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Seeking advice on obtaining a mountain bike (cross country)

just jane

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Heh, my DH and brothers are totally giving me conflicting advice on flats vs. clipless. My DH and one brother are Team Clipless and the other brother is Team Flats. And OMG don’t get them going on bar ends. My husband is Team Bar Ends and my brothers are both completely eye-rolly on them. “Outdated!” say they. “Great for climbing!” says DH. For now I have them because DH is the one who I’m around the most and who is helping me the most. Boys.
 

geargrrl

Angel Diva
A thought on Team Clipless/bar ends. Have these guys been riding since the beginning of time, or are they XC riders since the beginning of time? Are they on Team Get Your Butt Back too? I am going to bet "yes". Back in the day bar ends were a great assist because of narrow handlebars, long stems and steep geometry. You almost had to have bar ends to assist in proper front end weighting, otherwise you couldn't do it.

With the new geometry, more slack, wider bars and shorter stems, you really, and I mean REALLY don't need bar ends. It's so much easier to position correctly. Most people who use them have them because they have always had them. Same thing with' "ButtBack" but that's a different discussion - I can elaborate if you like.

My hub was of this ilk, clipped in/bar ends etc. What changed for him is he went to a clinic with me where they showed him how to fully use his range of motion and body position with the new geometry. It kind of blew his mind and he ditched his clips immediately. The other thing with flats is your foot and knee are freed up so you can do micro adjustments to point knee into a corner for example.

The last thing I am going to say about flat/clips is clips put your balance a bit forward as you are on the ball of your foot, whereas with flat you can balance fully on the feet without having to compensate for being forward on your foot.
 

just jane

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
LOL DH started on a BMX bike as a kid, graduated to a mountain bike in a decade that starts with an 8 (same with my brothers) so yes they’ve been riding FOREVER. And DH competed in college and post-college so he has the creds and I just nod and smile and yes honey.

ETA - OH, and my brother who is the flat pedal convert was also stubbornly a single-speeder for years, gives off a strong hipster vibe and is easily swayed by trends so he does not have so much cred with DH. They all crack me up.
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
People still ride with bar ends?!?! :bounce:
Um. I also have toe clip like things. The guy in the bike shop at Tahoe commented on what a great bike I have (custom Voodoo from the 90's) but said to get rid of the bar ends and toe clips.
ETA: I do have a nice Specialized Ruby carbon fiber road bike though.
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
Ooh, what year? I have a 2008 Specialized Ruby Comp. Full carbon fiber. LOVE that thing. It’s now pretty old by road bike standards but it’s in great shape and I’m in no rush to update.
2017 I think
 

SallyCat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Flats vs. clipless is entirely a matter of personal preference, so you do you. Consider information; reject proselytizing.

In addition to having no purpose on bikes with with modern geometry, bar ends are also a really dangerous impalement/blunt injury danger in crashes. Mountain biking with toe cages is also insanely dangerous. There's good reason you don't see those things on trails very often these days.

Do the boys use dropper posts? If not, you may want to be careful about taking riding instruction from them. It's not a right/wrong or better/worse thing, just that mountain biking with a dropper allows a very different style of riding, with the bike moving freely under you, and leaning way over in turns. Xc racers/people who don't use droppers tend to sort of use their leg(s) against the seatpost for stability and as a marker for lean angle. I have friends who have absolutely no use for dropper posts and they are phenomenal riders, but I wouldn't want them instructing beginners because those new riders would miss out on a lot, including a riding style that's a better match for modern bike specs/geom.

Using a dropper also makes drops and chunky technical riding safer. Look at any pic of an xc racer with his butt on the back wheel and the seat right in front of his thoracic cavity and you'll see what I mean.
 

just jane

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
They all agree that dropper posts are like, the best think since full suspension. That was one of DH’s baseline requirements for my bike - it had to have a dropper post.
 

geargrrl

Angel Diva
but I wouldn't want them instructing beginners because those new riders would miss out on a lot, including a riding style that's a better match for modern bike specs/geom.
Every class I teach I still gets hands up for "who has been taught to put your butt all the way back?" 99% of the time it's "...my husband, he's been riding for a long time.." :frusty:
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
Every class I teach I still gets hands up for "who has been taught to put your butt all the way back?" 99% of the time it's "...my husband, he's been riding for a long time.." :frusty:
I am so old school. What with bar ends and toe straps and taught to put butt way back off the saddle on the downhill! I was just outside talking to my neighbor who has a nice Santa Cruz Juiiana and she was laughing when I told her my bike old Voodoo bike set up !!!
 

SallyCat

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
OMG, I hope I wasn't too snarky in my comments! I ride with people who would never go near a dropper post and have handlebars narrower than my waist and they smoke me on corners and climbs EVERY. Time. Whether skiing or biking, I'm always trying to get my skill and fitness to live up to my fancy gear.

Bike geometry has come incredibly far and fast lately; I just want people new to MTB to be reasonably informed in their gear choices so they have the best time possible on the bike!
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
OMG, I hope I wasn't too snarky in my comments! I ride with people who would never go near a dropper post and have handlebars narrower than my waist and they smoke me on corners and climbs EVERY. Time. Whether skiing or biking, I'm always trying to get my skill and fitness to live up to my fancy gear.

Bike geometry has come incredibly far and fast lately; I just want people new to MTB to be reasonably informed in their gear choices so they have the best time possible on the bike!
No worries! I rode mtn bikes for at least 25 years but not so much the last ten! We have great mtb trails here on the coast and some good elevation climbs. Yes it seems there have been a lot of changes! So I should get rid of bar ends , get rid of cages, get mtb pedals, and five ten shoes? I can do that. Or get the Santa Cruz Juliana, a sweet bike I must say.
 

elemmac

Angel Diva
No worries! I rode mtn bikes for at least 25 years but not so much the last ten! We have great mtb trails here on the coast and some good elevation climbs. Yes it seems there have been a lot of changes! So I should get rid of bar ends , get rid of cages, get mtb pedals, and five ten shoes? I can do that. Or get the Santa Cruz Juliana, a sweet bike I must say.
Really, it’s the last 10 years where everything has changed... I got my first “real” mountain bike in 2011, a Raleigh hardtail. Putting your butt back was still common practice, bar ends and toe clips were towards the end of their era but still around, dropper post were pretty much unheard of, and bikes almost all had front derailers. Bike geometry has changed a lot since then, plus dropper posts were added to the picture, not to mention the added price tag that came along with these upgrades. I remember my husband getting a dropper in 2015-ish. I thought it was sweet and could see the upside to having it, but considered it SO excessive. We took a trip to Moab in 2016 and my rental bike had a dropper…my MTB world changed, there was no going back.

If you are looking to get into biking regularly again, I would look at upgrades. Maybe rent a newer bike for a day, see how everything has changed and test drive if it’s something you want to spend the money on.

Juliana/Santa Cruz makes a pretty amazing rig (I own a SC Bronson and looooove it). Just so you know what to expect, it’s a tough market for new bikes these days. SC/Juliana are a small company in comparison to the major players (Trek, Specialized, Giant/Liv, so on), and they are going thru growing pains of the growing sport. They were also greatly affected by the SC fires last year, and added Covid supply chain issues with the bike industry…they a tough bike to come by unless you’re lucky enough to find a shop with one in your size. With that being said, they’re probably a lot more prevalent where you are (it’s where they’re from of course) so it might be a bit easier. Happy riding :smile:
 

santacruz skier

Angel Diva
Really, it’s the last 10 years where everything has changed... I got my first “real” mountain bike in 2011, a Raleigh hardtail. Putting your butt back was still common practice, bar ends and toe clips were towards the end of their era but still around, dropper post were pretty much unheard of, and bikes almost all had front derailers. Bike geometry has changed a lot since then, plus dropper posts were added to the picture, not to mention the added price tag that came along with these upgrades. I remember my husband getting a dropper in 2015-ish. I thought it was sweet and could see the upside to having it, but considered it SO excessive. We took a trip to Moab in 2016 and my rental bike had a dropper…my MTB world changed, there was no going back.

If you are looking to get into biking regularly again, I would look at upgrades. Maybe rent a newer bike for a day, see how everything has changed and test drive if it’s something you want to spend the money on.

Juliana/Santa Cruz makes a pretty amazing rig (I own a SC Bronson and looooove it). Just so you know what to expect, it’s a tough market for new bikes these days. SC/Juliana are a small company in comparison to the major players (Trek, Specialized, Giant/Liv, so on), and they are going thru growing pains of the growing sport. They were also greatly affected by the SC fires last year, and added Covid supply chain issues with the bike industry…they a tough bike to come by unless you’re lucky enough to find a shop with one in your size. With that being said, they’re probably a lot more prevalent where you are (it’s where they’re from of course) so it might be a bit easier. Happy riding :smile:
Oh yes I’m aware of the shortage of bikes…just dreaming! I’ll probably do some upgrades to my trusty hardtail Voodoo. Now that’s a vintage bike! The guys in the local bike shops tell me not to get rid of it…
 

geargrrl

Angel Diva
OMG, I hope I wasn't too snarky in my comments! I ride with people who would never go near a dropper post and have handlebars narrower than my waist and they smoke me on corners and climbs EVERY. Time. Whether skiing or biking, I'm always trying to get my skill and fitness to live up to my fancy gear.

Bike geometry has come incredibly far and fast lately; I just want people new to MTB to be reasonably informed in their gear choices so they have the best time possible on the bike!
Lol I don't think so. But I bet if it came to technical descending, you'd blow them away on your slack wide handlebar 150mm trail bike.

I'm kind of over it about being non snarky about that stuff ( at least in my own mind) I try to be nice about it and explain that the new geometry changed everything. Every single clinic I teach I have to undo technique circa 2000 that some well meaning person has taught a beginner rider.
 

echo_NY

Angel Diva
This is amazing just read thru the last couple pages. We use flat with pins, and I have chrome shoes that are flat at the bottom. We have had five tens for rock climbing shoes for the little one. I guess we can check. She wore keens closed toe sandals. She said it was fine and the bottom is pretty stiff but we might want to get her proper shoes I guess

we just did all the loops at blueberry lake. Single track. It was amazing. What a fun time. I used the dropper post a lot and clicked thru locking out the suspension on the climbs, and releasing it to open on the downs. My hands do hurt though. I tried not to grip my handlebars so tightly… My husband got gloves. He says he likes them. I did fall off a few times going too slow on the ups. My bike is definitely heavier than the husband and the kid and I think it’s a struggle with going up.

there were like 5 people who would just stop in the trail and on the berms (burms?) I had to corner to avoid clipping them very tightly and fell off the bike. The second time they did that and blocked the trail, I asked them to move which they did. Then they proceeded to point at me. Ugh. Not nice.

Other than that people generally were good about sharing the trails. People downhill would stop if we were coming uphill and we’d stop going downhill if people were coming up. There was this old man though who just flew by people which I thought was uncool. It’s a beginner area with lots of kids. Unnecessary I think! The rudest I’ve seen Vermonters but I wonder if they were out of state now.

at some point we’ll go to Cady hill forest and there should be some stuff on the kingdom trails that should be entry level.

I was looking at ascutney. I wonder what the level of riding is required there.

we are planning to camp in the whites by Crawford notch. We’re not sure about taking the bikes bc we’re hearing there’s not as much there. Thinking about asking in some of the groups.

thanks so much to this group for all the riding tips! I knew I had to stand up on the pedals but didn’t know I should point the heels down. I’m re reading it all…!
 

elemmac

Angel Diva
at some point we’ll go to Cady hill forest and there should be some stuff on the kingdom trails that should be entry level.

There’s a lot at Kingdom Trails that is beginner friendly. Most of the greens are some sort of double track and re flat. If you want some sort of hills, or single track, look towards the blue trails. The information center is extremely helpful. The first time I was there they asked us what we wanted to ride and for how long, then highlighted an entire route for us. Take a little time in their skills park, pump track and flow trail…lots of fun (on Darling Hill behind the bike shop). New T and Old Webs over on that side are a couple fun blue trails.

If you want a tour or riding instruction at KT, KC&E is pretty awesome. I did a women’s weekend with them and their instructors were great and customer service was top notch.

we are planning to camp in the whites by Crawford notch. We’re not sure about taking the bikes bc we’re hearing there’s not as much there. Thinking about asking in some of the groups.
There’s not much in Crawford Notch that I’m aware of. But…North Conway riding is pretty amazing, there’s so much there. Sticks and Stones trail network near Cranmore or Marshall Conservation are both worth visits and have beginner/intermediate friendly terrain.

I’m not sure exactly where you’re coming from (other than Vermont), but Loon Mountain has lift access biking that is super beginner friendly, all manicured smooth trails, lots of fun. Might be worth exploring on your way to/from Crawford Notch.

If you don’t use Trail Forks (or MTB Project)…its worth downloading if you’re looking to explore trail networks. It gives good descriptions on most trails, gives ratings (green, blue, black), and can offer “recommended routes” for some trail networks…great app for researching and navigating trails you’re not familiar with.
 

echo_NY

Angel Diva
Thank you!!! This is so helpful. Yes North Conway is our favorite for having a meal. I will check it out. Thank you @elemmac !

in Vermont we live in Montpelier so went to a place near mad river glen today. Stowe is close so we’d head there next. There is some stuff here it’s quite steep though. Not so much on entry level available…
 

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