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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a heavy rider (230lbs) who uses 2011 Felt Trail 29r.

I love my bike but after riding some serious single track for the first time last year, I can see its deficiencies.

Specs: Felt Nine Trail 29er Hardtail Reviews - Mtbr.com

I want to upgrade it all, but I need a logical path to follow.

Things I've observed and would like to fix:

-Judging by the "oil rings" on my fork I can see I've bottomed out, although I never felt like I did while riding.

-Chain slaps the frame constantly while riding, I remember researching this a while ago, some said it's a necessary evil, some say a chain guide works.

-Brakes are adequate but I noticed fading as the season ended.

-Stock seat sucks for a bigger rider, I need a bigger seat without looking like a beach bike.


Questions:

Is there a logical progression to upgrading your bike?

Going strictly off my gut on how my season went last year I feel like a new front fork and seat are really needed, while the brakes probably need newer/better pads. I'll eventually like to go hydro but don't feel the need for it.

Does this make sense? Can anyone recommend good sites for parts besides nashbar, eBay perhaps?

I'm really interested in a compatible fork that's actually an upgrade.

I do have a LBS where I bought the bike from but he mainly does installs and tune ups only. I will be using him for the parts to get installed.

Thanks in advance.
 

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A lot of people will tell you to save your money and get a new bike. You can do certain upgrades within a reasonable cost though.

Two decent upgrades that aren't super expensive are looking for a Manitou fork (check out the clydesdale forum, there is a thread about clydes on manitou tower pros) and either avid bb7 brakes or shimano deore hydros.

Good sites:
Jenson USA
Pricepoint
Chain Reaction cycles (UK)
Art's Cyclery
BlueSky Cycling
Chain Love (they put 1 deal up at a time for 5-20 minutes at a time, check out gearscan for a history of what's on chainlove to get an idea)

For the right price you can get smart upgrades. If you want a fox fork and xtr components then yes, you are probably better off getting a new bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
A new bike is out of the question, upgrades are like buying a new bike in installments, so I appreciate your alternatives and suggestions!
 

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I'm with you. I bought a Marlin in 2012 and have upgraded it over the past two years. For me its been totally cost effective in that I feel I have a better bike than i could buy right now with the amount of money I put into it. But more importantly I didn't have the money to say ok I'll just sell this and dump another grand into a new bike. the other underrated fact is appreciating your components. I rode that Suntour fork for a year+ and when I got my new fork that thing was shot to hell. I really appreciated the new fork and understood what was better. I find that is true for almost all of my upgrades. I just did the drivetrain and brakes. When I first start riding I probably wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between my crappy cranks and slx's. After riding mine for 2 years and putting my new raceface's on I feel the difference. All that plus I've learned a ton. I love my upgraded bike
 

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You are suppose to bottom out your fork sometimes. You might need heavier springs,don't know if you can get them. There are chain stay protectors you can buy ,I made one out of a old tube ,it cut down on the noise .A bigger seat isn't right answer ,a seat fits you is . Some shops have demo programs ,WTB and Specialized have different widths of saddles.Specialized has a tool called assometer(no joke) to measure your sit bones.You most likely need to replace the pads on the brakes. The things to upgrade are the contact points ,seat ,grips,pedals and get the fit dialed in.
 

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For the fork, you can put a small zip tie on the stanchion so it gets pished ou sa the fork goes through its stroke. You want it bottom out sometimes, you want to make sure you're using all of your available travel.
The shop you plan to go to should be able help you setting up your fork, if not find a better shop.
 

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I agree with all that but personally I wouldn't even bother with new pads in the tektro's especially being a bigger guy. BB7 would be a significant cheap upgrade to the brakes and easy. Few more bucks and get some hydros
 

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You've received great advice so far. The best advice I've read here and agree with is the BB7 upgrade. These brakes can be found dirt cheap, has tons of adjustability, grabbed better than my current hydro brakes, and insanely reliable.

I don't know which fork came on your bike, but you could search ebay for a used fox, rockshox, or manitou. Just make sure the steerer tube is long enough for your frame. Also, as a worst case scenario allow 100-300 dollars for a rebuild. Like I said, that is a worst case scenario for a fork that received no maintenance at all. If it was just rebuilt, then you "should" be fine. I would look for one of those first.

Just so you know an air fork usually requires maintenance at least once a year. I would also seek out a specialized or similar dealer so they can help you pick a seat without the guess work
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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First things first - do you like the frame? If not, start there. Otherwise, you'll find yourself making sub-optimal choices or re-buying the new parts you started with.

If you're sticking with your frame, start by dialing in the fit. If you're doing different handlebars, start there. Otherwise, you may need a new stem, or you may not. I don't worry about grips unless they twist or I've worn them out. I have a favorite saddle and pedals. A lot of shops have demo saddles or very liberal exchange policies. Make a few calls.

Get good tires.

Get a good fork. I don't know Manitou's current stuff. In RockShox, I think it's Recon Gold or go home, but I'm really enjoying my Reba. A lot of people swear by the Fox F-series.

Get good brakes. I like my hydraulics better than my BB7s, though the BB7s I know are the road model, on one of my road bikes. I've only owned Avid Elixirs, but hear great things about Shimano. If you're going to go hydro "eventually," just do it now. I think it's silly to buy the same part twice - you're basically throwing out the money you spend on the mechanicals you only use for a little while.

Wheels are overrated, IMO. Especially since you don't have any of the particularly bad rims. Wait until you actually damage something or wear out a hub.

Drivetrain is one of the worst places to spend your upgrade dollar. In general, they work as well or as badly as your maintenance dictates. The cable housings from the factory sometimes suck, so you can sometimes get a big improvement in shifting by grinding the ends flat. Unless I have some other reason to do otherwise, I just buy the bulk stuff.

For your chain slap, you can check chain length. It could be too long. And put a chain guard on. A split inner tube works well.
 

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I really like my recon gold. I have been on it a year and have yet to have any issues. A friend of mine has been riding a recon silver( similar fork but heavier) for two years without issue. I think it would be a good investment if you are going to continue to ride frequently. Chain Reaction and Merlin Cycles were running good deals on Rock Shox Forks.

I really like I Shimano hydros. I bought the deore, br-596 for about $55 a piece from chain reaction. After you get used to the one finger levers you will never want to go back.

For chain slap. If you check the chain length. I would buy a cheap guard. I have been using a lizard skin for a while. They are cheap and do the trick.Lizard Skins Chainstay Protector - Normal Shipping Ground
 

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...upgrades are like buying a new bike in installments...
I also upgraded to a new bike this year, which happens to be my 2nd year of riding as well.

I'm literally paying installments on the new bike I bought, because my LBS gave me that option. :)
 

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I also ride a Felt. Mine is a Nine 70 model, or at least it was when I rolled it out of the shop LOL. It has had a lot of upgrades. I know a lot of guys here would probably think I'm crazy but I look at this subject a little different. If you have a frame you like and you intend to ride it a long time, as I do, why not upgrade parts and ride them until it starts to fall apart? I don't plan on getting a new frame/bike anytime soon so I upgraded a lot but I did it piece by piece as money allowed and I'm quite pleased. Here's my list:

Avid BB7 brakes (really like them over the OEM brakes)
Manitou Tower Pro fork (love this fork!)
Shimano SLX rear derailleur
Shimano 10 speed XT cassette, and Deore shifter
Removed the front chain rings, shifter, and FD and changed to Race Face N/W ring
WTB saddle
Shimano M540 clipless pedals
Stans Crest wheels with Geax Saguaro tires (old tires were worn anyway)
ESI Chunky grips

Yes, the only things left on my bike that are original are the bars, stem, seat post, bottom bracket, and cranks and I've spent more in upgrades than I did on the whole bike. However, I bought these items a little at a time and shopped around and found some good prices on each item. Plus, I did all the installs myself and didn't pay any additional fees to have someone else wrench on my bike. Now, I have a bike I love to ride and get the most out of it. I have all the OEM parts stored in my garage and if I did decide to sell the bike I could put all that stuff back on and keep the upgraded stuff for a new build or sell it. In addition, I learned how to work on every aspect of the bike and can do all my own maintenance and repairs. I say do what makes you happy and what you can afford. A lot of people will say "that bike isn't worth upgrading just sell/trade it and buy a better bike". That isn't always feasible and it's often less painful to buy upgrades here and there instead of writing a $2,500 check. Just my two cents.
 

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The fork will make a major performance improvement on singletrack.
You qualify for the Suntour upgrade from Nick at Suntour. For $200 you get a 4.5lb. Raidon air fork. An air fork is helpful for 230lbs. to set the sag.
http://forums.mtbr.com/beginners-corner/if-you-want-upgrade-your-suntour-fork-830657-28.html
Upgrade just your front brake to Deore M615 or SLX and you will be set. You won't use much of your rear with that top quality front. Deore is now out with a Shadow Plus rear derailleur to kill the chain slap. SLX is and alternative for around $60. Jenson price matches Wiggle and CRC now so get the best price.
REI has Novara/Jagwire housing/cable kits for $19. I'd make the rear run a full length for the best long run results. The housing is lined and the stainless cable is slick coated. Use superglue at cut sites before the cut and use the proper cable cutter or take it in to your shop. New housing and ferrels is cheap and a major improvement in most cases.
 

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RAKC
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Like hank and urself, (hank and I own same bike and somehow going similar upgrade routes on some thimgs) anyone that says buy something better ignore them. Its not as economical to upgrade from base models but its more fun, its like u said, new bike in installments, and u learn along the way.

Get a new seat!!! Gel commuting style seats are great, just bought a wtb pure v myself and so far love it. Coming off a bontrager gel commuter seat. Both types were bigger and have more padding vs stock seats bit not too big to be ugly and in the way.

Forks are ok stiffer springs can be had for $20 from suntour directly or lbs. But get better ones when u can, compared to most things they do kinda (ok really do) suck. Brakes are worthless for us clydes!!! Bb7s are amazing but noisy as hell! Shimano hydros can be had for very little more (some sales can find them almost the same price) and as I just learned, even the cheaper deore line is just as powerful but no noise. Do yourself a favor put a 180mm rotor on the front too.

Rest as it breaks. Make yourself comfortable and happy on the bike, make ot stop u properly then work your way through the rest.

Oh and chain slap, have lbs (or use google for how to) increase tension on the rd, its set to soft unless ur doing jumps/drops etc that really bounce u around. Beyond that no chain guide, just a stay protector is enough. I have a lizard skins one bit only time chain has touched it is on a 8" drop to I decided to catch full air off of instead of rolling off of for the first time. Chain guides are for full suspension and 1x setups ;p

Sent from my Nokia Stupidphone using Tapatalk
 

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Kitty! Kitty! Kitty!
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I have an entry level frame/bike that I LOVE, so for me, I decided to upgrade incrementally like you. It is the most economical choice for me, and it's harder for my wife to track my nickel-and-dime spending. I went with pedals first. I upgraded my fork next. I was going to go through the Suntour upgrade program, but for right around the same price, I got a recon gold and shaved some weight off. Then I upgraded my wheelset to some charger Comps for a steal. Tires I got cheap ($15 each), and I tried a Vader saddle for $11. Also got new rotors and a new casette... Not really "upgrades", but better than stock for a couple of bucks (I needed a second set for my old wheelset which I use for the road).
My biggest piece of advice is be PATIENT. Deals will come along, so don't just pull the trigger on something acceptable... Wait for something nicer to come along at a great price.... And it will.
 

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...
My biggest piece of advice is be PATIENT. Deals will come along, so don't just pull the trigger on something acceptable... Wait for something nicer to come along at a great price.... And it will.
Oh come on.
What makes us men different from women is we pay full price for something we need NOW. While women pay discounted for something they may need LATER. ;)
 

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-Judging by the "oil rings" on my fork I can see I've bottomed out, although I never felt like I did while riding.
A properly adjusted fork should go through all of its travel on your typical ride. If it doesn't then it's not adjusted properly. Your fork isn't the greatest but until you start describing your issues with your fork in terms of what's missing at the high speed compression or the rebound adjustment then you probably don't need a new fork.

-Chain slaps the frame constantly while riding, I remember researching this a while ago, some said it's a necessary evil, some say a chain guide works.
What chainring do you most frequently ride in?
Are you currently using a chainstay protector? You really should be.
How is the chain length?

-Brakes are adequate but I noticed fading as the season ended.
Brakes need maintenance, most manufacturers recommend yearly bleeding at a minimum. New pads and a good scrub of your rotors wouldn't be unreasonable either.

-Stock seat sucks for a bigger rider, I need a bigger seat without looking like a beach bike.
Bigger is not what you need. You need a saddle which matches your morphology. Saddles come in widths to match up to the width of your pelvis and your sit bones. It is becoming increasingly common for shops to have measuring devices for your sit bones as well as have "demo" saddles which you can use on your bike on your trails to see if a saddle works for you. Every saddle sucks at first and you'll have to adjust over time especially if that saddle is hitting you in places your old one didn't because the old one didn't fit correctly. Get out and see what your local shops have to offer.

Questions:

Is there a logical progression to upgrading your bike?

Going strictly off my gut on how my season went last year I feel like a new front fork and seat are really needed, while the brakes probably need newer/better pads. I'll eventually like to go hydro but don't feel the need for it.

Does this make sense? Can anyone recommend good sites for parts besides nashbar, eBay perhaps?

I'm really interested in a compatible fork that's actually an upgrade.

I do have a LBS where I bought the bike from but he mainly does installs and tune ups only. I will be using him for the parts to get installed.

Thanks in advance.
Logical progression for me:
Contact points - Saddle, grips, pedals then tires. Pedals, man those are important. If you haven't upgraded from the showroom pedals then do that first.
Things that are worn out - obviously if something isn't working then get rid of it. But before you get rid of something make sure that it's truly broken. If your shifting isn't working properly don't just buy a new derailleur, make sure that the cables and housing are clean replace if necessary, make sure the cables are routed properly and not being snagged, make sure that cables are on the proper part of the pinch bolts and so on before you replace the shifter or derailleur.
Performance items - you can go absolutely insane here, everything from putting a new fork or shifters on to buying new wheels. For the money getting away from an entry level fork is a good buy, if you're happy with your fork then lighter wheels make a huge difference to the actual way a bike rides.
 
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