Going Big, Clipped and Crusing
Q: I am 6-foot-2 and have an Ibis Mojo 3 size XL. I love the bike, but have issues with the rise of the handlebars and stem height. I have approximately 3 inches of spacers and a 100-millimeter stem at +5 degrees. I feel as if this is wrong, and I am looking for a fix. When I bought the bike, I asked the shop not to cut the steerer tube so that I could raise and lower the stem to my comfort. Friends are telling me that I may want to go to the Ripley, which has 29er wheels and a higher fork. Are there bikes out there that will help me with this problem? When I only use one or two spacers, I feel very bent over. I have been MTB riding for over 20 years, and this is my first full-suspension bike.
—Jeff Chetlin, who needs a big bike
A: It’s true that most riders taller than 6 feet prefer the feel of 29er wheels for trail riding. The 26-inch and 27.5-inch bikes are still options and come in several big frame sizes that will work, but the big “wagon wheels” of a 29er simply fit the frame better. For that reason, we’d be hard-pressed to steer you away from the Ripley. Coincidentally, one of our testers is 6-foot- 2 and had the new Ripley LS last month. Since Ibis built that particular bike with a longer front end, along with the big wheels, it might be just the ticket for you.
TO CLIP OR NOT TO CLIP? THAT IS THE QUESTION
Q: I have been a clipped-in rider for years but recently went back to flats. I can’t seem to keep from bouncing off the pedals on rough stuff. Can you help?
—Mark, who can’t keep his foot on the pedal
A: There’s certainly a skill set required to use flat pedals. While clip-in pedals offer an easier connection to the bike, it’s also easy to rely on that mechanical binding too much, which will limit your skill develop- ment. Sorry to say, but the only solution to your problem is to ride with flat pedals for a while until you become skilled using them. There are no shortcuts that we know of.
The upside to this, in our experience, is that any rider who can ride flat pedals is more skilled than one who can only ride clips. Learn to bunny hop, carve and ride tough technical terrain on flats and it will feel like you’re cheating when you go back to clips. Also, once you’ve learned the skills to ride with flats, don’t neglect to keep practicing them. We find it’s very helpful to migrate back to flat pedals at least a couple of times a season to keep our skills sharp.
Q: I’m wondering about the make/ model of your cool, green, double-top-bar single-speed with the front chrome spring shock.
—Ed O’Connel, who wants the coolest cruiser
A: It’s a custom bike that was made in the same factory where Black Sheep Bikes are built in Fort Collins, Colorado. A friend of ours, John Hubbard, built it. He welded the bike for himself but decided it was a little too big for him, so he sold it to us. It’s a complete one-off bike with a head tube badge that took Hubbard 40 hours to make. It’s one of our favorite bikes, and no, you can’t buy it. John has since left the bike-building world and, as far as we can tell, is now an art teacher at a college in the high country of Colorado.
That said, however, this was the first cruiser-racer-style bike that came out of the Black Sheep factory. It inspired those guys to build a whole line of bikes that are very similar to ours and equally cool. If you’re looking for a bike like that, get in touch with James Bleakley at Black Sheep. He’ll hook you up.
Thanks for reading, and thanks for taking the time to write in.
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