/ MTB for Peak District riding

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ChrisBrooke - on 26 Apr 2019

Hi bikers.

I live in Sheffield and ride in the Peak, with no particular plans to go further afield. At the moment I have an old (10 years or so...) Giant hardtail which I can get up and down most things on but I'm thinking it will be more fun on a more bouncy machine. The Blakamoor descent for example is pretty terrifying on my short-travel hard tail. 

I'm after some buying advice from people who ride regularly around here. I'm trying to decide between this: https://www.evanscycles.com/norco-optic-c7-2-2017-mountain-bike-EV243380 which between the trade-in discount, and another £500 off through my health insurance, I can get for ~£1950. 

And this: https://www.canyon.com/en-gb/mountain-bikes/trail-bikes/spectral/spectral-al-5.0/1996.html?dwvar_1996_pv_rahmenfarbe=BK&quantity=1 at £1900. 

The Norco looks like a great bike with great kit on it, and about 12kg, but only has 120/130mm suspension. The Canyon has 150/160mm suspension but weighs nearly 3kg more. 

So, my question is: how much more fun is it riding a long travel bike over a shorter travel bike, do I really need that much for pootling in the Peak, and is it worth the weight penalty? I'm not a downhiller by any means and have no intention of going fast anywhere but would rather the uphills weren't too hard....

Your thoughts are welcome.

Post edited at 15:33
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dsh - on 26 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I don't ride in the peak but I only have 120mm travel on my full suss 29er and it handles 5 foot drops just fine, I'm too scared to do anything bigger. Rocky descents are no problem for the bike. The geometry looks similar for both bikes. Remember that once you have a full suss you will probably get the bug for doing bigger faster downhills.

Post edited at 16:50
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ChrisBrooke - on 26 Apr 2019
In reply to dsh:

OK, cheers. Hopefully I'd be alright on 5 inch drops then...

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dsh - on 26 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

> OK, cheers. Hopefully I'd be alright on 5 inch drops then...

Yes although see my edit above, once you switch to a full suss you will want to ride bigger!

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ChrisBrooke - on 26 Apr 2019
In reply to dsh:

Right. I can well imagine.

I really like riding bikes, but I'm definitely a climber first and don't want to risk hurting myself and losing climbing time! So, I'm definitely just up for fun (but challenging) rides....avoiding any air time (and hospital time) if possible!

Post edited at 16:55
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Marek - on 26 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

In my very limited experience, going from a hardtail to a full-susser just means you crash at higher speeds. Bear that in mind if you want to avoid injuries.

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ebdon on 26 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

One man's x country is another's gnarly free ride...

I have ridden most things in the peak (never managed cave Dale or the beast but I'm not a great cyclist) on my trusty old 26" hardtail . I now have a beefy enduro style full suss which I find both more fun and faster for dark peak rockyness and only really required for my modest skill level on 1 or 2 descents.  So it kinda depends on your budget and the kind of riding you enjoy, for sure a full suss makes things easier but it's heavier more expensive and harder to maintain.

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Jungle_153 - on 26 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I ride a 140mm travel bike and have loads of fun. Having tried out a 170mm enduro style bike I found the hill climbs a harder proposition.
Having ridden around the Peak and in particular the blacka moor decent. My preference is for a mid travel bike and get the best of both worlds. In all fairness I'd argue that a long travel bike is overkill for that style of riding and if that's what you do most get a bike that suits that terrain. Also look at getting a demo bike and trying it out on similar terrain.

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ChrisBrooke - on 26 Apr 2019
In reply to The thread:

Thanks for the responses so far. My suspicion is that one should just own 4 or 5 bikes and choose whichever you fancy that day.... back in the real world though... 

I’ve also ridden a lot of the Peak trails on my 26” hard tail without too many problems. Like you discovered though, I reckon it will be faster, more fun and more comfortable on a bouncy one. Decisions decisions. 

Anyone else want to chip in?

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Monk - on 26 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I ride hardtail most of the time in the Peak, but do ride a full susser some rides when I want to go bigger or harder. From what you've been saying, long travel would be a bit too much bike for you. My full susser is only 130 mm and it feels amazing over really rough ground and reasonable size jumps and drops. I'd guess that this is the type of bike that would do everything you are looking for (but a modern geometry hardtail may also be what you need - they are pretty amazing now).

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ChrisJD on 27 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

> I'm definitely a climber first and don't want to risk hurting myself and losing climbing time! So, I'm definitely just up for fun (but challenging) rides....avoiding any air time (and hospital time) if possible!

Unfortunately, MTB in the Peak has plenty of hazards and is a relatively higher risk injury wise than climbing.  If you want challenging riding, it is not a case of if you get hurt, but when you get hurt.

I live and ride in the Peak and there's not much we haven't ridden in the western Dark Peak.

I ride a 170/170 full sus, a 160 HT (both 650B, both long, slack and low) and a gravel bike (not all the same time), and will tackle nearly everything on the HT, but it can be brutal (but in a good way).  The full suss is defo the most fun on the rough/techy stuff, (up and down) and my main go-to bike (but I do love the HT).

From what you've said, I'd look at a 29er 150/140 ish type of full suss bike.

There are so many good bikes out there.

e.g. Have a look at the YT Jeffsy 29.

https://www.yt-industries.com/uk/detail/index/sArticle/2120/sCategory/509

https://www.mbr.co.uk/news/bike_news/best-full-suspension-mountain-bike-358395

The Spectral is also a top-notch bike (see above link).

Spend as much as you dare, and then a bit more.

Post edited at 18:35
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blackmountainbiker - on 27 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Go big. 160/150 front/rear trail bikes pedal up really well these days and you will never regret buying one.

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ChrisBrooke - on 27 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Thanks for the comments and links chaps. Lots to consider. Happy trails. 

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ChrisJD on 28 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Also have a look at the Cotic range. You can demo their bikes from Calver - drop them an email.

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MonkeyPuzzle - on 28 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisJD:

My next bike will be a Cotic. A BFe if I can't justify a Flare.

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ChrisJD on 28 Apr 2019
In reply to MonkeyPuzzle:

current BFe is just not long enough for me.  They should be updating geometry soon.

my current HT is the latest Sonder Transmitter in XL with 160mm forks - rides really well.

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LastBoyScout on 28 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

From my experience of riding in the Peak, I'd say a full suss is unnecessary - 130mm 650B or 29" hardtail would be my choice.

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jethro kiernan - on 28 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

There is a sweet spot around 150 rear 160 front in 650b that should pretty cover most things, much like yourself I went for the sensible option and got a 140mm travel bike and its fine, but I've spent a fair amount of time going up and down snowdon on the MTB last summer and it definitely felt a little under gunned and I felt a little more travel and a little more slackness would have given the bike a little more leeway to deal with my incompetence. I also am injury adverse and no spring chicken but cant help myself, also I'm thinking the alps and all those uplifts, they don't have to be extreme bike park stuff but having a bit more oomph would be good

Ive also got a slack 140mm hardtail and love it, modern hard tails are a hoot, it would be

hard work on some long descents though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzUT43Bw17I

Post edited at 16:20
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Murderous_Crow - on 28 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I would definitely second Monk and Jethro's thoughts on a modern geometry hardtail. 

Get something cheap-ish and slack, modern geo HTs can be had for very cheap second-hand, put some extra money into a good fork, dropper post and a solid tubeless wheelset. Still way cheaper than the full-sus, with none of the hassle of maintenance, expensive proprietary replacement parts, shock pumps and service kits and blah... Just get out and ride; let your legs do the floating. 

Post edited at 18:26
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thepodge on 28 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Also from Sheffield and ride the Peak, I have a longish travel hardtail for rides under two hours and a medium travel full suspension for rides over two hours. Before those I had a short travel single speed. All of them were perfectly capable and loads of fun, probably faster on the full suspension but the hardtail feels faster. 

Having said all that I'm selling them as I've hardly touched any since getting the gravel bike which is a totally different challenge but equally enjoyable. 

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ChrisBrooke - on 28 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Thanks again everyone. I bought the Norco. I just thought it was a nicer colour. I'll let you know how I get on.

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TobyA on 28 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

I ride both the legit descents off Blacka Moor on my no suspension bike! Yeah, it rattles you about but it's still ace. 

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ChrisJD on 29 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Great stuff.  See you out on the trails!

(though you probably won't, as we usually ride at off-peak (pun) times and rarely see other bikers). 

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MonkeyPuzzle - on 29 Apr 2019
In reply to ChrisJD:

I'm long of arm and short of leg, so the fact I can get a 150mm dropper on the medium BFe is a winner for me. So many bikes out there still with relatively long seattubes compared to the reach.

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ChrisJD on 08 May 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

So how's the new bike then?

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ChrisBrooke - on 09 May 2019
In reply to ChrisJD:

Collecting it at lunchtime today. Took ages for the order to come through for some reason. I'll let you know

Also, to open the infinite can of worms: do you use clipless or flats? I've been in clipless shoes/pedals for as long as I've been mountain biking (nearly 30 years..?)  I admit they do sometimes feel sketchy on the technical downhills, but otherwise I like them. Flats seem all the rage these days and I'm tempted to try. The negative seems to be spinning off and knackering your shins, although I could probably dig out some old football shin pads to help with that...

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ChrisJD on 09 May 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

That has taken a while!

Been on flats for ages now, will never go back to being clipped in.  I wear shin pads.

If you do go for flats, get the best pedals and sticky rubber shoes you can afford - they will make a big difference to the experience.

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Monk - on 10 May 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Flats for me off road. Love them. Decent pedals and shoes are a must though. DMR v8s are the minimum i'd recommend, with fairly flat soled shoes (anything with a deep tread pattern doesn't work well with the pins on the pedals). I'm good at avoiding slashing my shins, but seem to have permanent cuts in my calves at the moment from pushing things a bit hard and the pedal coming at me from behind! Still think they are better than clips though.  

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MonkeyPuzzle - on 10 May 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Flats unless you're racing, I reckon. If you learn to bunnyhop in flats then it'll feel like cheating wearing clips (because it is!). Mainly I feel more confident pushing it into corners in flats as you can always stick a foot out if you start to wash.

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ChrisBrooke - on 15 May 2019
In reply to ChrisJD:

Hi Chris. Just been out for a quick lunchtime ride with the wife.

Initial impressions:

1. Coming from an old 100mm travel hardtail (albeit a 'nice' one, XT/XTR kit etc), this Norco (120/130mm) feels plush, fun and comfortable. Much more of a 'point and go' experience, which I imagine would be even more so had I gone for 150/160mm. Still, I'm really pleased with the balance/compromise of a sub 12kg bike that feels good uphill and plush on the rocky downhills.

2. Modern handlebars are WIDE! Took a little getting used to. It might take me a while to adjust and find an arm position that's comfortable. Flared elbows made it more comfortable on the hands even if it felt a bit daft. 

3. Dropper seatpost! What a fantastic idea! Brilliant.

4. This is a 2017 bike and has a double on the front. I found the uphills range fine, but I couldn't keep up with the wife pedalling on the downhill road section home as I spun out the cranks. I guess I can live with that as I won't be going that fast actually off-road. I suppose that point will be reached even quicker should I swap to a single chainring in the future. It would be nice to lose the extra weight, but I'm in no rush to change until I've actually worn out the perfectly good front rings it came with. 

5. The cheap-ass flats it came with were OK, although I'm replacing them with some RaceFace Atlas ones, for the bling, if nothing else. I think I'll get used to them quick enough, although I might look up a few 'things to remember when riding flats' technique articles to help me out.

6. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder etc, but it is a thing of beauty to me. Childhood wish fulfilment, about 25 years on.  

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ChrisJD on 15 May 2019
In reply to ChrisBrooke:

Fantastic!

Yep - wear out the double chain-ring drive train then go for a wide 1x. The 2x cranks should be fine on 1x 

I use a 9-46t cassette on a 32t front and the range is just right. 

Flats:- get those heels down

Bars: 760-780 is want most people go for (I'm at 780) and make for great stability at speed compared with old skool bars.  800 is wide, but there are wider!.  Have play with the bar angle/roll, small change can make a huge difference.  Don't be afraid to raise the bars either (if there is enough fork riser length).  

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