About a week ago I was biking at South Valley Park in Inver Grove Heights. Even though it is a paved trail, the hills are a killer workout. Actually, they are some of the best hills I have ever seen on a paved trail.
Anyway, my derailleur had a slight problem with the hills. Eventually my chain fell off. I put it back on, but it fell off again. Then I made it out of the hills and began to bike some more. My derailleur was no longer shifting onto the correct cogs.
I called my wife. She came and picked up my bike and I. It was a good thing I brought my phone with. I had only brought my phone in case my wife went into labor, but it served another good “emergency” purpose. After picking up my bike, we went to get a bite to eat. We then went to REI and checked out new bikes.
My wife thought it would make sense for me to buy a higher quality, non-department store bike since mountain biking has become something I really enjoy. Thus began a very educational and interesting process.
I knew some features I wanted. For example, I was certain I wanted a hardtail (No rear suspension). But I needed some people with more experience to give me even better suggestions. I talked to some people at my work (Thanks Charlie Sinks and Pete Stopfer!), and they had a lot of good suggestions.
I learned that there were a few more features I really wanted on my bike. I found that a lockout suspension would greatly benefit my ride on long hills and on smooth surfaces. This was something I never thought about until Charlie said he really enjoyed his lockout on his new bike. He had a RockShox Dart 3, and it seems like a good one.
I also found out that disk breaks are awesome. I never really thought about how much breaking power you lose on a wet road. Since normal breaks work near the edge of the tires, they are more likely to be slippery. Disk breaks are in the center of the wheel, which prevents much of the wetness from ever reaching them.
My choices were greatly narrowed by the above features. I was able to begin to compare features in more detail. One big choice remaining was whether to go with a traditional 26″ rims, or to purchase a 29er. It was a tough choice.
I really don’t know anyone who regularly rides a 29er, but Pete said he rode one at Minnesota River Bottoms in South Bloomington. He said he liked the feel, but it was a little tight on the turns. I can see how that would happen. Three inches diameter on your wheels mean a lot in tight situations.
Today I had the opportunity to compare the 26er to the 29er. I will say that they were both pretty nice bikes. I took them on the mountain bike course at the Bloomington REI. It was great, but I needed more. I found an abandoned lot next to REI and really challenged the bikes. Curbs, holes, and hills shed light on the feel and the flaws of each of them. From the lot, I moved to the road, locked out the suspension, and tested the “road-bike” feel.
The 29er won me over on everything except the sharp turns. Even there, it made up for the difference in that you could take normal turns at a higher speed. The road test was most impressive. I felt like the bike was ready to take off and fly with the acceleration I got on the 29er. Finally, the 29er survived the head-on curb test. It seriously felt like a medium bump instead of a curb.
My mind was made up. I went back inside and decided to purchase the 29er (Thanks to my wife for being so generous!). This is a bike that you can learn to love (and it does not take long). For my size, I bought the 19 inch. So here are the specs on my new 2008 Marin Alpine Trail 29er:
|Fork||Rock Shox Dart 3, 100mm travel|
|Crankset||Truvativ X-Flow 3.0, 42/32/22|
|Brakes||Hayes MX-4 mechanical|
|Brake levers||Forged ally 3-finger|
|Front derailleur||Shimano Altus|
|Rear derailleur||Shimano Alivio|
|Head set||Ritchey LB, 1-1/8″ threadless|
|Bottom bracket||Truvativ with sealed cartridge|
|Rear cog||Shimano GH30, 11-32, 8-speed|
|Front hub||Alloy double sealed|
|Rear hub||Alloy double sealed|
|Tires||WTB Prowler SL Sport, 29×2.1|
|Stem||Marin OS alloy threadless|
|Handlebar||6061 alloy double butted|
|Seat post||Alloy micro adjust|
|Saddle||WTB Speed V Sort LE|