November 2, 2018 at 2:01 pm #250502
I have a 2016 specialized rock hopper. I bought it two years ago when I was first getting into mountain biking. Since then I have done a handful of xterra tris and various MTB races around Charlotte, NC. I’m looking to do some upgrades. I’m not ready to pull the trigger to buy a new bike (would rather build up my current one.. unless anyone on here talks me out of it!). I’ve been told that wheels/tires would be the best place to start to do an upgrade. I’ve never ridden tubeless, but I’m guessing that would be a good thing to do too. What are some good value tires and wheels that you all would recommend? I’m riding all singletracks with some technical sections but mainly what you would expect for trails within 30 min of a city. Also, I have thought of converting by 3×8 to a 1×9 to make the bike lighter and not have to worry about the front derauiler. Thoughts?
November 2, 2018 at 2:31 pm #250503
I think a 1 x upgrade and new tires/ tubeless setup would be a good enough up grade for trail riding around Charlotte. This is all you need to be happy riding White Water Center, Sherman Branch, Ann Springs, Lake Norman and Uwharrie Forrest
Unless you just have to keep up with the Jones Family next door.
By the way Charlotte is becoming better for MTB by the day I’m looking forward to the Dixie River trail system opening up soon.
November 12, 2018 at 12:35 pm #250968
Thanks everyone for the responses. A few questions as a follow up…
rajflyboy, when do the Dixie river trails open up? And how do I keep track of the trails outside of tarheel trailblazers website or the MTB project app?
Plusbikenerd and TK34, what wheel width would you recommend? I rider a 29er and it came stock with 29x 2.1. I replaced one of the tires with a Kenda 2.2 and really liked it. I think my bike as a whole is a XC style bike over trail, but I want to make it as close to a trail bike as possible while I save to buy a nicer one. I’ve heard 2.25 as a minimum for the trails I typically ride. Would you agree? Also, are you both of the belief that I need to have a thinner one on the back?
Fredcook and JMZ. I think you both have convinced me to go 1x. I don’t need the total range, but I’d like it close. when I’m on trails I only use the second chain ring up front but I’ve started riding on road to get to the trails and that is where I really use all of the gears. I understand if I went 1×9 I could have the same range, just with bigger jumps. If I don’t want to deal with derailer extensions, what do you think would be most compatable with my 3×8? Also, which website would you recommend to buy a new cassette, etc?
November 2, 2018 at 3:01 pm #250504
In my opinion, no bike should be upgraded unless you are getting the parts for free and you can do the work yourself. Parts and labor cost so much that is easy to spend more than the bike is worth. It is smarter to save your money and sell your old bike and use the money to buy your next better bike. Buy a bike—ride it until it’s spent—sell it—buy a better bike—repeat. However, I make an exception for tires and a tubeless setup. The most important component on any bike is the tires and that is the one place you shouldn’t scrimp. If you want to put on a better set of tires and set them up tubeless, I’m all for it.
November 2, 2018 at 9:52 pm #250523
My opinions on upgrades:
1) Tires matter. I prefer Maxxis brand, but the specific tread depends on your trails. Minion is a good place to start. Lots of good choices. 2) Tubeless: Yes if you prefer low tire pressures (less than 25 psi) and your tires & wheels are compatible. If you prefer higher pressure and your wheels/tubes aren’t compatible, personally I would stick with tubes. 3) Big fan of 1X. I’ll never go back to front derailleur. 4) If your grips are worn, they are a cheap upgrade that will make a difference. 5) Consider a dropper post – they can get expensive, but there are a few models around $100.
After these, there is no shame in riding the crap out of what you’ve got and save your money for the next bike!
November 5, 2018 at 11:23 am #250604
TK34 list things out nicely. I tend agree with the tube/tubeless approach TK mentions. And I agree with considering a dropper post. That will open your riding up to another dimension, specifically on downward stuff. It’s also nice to be able to make slight adjustments on longer XC grinds. It’ll really add some versatility.
I’m also a fan of 1x, but if you convert, do the math (use one of the online gear calcs if needed). If you like the range you have now, get a cassette and front ring that matches what you have. If you’re on a 3×8 now and considering a 1×9, and want to keep the same over all total range, keep in mind that you’ll have more gap between some gears (bigger jump in teeth). Many 1x11s’ (and pretty much all 1×12’s) now have the same ~500% ranges 3x’s have while keeping close to same gaps. a 1×9 will just have to cover more ground between gears in that same range coverage.
November 12, 2018 at 12:12 pm #250965
I recently rebuilt my ’11 Specialized Stumpy 29. My favorite upgrade of all was definitely going from 3 x 9 to 1 x 10 gearing. I tried for a 1x 11 but the gear ratio was too wide. With an rear derailleur extension I was able to get 10 of them. If you buy a matched set the compatibility is better. Learn from my mistakes. Having only one chain ring up front changes the whole game on technical trails. Never look down again.
November 12, 2018 at 2:44 pm #250972
My opinion on tire width? Depends on your trail surface. If you tend to go more smooth and flowy, around 2.2″ is my preference running 25-28 psi (and tubes work just fine in this range). I like that the tire doesn’t feel like it “rolls over” in the fast turns. If you tend to go more rocky and rooty, go wider and drop the psi a little (and consider tubeless if compatible). As for running difference widths front vs. rear, my two cents that you might be over thinking it, but I’ll admit I’ve never tried (and doubt I will).
November 17, 2018 at 10:02 pm #251316
Before you go looking at wheels, you need to consider what kind of hubs you have. Thru-axle hubs of two different dimensions (Boost–the new, new thing, and non-Boost) are pretty standard now, whereas it appears that you have 9mm QR (quick release) hubs. Finding quality wheels with those hubs might be difficult (or maybe not, sometimes you can score some pretty good deals on obsolescent stuff). If you do indeed have 9mm QR hubs, then your new wheels, if you bought some, would probably be useless on a newer bike.
Other than “consumables” like tires and grips, the other meaningful upgrade would be an air fork. It appears that your bike has a Suntour coil fork. An air fork will increase your riding pleasure fairly dramatically. Suntour has an upgrade program for any coil fork (made by anyone) that can get you into an air fork for $200-250. And that’s about the point where the cost of upgrading starts to get questionable vs. buying a new, better bike.
1x is nice, but it’s kind of a fancy luxury and unless you are having a lot of problems with your chain slack and front derailleur, won’t “change your life.” An air fork might. With an 8-9 speed rear derailleur, it might be a bigger hassle than it’s worth.
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