Issue 143: Things that are important on a bike, in order.

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Benji is here to persuade you not to spend lots of money, except where you should. Words: Benji This feature is intended to be a helpful guide – or reminder – to invest in some things more than others. This often involves spending money on things that aren’t very exciting. Items that give you very little retail therapy thrill. Stuff that often you resent spending any money on at all. I should at this point patronise you by coming out with something annoying and cutesy along the lines of: “The most important things are actually not on the bike at all.” Then I should blather on about the importance of bike set-up. Decent clothing. And fitness or attitude or some such yadda yadda. I’m not going to do that. You either know all that already. Or you don’t want to hear it. So let’s get back to the point of this feature. Here is an ordered list of the stuff that needs to be decent on your mountain bike. Are you ready? Here goes. 1. Brakes. 2. Tyres. 3. Everything else. The world’s greatest mountain bike is rendered rubbish if its brakes aren’t up to the job. You literally can’t ride a lot of trails if you don’t have good brakes. This is almost the same case with tyres. But I’d argue that even without decent tyres – and a modicum of skill/luck/bravery – you can still ride pretty much most things if you have the brakes to back you...

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Viewing 16 posts - 1 through 16 (of 16 total)
  • Issue 143: Things that are important on a bike, in order.
  • Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    But brakes are equally as subjective too aren’t they.

    Do you want instant bits like a set of Formula Oro, or do you want level travel before bite like a set of SRAM Guid Rs… or do you want the infinite changes of reach, throw, bite that a set of Hope gives.

    Or even do you care about Mineral vs Dot….

    That’s not even forgetting pad type… cooling, finned, bigger rotors, smaller rotors…

    It’s all very very much personal preference isn’t it.

    Premier Icon JAG
    Full Member

    Ya see – I’d put tyres first and brakes second

    Brakes are no good if the tyres are crap – the wheel will lock up and the tyre will slide and you won’t slow down (much)

    Otherwise I agree with the rest of your guidance :o)

    Premier Icon trailrunner
    Full Member

    shifters vs mech is so spot on – and opposite to the manufacturer’s let’s bling the mech approach
    spend the money on the bit that you feel rather than the bit that gets torn off in rock strikes 😀

    Premier Icon whatyadoin sucka
    Free Member

    contact points, saddle, grip, tyres, shoe/pedal combo

    Premier Icon teethgrinder
    Full Member

    Anyone who thinks an NX or SX mech is just as good as >GX is a Heed-the-Ball. >GX is lighter and will not develop the pivot slop in 3 rides like NX/SX.

    Premier Icon Neal Taylor
    Full Member

    I’m all in with the shifter. All the good bits of the mech happen at the shifter, multi drops and raises, all at the shifter. Beautiful tactile feel and action, lever again. Always annoys me when a XT mech gets a Deore shifter on a factory spec bike. Give me a XT shifter, and a Deore mech, and when it gets mullered, I’ll tick an SLX on there. And if its a SRAM, I’ll wait to the whole lot implodes of its own desire and get Shimano.

    And Grips. Got the FAT Ergon grips in January, and they are amazing. More comfort, less pain, more miles and smiles. Brakes and tyres are good, but what if one day is a slopfest from the depths of a biblical flood, and tomorrow is a baked gravel hardpack rockfest of a desert cliff? Think I’d rather have comfort both days. That takes me on to saddles. Saddles are nice. Defiantly better than just a post. That would hurt. But if I had good bib shorts on, how much does the saddle matter? And what shape is my arse? Is it M/L or Wide? Are my sit bone here or there, or under that 13% Porter I drank last week? And again, is it at the right height?

    Wheels. Nice wheels are nice. I can’t afford lots though, so I need nice do everything go everywhere be ace all the time wheels. Not sure how I can quantify what they are, so I’m in your hands MTB Journos. Do I go Hope, Hunt I9? 32 or 36 spokes, carbon, alloy or a mad mix? is 29 or 30 better, should I mullet and mix widths?

    In hindsight, the 90’s where much easier. Everything was newer, lighter, faster and purple. Also it was all bobbins compared to now, and even somewhere in-between then and now. Not sure where this post is going now, going to bugger off and get a map and plan a ride for tomorrow in the Peaks. With my wrong shifters, inappropriate tyres, poorly sized wheels, but nice grips, comfy shorts and hopefully have a blast, find a nice pub/cafe and talk bolloxs to other people who also have no idea if the bike is the right one, or the wrong one.

    Mountain Biking is ace.

    Premier Icon whatyadoin sucka
    Free Member

    nolt wrong with NX @teethgrinder
    keeps the costs of a santa cruz below £7k mark..

    strip it off and stick shimano on :0)

    Premier Icon weeksy
    Full Member

    NX on our Status works perfectly….

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    Agree on the tyres, although cheap tyres are better than expensive tyres of a few years ago, and infinitely better than their plasticky forebears. Running 2nd tier/OEM spec rear tyre that cost £14 is just fine (but do pair it with a £40 one up front).

    Suspension, send the shock off for a service and custom tune. Expensive shocks have lots of adjustment, but it’s the right settings that make you fast. Forks there’s slightly more value in as you just wont have enough adjustment to balance them with the rear.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    I’ve ridden with bad brakes (we all did in the 90s), I’ve ridden with bad tyres. But the thing that dumped me over the bars far more than those was bad geometry.

    Why anyone is riding around with anything less than 203mm rotors front and rear is beyond me?


    Seriously, the simple act of installing a Shimano XTR shifter on ANY bike will have an amazing effect on your experience of said bike.

    No, can’t be.

    Premier Icon twotonpredator
    Full Member

    I agree with all points in the article. Personally i’d throw pedals into the mix too. I now can’t get along with any SPD’s which dont have a full-on platform.

    Premier Icon tomparkin
    Free Member

    I think I would also go tyres then brakes on the list of importance.

    An insufficiently grippy tyre (or indeed an overly draggy one) can be disheartening throughout a ride, whereas brakes I tend to find you home in on how fast they let you go and then work in that envelope relatively happily.

    I agree with @molgrips about geometry, although it’s arguably not a “thing on a bike”. Or maybe it is if you look at the frame as just another component. IDK.

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    I think your head / brain trumps all the above. I had just as much fun on bikes when all the tyres / brakes / wheels / saddles were relatively primitive and frankly a bit rubbish. As a species we’re become tragically obsessed with material objects at the expense of the subjective experience.

    I’m not saying componentry doesn’t matter, that would be daft, but I’ve met so many people who’ve become fixated on finding the perfect brakes / tyres / shifters etc at the expense of simply getting out and enjoying riding. I think it’s a bit of a shame really and it’s a pity the media carries on stoking this obsession with kit.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon
    Full Member

    I’d change it to “spend the minimum required to make sure the ride isn’t ruined”.

    So my winter bike cost me £150, of which 1/3 was the tyres.

    My winter clothing at a rough count (excluding year round stuff like helmets, glasses, etc) comes to £350, without a rain jacket!

    Sliding round corners is an inevitability, being cold and miserable while doing it isn’t.

    I’d agree that good tyres are a good place to allocate your budget. But if you’ve just bought a new bike and the saddle isn’t comfortable, then don’t upgrade perfectly adequate OEM tyres to some reviewers “best on test” at the expense of actually being able to enjoy the ride in the first place.

    Seriously, the simple act of installing a Shimano XTR shifter on ANY bike will have an amazing effect on your experience of said bike.

    This statement was not brought to you by anyone who’s ridden a single-speed.

    Premier Icon crazy-legs
    Full Member

    That’s actually a very amusing and well-written article Mr H. 🙂

    I’m not saying componentry doesn’t matter, that would be daft, but I’ve met so many people who’ve become fixated on finding the perfect brakes / tyres / shifters etc at the expense of simply getting out and enjoying riding. I think it’s a bit of a shame really and it’s a pity the media carries on stoking this obsession with kit.

    There was a guy on another forum who’d taken early retirement and seemed to have this fairly loose plan of buying the World’s Bestest Ever Bike and cycling round the world based, from what we could tell, largely on the ramblings of one blog. He would pop up every now and again on the forum asking about “the best” this, that or the other, focussing on ever more arcane and esoteric things, right down to “this bike comes with a Brand X headset but I’ve read that Brand Y would be better”.

    Problem was he had no experience, no frame of reference for any of this, no lessons learned from actually getting on a bike and going on a tour, even a local one. He was simply obsessing over “the best” bike rather than getting on a bike and going riding.

    Premier Icon fivetones
    Free Member

    See how much fun you can have on an old CX bike on singletrack then think about what’s essential. You’ll always be at the limit of tyres, brakes, comfort, gearing – but boy you’ll have so much fun. It’ll also sharpen up your MTB skills and be cheap.

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