Hardtail or full sus? 600, 275 or 29er? The complexities of modern mountain biking gets ever more, well complex. The choices of wheel and tyre sizes or suspension format are just two of many variations that your budget may allow. Given the fact that you can only guess at the terrain you’ll be asked to cover in an Adventure Race, it’s all down to personal choice and confidence. Oh and budget of course.
After struggling for the past few years of racing the Open5’s with a reasonably spec’d MTB, but one that was way too heavy and rigid, I decided to invest in something a bit better for the ITERA. So what choices did I consider and what did I end up with?
Weight is obviously the key determinant of the suitability of any bike. Roadies and I would count myself as one, sometimes, seek to shave every single ounce of weight from their machine. Carbon throughout is pretty much the norm for most club riders. We’ll ignore for the moment the temptation of Titanium (Ti) and the Hipster’s passion for retro steel. Countless hours of engineering design time is put into the art of frame building and the goal of ultimate stiffness.
Wheels, they’re the round things that keep the bike off the ground. They’re also the latest trendy thing to argue about when discussing bikes with your cycling friends. Instead of there being one size for roadies and one, smaller and fatter, size for mountain bikes, there’s now at least 3 sizes to consider and all of those in many widths and configurations.
The trend in MTB in general is for bigger wheels and lighter carbon frames, allowing full suspension bikes to be built for going up hill as well as down. The sol called Enduro bikes is where the most innovation is at the moment. But what for AR? The thought of full suspension on a long bike stage, and by long we mean 80km+, may sound attractive. However, with the complexities of suspension comes two things, weight and reliability or rather lack of it.
Weight is all relative but over a 5 day adventure race like the ITERA with over 250km of bike stages, or 400km for the long course any weight is going to take it’s toll on the rider. Similarly such distances will take it out on the bike. The more moving parts the more there is to fail or break. The old adage of KISS works here too.