When to Trail Bike
For those who have been around MTB for many years the capacity of a modern Trail bike is really astounding. The current definition for Trail riding is between Cross Country and Enduro terrain with some crossover in either direction. So what are the key attributes to a trail bike?
Personality, Weight, Capacity
Trail bikes should be nimble, quick accelerating, and playful.
Nimble – how quickly and confidently a bike changes direction is affected by riding speed, trail steepness, geometry and setup.
Geometry an trail steepness are particularly tied together. Trail bikes will have similar top tube and reach dimensions albeit with steeper head tube angles than an enduro setup.
In flatter terrain the steeper head tube angle produces less “flop”between the fork and chassis when changing directions. This provides improved front end grip creating a more balanced bike. An overly slack bike often feels like it “pushes” (or plows, or under-steers). We tested a competitors Enduro bike, which had geo and travel well into the “park” category, and the game in the parking lot was to see how far you could steer the wheel before the bike would change direction.
If you’re riding less steep terrain there’s a very good chance you will ride it faster with a more balanced bike.
At BikeCo.com we get a lot of questions regarding frame weight when something new launches. And frame weight is important – but you can’t sacrifice strength or stiffness or the bike simply won’t ride right. Your trail frame may give up a bit of total stiffness, allowing for slightly less carbon or size in design – but a trail bike build saves weight in the components.
Trail bike suspension will be lighter than its Enduro counterparts. Wheels and tires are the same. The later is very important to personality as the lower rotational weight improves acceleration as well as efficiency.
So your trail bike is only a flat ground ripper? A more comfortable cross country rig? Nothing could be further from the truth these days.
Evolution in geometry and suspension have created lower travel bikes that competently ride bigger terrain. Evan Geankoplis of the US Ibis Enduro team, supported by BikeCo.com – ahem, shredded the first half of this season on his Mojo 3. 130mm of rear travel smashing Cal Enduro courses. With a wide variety of tire options the trail bike can add traction and capacity from volume.
A more comfortable cross country bike? Well ya that’s true as well. More relaxed geometry. Comfortable at higher speeds, improved geometry, more playful suspension capacity.
So the range of setup on the modern trail bike to manipulate its capacity is huge. So is the range of terrain it will be fun in. These bikes come alive for new and experienced riders alike.
Bikes, and setups frankly, have a speed range where they become lively and fun. Almost a “this bike can do anything I think of” feeling.
Bigger bikes, more travel / more aggressive geometry, require bigger speeds to create this feeling. Until they hit their speed range they can feel sluggish. Like you’re a passenger not a pilot.
If you’re riding less aggressive terrain in a more average speed range the more agile handling of a trail bike might make you feel like a superstar when it comes alive.
More experienced riders often enjoy the smaller trail style bikes even in larger terrain. This requires a bit more riding technique making well versed trails feel refreshed.
What’s Your Deal
Well, what is your deal? When purchasing a bike it is important to have an assessment of your skills and aspirations. Where you are and where you want to go draws a pretty clear map. A wide range of bikes will be positioned in the market for every rider. Less will be actually appropriate. Fewer still will be from proper brands with fun, functional, and confident suspension.
Work with the expert team at BikeCo.com to dial in the best bike, spec, setup and tune for your riding. Oh, we have you covered on the best pricing in the market as well!