spacer.
Once upon a time, I had a "Mud Shine" orange-based degreaser that worked very well to clean my gears and chain. But since I run out of it, I am struggling to find a good replacement. Most degreasers I buy are not actually able to dissolve the grease that accumulates e.g. on the shifter gears; if I spray them on a toothbrush and then brush the gears, and then I spray water on the toothbrush, the toothbrush is still completely gunky, a sign that the so-called degreaser is not dissolving the grease. Most "degreasers" I find for sale are some kind of mild soap, which is rather unable to dissolve wax/oil residue.
Can anyone recommend a good degreaser for bike chains and gears that actually dissolves the grease?
I'm a little confused by your evaluation methods. I'd focus more on what the derailleur pulleys look like after you scrub them, rather than examining the toothbrush you're scrubbing them with to determine the effectiveness of a degreaser, but that's just me.
I try to avoid harsh solvents when it comes to bike cleaning. A bucket of warm water with some Dawn liquid dish soap squirted into it is really all it takes to clean up a filthy bike. Simple Green diluted with water in a spray bottle works well too, and you can purchase a gallon of the stuff for next to nothing. Yes, there are stories floating around about how it can affect chain strength, but unless you soak parts in it for months at a time there's nothing to worry about. There's also no need to do a full deep clean after every single ride, especially if it wasn't particularly muddy, and in many cases a light hose down and a wipe with a rag is all that's required to get your bike ready for its next outing.
One easy way to reduce the time spent cleaning your drivetrain is to avoid applying too much lube to your chain, and to avoid lubes that build up and create a grimy, greasy mess. My personal favorite is Dumonde Tech's Lite chain lube. I'll apply it every couple of rides depending on how many puddles I've been splashing through, and the amount of gunk that builds up on the cassette, chainring, and pulley wheels remains fairly minimal.
Fancy cleaners aren't required to keep your bike looking fresh.