Trailgrams: Hard Rides and Bike Repairs


Gary Fisher/Trek Hi-Fi Plus 29er

Riding my mountain bike through obstacles quickly gave way to more ambitious goals. I wanted to ride farther and longer. I wanted to get in better condition. I wanted to climb higher. But most of all, I wanted to go faster. I was starting to put a ton of miles on my $500 Trek hardtail. Unfortunately, I had no idea what this kind of wear and tear would do to my bike. My Trek 26er needed a lot of work. I wore out and replaced the chain, cassette, and chainrings multiple times. I upgraded the front fork. I broke spokes, got new wheels and replaced the inner cable sleeves.

I probably spent $1500 on my $500 bike, and it was always in the shop, which meant I wasn’t on it. The worst thing about bike repair is having no bike to ride! It became glaringly obvious that I needed a new and better bike, but there was just one small problem: my wife didn’t understand why I needed a new bike. She did realize that my bike and I were always in the shop. She also noticed the bleeding and bumps and bruises. But, she really didn’t think I needed a new bike.

After two years of riding that hardtail, I had my eye on a Gary Fisher/Trek Hi-Fi Plus 29er, which would cost me a whopping $2500! I’ll be honest; I didn’t know if 29-inch wheels would make for safer riding, but that was my story and I was sticking to it. I bravely explained to my wife that I needed to spend five times the money she spent on my original Trek on a new bike that would be better and safer for me to ride. “Honey,” I said, “it’s a safety issue.”

I may not have known it was true when I said it, but I was so right. I was pushing the limits of my 26-inch hardtail, experiencing nasty washouts and still going over the handlebars in tough technical sections. Riding the 29er seemed to cure 90 percent of the wrecks I was having. I loved the big wheels, and for the first time, I had full suspension. Compared to my tricked out 26er, my 29er felt like a magic-carpet ride. I was doing even longer and harder rides. I finally felt like a real mountain biker! But, there was so much more to learn.

Another loyal MBA reader

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