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Does the bike really matter?

SheppySheppy Posts: 140
edited September 2007 in XC and Enduro
I took part in the TwentyFour12 last weekend on my lowly 2006 Rockhopper. Now what I'm curious about is whether it really makes that much difference what bike you are on when it comes down to it. I was knocking out some average times but then some other guys on all carbon race machines were only doing the same times. Sure there were a few people going past me like I was in reverse but on the whole I was doing ok. So I was wondering what peoples opinion would be as to the difference in bike. If I were riding say and Anthem Advanced instead of the Rockhopper, what do people who have had a similar experience think?
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  • MentalRaverMentalRaver Posts: 221
    I would say it a balance of both.

    I have a friend who was using an crappy Diamonback, grip shift, suntour forked jump bike to do trials and general stuff. He's the best out of our group and most drilled.

    He bought a £700 Kona Scrap the other month and he instantly was able to raise his game even further. Now the guy is a genius and really does kick censored .

    I have no doubt that you can't be an average rider and get on a great bike and tackle the greats, but if you are a good rider and get on a great bike you're going to be laughing.

    Look at it like this-

    If you put a ferrari engine in a Audi Chassis it will go like the clappers and beat most things but will be outdone on the more technical elements of handling, etc.

    Put that same engine in an F1 Chassis and it's going eat other cars alive.

    But if you put a 1.6 Escort engine in the same chassis, it might go okay but it will still be a censored .
    Too enthusiastic about biking for my friends...want to ride somewhere in the SE? TELL ME!!! [email protected] - and yes they can!
  • ddoogieddoogie Posts: 4,159
    I can ride for longer/harder/faster on my top spec bike than is possible on my Hardrock. The lightweight element certainly plays a part as there is a 5-6lb weight difference between the two. Climbs are easier by far.

    Saying that, the overall pace of a rider is determined by their physical fitness. If you are keeping up with riders on top spec carbon bikes then you can rest easy in the knowledge that you are fitter than them!
    S-works Stumpjumper FSR

    I'll see you at the end.

    You'll see me on the floor.
  • SheppySheppy Posts: 140
    Cheers guys, very interesting and valid points. One thought I had though was when the conditions are bad (like when mud seems to have superglue in it as did last weekend!) the bike is less significant. I guess an analogy would be putting the audi with the ferrari engine on an icerink along with an escort, with little traction the gap is closed.

    So I guess my conclusion would be under ideal conditions it makes a huge difference, under poor conditions there is less advantage. Maybe it is time for a nice new XC race bike afterall :D
  • MentalRaverMentalRaver Posts: 221
    Sheppy wrote:
    Maybe it is time for a nice new XC race bike :D

    thats what I thought when I read your post!!!! and watch the positions rise....
    Too enthusiastic about biking for my friends...want to ride somewhere in the SE? TELL ME!!! [email protected] - and yes they can!
  • Im with you here mate i ride a alright gt agressor that i bought for 200 quid when i was at the start line there were sum guys there with 1000 pound rocky mountain bikes and desighner gear. Guess who came first by other 20 mins ...me . Its not the bike its the rider :D
    If mum would let me,id sleep with my bike :)
  • streakostreako Posts: 2,937
    I would say about 80 per cent rider ability and 20 per cent bike. Or something.
    In my first event I was on my 23.5lb Scott Scale and as I got tired I was being passed on the climbs by guys on machines 5-6lbs heavier.
    As said already, it is great to have a light bike, but to make the most of it you must be in great shape and be an excellent rider.

    Remember that by losing half a stone on yourself it is like losing the weight of the bikes frame and fork.
  • streako wrote:
    As said already, it is great to have a light bike, but to make the most of it you must be in great shape and be an excellent rider.

    The heaviest component on my bike is me !!

    I reckon skill plays as big a part as fitness, and bike setup for the conditions is also crucial. The confidence of many elite riders comes from knowing they can push their rigs that bit further, that bit faster, carry that bit more speed into the corners.

    Sometimes though, watching these guys, I'm convinced it's not skill they use, but magic.

    Shame about Peaty's broken foot. Get well soon, fella.

    Marv.
    What tree ? ...........

    Trek 8000 ZR XC hardtail.
  • pgmpgm Posts: 5
    i agree with whats been said it down to the rider mainly and i think the difference between a £300 bike and a £1500 is not a lot, but a £300 and £3000 you would notice quite a bit
    PGM
  • dvatc_markdvatc_mark Posts: 37
    I'd say the bike makes a difference to a point but then the riders ability/fitness takes over, i.e. even a good rider will struggle on a £80 full suspesnion beast. However once you get to good entry level hardtails (say around £500, which some people may say are not entry level is suppose), spending more money just gets you a lighter bike with more durable kit, or full suspension. So I'd say that once you get into the priceregion of decent hardtails, rider ability plays more of a part than the bike. Yes a better bike will help reduce lap times a little but no as much as the rider can.

    I did the twentyfour12 also at the weekend, and was amazed at the number of riders who couldn't handle the techincal rooty bits even though they were on £2000+ machines. These chaps may have had a better bike than me but I lapped minuites faster then them purly by riding the whole course instead of walking sections.

    If having the lastest full suspension bike is really a massive advantage, how come a fully rigid singlespeed came 3rd place in the mens 24 hour race.,,,,,,,,
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    Its a combination of the two. A bike for one may not be the best for another - but simply put, get a 20lb bike and slowly add weight to it and it will take more effort to get it round a course.
  • nutcpnutcp Posts: 169
    It's not the bike.

    I've got a 19lb carbon 2x9 race bike and 24lb steel singlespeed. I go the same speed on either, but feel better and have more fun on singlespeed. I always ride rigid, but seem at no disadvantage to my suspended riding buddies. What it's really about is attitude. Singlespped and rigid demand committmant and skill. This brings greater personal reward.

    Skills such as the ability to lift the front end, bunnyhop, pick the cleanest line, etc seem to be endangered arts in the age of the gadget laden 'all-mountain' rig. It's like the difference between a totally automatic digital camera, and an old totally manual film camera where the user has to make all the settings - and therefore technical and creative choices. Which one will actually allow you to develop skills? You might get a great picture from the auto, but how much of that is down to you? XC mountain bikes have become gadget laden and complex at the expense of really skillful riding.

    Why spend two grand on a super-tech bike just because you never learned the skills to ride a simpler one? Real sophistication is a simple and elegant bike ridden with skill and committment.

    However, I would agree that the ability to perform is somewhat dependent on a reliable machine that performs adequately - but it certainly doesn't need a dozen complex gadgets and a motorbike price tag.
    bikebore
  • supersonicsupersonic Posts: 82,708 Lives Here
    If reward is enjoyment, then sure, if its getting to the line as quickly as possible (without mechanicals!) then within reason lighter is better for a reasonably skilled rider over XC terrain. Otherwise we'd just get a 35lbs lump and ride them.
  • ddoogieddoogie Posts: 4,159
    pgm wrote:
    i agree with whats been said it down to the rider mainly and i think the difference between a £300 bike and a £1500 is not a lot, but a £300 and £3000 you would notice quite a bit

    I don't agree with this at all.

    I think you will notice the most difference between a cheaper bike and a £1500 "midranger" than you would between the high end bike and the £1500 model. Its the rules of diminishing returns present in all sports with a lot of R&D time put into the market.
    S-works Stumpjumper FSR

    I'll see you at the end.

    You'll see me on the floor.
  • I've been riding a v-brake GT Avalanche for around 3 years and have only recently started doing anything more technical than riding firetracks.

    I've started doing the rides near me that Gorrick set up for xc races this year. I can get round them - it took some practise, but probably not very quickly.

    I'm now looking to upgrade to a bike with discs / better forks and hope I will see some benefit, however, it will still be down to me whether I get better or not.

    How do I get to Carnegie Hall - practise man, practise! :)
  • Pippen33Pippen33 Posts: 235
    It aint rocket science, it's down to the rider. But obviously you'd do a lot better on a £1500 than a £150.
    spammer
  • ToastyToasty Posts: 2,598
    Assuming you get the right bike for the job, I'd say the difference gets smaller and smaller. The difference between £100 and £300 is massive, £300 to £500 is pretty big as well as hydraulic brakes and forks with rebound damping start appearing, after that the difference gets smaller and smaller. £1500 to £2000 ends up just shaving grams off with carbon bits unless you've bought into a very expensive frame.

    Your Rockhopper should definitely be raceworthy, bare in mind a lot of lower frames aren't designed for XC racing on though, shorter top tubes, longer/heavier/undamped travel etc.
  • SheppySheppy Posts: 140
    I must admit the biggest problem on the TwentyFour12 was mud clearance. My wheels were actually jamming with the mud behing the forks. Maybe money would be better spent on getting decent mud clearing tyres rather then a new bike (although everyone likes a nice shiny new bike :D ) Althought I think everyone was suffering with mud clearance from what I was talking to everyone else about.

    I don't think the weight of the bike was that significant in hindsight with the amount of mud I was carrying around on the tyres!
  • otherselfotherself Posts: 32
    The quality and condition of the groupset is more important than the frame.
    MTB
    1995 GT Tequesta
    2012 On-One Scandal

    Road
    1987 Atala Corsa GS (Columbus Aelle)
    2011 FLX-FR-R02 Chinese Carbon Fibre
  • ride_wheneverride_whenever Posts: 13,279
    One of the mags did a test on this recently, the bike only plays a part upto the 500-600 pound mark, then it becomes the best rider. Maybe look at your tyres instead of race ready bikes, but if you've got money to splurge then a nice new bike is always going to be cool.
  • the rider undoubtedly makes more difference than the bike. But often in racing you need to squeeze every last bit out so want to improve everything you can. This is more relevant to roadies than MTBs because (no offence to roadies) but there is less skill involved, so getting a bike that's a couple of pounds lighter might make half a minute difference over a certain time trial/stage/race or whatever. Not much, and not worth it for general riding, but worth it for beating someone else who otherwise consistently just beats you by ten seconds.
    The curve of how fast you can go against pounds spent on bike I see as tending towards a maximum - i.e. like a capacitor/battery charging with time, rather than getting proportionally better as in a straight line. It's about picking the right point on the curve that's worth it for you.
  • nutcp wrote:
    It's not the bike.

    I've got a 19lb carbon 2x9 race bike and 24lb steel singlespeed. I go the same speed on either, but feel better and have more fun on singlespeed. I always ride rigid, but seem at no disadvantage to my suspended riding buddies. What it's really about is attitude. Singlespped and rigid demand committmant and skill. This brings greater personal reward.

    Skills such as the ability to lift the front end, bunnyhop, pick the cleanest line, etc seem to be endangered arts in the age of the gadget laden 'all-mountain' rig. It's like the difference between a totally automatic digital camera, and an old totally manual film camera where the user has to make all the settings - and therefore technical and creative choices. Which one will actually allow you to develop skills? You might get a great picture from the auto, but how much of that is down to you? XC mountain bikes have become gadget laden and complex at the expense of really skillful riding.

    Why spend two grand on a super-tech bike just because you never learned the skills to ride a simpler one? Real sophistication is a simple and elegant bike ridden with skill and committment.

    However, I would agree that the ability to perform is somewhat dependent on a reliable machine that performs adequately - but it certainly doesn't need a dozen complex gadgets and a motorbike price tag.
    Interesting. While I don't necessarily disagree with the above, I come from the opposite perspective. I'd say it all depends on what trails you ride. Although , some people do have stupidly over-specced bikes, e.g. people who have expensive full-sus rigs and all they ever do is trekking paths like the TPT.
    I've got a full-susser, and have great fun on it, and definitely get more skilled the more I ride it. There's trails that I ride that, whilst I wouldn't like to presume one way or the other on your/anyone's ability to ride them on a rigid, I for one certainly wouldn't be able to ride them at all on a rigid - no way, full stop. There's one in particular that there's no way I'd attempt it - I'd be going over the handlebars every 5 yards. I have a full-suss AM bike because I don't want to limit myself to little more than trekking, even though my skill level isn't exactly top notch, but I don't see how this precludes me from acquiring skill - my experience is that it doesn't.
    I appreciate what people say about "you learn line choice better on a hardtail than on a full-sus" but sometimes it's not a case of go fast if you take the correct line or go slow if you don't; it's either a case of go through if you take the correct line, or stop or bail if you don't. i.e. you NEED to take the correct line whatever so if you pick your trails right you learn line choice anyway.
    I appreciate the handling advantages full sus gives me, and it is a skill in itself maximising this, this is just as fun a skill to learn as the 'purist' skills you talk about.
    Don't get me wrong I did used to be one of these "all-the-gear-no-idea" types when I had a full-on downhill bike, but I sold it, because whilst at times I enjoyed riding it, most of the time I was either feeling it was a shame I didn't have the full-on downhil ability to get the best out of it, or cursing its weight and reluctance to get up hills :wink:
  • AndyAndy Posts: 8,208
    ddoogie wrote:
    Saying that, the overall pace of a rider is determined by their physical fitness. If you are keeping up with riders on top spec carbon bikes then you can rest easy in the knowledge that you are fitter than them!


    :lol: Chuckle!
  • nutcpnutcp Posts: 169
    I truly beleive it's best to learn and develop skills and fitness on a basic machine. When the skills and fitness limit is reached it may then be time to invest in some gadgetery. However, the current trend is for newbies to equip themselves with every gadget going, before they've ever tried the simpler alternative. In fact, the simpler alternative is often dismissed out of hand. As in other areas of life, gadgets do not always enrich the experience. Half the time they can be a right pain in the backside.

    Here's an interesting thing. I ride road - and all the bikes look pretty much the same. Similar frames and groups and wheels. I ride XC mtb - and there's everything from rigid SS to 5" travel all-mountain monsters, all on the same ride! For my local terrain I've settled on rigid SS for the majority of rides. I reckon I'm far better off on that than with gears and suspension. When I see riders fiddling with a lockout lever, stopping to adjust rebound, hear the crunching, clicking and swearing, cruise past people on a climb, hear the talk of worn pivots, see the 'latest' components and read about Specialized's hot new 'gimmick of the month', I know I made the right choice. But, perhaps I'm just fooling myself.
    bikebore
  • nutcp wrote:
    I truly beleive it's best to learn and develop skills and fitness on a basic machine. When the skills and fitness limit is reached it may then be time to invest in some gadgetery. However, the current trend is for newbies to equip themselves with every gadget going, before they've ever tried the simpler alternative. In fact, the simpler alternative is often dismissed out of hand. As in other areas of life, gadgets do not always enrich the experience. Half the time they can be a right pain in the backside.
    That's one way of looking at it. Another way of looking at it is that they are all inventions, and inventions are made for a reason. Because they improve life, they are useful.
    You know I shake my head in despair when I see people struggling to climb up on a chair to change a lightbulb when they could just light a nice simple candle, faffing about with fancy biros when they could just dip a nice quill in a bottle of ink, and don't even mention people who constantly stress out because their computer doesn't work the way they want it to when they could just use a nice simple abacus...
    nutcp wrote:
    Here's an interesting thing. I ride road - and all the bikes look pretty much the same. Similar frames and groups and wheels. I ride XC mtb - and there's everything from rigid SS to 5" travel all-mountain monsters, all on the same ride! For my local terrain I've settled on rigid SS for the majority of rides. I reckon I'm far better off on that than with gears and suspension.
    I wouldn't really like to give any opinion on that really, as I'd have to base my opinion on whether if I was riding it I'd prefer to have gears and suspension on what 'your local terrain' is like and without knowing that I couldn't really comment.
    nutcp wrote:
    When I see riders fiddling with a lockout lever, stopping to adjust rebound, hear the crunching, clicking and swearing, cruise past people on a climb, hear the talk of worn pivots, see the 'latest' components and read about Specialized's hot new 'gimmick of the month', I know I made the right choice. But, perhaps I'm just fooling myself.
    At the risk of being presumptious, I would say there's a slight bit of wishful thinking going on - if you ever see someone so much as touch any lever that looks like it might be suspension- or gear- related, i.e. that you haven't got on your bike, then that goes down in your book as 'they all spend hours fiddling with it and cursing it'.
    I personally have 140mm travel forks but I lock them out when climbing on road so they are exactly the same as rigid forks, albeit slightly heavier. I will flick it to 'lock' before setting off, and flick the lock off again at the start of the good trails / top of hills. I'll also do the same with the rear suspension lock. I can do both while riding, which equates to a maximum of about 4 flicks of levers in a 3 hour or more ride, and it takes no time at all. The only thing I'd have to get off my bike for is to lower the seat, which I often do - but I normally want a pause at some point to admire the scenery and have a drink / bite to eat anyway.
  • ROCHAROCHA Posts: 266
    On a not too technical xc track you won't get much bennefit for having a better bike. As long as the bike is ergonomically adequate and has a reasonable weight and tough enough components you're fine. You can get all this in a sub 500quid xc bike, if you chhose wisely.
    A bike above that price tag will help you, but it won't make you win a race. I guess a rider who finishes first in a world cup xc race would still win if he rode a bike with 1/4 of the price.
    But that's only because xc bikes tend to be simpler and cheaper than dh bikes, for instance. A 500quid dual suspension is most likely to be a disaster on a rough dh track, especially in the hands of a highly skilled rider. Steve Peat would brake such a bike in half in no time, if he was crazy enough to try... A top xc rider would feel somehow limited by the bike, but certainly the bike would still be in decent conditions after a race.

    And than there's suspension tech and the price that comes with it. you could ride a £150 RS tora, if finely tuned, around a xc track with no problem apart from weight. One doesn't need to spend much money on a xc bike to feel safe riding xc.
    On a dh or dirt jump bike you do have to spend a lot more money to feel safe riding it hard, even if you sacrifice weight. A marzocchi drop off triple costs more than a tora and a serious downhiller will know that it won't let him be as fast, at least on some parts of the track, as he would be on a 888. And this is not simply because of the weight...

    So, a cheap bike will limit your performance on xc, but only by a small amount. But, for dh, it's a lot different. A cheap dh bike that can handle some real dh action will cost as much as a very decent xc bike (decent enough for a rider to be able to win a big xc race using it).
  • ROCHA wrote:
    A 500quid dual suspension is most likely to be a disaster on a rough dh track, especially in the hands of a highly skilled rider. Steve Peat would brake such a bike in half in no time, if he was crazy enough to try...
    LOL :D
    I've always had a slight yearning to do something along those lines :wink: like to break a really censored bike through 'normal' riding.
    e.g. to get a £99 halfords special, cane it round the peak district until it breaks and walk proudly back into halfords saying "look! it broke - it must therefore be censored ! not fit for the purpose for which it was designed!"
  • dvatc_markdvatc_mark Posts: 37
    LOL
    I've always had a slight yearning to do something along those lines like to break a really censored bike through 'normal' riding.
    e.g. to get a £99 halfords special, cane it round the peak district until it breaks and walk proudly back into halfords saying "look! it broke - it must therefore be censored ! not fit for the purpose for which it was designed!"

    One of the mags, (can't remember if was MBR or what MTB) did this a while back and came to the conclusion that the bike was dangerous to ride off road.
  • ashleymp777ashleymp777 Posts: 1,212
    I've always ridden with the age old philosophy of KISS (Keep it simple stupid) I've tried all the fandangled new technology and it drove me mad! I found I spent most of the time messing around with the 101 settings!

    Although I'd never want to revert back to my old Ridgeback 601GS and a Flex stem :D Oh, they were the days!
  • Awesome bike Ashleymp777, how much did that set you back?
    The Prince

    'RIDE HARD, RIDE HARDTAIL'
  • ashleymp777ashleymp777 Posts: 1,212
    Not as much as you'd think! Most of the parts (drivechain, forks, wheels) I got through the 'cycle to work' scheme - so that way I saved roughly 40%.

    The rest came from Bromley Bike Co.
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