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Mountain Bike Handlebars that Hurt Your Bike Handling!

Your handlebars greatly effect the feel of your bike and how your bike handles. Sometimes bars that are comfortable for long rides aren’t the best for bike handling.

Mountain Bike Handlebars with a lot of back sweep (back sweep is how the handlebars point slightly back towards you, all mtb handlebars have some back sweep but most are between 3 and 9 degrees, these bars are 11 to 37 degrees) hurt your bike handling! I dislike them and they don’t like you! I have seen these handle bars recently on a few students bikes and they are scary and dangerous. I suppose if you have a nagging wrist injury or ride for more than 8 hours at a time they may be comfortable (but they are uncomfortable for me as my wrists have to twist outward to hold them) but comfort at the cost of greatly reduced control and risk of injury?! That doesn’t sound like a good trade off.

Top to bottom: Origin8 Space Off Road II (37 degree bend), Salsa Bend 2 (23degree), Surly (by Nitto) 1×1 Torsion Bar(15 degree bend).

 

I got this photo from an interesting blog focused on bike as transportation and adventure (bike packing and long distance rides) check it out if you are into long rides:

http://www.pushingthepedals.com/2012/01/all-about-the-bend/ he likes the bars and for his purpose they are probably fine, he will be a little more twitchy but if they make him more comfortable that might make long rides more fun.

Have your ever ridden an old 3 speed with bars that bend straight back towards you? They are very twitchy. These new bars are similar. The more back sweep a bar has the more it moves your elbows in, towards your body. This puts you in an nonathletic position (elbows in) where you can not resist side to side bar movement nor can you move quickly or efficiently. This means when you hit a bump that causes the front wheel to swerve (which happens probably once a minute on a mountain bike) the input from the bars will be transferred to your body causing you to swerve. With a more straight bar and arms out from your side more you would; A. be able to resist the bars swerving and B. the movement of your arms would not be transferred to your body so the bump would not cause you to swerve. It is also hard to absorb shock and contour to the terrain as well with elbows in. So if your bike came with these bars switch them out asap! If you were thinking these type bars might be an upgrade, they are not! As we have stated before, look for a wide bar, 720mm to 810mm and a short stem, 30-70mm long and you will have much more control (assuming you understand and ride in proper body position).

Create you most in control ride yet!

Update On BetterRide Mountain Bike Students and Coaches

It has been an amazing year so far and I am feeling more fortunate than ever to have such great coaches working for BetterRide and to meet and help so many riders improve and reach their goals. Here is a quick update on life at BetterRide.

Coaches:

Checkout this thread: http://www.bikemojo.com/speak/showthread.php?92241-Betterride-net

I love what they are saying about our head coach Andy Winoradsky and Certified Coach Chris Skolnick!

A few highlights:

“I’ll write a more detailed review when I’m not exhausted, BUT, I will say that:

1) I am already a better rider after the clinic.

2) I expect with some practice of the skills I learned I will be MUCH better by mid-summer.

3) i only thought I knew how to ride a bike. Halfway through day 3 something clicked and everything felt new and better and totally awesome.”

Laura

“I attended the Better Ride clinic at Walnut last year and absolutely loved it. Some of the best $600 I’ve ever spent. I agree with the others – it totally opened my mind to a new and more effective / efficient way of riding (especially the cornering). It did more for my riding than any bike or component upgrade ever has!”

Jake

Coach Jacqueline Harmony just won the Pan American Championships for the second year in a row!

BetterRide Athlete and Coach Jackie Harmony Wins Pan Am Championships!

more here:

Students:

Student finds mountain biking nirvana:

“I wanted to let you know about my recent brush with mountain biking nirvana but first I need to ask you….
We’re home but not before a few days of riding in Tucson. I, like you, spent the last three weeks or so of March sick with a sinus and chest infection so my riding was limited. I felt pretty good when we hit Tucson so off we went to fantasy Island with the hope that my strength had returned. Turns out I was hitting on all cylinders and ripped it up. My main purpose was to look down the trail to where I was going not where I was. I took all the descents out of the saddle and at full throttle with a level of confidence I had yet to experience. My climbs were stong and done with spirit fingers, my cornering was best it’s ever been. I came close to that same place, that nirvana, I reach on those days surfing when the waves are big and glassy with great form and I’m on it. It was truly a brush with mountain biking nirvana and I am convinced that the only way to reach mtb nirvana is to look ahead and the rest will follow. It’s the same in surfing. Idon’t look at my feet or the water at the end of my board, I look at where I want to go and the rest, the balance the weight shifts the balance everything just follows.
Of course I have lots of work to do but to touch mtb nirvana for while was truly amazing. It is why I have surfed all my life and it’s what I want out of mtbing. I have never competed surfing, I am more of a soul surfer and I may not ever compete mtbing I am probably more of a soul biker.
I did a beautiful coaster wheelie over an 18″ drop at a local trail yesterday. It just keeps getting better.
Anyway, just wanted you to know how it’s going and thanks again for the clinic and I hope this wasn’t too new age for you.

All the best,
-Tom

More students reaching/exceeding their goals:

If you follow our facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/BetterRide) you know I recently did a Core Skills 2 camp with a select group of our students, two pro racers, Graeme Pitts and Trevor Trinkino, and three 16 year old juniors, Luca Cometti, Dylan Unger and Mckay Vezina. Well the three juniors raced the next weekend at the Fontana National and took 2nd, 3d and 5th in Jr. Ex! At the same race Betteriders swept the women’s pro podium with Jackie Harmony winning, Gabriela Williams second and Margaret Gregory earning the bronze medal!

Then Graeme Pitts won the Keysville Classic for the second year in a row! The only other student the Core Skills 2 Camp, Trevor Trinkino has yet to race this season as he is finishing up is second semester as CU Boulder. I expect to see similar results out of Trevor as he is one determined and focused young man.

On the XC side Erica Tingey won the Cactus Hugger and Jen Hanks earned a third place finish! Congratulations to both of you on a great start to the season!

Erica on her way to victory!

 

 

Thanks Andy! Your MTB Coaching gets Some Amazing Feedback!

Maybe I should just let our certified coaches do all the coaching! I did my best to only invite riders who I felt were friendly, patient and good communicators to go through our certification process but they all continue to impress me with comments from their students. Checkout these two comments from the BetterRide facebook page ( http://www.facebook.com/BetterRide ) from Andy’s camp last weekend:

Andy thank you so much! The camp far exceeded my expectations. Learned so much. Time to practice. Great group of people. = ]
Cole Johnson
Andy, thanks so much! Me, my dad, Cole, and Chase had so much fun! I’m so much more ready to tackle the race season and put all my new techniques to use on the courses up here! Defiantly the best coach I’ve ever had in any sport and the most I’ve ever learned in 3 days.
Keenan Charlton

That is the second time students have said that Andy provided the best coaching they have ever had in any sport! I am so fortunate to have such great coaches working for me! Thanks Andy!

Have Your MTB Upgrades Made it Less Safe and Less Fun?

I am often amazed at the mountain bike setups I see! Great bikes, sometimes with great “upgrades” but the wrong upgrades for that rider or that rider’s purpose that day. Then when I ask why did you switch to those tires/bars/pedals etc. the answers I get crack me up! “Because Bob Bobaliny (the fastest local xc racer) was using these tires at 24  Hours in the Old Pueblo”, “I saw World Champ Greg Minnaar using these tires”, “my friend Scott said they are the best”, “I read on mtbr that these were the lightest bars made”, etc. MTB upgrades and components such as pedals, shoes, handlebars, tires, stem and wheel set can have a huge positive or negative effect on your riding! Choose the components and equipment for you, the conditions and your purpose that day.

Would you use this slick, Hookworm tire in loose conditions?

 

Maxxis Hookworm MTB Tire

Why can copying the World Champion’s setup sometimes do more harm than good? The World Champ had those tires on for a specific purpose (in Greg Minnaar’s case winning a downhill race with the conditions the way they are that hour of race day. The mud spike Greg used in the slick conditions at a rainy wold cup in France would be outright dangerous even in the pouring rain at a rocky hard packed place like Bootleg Canyon (in the Nevada desert). Listening to or mimicking other “experts” (in quotes because they are often not experts) can also have a negative effect on your riding and safety. One, because they might not be experts and two, because their purpose is different than yours. On a technically easy trail like the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo course a racer will be concerned more about rolling resistance than control so she runs a semi-slick tire front and rear. The same racer on a more technical course would likely run a knobbier tire that rolled a little slower but gave her more control.

Some things to look out for:

1. Light weight components, light bars, light wheel sets, light tires, light cranks etc.. Our obsession with shaving weight off our bikes needs to end. Yes, given the exact same performance I would rather have a 22 pound bike than a 32 pound bike, but right now that doesn’t exist.

First, what is your purpose? Do want a bike that handles all conditions you may encounter really well or the lightest bike on the market? Often, the two end up being at odds with each other (the lightest bars are narrow, the lightest tires are narrow and have weak sidewalls, light weight seat-posts are not height adjustable on the fly, all compromising control). If you are simply a passionate rider who wants to ride your best, focus on ride quality and control. If you are a cross county or endurance racer you need to really weigh the benefits of weight shaving vs. control, which often means different equipment for different race courses. The more technically challenging the race the more likely you would want to add a dropper post and better tires for more confidence and control. The less technical the course the more you would favor light weight and semi-slick tires.

2. Pedals. Clipless pedals are not an upgrade (see our blog posts on this topic:   http://betterride.net/blog/2010/clipped-in-vs-flat-pedals/ ,  http://betterride.net/blog/2010/interesting-info-on-pedal-stroke-efficiency/) they are simply another way of pedaling. If they cause you to lose ANY confidence on the trail, how can they be an upgrade?!

Clipless shoes, there are two main different styles of clipped in shoes, softer and wider soled shoes for wide clipless pedals (platform pedals with clipless) and super stiff and light xc racing shoes. If you are an xc racer a carbon soled shoe provides amazing power and light weight, tough to beat. If you like to explore when you ride, ride technically challenging trails and want more support and comfort for your foot the softer soled 5.10 type shoe with the platform clip-in is a better bet. For more on each of these pedal types and shoes see Andy’s post: http://betterride.net/blog/2011/betterride-mtb-skills-head-coach-andys-summary-on-pedals-shoes/

3. Seatposts. A light weight non-adjustable seatpost will definitely save a little weight but it isn’t worth it! A  “dropper post” will give you more control and allow you to descend with much more confidence, control and help you to descend faster! You CANNOT get into proper descending body position with your seat at full pedal height! So the 3-6 ounce weight penalty of a dropper post is worth it on trails that have steep descents, fast corners, drops, or technical sections! See my article on dropper posts: http://betterride.net/blog/2010/the-4th-thing-you-can-buy-that-will-instanty-improve-your-bike-handling/

My 6 year old Gravity Dropper

Tires, the sport is called mountain biking for a reason, we ride off-road! So I nice knobby tire will give you much more traction than a semi-slick or tire with minimal tread.

Nice tread for more control!

Figure out the goals for your mountain bike riding and then make sure you aren’t compromising them by using the wrong equipment for your goals! Of course the number one goal is, having fun!