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By datafunk - Posted on 23 February 2016

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.


I am contemplating on upgrading...

been riding a basic hard tail (Specialised rockhopper, base model) for the past three years...

doing ok, but I'll never become a trail monster, a DH head or a racer
on occasion I would like to keep up with mates, at least when we're going downhill...

People say a decent dually gets you ride better (I know, I know, some fitness does wonders too).

Should I and if yes, what d'you recommend. (I am determined to shop from LBS, so that's primarily Trek or maybe Specialized - in order of prefernce.)

Hit me - and yes thanks for all the advice!


Duallies are fun. They give you a lot more control and stability on descents as the back tyre isn't pinging off all the rocks and roots.

That said a good hardtail is awesome too. Running a heavier tyre (eg full UST) with thicker sidewalls but at lower pressure helps take the edge off the square edge hits and trail chatter and improves grip.

The racer boys and wannabes (like me) go with 100mm but 120mm is great for all-round riding and doesn't give away too much pedal-ability, especially if you stick with a 29er.

I did a test ride on the Trek Fuel at OMV when they had a test day and felt instantly at home. Try and organise a test ride or borrow a mates if the size is right and buy the one that sings to you.

The only downside with a good dually is that the comfort factor is such that you can be seduced into doing stupid long rides just because you can. Make sure you negotiate an appropriate leave pass Eye-wink

Is that a 100-120mm rear suspension travel (and I guess similar on the front?!)

Yes, I think a test ride of sorts would be important before a purchase. If I get into it, I hope to get at least ten year out of a machine of such price bc I was eyeing the fuel ex 7 or 8, just unsure wether it's overkill given my abilities.

Comfort would be a huge plus, I tend to only manage 2-3 hours tops, I get soar neck and shoulders by that time, so looking to get a slightly un-sporty way of a higher handlebar position (slightly above my seat level)...

I've got a Fuel EX, it's an awesome bike. Pretty versatile, does everything from marathon racing, multi day stage races, to just tooling around the dam. Super fun bike and a great suspension platform.

Fuel EX is also slightly more upright position than more pure XC racing bikes.

Since you mention price - just be aware that owning a dual suspension bike tends to be more expensive in general! More moving parts, more to service.

While I understand the lbs loyalty, just make sure you find the bike model/brand that suits you. So test ride a few bikes and buy the one the feels right for you.

And yes, the dually is a lot of fun! Especially after swapping back from my fully ridged MTB. You will find you can ride longer on a dually and have less issues with a soar neck and back.

What am I looking at servicing a dually for a year?
With the hardtail, I prob spend $150 a year on maintenance, but that's just a guesstimate.

Hmm hard to say an exact figure. Depends on if you do anything yourself and how often you need a new drivetrain and do suspension service I guess. These tend to be the biggest costs I have found.

My service costs are a fair bit higher, I am a fairly high mileage rider though so not easy to compare. I have had to replace 2 shocks on my three year old bike for various reasons - they are not that cheap! Don't want to put you off just something to be aware of.

All my midweek riding is on the road on a roadie, but still I've managed to clock up over 3,500km on the Scalpel.

I run 3 chains in rotation which helps prolong the wear life of everything else for not much dollars. Usually the drivetrain lasts at least the life of my ownership of it using that strategy.

Air can seal service is DIY as are DU bushes. The parts are cheap. Major items would be frame pivot bearings and Lefty major fork service. I've never needed to do pivot bearings but some brands require it more than others or you can be unlucky.

haha I'm the complete opposite. Ride everything till it's completely flogged! Been through 2 shocks, a set of forks (and current ones are on their last legs), 3 or 4 drivetrains (at least!). Don't do any servicing myself.

Just over 10 000km though.

Checkout the Specialized Camber - its a great all rounder and basically designed for the type of riding you are describing. Comes with 110mm travel and easily changed to 120mm if you desire.

Also comes in a ranges of specs from full carbon to part carbon to alloy.

Flow has a couple of reviews on a variety of Camber models.

Re servicing - it all depends on your riding (how much and how hard). As a minimum - allow for chain & cassette, and fork / shock service should be no more than $500 at LBS - cheaper for DIY.

I went specialized stumpy in the end. It felt right, would do everything I was likely to do with it, and came with dropper post included in the price

Thanks for the advice guys.
One last question: what catches should I look out for when selecting model?

Please don't get sucked into the "regular service intervals". For some this may be every 2 or 3 years (maybe more) others will literally replace the cassette, chain rings, chain and bottom bracket every 12 months despite riding once per weekend (circa 1,500 km pa) just because their LBS recommended this.

My tip is to educate yourself with the wealth of info available, trial and error combined with buying the tools to DIY over time. There's no better feeling than carrying out upgrades/servicing yourself and having a result of a far higher quality than a large number of LBS can offer - remember - no one will love your bike more than you. Also, by having your own tools, you have another excuse to hide from your family in the Man Cave.

As for bike choice, there's tons to chose from. Just go with what you feel comfortable with to start with, and PLEASE....there's more on offer than just the Aussie LBS staple of Trek/Giant/Specialized...these three are the Holden/Ford/Toyota of the MTB world (now waiting abuse tenfold from respective owners).

Seriously though, once you get your first dually, you'll really appreciate what you've been missing - they're awesome.

... can of worms there.

After an underwhelming early experience I've tended to DIY most stuff ever since.

The industry would benefit from having recognised certification and competency standards.

Don't get me started on their habit of overtightening everything to billy-o. There's a reason manufacturers print and laser etch torque ranges on components and in the product manuals (especially where carbon is involved)...

Unfortunately, it's deemed not a trade/quality to have and therefore training schemes and apprenticeships don't exist. Imagine an ideal world where the average LBS mechanic genuinely know what they were doing and took pride in getting it right first time whilst backed up with formal industry qualifications.

It really grinds my gears (pun intended) when you see LBS' advertising disc brake bleeding at $50 per end. Seriously. $100 to bleed your brakes and you can do it yourself in less than 30 minutes with limited skill and the cost is cents worth of dot fluid.

Don't even get me started on "Basic Service"....we check your tyre pressures and tighten all bolts for just $79 (gear tuning is an additional $20 per end). GEAR TUNING....deep breaths, deep breaths.

Bike maintenance is not rocket science. although I'm sure Bike mechanics may think so.

sure a complete front schock rebuild is not something I would attempt. However the basics of changing the oils & air seals is a walk in the park once you've done it once.

It all depennds on where you Ride , how hard you ride & how many hrs you ride.

my expenses were as follows
Chain. 1000-1300 knm
cassette. changed evey 3 rd chain
shock seals. once every 12 months
Tyres. Front 3000km
Tyres Rear 1500 km that also depoends on which compound & tyre you use
Brake pads. 2000km? rear tends to wear just a bit quicker
Chain rings? 4000-5000 km?
BB 15000 km
Front lower bearing 18000 km but I repacked it once.
Suspension bearings. Just starting to wear out now. 20000km
stans tubless goo.... $30 every 2 or 3 years maybe...
inner & outer cables. 3-6 months depends on how much crud gets into them. & how often you ride in mud when you shouln't be. Also depends if you have a full cable all the way to the derailour, which I don't. Thanks Giant.
anti seize grease. I spent $20 on a tube years ago. Still have it. & ive trodden on it several times without the lid on it & wasted it a lot of it.

wheel acurate figures on that. I have XT wheels. Ive had them on the bike for a long time. They need sorting now. estimate 10-12K km? Thats a guess. The rear wheel is now throw away. Ive snapped too many spokes & keep replacing them the son has started using it on some big jumps. It should either be totally rebuilt or replaced. its not completely straight but close. Wheel building requires patience, skill & the right tools and is where I would be happy to pay someone for their skill personally.

It then also depends on what grade of equipment you decide to use. with chains, I used to use the higher grades but really, those ones wear out just as quick. they just don't start rsuting as quick as the ceaper ones. My bike lives outside. occasionally the chain starts to rust. Out of all the chains I think Ive only ever snapped one once.

One year I think I spent close to $1000 in maintenance (spare parts bought online). But that also included some upgrades

Invest in some good tools. Ive spent about $200 all up for the bike. most of it is in a complete box. & it gets used for bike maintenance only. I have a separate lovely toolbox for my car. & it only gets used for that.

lots of info on You tube. Sure it prolly doesn't show you the difference of trade secrets a mechanic may have but you'll work it out after a few times.
yes adjusting a rear derailour may be daunting for a complete noob. Have a go. Good Chance you'll stuff it up first time ( admit I did). just keep at it. You'll be fine.

having said all the above. Its a personal choice. Lots of people choose to pay someone to do it for them . It is entirely that. A choice.

That's the thing, I am not really the mechanical type, especially when it comes to rear gears or suspension (very vague idea of what's inside them - haha). Guess once I'd have a second bike, I could learn on the hardtail and still have a bike to go out with if I stuff it up and have to take it to the shop.

Thanks for the advice though (all and every one of you actually) - very much appreciated.

If you want to learn how to work on your bike without messing about with your expensive new toy, grab a freebie from the next Council clean-up. They're great for trying things out cause it doesn't matter if you stuff anything up. I managed to get a rusted old throw-away back in working order simply by pulling everything apart, getting rid of the rust & putting it all back together again with plenty of grease. Works great! I've even managed to rebuild wheels from scratch (with a little googling help) when some hubs were too far gone.
I now use this "Pub" bike to ride to the bus stop, when I need to go into the city, rather than leaving my pride & joy there all day.
(This decision was confirmed by the dickhead that decided to kick out a couple of spokes last week, thanks mate!)

Great idea!

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