Bike upgrading : LUSENET : Mountain Bike Hash Forum : One Thread

Hi, my bike is bit on the beginners side. I bought Kona Hahanna due to the price & the frame geometry which I find to suit me good. After some rides, I found a few things need to perform better. I'm looking forward to upgrade the bike. Where do I start? I appreciate any advise.

In what manner do you differentiate between a lower grade derailleur and a upper grade ones. For sure it performs better & the price range concludes it. But how do we tell whether the systems performing or not?

How to choose a suspension fork? Where do I start?

-- Amir_yusof (, June 24, 2003


Response to Bike upgarding


You needn't worry too much about your bike being a little "beginner". Just make sure it's correctly set up to fit you.

Here's a little story which illustrates an attitude that perhaps we all might do well to emulate. My friend Sha, who started mountain biking in the early 1990s, bought his first mountain bike for RM600. He steadfastly refused to make any improvements to this bike. RM600 was all he wanted to spend, because he said that even if he bought a more expensive one, he wouldn't know the difference. And if after a while he decides that mountain biking was not his cup of tea, then he will not have lost more money than was necessary.

So he rode his yellow Montana, to FRIM, to Kiara, and even down Mondo Cool. He rode his bike from Kampung Kemensah to Lubok Tedung, and even to Sungai Chongkak. He rode his bike everywhere, and he rode his bike hard. The bike took the abuse, until the Merdeka Day holiday in 1993, when coming down some steep terraces near his house, he crashed his bike so hard that the head tube bent backwards and the top tube separated.

This broken frame became a badge of honour, and he finally considered himself worthy of a better bike. After several months of borrowing the spare bike of another friend, he ponied up for a KHS Team outfitted in full XTR and a Judy DH fork.

By this time, of course, Sha was no longer a beginner, and knew exactly what worked and what didn't and the difference between high- grade parts and the entry-level stuff.

Perhaps we needn't all be ascetics like Sha, but this little tale serves well to remind us that the bike matters less than the fact that we should RIDE and have a blast doing it. The knowledge of what's good and what's not will come in time.

Now, if after having read that you still want to upgrade your bike (and to answer your questions specifically), tell me why you think those parts of the bike "need to perform better". It's best to start there.

As regards your second question: Frequently, parts like derailleurs and bearing components don't necessarily differ in how they work: they all feel the same in the showroom. The difference is that the more expensive parts are more durable (they stay working longer) and are lighter because they're made out of more expensive materials.

3rd question: suspension fork; depends on how you ride, and how much you've got to spend, and whether you like to spend your time tinkering with your bike. If you are a cross-country rider, get a fork with 3-4 inches of travel. Make sure it has compression and rebound damping. More expensive models are lighter and more adjustable. If you don't like tinkering with your bike, a coil- sprung fork is better than an air-sprung one. If you've found one that you like, check out the user reviews of that fork on to make sure that there aren't any known problems with it. Typically, anything new will have some minor teething problems in the first production run.


-- Joe (, June 26, 2003.

Response to Bike upgarding

Hi Joe, Thanks again for replying and another thanks for the meaningful story about Sha. I agree with the morale of the story. I guess when I sent my queries, I was more like dissappointed with my last ride in Sg Jelok when the derailleurs didn't perform. This should explain further to the part "need to perform better". When I climbed, shifting to lower gears was good but when shifting to either skipped or responded late. I presumed that this should come under bike maintenance topic. Well, if you could suggest something should be better. Overall, I agree with you that spending more time with my bike shall be the most precious moment to get to know about it.

As for the fork, I'll just have to feed myself with more info. Gotta do some homework. On top of that, some forks that I find in our local bike shops varies in price though the model is same. How do we differentiate whether it's original or immitation? I might be buying an immitation product for the price of an original which happened to one of our fellow rider in the forum. Pity him.

-- Amir (, June 30, 2003.

Response to Bike upgarding

"When I climbed, shifting to lower gears was good but when shifting to either skipped or responded late. "
It probably means that you need to lube your gear cables and housing. What's happening is that the return spring on the derailleur can't overcome the friction in the cables, so the rear derailleur hesitates when moving from a big cog position to a smaller one.

Presumably you're using a normal derailleur, and not a rapid rise (or Low-Normal) version, where the spring tension tends to move the derailleur to a larger cog.

If you're using an XTR derailleur, turn your bike upside down and you'll be able to see a screw inside the derailleur parallelogram. You can turn this cammed screw to set the return spring to a strong setting, which will help overcome cable and housing friction. The downside is that shifts will appear to be less "buttery smooth", but instead snappier.

This illustrates the point that little things like this contributes to the higher price of the higher end components.

-- Joe (, July 01, 2003.

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