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As part of my "cunning plan" to improve my cross bike handling skills I have been trying to make a concious effort to do some single track/Mtb type trail riding. Aside from the fact that I am enjoying it, I believe it is helping my off road riding skills.

I intend to do some Mtb races this year and am thinking about a new frame/bike. The paramount goal is to transition the learned skill to cross racing so I am not considering a full suspension bike at all (aside from this issue I don't want to spend that kind of coin), otherwise I am open to suggestions. Here my thoughts/possibilities:

1. Hardtail Mtb either disks or V-brake, good but simple 80-100mm xc fork

2. 29er hardtail with either 80-100mm xc fork or rigid fork

3. Surly Cross check with upright bar set up and 44mm (1.7) tire

I don't expect to win racing Mtb, but I would like to be somewhat competitive and not simply be noodling around. What do you guys think represents the best balance of Mtb performance, yet still give the maximum benefit come cross season. Is this just a stupid question and/or a dumb idea all together? Discuss please.

Thanks in advance

jh
 

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Old, slow, and fat.
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Pretty much anything'll do.

Peruse Craigslist for bargains in your size and go. Its the riding off-road that's key, not whatcher riding.

M
 

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what is your budget?

In my experience, an 80mm fork (with lock out) and v-brakes are great for XC riding and racing. shimano XT level components are excellent and affordable. If you've got the money disc brakes are pretty sweet (but not necessary IMO).
 

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Funny, I just got a cross bike to to improve my MTB skills. Riding the same trails but without a granny gear (big hills in Heidelberg) and without suspension is a whole new world. I'm hooked already.

But to your question: Hardtail MTB with 80mm fork. There are a ton inexpensive hardtail frames out their. Flyte's Celsius 6 is a bargain, for example. Skip shimano and go sram. It works better. I use X7 because if I need to save the weight that I'd save with x9 or XO, I'll just put half a liter less water in my camelback.
 

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I have done a bunch of MTB races on the cross bike, it's often a very effective choice. The limiting factor is often the tires, you have to go much slower down hills so they don't pop. The other problem is it does tend to beat up your bike somewhat more than cross racing. I'd suggest just using your cross bike with a big fat tire and a couple spare tubes. You may wish to change to gearing a little to maybe a 27 in the back and be ready to run sections that others will ride, especially steep or slippery hills. If you pick the right course, you can win on a cross bike.
 

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:: pops in from the mtbr forums, as they are down at the moment::

If CX is your primary concern and XC is secondary, go for a 29er, no doubt. You'll even be able to use it for really nasty CX races where you'd actually have an edge on a mtb.
 

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I have a similar plan for 'cross. Here in Florida it's nice to stay out of the sun on a mountain bike - a full summer of base miles should do me good next season.

I'm riding a somewhat primitive hardtail and don't see a reason to recommend anything else.

Ron
 

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Good point with the 29er...

But, if I had a vote, I'd go "purist" and ride the hardtail in a XC race. It will be light, efficient, and versitile enough for racing cross, too. You won't have to worry about decents or tight corners (IMHO-29ers may have a steeper learning curve for switchbacks compared to their smaller-rimmed cousins). Plus, you can find a ton of used race-level hardtails pretty cheap. You might be able to step into a XTR level machine for what you would pay for a new XT bike.
 

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JH, I have the same game plan as you and just picked up this fun bike:
http://redlinebicycles.com/adultbikes/monocog-29er.html

Can't go wrong for $500! I picked it up last week and got it out once so far. tons of fun and I have no doubts it will make me way better in the turns and loose stuff come fall. It's actually pretty comfy. The combination of steal frame and massive tires left me only wanting suspension once during a 3 hour ride. It was a pretty steep rooted downhill but other then that it was like a giant oversized bmx bike for adults. Can't wait to try it out in a race.
 

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iamandy said:
JH, I have the same game plan as you and just picked up this fun bike:
http://redlinebicycles.com/adultbikes/monocog-29er.html

Can't go wrong for $500! I picked it up last week and got it out once so far. tons of fun and I have no doubts it will make me way better in the turns and loose stuff come fall. It's actually pretty comfy. The combination of steal frame and massive tires left me only wanting suspension once during a 3 hour ride. It was a pretty steep rooted downhill but other then that it was like a giant oversized bmx bike for adults. Can't wait to try it out in a race.
That is completely cool.

Now I've gotta get one. I love my Conquest and really like Redline's outlook.

Ron
 

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You never really said what your budget was. I think a Fisher X-Caliber would be perfect for your needs. The Redline is cool but it's a singlespeed and I don't think singlespeeds make the best entry level race bike.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
thanks for all the imput

So everyone has some closure, I got a lightly used Reba from a friend and matched it with a Salsa ala Carte' frame. Simple and relatively inexpensive. I have been out on it a few times, and every time I go out on it I feel like my off road skills improve a little bit (really have only one direction to go). I am convinced many of the skills will translate to cross.

Thanks for all the solid advice. I still may consider messing with a 29'r (maybe in single speed version) in the near future.

jhr
 

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I would say that as far as training for cross goes that singlespeeding is were it's at. After a summer of singlespeeding you will be in awesome shape and your higher end power will be alot better grinding up all the climbs. My vote is on the 29er thing too. If you already ride cross the twenty-niner thing will come pretty naturally to you. They are like really big cross bikes that you can thrash on. I've also been riding my cross bike on the MTB trails alot lately with 44mm tires it's kind of like a mix between a 29er and a cross bike.
 
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