What bike should a big guy be riding? How much travel do I really need? How fat is too fat? The MBA wrecking crew uses its combined expertise to address these questions and more every month here at “Ask MBA.” All you need to do is visit our website— www.mbaction.com—and click the “Ask MBA” tab. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the link to ask your question.
BIKE ON A BUDGET
Q: I’m that old guy shocked over seeing the Bike of the Year costing $10,000! I’ve been reading your magazine for over 25 years. Well, this morning my bike was stolen in front of Starbucks while I was waiting for a grande Americano! I need some help to pick out a new bike.
I’m 60 years old; I run 5Ks, Savage and Spartan races, so I’m not a retiree! I now live in Florida (oh, for the days I lived in Argentina at the base of the Andes or in the mountains of New Mexico where I felt like I was the only mountain biker in southern New Mexico in the late ’80s, but I digress). Most of my riding now is speed riding around the streets, sidewalks and curbs of West Palm Beach. I do get over to one of the few mountain bike trails here now and then, and I was hoping to enter a mountain bike race this year. I like simplicity, so a 1×9 would be nice. I single-speeded the last few bikes.
Under $1,000 suggestions? Under $1500?
—Tom, who needs a new ride
A: If $1000–$1500 is your budget, a hardtail would be your best bet. That’s going to yield the best bang for the buck on compo- nents and, for your riding in Florida, will offer plenty of travel (even though it will only be in the fork). Take a look at the Giant Talon, Kona Honzo, Specialized Crave and Trek Stache. You can’t go wrong with any of those.
GOING WITHOUT TUBES
Q: Last year I upgraded to a 27.5-inch bike—a Ghost Kato. My old bike is a Scott Boulder with 26-inch tires and is now being enjoyed by my son in Washington, D.C. The new bike’s tires are tubeless, and I’m curious about what I should be taking with me in case I have a flat while riding. With a tubed tire, I would have tire irons, an extra tube and a frame pump, but I’m unclear as to what one brings on a ride in case of a flat tubeless tire.
—Karl, who wants to pack like a Boy Scout
A: You should pack exactly the same kit for a tubeless setup that you would for a tubed system. Tire levers, a pump or CO2, spare tube, and patches (just in case you double flat) should be fine. If you should happen to have a flat tire while running a tubeless setup, simply remove the valve from the rim and install a tube—just like you would in a conventional wheel. Then, when you get home, take a look at the tire and decide whether or not you need a new one. If you’ve flatted with a tubeless tire, chances are you’ve torn a sidewall and may need to replace it.
Q: I have a set of 2015 XT brakes, and I have to bleed them about every three months because a small amount of gas/air forms in the lines somehow. I see no leaks at all around the reservoir or caliper, so somehow gas/air is forming in lines. This is especially the case after I do a few long descents or a race where I’m harder on the brakes. The brakes have been bled thoroughly, and the pads and rotors are in great condition. I have other friends who experience this same issue with their XT and XTR brakes, so I’m not sure if it’s just the nature of the beast with the Shimano mineral oil. Thanks for any help in solving this mystery.
—Eric, who needs to stop it
A: Shimano had a known issue with some of its brakes from that same generation. They explained to us that the pistons had a coating that didn’t work quite right. While we won’t say that this is exactly the same issue we experienced, we’d encourage you to reach out to them. We had trouble with a couple of our test bikes, but it’s solved now on all Shimano’s new brakes. Bottom line: if your brakes are having issues, the Shimano guys will take care of you. Give their warranty department a call at (800) 423-2420.
Have a question for the MBA crew? You can send your brain busters to [email protected].
THERE ARE SO MANY WAYS TO GET MOUNTAIN BIKE ACTION
Mountain Bike Action is a monthly magazine devoted to all things mountain biking (yes, that’s 12 times a year because we never take a month off of mountain biking). It has been around since 1986 and we’re still having fun. Start a subscription by clicking here or calling (800) 767-0345.