Suspension setup is a hot topic and quite often riders can get a bit too bogged down with all the minutia of it. From a coaches point of view, what we would say is, it’s important to have the right base tune in the first place. It’s important not only for performance but to have a well balanced bike that will allow you to use (and hopefully develop) your skills properly.
With modern suspensions, loaded with controls, the tuning process can be a bit daunting and is certainly time consuming (we recommend this cool video by Fox Suspension). Not everyone has the time or patience to do bracketing properly so we found a way to speed things up a little…
There are a couple of devices on the market that allow you to measure your suspension’s movements and recommend some adjustments accordingly, directly on your smartphone. We chose the SMB Flow for its ability to work with air and coil suspensions.
Once installed (the only “issue” we found is the device doesn’t always fit with every frame design, for example it doesn’t work with a coil shock on my Nomad), it’s really easy to setup your SAG very precisely, it will then only take about 1 or 2 runs to get enough data to suggest some adjustments. They won’t necessarily be perfect but will give you a solid base to start fine tuning from if you wish and if you can’t be bothered you can ride knowing that there isn’t anything badly wrong with your suspensions!
We now offer our clients the option to rent (+20€) the device during their session with us, you’ll go away with better skills and a bike setup on actual data not just feelings. What’s not to like?!
Early this May, Jo went for his third trip to Israel. This time to co-coach with Tal (the man behind sababike.com) a three days skill session for local riders planning to visit the Alps.
Despite some crazy heat, the session went great and all of the 12 participants made some impressive improvement.
Johan Hjord pop by and snapped a few photos, here are some of them:
That’s how you do it.
Just like that
…While the coaches are having a break!
Last weekend, I raced the Catalan’duro, a local enduro race organised by the Catalan’s Team VTT around the small village of Corbère. It was a great sucess with more than 300 racers at the start, ready to ride flat out on the 6 technical AND physical stages… enduro as it should be!
Race over, I went online hoping to find that elusive photo of me shredding a turn Sam Hill style…I didn’t find it ! But I couldn’t help noticing quite a range of positions amongst my fellow racers… professional habit I guess !
So here’s a little selection of photos with a short analysis, I hope it will help you improve your flat corner skills and also answer the classic question : « tuition for my kids/partner, sure but why would I get some when I am already a racer? ».
All shots are from the same corner (stage 6), after a big step so you would get there with plenty of speed… and exhaustion (last stage) !
NB : if you are one of the racers on these photos and don’t want it published here, let me know and I’ll delete it ASAP (they were already on FB though).
To make a bike turn at speed, the most effective way is to lean it, which means that the rider must find a position which allows him/her to lean the bike without losing balance but also keep enough freedom of movement to manage the pressure of the tyres on the ground.
Ex1 : the top half of the body is commited to the corner (good eye anticipation), but the bike is still standing up, it’s not turning and the rider is going to have to hit the brakes which might compromise his balance.
What to do ? Lean the bike in by streching the inside arm.
Ex2 : Foot out without a need for it, the bike is standing up and is not going to slide here… even less turn ! The rider can’t use his legs anymore to push on the pedals or accelerate… you can actually see a bit of panic in his eyes !
What to do ? Keep the feet on the pedals and better anticipate the braking to avoid coming into the corner too fast.
Ex3 : The upper body is facing the outside of the corner, the hips are leaning with the bike, the rider isn’t in a balanced/comfortable position but also can’t put pressure efficiently on his outside pedal/tyres, it is also limiting how much he can lean the bike in.
What to do ? Push the backside out so the hips are facing the exit of the turn and end up above the outside pedal .
Ex4 : Knees hugging the top tube stop the rider from leaning the bike but most of all he can’t use his legs to « work » the terrain.
What to do ? Spread the knees to let the bike move, have some room to lean it and unlock the leg joints.
Ex5 : The position isn’t bad if you consider that the rider is about to lean his bike… and stop staring at the photographer! His outside pedal is too low, too early though. In this position, you can’t use your legs to absorb the bumps of the ground or put pressure on the rear tyre for to brake better, also, the large amplitude isn’t necessary here and is going to slow down how quickly the rider can pedal again.
What to do ? Keep the pedals level until the bike is getting into the turn… stop looking at the camera!
Ex6: Geoffrey Buisan, from the Intense Les Angles DH team, has been cutting his teeth at the DH World Cup this year. You can clearly see how much he his leaning the bike, the head upright, the upper body facing the exit, hips above the outside pedal, right knee pushing against the top tube for extra stability and the outside pedal sligtly lower… it went so fast that the photographer missed his head!
What to do? Duck your head down!
Ex7 : Sylvain Buisan, Geoffrey’s cousin and teammate. The position is a tiny bit more « new school », the bike is still leant a lot, the head still up and looking for the exit but the body is leaning with the bike a bit more and the feet more leveled, one can imagine that Sylvain has let the bike sled into the small rut and his about to push hard on both legs to exit the corner even faster than he came in !
What to do ? Shout « braaap » !!
Now, it’s your turn ! Grab your bike, find a flat open space (preferably grassy, it won’t sting as much if you push it too far!) and link a few turns. Try to film/photograph yourself or get a friend to and compare with the above shots…how low can you go ?!
Jo went back to Israel in April for the second edition of the Pro Guide Workshop.
Organised by Sababike, the goal of the 4 day workshop was to help the participants improve their technical teaching skills. Once again, everyone left with a smile and a bunch of fresh ideas to use during their future sessions!
Thank you to Tal@Sababike for putting this together and his hospitality and to all the participants.
No trip to Israel without a desert ride!
The wet weather this July hasn’t stopped us from riding, but the conditions do take their toll on the bike and the rider. Here are a few tips which should make your muddy rides easier for you and your steed… you might even start to prefer it!
Adapt your kit, a rain jacket + trousers will keep you reasonably dry (make sure not to over dress underneath to avoid condensation) and most of all will keep your clothes clean… your washing machine will be thankful for it! To clean your rain kit, hose it down before taking it off and Bob’s your uncle!
What we use: Patagonia Torrentshell jacket + trousers
Keep the extremities warm, Merino wool socks are a must and a pair of neoprene gloves (not too thick) will make a big difference when the temperature drops.
What we use: Seal Skinz socks, Mavic Cyclone gloves
Keep your vision clear, it’s the biggest problem and unfortunately, there isn’t a perfect solution, but a dry clean cloth kept in your sleeve will allow you to wipe your glasses/goggles every time you stop.
Do not hose your muddy shoes or they will never dry again! Just let them dry (you can stuff them with newspaper) and then brush the dry mud off.
Use the right lubricant, use a wet conditions lubricant before you go out. A silicon lubricant applied to your frame (kept away from the brakes!) will stop the mud sticking on it… at least for a while! After your ride, lube every nook and cranny of your bike (transmission and suspensions of course but also suspension knobs, shifters, brake levers,…).
What we use: Muc Off Wet Lub and GT85
A small mudguard under the arch of your fork will keep most of the projection away but will also protect your fork’s joints.
What we use: Marsh guard
Mud tyres make a massive difference! If you don’t have the budget or if you need to pedal, change just the front tyre, you will feel a lot more in control.
What we use: Maxxis Wet scream or Specialized Hillbilly
You can make a small “cover” for your rear brake caliper to stop the mud getting in (mud means pads wearing more quickly and pistons getting dirty), I personally use some blister plastic (Hope’s brake pads do a great job!)
Here is a posh example :
photo by: my-new-stuff.com
Choose different lines from usual to avoid the biggest obstacles (roots, ruts,…), don’t be afraid of staying away from the most obvious line to find “clean” spots to brake and turn.
Keep some pressure on your front wheel to get the most grip out of it.
Keep your braking smooth.
Stay loose on the bike.
Speed is (still) your friend! If you ride too slow, your tyres are going to clog and you won’t move at all anymore… remember to keep your braking smooth though!
Well equipped, riding in the mud is fun… and there’s only one way to get better at it – get out and ride!!
We have teamed up with one of the very best chalet companies in Morzine (More Mountain), to offer you a great week of guided mountain biking this summer, the MoreAbility week! Treat yourself to top class accommodation and improve your riding skills whilst discovering the best of the Portes du Soleil.
Thanks to Sababike (“sababa” = “cool/chill” in Hebrew), Jo flew to Israel for a week, the goal being helping out with a workshop for Israeli instructors… and discovering the local singletracks, of course!
Here are some photos and a video of our desert ride, amazing!
Tal Rozow, the man with the plan.