Today, I pay homage to those sweet products that change riding for me. I attribute these things as pivotal products that progressed my riding and my perspective what what I want out of riding.
The Full Suspension All-Mountain Bike. Earlier this year - when racing started to really frustrate me - I decided to abandon XC riding altogether and seek out an All-Mountain (AM) bike. The last full suspension MTB I had was back in 2006: it was a Specialized Enduro and I hated it. Quite possibly, I was not at the right level of riding to enjoy it thoroughly, or it just sucked, but whatever the issue was at the time, it did not suit me. This year, I decided to sell two of my hardtails, throw in a little extra money, and get myself a modern FS AM Bike. While, at 33lbs, it does not climb like a XC bike, the full suspension, slack head tube angle and 6 inches of travel make my Cannondale Jekyll a.k.a. The Jekyndale just a blast to ride. With precision turning, decent acceleration and supple suspension, I don't know if I can go back to a XC hardtail MTB.
The Dropper Seat Post. If you have not yet caught on to the glory and majesty of on-the-fly seat post height adjustability, you are truly missing out on a great product. They have been out for awhile, and it took me some time to drink the Kool-Aid. However, once I got one, I don't know why I rode without one before. They can be pricey, but companies like X-Fusion (what I ride) make them affordable. For descending, dropper posts make a world of difference.
The Short Stem/Wide Bar Combo. I ride a 780mm wide handlebar combined with a 50mm stem. On an AM bike with such a slack head tube angle, a longer stem slows the steering down quite a bit. By shortening the stem and widening the handlebar, you get a very stable - yet responsive - input to the handlebar. I would even say that there are benefits to this set-up for XC applications.
Le DerpleCross. You're probably wondering WTF a "DerpleCross" is. It's a term I came up with to name an absurd, non-traditional cyclocross bike. I have gone through many configurations with my Paké C-Mute: from traditional drop bars to narrow flat bars… triple crankset to a double crankset, 8-speed and 9-speed. However, I had to question why it was I was trying to maintain a traditional set-up when it didn't suit my riding. It wasn't until I abandoned the strict, traditional set-up and adopted my current set-up: a big, wide handlebar, 1X10 (38 X 11-36) gearing and mini-V brakes (which prove to stop MUCH better than cantilevers). While I may lose some speed due to inefficient aerodynamics - and this bike does not, in any way, fit into the classic cyclocross "look" - it is a blast to ride: anywhere, anytime… pavement or dirt… as far as I want to go.
The Modern BMX Frame. I go over BMX frames extensively in my Old Guy's Guide to Re-Entering BMX, but new-school geometry really changed my approach to BMX in many ways. While I have an allegiance to Cult and S&M Bikes, my Haro Zebra build will always be the bike that brought me fully back to BMX. I cannot totally retire that frame set since I love it so much; it is built as a fully loaded, four peg, two brake, flatland specific bike for those times I just want to ride a little flat with brakes.
Big BMX Handlebar. This made my BMX bike(s) go from feeling like a kid's bike to an adult bike. While big handlebars do get their fair share of criticism, I personally love the feel of a tall and wide handlebar. The Hoffman Bama V2's I ride are 9" ride and 30.25" wide, with a 10º backsweep. This geometry helps me with nagging shoulder pains and gives me a little extra boost for hops.
Plastic Sleeved Pegs. When I started grinding again, I had two concerns for my BMX bike: sliding and weight penalty. When I discovered Seam Moore's signature Stolen Silencer Pegs, I had to get them. They are 4.25" long, and 38mm in diameter, making them a great platform to stand on for flatland. Not only can I get by with rough grinds, plastic pegs give me the confidence to slide on the front (for Smith Grinds). This trick I would never attempt with fear of a metal peg sticking and me going over the bars. While I know steel pegs will slide on a Smith or Double Peg grind, I feel much more confident on plastic.
"Skinny" Clothing. Yup. I wear it. One of the joys of riding MTB or CX is lycra. While some very ignorant people may relate wearing lycra to a certain sexual orientation, I prefer the comfort of form fitted clothing for performance. When I finally got the to point of where I could fit into the "skinny" stuff, I tried it and found I could rock it. It is the only type of clothing I will wear for BMX. Baggy shorts, t-shirts and flannels all proved to just give more opportunities for clothing to catch on stuff. With fitted clothing in BMX, it is truly performance wear. Not everybody can sport the fitted look, but if you can, the benefits are great. I get my stuff from 20Jeans.com.
BMX INSPIRED GREETING CARDS, PHONE CASES AND BIRTHDAY INVITATIONS FOR THAT SPECIAL BMX RIDER IN YOUR LIFE!
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About Rider In Black
• O.G. 80's/90's Street BMX'er
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