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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This past Memorial Day I went riding with some pretty fast dudes on heartbreak trail in Pisgah, NC. Now, the upper part of heartbreak is nothing but a half mile of rock garden followed by super chunky roots, rocks, drops, etc..

I consider myself a fast (ish) rider, however the guys I was riding with took off on this stuff and I couldn’t keep my bike in order. After about a mile I got super bad arm pump white knuckling and riding the brakes so much.

So this is a two part question,
1. What techniques should I employ when riding this stuff?

2. What can I do to make sure my bike is setup properly for chunk? My fork ( 160mm pike 2016) got overwhelmed quick, and I had little confidence in my front tire placement.


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Since you are already fast it could be fitness more than anything---work that core----but it also seems you are hanging on too tight---relax a bit and let the bike work and see if that helps. Remember there are always faster folks-hate to say in my case it is my sister most days
 

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I prefer more rebound in chunk. I don't want a "poppy" bike.
Do you mean more rebound damping? More rebound, to me, would imply faster, but that would make it poppy.

Just to make sure we're on the same page.

I would probably prefer faster rebound if I were diving into the travel more. If not hitting stuff fast (I am okay but probably not fast) I don't know if I would use enough travel to have a fast rebound be better for me.
 

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Single(Pivot)and Happy
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More compression damping. Light hands, heavy feet. pctloper brings up an important factor that routinely gets overlooked.

For clarification, more rebound damping results in the suspension returning slower to equilibrium. Look at it this way: If you have NO rebound damping, your suspension acts like a pogo stick.

I personally want my suspension to keep me planted on the trail. Fast, repeated and prolonged suspension movement can quickly overwhelm suspension that is set up favoring a "plush" ride. If your suspension is forced to compress before it can rebound, it will be compressing from a point further into the available travel. If you have eight inches of travel, unless you are set up full blown Lazy-Boy recliner mode, your suspension should not reach it's limit. Which is why I add compression damping to limit how deep into my travel repeated hits will take me, buying me time before my suspension reaches the "pack down stage" and my ride goes from exciting to survival mode.
 

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Elitest thrill junkie
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I'm the opposite of this. I want my fork to return as fast as possible so it's ready to take the next hit

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This really depends on the tune. If it's tuned correctly, you can run a lot of LSR, because the HSR will react fast when necessary. Lots of bikes have to run very light LSR/LSC because the high speed valving is so restrictive. This creates a lot of chassis movement and makes it difficult to control the bike in those types of rock gardens, but sometimes it's the best you can do with the equipment.

Without the proper tune (internals) in the shock and fork, you can sit here all day and say that you should run compression or whatever, but if you try to run more and it reacts like a jackhammer because the high speed valving is too restrictive, it's pretty worthless advice. The limitation here is usually the suspension. Coil rear shock helps if the bike can take it, proper valving in the front fork helps and can be obtained through a few different methods.

Strong upper body and core strength means a lot here. Being able to hold your body rigid when necessary, push off of stuff, not "crumple" your upper body, obviously braking and grip, are all important. I will say the suspension plays a huge role with this kind of riding, but you have to be able to meet it part-way with your strength.

Also, things like wide bars with short stems that won't be easily deflected by rocks, stiff forks and wheels make a difference.

You also have to go out and attack really gnarly trails like you are going to kick their butt. Sometimes going slower through sections is faster overall because you don't slam into something and bleed all your speed, but I digress, ride more.
 

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This really depends on the tune. If it's tuned correctly, you can run a lot of LSR, because the HSR will react fast when necessary. Lots of bikes have to run very light LSR/LSC because the high speed valving is so restrictive. This creates a lot of chassis movement and makes it difficult to control the bike in those types of rock gardens, but sometimes it's the best you can do with the equipment.

Strong upper body and core strength means a lot here. Being able to hold your body rigid when necessary, push off of stuff, not "crumple" your upper body, obviously braking and grip, are all important. I will say the suspension plays a huge role with this kind of riding, but you have to be able to meet it part-way with your strength.

Also, things like wide bars with short stems that won't be easily deflected by rocks, stiff forks and wheels make a difference.
HSR would be nice to have...

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1. When you're riding over your head (without confidence) you tend to ride tight. Maybe trail familiarity is an issue?

2. 80% archer / 20% arrow. Pretty much impossible to tell you how to set up your suspension over the internets without more info.

Just thoughts, feel free to disregard...
 

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I consider myself a fast (ish) rider, however the guys I was riding with took off on this stuff and I couldn't keep my bike in order. After about a mile I got super bad arm pump white knuckling and riding the brakes so much.

So this is a two part question,
1. What techniques should I employ when riding this stuff?

2. What can I do to make sure my bike is setup properly for chunk? My fork ( 160mm pike 2016) got overwhelmed quick, and I had little confidence in my front tire placement.
I took a look at that trail on some videos. It looks like most of that stuff the bike can roll through, with a couple rocks that you have to square up to or dodge. Less brakes! Brakes bind up the suspension and wear out your hands. Use them tactically- on/off.

It's hard to keep your eyes focused 20-30' ahead of you when the trail is so busy, but ya still gotta do it.

For me, once i'm riding my brakes i have to stare right in front of me, and once i'm doing that it's really hard to get back to good form cuz i get tired and doubtful. Then i start to cook my brakes and it just gets worse.

I hated my pike and replaced it with a 10 year old lyrik. I tried EVERYTHING, and couldn't get it to perform to my expectations. Lots of people love pikes though. Don't stuff the fork full of spacers.

There's a lot of good ideas in this thread!
 

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Take a look at the 2 videos I found when I searched for this trail, 2 completely different riders, riding this trail, at the same time, one's fast, the other not, can easily see why each is which watching the videos back to back.
When you're in chunk you have to be light and have a good core to engage and help keep yourself stable/solid, while letting the bike "dance" under you, fighting the bike will tire you out.


 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
That skills with Phil video is crazy, maybe I needed more momentum going into the rocks to keep me stable? Is it about holding her steady or letting the rocks deflect it where it wants to go?

My pike is setup with the lsc fully open, 8 clicks of rebound (from fully open 20 in total) and two spacers. 25psi in the front tire (any less in pisgah is asking for trouble)

I’ll take a spacer out of the fork but besides that there isn’t much tuning

Fitness was a huge part of riding that trail fat, even the quick guys were getting arm pump. So I for sure need to work on upper body strength


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1. When you're riding over your head (without confidence) you tend to ride tight. Maybe trail familiarity is an issue?

2. 80% archer / 20% arrow. Pretty much impossible to tell you how to set up your suspension over the internets without more info.

Just thoughts, feel free to disregard...
I tend to agree with this. The first time I rode that, it was really narrow and I had no clue what was coming next. I rode it very slow. Second time was much better. I don't remember lots of huge chunk, just lots of small constant stuff and really slick wet roots that dumped me on my ass more times than I can count!
 

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Take a look at the 2 videos I found when I searched for this trail, 2 completely different riders, riding this trail, at the same time, one's fast, the other not, can easily see why each is which watching the videos back to back.
When you're in chunk you have to be light and have a good core to engage and help keep yourself stable/solid, while letting the bike "dance" under you, fighting the bike will tire you out.


Wow, pretty stark difference between those riders. For reference, though, Phil Kmetz is a top tier rider as evidenced at around 0:50 in the video below. It's cool to watch these back to back. It's easy to tell that Phil is much more relaxed and maintaining good body position to allow the bike to roll better. He's also hardly touching his brakes, which somewhat counter-intuitively, makes it easier. Obviously there's a learning curve and a lot of saddle time to get there but even at my modest skill level, I find that working up the courage to get off the brakes as much as possible makes for a smoother ride in tech sections.

Looks like a pretty gnarly trail but I don't think it's anything that a 160mm Pike couldn't manage, given a good setup. I ride a lot of stuff that is chunky like that on my 150mm Pike RC. I tuned the compression a bit with the spacers so I don't have to use much compression damping at all and I'm running relatively fast rebound both in the fork and on the rear shock. But easing up on the brakes massively helps in the chunk. There's a big mental element to that for sure but having the fitness and core strength to let the bike move around below you while maintaining a good body position relative to the bike is paramount.

For years I had trouble getting in the back seat in berms and kind of losing control on the exits and it was because the forces involved in the turns were pushing me back and I didn't have the strength to resist it. 4 or 5 years ago, I decided I wasn't doing that any more and I spent a lot of time over a winter increasing my core strength and endurance by doing things like a lot of kettlebell swings, one legged deadlifts and turkish get ups. This really paid off for me on the bike and now I can rail berms and stay centered on the bike.

 

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That skills with Phil video is crazy, maybe I needed more momentum going into the rocks to keep me stable? Is it about holding her steady or letting the rocks deflect it where it wants to go?

My pike is setup with the lsc fully open, 8 clicks of rebound (from fully open 20 in total) and two spacers. 25psi in the front tire (any less in pisgah is asking for trouble)

I'll take a spacer out of the fork but besides that there isn't much tuning

Fitness was a huge part of riding that trail fat, even the quick guys were getting arm pump. So I for sure need to work on upper body strength

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What tires are you using and are you running tubeless? You could probably get away with 20psi on something like a 2.5 Minion DHF EXO. I ride gnarly stuff all the time and I'm pretty heavy and I don't ding rims at 20 PSI on that tire.

It's about keeping good body position relative to the bike to keep it pointed in the direction you want to go but also allowing the bike to move around under you to more easily move through the trail immediately below you. Effectively using your body as an extension of the bike's suspension.
 

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hit the gym hard

pick things up put them down

use all the machines
----
or just ride chunk 5 hours a day, 7 times a week
 

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Sometimes its the arrow, mostly its the Indian. On a 160mm bike, it's the Indian. I like to run slightly underdamped in the rear on pedaly rock gardens. On the front, critical.
 

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Being able to back off the brakes in chunk is huge. When you're riding steep downhill and braking that puts a lot of extra force through your arms and legs, besides making the bike less active. It's amazing how much smoother the bike is once you let it do its thing.
 
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