Mike Curiak gets stuff done. He rides, paddles and takes great photos. He also tries out lots of gear which is the only way to see what works and what doesn’t. He posted some info on his main MTB ride [seen above] to his blog - it’s a Lenzsport Milk Money 29er with customized Fox ~160mm fork on the front. He also started a thread over at MTBR.com about the positive attributes of a heavier bike – especially in terms of wheels and tires. If you are pondering any upgrades to your mountain bike his perspective is worth a read as it may steer you away from the conventional wisdom that light is always right.
My main mountain bike has ended up looking a lot like Mike’s in that it’s a long travel FS bike that weighs a fair bit and has robust parts hanging off it. My path has mostly been determined by luck and what I could afford. I’m not as bike savvy as Mike C and I don’t have the opportunity to ride as many different bikes. But, I have been impressed by how capable and trouble free my Nomad has been for me. My latest upgrade to wide Velocity P35 rims has had a clear boost to my steering precision and traction at the cost of a slight weight increase. Occasionally when I am lifting my bike I think “Holy crap she’s heavy!” However, I rarely think about the weight when I am riding.
I wouldn’t trade my Nomad for a lightweight XC bike with less suspension and more fragile parts. The question is would I change my Nomad for another all mountain bike that was lighter, but just as tough? With a carbon frame and a better [ie. more expensive] spec I could shed 5lbs from the beast and get her sub-30lbs without losing the suspension travel or compromising the toughness of the bike.
Of course some would argue that a carbon frame isn’t as durable as a metal MTB frame. Certainly there are folks riding carbon Nomads and carbon Ibis Mojo HDs pretty hard without having them explode. Having not had a carbon MTB in the fleet I can’t say for sure. I’m at the point where I would at least give carbon bike a shot if it was from a brand with a solid reputation for quality.
On the parts end of the equation dropping weight means adding $$$. One benefit to my use of fewer gears on my MTB is that a 1 x 9/10 drivetrain is lighter and cheaper than a 2 or 3 x 9/10 since you can ditch the front derailleur/shifter/chainrings. It’s a little shocking when you use one of those bike builder programs and see how much more an XTR spec costs vs. SLX or X9. So my choice will be limited by price to some degree.
In the wheel/tire department I wouldn’t trade durability or traction to save weight, but I must admit 2.4″ tires on uber wide rims are not needed a lot of the time. I could live with 2.2″ tires on standard width MTB rims in the summer and still hook up just fine on our trails.
It will be interesting to see what my next full suspension bike looks like.
At least in the 6″ travel full suspension category of the mountain bike world it seems like the obsession with bike weight is fading from the bike culture. That’s a good thing. There is a lot more important stuff to worry about like suspension setup, geometry, bike fit and tire choices. These are things which will radically impact your ride experience for the better or worse.