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by W. K. Medlen, Huntsville Alabama
I am relatively new to the mountain biking scene, roughly one year. The shop in which I work deals largely with mountain biking, and so I jumped on board. Like many, I was on a budget, and so I built a Franken-Bike, investing in a wheelset but scraping by on the rest. I had trouble early on adapting to the contrasting riding style of what I was used to, especially on our local mountain. Most of the trails on Monte Sano resemble an ancient root system, peppered by nasty (and oftentimes "traveling") rocks. It is a blast. I have also had trouble with loving what I ride, and it seems others do as well. One person buys an introductory-level mountain bike so he or she can get out on the trails, then immediately wants an upgraded frame and wheelset, oftentimes spending the money on one soon after their first purchase. It usually goes on a credit card, and their first bike isn’t even broken in yet. Next they see that they can go even faster if the have a full suspension, stop better with hydraulic disc brakes, launch better with lighter and stronger wheels, and worry less about flats with a tubeless system. God forbid if they have standard 26" wheels and find out about 29er’s.
Now, don’t get me wrong. All of these things are great, amazing, and necessary to the world of cycling in the light of progress and fun. However, this does not mean that one should refinance their home to be able to afford these nice things. My opinion is that one should love what they ride and save their money and purchase upgrades or new bikes that are way too expensive but actually worth it.
My mountain bike is not the nicest out there by far. But aren’t we a little bit envious of the guy on an old mid-90’s Klein with ancient Avid rim brakes (which work damn well, btw) who looks like he’s having a helluva good time? Or how about the guy on an old titanium Diamondback (thats right, Diamondback) who just did a ride and talks about how much fun that it was? The best thing someone can do is love what they ride. Then there is no margin for frowning, or envy, or jealous spitefulness.
Cycling is an industry that is already full of its snobby elitists, and even they can’t touch the guy on his blue Klein Attitude Race. As a guy who loves to work and ride bikes, my advice is that you learn to love what you ride, budget and save your money, and spend it at a local bike shop on something that is ridiculously expensive; ask the guys at the shop, they’ll be honest with you on what you should get, what works best, and what works best for them. Whether it be a 20-year-old steel, fully rigid, or a brand new all-carbon full suspension, if you’re loving what you ride, then you’re doing it right.
In case you’re wondering what my bike actually is, here’s the DL:
Free Haro hardtail Flightline Two frame, old BB7’s with used discs and pads, thrown away downhill front tire, used downhill rear tire, Cane Creek headset from the used bin. I bought an Easton seat post, Specialized handlebars, Easton stem, an old used Manitou Relic spring fork and F.S.A. single crank that came with an external bottom bracket. I invested in a wheel set, however, one that would make a downhiller jealous. 48 spoke Phil Woods laced to Velocity Blunts with DT Swiss spokes. Purple hubs, purple spoke nipples, and purple Danger Boy Brake levers. Without the wheels, my bike would have cost less than $300.