Article 88462 of
From: (Vincent Cheng)
Subject: Mountain Biking FAQ
Followup-To: poster
Date: 27 Apr 1997 02:35:54 GMT
Organization: University of Alberta
Lines: 2943
Approved: news-answers-request@MIT.Edu
Message-ID: <5jue2a$>
Summary: This posting is the FAQ for mountain biking.  It answer most of
         the questions newbies have about mountain biking.
Xref: alt.mountain-bike:18405 alt.answers:25873 rec.answers:30232 news.answers:101276

Archive-name: bicycles-faq/mountain-bikes 
Last-modified: Apr 26 1997

Version 1.13
Subject:  1  A Guide to This FAQ

Subject:  1A.  Contents

! means updated since last FAQ
+ means it is a new section

1.  A Guide to this FAQ
    A) Contents   
    B) A Few words from the author 
    C) How to get this FAQ  
    D) IMBA Rules of the Trail
    E) Disclaimer
2. Riding Skills
    A) Basic Riding Position
    B) Turning  
    C) Braking  
    D) Shifting  
    E) Uphills  
    F) Downhills  
    G) Front Wheel Wheelies  
    H) Small Logs  
    I) Logs about 1' to 2'  
    J) Bunny Hopping
    K) Water Riding
    L) Mud Riding  
    M) Loose Stuff  
    N) Skidding
    O) Singletracks
    P) Switchbacks  
    Q) Track Stand  
    R) Riding down stairs  
3. Tech
    A) Installing Grips
    B) Clipless Pedals
    C) How to increase braking power  
    D) Shifters  
    E) Improving Grip Shifters' rear shifting  
    F) Brake Squeaks !
    G) Aheadsets vs. Conventional Headsets  
    H) Bar Ends
    I) Tire Info  
    J) Grease/Wax/Oil  
    K) Frame Material  
    L) Fork Upgrade  
    M) V Brake Info  
4.  Miscellaneous
    A) Seinfeld's Bike  
    B) Race Tips
    C) Mountain Biking Dictionary  
    D) Mail order vs. Local Bike Shops  
    E) MTB Commuting  
    F) Weight Lifting  
    G) Knee Pain  
    H) What to Carry 
    I) Mountain Bike IRC Channel !
    J) MTB mailing list 


Subject: 1B.  A Few Words From the Author

Hi, my name is Vincent Cheng.  I have been reading the rec.bicycles.* 
newsgroups for a few years and have been participating on the mtb mailing 
list for about 18 months now.  Every week, I see the same questions about 
mountain biking, however, no one has ever taken the time to write a FAQ 
for mountain biking.  Since I have nothing better to do, I have compiled 
this little FAQ file.

Now, you might ask...  How is this the official Mountain Biking FAQ?  Did 
someone gave me permission to make it official?  Of course not!  No one
else would take the time to do it, and I'm the first one to actually complete
the whole FAQ, therefore, this is the official one.

This FAQ is different from most FAQ's you have seen.  Most FAQ's are a
compilation of articles posted regarding the topics.  In this FAQ, most
of the material are written by myself.  The articles are then later 
published on the mtb mailing list for editing and revising.  In the 
following sections, the parts that were written by others will have their
names on them.

I am no expert in the area of mountain biking.  I'm only 19 and I have
only mountain biked for about 3 years.  However, I have been involved in
the technical side of cycling for over 6 years.  I have worked in various
shops and jobs.  Because of this, you will see, IMHO, better articles in
the tech section of this FAQ by me than in the riding section. 

I should, however, list my biases about some topics.  I ride an older
suspension fork.  I ride without an expensive bike (relatively speaking). 
I ride with top mount shifters and discontinued parts.  I might not have
the latest info on products since I can never afford them, but I try to
gain as much info as possible by reading, testing, and listening to
others.  Remember that this FAQ is not a product review.  I try not to
list any specific products if I can, however, sometimes it is impossible
to do without.  Please do not get offended if you are wishing for
something different. 

This FAQ is not very complete.  If you see a topic that you think should be
covered in this FAQ, please cross-check the rec.bicycles.* FAQ to make sure
that it's not covered there.  If the article has never been covered, I will
try to get enough articles together to publish a FAQ section for it.
My e-mail address is:  Please include the 
words--"FAQ" on your message.  e.g. "FAQ--*** info".  I have received
complaints about not replying to some mail, but please be understanding.  I
get over 200 e-mails a day from various people/groups/lists.  It is very hard 
for me to fish out the FAQ mails without this "FAQ" subject heading.

Before I end this, I would like to thank Mike Iglesias
( for helping me with the new text format of 
this FAQ.  He is the maintainer of the rec.bicycles.* FAQ and he has 
agreed to lend me his wonderful format for me to use.  Thanks Mike, I owe 
you one!  And to Brian Adams (, who edited my FAQ 
so that it is actually somewhat understandable.  I would also like to thanks 
all you folks out there in cyberspace who have commented on the FAQ.
I would especially like to thank the people on the mtb-mailing list 
(, for subcribing info, please  see
and look under mailing lists.  read on for more info)  The people on the 
list are very helpful to my "quest" for a better FAQ.

Note to foreign readers, I believe the FAQ has been translated into
French, Finnish, and German.  If you would like to translate the FAQ into
other languages, feel free, but please tell me so that I can keep track.
Please do not ask me where these FAQ's are located, because I really have
no idea.

Well...that's all.

Have fun and ride hard.


Subject: 1C.  How to get this FAQ

Obviously, if you are reading this, you are getting this FAQ.  But if you 
would like to receive this FAQ in another format, you can get it by:

a) e-mail
E-mail me with the subject "Give me FAQ" and I will e-mail you a copy as 
soon as I get to it.  I have no robots for this job, so it's all manual.

b) www
I have put this FAQ on my homepage on
All three servers are mirrors of each other, but sometimes one is faster 
than the other.  

c) newsgroup
I will try to post this FAQ once every month on, 
and alt.mountain-bike.  Just got approved, and the FAQ should be posted 
also in rec.answers, news.anwers and alt.answers.

d) ftp
Again, I would like to thank big Mike over at the rec.bicycles.* FAQ for 
providing me a space on his server for this FAQ.
and also, for you European readers, Joern Yngve Dahl-Stamnes of
Norway has setup a ftp site at:
this might provide faster service for you.  BTW, thanks Joern.


Subject:   1D.  IMBA Rules of the Trail

International Mountain Bicycling Association has set up a list of rules
that mountain bikers should follow.  Please respect these rules as they
are what many mountain bikers live by.  

 IMBA Rules of the Trail
   1. Ride on open trails only.  Respect trail and road closures (ask
      if not sure), avoid possible trespass on private land, obtain
      permits and authorizations as may be required.  Federal and
      State wilderness areas are closed to cycling.
   2. Leave no trace. Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you.  Even on
      open trails, you should not ride under conditions where you
      will leave evidence of your passing, such as on certain soils
      shortly after a rain.  Observe the different types of soils and
      trail construction; practice low-impact cycling.  This also
      means staying on the trail and not creating any new ones.  Be
      sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.
   3. Control your bicycle!  Inattention for even a second can cause
      problems.  Obey all speed laws.
   4. Always yield the trail.  Make known your approach well in
      advance.  A friendly greeting (or a bell) is considerate and
      works well; don't startle others.  Show your respect when
      passing others by slowing to a walk or even stopping.
      Anticipate that other trail users may be around corners or in
      blind spots.
   5. Never spook animals.  All animals are startled by an unannounced      
      approach, a sudden movement, or a loud noise.  This can be
      dangerous for you, for others, and for the animals.  Give
      animals extra room and time to adjust to you.  In passing, use
      special care and follow the directions of the horseback riders
      (ask if uncertain).  Running cattle and disturbing wild animals
      is a serious offense.  Leave gates as you found them, or as
   6. Plan ahead.  Know your equipment, your ability, and the area in
      which you are riding - and prepare accordingly.  Be
      self-sufficient at all times.  Wear a helmet, keep your machine
      in good condition, and carry necessary supplies for changes in
      weather or other conditions.  A well-executed trip is a
      satisfaction to you and not a burden or offense to others.


Subject: 1E.  Disclamier


The content of this FAQ is given out as reference material only.  Specific
component design and mechanical procedure and the qualification of 
individual readers are beyond the control of the authors.  Therefore, the
authors disclaim all liability for use of the information given in this
FAQ.  All risk for its use is entirely assumed by the user.  In no event 
will the authors be held liable for personal injuries or any other damages.


Subject: 2.  Riding Skills


Subject: 2A.  Basic riding position

-Elbows relaxed, bend at about 90 degrees.
-Grip the bar firmly, but not too hard.  If you see white knuckles, then 
 you are gripping too tight.
-Keep your back straight, at about 45 degrees from the ground surface.
-Try to "stand" on the pedals.  You still sit on the seat, but you 
 don't place all your weight on it.  
-When not pedalling, always keep your pedals level.

 Others added:
-You may want to add that your grips should be about shoulder length apart,
 but that would only really affect small/large people.
-You could mention that you can (or may have to) ride with pedals
 (&/or with one foot loose) in tight turns.


Subject: 2B.  Turning

-Brake before going into the turn, using both brakes.

If you have a lot of traction:
-Push the outside foot down and lean to the inside (if you have traction).
-Enter the corner wide, hit the apex with the bike near the inside edge 
 and leave the corner wide.
-Do not use the front brake if you are turning at the bike's limit.  The 
 front tire is using all its traction for turning.  If you use your front 
 brake, it will lose its grip and wash out.  A front wheel slide is almost 
 impossible to recover.  A back end slide is easier to recover.  Also, the 
 brake tire is doing less work than the front, therefore, you can use some 
 of its "spare" traction for braking.

If you are turning on loose surfaces, keep this in mind:
-This technique involves keeping the bike relatively upright; instead, the
 body is leaned in the direction of the turn.
-Transfer weight slightly forward.  Push down on the outside pedal.
-Twist your upper body to face the trail.  Align your upper body so 
 that your upper body is slightly leaning toward the inside of the turn. 
-Push down on handlebar on the outside and pull up on the inside.

Others have pointed out:
Dave Blake []
In loose stuff, steering is definitely the preferred way to turn.  This
is the reason many roadies with good bike skills cannot handle
tight singletrack very well. 

To steer, put your weight on the inside of the turn.  Turn your front wheel 
toward the turn, and hold your bike upright.  Even if one or both of your
wheels begin to skid you can easily recover.  In contrast, if you lean hard
through a turn on loose material and either wheel loses traction, you will 
be picking gravel out of your leg.

You almost always want your weight centered between your wheels.
This means you move your butt further back as the terrain gets
steeper.  Learn to feather your front brake.  Let off on the brake
when your wheel hits an obstacle, and hit it harder when you have
a smooth even braking surface.  Many people do not learn to feather the
brake, so they put their weight too far towards the rear to keep from
endoing.  This rear weight shift results in too little weight being placed
on the front wheel, so that you cannot easily steer.
I find that the most consistent mistake that I make when turning on 
downhills is to shift too much weight to the rear.  This causes the 
front wheel to become too light causing it to wash out :-(  If my 
weight is more evenly distributed on the bike, I find that I am also 
in a position to recover if the front starts to wash out (if I'm not 
going too fast) although it is not often I can reover from a front wheel 

John Stevenson []
Look at the inside of the turn, not the outside.  Your body tends to
subconsciously point in the same direction as your eyes, so this keeps you
focused on staying tight in the curve, not straying to the outer edge.

Blaine Bauer []
One thing that I've learned through hard knocks is sharp turning -
especially in loose soil. We have some trails that constantly wind through
the woods, and have little room on each side (re: trees).

I've found that negotiating sharp turns at some reasonable speed is easier
when the seat is an inch or so lower than normal. The trick is to lean the
bike (but not the rider). This is really just a variation of normal turning.

- Point the inside leg in the direction of the turn (knee away from the
frame), putting all weight on the outside pedal.
- Push down on the inside handlebar. At this point almost all weight 
should be distributed between the inside grip and the outside pedal. This 
is much easier with a rigid fork - with a suspension fork, you really 
have to bear down on the handlebar (a grunt may be required!).
- At this point the bike is leaning under the rider, with the seat 
anywhere from under the thigh to just under the knee. The rider's 
weight is centered over the point where the two wheels are in contact with 
the ground, so there isn't a  washout problem even in loose conditions.

This method will feel very uncomfortable at first. Pushing the handlebars
away from oneself is...well, disquieting. The best way to practice this is
to do figure-8 turns in a driveway. When you've got it down, hose down the
driveway and then try it. If you can make sharp turns on wet concrete you
can do it in loose soil.


Subject: 2C.  Braking

-Most of the braking power is in the front brake because when you apply 
 the brake, your weight shifts forward and that gives the front wheel more 
-To maximize braking power, shift your weight back when braking.  
-In loose terrain, use more back brake than the front.  The front has 
 less traction because it is being "plowed".
-In very steep downhill, move your weight way back, almost sitting right 
 on the back tire.  
-A skidding tire will give you no control.  Therefore, skidding is a 
 very bad practice.
-There are situation where you don't want to brake
    -Never brake when flying.  If you are flying in the air (off a 
     jump, drop off, ruts), do not touch the front brake.  If you land 
     with your front tire stopped, you can expect a huge endo.
    -Don't use the front brake in curves (read turning).
    -When going down hill, don't keep the brakes on.  Instead, 
     feather the brakes.

Others have added: (Robert Dexter)
You might also add that the momentum of the spinning wheel can cause the bike
to pitch if the wheel is stopped by the brakes.
Bill Rod [smts!]           
I don't agree completely.  I think this will induce skidding.  The front 
brake is the best tool for slowing down under any circumstances.  This 
excludes an induced skid in a turn during a race.  I do agree that a 
little more pressure should be exerted on the rear brake tho'.
Robert Dexter []
My comment applies to stopping the front wheel while in the air
on a jump.  Stopping the rotating wheel while in the air would
cause the bike to pitch forward a little.
Bill Rod's comment about not agreeing asumes I mean braking
while on the ground.  You may want to clear that up.  My comment
*only* applies while in the air.


Subject: 2D.  Shifting

-You must pedal in order to change gears.  When changing gear, pedal 
 lightly.  It will save your drivetrain from wear and tear.
-If you have "numbers" on your shifter, don't use them.  Instead, 
 calculate the gear inches and use that as your shifting guide.  You 
 should be able to locate a program for this from the rec.bicycle.* FAQ.
-Shift before you think you have to, e.g. climbing.  When you have to 
 shift, it might be too late.
-Do not cross your gears, it will kill it.  This means that you do not 
 run a big chain ring with the large cog or the small chain ring with the 
 small cog.
-Shift lightly on the levers.  There is no reason why you need to press 
 the shifters real hard to shift.
-To save the drive train from wear and tear, make sure it is clean and 
 well lubed.

Some added:
Graham Barnes []
I agree about not using the "numbers", but I'm not so sure that calculating 
gear inches is worthwhile.  I've been mtbing for ]5 years, and I've never 
bothered to work out the gear inches for any of the bikes I've ridden, except 
when I was thinking about changing cassettes.  Maybe I'm missing 
something, but I always went with the philosophy that, if it's hard to 
pedal, shift down, and if I'm spinning madly, shift up. 

John Stevenson []
It's very unlikely that anything but water and crud are major factors in
wear of MTB drivetrains.  Sure, in theory careful shifting and avoiding
extreme gear ratios will prolong drivetrain life, but in practice I suspect
that the damage prevented by these practices is insignificant.

[in regard to gear numbers]
I go along with Graham here.  A better reason for avoiding use of those
silly shifter windows is that if you're looking at them, you're not looking
at the trail, which is where your eyes *should* be.

[in regard to shifting before you have to]
I think this can be better expressed:
Shift before you have to.  For example, when you're climbing, shift into a
very low gear as you approach and start the climb.  If you wait until you
are about to stall it may be too late to shift.


Subject: 2E.  Uphills

-Shift before you hit the climb.  The only way to know which gear is best 
 for your terrain is from practice.  It is very hard on your drivetrain if 
 you shift in the middle of your climb.
-Seated is better for long distance and/or loose conditions.  Standing
 is good for hammering up a short steep section with good traction.
-If you find you are in too easy a gear, upshift once in the back.  Do 
 not dump a bunch of gear at once.

Seated Climbing:
-If you are going to stay seated, move slightly forward on the saddle.
-Move your head close to the stem to keep the front from coming up.
-Don't pull up on the handlebar, instead, pull backward with every stroke.  
-Keep your body relaxed, and shoulders square to the trail.
-Put the bike in a low gear and spin.

Standing Climbing:
-If you decide to stand up, put the bike in a higher gear.  You can't 
 spin as fast, but you can apply more power per stroke.
-Crouch down so that your butt is right in front of the saddle.  Your 
 elbows should be bent and the chest should be just above the stem.

-For both methods, try to look for the smoothest line and look for slight 
 dips on the climb.  These will offer you a great opportunity to rest for 
 a bit.

Others added:
Bill Rod [smts!]           
I agree in general, but IMHO I would recommend using the middle or big ring 
when standing.  I've found standing while using the granny gear causes 
overtorqueing (sic) and hence wheelspin.
On longer climbs, alternate the position (standing, sitting) for a short
period of time.  Each position uses a different set of muscles and altering
the position will give you an opportunity to rest different muscle groups.

John Stevenson []
Tim Gould's maxim always seems relevant here: "Start easy, finish hard".  In
other words, start a climb in the very lowest gear you have, and shift up
as you get comfortable.  That way you can gauge your fitness and the
severity of the slope, rather than getting commited to trying to stomp up a
1km 20 per cent grade in 36/28.

Long climbs, particularly at high altitude, are places where a stupidly low
gear will come in useful.  I'm talking 20/28 *or lower* here.  Here's the
scenario: you're happily plodding uphill in, say, the 22/28 that is now a
typical low gear on a Shimano equipped bike.  You come to a slightly steeper
technical section that requires an increase in your effort level.  You power
over the problem, sending your heart hammering into the upper end of your
anaerobic range.  What you could really do with now is an even lower gear to
allow you to recover, but the idiots who spec most off-the-peg bikes don't
seem to realise this=8A IMNAAHO 20/28 is the maximum sensible bottom gear 
for a mountain bike that is used in real mountains, and I know people who
have gone to the current technical limit, 20/32.

Brian Adams []
-Pull your elbows in on very steep, slow climbs.  It helps to keep your front
 wheel from wandering.

Tom Hewitt []
  I'm 44years old, and while slower than most riders, can usually clean hills
that younger riders more fit don't. In my case the key for climbing really
nasty long technical hills, is to practice going as slow as practical on those
sections of lessor technical difficulty. This conserves energy for the
difficult sections, where all-out effort is required. In addition
balance in an extreme climbing situation is different from balance in
a level ground situation, and can only be learned by spending lots of time
fighting to keep your balance.


Subject: 2F.  Downhills

-Keep your pedals level (3 and 9 o'clock)
-Get your weight back.  The steeper it is, the more you move your 
 weight.  It is not uncommon to see someone riding down a hill almost 
 sitting on their back tire.
-Think positive.  I had the problem of thinking I'm always out of 
 control, but in reality, I'm not even riding close to my limits.
-Shift to the middle/large chain rings.  This will increase tension on 
 the chain and you won't have so much chain slap.
-Brake with mostly your rear brake.  You will still need to use your 
 front, but the back is used more often and harder.  
-Braking the wheel until it almost stops spinning is good.  Skidding is bad.
-Steer with your shoulders perpendicular to the path you want to move.
-Sometimes if you can't ride down some section because it's too bumpy, you
 might want to add some speed.

Others have also said:
Dave Blake []
NO NO NO ! ! !.  Your front brake always has more power than your back.
Endoing is not a real problem if you learn to modulate your front brake
with the terrain.  Less brake over obstacles, and more brake when the
braking surface is smooth and clean.
Always be looking for your line.  Identify those spots in the descent where
it flattens out a little, allowing you to brake harder and "get it back".
This gives you the ability to "let it go" in the more difficult parts for
control because your line will take you to the part where you can "get it

Brian Adams []
-On long descents, consider temporarily lowering the saddle, making it easier
 to get your butt low (or behind the seat) on steep sections.


Subject: 2G.  Front wheel wheelie

-Practice on level ground with no obstacles.
-Sit down and have weight slightly forward.
-Shift to a low gear.  
-Push down hard on the pedal and shift your body weight back and pull 
 hard on the handlebar.
-Spread your knees out and try to keep your weight back.  Keep pedaling.
-If you feel you are going to far back, touch the back brake and you will 
 fall back down.

Some added: (SLEW)
The trick to performing the front wheel wheelie is in finding the balance
point where you are able to ride on one wheel, and you have pulled back too
far and will land on your butt.  One way to find this threshold point is to
literally pull back TOO far...and don't worry you won't land on your butt.
Just make sure your feet are out of all manner of locking devices (toe
clips, clipless pedals, et al), and when you are ready to do the wheelie,
pull back as far as you can until you literally fall out of the
prepared to put your feet down so you don't hurt yourself, and instead just
run with bike still holding onto the handlebars.  It might help to lower the
seat a bit so the bike can slip through the legs.  One of the hardest things
to do when starting out doing the wheelie is overcoming the fear that you
will pull too far back.  The best way to overcome this is to pull too far
back then CATCH YOURSELF, then you will have a better idea of where that
threshold point is where you can balance and ride.


Subject: 2H.  Small Logs

-Pop a front wheelie and land so that your front tire clears the log.
-Quickly level the pedals and shift your weight forward.
-Your back wheel should roll right over the log.


Subject: 2I.  Logs about 1' to 2'

-Pop a front wheelie and land the large chain ring on the log.
-You should land with the power foot forward, about 70 degrees.
-Shift your weight forward and pedal.  Not too far, or you might crash.

For both H) and I), some added:
Bill Rod [smts!]           
I think you should add "When clearing/climbing logs of any size, momentum is 
critical.  This is what gives you the oomph to get over an object"

Dave Blake []
-Do a front wheelie.
-Land your front tire squarely on the offending log.
-At the same time, move your weight forward and crouch down.
-When the tire hits the log, jump forward and throw your handlebars
 forward and down.  You jump off your front wheel mainly, but the back
 as well.
-Your chainring should clear the log, and your front wheel should land
 on the ground as your rear hits the log.  As long as your chainring clears
 the log you will have no problem landing if you go too far forward or
 too far back.
-Practice on small logs first - this skill does not happen overnight.
-Author's blab:
    -before trying this technique, please read the disclaimer!


Subject: 2J.  Bunny hopping

Two ways to do this:
The real way:
-Level the pedals
-Compress your body down and also the tires by pushing down and bending 
 your knees and arms.
-When you want to take off, pull the handlebar to your chest and move 
 your weight back.  This will give you a small wheelie.
-When you are going up, push the bar up and forward, twisting the grip 
 at the same time.  While you are doing this, unweight the back end of the 
 bike by leaning forward and really extend your arms.  The saddle might
 hit your chest, but that's ok.
-Relax your body before hitting the ground.
-Land with some weight in the back so that the back wheel hits the ground 
 first.  Make sure your front wheel is straight before you land.

The SPD/toe-clip way:
-Again, preload your body by coiling down and pressing real hard down.
-Instead of doing all the weight shifting, just jump and yank up real hard.  
-Landing is the same.


Subject: 2K.  Water riding

-Never ride into something that you can't see the bottom of.
-If there are not too many obstacles, you can ride through the water as 
-Instead of cranking in a high gear, try spinning in a low gear if the 
 water is too deep. 
-If the water is real deep, try ratcheting your pedals by doing quarter 
 pedal strokes. 
-Brakes will be much less effective when wet, so watch out.
-Water can get into bearings and damage them.  So don't ride things that 
 are too deep (anything higher than your bottom bracket is considered  
 deep by most people).
-After riding through the water, pulse both brakes a few times to scrub 
 off the water.


Subject: 2L.  Mud riding

-If it's just a puddle, ride in the center of it to minimize the amount 
 of trail damage.
-If it's deep and wet, spin in a low gear and keep seated so that your 
 back end doesn't spin out.
-Try to put less weight in the front.  The front tire might plow into the 
 mud, causing you to endo.
-Pulse both brakes after going through the mud to scrub off the mud.
-Mud, much like water, can do a lot of damage to your bike, so be 
 careful.  Also, it tends to wear out the brake pads very quickly.

Other riders also added:
Try going though thick mud fast, you will sort of "hydroplain" across it 
which leaves less goop in your brakes and gears, this also has the 
added advantage of getting through it quicker.

Dave Blake []
Do not ride through mud if you have another option - the trails should
come first, except in races.  You cannot overemphasize the importance
of maintaining the trails properly in this day of trail closures.

Brian Adams []
-I've had mud gob onto the rear derailleur; the chain then grabbed it and
 twisted it into junk.


Subject: 2M.  Loose Stuff

We don't get too much sand/gravel here in Edmonton, so I turn to friends on 
the mtb mailing list for help:

Peter Greaves []
Look out for the sand taking the front wheel away from your line.  
Weight slightly forward to keep the steering line straight.  Look out 
for hitting this stuff too fast and burying the front wheel - instant 
faceplant.  Really sandy trails can tire you really fast - they are 
easier in damp than dry conditions.
Riding in sand is much like riding in mud or snow.

Doug van Houten (?):
Keep the front end light and grind away with low gearing.
If the front end is to heavy, the front tire will sink and you will endo.
Good places for riding in sand are on lake beaches, river shores, or sand
volleyball pits.
In Wyoming, we don't have too much sand either, but do have enough so
I know how to ride it.

Sand is a very difficult substance to ride on.  Once you get started 
it is best not to stop.  Turning on sand is no easy trick.  Take the 
turn VERY gradually and do NOT lean.  Leaning will simply make you 
fall over.  Turning sharp doesn't work either, your front tire will 
simply plow the sand until you stop (or fall).

Sand has the same effect as sandpaper on bikes.  It grinds and wears 
parts very quickly.  Do not ride a bike you like on the beach.

J. Wesley Prince [] 
I have many hours of experience in the infamous Moab sand pits and have read
a few mag articles on the subject.

Sand Riding:
1. The bigger the meat (tire carcass) the better the ride when it comes to
2. Have a positive attitude (helps in all technical scenarios).
3. Carry as much momentum (speed) into the pit as possible.  Try to maintain
this momentum as best you can.
4. Shift down a gear or 2 to prevent bog down.  It generally doesn't help to
5. Get the weight on the back wheel and let the front tire float a bit.
6. DO NOT attempt to hold a straight line by steering.  The front wheel will
only dig in and bury you.  Allow the front wheel to drift around a bit.  Keep
a light touch on the steering.  If you are starting to worry about your line,
you can try a combo of light steering and weight shifting (one side or the
other) to correct.  Sometimes you will start to drift way off line and will
need to steer to stay on the path.  Try to start early and maintain a smooth
arc.  A quick move will likely fail.
7. Use a smooth spin.  Power stroking will only break the rear wheel and slow
your momentum.
8. If you ride in a sand infested area, consider going to wax for your lube.
The sand will stick to the oil and grind away at your drivetrain.


Subject: 2N.  Skidding

-Braking-induced skids are useless.  Skidding reduces your stopping power 
 and increases your stopping distance.  Also, you have no control over the 
 wheel that is sliding.
-Turning-induced skids are useless as well.  If you are skidding, that 
 means you are riding too far on the edge.  There are ways to save a 
 turning skid, but I'm not going to put it on the FAQ since skidding is 
 not recommended.
-All skids tend to destroy trails.  If you skid a lot on your local 
 trail and it's closed after a winter, you might be the cause.


Subject: 2O.  Singletracks

-Instead of staring at the edge of the trail, look forward and ahead.  
 You will ride straighter that way.
-You will notice that the middle of the trail is usually rutted.  This 
 may cause problems during turns if you go on the inside.  Instead, try 
 taking the outside line the whole turn.
-Some single tracks are too narrow and too hard to ride.  If that's the 
 case, don't risk a fall.  Walk it.
-If you ride a lot of single track, you might want to reduce the width of 
 the bar to reduce the chance of your hands hitting branches.  Also, 
 L-shaped barends help a lot.  
-Always wear eye protection.  You will need it.

Others add:
Bill Rod [smts!]           
-Don't sightsee, your bike will go wherever you look. "Look at the tree, hit 
 the tree"
-If you are unable to clean an obstacle, get off and climb over it.  DO NOT 
 ride around the obstacle, thereby creating a braid.  This leads to  
 erosion and angry Park Managers, not to mention trail maintenance people.
-On twisty singletrack, try getting your butt an inch or two off the saddle. 
 This allows you to more easily use body english for maneuvering the bike.


Subject: 2P.  Switchbacks

-Slow down as you enter the turn.  Start outside, hit the apex of the turn 
 on the inside and leave on the outside.
-If it's real tight, stick your foot out to pivot your bike.
-If you are real good, stop and bunny hop the bike straight and ride out.

To this, some added:
"Sautter, Chris/EUG" []
We have lots and lots of switchbacks here in Eugene, Oregon.  Here are some 
things that I do to clean the switchbacks around here.

Slow down for the corner.  It's a lot faster to make the corner without 
dabbing no matter how slow you have to go to do it.

Stay on the uphill side of the trail as you approach the switchback.  This 
will allow you to make the widest arc as you turn and prevent you from 
hitting anything at the apex of the switchback.

As you approach slowly, put your weight back and put your outside pedal 

As you enter the corner, look at the exit where you want to go.  DO NOT 
look at the 100' drop-off that you will fall down if you don't make the 

With your weight on your outside pedal and slightly back, the next step is 
to commit to the corner.  Lean hard into the corner until you are almost 
falling to the inside.  When this happens, ease off the brakes and let the 
your bike roll under yourself.  This is actually really easy to do once you 
get started.

If you have a hard time with this last step, you can quickly modulate the 
brakes to adjust your balance.  It works really well.

When you have passed the apex of the corner, you can let off the brakes, 
start accelerating, and prepare for the next switchback.

You should never skid around a switchback.  You have less control and rip up 
the trails.

For uphill switchbacks, you take the same line as for DH switchbacks.

Approach the switchback with your bike on the extreme DH side of the trail 
so you can make the widest arc possible.  Keep your weight centered.

Lean hard into the corner and pedal your bike under yourself so you don't 
fall to the inside.  The trick is to commit to the lean.

By the time your bike is under you, you are around the switchback.  Cool.

Jim Wagner []
On Sat, 21 Oct 1995, Tim Franz wrote
] OK, more switchback skills.  Has anyone perfected this move? If so,
] please feel free to give me tips.  I am *not*, definitely *not*, an expert
] at it.
] On vacation two summers ago, I was riding the Tsali Trail in NC.  On one 
] of the loops, there is a switchback that is SO tight, I could not steer
] around it.  So, I hit the bushes on the downhill side of the turn :^o  .
] Since then, I have been trying to learn how to hit the front brake, turn
] the wheel, lift the rear in the air, and flip it 180 degrees around on
] the front wheel.  Using this, you can make a turn with no room to spare.
] So far, I have only been able to get the wheel around about 90 degrees,
] but I also have not had a tight singletrack to really test it on.  I'll
] have to travel out of the great, mountainous, midwest to try it (say that
] last line with alot of saarcasm).
] Someone else who can actually do this can probably explain it better.

That maneuver is called a tail-whip in the bmx & freestyle world, and 
it's a lot easier to do on a bmx bike than an MTB.  90 degrees is about all
I can do too.  I tried to do 180 and tacoed my rear wheel.  Very easy to 
taco a 26 inch wheel if you don't do it right.  IMHO, it's not worth it try
to tail-whip around a switchback, just slow down, lean the bike into the 
turn and stick out your foot if you have to.  Even better, if there is a berm 
on the outside of the turn, use that.

Takayuki Shodai []
>hit the front brake, turn the wheel, lift the rear in the air, 
>and flip it 180 degrees around on the front wheel.  ...
>That maneuver is called a tail-whip in the bmx & freestyle world, and 
>it's a lot easier to do on a bmx bike than an mtb. 90 degrees is about

That's not a tail whip.  A tail whip consists of putting all your weight
on the front end, and spinning the tail around the headset.  Of course,
this is not possible AT ALL if you have brake cables.  

What Michael is thinking about is (was, in my day) referred to as a
kick-out. It has no practical use in BMX riding or racing.  There is one
freestyle trick using the kick-out: on PAVEMENT, lock up the front end
while kicking out the rear.  As the back end is moving around, lock up
the back wheel.  When it lands, immediately pull the front end, spinning
around the back wheel.  If successful, you'd have done a 360 now, and
can continue riding on (or lock up the front end and continue on to
720s, etc).  Note! With ANY speed, momentum will carry you in the
ORIGINAL direction.  Kicking out to 180 will leave you rolling
backwards- kicking out any less will probably cause you to highside.  

It's not a move I'd recommend at any level of riding ability.  You might
1. taco your rim (and possibly your whole rear end).
2. get thrown off the bike (into those trees that define the
3. hit a perfect 180, and (going fast) end up rolling backwards and #2.
4. hit a perfect 180, and (going slow) end up at a complete stop, and
get plowed into by the rider behind you who's using a more conventional
5. get hurt.
Well, that's my two bits (too keep people from hurting themselves and
ruining hardware unnecessarily). 

Michael P Ley []
] ] ...  hit the front brake, turn the wheel, lift the rear in the air, 
] ] and flip it 180 degrees around on the front wheel.  ...
]  That maneuver is called a tail-whip in the bmx & freestyle world, and 
] it's a lot easier to do on a bmx bike than an mtb. 90 degrees is about all

In freestyle a "tail-whip" is done by stopping the front wheel and rotating
the frame around the headset, while keeping your body above the front wheel/
handlebar area.  (A trick I almost mastered before school got in the way.)

The maneuver described above doesn't have a flashy name that I know of (I just
use "front wheel 180") but it IS much easier on the BMX/freestyle bike.  On my
freestyle bike I can do 180+ degrees easily, but on the MTB I can barely make
it to 180 degrees.  No wheel damage yet... :-)  I've tried this only in a
parking lot, not on the trail.  It's easier to go backwards after the 180 
than to stop and go back the way you came.

Hints:  Keep a little speed, just above walking pace
	Start with pedals level, outside foot forward (if back end is swinging
	  to the left, put left pedal forward)
	Start turning into the spin, grab BOTH brakes (keeps the pedals from
	  moving on you), unweight the rear wheel, and turn
	Push forward on the outside bar and pull down and back on the inside
	  use your rear/inside foot to help pull the back end around
	As you set the back end down, let go of the rear brake (or both if
	  you want to roll backwards)

] ... IMHO, it's not worth it try to tail-whip around a switchback ...

Depends on how open the sides of the trails are.  Very easy to hit thick brush
alongside the trail, but if it's open enough it'd work.  Probably best done
on the uphill loop only.  :-)  I'd probably go for the trials-style hop and
twist if I couldn't ride the corner.  Just stop mid-turn, start hopping for 
balance, and then rotate until you're headed the right direction and ride
away again.  

J. Wesley Prince []
Going Down: (Without a nose wheelie) Weight as far rearward as possible.
Getting off the back of the saddle and with the butt down low is sometimes
necessary. Swing up on the upper part of the switchback to enlarge the
turning radius as much as possible. Use both brakes, you will need a lot of
front brake to prevent a rear skid so keeping the weight rearward and on the
pedals will help prevent a wheelie.  You should concentrate on crouching on
those pedals thus keeping as little weight as possible on the bars. Turn the
wheel as steeply as you need to in order to keep the bike on the trail. At
this point it becomes a balancing act. Too much weight on the outside and
you go crashing down the hill, too much on the inside and you fall in that
direction but at least not very far. If you must err, err to the inside. If
you keep the front tire on line, the back will follow. You will find that
you can turn much more sharply than you at first believe, just maintain that
balance and force the turn, the bike will do the rest.

Wheelie Method: This must first be mastered on level ground, then gradually
increasing slopes on grassy hills. The idea is to grab the front brake and
push forward on the bars raising the back wheel off of the ground. You then
twist your lower body, basically rotating the rear of the bike along the
axis of the headset as the front tire remains pointed in the original
direction. As the back wheel is about to land, quickly align the front wheel
with the rear of the bike and pedal away. Obviously this is a skill which
takes some practice to master (on the open grass prior to trying on the
switchback). First try to master balancing on the nose wheelie prior to
trying to turn. 

Going Up: Usually more of a challenge. Again, swing a little toward the
downhill side to give yourself as much radius as possible. You usually need
to be in the lowest gear. As you start up, you will lean slightly toward the
inside and keep steering on track. You should lean hard enough that if you
were to stop pedalling, you would slowly fall over on the inside (which is
what you will do if you slip or screw up!). The interesting part is that the
driving force of your pedalling will actually hold you up. If the turn is
very tight and the climb is very steep you will need a nice low granny and
really need to crank it hard. To prevent yourself from doing a wheelie you
may need to edge your weight forard. If you try to stand it will sometimes
screw up your balance but if you are having trouble using the seated method
it's worth trying. Also if you are a technical wizard you can try to wheelie
halfway up and whip your tire over to the right line to finish the turn. I
have usually found that this is only needed in the extremely sharp turned
switchbacks on narrow trails.

One more final bit of advice, you must, in your mind, visualize yourself
making the move before you actually try the move. I have found that this
proper frame of mind helps more than anything else with pulling off
technical moves.


Subject: 2Q.  Track Stand

-This skill was intended for track racing, since it is necessary for track 
racers to be able to stay up without putting their feet down.  It is later 
adopted by mountain bikers for doing tricks and stunts.  It is also very 
"cool" to be able to stay up at a stop light:-)
-Find a gentle incline, ride the bike perpendicular to the slope.
-Have your pedals level, with the foot closer to the upslope be the power 
-Stop the bike gently and turn the wheel toward the upslope.
-Without using the brake, use your balance to try to stay up and not move.  
If you are going to fall toward the bottom of the slope, increase pressure 
on the inside foot.  If you are going to fall toward the upslope, return 
the wheel gently to the center.
-You only need to do minor adjustments to stay up, try to be smooth and 
not jerky.
-Once you can do that, for about half a minute, try to do the same on a 
level surface.


Subject: 2R.  Riding down stairs
-find a couple of step to practice, then move on to steeper and shorter
-assume the downhill position.  Butt off saddle, weight back, keep arms
and legs loose
-point the wheel perpendicular to the ground and ride straight down
-Do little braking if needed, but you do not want to lock up the wheels
while they are in the air


Subject: 3.  Tech


Subject: 3A.  Installing Grips

-Use some sort of motor cycle grip glue on the grip.  This will make the 
 grip impossible to remove.
-Wrap the bar with double sided tape and slide an alcohol-coated grip on it.
-Plain old water.
-Compressed air


Subject: 3B.  Clipless Pedals

-Clipless pedal riders are connected to their bikes by cleat and 
 mechanical "hooks".  There are many pedals out there on the market, each 
 with their own designs.  In this FAQ, I will NOT recommend any specific
 model because the technology changes too fast for me, and also it has a
 lot to do with personal preference.
-Advantages: Very solid connection from the bike to the rider.  Once the 
 rider is experienced, it will be easy for him/her to unclip.  It's cool.  
 It helps many to bunny hop (read:hop/jumps).
-Disadvantages: Cost.  Fear of being clipped in when you need to remove 
 your feet.  Must be used with cycling shoes. 
-Float is the amount of side to side movement the pedals allow before 
 releasing the cleats.  
-To engage, simply step into it and one of the hook/bars/clips will snap 
 back.  You should hear a "click" when you are in place (except ONZA).
-To disengage, twist the foot inward or outward to release, again, you 
 should hear a click (except ONZA).
-When first learning, it is best to set the pedal to the lowest release 
 tension.  This way, beginners can clip in/out easier.
-Practice on a grass field so that when you fall, you are not going to 
 get hurt.  Ride around on the grass and try to engage and disengage each 
 foot.  Leave the non-practicing foot unclipped in case you fall. 
-Do not ride on the streets/trails until you have mastered these skills.
-Turn up the tension as your skills increase.
-Try lubing all the contact points between the pedal and the cleat and 
 also all moving parts to improve the smoothness of engagement and 


Subject: 3C.  How to increase braking power

-Better pads (Scott/Matthauser, Ritchey, Kool Stops)
-Brake brace
-Properly adjusted brakes.  Make sure you have some toe-in and your pads 
 are hitting the rims straight on.
-Scrub the rims with alcohol to remove brake "bake-on".
-Sand the pads to remove glaze
-Get new and better brakes/levers

To this, others added:
Charles Coker [] and
Peter Greaves [] suggested that:
-Lower the straddle cable to about 3/4's of an inch above the tire.   

John Stevenson []
On current Shimano brakes (that is, ones with a link wire) the most common
brake set-up error I see is that riders replace their blocks, pushing the
stud all the way into the clamp on the cantilever body, then pull the cable
through so that the brake works. Problem is, this leaves the link wire and
brake cable pointing skyward at a very acute angle, an arrangement which
results in very low mechanical advantage at the brake, in other words lousy
braking; a very 'hard' feel at the lever with very little braking power
unless you really haul on the brakes.

These Shimano brakes should be set up so that the cable and link wire form
at least a 90 degree angle. More will increase braking power still further,
but at the expense of a spongy feel and need to set the blocks very close
to the rim.

[note from the author]
To get the best angle with the straddle wire, whether it is the conventional 
straddle wires or Shimano's hangers, you can use the older generation of the 
Shimano Pro-set tool.  It holds the brakes together while you tighten the 
nuts/bolts.  This works because the older style cantilever brakes are much
less upright and require a greater angle in the straddle wire.

Ming Dong []
Brake boosters help by preventing brake boss (mounting stud) movement.
If you have powerful brakes on a soft frame (Ti), they will move 
alot. If you have weak brakes on a heavy steel frame, you probably
won't notice a difference. 
To check your frame for brake boss flex, hold the brake bosses between 
you thumb and index finger and apply the brakes (with your other hand
dummy:-) Did the bosses move much? If not, maybe you first need to
optimize your brake adjustments and replace frayed or kinked cables.
In other words, a brake booster is the last thing to add, only after
you've checked eveything else.  It's not a panacea for poor brake


Subject: 3D.  Shifters

There are 3 main types of shifters.  Shimano's Rapid Fire plus, Sram's 
Grip shift and Top Mount thumb shifters from various companies.

1) Rapid Fire Plus
-The system has a built-in brake lever, so if you buy the shifter, you 
 must use Shimano's brake levers (you can use a shifter perch on the
 higher-priced models).  This will be changed in 1996.
-A shift to the smaller ring (front and back) is done by a pull of the 
 index finger.  A shift to the larger ring/cog is done by pushing the 
 button with your thumb.
-Advantages:  Most claim that the RF+ keep their hands in fairly natural 
 position.  They don't have to move around to shift/brake.  The shifting 
 is very smooth, especially when matched with a rear derailleur made in 
 the same year.  Some feel that the optical display is very useful.  
-The disadvantages:  Heavier than topmounts/grip shifts.  More 
 expensive.  You can't buy your own brake lever (shifter perches are 
 exceptions).  Some feel that using Shimano parts is a "shame".  Some feel 
 that the optical displays are crap.  Downshifting in the back is limited
 to about 3 gears and upshifting is only one gear per push.

To this, some added:
John Stevenson []
Only XT will have separate RF+ units for 1996.  All other groups are still
"integrated".  Perches are available from various vendors for both early RF+
(without 'Optical Gear Display' windows) and for OGD RF+ units.

2) Grip Shift
-There are many designs, the most popular one is made by SRAM.
-These are shifter units made to mimic the "twisting throttle" motion of 
 a motorcycle.  Comes in shifter units only, you must supply your own 
 brake levers.  In 1996, they will introduce their own brake lever/shifter 
 units and also they will make shifters that are only compatible with 
 their own rear derailleurs.
-To shift to larger ring/cog, roll your wrist forward.  To shift to a 
 smaller ring/cog, roll your wrist backward.
-Advantages: Cheap.  Light.  Simple.  Natural hand position.  Easy for some 
 to use because of their motorcycling background.  Simple to overhaul.  
 Great customer service.  Favored by many new riders and some experienced 
 users.  Can shift through all the gears in one twist.
-Disadvantages: Unwanted shifts can occur when going over bumpy trails.  
 Some people don't like the hand rolling motion.  Cable routing can cause 
 some novice mechanics trouble.  Cannot brake and shift at the same time.  
 Might be troublesome if used with conjunction with Shimano Light Action 
 rear derailleurs.  Cannot fit on some multi-position handlebars without 
 cutting the barrels (voids the warranty).

Some added:
John Stevenson []
SRAM's Grip Shift is a shifter unit which turns only a portion of the gips
- roughly one-third, depending on how long you cut your grips.  Campagnolo
tried and abandoned a full grip shifter, SunTour produce a 'partial grip'
shifter like Grip Shift, as do Sachs.

SRAM's 1996 range includes one combined shift/brake unit, aimed at low end
OEM use.  The top end SRT 900 shifter is claimed to be only compatible with
the 900 rear derailleur.  The mountain bike community usually treats such
claims from manufacturers with scepticism.

[With regard to Grip Shift problems]
Massive problems in wet conditions: poor sealing means that mud rapidly
erodes the internals, leading to mushy shifting; can be very dificult to
grip when wet and muddy; 1995 models with 'Fastest Front Shifting' require
considerable hand force to shift on some bikes - very dependent on quality
of cable set up and smoothness of routing.

3) Top Mounts
-Separate unit from the brake lever.  
-To shift to a larger ring/cog, you push the lever forward, and back to
 shift to a smaller ring and cog.
-Advantages: Simple, no real moving parts.  These shifters last for a very 
 long time.  Equipped with friction mode so that you can ride with a mal-
 adjusted derailleur.  Light and usually cheap (if you can find them).  
 Favorites of many more experienced riders.  
-Disadvantages: Very hard to find.  Shimano discontinued their shifters in 
 1994 and Suntour is not in business in North America.  You need to move 
 your thumb out of its "natural" position to shift.  Some feel that moving
 their thumb after a long ride is very tiring.  Not very "trick".

Final words:  With the amount of research going into shifters, all 3 (top 
mounts, RF+, GS) shifters are great.  They all shift very well.  They all 
have their own unique strong points and weak points.  It is impossible for 
one to say that one type of shifter is superior to another type.  The 
most important factor in deciding what to buy is personal preference.  Go 
with what you like, you will get great shifting if you put in enough money.


Subject: 3E.  Improving Grip Shifters' rear shifting

-In 1994, Shimano introduced a new derailleur called the "Light Action 
 Derailleur".  This system has a lighter return spring in it, making the 
 shifting much mellower when paired with Shimano's own shifters.  When 
 paired with Sram's Grip Shifts, shifting with the Light Action rear 
 derailleurs can be very troublesome.  The light action spring might not 
 be strong enough for someone to upshift when the bike is not in top 
 shape.  There are a few ways to fix this problem
-Install a Bass Worm.  It's a rubber tubing that seals the cable end and 
 helps the cable to return.  
-Install high-end cables.  Gore-tex Ride-on cables are teflon lined 
 cables and cable housings that greatly reduce friction and help the cable 
 to return.  Slick Whip is a lower price version of these cables.
-Lube your cable with a very dry lube; this should reduce friction (do not 
 do this with Goretex Ride-on cables.)
-Install a Power Spring.  It replaces the light action spring with a much 
 stronger spring.  Your shifting should improve a lot, but it is a pain to 
 install for some.
-Get a pre-Light Action derailleur.  Any Suntour derailleur or pre-1994 
 Shimano derailleurs should do well.

Some added:
John Stevenson []
-Give up using inferior shifters and switch to RF+ :-)

Shimano's 1996 line-up includes a long-arm version of the 105 rear
derailleur with a non-Light Action type spring. This may also help solve
this problem, though the track record of 105 mechs on MTBs is poor as far
as durability is concerned.


Subject: 3F.  Brake Squeak

-Check if your brake pads are toed in.  This means that the front of the 
 pads hit the rims about 1mm before the back.
-If not, adjust the brake so that the front of the pads is about 1mm 
 closer to the rim than the back.
-If your brakes are toed in, try scrubbing the rims (refer to "increasing 
 braking power".)
-If the problem only appears when the rims are wet/cold, a different 
 brake pad might eliminate the problem.

Peat Bakke []
I found that a great way to adjust the spacing / toe in of a break pad is
with a nickle and a penny.  Put the penny between the rim and the front of 
the pad, and the nickle between the rim and the back of the pad.  


Subject: 3G.  Aheadsets vs. Conventional Headsets

-The steerer tube extends above the frame, the stem presses it into
 place along with bearing adjustment.
-Can be easily adjusted and disassembled with allen keys.
-Easier to steal.  To remove the fork, the thief just need to loosen the 
-Riders might bang their knees on stem bolt.
-More expensive (in some cases.)
-Lack of height adjustability.
Conventional Headset:
-The steerer tube is clamped down by the top adjustment cup.  The bearing 
 adjustment is also clamped down by it.  The stem is inserted inside the
 steerer tube.
-Easier to swap from stem to stem.
-Less trick.
-Must have headset wrenches to adjust or overhaul .

Some added:

Blaine Bauer []
I had a normal headset and changed to an aheadset when I put on my fork (but
only because my original headset was trashed). There are two improvements; a
normal headset can come loose and has to be tightened regularly, and the
aheadset stem makes much better contact (I never could get my original stem
very tight and it tended to swing up to 90 degrees during hairy
situations...having the handlebars parallel to the front wheel is an
especially bad thing!).

]Blaine, you sure that you can't tighten the stem down?  I have never had 
]problems doing that.  you just get an allen key and tourque on the bolt, 
]no trick to it.  

Well, my problem was actually that the stem had the adjustment bolt about 2"
inside the vertical part. I twisted my allen key to the point of bending,
but this didn't help. Finally I got an allen key attachment for a socket
wrench so I could really bear down on it, and all was well. That was why I
wasn't planning on replacing it. 

I would recommend that you add that the normal headsets do tend to loosen
(this is a common complaint especially on rigid-forked bikes). Also: 

 - Maybe put a paragraph that the best time to convert from headset to 
aheadset is when replacing the fork, but it is by no means an important 
At least one convert (me) feels that there was no weight or performance
difference. Since I got a suspension fork, I suspect that the loose headsets 
would go awaytoo.
 - Mention that it requires a different steering tube (which is why one
would do this with the fork replacement), a new headset and a new stem. 
Newbees wouldn't be aware of this.


Subject: 3H.  Bar ends

-Opens up the upper body to improve breathing.
-Improve leverage on climbing.
-Helps save your hands/shifters when crashing.
-Looks cool.
-L shaped bar ends can shield your hands from hitting branches.
-More hand positions.

-Good ones are real expensive.
-Added weight.
-Some people never use them.
-Short ones can catch the branches.
-Might not fit all handlebars, or might crush them if not installed
-Moves all the equipment mounted on the bar closer in.
-If an end plug is not installed, bar/bar end might be inserted into the 
 rider's body.

-There is no exact formula for this.  If you have never used bar ends,
 try them at 45 degrees first.  If you find your hands are too far 
 forward, move it up, if it's too far up, move it down.
-Everybody uses a different angle, from flat to vertical.  Most people
 use them at an angle between 45 degrees to 5 degrees up when measured
 from  ground.  Remember that all these things are very personal, there
 is no point in mimicing someone else just because you think that's the 
 way to do it.


Subject:  3I.  Tire Info

This is a letter straight from Panaracer.  I asked them for help on the
topic of tire info since they are one of the more established companies in
the tire market.  Please do not think that I'm in any way associated with
the company nor do I get profits from this little article.  All I know is
that the article has some great info on tires and, in this case, I'm not
going to remove the product labels.  Remember that this info applies to all
brands of tires, not just to Panaracer.

Panaracer []
This is a response to your request for tire information for your FAQ on
mountain biking.  Although this e-mail attempts to answer your specific
questions, this is not the be-all and end-all on tire information.  There
are issues that are way more complex than what we've written here.  For most
people, this level of information is fine. 

[personal info snipped by Vincent Cheng, the author of the FAQ]

Choosing a tire:
There are so many tires on the market that it is possible to choose a tire
that's designed specifically for 1) the kind of terrain you ride and 2) the
kind of rider you are.  Most tires are marketed for certain uses, and if
you're shopping around, these quick descriptions are a good reference
For example, if a tire has "SC" (for "soft condition") in its name, it's a
good bet that it will work best in sand or mud. 
Generally, for looser conditions, a tire should have a more open tread-that
is, more space between the knobs.  When we created the ultimate mud tire,
the Spike, Panaracer established three main concepts in good mud tire
design: smaller, non-block knobs, sufficient gaps between knobs, and a
hard-rubber compound.  This design prevents mud from clogging the tire. 
The best way to choose a tire is personal experience-make an honest
appraisal of the kind of riding you do, then see how well certain tires
work for you.  To help out this process, you can check with experienced
riders in your neck of the woods.  Keep in mind that your tire needs change
during the year to account for different ground conditions.  Also, there are
many different considerations in a tire's performance-all of which compete
for your attention.  Following are some of these considerations and why they

Compound difference:
The black in black tires comes from the existence of carbon black in the
compound.  Carbon black gives the tire extra hardness and durability. 
Even among black tires, there are differences in the density of the tread
rubber.  Low-density rubber compounds are another shortcut to low weight,
but they come at the cost of tire performance and durability.
In recent years mountain bikers have become familiar with so-called
soft-compound tires.  These tires are usually distinguished by their color
treads.  In most cases, these tires lack carbon black in their compounds.  As
a result, their treads are quite flexible, which enables the tire to mold to
the trail, thereby improving traction in a lot of conditions.  The downside to
this is that the tire can be squishy under load and wear out pretty quickly. 
Panaracer has developed several ways to harness the benefits of soft-compound
tires while minimizing the drawbacks.  The Hard-Core tires have knobs that
combine a hard interior with a soft, grippy outer layer, giving exceptional
grip without the usual tread instability or distortion.  The Magic tires use
a unique Binary Function Compound that makes the tread stable in the rolling
direction and compliant on corners, where you need extra gripping power.  As
a leading tire manufacturer, Panaracer will continue to develop new compounds
that expand the gripping ability of MTB tires. 

[words from the author]
There are many companies out there that are making the dual-compound tires.
These tires have a softer compound in the middle and a harder compound on 
the side.  These are nice tires as well.  Remember that no matter who 
makes the tires, the softer compound tires (in this case the Magic tires) 
do wear down quicker.

Some added:
J. Wesley Prince []
I was referring of course to Slick Rock in Moab, petrified sand dunes
are the only slick rock I know of and the softer compounds do work better on
them but don't hold a candle to a completely slick tire, with which you can
defy gravity on slick rock.

Thread count:
High-density nylon cord is the choice material for tire casings.  A higher
thread count (like 127 TPI, or threads per inch) indicates a denser weave,
which improves resilience.  Some companies use a thinner nylon cord, which is
not as tough as regular nylon cord.  Compared to regular cord, thinner cord
does not do as good a job of withstanding forces like hard cornering and
sharp objects.  Thinner cord is lighter, but that's not an acceptable means of
low weight. (Panaracer tires use regular high-density nylon cord.)

Tread shape:
The functions of front and rear tires are completely different.  A rear tire's
main functions are driving power and braking, while a front tire's main
functions are cornering and steering.  It follows that the shapes of the
primary knobs are also different--rear tires use paddle-shaped knobs, while
front tires counter with arrow-shaped knobs. (Panaracer established the
front/rear patterns with the Smoke/Dart combo.)
The complete tread pattern should be designed to give the maximum ground
contact at any angle--from straight-on riding to hard cornering. 
Some tires alternate the height of the knobs, so that some knobs hook up on
hard surfaces, then the others hook up in loose conditions. 
Some tires use fewer knobs as a route to low weight.  This usually
compromises tire performance. 

[words from the author]
There are tires out there that perform very well with very little knobs, 
such as many of the Conti tires.  Remember, Panaracer is telling us a 
lot about tires, but all from their own research.  While they may be 
correct, there are sometimes alternatives to their "methods."

Kevlar/steel bead:
Ounce for ounce, Kevlar is five times stronger than steel.  This high strength
makes Kevlar a good bead material.  Kevlar beads are foldable, and they save a
lot of weight.  All Panaracer mountain bike tires, and many other mountain
bike tires, are available with both folding and steel beads--the difference is
90 grams per tire.  This weight savings does not sacrifice performance in any
way-and if light weight is an important consideration to you, folding-bead
tires can improve your rides.
One other bead note: On our new DusterPro tire, Panaracer has developed a
special bead covering, an elastomer material that helps prevent pinch flats.
This strip absorbs shock, so when your tire compresses over a sharp bump, the
tube does not bottom out on the rim, thereby avoiding a pinch flat (otherwise
known as a "snakebite"). 

GreenLite tube:
Lightweight inner tubes represent an efficient way to save weight. Because
this is rotating weight, it is all the more significant in performance. As
for durability, it depends--for some riders, light tubes are often superior
in quality and durability to the standard butyl tubes they replace. 
There are several paths to lightweight inner tubes. One is a lightweight
butyl tube--but because this is just a butyl tube with thinner rubber, it is
not as resilient.  Another lightweight tube material is latex. Desirable for
its stretchiness, latex can help give a supple ride.  But it also has its
problems: latex can be fragile and porous, and in the event of a flat, it's
not easily repairable. 
Panaracer came up with something better in the GreenLite tube.  It uses an
all-new tube material: a strong, supple grade of urethane.  The GreenLite's
low 90-gram weight puts it up there with the lightest MTB tubes.  It's supple
feel helps smooth out the ride.  It does not leak air overnight like latex,
nor is it as prone to failure.  And it is patchable with glueless patches.

Some added:
J. Wesley Prince []
Yes latex can be fragile, as it has short life of optimal strength and
must be replaced after one season, sooner if exposed to heat.  They are quite
wrong however in saying it is not easily repairable.  It is in fact the
easiest tube available to repair since the surface requires no prep besides
removing talc.  It sticks to patch glue much better than butyl.

[words from the author]
I agree with Mr. Prince here.  Latex tubes can be patched, assuming that you 
remove all the talc powder with rubbing alcohol.  Remember, glueless patches
do not last very long.  Please don't use them as permanent patches.


Subject: 3J.  Grease/Wax/Oil

I asked the internet expert bicycles for help:

Jobst Brandt []
That's a large topic.  You don't say where these lubricants are to be
used but I assume you mean wax for chains.  Wax does not work and no
one, but those who believe in the unbelievable, wax chains.  Wax is not
mobile and cannot return to a location from which it has been removed by 
rotation of one part on another.  It has little film strength and
as most adherents of this method admit, it falls flat with moisture
This exposes its absence from the friction surfaces.

Plain ordinary automotive wheel bearing grease and motor oil is about
as good a lubricant array as you can find.  You can pay more but you
won't get anything better.  The only exception is motorcycle chain
lubricant that is suspended in a volatile solvent.  This allows the
lubricant to penetrate easily and then gel inside the chain as the
solvent escapes.

[words for the author]
While I agree with Mr. Brandt with most things, I don't agree with some 
of his comments.  I have been waxing my chain for over 3 years and I have 
had no trouble so far.  However, I must say that the wax is useless when it 
gets wet.  Also, I do not use straight pure wax, I mix some 10W30 motor oil
in the mixture.

Also, for grease/oil, I have to say that for most bearing applications, the 
automotive grease is good enough, however, you do not need some of the
high temperature/high pressure properties of some greases.  

For oil, motor oil is good enough for chains, but you can use something 
better.  The motor oil is very sticky and can become dirty very easily.  
The newer dry lubes are great if you ride in sandy conditions.  The wet 
lubes are very thick, and should stay on the chain after getting very 
wet, but much like motor oil, it tends to get dirty very quickly.

Some added:
Brian Adams []
-A time-tested method for lubing a chain: soak a few hours in a pan of hot
 90-weight gear oil, heated on a hotplate (do this outdoors on the patio.)
Chris Watts []
I feel compelled to adress the chain lubrication issue:  Waxing chains is a
relatively antiquated practice with questionable real world value.  Grease 
and bearing oil may be fine for road bikes, but these substances attract
too much dirt from the trail to be of any real use to mountain bikers.  I
recommend White Lightning.  It is a high density lubricant suspended in an
evaporating solvent.  It keeps chains running clean and dry, and works
great in wet conditions.  If you can find it, there's really no reason to
consider using any other lubricant.

I know you prefer not to use brand names, but White Lightning is the only
example of this type of product that I'm aware of.  (No I don't work for
them:-) )
Author's note:White Lightning is a wax like lube.  It goes on wet and the 
carrier dries, leaving only the wax behind, inside the links.  There 
are similar products out there.


Subject: 3K.  Frame Materials

-cheap, most common
-very good durability
-easy to weld(cheap production cost)
-flexier.  The ride is more forgiving, but wastes more energy.  I usually
recommend someone who is below 180 to ride a steel frame
-unless the frame is very expensive, it's usually heavier than aluminum
-will rust

-slightly more expensive than steel, but coming down in price
-some people question durability, however, frames have lifetime
warrenties, so you shouldn't let this hold you back
-slightly harder to weld/bond, but can be done
-very stiff.  The ride is rigid, power can be delivered more directly,
however, the ride is harsher
-usually lighter than similarly equipped steel bike
-come in all sorts of cool colors and won't rust when exposed to the
environment(Note, aluminum will oxidized, but this is differen't than

-one of the most expensive frames, good stuff
-durability is very good, assuming you find the right builder
-it's very hard to bond, if the builder is experienced, the frame will be
great.  If not, you might be in trouble
-some frames can be made to have the horizontal stiffness of aluminum but
with the vertical flex of steel frames, making this one of the more
desirable material.  However, if not done properly, the frame can feel
dead, much like any other frames
-usually about the same weight as the aluminum frames, sometimes a bit
more, sometimes a bit less

Carbon Fibre
-very expensive also
-durability is ok.  The fibres can unwoven/break microscopicly by each
bump.  At the end, the unwoven spot will fail by breaking.
-it's usually molded
-some people find these frames flexy.  However, some manufactuer will use
carbon main frame only with al lugs and rear triangle.  CF tends to be
flexy at times, however, like any other material, it can be made to be
very good.  
-usually very light.

I'm sure a lot more people will add stuff/correct me.  Please do!

John Stevenson []
Preamble: there are no bad materials, only bad applications. Almost any
material you can think of can be built into successful mountain bike
frames, providing the engineer who does the design work knows the
and weaknesses of the material, how to use and compensate for them, and,
most importantly, how to translate those concepts into production
that build reliable bike frames.

All materials are available in different grades, with stronger grades
usually being more expensive. Plain carbon steel, as used for department
store junkers, has an ultimate tensile strength of about half that of the
heat-treated alloy steels used in very high-end steel frames.Stronger
steels make for more expensive frames because, while the raw material is
relatively cheap, its very strength means that shaping it into tubes,
cutting and joining those tubes is more time consuming and hence costly.

Price ranges

Rather than saying a material is/is not cheap, why not do it like this:

Bike cost ($US):      0       500     1000    2000    4000    8000
                      |       |       |       |       |       |
Frame materials:         <------steel------>
                                        <----carbon fibre------>

and so on. You might like to get the right US price bands, as I don't have
easy access to that info

>-cheap, most common
>-very good durability
>-easy to weld (cheap production cost)
>-flexier.  The ride is more forgiving, but wastes more energy.  I usually
>recommend someone who is below 180 to ride a steel frame

Bzzzt! 'wastes more energy' definitely unproven, probably unprovable,
probably untrue. There have been some very long, tedious and circular
discussions of the whole issue of the actual effect of frame flex on
efficiency in Given the calibre of the minds there that have
failed to reach meaningful conclusions, I think it's safer for you and me
to leave this one alone rather than repeat folk misconceptions. I will say
that it's very hard to imagine that, say, Henrik Djernis could have ridden
steel frames to three world championships if they wasted any significant
amount of energy. The fact that world titles and world cup races have been
won on virtually every frame material under the sun implies that the
differences between materials as far as energy transfer efficiency goes
are negligible at best and nonexistant at worst.

>-unless the frame is very expensive, it's usually heavier than aluminum

Have you actually weighed a low-end aluminium frame recently. Some of them
are getting very heavy

>-will rust

Unless looked after.

>-slightly more expensive than steel, but coming down in price
>-some people question durability, however, frames have lifetime
>warrenties, so you shouldn't let this hold you back

A broken aluminium frame waiting for a free replacement is still a bike
can't ride. Bit of a bummer in June.

>-slightly harder to weld/bond, but can be done

Actually, quite easy to bond, which is why it's often done in preference
to welding.

>-very stiff.  The ride is rigid, power can be delivered more directly,
>however, the ride is harsher

It should be said here that this is a property of the application not the
material. Aluminium is more flexible than steel and has the annoying
property of lacking a definite cyclic stress fatigue limit. This means
that however small the repeated stress it is subjected to, an aluminium
part will eventually fail because of metal fatigue. A steel part, on the
other hand hand, has a cyclic stress level, below which it will last
forever. To get round this, designers build aluminium frames so their
cyclic stress levels are as low as possible to maximise their lifespan. In
practice this means using large-diameter, thin walled tubes, which also
happen to be light and rigid. In theory you could also build very light
steel frames by using thin-walled, large diameter tubes, since the fatigue
limit stress of good steel is usually higher than that of the aluminium
alloys typically used in bikes. However, thin-walled steel is hard to weld
and tends to be rather easy to crush. Aluminium's lower density means it's
tubes are thicker-walled and less prone to crushing.

>-usually lighter than similarly equipped steel bike
>-come in all sorts of cool colors and won't rust when exposed to the
>environment (Note, aluminum will oxidized, but this is differen't than

In certain environments, particularly salty ones, aluminium is prone to
corrosion. Certain aluminium alloys must be painted or they will corrode
on contact with air.

>-one of the most expensive frames, good stuff

Actually the quality now varies almost as widely as steel and aluminium.
There are some quite inexpensive titanium frames on the market, but they
tend to use lower grades of material than the 3 percent aluminium, 2.5 per
cent vanadium alloy that's used by quality builders such as Merlin and

>-durability is very good, assuming you find the right builder
>-it's very hard to bond, if the builder is experienced, the frame will be
>great.  If not, you might be in trouble

Gary Helfrich will be along in a moment to claim that this is bollocks and
that titanium is only slightly harder to weld than steel and much easier
than aluminium. Also you're confusing welding with bonding, two totally
different processes.

>-some frames can be made to have the horizontal stiffness of aluminum but
>with the vertical flex of steel frames, making this one of the more
>desirable material.

Sorry, but this is just plain bollocks. Bike frames are damn nearly
perfectly rigid in the vertical plane, whatever they are built from.
There's no doubt that there are material/configuration factors that affect
how a frame feels, but these are probably to do with the way the frame
dissipates or transmits vibration, rather than the Young's modulus of the

 However, if not done properly, the frame can feel
>dead, much like any other frames

I've never understood what people mean by a 'dead' frame. I suspect it's
another piece of bike culture folk bollocks.

>-usually about the same weight as the aluminum frames, sometimes a bit
>more, sometimes a bit less

>Carbon Fibre
>-very expensive also

Priced a Giant carbon fibre bike recently?

>-durability is ok.  The fibres can unwoven/break microscopicly by each
>bump.  At the end, the unwoven spot will fail by breaking
>-it's usually molded

Er, half. Carbon tubes are usually molded, but are then joined into frames
by bonding into lugs. Trek, Giant use this process and they must account
of the majority of carbon frames out there.

>-some people find these frames flexy.

Some people can convince themselves of anything in order to pander to
their prejudices. Which isn't to say that carbon frames aren't flexible,
no doubt some are, but this is just more repetition of 'lots of people say
this so it must be true' bike folklore bollocks.


Subject:   3L.  Fork Upgrade

-Great for plushness.  It takes very little to activate it over the first
bit, which is great for very small high frequency bumps.  It also doesn't
"stack" as easily.
-This is the best upgrade for forks with some sort of dampening units.
Springs are easy to compress, however, it reacts like a pogo stick.  If
the fork is not dampened, the fork might become very bouncy.

Hydraulic Cartridges
-There are 2 kinds.
a)If the fork is a normal elastomer based fork, it might be possible to
retrofit the unit with a hydraulic unit on one side to give the fork some
b)Some of the newer forks have problem with cartridge leakage.  The
aftermarket cartriges are supposed to be stronger and more leak

Air Cartridges
-Very plush and provides great dampening.  
-Hard to bottom out
-Can be a pain to maintain due to leakage.  Some users find that they have
to pump the cartridges very often.

Brake Brace
-If the fork is too flexy, this will increase the stiffness.
-Brake bosses will flex less, which is ideal for hydraulic and linear pull
brake users.

For other fork upgrades that do not involve buying, but rather drilling
and fiddling, check and see his
tech page.


Subject:   3M. V Brakes

Linear pull brakes are nothing new.  The Cheap Trick was one of the more
popular pre-V linear pull brakes.  Then came Shimano, with their big
promotion and racer support, took these brakes from being aftermarket
equipment to standard OEM parts.
-Most of the linear pull brakes require more cable pull, normal levers can
be used, however, it will give the rider a very mushy feel and the
performance will not be optimal.  Keep in mind that a mushy feel usually
gives you more modulation.
-96 Shimano XT V brakes had problem with the bushing wearing out too
quickly, creating loud squeals.  A kit is available free of charge from
your dealer to fix this problem.
-The main advantage of this setup is that it is much easier to properly
install the brakes.  Because of this, a lot of people believe that these
brakes are more powerful, but in fact, they were riding with poorly
adjusted canti's.  Check for more info on how to
setup the brakes properly.  Keith Bontrager has a very good write up on
how to do so.  Kristan Roberge also has a good tech page on this subject
-If you are planning to ask whether to buy them or not, and you are going
to post in the newsgroup, you will receive a lot of messages for cantis
and a lot for V's.  The fact is that most people will probably have an
easier time with them when it comes to adjusting, but if you want to save
a few bucks and still get the same performance, cantis will do the trick
just fine.  I perfer cantis, and once you get good at adjusting them, you
can adjust them better than most v's in about 10 minutes.


Subject: 4.  Miscellaneous


Subject: 4A.  Seinfeld's Bike

After watching some taped episode, I can see:
-In the first season, the bike was a green Klein, but somehow, the 
 fork seemed to be on backward.
-Cannondale Super Killer V appeared in one episode in the second 
 season, but was later rumored to be stolen.  
-The green Klein is back with the fork mounted the right way. 

Charles Puffe []
The bikes in "Seinfeld's" apartment are actually the personal mountain
bikes of actor Michael Richards, "Kramer" on the show.  Jerry does not


Subject: 4B.  Race Tips

I do not have much to offer in this section, so I turned to Peter Greaves 
for help:
Peter Greaves []
Subject: race tips for FAQ - long
here it is - from May this year
     me and a riding buddy are going for our first race on 23rd April, 
     and we'd appreciate some advice from the list.
     fyi, the race is 3 x 5 mile laps cross country - a good variety of 
     single track/short climbs/foresty bits etc.
     we're both pretty fit and not too bad technically but would like a 
     few tips on race preparation (us and our machines!) and racecraft.
     any advice gratefully received - we'll post our first race 
     experience to the list!
     peter "what? ride off THAT? are you MAD?" greaves
     2. REPLIES
     Just a few tips:
    -Pre-ride the course the weekend before, if you can.
    -Take it easy the two days before the race.  Save your best for the 
    -Start making your bike race-ready NOW.  Don't wait until the night 
     before the race to install that new chain or whatever.
    -Take an extra tube, chaintool, allen wrenches, pump (I use CO2 
     cartridges) and whatever else you think you'll need.  Just stuff 
     them in your jersey pockets. Funny things happen during races.
    -Always take more to drink than you think you'll need.  Camelbaks 
     work great in races.
    -Make sure you get to the race site with plenty of time to register, 
     get your stuff, put your number on, and warm up properly.  Two hours 
     before start time isn't too far ahead.  You don't want to be rushing 
     around just trying to get to the start line.
    -This is your first race.  You probably won't win, so don't worry too 
     much about your start position.  Just try to line up in the middle 
     somewhere.  Be patient at the start.  As you roll off the line leave 
     about a wheel-length between you and the rider ahead.  That will 
     give you enough room to manuver when he and the guy next to him 
     lock bar-ends and crash in front of you.
    -Don't kill yourself in the first mile.  It's a lot more rewarding to 
     pick off people throughout the race who have blown up than to start 
     fast, die, get passed by everyone and then barf at the finish.  The 
     winner won't kill himself in the first mile either.  He'll feel 
     great.  (Hope that's you).  Everyone else will die trying to stay 
     with him.
    -If someone is following you on singletrack and you can't shake 
     them, ask if you're holding them up.  Likewise, if you can't get by 
     somebody, and the riders ahead are pulling away, don't start 
     screaming at him.  Just say "Hey dude, can you give me a line when 
     you get a chance?"  (This doesn't work in Sport class, just Beginner 
     and Expert) ;-)
    -If this is a Beginner race, people will be crashing all over.  They 
     get all excited and try to ride above their ability.  Don't crash. 
     You can break your bike or yourself and DNF.  When in doubt, run a 
     technical section.  You won't lose time running a technical 
    -Nothing is more disheartening than a DNF.  Do everything you can to 
     be prepared so you can finish, whatever happens.
    -Most importantly: Have fun!
     Mark Tatum
     "Colorado Mountain Bike Racing"
     First of all, the note posted by Mark was excellent.  My brother & I 
     have been racing for awhile and all his advice works.  One thing I 
     would like to add: In regards to arriving early to the race, take 
     enough time to warm-up properly.  It is critical to get your lungs 
     and legs "worked-in".  You'll notice the people that haven't 
     warmed-up will bonk after hammering full out for the first mile. 
     Then valuable time will be lost recovering during the next two 
     miles.  Since this is your first time, you may be hurting during the 
     event, but will be exhilarated when you finish! (Hhhmm - sounds 
     Good luck, but more important have fun!
     Let's see what comes to my mind....
     *  Drink, drink, drink, eat, eat, eat (*before* you get 
     *  Don't get caught in the back of the pack (I tend to be over - 
     *  Lube it, tune your brakes well (I tuned mine too tight once, so I 
     could hardly grab the levers on a rough DH, !)
     *  Hows about your bottle cage ( I noticed quite a number of lost 
     bottles on the first DH section) ?
     My first mtb race was about a year ago, 60 kms. Was on the verge of 
     cramping after half distance. Having a blast, though !
     Enjoy it !

     As for the warming up, any suggestions for that, other than "ride 
     around for awhile" which is what I do?  I always feel like crap on 
     the first climb of the race despite this.
     As an aside, in West Virginia they tend to start the races with a 
     nice, long climb to let the pack shake itself out before it hits 
     the singletrack.  Is this pretty much standard operating procedure?
     Other tips:
     If you're out of contention - not that I'd know what this was like 
     ;) , be a nice guy/girl and stop to help those who were too lazy to 
     bring a pump - just make sure you tell them (in a nice way) that 
     they screwed up.
     Have food/water for after race consumption.  Some races provide 
     this, but there's almost never enough.
     ] As an aside, in West Virginia they tend to start the races with a
     ] nice, long climb to let the pack shake itself out before it hits 
     ] the singletrack.  Is this pretty much standard operating 
     ] procedure?
     It seems to be that way here in Georgia also.....
     ] Other tips:
     ] If you're out of contention - not that I'd know what this was like
     ] ;) , be a nice guy/girl and stop to help those who were too lazy to
     ] bring a pump - just make sure you tell them (in a nice way) that they
     ] screwed up.
     Be careful with this....I think it is a violation of NORBA rules to 
     help another racer.
     hiya list!!
     a couple of weeks back i wrote for some advice from the list for me 
     and a pal who were going for our first (Novice class!) race.   we'd 
     like to say that the stuff was really helpful, and thanks to all of 
     Someone suggested a racing technique FAQ - this would be a great 
     * the most useful stuff from the posts
     1. pre-riding the course. it enables you to pace yourself properly 
     on the first lap as well as suss out the obstacles etc.
     2. getting your bike prepped up early.  don't leave it to the day 
     to find out your spare tube is kaput. (i did - thanks to the LBS 
     guys to sort me out with a spare)  also having a second tyre set 
     would have been useful - my Panaracers were a bit sluggish in the 
     sandy soil
     3. keep out of trouble at the start.  don't go off in the crush and 
     risk a spill/DNF.  it's better to catch and pass the guys on lap 3 
     - much more satisfying!
     * some things we discovered in addition to the useful posts:
     1. talk to other riders before the race about the course - but 
     don't let them wind you up about "12 ft drop-offs with broken 
     bottles and hungry wolves at the bottom". pre-ride the thing. make 
     your decisions about which bits to ride, and which bits to run, and 
     stick to them.
     2. don't be freaked out by the tricknology on show.  ultimately, 
     it's not the bike's name that gets the good spot on the results 
     sheet, it's the rider's.  we saw loadsa bikes much better than ours 
     in the fun race, and we got beaten by guys on lesser steeds than 
     ours in our own! and good for them!
     3. if you're coming up to a single-rider technical section, and 
     you've got slower riders to pass, either pass them early or hang 
     off.  there were a couple of accidents where faster guys were 
     brought down by accidents to slower riders in front because they'd 
     not left enough air for emergencies.  also the slower riders would 
     spill because of the faster guy being too close!
     4. don't take unnecessary risks in the last lap and ruin all your 
     good work!
     5. camelbaks not bottles
     6. this course was about ten big climbs and descents with three 
     wooded technical sections.  we thought the best plan was climb in 
     the granny and use the rear cassette to find your best speed - not 
     try to middle-ring everything and blow up. plus, if you've got a 
     bit in reserve, you can power over the top of the hill, crank up 
     your big ring "widowmaker" and get away fast.  we noticed that 
     people take breathers at the tops of hills and lose the advantage 
     they had from middle-ringing it!
     7. ask people pushing their bikes up hills to let you have the 
     best line if you're still riding - they usually will
     All-in-all we had a great time - racing really is the thing to put 
     some variety into your rides, sharpen up your reflexes, test your 
     real fitness level.  i wouldn't do it every week, but then i 
     wouldn't ride the same singletrack every week either!


Subject: 4C.  Mountain Biking Dictionary

   Compiled by Doug Landauer
   There's a little Internet history behind this dictionary. In February
   ('95), Tom Purvis, from Colorado State, posted a message to the newsgroup that said, in part:
     Offroading needs more lore. More culture. More vernacular. [...] Let
     us use the 'net for something really valuable -- let's compile a
     list of bikey slang. Biff, face plant, gravity check, endo; those
     are pretty good terms, but let's get some of the really clever ones.
   So a lively thread ensued; and I assume Jerry Dunn made another,
   similar request a bit later. He (Jerry) summarized some of it in
   April, for a book he has in the works...
     Thanks so much for all the responses to my request for off-road bike
     slang, for my book ( -- to be published in fall 1995). Here's the
     summary I said I'd post. (Any corrections? Please e-mail me: Thanks for everything! You're a great group of
     people, very helpful, articulate, and funny. All the best -- Jerry
   Jerry's summary is in the exact style of, and is almost a total
   superset of, a list that my brother Mike sent me by e-mail in May or
   June (some of the entries were edited down; only one was added). He
   said he'd found his list in the LA Times Sunday magazine. The format
   and wording is too similar to be a coincidence. So ... a question for
   Jerry Dunn, I guess: did the LA Times Mag article appear under your
   byline? (I'm just curious.)
   Jerry's original chapter title was "Off-Road Bike Riders Offer a Crash
   Course in Slang".
The Mountain Bike Dictionary

  - A -
   air n. space between the tires and the ground. (Both tires must be off
   the ground or it isn't "air".)  Said to be caught or gotten.  See sky.
   ano adj. frequently-misspelled abbreviation for "anodized".  See
   ATB n. All-Terrain Bike or Biking.  A synonym for MTB.
   auger v. to involuntarily take samples of the local geology, usually
   with one's face, during a crash.  See face plant.
  - B -
   bacon n. scabs on a rider's knees, elbows, or other body parts.
   bail v. to jump off in order to avoid an imminent crash.
   betty n. any female rider.
   biff n. a crash. Synonyms: wipeout. v. "I biffed and then wiped away
   the blood."
   biopace adj. a now-discredited Shimano techno-fad where the chainrings
   were intentionally made non-circular--instead, they were elliptical,
   in order to (allegedly) smooth the power delivery, by giving the rider
   an effectively lower gear for part of the spin cycle.  Now used to
   describe any uneven pedaling motion.  Also used as a synonym for
   boing-boing n. a bike with full (front and rear) suspension.  Might
   possibly be considered offensive by certain owners of said bikes.
   bolt-on n. a woman with breast implants.  Derived from the term for
   after-market bicycle parts that are literally bolted on.
   bonk v. to run out of energy or grow exhausted on a ride. "I bonked so
   early it was embarrassing."
   bring home a Christmas tree v. to ride (or crash) through dense
   bushes, so leaves and branches are hanging from your bike and helmet.
   See prune.
   BSG n. acronym for "Bike Store Guy".
   bunny n. 1. same as betty, but used to emphasize the female rider's
   body; could be considerd insulting to some. 2. female novice rider.
   bunny hop v. to lift both wheels off the ground by crouching down and
   then exploding upward, pulling the bike with you.  Useful for clearing
   obstructions, such as curbs, potholes, logs.  Differs from its older
   BMX & trials meaning -- see jump.
   buzz n. euphoric feeling.  Commonly used after a particularly hard
   passage is successfully completed.  "I got such a buzz after that
   uphill grunt."
  - C -
   carve v. (from skiing) to ride with great speed around the corners of
   a twisting fire road.
   captain crash v. to "go down with the ship".  Usually the result of a
   novice spud-user failing to clip out in time.
   cashed adj. to be too tired to ride any farther;  bonked.
   chainring tattoo n. the dotted-line scar you get from gouging your
   shin on the chainring.  See rookie mark.
   chainsuck n. condition when the bike chain gets jammed between the
   frame and the chain rings, or when the chainring is so worn that it
   holds onto the chain and lifts it up to meet the incoming part of the
   clean v. to negotiate a trail successfully without crashing. "I
   cleaned that last section."
   clipless adj. misleading name for a pedal-and-shoe system where the
   clips or cleats clip onto the soles of special shoes.  Called
   "clipless" because you can't see the clips when you're clipped in.
   Contrast with toe clips.
   clip out (or, sometimes, click out) v. to disengage one's spuds.
   cloon n. slamming into the ground, resulting in a ringing head, or a
   delay in the action.  Term used in biking, skiing, and snow boarding.
   corndog v. to become covered in silt, usually after a fall.
   crotch-testing n. sudden impact between a male rider's private parts
   and something very hard and pointy, such as a handlebar stem or seat.
   curb grind n. expensive erasure of low-hanging, shiny parts of the
   bike on a curb or rock.
   curb slide v. to place the front wheel up on a curb and allow the rear
   tire to scrape along the curb, usually resulting in a loud tearing
  - D -
   dab v. to put a foot down in order to catch your balance on a
   difficult section of trail. "I made it without crashing, but I had to
   dab once."
   death cookies n. fist-sized rocks that knock your bike in every
   direction but the one you want to proceed in.
   death march n. a ride that turns into an investigation of your
   endurance limit.  "The bridge was out, and I had to go all the way back
   the way I came.  So the morning's nice, easy ride turned into a Bataan
   death march."
   dialed in adj. when a bike is set up nicely and everything works just
   digger n. a face plant. "Look at that guy on that gnarly single
   track... he's going to go over the bars and do a digger."
   dirt bike n. an off-road motorcycle.  Usually louder than MTBs.
   drillium n. any part with lots of holes drilled in it to make it
   dual-track n. a dirt road used by four-wheeled vehicles rarely enough
   that their tires have made ruts that became parallel singletracks.
   Also called doubletrack.  See singletrack.
  - E -
   endo n. the maneuver of flying unexpectedly over the handlebars, thus
   being forcibly ejected from the bike.  Short for "end over end".  "I hit
   that rock and went endo like nobody's business."  See "superman".  In
   BMX riding, "endo" used to be a synonym for front wheelie.
   engine n. the rider.
  - F -
   face plant n. hitting the ground face first.  "Joe hit a tree root and
   did a spectacular face plant."  Synonyms: auger, digger, soil sample,
   spring planting.
   first blood n. credit to the first rider in a group who crashes and
   starts bleeding as a result.
   foot fault n. when a rider can't disengage his cleats from the pedals
   before falling over.  See horizontal track stand.
   fred n. a person who spends a lot of money on his bike and clothing,
   but still can't ride.  "What a fred -- too much Lycra and titanium and
   not enough skill."  Synonym for poser.  Occasionally called a "barney".
   front wheelie n. what endo used to mean in BMX: a trick where the
   rider applies the front brake and lifts the back wheel off the ground;
   this is the basis for many BMX tricks. Most riders cannot pedal
   effectively while doing a front wheelie.
   FS or F/S adj. an ambiguous term, can mean Front Suspension or Full
   Suspension.  Not used by anyone who wishes to be understood.
  - G -
   giblets n. all the colorful parts and pieces that you can add or
   change out on a bike.
   gonzo adj. treacherous, extreme.  "That vertical drop was sheer gonzo."
   granny gear n. the lowest gear available on a bike, which only a
   grandmother would need to use;  designed for steep uphill climbing, but
   extremely easy to pedal in on flat ground.
   gravity check n. a fall.
   grindies n. e.g., "All that dried mud and sand left me with a loud
   case of the grindies in my drivetrain."
   grunt n. a very difficult climb, requiring use of the granny gear.
   gutter bunny n. a bicycling commuter.
  - H -
   half-track n. a trail so narrow and/or overgrown that you'd hesitate
   even to call it singletrack.
   hammer v. to ride fast and hard. n. someone who hammers.
   hardtail n. any bike with front suspension but no rear suspension.
   Contrast with rigid and F/S.
   HOHA n. Hateful Old Hikers Association.  "HOHA members hate mountain
   bicyclists with a fervor exceeding that of rabid wolverines."
   horizontal track stand n. a foot fault that happens at a stop sign.
  - I -
   IMBA n. International Mountain Biking Association.  An organization for
   trail advocacy.
   involuntary dismount n. a crash.
  - J -
   jump n. or v. where we now say bunny hop, BMXers used to say "jump".
  - K -
   kack n. an injury to the shin received while doing trials, a kack can
   be the result of any injury receive during technical riding.
   kick-out n. a bunny hop in which the rider pushes the back tire to one
  - L -
   LBS n. acronym for "Local Bike Shop".
   line n. the desirable path or strategy to take on a tricky trail
  - M -
   male blindness n. when a male rider watches a beautiful female ride
   over rough terrain and stares intensely at all the jiggling parts,
   making him too dizzy to see straight when it's his turn to ride the
   same terrain.
   mantrap n. hole covered with autumn leaves, resembling solid earth and
   effective at eating the front wheel of the unsuspecting rider.
   Marin n. (muh RINN') the county in Northern California where MTBing is
   said to have been invented.  Just north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
   mo n. momentum. "If you don't get in gear at the bottom of that hill,
   you'll lose your mo."
   mojo n. charm or icon worn by a biker or attached to the bike.
   MTB n. the activity of MounTain Biking.  Or a mountain bike itself. v.
   "MTBing".  See ATB, OHV, ORV, VTT.
   mud diving n. what happens when a bike slows abruptly in mud, throwing
   the rider into wet goo.
  - N -
   nard guard n. used to prevent wang chung.
   nirvana n. the state of being in absolute control and totally in tune
   with your bike, the trail, and your physical strength.  "I was just
   doing it all so smoothly and delicately and quickly, it was nirvana!"
   Synonym for The Zone.
   NORBA n. National Off-Road Bicycling Association.  They organize most
   of the larger races.
  - O -
   OHV, ORV n. Acronyms for Off-Highway Vehicle and Off-Road Vehicle.
   These have motors and are not bicycles.
   over-the-bar blood donor n. a rider who is injured while doing an
  - P -
   pogo v. to bounce on a full-suspension bike like a pogo stick.  Also,
   for a full-suspension bike to bounce annoyingly and uncontrollably.
   poser n. derogatory term for people with $7,000 bikes that never see
   an actual trail.  Usually found near a trail head and never dirty.
   Seinfeld may be an example.  Synonym for fred.
   potato chip n. a wheel that has been bent badly, but not taco'd.
   powerslide n. a two-wheel sideways slide, with the foot opposite the
   direction of travel kept on the ground.

Brian Adams []
  prang v. to bend or dent a bike/body part
   prune v. to use one's bike or helmet to remove leaves and branches
   from the surrounding flora.  Usually unintentional.
   purple ano adj. anodized aluminum in purple.  Some riders need to
   obtain as much of this as possible.  It comes in other colors, but they
   are of no consequence here.
   push-push n. 1. a novice's pedaling motion, consisting of alternately
   pushing each foot down, instead of spinning. 2. a Shimano techno-fad
   shifting system.
  - R -
   R&D[/b] n. Ripoff & Duplication, or Research & Development.
   rag dolly v. to wreck in such a way that one's person is tossed like a
   flimsy scrap of cloth.  "Did you see me rag dolly back there?  I think I
   pierced my ear on a tree branch."
   retro-grouch n. a rider who prefers an old bike with old components
   and isn't fond of new, high-tech equipment.
   'rhoid buffing n. going down a hill so steep that your butt touches
   the rear wheel.
   rigid n. a bike with no suspension.
   roadie n. a rider who prefers riding on paved surfaces.
   road rash n. large abrasions on a rider's legs and body caused by a
   crash, particularly on asphalt.
   rocket fuel n. the mandatory pre-ride coffee.

Gary Koerzendorfer [] added:
  ROMP n. "Responsible Organized Mountain Pedalers", a Silicon Valley
   organization teaching MTB skills, organizing rides,  and active in
   trail politics.  "" mirrored at

   rookie mark n. chain grease on a rider's pant leg.  "Give that guy
   extra points for his rookie mark.  It's even on the wrong leg!"  See
   chainring tattoo.
   roost v. to go fast or accelerate quickly.  Or, to stop suddenly.
  - S -
   singletrack n. trail just wide enough for one person or bike -- the
   MTBer's holy grail.  Contrast with dual-track.
   skid lid n. helmet.
   sky v. to jump extremely high.  To get big air.
   snake bite n. a double puncture of an inner tube, caused by hitting an
   obstacle too hard or by under-inflation of tires.
   snowmine n. an object hidden by snow on the trail.  "Be careful of the
   snowmines -- you know, rocks, logs, hibernating bears..."
   soil sample n. a face plant.

   spin v. smooth pedal motion.  Opposite of push-push.
John Stevenson []
    SOPWAMTOS abbrev, n Society Of People Who Actually Make Their Own Shit -
    loose (so loose it's amazing it hasn't fallen apart) US organisation of
    small framebuilders and component manufacturers. Members include Yeti,
    Arctos Machine, Ibis.

   spring planting n. a face plant.
   spuds n. "SPD" (Shimano Pedaling Dynamics) clipless pedals.
   stack n. crash. v. crash.
   steed n. your bike, the reason for your existence.
   stoned adj. describes a rider after a crash which imbeds stones into
   the rider's skin.

   STI adj. "Shimano Total Integration" -- a marketing ploy that forces
   you to buy new brakes when you replace your shifters.
   superman n. a rider who flies over the handlebars and doesn't hit the
   ground for a long time. This may result in injury, but when it
   doesn't, it's really funny for everyone else.
   swag n. the stuff that manufacturers and vendors donate to be given
   away at bike related events.  When you race, go to bike shows, help put
   on events, write bike articles, you are often rewarded with swag.
   Sometimes called "schwag".

  - T -
   table-top n. a jump in which the rider throws the bike sideways in
   mid-air.  Less commonly, a jump made over a hill that reaches a plateau
   and goes back down.
   taco v. to bend a wheel over on itself, in the shape of a taco.  "I
   taco'd my wheel, and it cost me a hundred bucks."  Worse than a potato
   tea party n. when a whole group of riders stops and chats, and nobody
   seems to want to ride on.
   technical n. a section of trail that is difficult to ride because of
   rocks, tree roots, steep drops.
   techno-fad n. a screwy or unique technology that a dominant company
   (usually Shimano) tries to foist upon the innocent cycling public.
   Past techno-fads include Biopace chainrings, and overly complex
   "thumb-thumb" or "push-push" shifters.
   techno-weenie n. a rider who knows more about the newest MTB parts and
   techno-fads than about the trails.  Someone who buys lots of gadgets to
   add supposed iotas of performance to the bike.  Greeting a friend whom
   we haven't seen in a year, I might say "Hi, Marta!"  A techno-weenie
   might say "Oooh, you got White Industries hubs on that bike now?"
   three-hour tour n. a ride that looks like a piece of cake at the
   outset but turns out to be a death march.  Derived from the theme song
   to "Gilligan's Island."
   ti n. titanium. Some riders would replace their watches, rings,
   glasses frames, and gold tooth-fillings with titanium if they could
   afford to.
   toe clips n. a clip-and-strap system that connects a rider's feet and
   toes to her pedals.  Toe clips usually don't require special shoes.
   track stand n. (from road-cycling) a maneuver where the rider stops
   the bike and attempts to remain standing.
John Stevenson []
   Er, oddly enough this term comes from *track* cycling.
   trail swag n. equipment or accessories dropped by other bikers and
   found on the trail.
   tricked out adj. when a bike has the latest and hottest components.
   tweak n. a jump during which the rider twists the handlebars back and
   forth in mid-air, the more times the better. v. 1. to slightly injure
   a part of the body or the bike in a crash.  "I tweaked my wrist when I
   fell." 2. to make a minor adjustment.  "My brake pads were rubbing but
   I tweaked the cable and it went away."
  - U -
   unobtanium adj. describing a bike or accessory made from expensive,
   high-tech material. A play on "unobtainable" and "titanium." (Unobtanium
   had been used for decades before the advent of mountain bikes, both in
   auto racing and in the space program.)
  - V -
   vegetable tunnel n. a singletrack that is heavily overgrown with
   foliage, so a rider must duck and bend to get through it.
   VTT n. Velo Tout-Terrain, the French term for mountain biking. Velo =
   bike, Tout = all, and don't even ask me about terrain. :-)
  - W -
   wang chung n. what you might get when your stem has no nard guard. See
   washboard n. small undulations of the soil surface that make for a
   very rough ride.
   wash out v. to have the front tire lose traction, especially while
   going around a corner.
   weight-weenie n. a MTB owner (not even necessarily a rider) who is
   more concerned with how many milligrams a certain component saves off
   the bike's total weight than with how to be a better rider.
   wheelie n. lifting the front wheel off the ground, usually with some
   combination of pulling on the handlebars, pedaling harder, and
   wild pigs n. poorly adjusted brake pads that squeal in use.
   wipeout n. a crash. v. ("wipe out") to crash.
   WOMBATS n. "WOmen's Mountain Biking And Tea Society", a Marin-based
   organization founded by writer and former MTB racer Jacquie Phelan.

   wonky adj. not functioning properly. "I bailed, and now my wheel is
   all wonky and all I hear are wild pigs."
  - Y -
   yard sale n. (from skiing) a horrendous crash that leaves all your
   various "wares" -- water bottles, pump, tool bag, etc. -- scattered as
   if on display for sale.
  - Z -
   The Zone n. a state of mind experienced while riding. You don't think,
   you just do.  A truly mystical experience that can't be fully
   explained, but when you get there you'll know it and strive to reach
   it again.
   zone out v. a state of mind where you think you've reached The Zone,
   but you really just stopped paying attention to what you're doing.
   Usually used as an excuse for a particularly embarrassing biff.
Cast Of Characters

   Contributors(for the dictionary):
   Jeff Deskins (
   Jerry Dunn ( author of forthcoming "Idiom Savant...")
   Alan Goldman (
   Catherine Heggtveit (bz328@FreeNet.Carleton.CA)
   Doug Landauer (
   Mike Landauer (
   Dave McSpaden (
   Mike Mitchell (
   Todd Ourston (
   Tom Purvis (
   Rob Sutter (
   Maintained by Jim Frost.


Subject: 4D.  Mail order vs. Local Bike Shops

-Before buying from mail order firms, check to see if the product is
 really cheaper from them than from your local bike shop(LBS).  Make
 sure you add up all the shipping charges.  Sometimes some of the LBS
 will match mail order prices.

Mail order, pros and cons:
-Mail order can be cheaper than buying from LBS.
-Some mail order companies support local events.     
-Some of them can send you parts faster than a LBS can order.
-You can't see what you are buying.  You must know really what the 
 product is.  Hint: Run to the LBS and check out the product before 
-Some mail order companies are real bad on ordering.  They will tell 
 you something is in stock, then two days later, they will tell you 
 it's on back order.  
-Sometimes your product can get lost/damage in the mail.   
-You have to install the product yourself.
LBS pros and cons:
-can sometimes give you great deals.  
-They are usually the ones you get advice from, so why not buy 
 something from them.  
-You can actually see what you are buying.
-Sometimes it's real expensive.  
-They might not have what you want.  
-In some areas, the number of LBS's might be limited.
-Customer service might be even worse than some mail order firms.  

Some added:
Brian Adams []
Having good LBSs is desirable, so support the good ones when you can,
even if it cost a little extra.  If everyone bought only mail order, there'd
be no more LBSs.  (No, I don't work for a LBS.)


Subject:  4E.  MTB Commuting

-The best improvement you can get is installing slick tires.  These are 
 tires with very little treads and are usually more narrow.  If you are 
 going to install narrow tires, be sure that your rims can accept them.
-Install a rear rack.  This will help you carry most of your accessories 
 without changing the bike's handling characteristics.
-Remove all removable objects when locking the bike up.  Items such as 
 lights, seats, and bags should be removed, since they will get stolen a 
 lot.  If locking up in some very "bad" areas, remove all quick releases.
-Install fenders to avoid getting splashed.
-Make sure you have a good lock(s).
-You can deface your bike, but it doesn't work all the time.  
 Professional bike thiefs can spot a good bike from miles away with or 
 without the paint/stickers/tags/etc.

Some added:
Peter Greaves []
-Look for off-road routes to work if you can. use canals, 
 backstreets, waste ground. just stay off the roads.  If it's a bit 
 longer, at least you get the extra training mileage.
-Don't wear a personal  stereo ; it's too dangerous.
-If you can't be bothered to change tyres (slicks-]offroad) consider 
 a cheap set of wheels for commuting.  You can also experiment with 
 gear ratios too if you go this route.


Subject:  4F.  Weight Lifting
Please consult your physician before attempting weight lifting, also, 
please train with another person who is more knowledgeable in weight lifting
so that he/she can show you the right form for the exercises.  Start
out slow and easy, do not attempt to use heavy weights until your body
is acustomed to the workout.

Weight lifting is a great way to train for mountain biking.  Mountain biking
is very demanding on the whole body, not just the legs.  By strengthening
the body, the rider can ensure a better ride, with faster speed, better 
control, and less fatigue.

I cannot recommend any specific workout, but I will out line the current 
workout that I have been doing and I have been receiving good results from
Remember that everybody's body react differently to different exercises,
please do a little customization on the routine and workout frequency
to suit your needs.  For more info, please refer to

There are a few common myths about weight lifting.  One is that by lifting
weights, someone might get so muscle bounded that they might not be able 
to have full range of motion, or he/she might be slow.  When you look
at a football player, he is very muscular, but no one is going to call Emmit 
Smith or Barry Sanders as slow.  Yes, increase muscularity does restrict
some motion, however, you can easily counter that effect by stretching 
before,  during and after weight lifting.  I stretch after my warm up, then 
stretch between sets and after the whole routine is done.  My flexibility 
has actually increased. Another myth is that weight lifting can cause 
earlier heart failure.  This isagain false.  Assuming your heart is in 
very good condition, you should not have too much trouble lifting 
weights, however, I do recommend you to consult your physician before 
starting weight lifting.  If you have problems during or  after weight 
lifting, stop and seek medical help immediately.  Some people
claim that weight lifting can make them too big and that is usually not 
desired for mountain biking.  This might be true to some people, however, 
unless you are genetically gifted, you will not find yourself looking 
like Mr. Universe after a few months of lifting.  If you do, please 
consider switching sports to bodybuilding.

OK, the workout that I follow is called HIT, or High Intensity Training.  This
is a very high intensity workout that is done for very short duration of time.
Instead of doing multi-sets of an exercise, I only perform a few sets, 
however, that set is done to ultra high muscle intensity.  For example, 
when I do leg presses, I first warm up, I then put on about 85% of my 
maximum leg press weight on the machine.  I then proceed to perform as 
many strict repetitons(reps) as I can.  When I cannot continue to do 
more, I quickly remove a  little weight and go back and do more.  I keep 
doing this until I go down to about 50% of max.  When you do all this 
without any real rest, you will be extremely tired.  For a more detailed 
explanation, please refer to the HIT FAQ.  I only perform the below 
workout twice a week.  All exercises are done without rests in between.

The exercises I perform in my workout are the following:
Stationary cycling for 10 minutes 
light push ups 20x
light lat pull down 20x
the above 3 exercises are done to warm up the body.
Leg Press --1 set of strip set, from 85% of max down to 50%
Leg Extensions--1 set of pyramid up, from 50% to 100%
I start by doing as many reps as I can with 50% weight, I then have my
partner add more plates, and then proceed to do more without more than
20 seconds of rest.  I keep doing this until I cannot lift anymore.
Stiff legged dead lift--1 set of 12x
Calf raises -- 1 set of 20x
Bench Press -- 1 set of 12
Lat Pull down -- 1 set of 12
Bench Press -- 1 set of 8
Lat Pull down -- 1 set of 8
The above 4 exercises are done back to back without rest.  I usually use 
very heavy weights so that I need assistance when I'm at the 11 reps and 
I have  to force myself to do the 12th.  Please do not use force reps 
until you know what it is and how it will work for your body(again, 
check the HIT FAQ).
Military press -- 1 set of 8
Upright Rows -- 1 set of 12
Tricep press down -- 1 set of 8
Barbell Curls -- 1 set of 8
Wrist curls -- 1 set of 8
Cruches -- maximum.

All exercises are performed to positive failure, meaning until I cannot 
lift the weight up an inch.  This is a very difficult routine for most 
people, so please understand your limits and act accordingly.  

I cannot stress this enough:THIS IS MY ROUTINE, THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE!
Check with your physician before starting.  Also, READ THE DISCLAIMER AGAIN!


Subject:  4G. Knee Pain

J Wesley Prince []
Below is the reply I sent to Tom regarding his knee pain. Thought you might
want to consider it as FAQ material for anterior knee pain.

Sorry for the late reply. I am way behind on the list and still trying to
catch up. Anterior knee pain is generally thrown into a catch-all category
described as patello-femoral syndrome. A precise description of where the
pain is located, what makes it better and what makes it worse would be
helpful. I will make my best guess without the benefit of an exam. Just from
the most likely diagnosis is patellar tendonitis. Often brought about by a
sudden increase in training (or a difficult race with mucho gear pushing?).
It is usually quite benign and easy to treat. I hope it is much better now
but if not, let me know. For the benefit of yourself and others I will
outline a treatment / rehab regimen for this disorder:

1. The pain is your body's way of telling you something is wrong. Therefore,
the most important thing is to stop (if you are racing, consider stopping
the race or at least go into spin mode and stop the gear pushing). A severe
pain means "stop now or you will be sorry!"  A DNF sucks but so does
Arthroplasty and subsequent rehab.

2. Ice the knee for no more than 20 min (E-mail me if you need an
explanation for why longer is NOT better when it comes to icing injuries).
Do this as frequently as possible during the next 48 hrs allowing 1-2 hrs
between treatments. Avoid walking up stairs and hills and much walking
period if possible. If there is swelling you can wrap the knee but keeping
it elevated (higher than the heart or you are not really elevating it) is
the preferred method. Obviously if you have to go to work, wrapping will
have to do. 

3. NSAIDS like aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxyn (Alleve) are the mainstay of
treating musculoskeletal injury. Different substances work better on
different people. Ibuprofen works as well as all those very expensive Rx
brands and is dirt cheap to boot. For an acute injury, 10 days of 1600-2400
mg per day is need. These are not headache doses, but are need for injury
inflammation. Divide into three doses and take it with food. If you have
trouble with stomach acidity (ulcers, gastritis) you may cause a bad flare
up so avoid these meds (tylenol is fine for pain but is useless as an
anti-inflammatory). If you have kidney disease also avoid these meds.

4. When you are pain free in normal walking start to easy spin on the wind
trainer or a nice flat area in a low gear. Just turn the pedals over for
15-20 minutes or so the first day. Stop if you have pain. Ice the knee after
the ride as above for a couple of ice cycles. Progress your riding as
tolerated, maintaining a pain free workout. If you continue to have pain
with minimal effort and have done what you were supposed to do (as above)
it's time to see the orthopedist (a sports medicine specialist if possible).

5. Cycling overdevelops the middle and lateral groups of the quadriceps
muscles and virtually ignores the vastus medialis. This is because the
medialis is resposible for the final 10-20 degrees of extension of the knee
as well as keeping the patella from tracking too far laterally. To protect
the knee you should not be extending beyond 15-20 degrees shy of full
extension in your stroke. You can palpate this muscle on yourself. Feel that
little bulge above the knee on the inside as you extend your knee. It
doesn't get hard until almost fully extended (unlike the other groups more
lateral). You can strengthen this muscle to help keep the patella on track
by doing straight leg raises with progressive ankle weights. This will help
to ensure midline tracking of the patella as you cycle and hopefully prevent
later injuries. Anyone with patellofemoral syndrome type pains should be
augmenting their vastus medialis. It almost always helps!

6. You must be fit-kitted unless you are using clips and straps without
cleats. If you use cleats, take a moto-tool and hour-glass them. If you use
power-grips, time to go to clipless. It you are clipless, make sure you have
rotational freedom. The new shimano pedals work well as well as Onza (for
rotational freedom, not for action). Bee-bops, speedplay and others also
have good freedom. Ritchey's have pseudo-freedom that is not smooth and in
my opinion worthless in this regard. Back in early Sept I posted a how-to on
adding rotational freedom to shimano 737's. If you are interested, let me
know and I will try to dig it up and forward it (a moto-tool is required). I
personally believe that everyone should have at least 7-10 degrees of float
and some absolutely require it. This is easily ascertained while going
through the fit kit procedure. If the bars float back an forth as you pedal,
you set the cleat in the middle of the float and tell the person they need
pedals with float. The more they waver, the more float is needed.  Ignoring
this will most likely send you to the orthopedist somewhere down the road.

N.B. (note well) The information provided above is provided without the
benefit of a physical exam. The Physical Exam along with X rays and other
studies are sometimes very important for arriving at the proper diagnosis.
While anterior knee pain is usually quite benign, there can be serious
etiologies for the pain which demand medical / surgical intervention. Severe
or prolonged  pain, marked swelling about the knee, a locking of the knee,
any instability of the knee, the inability to bear usual weight on the knee,
and a knee which worsens or does not improve within 1-2 days of conservative
therapy needs a prompt medical evaluation. In addition, any popping heard or
felt at the time of the injury needs prompt medical evaluation.


Subject:  4H. What to Carry

A good ride kit is very essential for a safe and fun ride.  First thing 
first, don't bring anything that you are not going to be able to use.  
For example, if you don't know how to fix a flat, bringing a patch kit 
will not do you any good.  It is recommended that you learn the basic 
skills that are needed for first aid and basic bike repairs.

Items for short ride:allen key and wrenches for all the nuts and bolts 
on the bike, tire levers, pump, patch kit/tubes, chain tool, cresent 
wrench, zip ties, duct tape and a small first aid kit.

For longer rides, you might consider adding cables, brake pads, food, 
water, a bigger first aid kit, crank remover, spare spokes, casette 
remover, and extra clothing.

To carry these items, you can use a fanny pack, jersey pockets, bike bags, 
backpack style hydration systems and so on.

Subject: 4I.  Mountain Bike IRC Channel

There is a channel on IRC for mountain bike discussion--#mtb.  Lots 
of people are on, people ranging from rookies to expert, shop owners and 
mechanics and everything in between.  Discussions are always lively.  
Topics include riding skills, equipment, and everything about mountain 

Subject: 4J.  MTB mailing list

The mountain biking mailing list is a part of the velonet.  Discussion on 
this mailing list include everything that has to do with mountain 
biking.  To get more info about the list, please go to: and check for international mailing lists, or 
send an e-mail to, with no subject header and the 
message line of 'info mtb'.

Copyright (c) 1997


Vincent Cheng**2nd Year Mechanical Engineering Co-op**University of Alberta
Creative Web Catchers HTML Designer*
Edmonton Bicycle Commuters Society*
Columnist-Gearhead MTB e-zine*
Columnist-Edmonton Oilers Hockey*