Posts Tagged ‘Getting a Bike’

My new ride – Specialized EnduroSL Comp 2010

// December 14th, 2009 // Comments Off on My new ride – Specialized EnduroSL Comp 2010 // Information

On Friday I traded my Gary Fisher Big Sur 09’ with a brand new Specialized EnduroSL Comp 2010.

I have learned many different things about myself and about cycling in the course of the last three and a half months. Simply put, I love this sport.

The problem I had is that I went through a frustrating and expensive process to put me on the right bike. See, I had 4 bikes during this short time period. From a Trek 4300 2010, to a Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo 09’, to a Gary Fisher Big Sur 09’, and finally to a Specialized Enduro SL Comp 2010. The whole thing could have been easier on me if I had a clue about cycling when I went to buy my first bike, or the understanding that an uber Clyde like me must check few basic things in a bike just to consider them to be fit. My experience could have been different if the bike store I first entered would have fitted me on the right bike instead of selling me a Trek 4300 (the front fork was for show only). And instead of trying to squeeze me for more cash trying to fit me on other bikes that cannot fir me (the Gary Fishers are very aggressive on the geometry of the bike) would have give me a good advise on which actual bikes I should get. Now I understand they do not have a clue about Clydes and what should or should not work for them.

Uber Clydes like me should look for a bike designed for Freeride, Downhill and/or All Mountain ride. Some key parameters to look for are:

  • A strong frame that can sustain abuse
  • Relaxed geometry
  • A 160mm front fork
  • Strong rims with good spokes to carry the weight

The Specialized Enduro has it all. Once I have finished the test ride I fell for it (I tested few bikes that day). It was the first bike I rode which immediately felt right. I could finally feel the front fork is doing its job (Rock Shox Lyrik 1600mm), and that the rear shock (Fox RP2) is effective even when a heavy guy like me sits on the bike.

On Saturday I rode 24km with the bike. I still need to adjust it here and there, but overall it was a great ride. I cannot wait until I get the bike out the next time (the weather here is tricky these days).

I truly hope that ‘small’ people like me would learn from my experience, and the hassle of being hassled would be saved for them.

Getting a Bike (Part IV)

// December 9th, 2009 // Comments Off on Getting a Bike (Part IV) // Information

The fact I was now limited to a certain front fork made the life easier on the people at the bike shop. They could now limit me to the higher end hardtail bikes that are using a Fox Racing Shox front fork.

I got a Gary Fisher Big Sur 09’ (uses a Fox F100 RL, 100mm).

I did not plan on getting this bike, or paying that much. It still seems to me I was ripped off. A kind of a situation you cannot get away from. “We will find the bike that would fit you”, is something they constantly told me. It is like you cannot simply walk away hoping not to remember the horrible experience.

Not that the bike is a bad bike. Don’t get me wrong. But a Clyde has different needs. The geometry of the bike needs to be less aggressive, and the Gary Fisher has an aggressive geometry. We had to replace the stem, and also the handlebar to raise the front portion of the bike higher.

It is not like it is perfect now. I still need to do some adjustments. My hands still get numb after the 8-10km marker.

The worst part is that I still have this feeling that I got ripped off, and this is something I can’t shake off.

If you are a newbie to the sport and a Clyde, I hope you would learn from my experience. Understand what are your limitations first, even before going to a store. If you feel you cannot trust the guys, or that they try to put you on a bike you do not feel comfortable on, just walk away. There are plenty more bike stores you can walk into, and I am sure that you would find a store you can trust.

Getting a Bike (Part III)

// December 5th, 2009 // Comments Off on Getting a Bike (Part III) // Information

I woke up the next morning at 5am ready to test the Hoo Koo E Koo at my home ground. A minute or two into the ride I felt something is wrong. I was leaning forward way too much. At first I tried to ignore it and to continue to ride. But as I covered more grounds I started feeling really uncomfortable on the bike. My hands were hurting from a lot more weight I have now put on them, my back started hurting, etc.

I took the bike to the bike shop. Only now they figured out they need to measure the sag. Sag is the compression of the fork caused by the rider’s weight. The sag should be between 15 and 25 percent of maximum travel. If you’re unable to achieve optimum sag you may need to change the fork’s air pressure (Air based forks), spring or preload (Coil). Even when trying to put more pressure into the fork my sag was above 30%. We gave the local representative of Rock Shox a call to find that we are at maximum pressure, and that I may need a different fork then the Tora Solo Air.

I was furious. I am the one with no idea about how to fit a bike and these guys just sold me something which does not fit me – twice now! I could not understand why didn’t they check this before I left the store, and why didn’t they bother with it entirely?!?!

I left the bike at the store and went home thinking. I decided that instead of relying on answers that may not be true I would send an email to Fox Racing Shox and to SRAM asking about my weight and their front forks.

The next morning I got an answer from Fox. I can use any of their front forks provided I do not go over 200 psi. They also advised it may be wise to use a fork that has a 15QR through-axle system (the 32 series) or one with a 20QA through-axle system (the 36 series).

Now I knew what I need as for the front fork. It also meant that I would have to invest more then that I have originally envisioned.

In Getting a Bike part IV – What bike did I end up with?

Getting a Bike (Part II)

// December 3rd, 2009 // Comments Off on Getting a Bike (Part II) // Information

Figuring out I had bought the wrong bike did not do well with me. It is a disappointment that you trust someone just to find out you had been deceived. I would not mind being told that I need to loose some weight until I need to mount a bike (which is not true), or to let me know I need to buy a more expensive bike, but not to be deceived.

I had a business trip that prevented me from replacing my bike immediately. I went to California for few days. I used my spare time to cruise through several bike stores trying to understand what type of a bike should I be getting? Should an uber Clyde like me get a hardtail or a full suspension? What should be my limits?

I have posted to forums trying to gather as much information as possible from other folks in a similar situation.

There were no concrete answers until I have tried out some bikes myself. On bikes with full suspension it seemed the rear suspension on most of those would not bare my weight.  It was important for me to get this understanding. It also had put me at a certain price range with a clear upper limit.

I got back home after 10 days on the road eager to ride a bike and to get a new one.

I tried going to several other bike stores to understand what are my choices. It only frustrated me more. The knowledge level experienced was low. No idea about the rear suspension issue for a guy that weights as much as I am.  Just seeing the opportunity to sell a more expensive bike and nothing more then that.

Frustrated, I have decided to try the chain I got my bike from and see what can I do. I went to their main store in Tel-Aviv. I was offered the Gary Fisher Tassajara. A fine bike with a Rock Shox Tora Solo Air 100mm front fork. I rode the bike around and was very pleased. The problem was with the price. Unlike the other store I got my bike from (the same chain), these guys were not willing to give me the 15% discount off the price of the bike, as I was promised. I decided to get the bike from the store I purchased the bike from, get the discount, and end this once and for all.

Discussing this with a friend, he offered getting the Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo and not the Tassajara. The difference was not that big so the folks at he bike store had shipped the bike from another sore and have built it for me. Since I was warned not to touch coil-based front forks we have flipped the Rock Shox coil-based Recon SL 100mm front fork, which comes with the Hoo Koo E Koo, with the Rock Shox Tora Solo Air 100mm which comes with the Tassajara.

I took the bike home. I was pleased. A great bike, a front fork that fits me, what in the world can go wrong?

A whole lot!

In Getting a Bike part III – Which bike did I have for 1 day?

Getting a Bike (Part I)

// December 2nd, 2009 // Comments Off on Getting a Bike (Part I) // Information

I admit it. After deciding that I need to get a bike all I wanted was… to get on a bike. It did not really made any difference to me what brand would it be, how would it look like,  it was the urge to start riding.

This was a mistake.

See, a big guy can’t just climb on any bike and start riding. The weight is a big factor and there are some bikes (especially on the low end side) that would not fit a Clyde, or an uber Clyde like me. The frame, rims, wheels, tires, and the fork are the immediate suspects to check. But, see, I did not know that…

I live in Israel. Bikes are being imported from all over the world, and practically we have all the major brands represented here – Trek, Specialized, Mongoose, GT, Scott, Niner, Fisher, etc. You name it we have it.  Sometimes it seems to me that people that used to run a grocery store now have a bike store… So much variants, so many choices, and not so knowledgeable!

The first store I got into sells Specialized, Haro, and Raleigh bikes (it turns out they also sell Santa Cruz frames but that was only known to me weeks later). Did they looked at me and ask all the right questions? Did my weight was part of their consideration suggesting me a bike? – Absolutely not. They had entry level bikes and that they wanted to sell.

The second bike store did the same thing to me. Although they showed some more interest in my weight, it certainly did not play any part in offering me the right bike. All they wanted to sell is the entry-level bikes they got there.  And they were successful. I got a Trek 4300 bike. Why did I get it? At that time it seemed to me that they ask me knowledgeable questions, and that they are really trying to fit me a bike according to my weight.

Some of you may say that this is a nice entry-level bike. It might. But not for the uber Clyde.

See, one of the things that a Clyde needs to check is the front fork. To see whether its weight can be sustained by the front fork. Sitting on the bike, the front fork, when opened and not locked, should sink in by nothing more then 15%-20%. If it sinks more then that… it is not a fork you should use.

After riding the bike on asphalt roads near my house for about a month and a half I performed my first trail ride with my father-in-law. A 16km/10mile ride. I discovered that the front fork, a Spinner 300 w/coil spring, as it appears on the Trek web site, is simply useless.

This was not the worse part. The day after I went to the bike store, to those folks who imports Trek bikes that sold me the bike, and they admitted that they sold me an entry level bike which has a front fork that may not do too much good for me. I was amazed. I wanted to invest in a good bike. A bike that would be good for an uber Clyde like me, and instead I got an entry level bike that does not fit my weight.

In Getting a bike part II – What did I do next? and What bike did I get as a replacement?