Mountain Bike Reviews Forum banner
1 - 20 of 65 Posts

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,346 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So today I rented and spent a few hours a "modern" mountain bike, specifically, a Norco Optic 29er...

https://www.norco.com/cmsb/uploads/bikes/bikes/thumb3/optic-c2-grey-teal.png

This was the first time in my life I've ridden a bike other than my own, which is a 2009 Gary Fisher HiFi Pro 29er...

https://bicyclebluebook.blob.core.windows.net/zoom/gf_hifipro29_red_09_z.jpg

I was really curious to see how the modern bike compared to my decade-old bike. I rode on some good XC and flow trails, with a nice mix of forest cruising, rocks and roots, stream crossings, as well as a machine-built flow trail section with berms and tables. (I should add that I'm mainly an XC rider and not a downhill or big air biker-I mostly roll all the features.)

I'll also add that my 2009 GF bike has some significant upgrades-including larger rotors, Shimano hydraulic brakes (replacing the original crappy Avids), and a SRAM NX Eagle 1x12 drivetrain.

So I think it's fair to say the comparison was mainly between the geometry and frames, the handlebars (the Norco has wide bars/short stem while my GF has narrower bars, 650mm, and a long stem), and the suspension.

In a nutshell, I thought the modern Norco was, overall, only *barely* better-if at all-than my ten-year-old bike. Granted, I've been riding my GF for a decade and know it intimately, so I'm obviously comfortable on it. But the Norco was a nice bike, and I was totally open to feeling every difference, and to anything feeling better, more responsive, easier, smoother, or whatever.

On the positive side, I definitely noticed an improvement in the modern suspension. It just felt a bit smoother on the hits, maybe a tiny bit plusher while still feeling very supportive. But the difference wasn't huge-it was pretty minimal for the kind of XC riding I was doing. And I've never noticed anything about my 10-year-old Fox suspension that I don't like (I've maintained it well).

On the less positive side, I didn't feel the wider bars provided any advantage at all, and actually felt less comfortable because my arms were spread out wider, resulting in slightly more stress on my wrists. The narrower bars on my GF mean my arms are at a comfortable right angle to my torso at exactly shoulder-width. And the wider bars/shorter stem felt less snappy and responsive than the narrower bars/long stem on the GF. The only place I noticed a slight advantage of the wider bars was on short, steep climbs-the wider bars seemed to help with front wheel wobble/flop at slow speeds.

The Norco also had a dropper post. I've really been wanting to try one for a while. I ride with a roadie-style seat and have gotten to where getting behind the seat is effortless and second-nature. (Remember, I'm mainly an XC rider.) I didn't really notice any advantage of the dropper post; I dropped it for some steep downhill sections and didn't feel like I rode any differently than what I'm used to. For a different style of riding (maybe on different terrain or getting big air) I can see where it could really help...but for my style of riding, it just seemed kinda pointless.

So overall, I was happy that my 2009 GF with upgraded drivetrain compares very favorably with the modern bike. I didn't even remotely finish riding the modern bike and think "OMG I've got to ditch my old GF and get a new bike!" Instead I found myself thinking "Ok, this is a nice bike, but I'd rather be on my GF."

Scott
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
452 Posts
The wide bars craze has certainly jumped the shark with most trail bikes being spec'd with 780-800mm bars. It's kinda like the fat ski craze from 2012-2016ish when every company was making at least one model in the 125mm+ waist width zone. Almost no one makes skis that fat anymore and if they do its usually a pro model in a single length. You see this in many industries (oooooh wider is better, lets go even wider that'll be great!) only to see things come back to earth in the proverbial sweet spot. Personally, I think that sweet spot is somewhere in the 700-760mm range depending on the rider.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,820 Posts
Sometimes a bike just does not fit with you. I had been riding 26" HT with 3x9 and rim brakes that I build in 2003. I did not see many miles until 2013 and then I rode it a lot. Somewhere in 2015 (maybe 2016) I demoed a new Pivot Les and Mach 429 short section of my local loop. Did back to back on these bike and my 26". My 26er was faster on strava and just felt pretty darn good. The other bikes felt fine, but not leaps and bound better. I knew they were, but only a little bit. Thy never seemed to mesh with me.

Then Feb 2016 right after a fast pre-ride lap at 24hrs of old pueblo I test rode a friends 2012 SC highball. Wow. That bike gelled with me and bought it on the spot. I did not race it since I needed to the cockpit dialed in and get the the tires I liked on it, but it just clicked with me. Never road the 26er again. Rode that bike for 2 solid years until last year where I got a 2018 Epic. The epic is better, but not leap like the highball compare to the 26er, but still noticeable faster. Sold the highball, but still loved it.

Now I also have to say feel changes over time. I am sure if rode my 26er it would feel very different from how it did back then. Just due to feel of my current bikes. I even wonder if would have liked my epic had not gone to the highball first.

So don't judge all newer 29er by the one bike.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,177 Posts
The wide bars craze has certainly jumped the shark with most trail bikes being spec'd with 780-800mm bars. .
Gosh, yeah. I don't know what width the bars on my new bike were but I think about 4" eventually got cut off of them. Shoulder width feels just fine to me thanks.

I've heard that part of the "shrinking" of ski widths is because early rise tips allow skis to float without having to add extra width. So they're returning to something more narrow to improve handling and edge hold and allowing the camber profile to provide float. It's all a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to this snowboarder though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
452 Posts
Gosh, yeah. I don't know what width the bars on my new bike were but I think about 4" eventually got cut off of them. Shoulder width feels just fine to me thanks.

I've heard that part of the "shrinking" of ski widths is because early rise tips allow skis to float without having to add extra width. So they're returning to something more narrow to improve handling and edge hold and allowing the camber profile to provide float. It's all a bunch of mumbo-jumbo to this snowboarder though.
Don't want to get too off track, but yes that's part of it. The other part is those super wide skis, no matter the rocker profile, are really only useful in overhead blower pow (with very few exceptions).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,920 Posts
I don't think very many people who have been riding the same bike for the last ten years are going to hop on a modern bike and love every aspect. It takes time to adapt to such a big jump from what you're used to. You're not going to use a dropper for the first time after riding with the seat high all those years and suddenly change how you ride. When I started mountain biking I thought that the size large bikes were huge (I'm 6'5"). The shop actually had to convince me to buy the XL...Why, because I learned all my bike handling skills on a BMX bike. There wasn't anything wrong with the XL bike, there wasn't anything wrong with me... I was just used to a 20" BMX bike.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,613 Posts
In 2015, I demo'd several 29ers and hated them. In 2018 I demo'd several 29ers and loved them.
The changes in geometry and parts work for me. They might not for you, and that's okay, but it may also be that you are so used to what you're riding that it would take some time to get to the point that you like the changes.
 

·
slow
Joined
·
7,748 Posts
I can get used to, and even like something new with enough time on it, but I also am plenty comfortable with my bikes the way they are. I do enjoy hitting up demo days on a regular basis and usually like the demo bikes I ride, even if they are different from what I am used to.

The biggest thing I noticed after the most recent demo day (PIVOT) was seating position on the bikes. On a newer bike, I find myself sitting a lot more upright and with the bars a lot closer to me than I am used to (I typically ride 10 year old XC oriented hard tails with 80-90mm stems and 710mm bars). The steep seat tubes had me using different leg muscles than I normally use and my legs were actually sore for a couple of days afterward. I have demoed a bunch of bikes with droppers, but didn't play with them enough until this time to see any benefit. I doubt I'll be running out to buy a new TRAIL 429 or a MACH 5.5, but I may be closer to riding with a dropper one of these days.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,346 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Just a reminder, I never said I didn’t like the modern bike—just that I actually didn’t notice much difference between it and my ten-year-old bike with the same drivetrain.

If the meaning of innovation and evolution is that things get better, then I’d suggest that evolution in mountain bikes is extremely incremental, because to me the 2018 Norco was not leaps and bounds better than the 2009 Gary Fisher. I’m not so attached to my 2009 GF that I wouldn’t freely admit it sucks if I thought the 2018 Norco was light years better, but the difference just wasn’t easy to notice.

I honestly don’t know where the Norco Optic fits into the range of modern 29ers? Some might say it’s a shitty bike (though it costs around $3K so I assume it’s decent).

Scott
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,729 Posts
I have an similar (vintage & geometry) Turner XC (4") 29er. Long chainstay's were common then. These, combined with steeper HA's than current, and longer stems, provide a bike that doesn't need a lot of body movement to get great front-end traction, and to inspire a lot of confidence in "tamer" terrain.

Conversely, modern geometry with much shorter chainstays, and with slacker head angles, put a lot more weight on the rear wheel, thus require a much more active riding style in order to get the most out of them. They're also much more capable, which means that on tamer trails, they can be "boring" to ride. I have a blast on my old rig with shallow-tread 2.2/2.1 tyres.

As the old saying goes, it's horses for courses.

The sad thing is that if you want to replace your GF HiFi, I can't think of a single lower-cost bike that has similar'ish geo. The just superceded Pivot 429SL is far less aggressive than most, and Ventana's can still be had...but $$$.
 

·
Keep on Rockin...
Joined
·
6,471 Posts
...modern geometry with much shorter chainstays, and with slacker head angles, put a lot more weight on the rear wheel, thus require a much more active riding style in order to get the most out of them. They're also much more capable, which means that on tamer trails, they can be "boring" to ride...
I agree with this.

What these newer bikes let you do is ride much more advanced trails in a much faster, more aggressive style than old geo bikes. It takes many folks a lot of time and lots of balls to push these newer bikes as hard, and fast, and high as they can go.

If you don't have the trails or desire to push these new bikes hard its likely you'll see little benefit over an older style bike.

We've got a lot of real nifty trails where I and can make the most of the geo. And I've got a thing with just having to try to get better, higher, faster all the time - and there is no doubt these bikes let me do it.

Its not just the geo. It's the quality of the suspension, the dropper posts, the tires, the wheels, the shorter offset forks. This all adds up to a wickedly fun, aggressive ride.

A bike that I can now ride stuff I'd ridden on my SC Bullit years ago, is a bike I'd take on a spin with xc dudes without worry. They are versatile because they are so capable.

And its the bars. Anything shorter than 780mm and my hands and pinky fingers are hanging off the ends. I've got very long levers. The days of turning a bike by turning the bars is over. Its all about the lean.

New bikes are _so_ much better now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,800 Posts
I smell something fishy ;-P

Gets behind XC bike!?

Is that when truing rear wheel?

Smoother? It's XC it's smooth no matter what!

Ride some All Mountain on both bikes & then report back.

PS - please forgive me, I've been watching a lot of Honest Trailers and can't seem to let it go

PSS - then there's the ugly factor comparison +1 for the GF

Honest Trailer completed.

'Born to ride!'
 

·
Always in the wrong gear
Joined
·
3,330 Posts
It’s always awesome when you realize what you have is exactly what you want.

To stir the pot....
It won’t matter to you because your bike fits your style, but the glory of ‘new’ 29ers isn’t that a 2019 120mm FS is leaps better than a 2009 120mm FS.

It’s that a 2019 150mm 29er will still plow through everything a 2009 150mm FS will, BUT it pedals as well or better than a 2009 120mm FS.

It’s almost getting to the ‘eat your cake and have it too’ situation. You can ‘all-day pedal, and ‘shuttle-monkey’ on the same bike.

Again, not shaming your bike. It’s awesome that it works so well for you. Ride it till it breaks man.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

·
high pivot witchcraft
Joined
·
6,178 Posts
I have the opposite problem from the OP. Every new bike I ride, I love.

In 2009 I was riding a Scott Ransom LTD. That was one sick bike. In fact, I still have it.



But the fact is, that $3k Norco Optic the OP rode absolutely destroys it. I don't even know where to begin.

But hey. Whatever puts a smile on your face.
 

Attachments

·
since 4/10/2009
Joined
·
34,612 Posts
Things like the geometry changes (the handlebar width/stem length is only part of that) take some time to figure out. They reward some adjustments to your riding style to really work, and you've gotta work a bit to learn what you need to do to unlock the potential. Sometimes, you'll lose something on certain trails.

For example, I was riding a new trail (grand opening) that's more of a bike park sort of place in the middle of town (Tannery Knob in Johnson City, TN). Machine built, mostly flowy trails (one of them is less on the flow, and more on the chunk and drops). IMO, the right sort of trail to cram into a pretty compact park in the middle of a city. The blue trails on up all had some fairly tight switchbacks and with my bike, I was using every inch of space available on them. It was less the wide bars, and more the LOOOOOONG wheelbase of the bike. An older geo bike would be a bit quicker on the switchbacks, but honestly I'll take that knock with the stability the new bike gives me on pretty much everything else.

Speaking of that, back when I was riding older geo bikes, I had ZERO interest in ever getting air. The bike just felt dangerous doing so. My bikes now, not at all. I'm still sketched by too much air, owing to my long history with bikes that were terrifying in the air. I have a lot of precedent to overcome. But today I was hitting a bunch of tabletop jumps on the blue trails and felt great doing it.

The dropper post also takes an effort to learn to use. You can't just grab one and automatically take advantage of it. What it does is make available to you positions and movements that simply aren't available to you with a high fixed seatpost. It should make sense that it's going to take time and practice to learn to use it and take advantage of it.

IMO, it's actually BEST for cross country trails with lots of short ups and downs. On big mountain trails, it's not that big of a deal to raise the post for the climb and use a quick release clamp to drop the saddle manually for the down. People have been doing that for forever. The dropper post lets you use those positions that become accessible to you on rolling terrain and for short, technical ups.

The simplest of what you get to access is a LOW body position that you simply can't get with your ass in the air. Gives you much more stability on the downs. You also get more range of motion that you can use when you're working through a technical obstacle (even when climbing) or when working on tricks and such. Which, frankly, modern bikes with long wheelbases and big wheels actually require more of.

It's kinda like platform pedals. You can go from riding nothing but clipless pedals for 20 years to mastering platform pedals in a couple hours. It's not gonna happen. Same with a dropper post. Same with adapting to a bike with notably different geometry (especially one designed around a style of riding that you don't currently do).
 
1 - 20 of 65 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top