Polygon Siskiu Water Bottle NSMB AndrewM.JPG
EDITORIAL

Dual Squish vs Hardtail: Service Spending

Words Andrew Major
Photos Andrew Major (Unless Noted)
Date Nov 30, 2021
Reading time

Pay Now & Pay Later

I've been trying to write this article for a while now but I keep getting stuck on trying to back up what I want to say with actual numbers. My basic premise is an easy claim to stake. Even if they cost exactly the same amount of money upfront for identical spec, the cost of ownership of a full-suspension bike will be higher than a hardtail over any decent length of time. Ignoring, for the moment, how excellent hardtails with modern geometry are, even compared to full-suspension bikes, I think for a lot of folks the cost alone should keep them on their rigid rear ends.

Whether following or ignoring the routine service intervals for forks and shocks, whether you replace your pivot bearings when they start to get notchy or one at a time, whether you ride a simple single pivot or a 6-bar lower-case-vpp, whether you have a bombproof coil shock or an air shock that needs a shaft, body, and can every season, the exact dollar amount difference for service doesn't matter for a moment.

There's nothing standard about overhauling the bearings on a multi-pivot suspension bike. Sometimes it goes deliciously smoothly and you don't break a sweat. Other times you'll find yourself using a steel punch and a big hammer to decouple the main pivot bolt from its unnatural relationship with the inner races of the bearings. Labour cost is going to vary wildly with most local shops charging a couple of hours of work to remove, and re-install bearings.

Banshee Titan Fender NSMB AndrewM.JPG

Some locales are a lot harder on bearings, and shocks, than others. I'm surprised how few companies offer nicely integrated fender solutions that can massively reduce the cost of ownership of a suspension bike.

Some bikes need to have all the bearings replaced as often as they need a rear shock service. You'll be lucky to get three months of hard use out of the main pivot bearings of some bikes. I think half the time Trunnion mount bearings are roached before your new rig leaves the box. Others have the combination of bearing size, rotation, and shielding to go multiple seasons - Kona's 2014-2017 Process lineup always comes to mind. So the yearly labour cost, or time if you can do the work yourself, varies massively from one rig to another.

Some companies sell complete bearing kits for their frames whereas in other cases you'll be forced to purchase bearings individually. On a bike with many less-common bearing sizes, like a Yeti, buying the kit cuts the cost of bearings roughly in half.

For those that want to overhaul their own rigs, there's the cost of tools. I was recently doing a bearing overhaul on my brother's aluminum Guerilla Gravity Smash. As full-suspension frames go, it is one of the most DIY-friendly thanks to some nifty cutouts in the bearing seats that let you hammer out bearings with a punch. The bearings are well shielded so, while it was undoubtedly time to replace them, I'm impressed how long they lasted compared to most rigs. I own a fair number of tools, including a nice bearing press, but I've never invested in a blind bearing puller. It was an easy job for a big performance upgrade.

Polygon Siskiu Water Bottle NSMB AndrewM.JPG

In my experiences, buying a Cane Creek Double Barrel Coil shock is a fantastic investment in terms of performance versus cost of ownership.

Here are a couple of examples of riders who pedal frequently, year-round, and - unlike most - stay on top of their routine; 100hr suspension service and pivot bearing swaps when the rear end doesn't move smoothly. They don't do their own work, go to the same shop, and ride belly button bikes,* or at least what qualifies as BBBs locally.

Examples are in CAD and do not include tax. The labour cost will vary shop-to-shop and depending on the actual condition of your rig:

  1. Yeti SB150 with a Fox DHX2 Float Factory shock.
    -Yeti Bearing Kit: $85
    -Overhaul (removal of old bearings/installation of new bearings): $170
    -100hr Service on Fox rear shock at SuspensionWerx: $200
    -Total: $455
  2. Rocky Mountain Altitude Carbon with a RockShox Super Deluxe (2020)
    -Rocky Mountain Bearing Kit: $40
    -Overhaul ( (removal of old bearings/installation of new bearings): $150
    -100hr Service on RockShox rear shock at Fluid Function: $145
    -Total: $335

These are just examples and I'm certain there are endless stories of frames going multiple shock services without bearings being overhauled, or needing bearings before the suspension was due for service. Not to mention shock services that are significantly more expensive due to additional worn parts being required.

Either way, whether we're talking about the most 'budget-friendly full-suspension kids' bike (ha) or a $15,000 super-sled, the cost of servicing a shock, and replacing bearings, doesn't vary much going from beyond basic boingers to mega-expensive small-batch suspension packages.

*Belly Button Bikes: Everyone has one; we don't need to see yours.

Santa Cruz Chameleon 2022 NSMB Deniz Merdano (3).jpg

All things being equal, staying on top of service to maximize performance and longevity, a hardtail like the new Chameleon will cost hundreds of dollars a year less to operate than an equivalent full suspension bike. (Photo: Deniz Merdano)

I have this conversation regularly with folks looking at new and used bikes and I'll straight up admit my bias towards hardtails. Buying a bike for your kid? Hardtails are lighter for them to climb, push, and descend, and they're much cheaper and easier for you to look after. The same goes for your teenager, who in theory could earn enough cash on the side to keep a hardtail running. Rider on a budget? Don't just look at the upfront cost of a bike; think about how much extra it's going to cost to service year after year. New rider? Learn about bicycle service on a bike that won't get you in trouble by racing ahead of your abilities. The rider with the blown rear shock with no rebound damping, more side-to-side play than suspension travel, and seized linkage bearings? Yep, I think a modern, slack, and simple hardtail would be best for you too.

Never mind riders hating on hardtails when they've never ridden one with modern geometry, it is driving me nuts hearing and reading about blown-ass jalopy owners recommending any full suspension bike when they clearly have no idea of the cost of ownership or how their bicycle suspension is supposed to work. I'm tired of seeing all sorts of folks - kids, teens, new riders, riders on a really tight budget, long-time riders with cash - riding around on blown shocks and seized bearings.

I wish everyone who buys, sells, and rides mountain bikes could be a bit more cognizant of the costs of keeping their rig running right beyond the initial purchase price. I'm positive I'd see a lot more folks on hardtails.

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Comments

mawa12
0
Matthias Wasmer  - Nov. 30, 2021, 2:31 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

mawa12
0
Matthias Wasmer  - Nov. 30, 2021, 2:32 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

boomforeal
0
boomforeal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 2:47 a.m.

Struck a nerve, did I?

Reply

mammal
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 10:44 a.m.

I wouldn't take credit for that, Andrew has been hot on this topic for years and years. And he's right, not everyone needs to make mtb as labor-intensive or costly as it ends up being.

Reply

Bikeryder85
+3 Andrew Major ManInSteel Vik Banerjee
Bikeryder85  - Nov. 30, 2021, 3:23 a.m.

As someone who has wrenched on plenty of bikes myself...I agree whole heartily. You have to look at what each person needs...sometimes the extra service fees can push beginners out of the sport, so a hardtail is the way to go. Its not for everyone, but the new hardtails are very capable.

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AndrewMajor
+3 ManInSteel Mammal Tremeer023
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 6:54 a.m.

I think that’s the key. New school hardtail geo makes bikes like Growler series from Rocky punch above their price point v. FS bikes. And 2.6” or 2.8” tires (with inserts as required) add an element of comfort and traction. Hardtails have really never been better.

Reply

Bikeryder85
+6 Andrew Major ManInSteel Andy Eunson Vik Banerjee Morgan Heater Tremeer023
Bikeryder85  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:26 a.m.

It's funny, I've looked at bikes like the spur but always come back to a hardtail instead. There is nothing on my local trails that a spur could do, that my hardtail will not. Horses for courses, as they say!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 5:37 p.m.

I think that’s true of every trail network? Compared to a hardtail of similar travel and geo/intention the Spur will be faster, more efficient, more comfortable but under the same rider I don’t think it’s buying you a terrain upgrade the way a long travel bike can.

Reply

DogVet
+2 Andrew Major Tjaard Breeuwer
Hugo Williamson  - Nov. 30, 2021, 5:03 a.m.

Orange Stage Evo Sp 2 bearings 20 min labour ! Cheap once or twice year 

Niner Rip RDO 10 bearings ( albeit change lower pivots only sometimes) good couple of hours even with bearing presses. More expensive !! Once or twice a year. 

Orbea Wild FS E Bike @ 1450 km 19 bearings, shop fitting, including wheel bearings £300 ( and I am non exec of said bike shop,) plus complete drive train, cost dependent on components , Very very expensive!! Basically a years riding.

All without shock or fork service!,

So yes, a hard tail makes sense, sadly my old bones and injuries preclude riding one, hence the short travel Orange, which with 65 Ha 130/120 travel can get you into heaps of trouble…. The skill being getting out!!

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 Allen Lloyd Tjaard Breeuwer Cam McRae
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 6:52 a.m.

So, I purposely focussed on multi-pivot bikes because it’s what the vast-vast majority of riders own but certainly - the Starling fallacy aside - there’s and excellent argument for a true single pivot bike like your Orange.

Buy a used Cane Creek Double Barrel shock (and a progressive spring if you want)  and you have a bump proof setup that’s as close to the bill of maintaining a hardtail that you’re going to get.

The issue is that the major players aren’t making those bikes so upfront you’re paying more for the UK Made Orange than for some really nice production multi-pivot frames. 

That was one nice thing about a company like Santa Cruz having multiple suspension platforms - sure, it doesn’t tell a single brand story - but I’d some to see a single pivot meat-powered Heckler in the line.

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Bikeryder85
+1 Andrew Major
Bikeryder85  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:29 a.m.

This sounds like a great case for a crate suspension setup ;)

Reply

xy9ine
+1 Mammal
Perry Schebel  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:13 a.m.

speaking of SC - i'm amazed by their lifetime bearing warranty. do they generally have better than average bearing sealing / longevity? that could add up over the years. (as I proceed to order my second set of main pivot bearings this year).

Reply

Vikb
+3 Cam McRae Andrew Major kcy4130
Vik Banerjee  - Nov. 30, 2021, 10:09 a.m.

My GF and I had cira 2009 SC Nomads. I would tell my LBS mechanic at the end of the season replace the bearings whenever he felt it was needed. 3 years went by and he finally replaced the bearings, but mostly because I was bugging him. He did check them every season and said they were in great shape. This was back when I had one MTB and rode it year round in BC [the horror!]. I rode that bike for 9 years and my buddy has been riding for a few years since I gave up on it. If I recall correctly it's had only 1 or 2 bearing swaps in that time.

Their suspension hardware seemed really good as did their post-sales support/CS. 

I haven't been super excited by SC bikes since then, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy one again.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:28 a.m.

In my experience they don’t last any longer on average (YMMV absolutely) but it gets riders doing them more often which keeps the bikes riding nicer. It’s like two wins for marketing for the price of one - “FREE BEARINGS!” and when you jump on your buddy’s Santa Cruz it’s less likely to feel like shit.

Shops still getting paid for install (most folks don’t have the tools, space time) and it might get folks thinking about other service at the same time. 

I’m not hot on the idea of training mountain bikers that wear items are covered under warranty (free chains for life next?) but I get, for what they pay for bearings, why they do it.

Reply

agleck7
0
Agleck7  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:28 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

cam@nsmb.com
+3 Tjaard Breeuwer Alex Durant cedrico
Cam McRae  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:20 a.m.

You mention the 'Starling fallacy' like it's a well known concept. Apparently I'm out of this loop and need this explained please. TY

Reply

fartymarty
0 Andrew Major boomforeal
fartymarty  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:30 a.m.

Cam - The Starling fallacy is a fallacy as has been well documented previously on NSMB.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+2 Andrew Major Alex Durant
Cam McRae  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:03 p.m.

Gotcha. First I've heard of it!

And thanks for the tutorial Andrew.

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DogVet
0
Hugo Williamson  - Dec. 7, 2021, 4:33 a.m.

Maybe we should look at the “Starling Fallacy” the other way round, in so far that if a guy in a shed can produce such an acclaimed bike… it begs the question what on earth are all the big manufacturers doing?

Certainly at our bike shop, servicing bikes, the cable routing, bearing housing and ease of replacement leaves  a lot to be desired, as well as general  build quality. It really is no surprise carbon frames cost so much, as the numbers of some brands that require warranty replacement is getting on for 100% of those sold ( from our shop).

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 7, 2021, 7:04 a.m.

That is the essence of the Starling Fallacy though. It doesn’t matter what the big companies are doing and it doesn’t matter if the Starling is awesome or awful.

The Starling owners I’m talking about in the Fallacy would never accept the weight and the ride of a true single pivot (again I insert a note that neither of those things would turn me off a Starling) from a major brand. Even though with their scale it would also make for a significantly less expensive bike.

You could put the pivot in exactly the same place and it wouldn’t matter. 

Kudos to Starling for selling it. I wish it wasn’t the case as I’d love to see, for examples, Cannondale and Santa Cruz bring back their excellent simple single pivot platforms. 

———

And yeah, I didn’t enough bearings kits and insane - especially Stealth dropper - cable routing turning wrenches over the last year I totally get where you’re coming from.

DogVet
+1 fartymarty
Hugo Williamson  - Dec. 7, 2021, 4:33 a.m.

Maybe we should look at the “Starling Fallacy” the other way round, in so far that if a guy in a shed can produce such an acclaimed bike… it begs the question what on earth are all the big manufacturers doing?

Certainly at our bike shop, servicing bikes, the cable routing, bearing housing and ease of replacement leaves  a lot to be desired, as well as general  build quality. It really is no surprise carbon frames cost so much, as the numbers of some brands that require warranty replacement is getting on for 100% of those sold ( from our shop).

Reply

AndrewMajor
+3 boomforeal danimaniac Alex Durant
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:36 a.m.

I mention it in the comments quite a bit when I know Starling owners (I know) are reading. 

It’s the fallacy that a guy in his shed in the UK (has magic pixie dust that) makes his true single pivot bikes infinitely better than any other true single pivot bike on the market (say an Orange). The regular repetition of this fallacy allows bike nerds who would never, ever, buy a true single pivot from a major manufacturer (say Cannondale relaunched their excellent Prophet line) to own one made by Starling and rave about its performance.

This is not a dig at Starling. I love the simplicity of true single pivot bikes and would absolutely own/ride a Starling. I just find it funny that folks, I know, who would shit on the negatives of true single pivot bikes otherwise have nothing but praise.

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fartymarty
0 Cam McRae Alex Durant
fartymarty  - Dec. 1, 2021, 1:11 a.m.

Andrew, Cam - Here's my 2 pence worth... (ramble / rant etc)

Steel has been used as a frame building material for aeons.  It is very well understood (stiffness and strength) as a material for building bikes.  Alumimium and Carbon have been used for a lot less time.  As such there is a lot of knowledge how to build a strong yet supple steel frame, less so with Al and C.  

Steel also has the "advantage" of coming in tubes - therefore the builder is limited by the tube diameter and wall thickness and material propertied.  Compare this with hydroformed Al or even C which can be formed into very complicated shaped and varying thicknesses.  There are less variables with steel therefore the the builder has more ability to "tune" the frame.  Although there are companies (i'm thinking Unno, Banshee, Nicolai) who are doing this with C and Al.

Steel is a great material for building hardtails as its supple, robust and understood as a material.  Al can also be built to be supple and I think we will see more supple Al hardtails in the future - i'm thinking Banshee, Santa Cruz, Nicolai etc.  However at the moment I would bet a large chunk of hardtails are steel

I think what Joe at Starling has managed to do is blend the supple feeling of steel with the simplicity of a hardtail (single pivot).  This just happened to be done in a shed in Bristol however it could have happened anywhere - i'm thinking Dan Stanton (if he hadn't gone multi link), Walt, Sklar... the list goes on.  At some point it would have happened.

I think single pivot FS frames attract hardtail riders due to the simplicity and use of steel as a material.  Hardtail riders are probably more supportive (fanatical) of their material of choice (steel) than riders of Al and C bikes.

Are Starlings any better than multi pivot bikes - probably not - maybe they're 90% as good as a suspension design but make up for it with good shocks (i've seen a lot of Starlings on the web with Ohlins) and a nice amount of flex (lateral and vertical - I think the curved seat stays act like a leaf spring when bottomed out).

Maybe soon we will see Al and C bikes designed in a similar way where the suspension system is less important and ride quality is the focus - however given the general trend for "more" maybe not.

Maybe the "Starling Fallacy" would be a good podcast - It would be interesting to hear Joe's thoughts on the subject.

Reply

ackshunW
+2 DadStillRides Andrew Major
ackshunW  - Dec. 1, 2021, 5:24 a.m.

I generally agree with your angle here, except for two points:

The idea that steel has less variables and therefore has a better ability to be tuned.... sounds like a (to build on Andrew) ... Starling Logic Puzzle. To me it’s like saying you can build a more optimized toy car from Duplo rather than Lego.

And while I always hear it said that more modern aluminum hardtails are more forgiving than the old days....  there’s definitely a materials / engineering limit to how much aluminum should be allowed to flex in regular use, to stay comfortably away from fatigue issues.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 6:01 a.m.

Marty, my favourite aspect of the Starling Fallacy is I know a couple riders with recent-model ‘filing cabinets’… I mean, Orange FS bikes. And they’ve both ridden plenty of fancy multi-pivot bikes. And they're both pretty straight up as they have the income to ride whatever they want (if they don’t like something they ditch it quick).

There’s simply no way that materials choice is getting around the issues with suspension under braking and other quirks on the trails they describe. Which are unchanged from great simple single pivot bikes I’ve ridden. And, compared to multi-pivot bikes they’re certainly a bit quirky.

But also, they’re great, fun, simple bikes that are very much loved. 

———

In my mind the ‘Starling Fallacy’ isn’t that Starling bikes aren’t great once you learn to ride one it’s that other single pivot bikes are great too. But riders go into a Starling assuming it’s great and so it’s great. 

Riders go into other simple single pivot bikes knowing the faults because their friend who last rode one in the ‘90s  has carried forward their opinion or some e~magazine doesn’t like the lack of bottle mount or whatever and so they have a sub par experience.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 6:06 a.m.

aW,

I think it’s relative. Like Ti, steel bike tubes have had to get chunkier to take the abuse that riders dish into hardtails these days. 

The Chameleon doesn’t have a pleasant ride relative to an old school steel XC frame maybe (with 2.1” tires even) but the tuned aluminum frame stands up against heavy hitters like the Honzo ST.

cooperquinn
+4 skua Andrew Major Alex Durant slimchances57
Cooper Quinn  - Dec. 1, 2021, 9:21 a.m.

"There are less variables with steel therefore the the builder has more ability to "tune" the frame."

There are less variables with steel therefore the builder has LESS ability to "tune" the frame. 

FTFY. :)

cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Dec. 1, 2021, 9:21 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

fartymarty
0 Hugo Williamson Alex Durant
fartymarty  - Dec. 2, 2021, 12:08 a.m.

Cooper - "There are less variables with steel therefore the the builder has more ability to "tune" the frame.

There are less variables with steel therefore the builder has LESS ability to "tune" the frame." 

- I probably didn't explain this well - less variable = less chance of getting it wrong if you are starting in a good position.  Therefore more chance of getting it right or nearly right.

With more variables you do have the chance of getting it better but more chance of not if you don't know what you're doing - eg I would rather take a modern shock with no adjustment that a 20 year old shock with a ton of knobs.  With a modern shock you are starting from a good position whereas an older shock is probably way off the starting mark that no amount of knob twiddling will get right.

Given most frame manufactures are just picking up on F/R balance and height specific sizing / geo they haven't even got around to considered or even tuning lateral flex.  Once they do we will have some great bikes but that's probably a few years off.  Whereas steel (as a material) has had a head start as it has a longer history as a frame building material and a greater understanding.

Andrew - I get your point on the "Starling Fallacy".  For the record I like single pivot bikes due to their simplicity and lack of bearing which works well in the UK mud.  I admire Orange for sticking with single pivots and refining.  

I also like multi-pivot bikes but would be put off by the ongoing maintenance - unless I got something like a Whyte which have a life time guarantee on the bearings.

morgan-heater
0
Morgan Heater  - Dec. 2, 2021, 10:35 a.m.

You haven't really explained what the issues with single pivot bikes are though. I like it when bikes squat a bit under breaking. I haven't noticed anything else weird about the single pivot bikes I've ridden.

Reply

knarrr
+1 Andrew Major
Andrew McKee  - Dec. 8, 2021, 1:44 p.m.

Andrew, curious as to your affinity for the CCDB. Is this a shock you've found to be easy/cheap to service, or just a disposable option on the used market? I know my local suspension shop won't touch them.

I'm a massive fan of the Super Deluxe family of shocks, as they are often affordable second-hand, and can actually be serviced at home (by a capable mechanic, of course) with a few moderately priced tools (fill valve adaptor, IFP gauge, shaft clamps). I've rebuilt mine a few times this way, and its fantastic to be freed from the esoteric world of vacuum bleeding machines and nitrogen tanks. Air is 80% nitrogen anyway!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 8, 2021, 6 p.m.

Hi Andrew,

Apologies in advance for the long response (1/2).

I'm desperate to ask who your "local suspension shop" is but I understand completely if you're uncomfortable saying. Frankly, there is more that you're not saying or they're not saying as CaneCreek is a great company to work with, their aftermarket support is excellent, and their products surpass the quality of manufacturing of anything at the same price point. 

I worked for years running the front end of a suspension shop - servicing almost every brand on the market - so I feel very confident that this assessment goes beyond my personal experience with a few shocks. 

---

The shocks can be serviced with hand tools - hand bled - but certainly, the results are much more consistent with a vacuum bleeder. This is true of most shocks even ones that are very user-serviceable. 

I do a lot most of my own work but I don't have the tools, space, or experience to do a great job servicing a rear shock, so user serviceability of the damper isn't something I look at as a big selling feature personally. If I lived in a more remote area without great service options I may change my tune in which case a RockShox rear shock would be a very good choice. Not just because they are straightforward to service but because - and SRAM doesn't get enough credit for this - they actually do a good job of having service kits available. 

DVO should also get points in this regard.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 8, 2021, 6 p.m.

Hi Andrew,

(2/2)

The beauty of the CCDB Coil shock is multi-fold. First of all, a twin-tube damper circulating oil through poppets performs well for significantly more hours than any other option I've ridden. Part of the reason that I think the CCDB Coil is such a great value to own is it's the one-and-only suspension product where I ignore the service interval. I get it serviced when it feels like crap.

When I have pushed a shock too far, the couple of replacement parts I needed were very inexpensive. Even shaft assembly and shock bodies are reasonably priced.

The shocks have been around for over a decade with very few changes and the small parts support is excellent. So even my friends who have older pre-climb switch versions have no problems getting service parts. There's also a high degree of re-sizeability and I know quite a few folks who've moved CCDB Coil shocks between bikes by purchasing parts in addition to their services.

The shocks may not perform 100% as well as some of the newer top-end shocks (PUSH, EXT, etc) on the market but it's more than close enough for most folks. And, 100% of the adjustments are external. So, as to cost, whether it's different sized riders, buying a used shock that was on a different bike, or even moving your shock between bikes there's no need to revalve the CCDB lineup (Inline or Piggyback). Just start from the base settings and work from there.

Speaking of used, or even cooked, one other nice thing about the CCDB Piggyback shocks is they share a lot of parts between generations and between air and coil. Folks that totally kill their air socks (body, can, shaft) can convert the air shocks to coil for a similar investment to buying all the air shock parts (including getting a spring). I think this is awesome having seen a lot of air shocks get recycled/replaced due to wear.

Buying a used Coil CCDB is the one suspension product where I'm confident all it will need is a service. Most shocks I wouldn't touch with a 9ft pole unless if they were fresh off a workbench and came with a clean bill of health.

---

Anyway, to sum up. If you are going to work on your own shocks the CaneCreeks aren't the way to go. But if like 99% of riders you're going to pay someone to service them (or not service them at all, try to claim a warranty when they die, and then buy a new one on a CR deal), I think they're a great value - performance v. cost of ownership.

Cheers!

Reply

skooks
0
Skooks  - Dec. 8, 2021, 6:14 p.m.

Good on you for servicing your own super deluxe. Where did you buy the tools (fill adapter and IFP gauge) and seal kit?

Reply

kos
+3 Greg Bly Andrew Major danimaniac
Kos  - Nov. 30, 2021, 6:22 a.m.

Andrew, do you ever "pre-service" the bearings in a new FS? I always pop the little annular seal off every bearing and typically find them not fully packed. Given the low rotational speed of these bearings, I simply fill them to the brim with Dumonde Liquid Grease, pop the seals back on, and begin the latest love affair with a new toy. I haven't had a bearing go bad since I started this routine, though I only keep bikes 2 or 3 seasons (while riding a LOT).

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Kos
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 6:44 a.m.

On my own bikes yes-ish. Any bearings I’m changing get repacked as I know it saves me time & money.

I don’t care about 1/8th of a Watt or whatever so I do replacement hub bearings too. Just stuff ‘em. 

I’ll also do the accessible side of accessible bearings where I can pop the seal head and check the grease level - but I’d never pull a bearing to regrease it. 

I use (cheap) waterproof trailer bearing grease, not the fancy stuff. I mean, I use Chris King grease for CK bearings, I’d use Dumonde for a nice INA or EZO bearing (though those usually are more consistently lubed), but Enduro bearings get what they deserve.

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skyler
0
Skyler  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:37 a.m.

Andrew, no! Don't do 100% fill on hub bearings! Bearing lubrication works with speed - when you've got the speed (such as in a hub bearing) let the grease film form as intended if you want to maximize bearing life.

For low speed bearings, 100% fill by all means.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:39 a.m.

Interesting, I’ve never heard anything about it affecting bearing life only performance (drag on bearing rotation). I’ve been refilling shielded Enduro bearings with bearing retainers (non-MAX) for years, on my own bikes, and have only had improved bearing life compared to others.

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skyler
+3 Andrew Major skua Alex Durant
Skyler  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:24 p.m.

Most likely all bike bearings fail from contamination rather than normal wear so it won't actually matter, but the nerd in me cares. 

In a high speed bearing the balls float between the races on a film of lubricant. The balls don't actually touch the races once it's spinning. If there's too much grease in there, it can add forces that prevent the ball from floating up on that film of lubricant, meaning you could end up with more metal on metal time. It's the sort of thing that makes a difference in industrial and aerospace applications. If you go by the book for high speed bearings, it should be 30% fill, I think. That said, bike wheels are quite slow.

100% fill for riding in non-stop atmospheric rivers, haha.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Alex Durant
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:29 p.m.

The nerd in me cares too. Thanks!

kcy4130
+3 Skyler AndrewR Andrew Major
kcy4130  - Dec. 1, 2021, 6:44 a.m.

All bearings on an mtb are low speed. At 30mph the hubs are only 350rpm. The issue with 100% grease fill is that the grease has to move in/out as the balls and race move thru it. This adds heat, the thicker, more viscus the grease the more heat. If the bearing load and/or rpm is close to it's max limits for grease then this heat can push it over the top. At my work (industrial equipment, nothing to do with bikes) we've had bearing failures that we've put down to being over greased. But that was at 1800 RPM, only just below the limit for those bearings if lubed with grease, much higher rpms are possible if lubed with oil bath. And it may have just been a inept operator who pumped a grease gun in till it pushed the seals out and let water in. If actually 100% filled with grease, which is actually very difficult to do, and spun fast enough, the seals can be pushed out. This won't happen at mtb bearing speeds: in short over greasing is way better than under greasing for mtb.

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AndrewMajor
+1 kcy4130
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 5:45 p.m.

I wouldn’t be able to guess how full I actually get them. I mean I “fill” them and press the seal on and wipe excess but I’m sure there are still voids.

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agleck7
+1 Andrew Major
Agleck7  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:29 a.m.

I've been re-filling all the accessible bearings a couple times per year. each time i damage that little seal a tiny bit with my dental pick. Wondering if folks think there's a limit of how many times you should re-pack and just replace? Been using Phil waterproof grease if that matters.

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Gdreej
+3 Cam McRae Andrew Major Alex Durant
Graham Driedger  - Nov. 30, 2021, 10:03 a.m.

I have heard Len Ferrous speak of spinning any bearing at high speed on a drill chuck to move grease around, and allegedly gain much more service life. Particularly pivot bearings as they're not getting full rotation like hubs etc.

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AndrewMajor
+2 AndrewR DanL
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:40 a.m.

Len Ferrous knows a lot of shit about a lot of shit when it comes to bikes so I’d take that on face value.

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mrbrett
+2 Kos Andrew Major
mrbrett  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:08 p.m.

I’ve chalked up the odd win with spinning up a frame bearing on a drill, if they’re maybe just barely perceivably  worn it can make them good and smooth again. Pack grease, spin, pack grease, ride.

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andrewbikeguide
+1 Andrew Major
AndrewR  - Dec. 1, 2021, 12:39 p.m.

Gary from BBInfinite recommends not filling more than 60% as there needs to be room for the grease to move about and so the bearings can actually roll. Not an engineer so don't know if this is true or not but can say that they are doing something correct with their pixie dust as their bottom brackets are the best I have used in 28 years and seem to survive our PNW wet, dust, mud drivetrain (and entire bike) destroying conditions.

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nothingfuture
+6 Andrew Major ManInSteel Andy Eunson Justin White Tremeer023 Tjaard Breeuwer
nothingfuture  - Nov. 30, 2021, 6:33 a.m.

The bike you choose and the budget required to maintain it should really be driven by the objective of the rider. Failing to figure out your own personal objectives means you don't have a clear idea of the type of bike/parts/whatever that you *need* to meet that objective.

Want to race? You're going to need to go maximum fast, and that's lots of money. Full suspension and a lot of maintenance await you.

Want to have fun in the woods on a bike challenging yourself? Full suspension isn't a requirement there- there are precious few things that can't be ridden on a modern hardtail (if you're willing to ride those things somewhat slower than people on a full suspension bike). Lower cost of entry & lower cost of maintenance.

It pains me to see new riders (heck, even seasoned riders) write off hardtails as being *required* for the sport- they aren't. Sure, they're ultimately faster. And more comfortable. But they're complex and require a lot of maintenance (and, I'd argue, many of the best advantages of that full suspension are only there with extensive work on tuning). Learning on a hardtail is really good for your technique- and since I'm still learning (30-odd years into riding MTB's), I'm sticking with what I've got.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Mammal
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:15 a.m.

Yes. Totally different story if you’re trying to win races (at any level) but then in that event your maintenance should be way more often than routine service intervals. A podium can definitely be decided by suspension setup.

Never mind more/less fun. Some of the suspension setups I see are terrifying! I don’t know how people have any fun with undamped shocks and badly under pressurized forks (trying to tune around stiction).

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Tjaardbreeuwer
+2 Andy Eunson Andrew Major
Tjaard Breeuwer  - Dec. 1, 2021, 8:15 a.m.

To offer a counterpoint. A few years ago I encouraged a friend to buy a 27.5+ hardtail to replace his aged and crapped out full suspension bike.

It fit his buying budget much better, and he completely neglects any and all maintainance on his (family’s) bikes. Seemed like win win as you describe.

Yet, less than a year in, a new full suspension was in his shed.

I guarantee the suspension is not in great shape. Part of it might be the frog in the pot effect: the degeneration of the suspensions performance is gradual so not noticed. 

Part of it is riding style: especially his wife, is all about sit and spin, enjoying nature, getting exercise and chatting with friends. So, the full suspension bike (even in bad shape), let’s her do more of that, and is more comfortable for her.

And for him, the rear suspension, even in not great shape, still adds some forgiveness (even though the trails he rides are fairly mild most of the time), when he is pushing his limits.

In closing: I totally agree with the points you make, but just want to point out that everyone is different, and their riding styles, terrain and priorities vary a lot.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 5:48 p.m.

Plus tires are AWFUL for forks who don’t stay on top of bike setup. PSI is so important to get proper support without riding basketballs.

Ran into someone just two weeks ago riding their 2.8” tires so firm there was zero sag. I asked, 30psi. That would ride horrendously! I suggested to try 15psi and go up/down from there. Literally 1/2!

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andrewbikeguide
+2 Andrew Major Matt Lee
AndrewR  - Dec. 1, 2021, 12:45 p.m.

I meet so many guests for either guiding or coaching that roll up on $8-10K full suspension bikes.

The first thing I notice is that their contact points are usually poorly set up.

The first thing that they say to me is: "I'm not sure that my suspension is set up properly", or even worse ;"I am not sure how much air I should run in my rear shock".

I suggest spending a couple of hours on a suspension tuning ride session as part of their ride day and the answer is nearly always "Nah I just want to go and ride" or "I'm too busy to spend time setting up my bike".

I am guessing that probably 50% of riders are not getting what they could out of their bike because they are too lazy to spend 2-5 of their 20-100 riding days per year setting up their bike properly.

There is nothing wrong with a good hard tail and there is, as supported by many here, far less to set up and far less to maintain, but not a lot less than can be ridden (with the appropriate speed and line).

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Vikb
+8 Andrew Major Allen Lloyd ManInSteel Cr4w Pete Roggeman bushtrucker Tjaard Breeuwer Derek Baker
Vik Banerjee  - Nov. 30, 2021, 6:36 a.m.

I started riding a hardtail again with the idea it would save my FS bike from all that sloppy winter grit. Partway through that first winter I was having so much fun I couldn't help thinking I might just keep riding the hardtail during the dry season as well. That's when I knew something special was going on with modern hardtails.

A couple funny things when folks comment on hardtail reviews/articles [here and elsewhere]:

1. There is the common you can get X generic hardtail way cheaper than this Y hardtail being reviewed, The implication is that a hardtail is a hardtail is a hardtail and all that matters is what parts you hang off it.

2. The other common comment is you can get  Z generic FS bike for the same price or less than this Y hardtail being reviewed. The implication that any FS bike is going to be better than a hardtail so why buy the inferior product unless it's much cheaper?

Both ideas are logically flawed. 

Your comments on maintenance costs/hassles hardtail vs. FS adds more clarity to the cost analysis.

I'm not suggesting everyone should want to ride a hardtail, but the way a lot people are thinking about the question isn't really factual. 

BTW - thanks for the metal GG Smash porn. I don't get to see my bike online often these days. Even on the GG specific channels it's all carbon now.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Vik Banerjee
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:05 a.m.

I (think) I understand why GG stopped making aluminum bikes but I also think theirs was one of the nicest production aluminum bikes so it makes me sad. CTK’s Smash is lovely and I’d say he’ll own it until (if) it breaks without lusting after another FS bike. It certainly will justify its initial purchase price in that regard.

No Trunnion, standard bearing sizes, really smart/simple pivot points, ability to run anglesets if he ever wanted, if it just had sliders to play with wheelbase! (Hahaha).

———

I see so few hardtails on the trails locally. Heck, the number of 24”/26”/27” kids FS bikes I saw this year wasn’t close to hardtails but it was still a large %. I would have thought it was just North Van but two of the fanciest I saw were in Cumberland! 

For kids, it strikes me good brakes and geo are more important than any suspension, but a good hardtail with a good fork will be lighter and perform better than an FS bike with crappy shocks at both ends.  Never mind little kids being able to muscle the bikes around.

For adults, it strikes me that people are buying a narrative around suspension that’s untrue. I mean, buy an FS bike if you can afford to spend for a decent build and maintenance, but if you’re looking at an SX equipped FS rig there’s a way better hardtail option for you.

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Vikb
+2 Allen Lloyd ackshunW
Vik Banerjee  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:19 a.m.

As I started to ride the GG stoke wave, back in 2017, making premium metal bikes was quaint, but then just around the time they switched to carbon in 2019 it seems like the MTB world clued into the fact for every benefit carbon provides there is a downside and premium metal bikes didn't seem out of place anymore.

My GF has a carbon Smash. It's a nice bike. I don't lust after one and have no plans to do anything, but ride my metal Smash. It's got an WC -1 deg headset, custom tuned shock damper and a new fork + fresh bearings this year. So it's ready to shred for a lot of years to come. I can't see a way to make it better without being gratuitous. 

I kind of hope GG makes metal FS bikes again. I don't think they will, but I'll keep my eyes open for it just in case.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 4:46 p.m.

CTK is in the queue for a metal GG hardtail when they do a batch of big ones. Looking for a geo upgrade to replace the ‘15 Honzo SS. GG put together a set of nice sliders.

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ridestuff
+1 Andrew Major
Derek Baker  - Dec. 5, 2021, 9:11 p.m.

Modern hardtails for the win!

I'm very much in love with my '17 Canfield Nimble9 hardtail. So much so, I have not picked up a new full squish bike yet (really waiting for the right gear box - derailleurs are so last century, or the century before?). But a single pivot will be my suspension of choice...

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 5, 2021, 9:25 p.m.

Waiting for the right gearbox eh? So hardtails for life then?!

(HAHAHAHAHA)

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rigidjunkie
+9 D4nderson Andrew Major kcy4130 Mammal Cam McRae Timer Tremeer023 Bearlover Andy Eunson
Allen Lloyd  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:43 a.m.

One other factor that I think is important in this discussion is learning to ride in a way that is easier on your bike.  I rode a fully rigid bike for a long time and learned to be very light on the bike.  It did 2 things.  First it saved energy from taking the impacts.  Second it saved wheels and tires.  If I plowed through things I would get a flat or bend a rim, so I quickly learned to not do that.  

I see way too many friends go through components (and shoes) really fast because they ride heavy.  My bike stays in tune much longer and that ends up being cheaper in the long run.

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IslandLife
+3 Andrew Major Timer Velocipedestrian
IslandLife  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:50 a.m.

Yes, this is so true.  I learned to ride in the 90's and in order to go anything approaching "fast" as well as not fly over the handlebars at any given time... good line choice wasn't just an option, it was a necessity!

I ride a 160/170 bike now... but I somehow seem to not have the same issues as a lot of my riding buddies... same speeds, same trails, very similar equipment.  And they seem to be constantly dealing with flats, broken rims, ripped derailleurs etc, etc.

This has allowed me to move to a lighter rim (with light Tannus Tubeless Armour inserts) and get away with EXO+ casings.  Again, buddies are running carbon or burly aluminum rims with DD or DH casings and some even with CushCore Pro.

I think maybe they need some time on a hardtail...

I'm also starting to think that my background as a competitive snowboarder and skater transfers over as well.  In those sports, your only suspension is your body... so being smooth, thoughtful and careful about your lines... while looking for transitions where ever possible, pumping and being careful to avoid g-outs and impacts is super important not just for taking care of your body and equipment but maintaining momentum and speed.

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D4nderson
+1 Andrew Major
D4nderson  - Dec. 1, 2021, 9:06 a.m.

I've had the same experience. I ride the same stuff as my riding buddy and our bikes look almost night and day for wear. Learning finesse while riding is totally underrated. It saves major money in the long run and major inconvenience over the short term.

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doodersonmcbroseph
0
doodersonmcbroseph  - Dec. 6, 2021, 3:26 p.m.

I'm also agreeing with this. I am the same-ish weight as my riding buddy, we have similar travel bikes and ride the same trails together on the North Shore yet he's blowing up parts left and right. It's very dependent on your riding style/line choice. I run EXO tires with no inserts, no bent rims here (not even my supposedly shite LG1's on my DH rig).

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D_C_
+1 Andrew Major
DMVancouver  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:45 a.m.

I’m a month into a new full-suspension frame and some of the bearings are already crunchy, and a couple had seized up and stopped spinning. I popped the shields off and serviced them with the hopes of getting through this very wet fall/winter.

Do you have any tips for making bearings last longer? Should I be packing new bearings with extra grease, or does popping off the shields compromise the waterproofing, negating the preemptive maintenance? Is it better to gently wash your bike with a hose, or let the dirt dry then brush it off? Can over-torqued pivots and poor frame tolerances contribute to premature pivot bearing wear?

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AndrewMajor
+5 DMVancouver Rick M ManInSteel Andy Eunson bushtrucker
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:56 a.m.

I’d never pull a bearing to repack it but certainly on my own bike I’ll pop the accessible shields/seals, inspect, and add grease as needed. 

Lots of different opinions on washing and it comes down to how a bike is stored as well (where it’s put after it’s washed). I’m a let dry and brush off advocate. 

Yes. Initial quality of bearings, alignment, exposure / lack of shielding. Lots of reasons bearings die prematurely. Don’t keep riding on crunchy bearings - especially Trunnion bearings - as you shock ends up taking loads it isn’t design for… the cost of doing a shaft, body, and can on your air shock along with a service is getting into new shock $$$ territory.

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kperras
+8 Mammal DMVancouver Andrew Major Cam McRae Pete Roggeman Lacy Kemp Graham Driedger mrbrett
Kenneth Perras  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:51 a.m.

For some (like me), washing your bike after every ride is unavoidable during the wet season. Now the bike is getting subjected to water twice as much. 

To keep your suspension bearings lasting longer, these are my go-to actions:

- Use the "Shower" spray on the garden hose nozzle. Not the "Jet" spray. No power washers either. 

- New bike: remove bearing seals, pack in extra grease (I use Bel Ray waterproof grease since we have a 5 gallon pail at work). Re-install seals, and wipe all excess grease away. The excess will allow dirt to stick to it and consequently allow that dirt to sandpaper your pivot hardware over time, as it will be harder to wash away.

- Every couple of months, remove the pivot hardware to wipe down the outside surface of the bearings. This next part is key: hit the bearings with the closed chuck of a drill and rotate them for a few seconds. This helps both redistribute the grease and reposition the balls in a different spot so they don't wear the same contact surfaces.

In wet North Vancouver I've gone a full year on high wear (main pivot) bearings with the above actions, and much longer on the low wear (swing link) bearings.

Lastly, notchy pivot bearings that can still spin and remain tight are ok. These are blunt objects we are using to carve up the forest, not surgical instruments. Replace bearings when there's play, but don't sweat it if they don't feel brand new.

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xy9ine
+3 Andrew Major DMVancouver Derek Baker
Perry Schebel  - Nov. 30, 2021, 10:44 a.m.

the bearing rotation trick is SMRT. should really get in on that game. (alas, i am lazy).

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mammal
+2 Andrew Major Derek Baker
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:11 a.m.

You guys FINALLY got 5 gallon pales of Bel Ray, and stopped making the intern hike to the moto shop for a little tub?

And yeah, bearing rotation trick is key for reviving bearings that are starting to get a bit notchy. I go as far as running some all-purpose lube in there, use dremel to rotate a bunch, air-blow it clean, and repack with Belray/bearing grease.

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D_C_
+1 Andrew Major
DMVancouver  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:24 a.m.

Good tips. Thanks!

One more that works well from my experience - for bearings that are stuck and won’t spin due to corrosion and dirt, popping off the shield and letting them sit filled with Triflow helps with getting them free and cleaner. Triflow is a bad chain lube but works wonders for breaking up corrosion.

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AndrewMajor
+1 DMVancouver
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:45 a.m.

Hahahaha. I really appreciate the mention of its poor qualities as a chain lube before any praise is given to its usefulness otherwise. Thank you.

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Evil_Bumpkin
0
Evil_bumpkin  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:53 a.m.

Why is Tri-flow a bad chain lube? I was always under the impression it was a good chain lubricant. I have used it, it can get goopy if too much is used, but it seems fine if applied properly. My go-to is that dry wax stuff from Muc-off.

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mammal
0
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 12:24 p.m.

It's actually pretty good chain lube until every last trace of it disappears as soon as there is any amount of moisture around. It's nice and thin to avoid build-up (as long as you wipe, as you mention), but it has next to no staying power. I used to be all Tri-Flow, all the time, but I've now switched to other longer lasting types. Lately it's been Muc-Off Ceramic Wet "E-bike" lube, which has been fantastic in the wet.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 4:50 p.m.

It’s okay chain lube until you use actually good good chain lube. 

For most folks Boeshield T-9 is a great year round option. Cleaner than TriFlow and it lasts.

Dumonde Tech, Wolf Tooth… there are a number of other awesome options if you follow the directions that will be a hot mess if you don’t. That’s why T-9 is my foolproof recommendation.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:43 a.m.

I should have noted that I’m very fortunate that my apartment has its own entrance and I have a place to store the bikes that doesn’t result in (too much) dirt being tracked around. I know lots of folks who have no option but to hose their bikes (regardless how they feel about hosing).

Thanks for sharing your process!

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adurant
+1 kcy4130
Alex Durant  - Dec. 2, 2021, 10:25 a.m.

I've seen several people who ride in the wet pack a bunch of grease to fill the gaps around the pivot hardware, preventing the dirt from entering the hardware in the first place. I tried it this summer and so far the results are promising. When I clean the bike I clean everything gently with water but leave the grease/dirt film around the pivot hardware alone. Last week pulled a few of the pivots and all the grease inside and around the pivot hardware was still clean, all the dirt seems to have stayed on the surface. Now of course this strategy means the area around the pivots will always look greasy/dirty but personally that doesn't bother me.

I guess time will tell with my experiment but any thoughts or experience with that strategy? 

Also never thought to use a drill to rotate the bearings during cleaning, I always did it slowly by hand, my wrists will thank you. Do you just press the closed chuck against the inner race?

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enduroExpert78
+4 ManInSteel Pete Roggeman kcy4130 Tjaard Breeuwer
Rick M  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:50 a.m.

Pertaining to the author's comment about bike owners not knowing the cost of ownership or how suspensions are supposed to work. I'd offer that cars are analogous to bicycles. Luxury cars, in particular, are usually fickle machines requiring dealer-specific parts, service, and diagnostic equipment. Much like a fancy high-end bicycle, owners are hard pressed to identify solid cost of ownership data before they make their purchase. Consumer Reports comes to mind as a fairly reputable repository of many appliances, electronics, and auto reviews that capture both quantitative and qualitative metrics.  But these reviews are simply a starting point for cost of ownership. Maybe you've had a different experience, but I've never been presented with a total cost of ownership for a car (or a bike for that matter) before purchasing. 

Regarding a bicycle's proper function, it's most common for folks to disregard the owners manual or recommended operation, until it no longer works as intended. Most will bring their bike in for service, much like their auto, when something's wrong. The exceptions (on each extreme) will either be infallible in regular service or absolutely never service and simply discard the bike/component once it ceases to function at all.  Then there are the DIYers (myself included) who will have a varying degrees of confidence and competence, given a six-pack, some YouTube vids and a smattering of tools that may find success in restoring their bike to its proper functioning self.

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 Andrew Major
Cam McRae  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:41 a.m.

Good point about vehicles. I'm aware of this advice and currently disregarding it. I am knowingly going from an almost zero maintenance vehicle (Toyota) to a 10-year older one that is known to be among the worst brands for cost of ownership and bells and whistles that stop ringing and whistling often; a 2006 BMW. I feel like my eyes are wide open and going from an SUV with a CVT to a wagon with AWD and a six-speed stick is all about fun, passion, and an appreciation for incredible engineering.

I also realize that the first bill is going to have me questioning my decision, even though I should be able to sell my Toyota for 4X what I paid for the 325Xi. I hope to do a lot of the wrenching myself (and Youtube is a gold mine because there are so many passionate Bimmer owners and because they break so often) but I'm also aware of my current limitations. I already have more things to fix on the 325 after owning it for a few days than I've tinkered with on the SUV in six years of ownership, and that's without knowing anything about the mechanical condition (the previous owner, a young unvaccinated man, died suddenly at 24, possibly of COVID so I sadly couldn't learn anything from him at all).

While the cost difference is much less dramatic for bikes, I feel those same sentiments cross over for me. I enjoy swapping bearings, despite my ineptitude at doing so, and keeping a bike running well for as long as possible aligns with the internalized ethos I inherited from my parents and grandparents. Of course you can take good care of a hardtail, but there's a beautiful challenge involved in owning and tinkering with something that requires more love and attention. But you and Andrew are correct here, more people should have an idea what they are in for before they go down this path. I say this as someone who bought a 1967 Sunbeam Alpine when I was 20 years old!

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earleb
+1 Rick M
earle.b  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:12 a.m.

Now let's talk bushings vs bearings. Bushings are much cheaper, theoretically better and should be easier to change. Yet they mostly dies off save a few instances.

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enduroExpert78
+1 Andrew Major
Rick M  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:24 a.m.

IDK, removing brittle DU bushings can be just as frustrating as a stuck outer race from a cartridge bearing!

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:34 a.m.

IGUS, who make bushings, have lots of info on why they’re better than bearings, in theory but where else are you seeing that?

I feel like I’ve worked on enough old Rocky bikes and enough old-through-current Knolly bikes to back that up.!In practice bushings have tons of stiction and are no cheaper as they wear their hardware/receivers at the same time. There’s a reason true believers like Banshee and Rocky changed to bearings.

I might give some leeway for super low rotation applications like chainstay pivots. But even then they aren’t any easier to change and where neglected bearings generally just eat themselves I’ve seen plenty of worn frame members.

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xy9ine
+1 Andrew Major
Perry Schebel  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:19 a.m.

as someone with 2 bushing-ed banshees in the family, i do loathe these things. all sorts of fabricobbling hijinks required to keep things moving (somewhat) non-wobbily.

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skooks
0
Skooks  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:50 a.m.

I was happy to see that one up stopped using those tiny RC car bearings on the small end of their pedal spindles. These bearings aren't up to the task, even when doubled or trippled up and I have blown up several. One up now use a simple brass bushing which seems to last forever as long as you grease it occasionally.

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cyclotoine
0
cyclotoine  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:20 a.m.

I have RF Atlas pedals going strong on their original triple row tiny bearings. The large inner bearing have been changed several time and are running on recycled enduro max pivot bearings that are good enough for another season (sometimes too) after being removed from a bike (I don't faff around, just do all the bearings in one go, once a year). 

I prefer these to bushing based pedals that get sloppy much sooner in my experience.

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skooks
0
Skooks  - Nov. 30, 2021, 3:20 p.m.

I've had to replace those tiny bearings a couple of times on Atlas pedals as well. No issues with the 1up bushings.

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cyclotoine
0
cyclotoine  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:20 a.m.

I have RF Atlas pedals going strong on their original triple row tiny bearings. The large inner bearing have been changed several time and are running on recycled enduro max pivot bearings that are good enough for another season (sometimes too) after being removed from a bike (I don't faff around, just do all the bearings in one go, once a year). 

I prefer these to bushing based pedals that get sloppy much sooner in my experience.

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taprider
+1 Andrew Major
taprider  - Nov. 30, 2021, 10:44 a.m.

"In practice bushings ... wear their hardware/receivers at the same time"

Yes and can happen really fast too. Such as pre-race inspection did not reveal stiction or play of the bushings, but one Dirty Duo XC race down Neds in the rain resulted in near destruction of the link (receiver).  I'm a big fan of the new bikes with bearings now.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:49 a.m.

Yeah, anyone who’s paid to replace a carbon seat or chainstay, or a linkage, or even just gone back and forth between the friction of bushings v. the smooth movement of bearings probably isn’t buying another bushing bike.

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lukovitch
0
Lukovitch  - Dec. 1, 2021, 2:46 a.m.

My Ripmo would disagree, I pulled my suspension apart due to rear shock service (point made in that regard) and the bushings on the lower link looked and felt like they'd left the factory yesterday.

I owned an older Ibis HD and that had huge double row bearing on it, and didn't matter how much you changed/repacked grease or looked after those, the races would be pitted and notchy after 6-months and needed replacing...

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lukovitch
0
Lukovitch  - Dec. 1, 2021, 2:46 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

cooperquinn
+3 kcy4130 ackshunW Andrew Major
Cooper Quinn  - Dec. 1, 2021, 9:37 a.m.

A classic case where the technically 'correct' solution (bushings; they're lighter, and better for high load low rotation uses) is the wrong answer for the given scenario.

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cooperquinn
0
Cooper Quinn  - Dec. 1, 2021, 9:37 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

craw
+5 Rick M Andrew Major Vik Banerjee vantanclub Tjaard Breeuwer
Cr4w  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:23 a.m.

Everyone around here should be servicing their dropper, fork and rear shock every single season. Depending on how deep you go and how many small parts need replacing that's around $300+. It makes your stuff feel way better and radically minimizes the likelihood of a catastrophic failure out on the trail.

I'd like to see the Venn diagram of people who don't do regular service on these things and those who buy crazy expensive upgrade kits for their forks/aftermarket linkages, etc. The old "I haven't serviced my fork in two years but I just spent $500 on a coil conversion to get that smooth feel back!". 

Seems to me that most people tend to overestimate their ability to do proper setup and underestimate how badly their stuff needs servicing.

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Vikb
+3 Cr4w Andrew Major bushtrucker
Vik Banerjee  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:46 a.m.

I shed a tear or two every time I think about how much effort bike designers put into making amazing MTBs and then how well most are setup/maintained. 

It's just as sad as the amount of $$ people spend on useless upgrades when they could benefit a lot more from spending a fraction of that $$ on a few coaching sessions.

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craw
+1 Andrew Major
Cr4w  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:26 a.m.

I don't know what happened to Arthur but I needed his help setting up my first Geometron. Everything about how my weight was distributed on the bike was unfamiliar. Everything worked so so well after that. I convinced a few friends on more conventional bikes to do the same (immediately after servicing fork and shock) - all were surprised at how poorly their bikes had previously been set up.

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vantanclub
+1 Cam McRae
vantanclub  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:13 a.m.

Most people don't even know they should. 

Even just the 50hr service on a fork makes it feel so much better. That being said, 50/200 hrs is actually a lot of riding. I'm pretty steady evening/weekend rider, and use ProBikeGarage to track my bikes, and when I think I'm at 50hrs I'm usually at 30.

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craw
+2 Andrew Major kcy4130
Cr4w  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:28 a.m.

I think the catch is that performance degrades slowly so we don't notice how shitty it's become. That's why it's good to be proactive.

There's nothing wrong with getting your service done early. Sometimes that's just the convenient time to do it. Ideally I do mine the second I get injured or during a shoulder season when I know Suspensionwerx or Fluid Function will be quiet.

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andrewbikeguide
0
AndrewR  - Dec. 1, 2021, 2:04 p.m.

Excellent app for keeping track of maintenance.

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fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Dec. 3, 2021, 12:39 a.m.

AndrewR - Is that Pro Bike Garage?  If so I use it and it works really well.  The only downside is you have to Strava every ride to keep track of time / distance.  I guess you could use it without but set up "time" / "date" based reminders.

I also find it useful to make service notes.

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:49 a.m.

Bought myself a Covid bike for my 40th BD, right before the supply issues. It needed to be fairly entry-level, but with an eye for future upgrades. Ended up with a Ripmo AF, after comparing suspension across other lower-spec'd models. The DVO spec was like a pot of maintenance gold, allowing me to overhaul both the shock and fork myself. If I keep an eye on consumable components, every replacement part is easy to come by. I don't need to hesitate on refreshing the oil in my lowers, giving the shock damper a bleed, adding some funky foam spacer in the fork's air spring because the boys at SW think it's cool, etc... So much $ saved already, and not even two years of ownership down the road.

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cheapondirt
+2 Andrew Major Andy Eunson
cheapondirt  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:23 a.m.

My feeling is that most of us ride full suspension if we can afford (to buy) it because 1. We want to keep up with our friends and 2. The easy speed is highly addictive l!

I have yet to actually ride a modern hardtail. Every time I consider it, I think..  no matter how good it is, there's no way I could ride as fast on it. The frame prices sure are appealing, but the true cost of switching from FS to HT is losing places in your group's drop in hierarchy.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:36 a.m.

Definitely.

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andy-eunson
+5 cheapondirt Cr4w Mammal Timer Alex Durant
Andy Eunson  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:52 a.m.

Pretty true. But I ask: what is speed?  What is faster, a Honda FIT at 140 kph or an AMG Mercedes at 140?

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cheapondirt
+4 Andy Eunson bushtrucker kcy4130 Alex Durant
cheapondirt  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:14 a.m.

The 1989 Accord with pop up headlights that slow the car down when you, a college student in 2009, turn them on at its aerodynamically limited top speed of 93 mph on a ten mile long straight stretch of Nebraska highway. That's speed.

It's a rigid bike obviously?!

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DanL
0
DanL  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:20 a.m.

which feels better though. My Honda CRX was terrifying at 85mph

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cam@nsmb.com
+1 DanL
Cam McRae  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:58 a.m.

Really? I always lusted after those and assumed they drove really well, based on the reviews. My '82 Accord was a blast to drive at any speed and I got it up over 100 once on a slight downhill.

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DanL
+1 Cam McRae
DanL  - Nov. 30, 2021, 1:49 p.m.

You missed out Cam! I loved my CRX but 85mph down the motorway set up a resonance in the airflow underneath which made the car get really light. At 75 down country lanes was a blast however, so it was possibly just straightline speed. I doubt the CRX I had would have seen the other side of a ton though. The accord had more poke but the CRX felt like a goKart!
I also had a 2006 325i and it was feckin great, amazing handling although I did wish it was Xdrive when I moved here. The only downside was that there were some serious engine part prices that made me blanche. As a wise person once said, a cheap luxury car still uses expensive luxury parts. Enjoy it!

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andy-eunson
+3 DanL Cam McRae kcy4130
Andy Eunson  - Nov. 30, 2021, 12:24 p.m.

I had a 72 Duster 360 four barrel. I had it up to 130 mph according to the wonky speedo. That. Is terrifying especially when the cars I’m passing are seemingly going backwards beside you at high rate of speed and steering wheel is shaking.

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Timer
+3 cheapondirt Andy Eunson Andrew Major
Timer  - Dec. 1, 2021, 12:05 a.m.

I'm all for bikes which make me feel fast but are actually slow.  All the fun but with lower risk of injury and fewer flats or broken bike parts.

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craw
+3 cheapondirt Mammal mrbrett
Cr4w  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:30 a.m.

You can ride a modern progressive hardtail (with Cushcore Pro) at nearly the same speed as FS on the Shore, maybe not in the bike park. It's totally doable but the margin for error can get thin and it takes its toll on the body for sure. It's a nice change in the shoulder seasons when everything is soft.

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cheapondirt
+1 Andrew Major
cheapondirt  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:58 a.m.

Would love to check out something new! My last hardtail experience was a 2009 Norco Sasquatch in size medium, and I'm 6'1"

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AndrewMajor
+1 cheapondirt
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 5:24 p.m.

Geo has come a long way since 2009 and I think it’s made an even bigger impact on riding hardtails than FS bikes.

Same is true for 29’er wheels/tires.

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cam@nsmb.com
+4 LWK Andrew Major Mammal cheapondirt
Cam McRae  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:56 a.m.

My experience on the Kona Honzo ESD surprised me. I could eventually do much more on it than I thought I'd be able to and there were many trails (most of Fromme for example) where the speed difference was insignificant and more than compensated for by the trail feedback and the sensation of velocity that provided. 

Another factor is what it does for my riding. I've been working on my technique a lot in the last couple of years and it's vastly improved my riding. On the hardtail, in order to go fast, I had to nail my posture on the bike. This transferred over to my dually and improved my riding further, on top of the usual transferrable benefits of riding a hardtail (rear wheel awareness, line choice, contour perception, more active body movement etc.)

Being able to swap parts when something breaks is also a bonus, but all of this is contingent upon two things; riding enough to keep multiple bikes happy, and having riding buddies who also ride hardtails. The second factor is less important but I know I'd ride mine more if even one of my regular riding crew owned one. Alas, that number is zero.

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Sethsg
+1 Andrew Major
Sethsg  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:34 a.m.

The only problem with CC suspension is you can't service any of it yourself at home, which sucks. 

A side note how can you tell if your coil shock needs a service?

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:37 a.m.

I do most my own service but wouldn’t be doing a rear shock anyways (and imagine that’s true for the vast majority of riders). 

Two ways. You follow the service interval (hours) or you wait until the damping feels like crap.

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andy-eunson
+2 Vik Banerjee Velocipedestrian
Andy Eunson  - Nov. 30, 2021, 8:50 a.m.

Yep. I’m like Andrew. I pop easily accessed seals to wipe them ABAP, and stuff clean grease into them. At my weight and riding style, I seem to get years from suspension bearings. Annual shock and fork service at Melius and more frequent air sleeve and lower service at home. As others have mentioned above, if one of your goals is to race or simply keep up or go faster than riding friends than full suspension is a good choice. I think it’s incorrect to say full suspension is more fun per se. It’s different but equal fun. If a one metre drop that sends you 5 metres out is worth 10 thrill points on a DH bike, that same feature is worth 30 thrill points on a hardtail. I tend to ride alone a lot so I’m not looking to keep up. My thrills have more to do with simply cleaning trails up and down so I get more satisfaction at times in riding things on my hardtail than my full suspension. And every now and then I’ll hear “oh wow, you rode that on a hardtail”.  Or “I thought you were on an ebike”. 

I love the simplicity of my hardtail. But there are certain trails where the full suspension is a better tool for fun.

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velocipedestrian
+2 Andy Eunson Andrew Major
Velocipedestrian  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:25 p.m.

Yay for the smiles per hour metric!

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LoamtoHome
+1 cheapondirt
Jerry Willows  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:02 a.m.

Bearings will last longer if you don't ride trails in the rain...

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AndrewMajor
+1 Jerry Willows
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:51 a.m.

#NoDigJustRide

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LoamtoHome
0
Jerry Willows  - Nov. 30, 2021, 4:27 p.m.

that's the North Shore mantra...

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 5:22 p.m.

You can’t possibly believe that’s Shore-specific?!

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LoamtoHome
0
Jerry Willows  - Dec. 1, 2021, 9:01 a.m.

The entitlement is very high here.  Ask me how I know.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Jerry Willows
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 5:57 p.m.

Hahahahaha, you’re telling me about entitled mountain bikers?! Hahaha. You’re a beautiful man Jerry. 

My point was is it really any better anywhere else with good trails? High performance mountain biking, keeping up with friends (speed and Gucci factor) - costs beaucoup-beaucoup. Mo money mo munchkins.

Working on trails (again, anywhere) that can be shuttled probably increases the issue by 1000x (but e~bikes are working hard to equalize it!)

skooks
+2 Cam McRae Andy Eunson
Skooks  - Nov. 30, 2021, 9:36 a.m.

I calculate the service cost delta between my FS bike and my hardtail at less than $75 per year. That's doing my own bearing changes and air can service (not saying I follow the intervals religiously). My frame bearings seem to last several years, and that's on a Knolly with its fair share of pivots. For me saving money on service never entered the HT purchase decision. I love my modern-geo hardtail, but if I could only have one bike for riding primarily on the shore, it would be a FS rig no question.

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:58 a.m.

How often do you service the damper on your rear shock? That'll add up, and should definitely be done once every couple years (more actually).

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 12:36 p.m.

Should be done at least every 100hrs of riding for most shocks even just to keep your bike performing. If it’s a twin tube then the damper will often feel better for longer.

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 1:35 p.m.

I was posing that question to Skooks, as proper attention to his rear damper will skew his cost delta.

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skooks
0
Skooks  - Nov. 30, 2021, 3:25 p.m.

Full shock rebuild around 2.5 years. It was still serviceable but I won't go that long next time.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 12:40 p.m.

What model/model year of Knolly? Are we talking about an old V-Tach or Gen1-2 Delerium (with a horizontal shock) with the large INA bearings or are we talking about the current vertical shock mount bikes with Trunnion mount and bushings in the 4x4 linkage? How many hours a year of riding? Year round North Shore conditions or elsewhere? 

Just having a hard time computing that number even with 100% labour covered.

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skooks
0
Skooks  - Nov. 30, 2021, 3:32 p.m.

2019 fugitive. I ride 3x per week on average year around. In the 3 years I have had this bike I've replaced all of the suspension bearings once ($75) and had the shock fully serviced once ($150).

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 4:57 p.m.

Power to you, that’s an impressive life between service to not see a bunch of wear issues when you did service it. Especially the Trunnion bearings, swing link bearings, and 4x4 bushings.

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skooks
0
Skooks  - Nov. 30, 2021, 6:12 p.m.

It was hard to tell that the bearings were toast until I removed them. There was some play but not much. Approximately half were seized up but the rest were still ok, including both trunion bearings. One of the Main pivot bearings was shot but the other bearing was still ok.

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skooks
+1 Andrew Major
Skooks  - Nov. 30, 2021, 7:36 p.m.

Another argument for an N+1 hardtail. As soon as I got one I started riding my fully a lot less. Saves a lot of wear and tear and reduces the service cost even more.

cooperquinn
+4 AndrewR Velocipedestrian Andrew Major Alex Durant
Cooper Quinn  - Dec. 1, 2021, 10:05 a.m.

I'm paraphrasing your comments here, but basically you've said "I spend way less than this a year on service and half of my bearings were completely seized when I changed them out" 

Which maybe isn't the 'gotcha' you think it is?

mikeynets
0
mikeynets  - Dec. 1, 2021, 7:28 p.m.

I was just wondering how noticeable roasted bearings are — got just shy of 1000 miles on my Banshee Spitfire and haven't done any suspension service yet. I'm pretty attentive to my drivetrain, but admittedly less so when it comes to suspension.

Skooks — sounds like you're saying bearings can be well f@cked but not noticeable while riding. 

So what's a reasonably quick diagnostic to see if your bearings need service?

skooks
0
Skooks  - Dec. 1, 2021, 7:58 p.m.

Quick diagnostic bearing checks in order of effort: 

Grab the top of your back wheel and the top tube and push back and forth sideways. Any play in the system should be immediately noticeable. Then do the same test but grab the seat stay instead of the wheel. If you still feel play it's likely in the suspension somewhere, otherwise it's likely a hub issue. 

Remove the lower shock bolt and cycle the suspension through its travel. Should move smoothly and quietly.

Remove suspension bolts/pivots and try spinning the bearings. While you are at it you might as well pop the bearing seals and stuff in some grease.

AndrewMajor
+1 Velocipedestrian
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 8:33 p.m.

If I can make a recommendation, be sure to unbolt your shock when you're doing your test. The shock should not be the structural member of your frame holding tying everything (many would argue shocks shouldn't be structural members at all and all shocks should have sphericals at both eyelets - but that could be a discussion for another day). 

With the shock removed from the equation, you'll be able to test how well your rear suspension cycles and also for side-to-side play. Plus you'll be able to check your Trunnion bearing rotation by hand. Shocks are expensive and if you're relying on the shock to hold everything together - or if the Trunnion bearings are seized and the shock is being loaded in bad ways - the bearings quickly become the least expensive worry. That's not even considering performance.

skooks
+1 Andrew Major
Skooks  - Dec. 1, 2021, 10:02 p.m.

Excellent recommendation AM!

mikeynets
+1 Andrew Major
mikeynets  - Dec. 2, 2021, 8:01 a.m.

Skooks and Andrew — thank you! heading out to the garage now. Also, for those interested, the complete bearing kit for KS2 Banshee bikes is $60 USD. Link here.

mikeynets
0
mikeynets  - Dec. 2, 2021, 8:01 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

skooks
0
Skooks  - Dec. 3, 2021, 7:17 p.m.

Not trying to 'gotcha' anyone Cooper. Just trying to point out that in *my* experience, the incremental cost of owning my full sus bike has been significantly less than that estimated in this article. Obviously YMMV.

gibspaulding
0
gibspaulding  - Nov. 30, 2021, 10:08 a.m.

Anyone else find that you go through rear tires and rims faster on a hardtail?  I tried swapping my FS for a hardtail for a while a few years back based on exactly this logic, but the rear wheel that had been running fine on my FS didn't survive the first season on my Ragly.  I replaced it and the rear tire with heavier versions, but bought a FS again before really putting them through their paces.

I've had pretty good luck with bearings (knock on wood!) on my FS bikes, so at least in my limited experience the math didn't work out very well.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:51 a.m.

No, I run a CushCore Pro insert on the back of my hardtail. Haven’t wrecked a rim since and my tires gets replaced when they’re worn out.

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gibspaulding
0
gibspaulding  - Dec. 1, 2021, 9:24 a.m.

I think if I ever go back to a hardtail, that would be the solution!  I just found it interesting getting such different results from the exact same components (I did a frame swap without changing anything else).

Are you running inserts on your full suspension too now?  I remember you did an article a while back where you decided you preferred straight DD casing with no inserts; I've been using that as my excuse not to bother trying them haha!

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mammal
0
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 12:05 p.m.

What Andrew said about inserts. I only use Tannus (front/rear) on mine, but it's definitely made things less abusive toward the rear rim. I wouldn't say that I wear out tires "faster" on the hard tail, but they definitely wear differently. The inserts allow slightly less pressure (more comfort and tire adherence), which affects how the tread wears. The hard tail wears tires more evenly across the tread block, where the suspension bike wears the side nobs faster.

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D_C_
0
DMVancouver  - Nov. 30, 2021, 1:45 p.m.

The hardtail is a rear rim killer. I have found that DH-rated rims and proper tire pressure help substantially. I tried CushCore for a bit - to me, the extra weight was only worth it if I could get away running super low pressure. But at low pressures (22 psi), I was still denting rims even with CushCore Pro. Plus, the ride quality benefits felt less to me than on a full-suspension; the hardtail was still bumpy and chattery. Heavy rims, 26 psi and no CushCore is where I have landed.

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 2:39 p.m.

We're opposites. I've landed on EXO casing with Tannus insert, beefy carbon rear rim, and 18.5psi for the rear. Enchanted combo of greatness, in my experience.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 4:58 p.m.

Same boat here. Insert, I’ve cheated down a level on casings to save some weight, and I run low-low pressures.

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gibspaulding
0
gibspaulding  - Nov. 30, 2021, 10:08 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

lacykemp
+5 Cam McRae Mammal Pete Roggeman Andy Eunson Andrew Major
Lacy Kemp  - Nov. 30, 2021, 10:18 a.m.

Klunkers. Coaster brake. Repack your bearings. Put air in tires. Ride bicycle. Fun on singletrack. Cheap to buy. Cheap to maintain. Teeth chattering good times. Can't speak for hospital bill that may be forthcoming (but then again, most of you are Canadian so maybe that last one doesn't apply)

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cooperquinn
+1 Alex Durant
Cooper Quinn  - Dec. 1, 2021, 9:44 a.m.

Andrew's persona bike is "swapping discs for a coaster brake" away from riding a bright purple klunker, really.

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 6:03 p.m.

Is it still klunking with a 29+ tire up front?! I thought klunkers had to be #26ForLife!?

Otherwise Disc-Klunking sounds way cooler than whatever it is I’m doing!

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LWK
+1 cheapondirt
LWK  - Nov. 30, 2021, 10:53 a.m.

Great article, but I'd come at this from a different angle.  Namely, why are bikes generally poorly built and why do we tolerate it.  I understand any high performance suspension needs regular service so no problem with that.  But bearings that seize with little use, are a major hassle to replace, etc, simply should not be acceptable.  Its a mountain bike.  By definition it is used in mud, water and dust and so should be able to work in those elements for a reasonable period of time with easily performed, minimal maintenance.  In my mind, "reasonable period" is at least a couple of hard riding seasons.

I wont pretend to understand all the nuance a media outlet has to navigate when it comes to reviewing products, but my general impression is that NSMB does reasonably thorough reviews and you seem to ride test bikes over several months.  I think some commentary on bearing quality, condition, ease of replacement would be a good addition to your reviews.

Finally, it strikes me that bikes must have good functional bearings to actually work and more so for a FS bike.  And yet bearings seem to be a bit of voodoo in the bike world.  Bearings is a huge business with established technology and engineering that the bike industry either just borrows from (or ignores).  Yes, I've watched a few Hambini videos...  Some insights into the world of bearing technology would make for a great NSMB article or two.

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cam@nsmb.com
+3 LWK Andrew Major Alex Durant
Cam McRae  - Nov. 30, 2021, 12:04 p.m.

Good idea LWK. 

As far as our approach to bearing wear and tech, that's something we absolutely talk about when it's an issue, and we generally make an effort to examine things before review time. Mike Wallace's recent review of the Kona Process X went into that extensively, and he ended up replacing the bearings during the test period. I'm not saying we couldn't do better, but it's certainly something on our testers' radar and an area we try to devote some time to.

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AndrewMajor
+2 LWK Alex Durant
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 5:09 p.m.

Thank you!

Proper shielding adds weight and cost. Proper big bearings of high quality add weight and cost. 

If Kona had shipped those ‘14-‘17 Process bikes with INA bearings that would have been a prime example. As it is those bikes get impressive bearing life with cheap bearings.

The reality is though, customers care more about weight and aesthetics. A company has to philosophically care about bearing life and quality to get any return on investment running bigger and/or better bearings.

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benfour
0
benfour  - Dec. 15, 2021, 4:45 p.m.

I'm not sure that bearing quality matters much for pivot bearings. In the case of the Hambini videos, he's talking about continuously rotating bearings. MTB pivot bearings never complete a single complete revolution, so the balls inside the race just get to beat themselves into the races, failing from the hammering they're taking. I'm not saying they can be garbage bearings, but rather it's the wrong tool for the job (ball bearings). Automotive control arm bushings are a good example - these seem to be either rubber, where the rotation is taken up by the twisting of the rubber (imagine the balls in a standard bearing replaced by rubber, where the rubber is glued to the inner and outer race. You can turn the inner relative to the outer by flexing the rubber) This design has the advantage of NO sliding surfaces and is completely sealed, but would also flex too much for a bike. In competition applications, these are often replaced with spherical plain bearings. These have a large surface area, but are a bit heavier and have a bit more friction compared to a (*new*) ball bearing. 

Off road racing trucks are a good comparison I think.  A long time ago, I lusted after Camburg's upper control arms for my 2WD Toyota truck, with their Uniball pivots: https://camburg.com/shop/suspension/susp-control-arms/uniball-uca/camburg-toyota-hilux-05-1-25-performance-uniball-upper-arms/

If there's a place to look where suspension pivots take a beating, off road truck racing might be such a place. 

The bearings that seem to take the worst of it are the main pivots near the bottom bracket - whether the design is single pivot, linkage single pivot, Horst, DW link, or VPP. These are basically once-a-season replacements for a lot of riders.  I like that Ibis use IGUS bushings in their lower DW link, and that Trek use double-row bearings for their main pivots. I haven't seen much other effort into this by manufacturers, but it might be out there.

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benfour
0
benfour  - Dec. 15, 2021, 4:46 p.m.

I'm not sure that bearing quality matters much for pivot bearings. In the case of the Hambini videos, he's talking about continuously rotating bearings. MTB pivot bearings never complete a single complete revolution, so the balls inside the race just get to beat themselves into the races, failing from the hammering they're taking. I'm not saying they can be garbage bearings, but rather it's the wrong tool for the job (ball bearings). Automotive control arm bushings are a good example - these seem to be either rubber, where the rotation is taken up by the twisting of the rubber (imagine the balls in a standard bearing replaced by rubber, where the rubber is glued to the inner and outer race. You can turn the inner relative to the outer by flexing the rubber) This design has the advantage of NO sliding surfaces and is completely sealed, but would also flex too much for a bike. In competition applications, these are often replaced with spherical plain bearings. These have a large surface area, but are a bit heavier and have a bit more friction compared to a (*new*) ball bearing. 

Off road racing trucks are a good comparison I think.  A long time ago, I lusted after Camburg's upper control arms for my 2WD Toyota truck, with their Uniball pivots: https://camburg.com/shop/suspension/susp-control-arms/uniball-uca/camburg-toyota-hilux-05-1-25-performance-uniball-upper-arms/

If there's a place to look where suspension pivots take a beating, off road truck racing might be such a place. 

The bearings that seem to take the worst of it are the main pivots near the bottom bracket - whether the design is single pivot, linkage single pivot, Horst, DW link, or VPP. These are basically once-a-season replacements for a lot of riders.  I like that Ibis use IGUS bushings in their lower DW link, and that Trek use double-row bearings for their main pivots. I haven't seen much other effort into this by manufacturers, but it might be out there.

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benfour
0
benfour  - Dec. 15, 2021, 4:46 p.m.

I'm not sure that bearing quality matters much for pivot bearings. In the case of the Hambini videos, he's talking about continuously rotating bearings. MTB pivot bearings never complete a single complete revolution, so the balls inside the race just get to beat themselves into the races, failing from the hammering they're taking. I'm not saying they can be garbage bearings, but rather it's the wrong tool for the job (ball bearings). Automotive control arm bushings are a good example - these seem to be either rubber, where the rotation is taken up by the twisting of the rubber (imagine the balls in a standard bearing replaced by rubber, where the rubber is glued to the inner and outer race. You can turn the inner relative to the outer by flexing the rubber) This design has the advantage of NO sliding surfaces and is completely sealed, but would also flex too much for a bike. In competition applications, these are often replaced with spherical plain bearings. These have a large surface area, but are a bit heavier and have a bit more friction compared to a (*new*) ball bearing. 

Off road racing trucks are a good comparison I think.  A long time ago, I lusted after Camburg's upper control arms for my 2WD Toyota truck, with their Uniball pivots: https://camburg.com/shop/suspension/susp-control-arms/uniball-uca/camburg-toyota-hilux-05-1-25-performance-uniball-upper-arms/

If there's a place to look where suspension pivots take a beating, off road truck racing might be such a place. 

The bearings that seem to take the worst of it are the main pivots near the bottom bracket - whether the design is single pivot, linkage single pivot, Horst, DW link, or VPP. These are basically once-a-season replacements for a lot of riders.  I like that Ibis use IGUS bushings in their lower DW link, and that Trek use double-row bearings for their main pivots. I haven't seen much other effort into this by manufacturers, but it might be out there.

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khai
+1 Andrew Major
khai  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:21 a.m.

I'm really hoping that those solid lube bearings that Cane Creek started using a couple of years ago makes its way to bearings of all sizes for bikes.  That would go a massive way toward reducing the performance drop, and maintenance costs of all our bikes - FS, HT, or even fully rigid.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 6:14 a.m.

Apparently the reason they cancelled the BB is riders can feel the initial drag too much (even if they spin better than where most riders’ BBs are at on average). 

I’d love to try them in suspension if nowhere else.

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cam@nsmb.com
+3 Mammal khai Alex Durant
Cam McRae  - Dec. 1, 2021, 7:58 a.m.

I spoke to Peter at Ceramic Speed yesterday and he told me they are pressing ahead with solid lube bearings for headsets and pivot bearings. Pivots bearings will be for OE customers to start. Apparently a reason why CS hasn’t pushed forward with bottom brackets is that they move through full rotation and thus don’t have the same issues as headsets and pivots with lubricant being pushed aside because of the cyclic nature of motion. I hope to get at least some bearings and perhaps a headset to test in the coming months.

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khai
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khai  - Dec. 1, 2021, 8:24 a.m.

Interesting - I'm certainly no Engineer, but would have thought that BBs would be one of the first places to use these along with hubs.  While the grease in those may not get cycled out in the same manner, those areas are constantly exposed to water and grit.  But I'll take better bearings in headsets, suspension pivots... everywhere I can!

I look forward to the review.

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adurant
+1 Andrew Major
Alex Durant  - Dec. 2, 2021, 9:51 a.m.

Really hoping they offer aftermarket pivot bearings sooner than later, also hoping the solid lube enduro max bearings become available in more sizes. Both seem extremely well suited for pivot bearings.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Dec. 5, 2021, 9:20 p.m.

Especially for some of the highest-load and lowest rotation applications. Actually, scratch that, especially for every pivot point from the main pivot to the 'Onion' mounts. 

I think the problem is that at a manufacturing level - not retail packaged - the Enduro bearings that many brands use are SO CHEAP. And really, Enduro Max bearings work very well for most folks - especially if a bike has good shielding like the Konas I noted. 

Other options, like solid lube, are going to be much more expensive - though I know plenty of folks who will gladly pay the difference aftermarket I doubt many manufacturers will jump on board - especially since 99% of their customers don't care and they'd probably rather the 1% buy different brands' rigs. The nerd brands don't even spec INA bearings anymore.

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Wile_E.
+7 Andy Eunson Cam McRae bushtrucker Andrew Major Timer kcy4130 Alex Durant
Wile_E.  - Nov. 30, 2021, 11:56 a.m.

Don't all full suspension bikes become hardtails if you ignore the bearings long enough?

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 12:08 p.m.

In some cases they become "soft-tails" that aim to snap that expensive rear shock in two.

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cam@nsmb.com
+2 Andy Eunson Andrew Major
Cam McRae  - Nov. 30, 2021, 12:16 p.m.

I wish we had a lol emoji instead of just upvotes! 😆

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kcy4130
+1 Andrew Major
kcy4130  - Dec. 1, 2021, 8:23 a.m.

Ha! Yep, some become hardtails, others develop passive rear steering.

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Shoreloamer
+1 Andrew Major
Greg Bly  - Nov. 30, 2021, 1:43 p.m.

These simple pedal devises became ultra sophisticated and prone to numerous break down do to our lust for fancy toys. 

These are fancy toys. It's now a very expensive sport. Very expensive.  

May I suggest skate boarding or jogging? Kidding. 

Steel hard tail frames that can be repaired In a muffler shop in rural India combined with a single speed drive train . Criss king parts. That's a reliable bike ! But who wants that? 

Give me dropper post , long cage rear derailleur s and light weight carbon rims. New and improved but not properly tested . Please. Take my money . Again. And again and again. 

Actually if you are mechanically inclined hunting down vintage parts is way more fun and rather affordable.

There is nothing affordable about new bikes.

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mammal
+2 Greg Bly Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 2:48 p.m.

Perspective I guess. 

My buddy welded me my current 27.5 hard tail, but it wasn't a value job. All told, the frame was $1K (a pretty good deal for custom). The fork that went on it came to me as second-hand (Fox FIT 160mm), and after serving me 3 seasons of hard riding on the dually, it got an air spring upgrade and dropped to 150mm for the hard tail. Entire Shimano 11spd group from ebay for about $400, but swapped the cassette for a steel 11-46 from Sunrace. Built up some beefy carbon rims from Light Bicycle, on old but trusty 100x15/142x12 hubs. New post from One-Up, because yeah, I want all the drop. So there you have a top-performing rig, with all the big-ratio, carbon wheel, super drop action you could want, for a pretty reasonable deal. So with some diligence, you can have your cake and eat it too, to some extent.

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AndrewMajor
+3 Greg Bly Mammal khai
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 2:52 p.m.

That’s a notably less than 1/2 price custom going off an experienced builder paying themselves fairly for good work. At least based on current prices.

You should send your buddy something nice for Christmas. Every year as long as you own it.

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 30, 2021, 3:02 p.m.

I'm sure you know the guy. Brian Kelly, former Cove Bikes guy, then on to Crimson BMX, and now runs a machine shop after finally getting out of the bike biz (good call Brian). And yeah, I know, it was more of a favor/sympathy frame, a run of 5 frames and I was the only one who got to dictate geo numbers. We've been friends for quite a while, and anyone who knows him, knows there are give-and-takes involved in friendships with him. But yes, I still see him a few times a year, support his business through the company I work for, and any other way of giving him a hand if he needs it.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 5:17 p.m.

There are gives and takes in all good friendships with proper-original people but I know what you’re saying. That’s cool he found something he likes out of bikes - but I bet he misses it a bit.

It will never happen, but I’d love to see someone even make an attempt at writing about even some of the personalities at the Cove over the years. I was thinking about it this year when Rabbit passed away actually. From Rabbit to Gerard (whose been around the industry forever and is the head tech there now) and all the folks in between. So many big personalities.

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mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Dec. 1, 2021, 7:10 a.m.

Yeah, he's really in his element, being able to focus 100% on his own projects, and being his own boss. Some people absolutely require a certain format for success.

I agree about the Cove people. That would make a great every-now-and-then Meat Engines topic, if you could find enough material.

AndrewMajor
+2 Mammal Andy Eunson
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 2:50 p.m.

Old Fart Andy summed this up so succinctly in another comment section but I can’t find it to just quote it exactly so (Andy) please excuse me if this is not the exact quote:

“When they realized they couldn’t sell us more cars they sold us more car instead.”

N+1 requires more than just (ha) infinite income it also requires infinite space and the time to ride and maintain the bikes. So instead we have Di2, AXS, etc.

I’m not giving up my dropper post (I’d choose that over a suspension fork!) but for my spend I’m pretty happy with the more basic Wintek-equipped options or my OneUp.

———

Not that this piece was at all intended to go there (note, no photos or mention of rigid bikes before now) - I do think if more folks had the opportunity to try a modern-geo rigid bike with Plus tires and big brakes that there’d be a lot more people riding them.

I rode Pipeline/Lower Crippler today. Actually found wicked flow on Pipeline (the new wood work is awesome!) and most of Lower Crippler (almost crashed on the Roller Coaster but saved it!). I truly believe if someone with my limited balls and ability can have a riot riding that stuff rigid then almost anyone can.

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skooks
+1 Andrew Major
Skooks  - Nov. 30, 2021, 4:16 p.m.

I'd love to try a bike like that sometime. Not sure I'd be brave enough to ride crippler on it though!

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 5:11 p.m.

If I can love it, I think nearly anyone who rides the Shore can.

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andy-eunson
+1 Andrew Major
Andy Eunson  - Nov. 30, 2021, 6:09 p.m.

That was a response to Mr Ferentino’s article. Not my quote either but it was fitting. It’s kind of like the frog in boiling water story. Bikes have become more complex and we stopped noticing that and what actually is fun about riding. The trails we ride did the same thing, bigger stunts ad infinitum. I knew a guy at Norco in the 90s. He said “we build a strong bike for what guys are riding because last years broke, then those guys ride bigger stuff and those bikes broke. Back then the ultimate was the Banshee Scream and Adrenaline? Those were stout. And heavier than a boat anchor. We kind of do this to ourselves. We want better this and that and sometimes lose track of what the sport is all about. I do love my droppers but a part of me kind of wants the simplicity of a rigid post. Then I remember that I broke two Syncros, two Bontrager and a Control tech post in one two year period.

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mayberex
+1 Andrew Major
Mario S  - Nov. 30, 2021, 1:50 p.m.

So be it, I love suspension

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AndrewMajor
+1 Mario S
Andrew Major  - Nov. 30, 2021, 5:19 p.m.

I love (good) (well maintained) (properly setup) suspension too. That’s not really the point.

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mayberex
0
Mario S  - Dec. 2, 2021, 12:55 p.m.

thats what im saying, all that is worth it

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Bikeryder85
+1 Andrew Major
Bikeryder85  - Dec. 1, 2021, 4:40 a.m.

Hey Andrew, do you think that you guys could offer a comparison of the Chameleon to the Spur? Just thinking, in light of this article, how a lightweight and capable hardtail would compare to that lightweight and capable short travel 29er. I know you did not review the spur, but maybe you could pass the bike off to who did for part of the long-term test. It would be interesting to see how they stack up re. performance to price ratio.

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AndrewMajor
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Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 6:21 a.m.

I mean, short answer is maybe. Mr Shore Country owns a Spur and likes riding bikes so he’d be the person to talk to about a comparison.

I can think of a few challenges. One being that his Spur doesn’t have an NX build and basic everything else. A better test would be doing a frame swap between the two. Except the Chameleon might be a bit steep with the 120mm fork.

I also think if you’re going to compare a Spur to a hardtail they should both be dual 29”.

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Bikeryder85
0
Bikeryder85  - Dec. 1, 2021, 11:04 a.m.

Ahh, I forgot you had the mx version...yeah that's a little tricky. It was a caffeine induced thought exercise anyway...re. travel; my thought has always been 10mm more travel on a hardtail (ride the front a little more) compared to full suspension, so a 130 hardtail compared to a 120 f/r (like a spur). A little in the weeds at this point, but I always wondered how a well thought out, modern hardtail compares to something, uh...shorecountry?*

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 1, 2021, 11:30 a.m.

First of all, Shore Country is a person, not a thing. Regular people just call it trail riding. 

--------

I rolled this line of inquiry around a bit and I think whether to buy a hardtail or FS bike for trail riding is a fundamental decision that could be based on the purchase price, maintenance cost, preference, and any number of factors. I mean, what your friends ride might even be the big one - check out Cam's post about his ESD experience for a good example. 

But I don't think there's really any value in comparing one trail FS bike v. one trail hardtail and then trying to decide between the two. Sure, compare a Spur against a Tallboy, a Lux, a HeiHei, a Top Fuel, an Epic EVO. Makes perfect sense. Compare a Chameleon against a Fuse, a Honzo DL, an El Roy, a Rootdown, and absolutely it will be possible to make some solid comparisons. 

But deciding whether to go hardtail or FS is a more fundamental decision - pre-brand or model - like "Am I a vegetarian or do I eat meat?" The deluxe kale salad and the steak frites will both fill you up but I don't see much value in a food reviewer comparing the two.

Anyways, just my thoughts as someone who rides all sorts of trail bikes from rigid to dual FS.

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flattire2
+1 Andrew Major
Brian Tuulos  - Dec. 6, 2021, 12:54 p.m.

The joy, speed, comfort, and versatility of a dual suspension bike far outweighs the maintenance costs and occasional hassle   My hardtail is good, but my dually is way better.   Cars require maintenance, but walking shoes are pretty cheap! :)

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AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Dec. 6, 2021, 1:17 p.m.

Certainly, this piece wasn't attempting to take away from that perspective. Almost everyone I regularly ride with agrees with this 100%. 

They also stay on top of their maintenance, generally. 

I simply want to keep cycling the idea that pushing full suspension as the only narrative does a disservice to a lot of riders who don't have the inkling or income to maintain their bikes at peak performance.

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doug-m
0
Doug M.  - Dec. 15, 2021, 10:26 a.m.

During my annual winter teardown and rebuild, I feel each bearing and if it needs it just pop the seal + clean + flush + fill. File under 'bike hacks you're probably not supposed to do' but I haven't had to push a bearing out in 4 seasons of owning my Transition. I also weigh 130lbs and don't often ride in the wet, so YMMV.

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agleck7
+1 Doug M.
Agleck7  - Dec. 16, 2021, 6:45 a.m.

I'm also on a Transition, some wet riding but mostly dust. 3 or so times a year (so far) I've been doing the same. In my experience the main pivot always needs more grease. I skip the flush and clean step and just stuff more grease in there...maybe it'll reduce the bearing life some, but way less hassle. 

I'm going to try a little homemade fender on the loam shelf to see if protecting the main pivot from some dust/spray will help.

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