Add a number plate and you've got a race. Photo: Caleb Smith spokemagazine.com

Full Circle: The ‘Evolution’ of Mountain Biking

Full Circle: The ‘Evolution’ of Mountain Biking

by / / 84 posts

Think back to the early days of mountain biking. A bunch of friends, getting to the top of the hill any way they could, not needing to ride up at any great pace, saving themselves for the real buzz, the ride back down. It didn’t matter who got tot the top first, as long as everyone made it and then could share a chat, maybe a beer and a toke, before they pointed their rigs back downhill. The hair was as flowing as the conversation, and that was just the guys.

The weight of their bikes wasn’t a factor, just making it to the bottom with functioning brakes and their jeans not tangled in the chain was the most important thing. Most of the bikes and parts were derived from road-going machines, and most of the early wheels were either cut down and re-welded road hoops, or beach cruiser wheels which came in some strange diameter. Innovation and invention was strong from the start, with a bunch of them making their own frames and cobbling together parts. They shaped the development of this new sport, which in turn helped revive and push road bike technology too.

While racing down the hill was the way it all started, soon the predominant racing genre would become riding around in circles, up long climbs and then back down again. Even though the climbing was the major element, the races were dubbed cross country. Downhill was usually raced on the same day, on the same bike, on the same part of the XC course. Gradually downhill technology advanced with suspension at both ends getting longer, while the XC bikes (and riders) looked to go on diets that would make Jenny Craig envious. Somewhere in between, regular mountain bikers just rode their bikes on the trails, up and down, without a label of their own to identify with.

Sometime in the last few years, the bikes that most people ride on most trails most of the time took on an identity of their own. The marketers, in a moment of brilliant clarity, called them trail bikes. But what were these trail riders going to do if they wanted to compete every now and then? The bikes didn’t fit into the XC category (too heavy, too much travel), they were too under-gunned for proper downhill racing, and most of the riders just wanted to have a bit of fun more than set any PBs or have to wear lycra and shave their legs to be considered worthy of the ‘racer’ tag. What they needed (even if only the marketers knew it) was a new type of racing, where the fun bits, the singletrack and the descents, mattered more than the boring hard bits, the climbs. Enter enduro.

Just about every company at Interbike recently released something that had the word enduro attached to it. Bikes, components, shoes, helmets, clothing, there’s something for everyone to just go and ride with, just like we used to, but now only better. Enduro has maybe not saved mountain biking, but has given it a whole new lease of life by bringing back the core elements of why we ride a bike on trails. Whether that needed a tag or not, well that’s debatable, but I know that the bikes we ride now are some of the most dialled and most versatile that I’ve ridden in my 23 years of mountain biking. They have certainly brought the fun back to my riding, by allowing me to ride faster, with more control and more confidence.

Those hippies back in the 70s and 80s were way ahead of their time in many ways. That the preferred wheel size back then was 650b could have changed the way bikes developed a lot sooner, and the way we’ve arrived at this ‘new’ wheel size via a smaller and then a bigger one is maybe a blessing in disguise. Maybe we wouldn’t have three sizes (soon to be two) to choose from, and all bikes would have at least one component that was a true ‘standard’. The way things are heading though, most trail riders in the next three or four years will be on the medium hoops whether they like it or not; the 26″ wheel holdouts will have nothing left to complain about except the fact they can’t get any tyres any more, and that they secretly wished they’d switched to medium wheeled bikes sooner, because, shhh, don’t tell anyone, they’re actually better.

I get to ride a few bikes in my job, on a lot of varied trails all around the place, and it’s hard to find many bad bikes these days. Whether it’s down to frame design, angles, suspension technology or wheel size, I don’t know. Probably all of those, combined with other factors like wider bars/shorter stems, the banishment of the front derailleur, big fat tubeless tyres, and the best invention in mountain biking in the last ten years, the dropper seatpost. All these things are staples of the modern trail bike, and whether or not they have the word enduro attached to them doesn’t really matter. But I know this; mountain biking is looking healthier than it has since the halcyon days of the early nineties, and racing is becoming popular again because the fun is being put back into it. Heck, I’m even having a crack at one of these new races next weekend too, and I’m actually looking forward to it.

Thanks, enduro.

burner-26351

This is what a modern mountain bike looks like… my new Turner Burner.

The Rise of Enduro – Teaser from Tom Teller on Vimeo.

// Accessories and Gear // Etiquette // Folklore // Mountain Biking // Nostalgia // Racing // Technology // The Rides // Tradition

  1. OK, something I can wade into fully here …

    I ride a 29er dually – Santa Cruz Tallboy with 2.25 Nobby Nics – this suits my build – a bit of a clydesdale at 182cm and 100kg. I had a 2007 Scott Genius 26er but was continually breaking suspension bolts  – the rear suspension set up on the Genius didn’t help though.  Great bike all the same – had 140mm travel up fornt and 120mm rear. Frank – that bike (Genius) is definitely not for you – you would be snapping seat tubes off at the frame!

    The big wheels suit bigger blokes in my opinion – I don’t have any problems on the technical stuff & switchbacks, but then again I’m not the fastest through that anyway. Also age and wisdom has seen me take the descents a little more cautiously – I do not bounce! The 29er suits me and I don’t think I’ll go back to smaller wheels, even 650B.

    I read an article that when they fitted a 2.25 tyre to a 26″ the diameter difference between that wheel and a 650B was around 10mm – really – why all the fuss! But I think if you’re of smaller lighter stature, and want a new bike, 650B will be a definite improve on the 26″. Bigger wheels definitely roll over shit better.

    I currently run a triple up front – the bike came that way, and I was going to convert it to 2*10, but I do like the granny options. Whilst I could climb almost anything on the middle ring of the 26, the 29er is a bit hard to turn on the middle & 36 at back. Really do need that granny ring. I read recently that the new 1*11’s have a 42 tooth dinner plate at the back. Yet to see one, but doesn’t appeal to the aesthetist.

    I currently have my CX/graveller and roadie so never short of riding options. I see that even Niner is bringing out a graveller (v. sweet) – this is what I though you meant about going full circle at the start of your article.

    Great article Brett.

  2. @brett

    Yup. Unless he’s forgotten how to ride a bike, he’s bloody quick downhill.

  3. Re: the great wheel size debate, I think 29ers are the way to go when you’re racing XC and you’re interested in speed and nothing else. The handling is a bit ponderous but the lower rolling resistance lets you fly.

    26ers are great for techy trails and when you want a bombproof wheelset – the handling difference is immediately noticeable.

    I’ve not had a chance to try 650B in anger but I like the idea – I’m just not sure I want to shell out to replace two 26ers that I don’t ride enough as it is for a minor improvement. I may be tempted to sell the hardtail to replace it with a 29er for racing though, at least that’s seen some race action this year, even if it did beat the shit out of me in the process.

  4. @El Mateo Sweet Bontrager.  I have just gone back to fully rigid on my Race Lite from the mid-90s with a pair of Project Twos. Its a real gem and fun to whip around after bouncing around on a modern bike.

    Not better, just different.

  5. The day I turned to the road I turned away from the dirt…this article gave me a sense of longing for the first time in ages so well done @Brett

    The thing is I now barely understand any of the language used, tech or even gearing but at least it looks interesting.  I have recently given my son my old Dawes Watoga, which was in mint condition, now I am thinking I have either given him something very uncool….or a classic that I should be saving for a future retro rebuild!

    Nice article, although I think I will stick with the road….there is something beautiful about winter road riding which completes the cycle of the seasons (see what I did there!)…

  6. @the Engine yes, you should give it a really good clean, and then chuck it in the skip – wouldn’t risk a lawsuit if someone else decided to ride it

    @brett
    Blimey, I just sold my FS MTB to fund a new Cx bike, thinking this would garner approval of the V tribe, only to find we are now suggesting MTB is cool!

    That said, I’ll take a couple of points for my new TRP V-brakes as per @Fronk’s suggestion, and also propose that De Feet’s Woolie Boolies are the best socks a man can by for winter riding in wet conditions

    More to the point Brett, my heart felt commiserations on your boys delaminating in the Americas Cup – to have it taken away within 2 minutes of the finish line on friday because of a stupid time limit, and another due to it being too windy, and just to lose it because Larry specified first to 9 rather than first to 8, must be pretty shit – I do worry about Dean Barker, constantly talking about swallowing bitter pills, I hope he is okay – it was a very sad day in SF, a great day but a sad day, but you Kiwis are still the master race when it comes to sporting brilliance, awesome attitude, and being fucking hard as nails – bloody unlucky (but for the fact Ben Ainslie was on the Australian boat, I would be inconsolable myself!!)

  7. @Dr C

    @brett

    …and also propose that De Feet’s Woolie Boolies are the best socks a man can by for winter riding in wet conditions

    +1 matey. They’ve become my everyday winter sock. Too good to just ride in.

    @Dr C

    @brett

    More to the point Brett, my heart felt commiserations on your boys delaminating in the Americas Cup – to have it taken away within 2 minutes of the finish line on friday because of a stupid time limit, and another due to it being too windy, and just to lose it because Larry specified first to 9 rather than first to 8, must be pretty shit – I do worry about Dean Barker, constantly talking about swallowing bitter pills, I hope he is okay – it was a very sad day in SF, a great day but a sad day, but you Kiwis are still the master race when it comes to sporting brilliance, awesome attitude, and being fucking hard as nails – bloody unlucky (but for the fact Ben Ainslie was on the Australian boat, I would be inconsolable myself!!)

    Brett’s not a real Kiwi, more of an Aussie export so he’s probably quite happy the Aussies and Brits won.

    Those boats are ridiculously quick. I remember when someone cracked 30 knots on a windsurfer, the idea of 72 foot cats doing 40 knots and being able to sail in more than one direction was just nuts back then.

    Dean Barker must be suffering a lot at the moment. To have been that close. To be fair though, I think the sickest I’ve seen him looking was when Jimmy Spithill put all the pressure back on Barker when the Kiwi’s only needed one more win

    i think the question is, imagine if these guys lost from here, what an upset that would be

    It would be nice to think that for Ben Ainslie, this was just a fact finding mission before putting together his own team.

  8. We’ve had such a good summer in the UK I’m not sure I’m ready for my midweek evening rides turning back to this……

  9. @Teocalli

    We’ve had such a good summer in the UK I’m not sure I’m ready for my midweek evening rides turning back to this……

    It’s the two Yeti paw prints that would cause me concern!

  10. @Chris  re – It would be nice to think that for Ben Ainslie, this was just a fact finding mission before putting together his own team.

    According to the good old Beeb headline he is already there.  Got someone else to pay for it all too.  Neat.

    “Sir Ben Ainslie’s Oracle Team USA sealed one of sport’s greatest comebacks when they overhauled an 8-1 deficit to beat Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup decider in San Francisco.”

  11. @Deakus

    It’s the two Yeti paw prints that would cause me concern!

    Darn it, Bigfoot has emigrated and taken up residence on Leith Hill.

  12. @Teocalli

    “Sir Ben Ainslie’s Oracle Team USA 

    I’m surprised they made any reference to the USA at all.

    Amazing to think that a guy who spent all his time sailing from a very young age had the time to build up and run a tech giant like Oracle.

    The BBC are incredibly fuck useless at times.

     

  13. @Chris

    @Teocalli

    “Sir Ben Ainslie’s Oracle Team USA

    I’m surprised they made any reference to the USA at all.

    Amazing to think that a guy who spent all his time sailing from a very young age had the time to build up and run a tech giant like Oracle.

    The BBC are incredibly fuck useless at times.

    Good work by the Grand Ole Lady – let’s see what they make of Sundays thrash around Florence – Maybe Sky’s owner Chris Froome might do the business?

  14. If he has an ounce of Aussie in him, can I retract my commiserations for Brett?

  15. I show that Klunkerz video to my Intro to Parks Rec and Tourism students every year. I use it to illustrate how an entire billion dollar industry from design, to natural resource development/conflict, economics, marketing, recreation, and equipment can develop from simple stoke. From first bikes for five year olds to Olympians, the impact the likes of Fisher, Breezer, Ritchey et, al. had can’t be understated. Students really identify with it, it’s fun for them to see how it happened and not take for granted.

    Anyone seen Pedal Driven? I just picked it up as well to show to class.

  16. @Dr C

    If he has an ounce of Aussie in him, can I retract my commiserations for Brett?

    He used to be Australian but he’s live in NZ so long now that its nearly his turn to emigrate to Bondi.

  17. @Dr C

    If he has an ounce of Aussie in him, can I retract my commiserations for Brett?

    Just amend it slightly, the Aussies have lost just about every sporting event they’ve entered this year.

    @Dr C

    @Chris

    @Teocalli

    “Sir Ben Ainslie’s Oracle Team USA

    I’m surprised they made any reference to the USA at all.

    Amazing to think that a guy who spent all his time sailing from a very young age had the time to build up and run a tech giant like Oracle.

    The BBC are incredibly fuck useless at times.

    Good work by the Grand Ole Lady – let’s see what they make of Sundays thrash around Florence – Maybe Sky’s owner Chris Froome might do the business?

    They would be better off hiring UK Cycling Expert than lettering their own so called journalists cover it.

  18. @Chris Brilliant!

  19. @Dr C

    MTB has always been cool. I’m a mountain biker who also rides road, I started road when it was too wet to ride trails, doing 50km rides with slicks on my hardtail. When the roadies would get pissed at me for passing them, I thought I could piss them off more if I had a road bike and rode in baggies and mtb shoes. I did.

    “My boys” weren’t even in the America’s Cup, although we had the winning skipper. The Arab team did ok though, but it seems everyone who never gave a fuck about rich men in boats seems to be clinically depressed about some Arabs losing a boat race. The Kiwi public are pretty unsportsmanlike to be honest, terrible losers and gloating winners… all the talk is of “we was robbed, American cheats, changing rules, too much money” bullshit… makes me sick actually.

    @Harminator

    I’m not that stupid!

  20. bretto, is it possible to put 650 wheels on a bike designed for 26″ wheels? I would think as long as the tires clear there is no big downside. I would hate to get a new bike just to change wheel size. Because I’m a cheap prick. I’ve rented a few 29ers and they are a big improvement but I bet the 650 wheels are the perfect balance between the two.

    Your enduro bike is badass.

  21. @Gianni

    Yeah, it’s possible on some bikes, people have been doing those conversions for years, there’s plenty of info online if you look. Clearance is the main problem, no point in running a bigger wheel if you have to run a small tyre (2.1 or under).

    @asyax

    I read an article that when they fitted a 2.25 tyre to a 26″³ the diameter difference between that wheel and a 650B was around 10mm – really – why all the fuss!

    Yeah, plenty of that bullshit around… if you put the same size tyre on both wheel sizes, then the difference will be the same. Putting a big tyre on a 26 and a little tyre on a 650b will bring it closer but still not the same diameter.

  22. @frank

    @brett

    @EricW

    Yeah it’s my Burner, longer travel than the Flux, which is also now a 650b bike (though Dave prefers to call them 27.5). The Burner is 140mm travel, the Flux now is up to 120. My mate who runs the Singletrack Colorado tour I did recently was on a loaner Enduro 29 and loved it. I was on a loaner Burner and that’s what helped my decision. Funny how when 29ers were first appearing, Specialized said they’d “never make a 29er” and now that’s about all they make… looks like they’re doing the same with 650b, so it’ll be history repeating when they finally catch up in a couple of years.

    @Fausto

    Max?

    @frank

    I think someone got a new camera and maybe some lights. That shot and his updated shots of his Merckx over on the Cable Obsession discussion are glorious.

    No, I can’t claim that, they are shot by Caleb Smith who owns Spoke and is a Pro, one of the best in the world…

    So what is it with the 29er and 650b thing? The first move was to 29er and everyone seemed to agree that was the way to go, but now it seems like 29ers are considered to be a bit too big? Not responsive enough maybe? Is 650b just a middle ground between the two?

    As for the single ring, top marks on the approach, although I’ll have to learn more about why you want a 12T on the front. I remember Tinker used to ride only in the big ring and when I’m CX’ing I never – ever -use the 38T. I just grind it out in the big ring and chain cross as much as I need to. Big gears on technical climbs is a massive advantage because if the wheel slips at 50 rpm then its just a quarter turn, whereas if you’re spinning at 90 or 100 rpm a slip with send you buzz-sawing. (I exaggerate, but you get my drift.)

    That said, I’m still riding my 50T on the front because of the Heck of the North I’m riding this weekend, and I’ll be grateful for the 44T on those steep, rooted climbs when the race is over. Long way of saying, if this was a dedicated CX rig, I’d go single front for sure.

    Meant to reply to this yesterday. The small (tiny) chainring is to increase clearance. the bigger the ring, the closer your spiky wheel is to the stump you are trying to clear.

  23. @brett

     The Kiwi public are pretty unsportsmanlike to be honest, terrible losers and gloating winners… all the talk is of “we was robbed, American cheats, changing rules, too much money” bullshit… makes me sick actually.

     

    Haha way to generalize bretto, you just need to surround yourself with people with a better perspective by the sounds of it. These egg heads you generalise kiwis all to be kind of make me think of the Aussies feeling sawn off in the Ashes for some guy not walking when that is their speciality etc etc. Just negative perspective. There’s always going to be idiots, but I find they are the minority. Most I know are disappointed but proud. We’re not all like the media or talkback callers!

    If my kids get into sport, I want them to have a never say die and win at all costs attitude more akin to Aussie grit shown by Spithill, but in terms of internal thought rather than public persona, combined with Barkers calm external demeanour, less showy. I’m going to build that into them as much as I can, self belief.

    It was nothing more than a race between two professional teams (representing particular yachting squadrons, not countries), not national teams. Kind of like a champions league footy match or something.

    Whichever way you look at it, it was very enjoyable to watch! Fuck those boats were fast.

    If you enjoy sailing that is, I get the feeling our American bretheren had no idea there was a boat race on in one of their most famous locales..

    BTW the mag is one of the best out there, read a report in it that convinced me to do ‘Poti a year back.

  24. @Beers

    My perspective was from the comments on the news sites’ comments sections, and it was pretty disheartening. Most of my friends didn’t really care that there was a boat race happening! I think most of the general public looked at it as “national teams” though, kind of a big brother vs the little guy battle, as most were complaining that it was only money that won the race (which is probably true)… but more complained that it was just plain cheating, which smacks of sour grapes.

    Poti eh, mustn’t have been my article! One of those events you have to do once, then you get suckered in, then never want to do again! Glad you enjoy the mag, thanks for the kind words!

    Where are you based again?

  25. @brett Haha, yes as we know just like anytime an article comes out about cycling, the comments section brings out the trolls and numpties!

    Yes, the ups suck at Poti, but Big ring was magnifique. MTB gave me big love for descents, since then I ride to go down, and climb like a stone from the rockgarden, which I incidentally walked down.

    Waitakere. Piwaka was looking at setting up a cogal which would be awesome, not sure family life would allow, aside from having my arse handed to me by you lot worse than Barker has just suffered, we’ll see, but you guys should definately sort one out…

  26. From 400m, you got much bigger, better climbs down there..

  27. @Andre the Fish

    @El Mateo Sweet Bontrager. I have just gone back to fully rigid on my Race Lite from the mid-90s with a pair of Project Twos. Its a real gem and fun to whip around after bouncing around on a modern bike.

    Not better, just different.

    Nice rear mudguard! FFS that’s a fucking disgrace!

  28. @brett

    The Dropper Post the best Mtb invention in the lsat 10 years? Really? Can’t agree there I’m afraid.

  29. @936adl

    @brett

    The Dropper Post the best Mtb invention in the lsat 10 years? Really? Can’t agree there I’m afraid.

    Do you not have one then?

  30. @brett I’ve never really understood the need for one.  I can see the convenience but is a dropper post just a substitute for not getting technique right or is it a safety issue when it all goes pear shaped.

  31. @Teocalli

    @brett I’ve never really understood the need for one. I can see the convenience but is a dropper post just a substitute for not getting technique right or is it a safety issue when it all goes pear shaped.

    What technique are you talking about? Maybe the ones you can forget about because you have a dropper post? Nothing better than getting the seat totally out of the way for technical descending an popping it straight back up when the trail flattens out. All from the cockpit.

    That said, I’m yet to fit one to my rig. But the few rides I’ve had on one it was a definitely a game changer.

  32. @Harminator Yup – Getting your nadgers out of the way of the seat rather than getting the seat out of the way of your nadgers while using your buttocks to break the rear wheel on a descent.

  33. @brett

    @936adl

    @brett

    The Dropper Post the best Mtb invention in the lsat 10 years? Really? Can’t agree there I’m afraid.

    Do you not have one then?

    No, and never really felt the need.

    I guess it’s an age thing, but if i’m descending on something that requires the seat out of the way i’m almost certianly way beyond my comfort zone.

    At the end of the day it all comes down to what sort of riding you’re doing.

  34. @936adl

    I agree. Its totally about the kind of riding you’re doing. But if you reverse the logic, the type of riding you’re doing can be completely transformed by the bike design and technology available.

    When I retired my hardtail and got a dual suspension “all mountain” bike it was a completely new world of frame geometry. I had to train myself out of the perception that I was going to go over the bars every time I approached a drop. I huck very little and take very few risks but in time, I have built up to really enjoying the kind of steepish and technical descent I would never have contemplated on the hardtail (with the seat up my clacker). Now I only scare the shit out of myself half the time.

  35. @Teocalli

    @brett I’ve never really understood the need for one. I can see the convenience but is a dropper post just a substitute for not getting technique right or is it a safety issue when it all goes pear shaped.

    Those aren’t techniques but constraints that are only necessary as a result of the limitations of the old technology. It’s a bit like describing going slow in a car on a wet road as a technique when in fact it’s dictated by drum brakes and shit tyres. Remove those limitations and there’s no need for it.

    In reality the dropper post is only eliminating the need to either stop, whip out a tool and drop the post or stand at the top of a section and say “that’s a bit tricky on this bike” 

  36. @936adl

    @Andre the Fish

    @El Mateo Sweet Bontrager. I have just gone back to fully rigid on my Race Lite from the mid-90s with a pair of Project Twos. Its a real gem and fun to whip around after bouncing around on a modern bike.

    Not better, just different.

    Nice rear mudguard! FFS that’s a fucking disgrace!

    I know, I know, look I live in Wales and it fucking rains fucking constantly.  Its a 90’s Crud Catcher thing that were the in thing when I built the bike.

    There is no excuse.  It comes off tomorrow.

    Fuck, I have really let myself down.

  37. @Teocalli

    @brett I’ve never really understood the need for one. I can see the convenience but is a dropper post just a substitute for not getting technique right or is it a safety issue when it all goes pear shaped.

    Nothing to do with technique… it’s near impossible to have good ‘technique’ when your seat is jammed in your abdomen and you are so far over the back wheel that the front end is just going where it wants. Having the seat out of the way means you can be positioned over the centre of the bike and move it around like it’s supposed to be ridden. That’s why downhillers have low seats, and XC guys descend so ungainly. Having your ass anywhere near the rear wheel should never happen.

    @936adl

    @brett

    @936adl

    @brett

    The Dropper Post the best Mtb invention in the lsat 10 years? Really? Can’t agree there I’m afraid.

    Do you not have one then?

    No, and never really felt the need.

    I guess it’s an age thing, but if i’m descending on something that requires the seat out of the way i’m almost certianly way beyond my comfort zone.

    At the end of the day it all comes down to what sort of riding you’re doing.

    Not really, any trail can be ridden better with a dropper post. I was the same years ago, my mate Josh had one and I poo-pooed it all the time, saying a QR was all I needed… watching him ride away while I stopped and fiddled, then tried to climb again with the seat too low, then stop again, made me take notice. Now, I only really have my seat all the way up if climbing… tight switchbacks, rolling singletrack, any sort of descent really, doesn’t have to be steep, just getting the seat even a couple of centimetres lower makes a huge difference. And it’s not an age thing, I’m almost 50 ffs, and am riding better, faster, more technical terrain a lot more confidently than when I started in my 20s.

    @Harminator and @Chris get it totally.

  38. @brett

     

    My perspective was from the illiterate fuckwits howling at the moon on the news sites’ comments sections, and it was pretty disheartening.

    Fixed your post. Basing anything on comments on the internet is the short path to lunacy.

  39. Thank goodness for mountain biking giving us stuff like this

  40. @Marko Glad you like the movie. Tell your students they can still get their very own copy from me off the website.;-)

    Ride on,

    Billy

  41. @Billy Savage

    @Marko Glad you like the movie. Tell your students they can still get their very own copy from me off the website.;-)

    Ride on,

    Billy

    Billy, Quite an honor to have you even find the site, let alone post.

    For anyone else, this is THE Billy Savage, the filmmaker.

    I just ordered my copy, here is the link: http://www.klunkerz.com/

  42. @brett

    From your “first look” article:

    What, no clutch? Yep, we’ll see how that pans out, I’ve read reports of no clutch mechs with narrow-wide rings run on hardtails not dropping chains, so it’ll be an interesting field test for this set up. Otherwise, a clutch mech or a top guide will get the nod… whattaya reckon?

    I hope you’ll keep us posted on how this goes. I’m turning my budgetatus Epic M5 Comp into a 1×9 and trying to do it with the least expense possible. I think my first anti-chaindrop action will be a Wolf Tooth ring. Then go from there. But a clutch mech is simply more than I’m willing/able to do, as I already have an XTR mech on the rear and too many other priorities (that I’m failing to address). I was looking at a Paul Components Chain Keeper, but one look at my seat tube-BB real estate and that idea was dismissed; no way to attach it low enough.

  43. @Nate I like how the first two jumps primed them to go exactly the wrong way on the third.

  44. This year we moved into a slightly bigger apartment, allowing me to get bike #3.

    Bikes #1 and #2 are my roadies, a nice one here in Singapore and a bike for Melbourne visits.

    I thought pretty hard about what to get for #3, as it needed to fill the gap below my Scott Addict, a bike that I really can’t duck down to the shops on, or ride along slowly with my little miss 4 year old. My shoes being the roadie-reverse-heels  put paid to the idea of doing anything practical on #1.

    So was it to be a SS Roadie? A SS MTB? A town bike with hub gears? Something cheap and easy to maintain were major criteria.

    So I have been a roadie for over ten years, but before that I rode MTB (before that, BMX as a young’un). So this is my new shopping and slowly tootling along with the daughter rig.

    What? Like I told the wife, it can do those things…

  45. @PeakInTwoYears

    @brett

    From your “first look” article:

    What, no clutch? Yep, we’ll see how that pans out, I’ve read reports of no clutch mechs with narrow-wide rings run on hardtails not dropping chains, so it’ll be an interesting field test for this set up. Otherwise, a clutch mech or a top guide will get the nod… whattaya reckon?

    I hope you’ll keep us posted on how this goes. I’m turning my budgetatus Epic M5 Comp into a 1×9 and trying to do it with the least expense possible. I think my first anti-chaindrop action will be a Wolf Tooth ring. Then go from there. But a clutch mech is simply more than I’m willing/able to do, as I already have an XTR mech on the rear and too many other priorities (that I’m failing to address). I was looking at a Paul Components Chain Keeper, but one look at my seat tube-BB real estate and that idea was dismissed; no way to attach it low enough.

    No problems so far, haven’t dropped the chain once… racing an Enduro this weekend so will see how it goes there. I was considering a BB-mounted top guide for extra peace of mind, but the trails I’ll be racing on in Rotorua are pretty tame compared to my home trails in Wellington, so it shouldn’t be a problem.

  46. @brett

    I just saw this solution, two bashguards at $12/ea (made in my beloved Portland, OR USA so they must be good) in place of my 22- and 42-tooth rings. Pics here and here.

    With shipping, this deal would be half the price of a new ring, and it looks like it ought to keep the chain in its proper place, with a bit of a weight penalty but with the functionality of bashguards.

    What’s your impression? Could I…just possibly, do you think…get away with using my standard XT middle ring, with its tabs and tooth profiles conspiring to rid themselves of my chain and me of my balls when they hit my stem?

  47. That’s tonight sorted then.

  48. @Andre the Fish

    Aah Project Twos I had them on my trustee Steel Dave Yates, good days.

  49. @Andre the Fish very cool bike

  50. @936adl cant agree more. dont see xco racers use it. makes it a bit heavy. even some downhill guys dont use it. if you have time to think about dropping the seat or keeping it up your not going fast enough.

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