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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I just bought a new Salsa Horsethief to replace my aging and battered 2001 Santa Cruz Superlight. After 2 hours in the saddle, I hate it! What’s all the fuss about 29” wheels and 1x drivetrains?

The Superlight handles the twisty Arizona Trail beautifully, while the Horsethief seems to want to straighten out every curve. And I much prefer the 3 x 10 drivetrain. So many more shifting options!

I feel like I’ve been sucked into the big-wheel single-front-chainring marketing hype!

And don’t get me started on the flats I bought with the bike. I’ll take my clipless pedals back any day!
 

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Maybe it's not the right bike for you, but I'd suggest you give it some time. Learn how the bike handles, and find it's limits (rather, your limits with the bike) and push them. I'd say give it season, and reassess. You're the only one that know how you like to ride, though, so maybe the Superlight is the bike for you (if it still has life).
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
One 2hr ride? Maybe give it some more time to adjust?
Maybe. But I couldn't find a single advantage over the Superlight. I was really hoping the Horsethief would smooth out a section of washboard dirt road with the big wheels, tires & new fork, but it was just as bone-rattling as the old Superlight.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Perhaps I should flip the flip chip around to see if it will improve the monster truck handling. It seems like a subtle change, and I can’t imagine it making much difference.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I'm not sure I've ever been instantly in love with any new bike. I usually ride a bike 200-400 trail miles before deciding whether to keep it or dump it.
I'll persevere, as I probably can't return it. It needs a bit of dialing in, as I had a backache after yesterday's ride. It does feel like driving a truck when I'm used to a sports car!
 

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You've moved what might as well be light years in mtb development.

What you're feeling is the difference in frame geometry, less so than the other things. You are going to have to adapt your riding style to accommodate that. Long bikes with modern geometry want to be leaned into corners (among other things). I had to make the same adjustments when I went from a bike manufactured in 2003 to one manufactured in 2014.

Step back from the nastiest trails you ride for a bit and do some mellower rides that just give you time on the bike so you can learn it and get used to it.

I'll be honest, I HATED 29ers when they first showed up on the market. But once frame geometries started to catch up and they started to be something other than xc race bikes, the wheel size finally started to feel better. I now have a 26er full suspension fatbike and a 29er long travel hardtail with 2.6 meats. I actually like big wheels now.

I have to wonder, though, did you buy this new bike sight unseen? Did you demo anything even remotely similar? If you hated it after such a short ride, shouldn't you have been able to notice that before you dropped big money?
 

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Seems like an odd comparison going from an all out XC bike to an All Mountain bike. Maybe try out a newer XC bike instead. i.e. Spearfish.

Also, did you adjust the shocks? Preload? Tire pressure? The Horsethief should be a much smoother ride. Big wheels, more travel, long WB. You're just not used to the geometry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Seems like an odd comparison going from an all out XC bike to an All Mountain bike. Maybe try out a newer XC bike instead. i.e. Spearfish.

Also, did you adjust the shocks? Preload? Tire pressure? The Horsethief should be a much smoother ride. Big wheels, more travel, long WB. You're just not used to the geometry.
Shocks & tires all set up.

Intention was a full-sus bikepacking bike for the Arizona/Colorado Trails that would double as a trail bike to replace the Santa Cruz.

Perhaps I should have done some more homework first!

Edit: Spearfish does look like a better fit for the mission!
 

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I know a bit how you feel. I went from a 2012 26in tired XC bike (Focus Black Forest 4.0), to a 2018 29in full suspension bike (Kona Process 153) just a few months ago.

My first outing or two on the new bike there was a lot of adjustments taking place, and I wasn't quite sure what I thought of the new bike. Although, I didn't outright dislike it as you seem to at this point.

Same thing happened to my friend, who made a vaugely similar change around the same time period.

What helped me get used to the bike, was to session a trail that had a lot of repetitive turns on it. As has been mentioned, one of the big differences between older bikes and newer bikes, is how they turn. So getting to run a trail with more than a few turns, that you can session really helped me. Perhaps giving something like that a try could help you as well.

Also, 29'ers have a lot more rotating mass than a 26'er. So doing whatever you can to get that weight down, could help as well (light tires, tubeless instead of tubes, maybe lighter weight wheels?).

Good luck finding something that works for you :).
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I know a bit how you feel. I went from a 2012 26in tired XC bike (Focus Black Forest 4.0), to a 2018 29in full suspension bike (Kona Process 153) just a few months ago.

My first outing or two on the new bike there was a lot of adjustments taking place, and I wasn't quite sure what I thought of the new bike. Although, I didn't outright dislike it as you seem to at this point.

Same thing happened to my friend, who made a vaugely similar change around the same time period.

What helped me get used to the bike, was to session a trail that had a lot of repetitive turns on it. As has been mentioned, one of the big differences between older bikes and newer bikes, is how they turn. So getting to run a trail with more than a few turns, that you can session really helped me. Perhaps giving something like that a try could help you as well.

Also, 29'ers have a lot more rotating mass than a 26'er. So doing whatever you can to get that weight down, could help as well (light tires, tubeless instead of tubes, maybe lighter weight wheels?).

Good luck finding something that works for you :).
Thanks!

The handling is feeling better after a few more hours on the trails. For some reason, though, my left knee hurts when I ride it, but no pain on the 26er. I suppose it's some kind of geometry issue. And bashing my knee on the concrete a few weeks ago probably didn't help...

The 1x gearing isn't helping either. With a 28 tooth ring on the front and an 11-46 cassette, pedaling downhill just isn't going to happen. Climbing is all good, though, apart from continuously lifting my feet off the flat pedals after a lifetime of clipless. Perhaps there's a 10-51 upgrade in the pipeline with the original 32 front ring. Or a 2x setup, which I have no issues with.

Thanks all for the advice!
 

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Thanks!

The handling is feeling better after a few more hours on the trails. For some reason, though, my left knee hurts when I ride it, but no pain on the 26er. I suppose it's some kind of geometry issue. And bashing my knee on the concrete a few weeks ago probably didn't help...

The 1x gearing isn't helping either. With a 28 tooth ring on the front and an 11-46 cassette, pedaling downhill just isn't going to happen. Climbing is all good, though, apart from continuously lifting my feet off the flat pedals after a lifetime of clipless. Perhaps there's a 10-51 upgrade in the pipeline with the original 32 front ring. Or a 2x setup, which I have no issues with.

Thanks all for the advice!
Knee pain to me sounds like either a setup difference/problem. I'd wager the new seat tube angle is steeper than on the old bike, so your pedaling position is more "on top of" rather than "a bit behind" the pedals. You may be able to slide your saddle back in the rails a bit, and see if that helps.

It may also be somewhat because of the change to flats. Clipless pedals help keep more muscles involved in the pedaling, which can help stabilize the knee. I'm wondering if it isn't just potentially your knees adjusting to the change. Or maybe something about your feet not being anchored? I also hovered my feet on the upstroke after changing to platforms, so I know how you feel.

And yeah, you're not going anywhere fast with a 28 tooth front chainring. I've got a 30 tooth front, and an 11-42 in the back. For the style of riding I do here (long uphill grinds, then pretty good decents), it works just fine. But for pedaling fast downhill, or on long flat stretches, its not ideal. The upside? I've not dropped a chain since I got the new bike.

A 10-51 with a 34 front chainring would bring your low gearing up a tad. Bikecalc shows that at the same cadence, you'd go from 4.8mph to 5.3mph, but give you another 30% more range on the top end. Again, assuming the same 90rpm cadence you'd gain ~7mph (27mph vs 20mph). Perhaps that would be enough range for you. It would require a new rear freehub though, as the style you have now is has a smallest gear of 11. You could fit a 11-50 without any other changes though.

Sorry for the long response, but I'm glad you're starting to feel better on the new bike :).
 

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I went from a Pivot 5.7c to a Yeti SB5c and it took me about 400 miles of riding to adapt my riding (slightly) to get the benefits from the new bike. At the time (2016) that I got the Yeti, I had tried several 29ers and hated them.

Last fall, I decided to test drive some of the newer 29er trail bikes and was immediately blown away at how much they had improved. My Yeti was about 26 pounds and the 3 29ers I tested were all about 30 pounds or more, and all 3 were faster climbing than my Yeti - in the Wasatch back area. After about 400 miles on the new 29er, I'm faster on the downhill as well - as timed in Moab.
I was 1x11 on both the 26 and 27.5, but felt like 1x12 was almost a requirement on the 29er. I'm also using an oval chainring, but that's not for everyone, I suppose.

Your soreness may be due to different muscles being engaged in a different fashion. Also, moving the bike from being leaned in one direction, to being leaned in the opposite direction, for carved turns does take more effort....or at least force applied in a different way....and may feel slow at first. This will appear as a sluggishness in changing direction until you get it down. It's a little like going edge to edge on narrow skis Vs. wider ones. I had the benefit of easing into bigger wheels, but no way would I go back, and believe me, at the age of 66, I get as set in my ways as anyone!

Also, going from a 26 tire to a 29 tire gives you much more volume. When you say you've set up the fork/shock/tire pressures, if you haven't backed off of the tire pressures, do so. Give it a try. Reduce them to the point where they're too low and then add back in. Don't be hesitant to experiment a little.
 

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I sold my SC Superlight many years ago in favour of a 29" HT. No doubt whatsoever.
TS has to many new things going on.
New bike, new wheelsize, new gearing and new pedal.
Taht's almost as if he's got to learn to ride a bike again.

1x drivetrains are great, but you have to choos the front chainwheel to suit your circumstances and abilities.
29" wheels are better than 26",but you have to be carefull not to use heavy (mostly cheap) rims and tires.
Flats are a matter personal preference, has nothing to do with the bike or the wheelsize.

Give it some (more) time.
 

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I remember when Gary fisher came out with the 29er. They were slow at everything except going down hill. Felt like a runaway log truck. I thought it was due to my height, 5’7".

Two years ago I rode a fuel ex in a medium in the parking lot of the bike shop. Kept hitting my knees with the handle bars? Tried a jet 9 on the local trails on a demo weekend. I was in my spd’s shoes, the 9 had flats. I was over 30 seconds faster on the loop of 2 miles. I was faster climbing,descending,turning, and just rolling over stuff that I couldn’t clear on my 26" fsr xc comp.

Wanted a trail bike and after lots of research ordered an Abajo Peak. I’m astounded by the difference in technology, geometry, ride, etc. I haven’t even swapped the tires to tubeless yet, and it weighs a whopping 3/4 of pound more than my fsr. We have the best riding bikes ever. This coming from someone who said I would never own a 29er.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Yep, the Horsethief is feeling better after 10 or so hours in the saddle. Moving the seat back on its rails most definitely helped to reduce the knee pain (thanks ocnLogan). I'm still struggling with flats. After decades of clipless, my feet (especially the right foot) want to lift on every pedal upstroke! I'm also finding that my foot settles with my heel on the pedal rather than the ball of my foot. I'll try a few more rides, but I think clipless is more my thing. It's especially tough to pedal downhill because of the 28 tooth front/11 tooth back gearing. That new XT 12-speed with a 32 tooth front chainring is starting to look like a necessary upgrade!

I'm tackling the rocky downhills with more confidence now. It is certainly smoother (and more fun) than the Superlight.
 

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You bought a new bike after nearly twenty years and you didn’t demo?

Yeah, doing some homework might have been a wise choice.

29ers are fine, 1x is fine, but you pretty much changed everything all at once, so yeah, it’s a mess.

You need to learn how to ride the new bike, it’ll take months, but you’ll be a better rider when it’s all said and done.

Have fun, but seriously, don’t wait so long to upgrade next time ;)
 

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Two years ago I rode a fuel ex in a medium in the parking lot of the bike shop. Kept hitting my knees with the handle bars? Tried a jet 9 on the local trails on a demo weekend. I was in my spd's shoes, the 9 had flats. I was over 30 seconds faster on the loop of 2 miles. I was faster climbing,descending,turning, and just rolling over stuff that I couldn't clear on my 26" fsr xc comp.
But the Jet 9 has a lower bottom bracket, man. And how did you time yourself on a demo bike? Did it have a gps? I understand how rabid some people are in defending 29 inch wheels, but don't just make stuff up.
 
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