Friday, August 13, 2010

Group Rides and Mountain Bikes

The Zep has a fast downhill in its future!
Tuesday Group Ride
I find that there's nothing like a group ride to push me a little outside of my comfort zone and make me ride harder and faster than I normally would on my own.  Suffice it to say that the ride this past Tuesday did just that, but that the Zeppelin was more than adequate to keep the pace! Not that every group ride takes place at race pace, but I can easily say that I out-descended everyone while on the Zep, and more-or-less kept pace on all of the climbs, except for maybe the gravel roads.

Sure, it could have been my strengths VS. everyone else's and not the Zeppelin's VS. the other bikes... but the Zeppelin really fits my riding style well.  I don't care about beating everyone to the top of the climb, but I hate using the brakes on the way back down!

I was thoroughly impressed with how the Zeppelin stacked up against bikes that cost over three times as much.  But then again, maybe its not about the bike but about the rider....
Tangent Alert
See, this is where bike and product reviews get sticky.  At times its tough to determine what factors are actually playing a role.  Is it one change I made, or another? Are my skills just stronger in one area, or is it the  bike?  Maybe one day I'm just not feeling it on the downhills... does that make it the fork, or the tires' fault?

What I Think
All I can really tell you is what I think of the bike.

And what I think is that after putting 245 miles on this rig, that it can tackle all sorts of gnarly trails. It is a pretty solid climber, and a very solid descender. Neither the geometry nor the suspension lead it to quite be a full-on all mountain rig, but rather a trail bike.  Still it can absolutely tear a rocky, nasty descent a new one! I've been loving this bike. This is the kind of bike that I can ride every day. 

Oh and I will... I have many more miles left to put on it!

Your Turn: What do you think? How much is the bike, and how much is the rider?

Meadow on top of the world.


Todd H. August 13, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

Great write up... I think comfort and fit make up the best attributes of a bike then the rider is able to rip it around...does that make sense?

eastwood,  August 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM  

I agree with Todd. I think it's the fit, comfort, and confidence you have in your bike - once you feel "right" on your bike - which make it the right rig for you.

Once you have the right fit on the bike (feeling confident in it's abilities to handle the trail), you're willing to push it that much harder. Sure some bikes are going to be made for downhill versus climbing, but an all around bike like the Zeppelin will allow for the confidence that it can handle the trail, the climb, and rule the downhill which then allows you to push yourself. And it is here that your skills will take you that much further.

So, I think it starts at ground level with the bike - when you have a solid ride that will handle where you think you are as a rider, then your skills will elevate it that much more... all comes down to confidence. I've found that there is a bigger mental aspect to mountain biking than you might expect. That gut check on this big downhill, drop, can I push myself on this nasty uphill, over rocks and roots or do I need to hike... all these thoughts can be mental blocks that will stop you on the trail... but knowing your ride can handle it gives you that extra little push to go for it.

Greg Heil August 13, 2010 at 12:26 PM  

Eastwood, I couldn't have said it better. You are so right on about the mental aspect!

Would you possibly like to write a guest post sometime?

Jeremy (GoldenGoose),  August 13, 2010 at 9:36 PM  

RE: Tangent Alert

FWIW, I think that the only way to fairly compare bikes is by having the same rider take them down the exact same terrain back to back. I really like the way BIKE magazine does their yearly reviews and also the way Element22 tends to do his bike/bike part reviews. Both of them take the bike to a familiar spot with the exact same setup so they can truely compare apples to apples. BIKE has their guys ride the same loop over and over with different bikes and immediately record impressions on a standardized form for later comparison. IMO, this kind of comparison riding is why it's imperative that people get out and actually ride a bike before they make a purchase. Demo days at your local trails are the ultimate comparison.

Greg Heil August 13, 2010 at 9:43 PM  

Totally dude, the guys from bikemag did an awesome job with this issue:

Also, I am so pro test riding before you buy, which is why I think internet-only companies like Airborne have a big hurdle in that respect. Someone recently posted on the Airborne page that they were looking for a place to testride one in Florida. I responded that they were only available through wish I had a better answer.

Also, I just got a new bike from Airborne, and had a little difficult choosing the frame size I wanted (& then I didn't get the size that I ordered... but ended up trying it and it fits well.)

ie test ride = the way to go.

eastwood,  August 15, 2010 at 6:28 PM  

Greg - sure thing man, I'm honored you'd ask!!!

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Greg Heil is the Editor in Chief for He's been writing and publishing online since before blogging existed.

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