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Looking for MTB advice after 20 years of motorbikes.

P1505P1505 Posts: 2
edited July 2019 in MTB buying advice
Hi all.

I’m looking for some advice. After 20 years of riding motorbikes I’ve decided to change my hobby. The terrible roads, crazy amounts of traffic, drivers with less attention on the road... time for a change.

I’ve always been interested in downhill and trails but never got into it. The cost was prohibitive - but now I’ve sold my bikes! :)

I’m an unfit (cardio wise) but strong (good core, good legs) 41 year old. I have an old knee injury on my dominant leg which does effect my ability to pedal hard for long distances. I get bored fast and love speed and risk. I have no interest in road riding.

I was thinking of, and I know some people don’t like them (??), an ebike to help me get to the top of the trails and to help my knee get exercise but with some help.

In terms of budget... I’d like to be out riding for £3k including helmet, shoes, gloves, etc. I’m going to be taking it easy and slowly building up. I was looking for advice on a bike, and good areas in or near Kent to get some riding in.

Also, are eMTBs too heavy to put on a bike rack?



  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 2,438
    I have recently converted to emtb. I spent the last four years with knee pain (osteo-arthritis) and trying all sorts of remedies (technical, physio, drugs, all three!) to assist me. Instead of riding in the Peak District with my mates, I ended up riding mostly alone, able to do 10-12 miles in the flattish woods and needing 2-3 days recovery. But I'm 68, not 41. I'm not you, don't have your physique, medical history or sporting prowess. And I'm 27 years older. That is a lot of extra wear and tear.

    My suggestion would be to get a decent full suss bike and equip it for knee pain. I suggest a 30T front ring and a SRAM 12-speed cassette (10-50T). That will give you the climbing gear to get up most things without overly stressing your knees. Add in the painkillers of your choice and maybe some pain relieving gels and you'll be good to go!

    PS: May I recommend the Whyte T130C RS. This is a carbon fibre framed bike that is as tough as old boots, designed by Brits for British Winters and it has excellent spec components. It has great reviews (in addition to this one). You will not need any more than 130mm travel, and the bike feels like it has more! You can get a brand new one for less than £3k and you can get last year's brand new model for even less. Then there's the used ones! Avoid anything more than two years old, get one that has had the suspension serviced and you'll have a good one (ask to see receipts for the service). Do your best to get a test ride to see if they fit well. Don't accept the set up from the shop: set the tyre pressures, suspension, saddle, bar layout and so forth. If they whinge, tell them that you are about to make a buying decision and it has to be set up accordingly! I once had a bike presented to me as ready to ride. The front tyre was 19psi, the rear was 41; the fork had zero rebound and the shock had 70%. The %sag was all over the place. Take your time, you are the buyer!!!!

    Best of luck, tell us what you did in the end. :D

    EDIT: I didn't answer all your questions. In my opinion, emtbs are too heavy to put on a roof rack, varying between 19kg to 25kg depending upon function and how much you are prepared to pay for lightness. They are also between £1200 and £1500 more expensive than the clockwork bike you would be happy with. I'm tall, but I'd need steps to get my 20.4kg bike onto a roof rack. But if I injured myself on the trail (regular occurrence), I wouldn't be able to get it back on without help. Towbar rack or boot rack are the way to go. If boot rack, that is without front wheel and battery (if removable) due to weight constraints.

    If you are determined to go emtb, then see here:
  • billycoolbillycool Posts: 833
    Welcome to MTB!

    Steve has covered off most of the eBike side of things.

    My mate was an ex-MX'er and like you, he had a built in thrill chip. He also had plenty of war wounds as a result.

    He started out on a HT (hardtail) Specialized Rockhopper 29" to just get some experience and go from there. "How hard can it be?" he said. We rode around Sherwood Pines (quite average `red` trail), got too excited and promptly ejected himself off the bike and chipped a bone in his hip. Gas and air and a trip in an ambulance was not a good end to his first ride. He repeated than during a trip to BPW (Bike Park Wales) and quickly learnt that MTB is not easy and very different to MX in many ways.

    He very quickly went to a FS (full suspension) bike Whyte T-130 and moved more towards DH (downhill) type riding. It suits his MX background and thrill seeking "try to kill yourself on a regular basis" type of mindset. Like you, he bores easily and needs his adrenaline fix. He tends to do more bike park stuff like BPW, Revolution and a few others. If you aren't familair with that, you use an uplift service to drive you and your bike to the top of a big hill/mountain, you hoon down it (over jumps, table tops, berms etc) and then then repeat - up to 10 times. That should appeal to your inner Kamicaze.

    As a result of going `big`, he moved up to something around 150mm travel and now is looking for something around 160/170mm for his away days.

    For more local rides where he has to actually pedal, he has now got a Plus size HT. Plus size just means fatters tyres that sort of help absorb some impacts and give a good level of grip. A more DH specific bike weighing c.15kg+ isn't much fun when you've got to actually pedal up hills etc. An XC bike (more specifically a HT) should weigh in at around 12-13kg. It may not sound much but you do notice it.

    DH bikes tends to be heavier with longer supsension and slacker geometry to cope with the DH aspect. You can then get Enduro (sort of in between c.140mm), All mountain (AM) and XC which tend to be lighter, faster and around 100mm to 120mm travel (also popular as HT's).

    As for the knee issue - it might just need some exercise to see what it can cope with.

    An eBike is an option but they do cost a lot and you might not need one quite yet. Cardio can we developed and fitness/stamina improved. You don't have to be an Olympic athlete.

    MTB is a broad subject and there is something for everyone. I have a HT and FS bike and some people have more than that. Maybe start small, give it a go and see what you think?
    "Ride, crash, replace"
  • reaction57reaction57 Posts: 20
    lots of good advice on the previous posts.

    Some people do manage to put ebikes on roof racks, I would not attempt it though, I'm not tall/strong enough and most racks won't be capable of taking the weight or have fixings large enough for generally bigger ebike frames.

    Please don't think ebikes are just for unfit, injured or lazy people, more and more people are finding that ebikes are great fun and there are increasing numbers of young fit riders switching to ebikes.

    Which ever way you decide to go good luck and have fun.
  • steve_sordysteve_sordy Posts: 2,438
    Reaction57 wrote:

    Please don't think ebikes are just for unfit, injured or lazy people, more and more people are finding that ebikes are great fun and there are increasing numbers of young fit riders switching to ebikes.


    100% agree with that. I would not be without mine now. :D

    But don't think for a second that an emtb is just like your ordinary clockwork mtb except that you don't have to pedal quite so hard. They are £1200- £1500 more expensive than the bike you would normally buy. The battery and motor are significant lumps of cash to replace and/or repair and the warranty is only for two years. Stuff can go wrong that can only be fixed by a dealer unless you are a competent electrician and bike mechanic combined.

    I have had the following problems in my first six months of ownership:
    # Battery won't charge when the charger and battery are below 11degC (rogue charger, but the manufacturer insisted on replacing the battery - that was two weeks without a bike!
    # Main power switch does not work. Fixed by a hard reset (holding the power button down for 20 seconds - who knew?)
    # Display went dead and therefore nothing worked despite the power being on. That was a cable that had been ripped out after snagging on a tree. The loose end tucked itself out of sight and it was not at all obvious that anything was missing. Shoved it back in, all good. But only after a two-mile un-powered ride of a heavy bike with big fat low pressure tyres!
    # Display went dead, nothing worked. Then all of a sudden it did, then it didn't, then ....! Diagnosed as a cable damaged when the battery was replaced (see earlier). I still have to get the cost of that back as nobody has accepted responsibility yet.

    Yes, all under warranty. OK in theory. But if your dealer is 85 mins away (me) or in another country (many) then it is a different thing all together, warranty fixes are a bloody nuisance. Mechanically the bike is wonderful and has been flawless, it's a joy to ride.

    The second hand market is even more uncertain and heart breaking than for clockwork bikes. Would you buy a used eBike?

    Then there is the transportation issue:
    # Roof rack (Try getting the bike on after you have injured yourself on the trail).
    # Boot rack (Is it strong enough to carry the weight without removing the battery, if you can, and also the front wheel)?
    # Inside the car (A good solution if your back is strong enough, these things are heavy!) No fuel penalty!
    # Towbar rack. (Excellent solution, but they are expensive, as is purchase and installation of the tow bar).

    There are new techniques to learn and new mistakes to make, all of which are fun. As I said, I would not be without an emtb now. I have sold both my clockwork bikes. But if you don't have an mtb already, my advice would be to put off the purchase of an emtb for as long as possible. The pace of development is astonishing and my bike will look old hat and with old technology in less than three years time (ref used values). Prices will come down in real terms, further depressing used values).
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