MTB Q&A

kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
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#21
I raced a lot of XC races here in Japan back when FS was just coming into vogue. I stuck with my hardtail and with my road fitness base I did alright, (lost a bit of time on the downhills but made up more on the flats and uphills). The appeal of MTB to me was a change of scenery and learning a new skillset. The mental break from road training and racing was almost like a holiday. The atmosphere is generally more relaxed and you tend to hear a lot more laughter on dirt compared to road. Like @bloaker says just having the attitude to get out there and have a go is all you really need. Worry less about your gear until you feel your gear is holding you back. More likely your fitness and handling skills will hold you back more than your shoes. Finally the best advice I can give you is look where you want to go (not the obstacles) and let the bike take care of the terrain. You have ridden BMX and Road so the learning curve won't be terribly steep.
 
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kiwisimon

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#22

bloaker

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Nov 14, 2011
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#23
(This may not be relevant to Japan but...) I MTB to explore. Where I was living in Oz had limited bitumen but unlimited tracks (not developed trails) through the bush. There were gorges, hot springs, billabongs, old mine sites, WW2 sites, fence lines, railway lines, sections of abandoned highway, exploration drill sites, communication towers and access tracks through stations (ie large-scale farms). There were plenty of rides that didn’t work out too well but it was just all part of the experience. I’ve been out bush and buckled wheels, had a rear derailleur & hanger bent beyond use, slashed tyres, encountered snakes, buffalo, wild donkeys and horses, broken a wrist and was even shot at on one occasion. I now work in Africa and (when I’m working night shift) spend my afternoons riding through the bush once more. I pass through farms and villages and have interactions with the locals, buy bananas from vendors, see baboons and monkeys and climb nearby hills while most of my workmates are nursing their hangovers.
This as well! And it actually is close to how I got started. Even here in Japan, when I have a small group or solo, we will on occasion go explore trailhead we have seen and never ridden. There is satisfaction in exploring as well as a required focus on trails - ie, you have never seen them before.
 

bloaker

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#24
Thanks always @bloaker for taking the time to reply - id of course also like to hear from anyone else who can offer any different / additional insight.

Some residual questions:

Your MTB buddies, are they on this site and if so why do they never say anything and if not why not?

I want to hear from the hyper competitive (well not necessarily that but competitive let’s say, at least that) side of MTB too - like if you say the target is fun, I want to know what the scene is on the “This is fun, yeah, but it’s not all fun and games” side of things too. Like where I am with RB, it’s for enjoyment yeah, but I’m pretty deadly serious about what it is I’m doing at this stage.. I want to know well, if you’re not in that headspace thjen at least what your perspective is of people who are.

Battery assist MTB. Where did it come from and how does it benefit? Again from what I’ve seem it’s not clear... That paid park you (@bloaker ) referred to earlier, is there like a path up the side say, that you could elect to climb up (and not pay lift fees) for example, that electric MTB could be useful?
(Like, at Whistler in ski season, there was really nothin stopping you from hiking up and skiing down if that’s what you wanted to do, no one did it of course but I suppose you could (italics) if you wanted to as long as you didn’t bother anybody...

More questions to come
I am on this board due to lasting relationships with the guy I use to ride with when I was always on my road bike. The strong personalities of the board pushed a lot of them away, but several were still around. I also keep an eye out for people in my area on this board looking for Road rides in Yokosuka. I direct them to my buddies who are still doing it. ANd if they are looking for dirt... I try to get them to trails... We also have a MTB group on FB, so once the guys get to the trails and realize everyone else is in the FB group, they are rarely here anymore.

As for the hyper competitive, One of my buddy's who has an account here raced the Leadville 100 last year. He trained for a year to be ready. He also on occasions hits local races. The last one we did together, he finished 4th and I finished 18th. We were about 2 minutes apart on a 10k race. BTW - he is also one of the more supportive guys when riding. If he is training, he rides solo. When in a group, he is there for the social aspect as much as the practice/learning aspect.

As for the clothing, I would rather hit a rock with heavy canvas than lycra... but to each their own. I wear a road kit for XC races only. Baggies all other times.

--------------
Ebikes... I will respond later.
 

bloaker

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#25
e-bikes... I am 100% in favor of e-bikes for replacing cars. You want to give up your toyota for an ebike? Hell yes! I am excited for you.
BUT - An ebike for road or mountain is BS to me. I get they are fun (I really do) - but in the end - the excuses made for them do not justify mass production.
I have heard the 'giving access to those with disabilities' - IMO, that is the LAST person that needs access. If you can't ride there on your own, how will you get yourself out if you get hurt? That is not everyone else's job.
Also - if you have diminished skills due to age or injury - navigating an extra 5kg of weight down hill is not helping either.

As for MTB parks... There are crews there being paid to maintain trails, work Ski patrol, etc...
If you go an buy an ebike then don't pay your lift ticket - then you are 'stealing' their efforts IMO.
Now, you can go find some wicked backcountry trails somewhere and ride those and my argument above mean nothing.
Odds are there will not be a smooth path for you to bike up, so hike a bike sections will have you carrying a heavier bike uphill.
 
Mar 10, 2014
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Funabashi, Chiba
#26
Thanks again for the responses - so much there! I'll try to be concise.

Firstly, I have no interntion of buying any sort of Ebike for myself, not for the forseeable future. As far as riding up the side of psrks, my question was more "Do people actually do that>?" or "if you really wanted to, would it be an option to do that?" (sounds like you'll maybe get a couple runs at best, but the climbing might be good conditioning I don't know can't envision the size/scale of the park etc.

This is way off topic but I've heard the phrase "strong personalities" two or three times now - what is it that happened and what is it exactly that "strong personalities" means?? I wonder what bad shit went on. I don't have the best of memories but I do remember a few years back i wrote something and someone really bit my head off basically for using teh word "gay" specifically, possibly "fag" I cant remember anymore but it was to me a pretty innocuous situation that got blown way out of proportion, is it that sort of thing you're talking about? Bullies that ran everyone out of town?? But to what end? What good is a conversation / information sharing medium when you run people out / smother them?

The Leadville 100 - I think I've heard of that - sausages right?? lmao. Don't freak out I know it's some kind of gravel? race in the states? Or am I thinking Dirty Kanza. Or is that the nickname fr the same race like Flanders and Rhonde van Verdailiran or whatever? I know I know. The internet, a simple search away.

Hmm well I see about the adventure aspect anyways. It's always been a thing for me - my friends have always loved to go into the bush, exploring, whether that be on BMX bikes, walking hiking and camping, snowboard / skis, motorcycles, etc etc etc - it took me until adultohood to finally admit to myself that I really didn't ever enjoy it out there., Maybe I'm more the "city" type I guess. Eg I'm happy sitting around sessioning a halfpipe or quarterpie all day and working out a single trick that going into the woods / "off piste" - a lot of my friends were the ocmplete opposite. So what I'm trying to say is I know how it is a bit I guess. Neither a negative or positive commentary...

Well is there a place in the MTB world for someone like me? Might be the more pertinent question.

edit: clean up.
 
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bloaker

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#27
In a word, yes, you can ride up and ride down at the parks. They do not enforce an entrance fee and they don't have people stopping you from climbing. However, there is no road to the top that the 4 wheelers take without some struggle. I can see satisfaction in the climb, but again - 100,000yen in tolls round trip plus gas (I usually split costs with buddies) - I am going to ride the trails down, not up. 5000Yen for the lift is just maximizing my fun. And parks are about fun for me.
SMP park in Tochigi does not have a lift, but it has a paved road back to the top. It also has an "entrance fee" - but you can earn your turn. The runs are short, but fun and they do host races from time to time.

As for the past, I wasn't run off - so I can't tell you specifically why others left, but I can say "Tact" is more important than the message. Some people hide behind "I am just being honest" as their excuse for acting like an *******. There is a correct way to disagree or even flat out correct someone. Then there is a self promoting/antagonizing way. - Once a thread gets to name calling, i check out.

Leadville 100 is a 100 mile MTB race in Colorado. I could not finish it, much less race it.
Dirty Kanza is a 200mile gravel race in Kansas. I have 2 buddies that have raced it multiple times. One has finished 2nd or 3rd in the SS division the past 2 years.

As for the woods, I am not trying to convince you to love it or hate it. If you are not drawn to the outdoors and exploring, odds are it isn't for you - except maybe park riding.

Per Mike's advice...

For anyone curious, I'd say get out to one of the MTB parks with rental bikes and protective gear, and give it a try for a day.
 
Mar 10, 2014
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Funabashi, Chiba
#28
Ok wait a minute now alarm bells are going off a bit for me

This is the second time I’ve heard “tact” and “honest” and issues related to that.

What the hell went on?? Sill not satisfied with this explanation I feel like a lot’s being glossed over. Name calling is juvenile, I get that. But I don’t want to feel like I have to walk around on eggshells for fear of offending someone, particularly in my free time. Some people honestly struggle with the truth sometimes too as we all know, I hope.

Can you tell me exactly what (italics) went on to destroy the conversation ??
 
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wexford

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Jul 3, 2012
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#29
@armmewitharmony - see thread topic. If you are interested in what "went on", it's all in the archives there somewhere or start another thread on the topic. Everyone is looking forward not back.

I did ride a mountain bike down a path off of Kusatsu one time and had a blast. I was crap but still enjoyed myself. If I did it again, that's probably what I would do. I think I did some tour or something at that time. That was probably around 2004. They supplied the bikes, got us to the top and gave us help and guidance on the way down. Very nice.
 

OreoCookie

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#31
A few caveats before I add my 2 Euro cents here: I only do cross country mountain biking and I have never competed. That being said, most of my riding on the weekends was with friends (of mixed gender), and it definitely wasn't a “bro thing”, quite the contrary. I have never seen people do XC for an audience, you do it to tackle hills, see spectacular nature and grab some food at the Hütte (loosely translates to cabin, although think of it as a cafe in a farmer's backyard who serves fresh cow milk, home made cake and other simple pleasures) located at the summit.

With mountain biking you don't ride in a pack as roadies do, because you don't benefit from the aerodynamic advantage uphill (on some steeper hills you crank up at 5-7 km/h) and downhill it'd be nightmarishly dangerous because line choice is much more important.

If you go on longer tours it is usually advisable to not go alone, unless you are taking a well-traveled route on a busier day: you are farther away from civilization, the probability that something happens is much larger (crashes are relatively common, even if most of them are quite benign) and you don't always have cell service where you are. That also means you should be more self-sufficient, which is why for longer tours mountain bikers take back packs with them. I usually carry a 3 liter bladder with me, basic tools, spare inner tubes, quite a bit of food and because the weather in the mountains may shift unpredictably extra clothing in case it gets very cold. If you are riding with friends you really trust, you may be able to avoid redundancies (e. g. you don't need 4 sets of tire levers or 4 first aid kits).

Regarding how you ride, when I rode with friends, we rode at your own pace uphill and waited for each other periodically to allow the others to catch up. This wasn't a competition, more of a tour. Plus, we weren't out to impress each other. (And I had a very sporty circle of friends, e. g. two of them were doing triathlon at that time. Not sure if they still do now that they have kids, but they are definitely still active.) Of course, YMMV and some groups may be more competitive. Training back then was getting to work very fast: it was 12-13 km one way through the forest, and that was enough to keep me in shape.

Regarding technology, mountain bikes are much more complicated beasts than road bikes, you have a lot more active components that you can tweak, need maintenance and that need to be selected carefully in order to make the right trade-off in terms of weight, performance and price (you can at most get 2 out of 3). For a beginner, my recommendation is to get a decently equipped hard tail — it is cheaper than a comparably specced full suspension bike, easier to maintain and most importantly, forces you to learn some technique. Get Shimano Deore brakes or better, and these days, I'd opt for a SRAM 1x GX Eagle equipped bike. Because mountain biking is on much more undulating terrain, the much larger gaps between the gears play less of a role and can actually be helpful because you don't have to shift all the time. If you are used to clipless pedals, I recommend getting some, too. There are “half-and-half” pedals where only one side allows you to clip in: these give you both options. I rode them for quite some time, and if things get scary, you can clip out before you try.

Lastly, let me say something about ride feel: you'll be slower on a mountain bike than on a road bike (duh!), but very often it will feel just as fast or faster: on a road bike you don't have to thread through roots, and you can't place the apex at the same “perfect” spot every time either. Very often your grip will be limited, and things may get so steep that your front wheel loses traction. The key for more technical sections I find it to keep momentum, and that very often means you need some short bursts to carry you over obstacles without abruptly coming to a stop.

@armmewithharmony asked about a comparison to “cyclocross”*: I never did try cyclocross bikes, but just looking at the gearing you see that many MTB climbs will not be accessible to cyclocross bikes. Even the lowest gearing I am aware of that you can put on a cyclocross bike (38 chain ring married to a 10-42 cassette, 38/42 = 0.90) is still tall compared to mountain bikes (which usually go below 0.70), and the much smaller tires will place severe limitations on what you can ride downhill. You will be much slower downhill than even with a hard tail. (Note that light hard tails aren't that far off in terms of weight compared to cyclocross bikes.) If you have strong legs and prefer a challenge downhill, you can still ride a lot of MTB routes, though.


* Here, I am not talking about cyclocross the sport. The gearing here is even taller, because you are expected to run uphill instead of winching yourself up with a very small gear. I'm talking about using a cyclocross bike in the mountains.
 
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Deej

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Oct 13, 2007
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#32
355A0F4B-EA17-4573-81C6-7649D2F172A8.jpeg 80023E06-2061-4AE6-8557-2660248BF2A3.jpeg BED94B05-DF35-4F94-88A4-6A183477D642.jpeg AF5173BF-9EA2-4FC4-8BA1-EA5A70669ED7.jpeg B5D4DBC5-6118-4642-966A-9191F2D78CD7.jpeg C9A90F34-7726-4BE1-8CA4-7A22C8F9C8A6.png Man, I’d love to get out in the hills on an MTB. Great info, everyone. Love the videos, @bloaker. I’d love to take a shot at that climb!


Now that I have a cyclocross bike, I find myself hunting for roads that were tantalizing but off-limits on my road bike. Did a fun one yesterday on dirt, rock and gravel roads. But as @OreoCookie said, CX bikes aren’t really designed for gnarly single-track, so I was sticking to double-track. Passed a couple of MTBers and dudes on off-road motorcycles out there, but I rarely encounter other CXers on these rides — but I think our numbers are growing.
 

OreoCookie

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Dec 2, 2017
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#33
@Deej
Let me add that for the “trails” that I have available where I live (at least those, that I could find), I am quite certain I could ride them with a cyclocross or gravel bike. In fact, they may be more fun, because my full suspension mountain bike makes the downhill bits very easy. On the other hand, it's just a very corrugated forest road, so it isn't even proper single track (in my mind, at least), so perhaps it is more fun on a CX bike that lacks suspension and will make you work when you go downhill. And uphill, it'll be faster (unless you have a very light hardtail).

PS How did you manage to keep your bike so clean for the photo?!? That's what I don't understand!
 
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mrkamot

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Dec 28, 2010
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Kawasaki
#35
M.D.S.( if they are close to you)http://www.mds.co.jp/about/access
but this list are all Rockshox tech dealers http://www.dirtfreak.co.jp/cycle/rockshox/technical-dealer/
Any of them should do the service and you can see a price guide here http://www.dirtfreak.co.jp/cycle/df_cycle_service
just a quick tip, was looking into having my dhx air serviced in the bigger shops around tokyo/yokohama but they had this policy where if it is older than 5 years old they won't service it. ended up having it serviced at a licensed fox service center in the philippines.

good luck!
 

mrkamot

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Dec 28, 2010
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Kawasaki
#37
thanks for creating this thread @bloaker. full disclosure, i have actually asked bloaker in fb about trails around his area and he has graciously given me coordinates, even invited me to some trail maintenance work but due to time constraints, i am not able to go :( so bottomline, don't be like me, ride with bloaker!

as mentioned by others in this thread, mtb, as compared with road biking, can include more planning and logistics (e.g. travelling to an mtb bike park) while riding your road bike can be as easy as taking off literally a couple of paces from your doorstep. let's try to simulate what is needed if you are travelling to a bike park (either fujiten or fujimi). i have not actually done this so please feel free to correct/add more information

breakdown
*van rental (24 hrs) - 15000jpy (v3 class from toyota rental - this is the utility hiace van so you wont have to dissassemble your bike when you load it).
*toll fee - ???
*1 day pass - 5000jpy
*bike rental - 10,000 (at Fujimi, not sure if you can rent one in fujiten)
*overnight accommodations - around 15k a night, free if you camp on the parking lot

*it does get more expensive if you rent the bike
*it would be nice to split the cost with a riding buddy
*this is assuming you or your riding buddy has a driver's license
 

Deej

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Oct 13, 2007
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Setagaya
#38
6AD83BC0-81AC-4BCF-B410-61DEAED502D4.jpeg
PS How did you manage to keep your bike so clean for the photo?!? That's what I don't understand!
It wasn’t too sloppy yesterday, despite the earlier rains. Plus, I was going pretty slow most of the time, so the muck wasn’t spraying up too much. Oh, and it’s a magic bike.

[edit] Added a photo to offer proof that I got at least a bit muddy.


And yeah, an easy trail for an MTB can make for a fun little adventure on a CX bike. I climbed only about 1,300 meters total yesterday, but with all the finessing I had to do, I’m pretty darn tired today. One thing: I used hydraulic brakes for the first time yesterday and it was a revelation. Those steep, rocky descents used to thrash my arms and hands from all the death-grip braking I was doing. Yesterday I was just feathering the brakes, sometimes with a single finger. Truly amazing.

I don’t mean to hijack this thread; it’s just that with my CX excursions, I feel a new kinship with the MTB set.
 
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bloaker

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#39
For those who like videos...
This is from a weekend @Half-Fast Mike and I headed to Hakuba to meet up with friends and family. We were riding with couple of pre-teen girls who shred! We also rode with their dad, some friends from tokyo, girlfriends, etc... Everyone was out to have a good time, enjoy bikes, views, food, beer, etc... an epic weekend!

 
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Karl

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Feb 7, 2011
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Yokohama
#40
Looks like a lot of fun! May need to get some new wheels and tires for my Surly and try this.

Anyone tried this route up around Miyagase? I've been looking at it but not sure if I can make it on my Gatorskins 28c tires. If anyone's done it, is it doable with a road bike?

 
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