SQLab Crutches NSMB AndrewM (3).JPG
EDITORIAL

All Things Being Unequal

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date Jan 31, 2022
Reading time

The Grey Areas

I've been thinking quite a bit about the grey areas where different peoples' mountain bike gear experiences overlap. It started when I was drafting a response explaining why I'm so down on trunnion shock mounting which, despite my reputation as a grumpy Luddite, has nothing to do with it being a new* concept and everything to do with how this shock mount results in, on average, more wear to shocks. Worn bodies, worn air cans, worn shafts, and etc. And while your shock is eating itself, whether due to blown trunnion bearings or bad frame alignment, all that extra friction isn't helping performance.

Trunnion is an interesting case of a design where opinions differ wildly. Bike designers love all the extra space it gives them and that's especially true with ebikes where they also have to make room for a full-sized Vitamix, water bottle, and battery, without compromising stand over height. The marketing department is on board because it's a design change that is accompanied by a compelling raison d'être. Riders who own a trunnion-mount bike and haven't had an issue, or haven't had an issue yet, don't understand what the detractors are going on about and assume we don't like it because it's new. Folks that really don't like it, really don't like it, and generally come off a bit curmudgeonly about it, myself included. If you're curious and want an excellent breakdown, I think Steve at Vorsprung's explanation of "accelerated wear concerns" is the best out there and I've posted it at the bottom of this piece.

Now, there are plenty of good bikes using trunnion shock mounting today and whether it's a deal breaker for you, the bicycle purchaser, is going to depend on a lot factors. The same could be said for choosing a bike that has a 12-speed Shimano versus 12-speed SRAM drivetrain. Maybe you've been riding current Fox or RockShox suspension and have decided to try something more exotic from Ohlins, EXT, Formula, etc. Min-maxing be damned. You may be paying the shop to take back the massively popular Maxxis Assegai tires that are stock on your new rig because you've written reams of sonnets about the superiority of the Schwalbe Magic Mary. It's all good.

*It's actually not a new mounting concept. I owned a 1999 Schwinn 4-Banger with trunnion mounts, Cannondale used trunnion mounting for years on their Jekyll, GT used a trunnion with the Horst-link LTS, and they were Trek's jam for a decade with their DRCV shocks. For the first two examples the trunnion mount could be repositioned to adjust geometry. Pretty cool eh?

WTB Vigilante 29Plus (4).JPG

Be wary of confirming the rubber compound and sidewall construction when comparing tires. Some original equipment (OE) tires look the part but might as well be made of plastic. For example, if your opinion of Schwalbe tires is based on rubber that said 'Performance' on the sidewall you might as well be comparing their top-end tires to a pair of Scratch & Sniffs from 1995.

Santa_Cruz_Chameleon_2022_NSMB_Deniz_Merdano_8.original.jpg

It looks like a high-end Fox fork. Heck, with a full service, and some SKF Low-Friction seals, and a significant bump in air pressure it could even ride (just) okay. But passing over a bike with a Factory or Performance Elite Fox Grip2 VVC damper because the out-of-the-box performance of their Rhythm lineup is totally underwhelming is premature. Photo: Deniz Merdano

I'm all in for personal preference with context. You've ridden a fresh RockShox Zeb and a fresh Fox Float 38, both setup for you, and you've decided that SRAM's latest efforts - chassis, air system, and damper - suit you best? Perfect. You have the disposable income to ride an EXT ERA and the exotica revs up your rides compared to more mainstream options? Awesome. After testing bikes with the current Shimano XT HG+ and SRAM GX Eagle you've decided that you prefer the shifting feel of SRAM? Those are both solid representations of each company's shifting systems that can be extrapolated to their higher priced drivetrains. The most travel for a given length with a OneUp dropper, the repair-and-reselling business model of PWN, the cable-free AXS Reverb experience? Choose a dropper post and ride. There is a lot of room for personal preference when the choices only affect our own cash flow and play time in the forest. I think there's an additional burden to further qualify those experiences when giving product advice to another rider but again, if they're your honest and current experiences, of course, share them in that context.

Where the grey area of relatable experiences, genuine preferences, and eccentric expressions starts to erode into purest tomf*ckery is when I start to read and hear product advice being given where the context is ridiculous and it could potentially affect other riders' purchasing decisions. Examples? SRAM didn't even own RockShox 27-years ago when your Judy XC damper cartridge used to blow up every two rides, so claiming you'd never buy a RockShox product, and recommending others avoid RockShox products based on that warranty experience, is nonsense. Does Crankbrothers, under new ownership for years, even have a single employee left from when the 75mm travel Joplin dropper post was released? Why is it hard to believe that their current dropper post lineup is excellent? The all-plastic SRAM SX derailleur on your budget-friendly hardtail exploded after a few rides and you were never able to master your dad's universal remote? Sorry, AXS is still awesome - even if you're with me on team fewer batteries.

Hayes Dominion (3).JPG

Oh, you're not interested in the Hayes Dominion A4 brakes because you hated the cheap HFX Comp brakes you owned in 2004? Fine. But telling folks to avoid the Dominion because you've ridden Hayes brakes and they suck, based on that context, is disingenuous bullshit at best.

The Obvious

Some years ago, I was riding my rigid mountain bike on Mt Fromme when a curious fellow traveler stopped me to ask about it. Well, not to ask me about it so much. He actually stopped me to tell me he used to ride a rigid fork, and it was awful, and suspension is much better. It was the first of many comments I've heard, or read, from folks whose last rigid trail experience involved road bike geometry - whether on an old mountain bike or current gravel bike - with skinny tires and 2x or more PSI than I run. And it's not that I'd expect most folks to have a current rigid MTB experience, but how can you ride any modern mountain bike and not reflect on how far they've come - brakes, tires, geometry, etc. - since the Bridgestone MB-0 was the coolest thing on two wheels in 1991? Why would it be any different for a mountain bike without suspension?

I have had this same experience with any number of mountain bike products. Oh, you're not interested in the Hayes Dominion A4 brakes because you hated the cheap HFX Comp brakes you owned in 2004? You'd never buy a Formula Cura4 or Magura MT because you had a bad experience with their brakes in Y2K? You'll never shift another Shimano product after your bike came with the Dual Control mountain-bike lever system in 2005? It's not hyperbole, I've heard and read all these things and many more.

Now to be clear, if you're sticking with a brand of brakes, suspension, or bikes because you've only had great experiences, that's a win. And if you'd rather run what you know you like and not try a pair sweet pair of push-on grips, a modern rigid bike with Plus tires, Formula or Magura or Hayes' excellent current brake systems, Shimano HG+ shifting etc., that's fine too. Flow with what you know. But if your opinion of a fresh RockShox Lyrik Ultimate is based on the Judy DH you owned in 1995, that happens to come in the same excellent shade of red, at least recognize that when sharing your opinion of SRAM's suspension - good or bad.

I have a couple of friends who are passionate denigrators of anything with a Schwalbe logo on it. They both bought bikes with OE tires on them that legitimately had a rubber compound that might as well have been plastic and sidewalls that would have had better durability and support if they were paper. And no, I don't know why Schwalbe would even put their name on that crap. Maxxis isn't immune to it either. Ignitors and Ardents turned plenty of riders off the brand long term. But shitting on the new Magic Mary Addix Soft or the DHRII EXO+ MaxxGrip that you've never ridden based on cheap OE tire experiences is silly in general and dissembling without context.

The difference between personal preference and blatant bias often lives in a grey area but I think too often things that obviously should be stated for context are not. Comments praising Shimano's (excellent) 10-and-11 speed drivetrains should include a reference to whether you've tried 12-speed. Your opinion on how Banshee bikes ride should include whether you've ridden a recent one, the previous generation, or the last time you threw a leg over one it was a 50lbs Scream with a Monster-T. You can choose to never buy another RockShox fork because your 2001 Psylo Race blew a seal every third Sunday, but at least acknowledge that was 20-years ago. If you're recommending a product from a company that sponsors you in some format, that's great, but disclose that to be the case.

All things being unequal, I think the burden to apply context to recommendations, even beyond noting preferences, is even greater for those of us who are privileged with a myriad of testing opportunities and a platform to discuss them. It's something I think NSMB.com does very well, but as I've been looking back at my old work mining for ideas it's something that I'm going to be very conscious of going forward. Mountain biking, and mountain bike gear nerdery, has always had room for a myriad of opinions. While we're sharing ours, let's do so in the way that will be most helpful, and potentially interesting, to each other.

Bonus:

"Accelerated wear concerns" by Steve@Vorsprung

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Comments

olaa
olaa
5 months ago
+8 Vik Banerjee Pete Roggeman Carlos Matutes Reuben.Sandwich Vincent Edwards Andrew Major kmag76 Cam McRae

This whole injury thing of yours isn't all that bad for us readers if you are going to publish this many good articles over the coming months!

That said, heal up and keep modding those crutches!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
0

Cheers! Lots of (hopefully) interesting stuff in the works.

Reply

syncro
Mark
5 months ago
+6 Mammal mrbrett Pete Roggeman JT Velocipedestrian Timer

Context needs to be applied far more often in pretty much every aspect of life.

Reply

Bearlover
Bearlover
5 months ago
+5 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian Carlos Matutes JT DancingWithMyself

I think we can all agree Ellsworth deserves zero chance at redemption. And now that Tony Ellsworth is back with the company, their twenty-year old customer-service sins are just as relevant today.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 Bearlover

Hahahahaha. I can’t believe he keeps finding rich folks to dump truck loads of money into the endeavour… must be something to do with writing off losses against other profitable ventures?!

Reply

jt
JT
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Logged in just to nod in agreement enthusiastically.

Reply

jt
JT
5 months ago
+4 Andrew Major Mark Tremeer023 Tjaard Breeuwer

Critical thinking requires more than just being critical. I have my biases on product, but these days it's less about the brand than about the components that comprise a brand's product(s). If a brake uses a plastic master cylinder piston, it's off my list of potential purchases. Fork uses a coil negative spring? I'll pass, thank you. Let's dig into a rear hub's design to see the bearing layout before making a purchase. I've had bad interactions with Campy's customer support over the 20 years I worked in a shop, but I still use Campy simply because of how infrequently that support was needed. It simply works without much fuss. The best customer service/warranty is the one that needs to be used the least, at least in my mind.

Reply

syncro
Mark
5 months ago
+3 Andrew Major JT Pete Roggeman

Critical thinking is fascinating when you dig into it, and it changes the way people look at the world. I wish more people realized what you just said, that critical thinking is more than just being critical.

Reply

jt
JT
5 months ago
+3 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major Mark

Took more than a few years of being a cocky knowitall SOB, but I got there. Now I ask a lot more questions and browse schematics frequently. Just because at one point a co made insufficient product doesn't mean it still does. There are plenty that learned and evolved their designs and operations.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 JT

I always figured companies that needed to do very infrequent customer service should be able to next level good? Sort of like my rare Chris King experiences.

Reply

jt
JT
5 months ago
+3 Pete Roggeman Reuben.Sandwich mrbrett

I hit CK up once over those years. Just once, and it was my error. Dropped a ball when overhauling a headset. They were super responsive and sent a couple out on the house when I explained my error and was holding my credit card to pay for that mistake. And that headset was 20 odd years old then. King holds the title for company justifying their upfront costs through longevity of design. Good customer service starts with good design and manufacturing.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 DancingWithMyself

Yeah, that’s what I meant. A company can only go all out on supporting their products two ways. Build that level support into the cost of every item or make stuff so good they rarely have to do it. I prefer the latter.

Reply

YDiv
YDiv
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Tangentially related, but have you seen those Chris King MTN30 wheelsets?? Looks unnecessarily nice. Still want it.

Reply

jt
JT
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major YDiv

I had not, and I can safely say d a m n. They're purrrrrty, but they're definitely outside my wallet's depth and fill! Cool they teamed up with Revel on the rim.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 YDiv

The King wheels look sick, yes. But I have to say when I first saw them I roughed out an editorial about how the only proper way to enjoy a Chris King hub is to have it laced into a wheel by someone you know and trust. 

Yes, I do need a scissor-lift to get on my horse. How did you know?

Actually just finished shooting a King hub Teardown (long term review pending) with my friend Nice Guy Geoff. Always forget how sweet they feel after a full rebuild.

Reply

YDiv
YDiv
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Haha, I was wondering when Part 2 would come out! Can't wait :)

Speaking of wheelbuilders, do you have any recommendations in the Vancouver area? I'm all for supporting bike shops but it's been my experience that not all wheel builds are the same, so a little bit wary.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 YDiv

By no means an exhaustive list (lots of good wheel builders in Van) but here’s some folks I can recommend.

Vancouver Proper:

Darren @ Dream Cycle builds sweet wheels.

Ed @ Mighty Riders is a legendary wrench & wheel builder. Have heard good things about Ryan there too.

Kieffer @ Flat Fix is building a great reputation. He’s a next-level bike nerd too - makes my projects look pedestrian.

Across The Ocean In North Van:

Gerard has been building some of the best wheels in Vancouver for more than two decades. Currently he’s wrenching at the Cove.

Nice Guy Geoff has built my last few hoops that I didn’t do myself. He’s wrenching at Essential Cycles these days. 

Jon Fredlund or Topher or Lou @ Obsession Bikes all have plenty of solid wheels under them. 

Hope that’s helpful!

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
0

Yeah, anything less than a year or two and a King hub isn’t fully broken in! Hahahaha.

morgan-heater
Morgan Heater
5 months ago
+4 Mammal FlipSide jason AndrewR

I think it will take me a couple more years to get over my 2015 Reverb experience.

Reply

rotorburn
rotorburn
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I invested hard into being able to service my own reverbs. Every time it was a nightmare. It just seemed like poor engineering that never got better.

Then I invested hard into 9Point8. Not sure I've ever regretted a purchase so much. I take that back - Hope hubs are the worst (for me anyway, that doesn't seem universal).

Now I have a OneUp v2. Not perfect, but absolute bliss compared to those nightmare experiences.

Will I hate RockShox/SRAM forever? Well no, they have some good stuff. But I avoid Hope like the plague. When taking another chance on a company is a gamble of hundreds of dollars, it makes sense to be unreasonably shy once you've been burned 3-4 times!

Reply

cxfahrer
cxfahrer
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

+1 for the crutch upgrade! My crutches had fixed hard plastic grips, so I had to tape them for longer walks.

As a consumer, one wants to stick to fond (or bad) memories! Even the worst is turned into something good in hindsight, if you connect it with the positive, e. g. great holidays, first love, etc - but also the other way around.

My first car was a Citroen, and after 40+ years I still stick to Citroen.

My first suspension fork was a Manitou EFC, and in spite of horrific experiences I still look first for a Manitou fork (before buying something else).

Brands know consumers think like this, and they try to remind you of you of the positive memories connected with their products. Not of the bad ones naturally. But memories can be shaped easily. And at least over a while their attitude to their consumers lasts on - so a brand like Manitou, that sent me the smallest parts for free from California to Europe to keep my constantly broken EFC running, still runs high in my preferences as long as they stick to this - but do they (HBG)?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
0

The plastic handles for mine have flanges that are through the first pair of grips (and my hands) tout de suite. For proper-grips round #2 i electrical taped the handles before forcing the grips on - hoping they hold up better.

The next step is finding a way to fit actual chunks of handlebar. I’m thinking 1” star nuts punched into thin-wall aluminium bar trimmings? 

———

Appreciate what you’re saying re. memories. I just think we have a duty to each other to be certain we’re sharing context - as you’ve clearly done with you mr Citroen example.

———

Covid related shortages aside, I’ve heard good things about Hayes/Manitou support in Canada (S4 Suspension), especially in Ontario and Quebec. Can’t comment on elsewhere.

Reply

goose8
goose8
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major lewis collins

I've had good luck with Manitou support here in the US. Mainly with forks, but they've gone above and beyond to help solve problems- including helping me fit together parts to upgrade a comp fork to pro level damping. 

On a side note, in my experience, MRP also consistently provides superb support for their forks.

Reply

vincentaedwards
Vincent Edwards
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

You could get some threaded rod and cut it to length to secure those handlebar sections. Then instead of star nuts, you would just need a bushing / spacer. I’m spoiled having a 3D printer at home (and CAD skills) to make custom parts like this… but I’m thinking a rubber wine cork with a hole drilled for the rod to pass through might make a good spacer. (Or just find the correct size bushing from McMaster Carr, which is also where I’d source the threaded rod and fasteners) - good luck with you mods! I like the SQ Labs grips… but still haven’t found anything that tops the Chromag Wax grip. And yes- 3+ years says that crankbrothers makes a good dropper post. (But their remote eats cables)

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 Vincent Edwards

Bushing/spacer to upsize from the threaded rod to the handlebar cut-offs? I could make that happen. Might be able to be a bolt that long even. It’s a project!

No remotes eat cables like the little Fox ones that they spec OE with the Transfer. Brutal! But yeah, the Crankbros one is simple, which is nice, but once you try Wolf Tooth, e13, PNW, etc it’s hard to go back.

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Haven't read through all the comments yet, but just wanted to quickly reply to yours, Andrew and mirror what cxfaher said about Manitou CS, they sent parts for my Minute all the way to the Caribbean FOC, several times, from a complete lowers to a few very small parts. Not on one now, but regret selling that Minute, it was a nice fork. Have considered one of the new forks from them in recent years, but honestly the last sus fork I bought was back in 2015 I think, been riding and loving rigid since about 2017.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

That's a solid review of their CS!

Reply

Lynx
Lynx .
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

This comment has been removed.

Vikb
Vik Banerjee
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major kcy4130

At my old job I had frequent enough use for crutches that I had a set leaned up against the wall in the corner of my office. It never occurred to me to start modifying them like a bike. I'm kind of glad I didn't see your "upgrade" posts or I might have gone down a deep rabbit hole! 

When I needed to really get around efficiently at a 3 building manufacturing facility I convinced people it was totally acceptable to ride my MTB around the company with the dropper down. It was a lot easier/faster to pedal than to hobble on crutches! Plus I could sit on the bike feet on the floor when I needed to chat with someone for an extended time which was less tiring than crutches. 

I left the crutches with the job hoping I wouldn't need them anytime soon. So far so good!

If you can walk on the injured foot in the cast why can't you pedal a MTB with the saddle down? I mean on a bikepath/street/etc.. not shredding!

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
0

My poor knees?! The rockered some of the boot?! My massive paranoia over making this last any longer than it already will?!?! How mentally taxing it already is to not be mountain biking. The fact most my walking is between buses. Lots of reasons. 

Sounds like a solid hack for you though!

Reply

Losifer
Carlos Matutes
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Velocipedestrian

Well, I needed to rebuild my ‘99 ZYZZYX fork between practice and race day, and it would generally inhale dust like a vacuum cleaner, so I’ll never buy another one.

And my ParkPre 825 broke at an overheated weld- again, you can bet I’ll never buy another bike from them again.

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mammal
Mammal
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Carlos Matutes

LOL

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 Carlos Matutes

Hahaha. Can’t believe Alex didn’t already jump in with his Tale Of Two Hannebrinks. The secret was to have two so you could get ~ 6 rides between full-service days.

Reply

Losifer
Carlos Matutes
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

So, at the time I worked for J&B Imports, the US distributor for ZYZZYX. I totally joked about whether it would take more time to swap forks or do the overhaul! I got pretty quick at taking those things apart on the tailgate of my ‘87 Mazda B2200 in the parking lot of Colorado’s ski areas.

Reply

cheapondirt
cheapondirt
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Carlos Matutes

If we bought bike parts based on logic alone, we'd all be driving Corollas.

Reply

syncro
Mark
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+2 Andrew Major Greg Bly

^^^ That's pretty much the best that you can do. It's unfortunately one of those injuries that takes time to heal and when you ride as much as you do the adjustment is going to be difficult. I have some craft beer to give away with your name on it if it helps take the edge off even for just a couple days.

Reply

AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Thanks Mark, I’m okay for beer but if you could loan me some patience and positivity… hahaha. I’m making the most of my downtime, just wish I had a good story to go with my injury!

Reply

syncro
Mark
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Sometimes no story is the best story, it's like your own personal JRA.

Reply

hongeorge
hongeorge
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I think most of us will have had good and bad products from the same brand, and can distinguish the low end or old stuff from the good stuff - but I'd say most bias against brands comes with a negative warranty or customer service experience,whether your own experience or someone you know. I've never owned a Yeti, but I'd never buy one based on the shocking warranty experience that others I know have had with their frames. I've endured Raceface's warranty enough times myself that I never want to buy their products again. And I fully accept that both of those brands probably make good products (I even have Raceface products still in use, although non carbon ones, so they haven't failed dangerously), but I'll always advise people to avoid those brands. 

I suspect biases like that persist the longest, and make folks like me the most stubborn

Reply

jason
jason
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Cam McRae

OMG.  bang on comment.  I had so many problems with Raceface products going back many years (mostly bearing related), along with challenges on the customer service standpoint, that I can't even bring myself to put a new Raceface component on my bike.  And the products could be awesome now and customer service top notch.  I just can't put the product on my bike because I don't want to be disappointed and have failure of the product.  

I started off with Hayes hydraulic brakes in 2001 ish.  they were better than cantilevers but were still pretty unreliable (so I have not used Hayes since).  Moved on to Avid/SRAM which was a big improvement but became unreliable with bleeds; and the power was not there (so have not used SRAM brakes since).  Then came Saints and the massive power increase, along with a simple bleed process.  I have stayed with them since.  Are they perfect?  Nope, wandering bit point etc.  But it is easy to fix and they perform better as a result (at least in my head).   So I stay there.  But more of my riding crew has Codes...  

I think what happens is that we stick to either the product we know works well (or is manageable), or the one with great customer service so that we are not off the bike too long.  From a marketing standpoint this is key.  either crappy product or crappy service can turn someone off for years.  Putting on a bad OE tire with your logo on it can make someone against trying your high end version.  Then it takes years (or in my curmudgeonly perspective, decades) to get that customer back again.

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fartymarty
fartymarty
5 months ago
0

Jason, have you tried Putoline 2.5wt fork oil in the Saints?  I've read the lower viscosity helps with the wandering bite point - maybe it allows for a better bleed.  I've done my old XTs and they feel a lot firmer have and need to try on my XT / Zee.

Reply

jason
jason
5 months ago
0

I actually bought a litre but have yet to pull the plug as all my bikes run either new XT or Saint with mineral oil.....  but my DH bike Saints are wandering a bit too much.   so maybe now is the time.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
0

That’s interesting re. Yeti. In my experiences working in a shop the warranty experiences have been shocking in the other direction. I can’t think of a company that’s gone farther to hook up original owners despite a brutal level of negligence. 

Like warranty replacement SI Links after over-tightening the bolts enough to crack the stanchions and replacing frames after running multiple seasons on blown bearings that bonded to the hardware. What would keep me from buying one is the knowledge that some of my upfront cost is going to fund other peoples weaponized idiocy. 

———

Race Face experience just with Next cranks? Pre and/or post Fox merger?

Reply

hongeorge
hongeorge
5 months ago
+2 mrbrett Andrew Major

SixC cranks, multiple sets, being accused of lying, being lied to. That sort of thing. Pre merger, I would think.

Yeti, sounds like it's a different experience for you compared to over this side of the Atlantic, maybe a few extra links in the chain.

Reply

pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
5 months ago
+4 YDiv kcy4130 Andrew Major Timer

The last part of your comment is illustrative of an offshoot of Andrew's argument: depending on what country you're in and what brand is under discussion, you're dealing with that brand's distributor, not the brand itself. Of course, the brand relies on that distributor to represent them well but that doesn't always happen. 

And as you also point out, there is often more than one link in that chain. When you submit a warranty claim through your shop, there are potentially two or more people between you and the person deciding on your claim. You need someone knowledgeable and respected from your shop, the shop has to have a good relationship with the distro, and the distributor is hopefully happy and motivated. Lots of potential snags there. And I've seen a lot of evidence in the past of poor work to support customer claims by shops, distributors, and yes, sometimes also the brands themselves.

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hongeorge
hongeorge
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Mammal

Agree totally, although for me, the distributor is the brand's chosen representative in that country, and for those customers, they effectively are the brand. It's up to the brand to choose a disti whose processes and service match up their standards,

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Lynx
Lynx .
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Have to mirror with Andrew here, a friend/client owned an SB5, lost balance and fell off a little cliff and cracked his rear ST, this was on a Sunday. I shot off an e-mail Sunday evening to them, Monday morning first thing I got a reply asking for a photo of the serial number, took that and sent it to them. Got an e-mail back saying no worries, would just need to pay for shipping, my friend does a lot of shipping, so has a FedEx account, asked if that would work, said fine. Had the new rear tri in my hands Thursday and installed and the guy was riding the following weekend and this is down to the Caribbean.
Same guy managed to crack that same frame a few years later and they hooked him up with a crash replacement for a serious discount, like major and that was also no hassle, except that they didn't have the front tri (which was  broke) to match his rear, so sent a complete frame.

Oh and to be clear, this was all dealing direct with Yeti for the stay replacement and Competitive/Outside Outfitters for the frame replacement. Have seen loads of negative comments about Yeti CS, but does not mirror my experience, maybe my being honest and upfront about it being rider error and not trying to claim "just riding along and it broke" like I think a lot of people do, helped.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

My experiences have also been direct with Yeti (working at an authorized dealer).

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Tremeer023
Tremeer023
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I've heard similar biased stories from users of old or oem spec components.  People should remember that in a free market, in order to compete and survive companies have no choice but to keep on top of advancements and produce a product that can survive amongst the best at any given time.  Of course some do it better than others but if you are producing outdated garbage, you'll soon be found out.

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mrbrett
mrbrett
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Andrew: in the bike business, how long should the Context/Comparison Window be? i.e. If a poor quality dropper sucked in 2017 do I also assume 2022 droppers from that brand suck? If not ten or five years, then two? 

Can I ever try to buy Crank Bros pedals or Raceface things with bearings again? I mean, they both had some good features and availability. 

Looking for guidance, as I have begun to severely limit my purchasing options by applying an infinite duration window of comparison and there hasn't been much left to choose from. I'm spiteful and unforgiving sometimes with bike parts.

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pete@nsmb.com
Pete Roggeman
5 months ago
+4 mrbrett Andrew Major JT Tremeer023

As Andrew points out, it's impossible to say be abuse there are so many variables. Changes in ownership or staff in pivotal areas (engineering / design, product marketing or customer service), the passage of time, or sometimes a brand just gets it wrong the first time out and learns from those mistakes. 

Our hope would be that nsmb is among your stops when researching these things because we all love the details that go into quality gear and we should be able to share deeper insights than the a enrage consumer. Consumer reviews can also be valuable but lime with media reviews, know your source and proceed with caution.

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syncro
Mark
5 months ago
+3 Mammal Tremeer023 Cam McRae

One of the things that makes NSMB a gold mine is the gear reviews - both on the main page and on the Forum. People are always willing to share honest real world advice about  all sorts of gear and I don't see much of a need to go anywhere else for advice unless it happens to be on something that hasn't been looked at or the rare instance when none of the posters here have experience with a unique item.

I think the only way to improve things is have some more happy looking reviewers in the photos, that Cam character tends to look like he's always unhappy about something. Maybe it's because he's not getting the opportunity to pay for his bikes/parts like the rest of us mugs.

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cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
5 months ago
+1 Mark

Lol. I just spent $600 on a hub (argh - super boost!) and a bar and stem for a bike I’m building. Oddly it didn’t cheer me up much.

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jt
JT
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major DancingWithMyself

Keep up with teardowns and I'll keep coming back. Those have given insights on a few products that have either put em in the go/no go list of parts I am interested in riding/upgrading.

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DrSK
DrSK
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Got a 5 year warranty on new Crank Brothers pedals. Covid supply chains gave me limited options. 

And so far no failure after 10 hours of use due to lack of engineering knowledge in their design. 

Think I'd actually now recommend them as a brand.

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Reuben.Sandwich
Reuben.Sandwich
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Cam McRae

I've been running their carbon synthesis wheels on my ebike since May (came stock on yt decoy). 

Would 150% recommend them! Lifetime warranty on the rim, if I break it they'll replace it including the wheel build. I've hammered them, shredded 3 tyres and they are solid. My previous carbon rim ownership had left me sworn to alloy rims, Crank Bros have completely changed that.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
0

Damn, that’s an endorsement.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
0

I think the window is infinite, it’s just about putting context forward and letting a reader decide.

You’d never buy another RaceFace dropper post because your experience with the first gen Turbine post was so bad? Okay, but if you’re commenting on a thread about the - totally different - Turbine R make that clear. 

Crankbrothers’ current pedals are a good example of a product that’s very quick and easy to overhaul - with readily available service parts - but which do require some maintenance. My friends who ride Shimano pedals until they’re super sloppy and then buy a new set (or submit them for a warranty consideration if XTR within the warranty period) will never put that together. I’ve had the same set of Mallets significantly longer than any Shimano pedals I’ve owned (but with multiple bearing kits). 

I have no beef with someone who won’t look at a new Element for their BCXC bike because they’re still spiteful about breaking their ETSX but lay it all out for folks to weigh, don’t just say “I broke my last Rocky so I’ll never buy another.”

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mrbrett
mrbrett
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Pete Roggeman

Fair.

My experience resembles the Raceface post issue - it can be hard to separate a rough experience with a brand then and now. But then again, most droppers released in-and-around when the first gen Turbines came out sucked too. I think there has to be a historical element of judging a product against it's contemporaries rather than the high watermark of the era.

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velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

This. Everyone's first suspension fork sucked, we just attribute the blame to whatever we personally had.

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LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I had to change cleats on my mallets every month or I couldn't clip out.  $30 a month was a no sale for me....  Shimano has been spectacular with no changes in a couple of years.  Picks of your rigid bike?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 Jerry Willows

Hahahaha #JerryWillowsHatesMyBike

The brass cleats don’t last as long, but I don’t know anyone wearing them out that fast. Must be that #RadDad shred power!

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LoamtoHome
Jerry Willows
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

#MostOfThem

Be normal Andrew!

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 Jerry Willows

No boring bikes Jerry. It’s playing toys in the woods.

velocipedestrian
Velocipedestrian
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

This IS normal Andrew. Did you want him to just be vanilla normal? That's no way to keep things interesting.

FlipFantasia
Todd Hellinga
5 months ago
+1 kcy4130

as someone who's Z1's stanchions broke and resulted in significant and permanent disability (hearing), I'll continue to hold my long seeded grudge against Marzocchi, and not ever considering buying anything they produce. Yes, I know they aren't the same company for all intents and purposes! haha

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cooperquinn
Cooper Quinn
5 months ago
+2 Todd Hellinga Andrew Major

WHAT DID YOU SAY?

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FlipFantasia
Todd Hellinga
5 months ago
+2 Cooper Quinn Andrew Major

HUH? Say again?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
0

Those were the old 30mm stanchions? Saw one of those forks the other day - compared to the 34/35/36/38 and even 32mm stanchions they look sooooo tiny.

———

The follow up question is, of course, would you ride Fox forks? I mean, other than decals and some details on the lowers a Foxzocchi is a Marz Racing Shox.

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FlipFantasia
Todd Hellinga
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

yeah, they were tiny, and I definitely rode them a couple years too long. 

I have had Fox OEM on bikes, but bent the lowers on my 36's and replaced them with Lyrik's on most recent bike...have never really got on with fox stuff anyway that's come OEM on previous bikes, so have tended to replace with RS.

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cam@nsmb.com
Cam McRae
5 months ago
0

Was that on a poach Todd? I vaguely remember that. It sucks your hearing was impacted. I had a similar Marzocchi experience but my steerer sheared. Luckily I wasn’t badly hurt and I failed to develop a grudge.

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FlipFantasia
Todd Hellinga
4 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Cam McRae

no, end of a ride bottom of Moby Dick or Ramble on in Pemby, we'd just finished Grumpy Grouse though, so was glad it didn't happen on that!

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kcy4130
kcy4130
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Another aspect of this is how many other options one has. I mean if you have a bad experience with sram/shimano shifting, you'll still probably end up buying sram/shimano again, cause if you buy complete bikes it's hard to avoid. Where as, I had a pivot mach 5.7 maybe 10 years ago and it was so terrible that I highly doubt I'll ever buy a pivot or any dw bike ever again. I certainly wouldn't without a decently long demo. Why? Because there are plenty of other brands that I've had positive or no experiences with.

Edit: the litmus test for me to try something from a brand that I had a bad prior experience with is whether the company ownership/personnel/designs have changed in a big way, and if their new stuff is receiving good reviews. Crank bros for example is one that I eventually took off my shit list. I only have their synthesis wheels (w/ i9 101 hubs) and not many miles on them, but so far so good.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 kcy4130

Those CB wheels are a great deal in terms of the price v. getting into a pair of I9 1/1 hubs. The rims look to be good quality too. Haven’t ridden a set but have recommended a few friends look at them as a potential best value pick.

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Reuben.Sandwich
Reuben.Sandwich
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I have 1200km on a set of carbon synthesis on my YT Decoy. I've shredded 3 tyres in that time and given them a world of DH oriented abuse. They are flawless, I can't speak highly enough about them! If the alloy rim holds up as well as the carbon, they are a winner. Hubs seem solid (as expected) comparing with P321 and King on my Slayer and hard tail respectively.

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joseph-crabtree
Joseph Crabtree
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

This is one of the reasons I try not to read too much into some of the tech forums otherwise I would go crazy. As a bike mech for the last 40 years or so I have seen and heard some wild sh*t and try to keep my opinions to myself unless I have something worthwhile to contribute.

BTW, last August when I broke my femur I struggled with my cane for a few days until I discovered it had the same diameter as a MTB and found one of those paddle shaped Ergon grips in a box that worked great.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
0

Ahhhhh, broke your femur riding?! The pain!!! I switched to a can for a couple days but my knee was murder. Around the house I clomp around with the boot but if I need to go anywhere it’s crutches.

Do you work on predominantly mountain, road, commuter, mix? It’s always interesting to talk to mechanics about performance expectations v. failures v. wear. It’s crazy (and totally makes sense) how much experiences vary.

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FlipSide
FlipSide
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I think it is OK to hold grudge against some companies in some situations. In my case, I am still mad at Fox for their horrible 2013 Factory Float 34. The fork itself was fine, but they completely blew it for the damper. The only thing to do for them was to recall the forks and fix the damper issue, but they elected to ask their customer to pay more if they wanted to fix their brand new top-of-the-line fork.

I am absolutely sure the new 2022 Fox Factory forks are amazing, but the way they handled that in 2013 convinced me that they are not a company that will stand behind their products. I have been a happy RockShox customer since that time.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 FlipSide

I think they should have included the check valve upgrade free with the yearly/100hr service you’d be paying for anyways. Would have been easy to administer by crediting shops for old check valves they returned v. new ones they order. 

Certainly many riders switched to something else after their 2013 Fox experience. The next gen CTD and first-gen FIT4 dampers were good - arguably much better than the current non-RC2 dampers. Certainly many folks will tell you to buy Grip RC2 or buy something else - though one of the nice things with the most common OE forks these days (Foxzocchi or RockShox) is it’s easy to upgrade the dampers ($$$ aside).

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DrSK
DrSK
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Yep, actually liking my 36 Rhythm (stock on a Status 160) with a GRIP2 dropped in better than my last Factory RC2. Seems to be a stiffer chassis.

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mammal
Mammal
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I can confirm the next gen FIT dampers were good, although they came with air springs that had a similar "oops these suck, here, buy a new one" technical bulletin (NA Airspring). I bought that air spring, and only then could I confirm that the damper is great. It certainly took some surgery to make it perform reasonably, though.

Regarding the new Grip dampers, I'm surprised to hear from my suspension servicing brethren that they are basically a full-port design, and don't actually allow any modification via custom shims stacks. Disappointing for a high end product.

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DrSK
DrSK
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Thanks for the Crankbrothers heads up.

Have to say, with Covid supply chain issues, I ventured back to the brand on some pedals and was only convinced by the shop and the massive long warranty offered.

Well, things have changed. They have lasted more than 10 hours of use without a lack of proper engineering design failure. And I will now consider the brand again.

I'm also back on Fox now they have ditched their previous warranty company. Spent 14 months in 10 years not mountain biking while waiting on repairs by the previous company who generally avoided fixing the issue without legal action. Just a bodgy repairs every few hours of use until they got beyond the warranty period.

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skooks
Skooks
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

I have alot of tolerance for companies that support their products and customers when things go wrong. I get it, stuff breaks, designs need improvement, manufacturing process not up to snuff. If the manufacturer or distributor takes care of me by dealing with the issue properly (ie NOT just replacing a bad product with another bad one) I will probably be a customer for life. They only get one chance to treat me poorly though, and if they do I will likely never buy another one of their products even if they end up making it better. Both of these experiences would strongly effect my gear preferences and recommendations. Thanks Andrew for the reminder to acknowledge our biases!

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Fahzure
Fahzure
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

Mount a water bottle cage on one of those crutches using an existing hole and a zip tie because, you know...old school cages makes a handy hook to hold a tote type bag.

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fartymarty
fartymarty
5 months ago
+2 Andrew Major Carlos Matutes

SKS Anywhere Mount with a Ti King Cage.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
5 months ago
+1 Carlos Matutes

Good call. Bottle on one side and bag hanger on the other maybe?! Hahaha. Crutches optimization continued.

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heckler
Sven Luebke
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Tallcans with cozies on them fit bottlecages.  Just sayin..,

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Shoreloamer
Greg Bly
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

The expression : never buy a car built on a Monday or Friday . 

This applies to bike parts .  Unfortunately even forks that cost 1000$ or more are capable of inconsistent asembly.  

I am very happy to read about a new part , keep it in my radar. Wait a year or two and read up on issues .  

Wouldn't it be sweet to have a lemmon guide to bad parts ? 

I believe most Fox , Foxzhocchi and rock shocks use same lowers for each model every year .  So if your damper is not working for you a new fork isn't necessary.  

I agree hand built wheels are much stronger , more reliable than the unknown builder.  Not in every situation . But I can put my trust in a local wheel builder with a solid reputation.  

My favorite fork is the 2014 Fox 36 park model. It had beefy lowers that look very similar to my Durolux fork.  My buddy still has it on his Uzzi.  He gets it professionally serviced .  It's back when you had a choice of air or coil. His was air . Somehow for me . Not an air spring fan , this fork was dialed in.  

No I'm not going to dwell on broken parts . If I break stuff it's usually my fault.  

Weaponized idiots .  That would be marketing telling engineer s how to make parts . What an awesome and accurate phrase !

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NealWood
NealWood
5 months ago
+1 Andrew Major

My recent bikes have all been SRAM and Rockshox just out of coincidence. The last bike I ordered with XT and Fox.  Similar level component spec so I could compare/contrast them. It was really the only way I thought I could speak intelligently about the differences. 

If anyone cares I think that the XT shifting works better than the GX.  I know they aren't exactly the same level spec. I would have to say that the Lyrik and Reverb have been better than the 36 and Transfer. I think Shimano is also winner the brake comparison but it's hard to say with them being at different stages of pad/disk life. That's my thoughts after 6 months or so of back to back riding. The differences are all minimal really.

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leverfingers
leverfingers
4 months, 4 weeks ago
+1 Andrew Major

Bang on the money Andrew.  Perspective rocks.  Heal up.  Maybe consider some suspension to soften the ride, eh?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

HAHAHAHA. This is why I wish I had a great crashing story. I mean, the fact I had a bike - any bike - with me had nothing to do with my injury. I'll see what the doctor says, but I plan is to be back riding my rigid. 

Thanks for the healing vibes. Perspective does rock.

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olaa
olaa
5 months ago
0

This comment has been removed.

leverfingers
leverfingers
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Your welcome to come for a visit if you’re going nuts. You could do the rounds. NSB Chromag The Fix Vorsprung Ride Wrap and Fresh Paints all in the same ‘hood. Oh, and 3 beer springs as well.

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DancingWithMyself
DancingWithMyself
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Great article.  

Think how much better frames and components have gotten enables black-and-white thinking and writing off brands.  

Have a bad experience with a brake?   Easy to never take a chance on that brand again and choose one of the other four or so options.

Similarly, when everything is pretty good, customer service and warranty become much more important differentiators.

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Ceecee
Ceecee
4 months, 3 weeks ago
-2 Andrew Major Mammal

Tendon strain in the context of singlespeeding, hardtail singlespeeding, and rigid hardtail singlespeeding

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

I actually ruptured my Achilles stepping backwards, on a ride on a multi-speed bike. But thanks for coming out and participating, as always.

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syncro
Mark
4 months, 3 weeks ago
-1 Andrew Major

To be fair he has a bit of a point. Achilles ruptures can often be a result of cumulative or repetitive strain. Considering the way yours went I wouldn't be surprised if that's the case. Whether it can be attributed to the reasons they stated is up for debate., but the question I would ask is how much are you using your legs for suspension when riding? IE are your legs more rigid on the descent or are they flexing a lot over all the bumps? Could be worth something discussing with your physio - and turning into an article?

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Thanks for coming out Mark but buddy isn't trying to contribute anything to the community here. He throws a troll comment into many pieces I write, so I think it's fair to treat this as more of the same. I acknowledge him because I think it's important that weeds be recognized as such.

My name is in the byline of everything I write and I actively encourage folks who don’t enjoy my take on mountain biking not to read it. There’s lots of other free MTB content on the internet.

When I'm out of the boot I'll certainly be discussing ways to prevent reinjury with my physio.

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syncro
Mark
4 months, 3 weeks ago
0

Ahh - I don't follow the comments on these articles closely so didn't get that connection.

That said, I know a number of people that have blown their achilles and circumstances have been similar to yours - not doing anything overly stressful at the time and took a step back and pow! People that participate in only one type of sport where they are doing the same/similar movement all the time tend to be at greater risk of these sorts of injuries. Same for any activity where there is focus on a specific movement - repetitive strain. Anyway, it's something you can talk more about with your physio.

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AndrewMajor
Andrew Major
4 months, 3 weeks ago
+1 Velocipedestrian

My understanding is that there is randomness to Achilles tears and that they affect everyone from professional athletes with personal trainers and dieticians to average folks getting up off their couch.

I stepped backwards on uneven terrain. Had I injured it previously? Was it weak from pedaling out of the saddle up/down trails? Who knows. I know a fair number of people who single speed and even more who ride hardtails and none of them has ruptured an Achilles before.

I walk a lot which is supposed to be really good for Achilles strength. Not enough? Don’t know.

I sprained the same ankle badly four years ago trail building. Did I damage it then an it never healed? Also don’t know.

The circumstances don’t change the fact that it hurt a fucking lot, it’s a long time off my bike and that my plan is to return to riding my single speed. I’ll certainly be working with a physio on that goal when the time comes. Right now I’m trying to stay sane through another 6-10 weeks in the boot and positive for 4-6 months of zero riding and 9-12 months until I can hopefully ride without thinking about it.

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