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Juan's comments

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Your Next Bike: 2023 Edition - Jan. 17, 2021, 6:53 a.m.

As a shorter rider (165cm), I am thinking that a higher bottom bracket gives me some help positioning myself over the rear wheel. The larger the wheel and the longer the travel, I feel I have much less room to absorb drops due to shorter legs.  The high bottom bracket of older bike frames is an advantage to me, despite the compromise in stability during turns.

Over-Forking The North Shore - May 25, 2020, 5:15 p.m.

I think overforking works better for the longer reach new school bikes. For the older bikes with a shorter reach, the bike may end up too short. In my case I had a small 2011 Haro shift overforked to 140 mm (20mm above stock). Since the frame was already short, the saddle could not be mounted forward to compensate for the slacker SA.  Since the stock SA was already slack as is, climbing seated became harder.

I replaced the frame with another Haro Shift a 2009, but in size medium. This is the bike that I later overforked to 160mm (40mm above stock). With the medium frame roughly 25mm longer in reach, I had enough room to slam the saddle forward. I feared the saddle would break by being clamped to the very rear of the rail, so I then replaced the saddle with the shortest I could find. This would lessen the leverage if I sit at the nose of the saddle. With the saddle mounted forward, climbing seated was tolerable and tucking behind the saddle became easier.

So my formula for overforking are:

1. longer frame to account for shortening reach caused by longer fork

2. slam saddle forward to compensate for slacker SA (and longer frame)

3. shorter saddle to lessen the leverage caused by being slammed forward

Over-Forking The North Shore - May 23, 2020, 5:42 p.m.

I started over forking a 120mm travel Haro Shift with a 140 travel RST Rogue.  Then I moved to Switzerland where a friend invited me to ride Verbier bike park.  He had gotten a new Canyon Torque (180/170mm) to ride the park, finding his Stump Jumper (150/150mm) undergunned.  In the bike park, the trails were steeper than the backyard trails around Lausanne and had to be ridden much faster.  The Haro and RST did not feel right.  The fork would become harsh at high speeds, and the riding position felt perched forward.

When I opened the RST fork, I found that I had 20cm more travel available, so I adjusted it to the 160mm setting.  I removed a washer that enabled lockout on the compression damper to make the fork plusher.  I also added a -2 Superstar components headset. Taking the bike back to Verbier with this setup, it felt much better but right at the edge of its capability.  It was afterall still a cross country bike, just overforked by 40mm.

Looking at the 2nd hand bikes for sale, I saw a 2009 medium size Morewood Mbuzi that came stock with a Lyrik and Fox DHX Air 4 (160/160mm).  The bike was priced at 650 Francs.  I hopped on a train to Zurich and got it as soon as I could.

I rode the Morewood in Verbier and felt the suspension was more appropriately plush for the park.   But the riding position felt like I would fall right over the bars on steep trails.  I replaced the headset with a Works Components -2 degrees angle set to slack out the HA from 68 to 66 degrees. I also added as many spacers as I could under the stem, then changed the handlebar to 50mm rise.  The bike finally had a comfortable geo on the steeps.  

We started exploring other Swiss bike parks.  As our riding progressed my riding partner then upgraded from his Torque to a Sender.

Not having the budget for my own DH bike, I found a deal on a Marzzochi 66 (180mm) that the owner took off his Commencal and replaced with a Boxxer.  I got the 66 for 50 Francs.  

With the longer axel to crown height on the 66, I had to remove all the spacers under the stem on the Morewood.  Standing the bike next to my old Haro Shift, I was surprised to find their handle bars ended up at the same height.  At 180/160mm the bike felt great and finally gave me confidence riding down steep park trails.

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