Flibye Racing- The Great Debate
I stole the following article. Seriously, I went to Flibye Racing's web page, read the article and copied all of it and pasted it right here. I don't feel bad about it (probably due to the beers I had earlier) and I know I will pay for it in beers later. You see, Flibye Racing is the creation of Steven Thompson, one of the good guys. Stevie T. is the real deal, a guy that grew up racing motocross and playing wiffle ball in the alley and he'll rail any trail better than you and then drink the victory beers faster than you. He is what you wish you were.
I met this joker a few years back and in the time I've known him I have come to realize that he is as real as they get. When it comes to bikes he knows his stuff and is always willing to help out whether it is figuring out how to dial in a techy line or kick you in the ass enough to keep you motivated for one more climb. I have had the pleasure of riding with Steve a few times in the past and every time it is unassuming and a blast, we both know he could crush the field and be relaxing at the trailhead with a barley pop well before we made it in, but he doesn't, he hangs out and rides with a much slower field...because he loves what it means to be a cyclist.
So with out any more of my blathering here is a great article from the man, the myth, the soon to be legend....
There has been a full fledged debate going on all year or more between myself and my riding buddies……
The topic is all fun, we aren’t talking about the greatest rock song of all time, or who is going to be on the cover of people as the worlds hottest couple, we don’t debate whether or not the Kardashians were the worst thing to ever happen to this country…. No we debate what the best bicycle would be if you could have only ONE!
I say if you had to choose just one because 99% of the people I know have more than one mountain bike, some have 2 mountain rigs and a cross or road bike as well. Some might ask why so many bikes, and to sum it up there are bikes that fit into each type of riding and each offers a different challenge while working different muscles or aerobic systems in a big way, Or another way to put it is it prevents burnout mentally and or physically from putting in hours upon hours on the same saddle.
I personally have read dozens of bike tests and still know what I knew from day one & that is you can’t touch a light 26″ full suspension for flickability and finesse & on the flip side once you get rolling not much can beat a hardtail 29er on a big long ascent.
So while I was spending a few days away from city life with my wife up in the Crested Butte area I woke up early one morning, actually it was the Saturday a.m. after the Blue Moon and I wandered out side from the killer room we had at the Grand Lodge , took a little early morning walk around the Village in Mt.CB snapping pictures of the moon, the village and the view down into the town of Crested Butte while reading upside down the painted words that the rabid fans in the area had plastered in a stylish way all up the road before the exciting stage 2 finish of the USA Pro Challenge Where T.J. Van Garderen essentially came out of nowhere to take the days win along with the coveted leaders yellow jersey only a handful of days before where I now stood.
So as I stand on the Bridge taking in the views and waiting for Camp 4 Coffee to open up I decided to launch my own test of what bike would best fit me and my riding style the best. When I got home I planned it all out to be as unbiased as possible and then chose 3 bikes all in different bike categories from different manufacturers to test out on a loop in my area that combines every element you could want to face on a bike. (climbing, technical, flowey etc) I went with a 23lb Hard Tail 29′er 100mm travel - A 25lb 26 inch full carbon, full suspension 120mm travel – and a 28lb full suspension, long travel 29′er 130mm travel.
I planned to race the loop to compare times and settle that own debate in my own head as to which is fastest, because with riding partners like the ones I have here in the CSprings you need to be fast at everything or you will get yarded at some or multiple points on any given excursion up a long climb or down a technical descent, so my goal is to find the best bike for myself. I am not a great climber I’m also not a bad climber, I have solid technical skills but I often dont trust my equipment in a given situation which will then mentally hose you from cleaning any section which at times and while riding with some of the local rippers has me walking the last part of a technical feature. My strong point is on high-speed descents, but as most know or figure out with logic…you spend a lot less time coming down than going up so I need a bike that will reduce my effort going up but still have stability at high speeds in the rough stuff and in tight techy stuff with big drops or transitions.
I do not intend to talk about or advertise the different brands that I rode because I don’t want this to turn into a discussion or “this brand that brand crap” I will say the bikes retail values varied between $3,000-$6,000 - all had top-notch components. I ran 2.2 tires front and rear on all three bikes, I ran SRAM 2×10 on all three bikes, turned my Garmin to data fields that would not skew my riding pace, I took in the same amount of calories and my sleep was consistent, the course conditions were mirror images of each other as was the high temps for each day. Below are my thoughts will riding them and looking back on the rides
Day 1 – Hard Tail 29er. Bike felt fast especially on flat or rolley terrain, handled well and turned responsively, I didn’t even really notice that there was no rear suspension but the biggest drop I did on it was about 4 feet.
Day 2 – All Carbon, Full Suspension 26″. Turns on a dime, accelerates well, breeds confidence in fast tight/technical sections but felt a little slow on the flat/rolley terrain.
Day 3 – Long Travel, Full Suspension 29er. Rolls fast, didn’t notice the weight except towards the end of a longer climb, you can just point and shoot it going downhill and it will eat everything up in its sight, Lets you roll down features with very little flat transition, felt big and sturdy.
So after 3 days on 3 different bikes I downloaded all the info from each ride at the same time and compared the laps and here is how it broke down much to my suprise: Fastest lap was put in on the long travel 29er, the second fastest was on the FS 26 and not far back was the Hard Tail. All laps were finished on the same minute with a 41 second gap from 1st to 3rd but only a 4 second gap from 2nd to 3rd. this course was taking me 1:17:08 to 1:17:49 to complete so four seconds is a crazy close margin.
Did I gain anything from this self test? I would say yes, it has leaned me closer to what I feel would best fit me as an all around mountain machine. It also taught me that a 3k difference in price is not going to buy you lots of speed, you might be better off using that 3k to stock your beer fridge for post ride recovery with your boys and girls.
In the end it boils down to this and my advice is
- Its 98% rider 2% bike
- Define your riding style (do you only race xc, are you the all day enduro type (I will refuse to use the other E word) are you a weight weenie or feel that the heavier stuff is more durable)
- Test out many different bikes, take advantage of ride and demo days and then buy the brand you feel comfortable on
- Compare price points and notes to the different bikes
- You can always upgrade components so if the bike of your dreams is more than you are comfortable spending but has the same frame as one in a lower category.. start with that one and upgrade components as your ability increases
- Support your local bike shops and get to know their staff, we have a ton of great bike shops in town who are willing to offer great unbiased advice from what they have seen and heard from the community and what will best fit you.
- The best bike is the one that fits you, not the one everybody on the club team rides, or the one winning the world cup, it’s the bike that is going to get you pumped for as many days in the saddle as possible.
- I want a job testing bikes