Hey all – one of my favorite parts of being a pro athlete is the free gear! Just recently I got my a Cobb SHC Dirt saddle in my X-mast stocking!
If you follow this blog, you have noticed I have really gotten into MTB’ing since I got a new Scott Spark 940 in late September. Here in the Philippines road ridding is limited and sketchy where as off road cycling has tones of options, especially in the provincial areas!
Since my new MTB is a double suspension, I figured I could go for the lighter and sleeker saddle with less padding versus the Cobb Plus Dirt which would have been my choice *IF* I rode a hard-tail. This also leaves room for an UP-grade down the rode if I chose so.
This is always the biggest thing I advise newbie athletes with equipment – get something basic and get the most out of it before UP grading! It will give you more appreciation, better perspective and a wider knowledge base on various equipment versus getting the ‘cheddar’ gear from the go..Aim to to juxtapose your equipment with your level, upgrade as you get faster instead of buying materialistic compensation….
Now, sorry if I often a few but I HATE STOCK COMPONENTS! Rarely at their any good, durable and in this case COMFORTABLE. This seems to me as modern bizarre trend in the cycling industry, to sell a nice frame built with crap components. Buying a frame only and then building it up is an ‘art’ or hobby for many and somewhat a manifestation of an athletes idealism! BUT its more expensive…
When you ride your bike as much as I do – small details are noticeable.
Before the saddle upgrade I changed around the 80mm stock stem for a 120mm 3T ARX Pro Stem which is arguable the best bang-for-your-buck stem on the market!
The only ‘downside’ to a longer stem is that my bars go lower on the steep downhills – the up sides as that I can ‘snake’ around tight corners much better, I can lift my front wheel much better and my body weight is distributed much more evenly across the bike, thus making me much more stable and comfortable!
The first upgrade I did on this bike, was install the Ergon Grips (pictured above) more specifically the GP3. This was a huge comfort matter for my palms and wrists during longer ride as well to giving me an additional option when I climb out of the saddle to turn my hands inwards and grip the ‘horns’ like I would do on the ‘hoods’ of a road bike!
Considering there is only 5 contact points in mountain bike, versus 7 on a TT bike, its imperative to be comfortable as they support more weight as well to absorb greater jarring from the trail! Lastly, they also prevent my hands from slipping-off sideways due to the ‘horns’ blocking the way!
Now, let me discuss my point of view over various MTB topics =)
26er or 27.5er or 29er? Well it depends on the course and the size of the rider!
For small women, a 26er is still doable – the 27.5 is optimal and 29er for the bigger/stronger ones ridding over the faster courses.
Ridding a 29er (big wheels) adds whole new dimension of comfort and stability – small objects get ‘eaten’ by the front wheel and is much safer/easier to control on high speed descents!
How-ever, the ‘longer’ bike overall makes it a bit harder to maneuver around tight corners and due to the higher center of gravity, balance is a bit harder to maintain @ slower speeds or when ridding through ruts as well to being A LITTLE BIT harder to accelerate!
Full suspension or hard-tail? Depends on the course.
If I could, I would do all my training on a full suspension since its heavier and more comfortable, especially on the lower back – if you ride 5-6 times per week (I did in October) the difference is quickly noticeable. As well to being able to pedal over particularly bumpy sections for longer duration’s that would make staying seated on hard-tail incredibly un-comfortable due to the intense vibration or force them to ride out of the saddle, thus using more energy!
Presented with a bike course that has long climbs, I would go for the hard-tail for the lighter weight and less energy wasted in the pedaling motion, especially when out of the saddle. Of course with a Cobb Plus Dirt for the extra padding on the downhills
Lastly, a rear wheel puncture on a hard-tail maybe avoided on a full suspension due to the extra suppleness of the frame between the rider and the tire.
Since I started ridding my new MTB, my confidence, enjoyment and skills have increased dramatically – some sections I used to get off or ride cautiously I now simply ride over LIKE A BOSS! I used to avoid particular lines and swerve (making me unstable) on these bumpy areas, but now I simply ride a strait line over top!
Well I hope you’ve enjoyed and/or learned a few things – bellow are some random MTB pics!
Merry X-mast and Happy new year =)