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Bike selection advice.

PeterOwensBabs's picture

By PeterOwensBabs - Posted on 26 April 2018

Hi there Im a 172cm 75Kg 53 yr old keen to get back on the bike but a bit bewildered by the changes that have come to the gear in the 7 or so years Ive been out. I ride mostly local northern beaches esp. Narrabeen Manly dam but a few trips when time allows to the Oakes/Andersons or Orimbah. Im up for a good second hand medium, dual Suspension (carbon if I can afford it). So.... opinions 1x10 1x11 1x12??? 29vs 27.5 etc etc.
Cheers Pete.

fairy1's picture

Bikes are longer, slacker, have steeper seat tube angles, run wider rims and don't have front derailleurs, I am a firm believer in all of these advances, old bikes suck!

My current AM bike has a 64deg HA and does none of the bad things magazines said it would a few years ago, it is the best climbing bike I have owned and it runs a 35mm stem. It isn't the best in tight uphill switchbacks but hey that's 1% of a trail and it is a bunch more fun in every other area so I'm happy to accept that tiny trade off.

For a medium I would be looking at 430mm as a minimum for reach and something with a decently steep seat tube angle, probably 74deg and upwards. Head angle is more of a personal preference and will depend on how quickly you ride but I think everything from Enduro to XC should have a similar reach and seat tube angle numbers.

XC bikes of old ran massive stems and it put your hands directly above the front axle so you felt pretty much everything your wheel hit and you were much more likely to get thrown over the front as a small shift in body weight affected the bike quite a lot. On more modern bikes your contact point is a lot further back so you get less feedback from your front wheel and your centre of mass stays closer to the middle of the bike so your front/rear grip is more consistent and you are a lot less likely to get pitched over the bar.

Take what I have said with a grain of salt as I am a super opinionated but I do believe that loads of manufacturers have been making some really nice bikes for probably three years now. Even Specialized have followed everyone else's lead and decided to make bikes with good geo, a sensible height threaded BB and run close to 100% anti squat.

Can't go wrong with a Norco, Merida, Whyte, Mondraker or Kona from 2015 onwards, again, my opinion, some more sensible people will no doubt chime in.

EDIT- Apologies if that doesn't make much sense, I am somewhat tired.

brownie1324's picture

I can speak as a non technical 51 year old who has gone through a few iterations of bikes over the 4 years I've been riding MTB.
Personally I would look for the best components I can get before carbon, but I suppose most carbon bikes would have these anyway.
27.5 vs 29? I started on a cheaper 27.5 dual suspension, and now ride a 29er. The 27.5 is more nimble, however the 29er I find is better for climbing and just rolls over things easier. With the 27.5 I found I needed to be a bit more active as you cant just smash over things like you would with the 29er which makes things easier as you get older.
1x10, 1x11, 1x12?. I converted my 2x10 to a 1x10 when I had to replace the cassette, chain, and chainring when they had worn. At the time I was relatively fit and could just make it up the tougher climbs but felt I almost needed a lower gear. I also lost a bit of top end. After a crash where I was off my bike for a while, I didn't have the strength any more that I previously had when I started riding again so went to a 1x11 with a lower range (1x46) cassette and a bigger chain ring. This gave me better low end and high end, and is just right. 1x12 would likely give a better range again, but is more likely to be only on newer bikes.
Have also upgraded forks to a Rockshox Pike from the revelation32 which made a huge difference. So if you have the money look for something with Pike/Lyrik, or Fox34/36 or equivalent less flexy forks.
If you are going to be riding a lot I have found that everytime I compromise on upgrades I usually end up upgrading again later to what I should have done in the first place which costs more in the end.
Hope my rambles have helped

pancakes's picture

For an all-round fun machine check out a 650b+/27.5+ (tyres in the 2.8-3.0 width range). These have become more common over the last couple of years and while they're likely not the quickest bike on many trails, the fun factor is a plus. Grip levels are off the charts.

Take a few different types of bike for a test ride and see. The plus size tyres make for a great pairing with a hardtail too so don't automatically discount these.

1x11 is a nice sweet spot and ok for most of the local beaches trails for those of us less fit than many. You can always fiddle with the ratios as has been mentioned (more than once has brownie1324 disappeared off into the distance on me). 1x12 just adds rotational mass unnecessarily and looks silly to boot.

For a fun ride look for short chainstays, steep seat tube angle and a sub 69° head angle.

brownie1324's picture

I was waiting for pancakes to say 1 speed is best

Simon's picture

I’m selling my one of these if interested.

Note the prices in archive link are $US

pancakes's picture

"I was waiting for pancakes to say 1 speed is best"

When you're fitter than I am right now, it is!

Black Flash's picture

Yes it is. It’s your fault I’ve moved my fun riding away from a dual suspension to a single speed (1x1). I even did a lap of the dam last week on it. Before someone decided to put fence up at the school...

Simon's picture

Not disagreeing at all but having a laugh at how things have changed with the ‘even Specialized’ comment.

I remember Specialized running shorter stays, longer top tubes and lower bikes than nearly everyone else. Trek and Santa Cruz were going on about the benefits of more flickable bikes with short top tubes and many slammed Spec for their long geometry. Now it’s gone the other way and Spec has lengthened everything up effectively by changing the L stickers to M.

pancakes's picture

"Yes it is. It’s your fault I’ve moved my fun riding away from a dual suspension to a single speed (1x1)..."

Yeah but you've still only got a single Singlespeed. You've really got to remedy that. Laughing out loud

Simon's picture

Would it work on my Kenevo? Eye-wink

PeterOwensBabs's picture

Thanks all, I have settled on a Whyte T130C ex demo from Brookvale Bike Factory which I have put a deposit on. Its very highly speced. having been the mechanics own ride, so Im pretty sure its capable of more than I am!

fairy1's picture

Nice choice with the Whyte, not the most "on trend" looking bike but Whyte have been knocking out bikes with wicked geo for a good number of years, I'd love one.

Specialized are pretty on point with their geo, the new Stumpy Evo geo S2 is almost identical to my 130mm AM hardtail, hahaha!

A while ago a friend said he was laughed at by a bike shop employee for riding a Whyte that was a few years old. I checked the geo of his old bike against a similar current model Spesh and they were pretty much the same, if had he had a three year old Spesh it would have been an extremely dated bike(geo wise) plus it would have had a drop in headset, a PF BB and a setback seat post and nobody wants those things, LOL.

Simon's picture

By extremely dated geo on a 3yo spec and current spec being great do you mean swapping the stickers from L to M?

The current 2018 M are either the same or 1-3mm different from 3yo L bikes to go with the latest trend of longer bikes and longer reach. What is interesting is actually how most brands have now gone to short stays and longer top tubes which Spec had even 10 years ago compared with most other brands.

What is also really interesting is the similarities if you swap L to M and account for BB drop to adjust between wheel sizes then many 10 yo Spec bikes are very similar to the current trend. At least at the trail and enduro end of town. The biggest differences are in the short travel XC segment which have become more aggressive in geo, more like enduro bikes.

fairy1's picture

Well no, I mean if he bought a large Whyte T-129 he would have a 120mm 29er with a short 431mm stays and a 68deg HA. If he bought a 2014 FSR Comp Carbon 29er he would have uuuuge 450mm stays(they had another with 455mm)and a steeper HA at 69deg.
They both had insane stem lengths at 80 and 90mm, reach on the Spesh is a shade longer but they both have similar front centres because of the different HAs.

To go back a few more years I had a 2009 Nicolai Ion DH bike, it seemed to do it's job pretty well and had no real flaws but I didn't have the guts to push it anywhere near it's limit and found it pretty boring to ride at Ourimbah so I stopped riding it and went back to the hardtail. If I had a Spesh of the same vintage it would have been 6mm shorter in the stays but the the Demo had a BB 20mm higher than mine, HA was the same, spesh a touch longer in the reach department.

I'm not saying they make bad stuff, I have some Bennies and Boomslang pedals and love them. But to me seems that they get a lot of hype over odd things, people loved the super short back ends and now people love the Evo with a normal length back end, it's like a cult, Spesh can do no wrong, hahaha!

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