21/10/2021 - Bike Fit Part 3

chatting bike fit part 3

We're back again, this time with a quite often overlooked part of the bike fit/comfort equation.

Rolling Weight and Gearing

If you're riding a small size bike, there is a very strong chance you aren't putting out as much power as a taller rider. It's here that weight of certain components and gearing becomes important. And it's not just women vs men. Paul is 5ft 8in and has been riding the Jeht to help me with some development. When he first got on the demo bike, it was running our harder hitting tyre setup - WTB Verdict Light Slashguard front, Trail Boss Tough rear, and the stock 32t gearing.

I ride an XL 29er bike, and I run a similar setup, just with the slightly lighter (but still 1100gram) Slashguard version of the rear tyre and find it no problem at all. There's an element of getting used to it, and it's not really fitness either. Paul's very fast, but more weight needs more strength, not necessarily more fitness. I'm hardly a squat legend, but being taller and heavier I'm naturally a little stronger.

Paul's usual bike for the last 3 years has been a Flare with 27.5" wheels and recently the Wolfpack Trail 2.4 tyres. Whilst he eventually got on with the WTB tyres (he needed the beefy setup for racing Ard Rock), he only got comfortable with it by dropping the chainring to a 30t to even out the gearing compared to his smaller wheeled bike. [side note - 29" wheels effectively make your gearing about 10% harder that 27.5" wheels due to the larger diameter, hence the need to gear down on the 29er]

He's now fitted the Wolfpack tyres to the Jeht too, which are better suited to his local riding and also the best part of 300 grams per wheel lighter. It's something I've really noticed this year when setting up the bikes for my daughters too. They could pedal a lot longer once I put some Wolfpack tyres on their bikes, and making the gearing lower too.

Ard Rock Reunion

Under Pressure

Tubeless is also worth considering if you haven't already. Although it seems daunting and faffy if you haven't done it before, the reliability benefits and much lower weight are well worth it. You can also run very low pressures. In fact, it's really worth spending some time experimenting. With my fairly stout WTB tyres, even weighing 85kg and riding a RocketMAX I can run my tyres at 19psi front, 21psi rear. Lighter tyres aren't as supportive, so need slightly higher pressures, but if you're a lot lighter than me, you won't need as much pressure either

FlareMAX outdoor shoot

Extension of Suspension

Think of it like an extension of your suspension; you wouldn't run the same pressure in your shock as me, so why run the same pressure tyres? Also, unless someone is the same weight as you and runs the same brand tyres, there's no point asking other people what they run. I have to run 2-3psi more in Maxxis tyres than WTB to get them to feel right and not constantly bottom out on the rim on rocky descents. Don't be afraid to experiment. The best thing you can do is buy a digital tyre pressure gauge (the Topeak one is good), and have a go.

There's an element of choosing appropriate tyres for the terrain here. The Wolfpacks are a fantastic light, all round option, but if you live somewhere like the Lakes with a lot of slate to cut tyres, they are not the one at all. Likewise if you're planning to race a few enduros, but your riding consists of built trails and some woodsy riding, with occasional visits to bigger terrain, go with something that suits 90% of your riding. We're always happy to advise if you have any questions.

As for gearing, because of the nature of how we have to buy groupsets, our stock gearing is 32t chainring on the mountain bikes. However, if you do feel you want an easier option, just let us know. We can usually source smaller rings if that's what you would prefer. And if you already have your bike, aftermarket rings from the likes of Superstar or Unite are UK made, easily available and great value.

Ard Rock Reunion

Hopefully that's another element of bike 'fit' that you have found useful. I guess it also shows that fitting your bike isn't just about the dimensions of the frame, it's worth thinking about other parts of the system too.

Women of Steel Facebook group…

Read Part 1 here…

Read part 2 here…

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