It took me well over a year to choose a new bike. Mostly because my old one was a great all-mountain bike with 6 inches of front and rear suspension. I wanted something similar but in those 4 years that passed, 6-inch bikes became enduro bikes that are long, slack, and more downhill-oriented. I tried some... They were great but I wanted to be able to climb like I was used to. I didn't make a decision for a long time.
Partly because the bikes that were more similar to my old one had less suspension and tighter geomoetry. I worried that I wouldn't be as comfortable descending.
So I had to choose:
- More suspension, slacker, longer, "enduro"
- Less suspension, tighter, more trail-oriented
Hmmm... As a scientist, I had to review the data... Or my past performance.
1. I've ridden my hardtail in the bike park. Once. Because that's what I had with me that day and I ran into a group of awesome ladies who convinced me to come ride park with them in the afternoon. How could I not?! I surprised myself riding a 120 mm hardtail down Afternoon Delight. I took it slower compared to my downhill bike but I rode everything.
2. I really actually like climbing. To me, it's as much fun as the descent. Imby? I love struggling on it! ;) Good Sir Martin? Oh yes please, more of that! Big Trouble in Little Chainring? Worth climbing it twice in one day!
3. I keep it on the ground, mostly. Have I jumped or dropped things over 3-4 feet on my all-mountain bike? Nope. Do I regularly feel like I'm pushing my current all-mountain bike to its limits? Nope. Am I a charger? Nope.
My head says "try a 140 mm bike". The rest of me remained reluctant. But I finally decided and have been riding a Norco Sight now.
And guess what? My fears were unfounded. That 140 mm goes a long way! It's a modern bike, with plenty of squish. And its climbing ability is exactly what I wanted.
I'm not the only one either that's going with "less is more". A friend traded in her Rocky Mountain Slayer (160 mm front and rear) for the new Giant Advanced Trance (140 mm). An American friend rides more on his 140 mm front, 120 mm rear than anyone else, no matter what bike. And my husband, I've seen him ride his 120 mm hardtail on things I would never consider on anything but a downhill bike.
I guess I'm trying to say...
- Believe in yourself and your capabilities
- Try bikes out before you buy them
- Have fun. It's just riding bikes, after all
Below are photos of my friends and me having good times on short-travel bikes!