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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

Suddenly started having problems on narrow trails and rutted trails can't stop hitting the sides and eventually having to stop or fall off usually the latter, I've tried looking ahead more, going faster,going slower, trying to relax and go with the flow or taking a grip and trying to ride it more, I think it could be because I'm starting to ride faster, trying to follow a couple of friends last night and could not keep up, fairly steep , wet rocky twisty trail with roots , mud etc..probably 6 to 12 inches wide, they where riding Kona Kula hardtail and a Chameleon and I was on my 07 Heckler so its not the bike, any guidance or advice would be more than welcome please, when the trails opened up to 3 to 4 feet then I went as fast as my friends, my friend on the Kula is a xc racer and she's pretty good (elite rider) just didn't help my male ego :) joking aside, when I'm in the usual group I am the slowest, I've been riding 18 months and have been improving but suddenly seem to be going backwards.:madman:

cheers
 

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When you say "it isn't the bike", it could be all sorts of setup issues. Rebound on the fork can give very wayward handling - if you have made changes to rebound settings recently perhaps it is worth revisiting these. Other things to watch out for are the dishing on the wheels and an over-tight headset or indexed headset bearings.
 

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jeffus said:
Hi,

... I think it could be because I'm starting to ride faster, trying to follow a couple of friends last night and could not keep up, ...
From that statement I would think you are a fairly new mountain biker? Maybe a year or two into it? (could be wrong :confused: )

If so and combine lack of experience with any one of the things pete mentioned and it will be hard to keep up with the more experienced rider.<o></o>
Bike set up will play a big part in how fast you can ride especially when the speeds start getting up there. To much rebound or wrong tire pressure and not relaxing seem to be the most common mistakes but there are a bunch of others as well so it is really hard to say with out seeing you ride or your set up.<o></o>
 

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Rule #1: Always blame the equipement!

jeffus said:
Hi,

Suddenly started having problems on narrow trails and rutted trails can't stop hitting the sides and eventually having to stop or fall off usually the latter, I've tried looking ahead more, going faster,going slower, trying to relax and go with the flow or taking a grip and trying to ride it more, I think it could be because I'm starting to ride faster, trying to follow a couple of friends last night and could not keep up, fairly steep , wet rocky twisty trail with roots , mud etc..probably 6 to 12 inches wide, they where riding Kona Kula hardtail and a Chameleon and I was on my 07 Heckler so its not the bike, any guidance or advice would be more than welcome please, when the trails opened up to 3 to 4 feet then I went as fast as my friends, my friend on the Kula is a xc racer and she's pretty good (elite rider) just didn't help my male ego :) joking aside, when I'm in the usual group I am the slowest, I've been riding 18 months and have been improving but suddenly seem to be going backwards.:madman:

cheers
All joking aside, dont rule out the equipment. Assuming that you have pretty decent skills and you are staying loose on the bike and looking ahead, you may have a setup issue. Have you ridden enough different bikes to know if your steering is "twitchy"? I am in some disagreement about the new trend to put shorter and shorter stems on bikes. My ellsworth moment came with a 50mm stem and 26" bars. The bike was all over the place and I was pretty PO'd to have such an expesive bike that tracked so poorly. On top of that I am 6'2" and my knees would hit the bars on switchbacks. I went to a 70mm stem and that helped, but still didnt achieve total stability. I finally settled on a 90mm and 28" Race Face bars and the change is beyond dramatic. I coupled that with reducing preload in the front fork and slowing rebound. Now that it is dialed in it feels like a total different bike. I feel balanced front to back and I can drive my weight down into the pedals and pump the bike through corners. The bike tracks very straight, even through rock gardens. I can ride skinnys without the front tire wandering around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
The originalDBD, yes I've only been riding 18 months, my heckler is built up to a good spec and not really worn , I contacted TFT tune in the UK and they supplied me with Push'd DHX-5 coil rear shock set up for my weight and Pike coil U turn again Push'd and spring set up for my weight approx 90kg in my gear, I have Thomson inline seat post , 70mm Thomson stem, Easton monkey bars Hi Rise, Race Face Diablous head set , Code 5 Brakes 185mm front & rear, XTR cranks e-13 drs, XTR front rear mech, shifters , chain & cassette, DMR V12 Mag flats, Mavic XM719 rims on Hope ProII hubs, Kenda Blue groove 2.35 Tyres 35psi, sdg ti bel air saddle,
I'm still learning every ride :)
I will go over my bike this evening and check nothing is a miss, I do have a Chameleon I've just built up but only ridden a few times, I've been told to get a hardtail by my experienced friends to try and improve my skills, I will try the same trails again on it see if I can improve my skills.
 

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I understand riding narrow trails - ours are so rutted that you have to time pedal stroke and placement in the rut to keep from crashing. All the suggestions above are good. I'd double check both front and rear rebound on the shocks. Make sure they are nice and slow, but not so slow that the shock packs up. Try to stay far enough back on the bike that there is not so much weight on your hands. Talk to you riding buddies about maybe trying the same section on one of their bikes and see how it feels, have them ride yours to see if any setup issues might be the culprit. At some point when all setup items are covered, it just comes down to practice. Head out without your buddies and just ride the same sections over and over while you try different things to see if they help improve your riding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thinking back to the ride last night my arms where pretty pumped at the end of the downhill section I was having trouble with, maybe 20 mins fast section, perhaps I need to get back more a suggested,
Just talked to one of the guys I was out with and he said it was a balls out fast ride that would normally take 2+ hours and we did it in 1hour 40 mins and they where all pushing the ride to be as fast as possible, did n't tell me :) so It sounds like I was in a zone way above my usual level, apparently they have been pushing all our rides lately , which will be why suddenly I'm struggling, its good in a way means I will be pushing my boundries.
Just wish they told me :), I will still take all your advice and check my bike and skills, things wrong with the bike maybe coming to light now its being pushed harder , just like my skills :)
 

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This is going to sound funny, but double-check to make sure your stem is aligned with your front wheel. I had a minor wreck, then when I came to a section of trail like you're describing, I kept running up the side of the carve. After almost wrecking twice, I finally stopped, and realized that my stem had been knocked off by a little from that first wreck. After that, it wouldn't track right. I just loosened the bolts, aligned the stem, and it was fine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
MMMM just changed my bars two weeks ago, removed my Easton Monkey lite xc replaced with Easton Monkey Hi Rise bars, maybe its out of align, another thing to check ,
I removed the stem and cleaned and greased around the headset bearings while I was there,

Thanks
 

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How wide are the bars?
wide bars will make all the difference in the world, although on fast, skinny singletrack it might be a problem (got trees?). Slow down your rebound if the trail is bumpy and you should be fine.
 

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jeffus said:
MMMM just changed my bars two weeks ago, removed my Easton Monkey lite xc replaced with Easton Monkey Hi Rise bars, maybe its out of align, another thing to check ,
I removed the stem and cleaned and greased around the headset bearings while I was there,

Thanks
First of all, I want to applaud you for coming to the realization that many takes years to get to (and some never)-that the problems we face (all of us) on the trail are due to skill issues and not the bike. Not ever. I've watched videos of hans rey ride his old beater GT hard tail over the and down the rocky spires of the alps-and, on a lesser scale-I've seen an acquaintance rip the nastiest trails we have in the region..and I mean rip, on an old 50 pound, rigid 1989 Schwinn-and he rode it flawlessly-sure these are ideals and goals-but it's good to keep this long term goal in mind and I'm happy to see that you realize upfront that it's more important to improve your bike skills than your bike (and it is not a problem with your rebound dampening etc-yeesh).

Now, the fix for tighter trails. I'm not that great of a rider-but I've worked pretty hard over the years to get better and I know what advice has worked for me-others may disagree-take this for what it's worth. I think getting the basics of solid cornering holds most of the answers to the riddle of riding tighter trails.

1. Cornering is key-I'm assumining that the trails you mention are not merely narrow but twisty (hence the frequent exits from the trail and tagging the perimeter features??). Make sure you are braking well before the turn-with nice non-skidding even pressures and riding through the belly of the turn. While turning, try to really throw your shoulder/ hip into the turn-I mean like commit your center of mass to the inside so much so you actually feel like your going to fall over-when you get that falling sensation apply some power to your pedals you'll be amazed by how little torque you'll need to right the ship and hold the line. I know you think that leaning over more at speed seems counter intuitive on narrow trails-but you'll hold a truer, narrower line with competence and control way more than you think is possible! it takes some practice, probably a few falls-but it's the key nonetheless.

This bit on cornering (well-known, tried and true) has all the main ingredients to narrow trail riding-1. committing-with some speed, balance and center of mass to the line. Avoiding excessive breaking and of course looking ahead. Remember wheels work best when they're rolling and the rider keeps everything in forward balance. Oh remember to breathe-deep and slow when things get tight-yep, it matters.

Hope that helps
 

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Luigiugueto said:
Slow down your rebound if the trail is bumpy and you should be fine.
I don't think this would be a good idea, if he's not careful the fork will pack up after repeated fast hits...

To the OP, pick your line, look where you want to go and hammer it :thumbsup:

Riding technical single track fast takes practice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi Guys thanks for the advice its very welcome, the single track is around 6 to 12 inches wide and slightly over grown this time of year, very steep and very twisty in places ,wet, rocky, rooty, muddy but not many trees to worry about ,
my forks are Push'd to overcome the packing problem of Pikes and the rear is also Push'd , the rear is so good I very rarely ever think about it , I think my bike is built way beyond my skill levels and probably lets me get away with poor technique, I will really try hard to perfect the techniques you have told me about , an experienced friend rode my Heckler and he said it scared the c**p out of him because it was soo fast , we where on a black man made trail so maybe with my experience I'm over biked if thats possible, I may take the Chameleon out more and perfect my lines without that 6" of plush rear travel :)
 

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Make sure your steerer tube is not loose inside the headset. Lift up the front wheel about 6 inches and drop it, then try to listen to any noise in the headset. This is a quick indicator if anything is loose.
 

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Jeff - SLOW DOWN . . .

This is not a slam on you or your technique, but if you can't keep the bike within the confines of the trail you are most likely riding beyond your current ability.

I too have experienced some of that wayward drift and was able to find the necessary control by not only slowing down, but concentrating on my body and bike positioning, preloading the suspension prior to quick direction changes, braking in straight lines and counter steering.

I learned these concepts by reading "Mastering Mountain Bike Skills" by Brian Lopes and then working on each element individually.

If you are getting left in the dust by friends - ask them to slow down a little so you can concentrate on their lines into corners and more importantly their body and bike positioning.

Good luck and don't compare yourself to others as it can take some of the fun away from the adventure. By the way - your bike sounds like it is pretty pimped out with PUSHed front and rear.

Here is a link to the book I mentioned, http://www.amazon.com/Mastering-Mountain-Skills-Brian-Lopes/dp/0736056246
 

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I did not see this mentioned directly but one thing that will straighten you up and send you off course(trail) in a turn is hitting your brakes DURING the turn, especially the front.
Someone else can get into the physics of it but on yer next ride pay attention to WHEN you are braking.

As far as setup, yes you had the suspension PUSHed but you still need to fiddle with the rebound and compression as well, that is what I was referring to as some others have stated as well.

On a side note;
If you are riding faster then usual and getting arm pump as you said I would guess you might have a death grip on the bars, if no death grip then you may possibly have your levers to far from the bars, that can cause the arm pump/fatigue to occure a lot sooner as well.
 

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6'' wide trail...overgrown...riding with high speed...with an elite rider ahead....

Who in the heck could stay on the trail? Lol.

That's some darn skinny singletrack. I think my front tire is 2 1/2 inches wide, seriously!
 

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A lot of the trails I ride are about that width (6" to 12") but mainly there are no great disasters waiting if I sometimes miss the trail.

- Speed: I need to stay within a comfort zone. Going either too fast or too slow seems to make things more difficult. What exactly is the correct speed, is a personal judgement for each inch of trail.
- When I get tired, I make more mistakes.
- My "big bike" with slack angles sometimes gets really squirrelly going up a steep spot where I run out of speed....

- Slimy rocks and roots... I hate them. Things were still wet during my latest ride. It is a miracle I did not fall once. I did push the bike a couple of times and chose a "chicken line" to avoid a sketchy bit of rock with some moss clinging to it.
 

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It sounds like you have identified all the issues. Good luck polishing your skills as the summer progresses. In a few months you'll be flying down the trail wishing your buddies would get out of the way so you can lead for a bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks guys, Phew so much advice makes me realise soooo much to learn , I'm 46 so maybe by the time I'm 60 will have the hang of it :)

I've checked my bike over can't find anything a miss, rebound feels ok not super slow and not like a super coiled spring.
So, I'm going to concentrate on the following points
1. Riding position not too far forward and try to commit to the corners
2. Braking try and get it over before the bend
3. Speed try and use the correct speed to maintain stability/control
4. Try and follow better riders lines.
5. Keep a relaxed non death grip on the bars
6. keep my wheels rolling less braking gives grip and suspension works
7. Have fun practicing
cheers
 
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