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Upright "mountain biking" (kind of)

Old 08-17-22, 01:26 PM
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3d1l
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Upright "mountain biking" (kind of)

Hi,

So in another post I said that I got an ACDF surgery, three discs removed in total. Due to that surgery I lost lot of flexibility and not only that but I can bare to be forward inclined for less than a couple of minutes. So I configured my current crappy cheap and old bicycle to ride it in a tarmac trail in a complete upright position. Let me clarify that I don't practice any sport I just ride my bike for leisure. Then I saw people riding at the dirt trails and I want to ride there as well but to give you a proper idea, I'm not talking of a "real mountain bike trail", I'm just talking about very simple non-technical packed dirt trails, with some mud, gravel, small roots and grass here and there. Basically flat with some short slopes and easy to handle very small descents. No jumping, twisting, endos, bunny hops or wheelies. Hope you got the picture and yes, I know that for 99.99% of you that sounds totally boring but to each its own. Then I remembered that back in 2012 or something I read an article about a guy in UK that build bikes to be ride on very difficult terrain in an upright position. I did a web search and found couple of videos:
,
. The name of the builder (if he's still alive), is Geoff Apps. I'm almost sure that this topic has been discussed before here in the forum but anyways watching the videos I was wondering if that bike is really that good or if it is the ability of the rider, because you can see that he is going very slow over mud, creeks and all kind of other terrains with ease. It is as if the bike have some sort of anti-gravity device or in the other hand the rider is a very capable one, like an expert that combines the trail and XC disciplines. With the idea of a bicycle like that in mind I've been searching for options but to say that they are slim to none is a compliment. When I check at LBS they are mostly boutiques that care only to sell for "the sport" with limited supply for a customer like me and no it is not a complaint, I'm just stating the reality. So What are my options? What do you recommend?

P.D.: My current bike is not a real mountain bike is a 2003 Raleigh SC30. I just replaced the suspension fork with a cheap one with more travel (Suntur XCM V3) and also a large handlebar that is intended for a cruiser bike.

Last edited by 3d1l; 08-17-22 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 08-17-22, 07:56 PM
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The easiest way to get that in a modern bike would be to start with a salsa Fargo and swap the drops out for city bars. Check VO and Rivendell for city bats that will agree with the road sized brakes and shifters on the Fargo. The short top tube and tall head tube will make a very upright ride.
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Old 08-17-22, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
The easiest way to get that in a modern bike would be to start with a salsa Fargo and swap the drops out for city bars. Check VO and Rivendell for city bats that will agree with the road sized brakes and shifters on the Fargo. The short top tube and tall head tube will make a very upright ride.
Thanks I've been looking the Salsa bikes for years, sadly no LBS sells them here. But anyways I want suspension... wait no... I need suspension. I forgot to mention that on the crappy bike that I have I also installed a Cane Creek Thudbuster LT (the old version) suspension post:


in addition to the fork that I mentioned. With those two changes I feel a real difference in my body.
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Old 08-17-22, 10:11 PM
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My suspicions were not unfounded, this has been discussed previously in this forum [Read this if you want an upright seating position mountain bike]
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Old 08-17-22, 11:15 PM
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I'm typically hesitant to recommend a Cannondale with a Headshok - but if you could find an old Cannondale mountain bike equipped with a Headshok (in good condition of course) it might provide the upright position you are searching for

many of these bikes were ridden with the stem in the reverse ride position - so you could possibly get a more upright position with the stem 'flipped' (positive rise) and a riser handlebar
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Old 08-17-22, 11:21 PM
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Is your current bike still a good option ?

Are there additional changes that could enhance this bike ?
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Old 08-18-22, 04:34 AM
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Fat tires and low pressure will take the place of suspension for the riding you describe. A lot of new bikes have 27.5 x 2.8 tires that can be run at 15 to 20 psi. If you were local, I would have you test ride my surly pugsley with 26 x4 up front and 27.5 x 2.5 rear and sprung brooks saddle.
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Old 08-18-22, 10:35 AM
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I realize this is a "BMX" bike would definitely have an upright position

I have one of the 29" cruisers (A Big Flyer) and have ridden it on some easy trails -- no front brake on mine means you cant get too aggressive, but the bike i linked to below addresses that

SE Bikes Fast Ripper 29" – SE BIKES
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Old 08-18-22, 11:16 AM
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A mid 1990s bike is upright? These are the ones people ride today with huge bar ends sticking straight up like antlers.
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Old 08-18-22, 01:28 PM
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I agree with DL; locate a steel MTB from 1985 - 1995, make sure it fits well, then add an inexpensive suspension fork like the straight-steerer Manitou Markhor (if you want front suspension), and your Thudbuster (check that it fits the bike before you purchase). Then, install 5" or more rise bars and / or a 35 degree stem to provide an upright, comfortable orientation.
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Old 08-21-22, 06:55 PM
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Originally Posted by t2p View Post
Is your current bike still a good option ?

Are there additional changes that could enhance this bike ?
No, and it never has been. The frame is too small. I use it because that's all I have at the moment.

Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
Fat tires and low pressure will take the place of suspension for the riding you describe. A lot of new bikes have 27.5 x 2.8 tires that can be run at 15 to 20 psi. If you were local, I would have you test ride my surly pugsley with 26 x4 up front and 27.5 x 2.5 rear and sprung brooks saddle.
Ok, got your point

Originally Posted by J_Chickles View Post
I realize this is a "BMX" bike would definitely have an upright position

I have one of the 29" cruisers (A Big Flyer) and have ridden it on some easy trails -- no front brake on mine means you cant get too aggressive, but the bike i linked to below addresses that

SE Bikes Fast Ripper 29" SE BIKES
As I said, I'm not planning to do anything crazy. Thanks for the suggestion

Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
A mid 1990s bike is upright? These are the ones people ride today with huge bar ends sticking straight up like antlers.
Originally Posted by 2old View Post
I agree with DL; locate a steel MTB from 1985 - 1995, make sure it fits well, then add an inexpensive suspension fork like the straight-steerer Manitou Markhor (if you want front suspension), and your Thudbuster (check that it fits the bike before you purchase). Then, install 5" or more rise bars and / or a 35 degree stem to provide an upright, comfortable orientation.
You said "like antlers" Do you mean something like this? hahaha:


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Old 08-22-22, 05:59 AM
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Hi, I am the person who posted the videos at the beginning of this thread on YouTube. The secret of these bikes is their low-pressure tyres and when ridden out of the saddle the bicycle rotates over obstacles whilst the riders body does not. This is the same technique that BMX rider's use, so these bikes are basically large wheeled BMX bikes. However, ridding out of the saddle for long periods can be tiring and so nowadays long-travel sprung seat-posts like the Thudbuster, provide better shock absorption whilst seated. I personally like to attach these suspension mechanisms to dropper posts.

To achieve the upright riding position you need a frame with a shorter distance between the saddle and the handlebars than a standard mountain-bike. An easy way to to do this is to choose a small frame size and then use a longer seat-post, longer upright stem or a BMX stem and riser bars.

There are full suspension 26" wheeled versions of Apps' bikes that use old Giant NRS frames. I also like the idea of building a 27.5" 0r 29er version using an old KHS Prescot, Flagstaff or similar Horst-link XC frame as the smaller versions have frame geometry that are similar to Apps' own frames.

Geoff Apps is alive and well and his "Cleland Cycles" site can be found online.
His 'site' includes a page on spinal health.

Last edited by Graham Wallace; 08-22-22 at 06:04 AM.
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Old 08-22-22, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Graham Wallace View Post
Hi, I am the person who posted the videos at the beginning of this thread on YouTube. The secret of these bikes is their low-pressure tyres and when ridden out of the saddle the bicycle rotates over obstacles whilst the riders body does not.
Hey hi!, thanks for posting those videos. But it seems that he is very well seated when going over the mud and trough the creek.

Originally Posted by Graham Wallace View Post
This is the same technique that BMX rider's use, so these bikes are basically large wheeled BMX bikes. However, ridding out of the saddle for long periods can be tiring and so nowadays long-travel sprung seat-posts like the Thudbuster, provide better shock absorption whilst seated. I personally like to attach these suspension mechanisms to dropper posts.

To achieve the upright riding position you need a frame with a shorter distance between the saddle and the handlebars than a standard mountain-bike. An easy way to to do this is to choose a small frame size and then use a longer seat-post, longer upright stem or a BMX stem and riser bars.
I'm getting the idea and it seems to be a valid alternative to what I was thinking. You are basically describing what other member of the forum described in the other thread. Check it here. I was considering a Jones h-bar bend handlebar with an adjustable stem. I want to keep the elbows closer to my body:

What you are describing is something like this:

Photo obtained from the other thread

Asking everybody, What alternative you consider the best for the style of riding that I described at the beginning?

Originally Posted by Graham Wallace View Post
Geoff Apps is alive and well and his "Cleland Cycles" site can be found online.
His 'site' includes a page on spinal health.
Good to know, thanks for the info.
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Old 08-22-22, 12:53 PM
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By the way just in case. I'm asking for more feedback, even when there is that other post that tackles the topic, because on that other topic it seems that the OP wants to use a mountain bike more like in an "utilitarian way". I do want to use the bike at non-technical dirt trails. Then I found this video, that demonstrate maximum comfort with maximum technicality
.
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Old 08-22-22, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by 3d1l View Post
Hey hi!, thanks for posting those videos. But it seems that he is very well seated when going over the mud and trough the creek.
In the mudbike video the bike was fitted with a sprung saddle and the bike in the other video has a suspension seatpost. Both bikes are running large low-pressure tires in the region of 8 to 20psi on narrow rims, Whilst the rider is mostly seated he he is momentarily taking his weight off the saddle over sections that are rougher than the low-pressure tires can cope with.,

Originally Posted by 3d1l View Post
I'm getting the idea and it seems to be a valid alternative to what I was thinking. You are basically describing what other member of the forum described in the other thread. I was considering a Jones h-bar bend handlebar with an adjustable stem. I want to keep the elbows closer to my body:
Having the hand position in front or behind the steering axis creates what Apps refers to as the 'tiller effect' which makes the steering less precise.

Originally Posted by 3d1l View Post
What you are describing is something like this:

Photo obtained from the other thread
That looks pretty good though the Apps bikes use larger wheels, The handlebars do not need to be that high as it is the distance of the hands relative to the saddle that is important for achieving an upright position. Handlebars that are close enough to the rider only need to be high enough that the riders knees do not hit them.

FYI, This site will not allow me to post links or photos until I have made 10 posts.
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Old 08-22-22, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by 3d1l View Post
I do want to use the bike at non-technical dirt trails. Then I found this video, that demonstrate maximum comfort with maximum technicality.
Notice that the beach cruiser rider in the video is riding out of the saddle with his weight far back over the rear wheel. The bike us rotating under him whilst his body remains relatively still and his legs are bent to absorb rear wheel shock. Because he has little weigh over the front wheel it readily rides over obstacles and this puts less strain on the forks/frame.
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Old 08-22-22, 05:10 PM
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I should be able to post these links to Geoff Apps sites now.
Cleland Cycles - Spinal-Stuff
Landseer blog about Geoff Apps' most recent bike
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Old 08-23-22, 03:03 PM
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I ride this one in the woods all the time it has 1.85 tires, think if I went up some, it would be even better. It's a Trek 300 hybrid, nice and light and upright, rolls over stuff pretty good when I don't need a full on MTB.
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Old 08-24-22, 04:59 AM
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I remember seeing those Trek 300 hybrid bikes at my local bike shop and thinking that they looked like a comfortable ride. I especially like the stems that are adjustable by 90degrees or more. I have used this type of stem for 17 years without problems and use versions marketed as Satori or XLC. Beware the ones designed for road use as they can work loose if used off-road.


90 degree adjustable stem


I am not however a fan of telescopic suspension seatposts because most of the forces on the saddle come from the direction of the rear wheel and not the bottom-bracket.
Parallelogram type suspension seatposts like the Thudbuster are much better especially if used with a softer elastomer than the manufacturers recommend. One problem is that the elastomers harden at low temperature, so I use a softer grade elastomer in the winter.

There are a number of other parallelogram type suspension posts on the market but for off-road use go for a long-travel one that can be adjusted for suspension softness and pre-loaded for the weight of the rider. SR make a good value one that uses a coil spring inside the post and so works well at any temperature. The springs that come as standard on some makes are very stiff and only move when a large force is applied. These will do little to protect the spine from the continuous vibration commonly experienced when riding off-road.

For an even lower cost you can buy cantilever springs the fit between the post and the saddle. I have been using one of these for the past three years on its softest setting and it hasn't broken yet. A few reviews do report that they have broken, probably due to metal-fatigue, so they may not be ideal for heavier riders. When off the bike they look a little strange as the back of the saddle is higher than the front, though it levels off when you sit on it. One advantage of these is that they can easily be fitted to the top of a dropper seatpost.


Cantilever Saddle Spring

Last edited by Graham Wallace; 08-24-22 at 05:00 AM. Reason: Typo
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Old 08-24-22, 12:58 PM
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Freebird, Graham, tanks for all the suggestions.

Graham I read the articles you posted, very interesting. I think that I have the final cockpit setup, again is not only height I need my elbows closer to my body.

1) I will use a stem riser instead of an adjustable stem.
2) I will use a very short stem or BMX stem, probably no more the 50mm.
3) I will use the Jons H-bar bend or a similar handlebar. For example I saw the Soma Sparrow.

If it doesn't work I will try another setup. It will cost me money but for now I think that's it.
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Old 08-25-22, 03:40 AM
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Originally Posted by 3d1l View Post
Freebird, Graham, tanks for all the suggestions.

Graham I read the articles you posted, very interesting. I think that I have the final cockpit setup, again is not only height I need my elbows closer to my body.

1) I will use a stem riser instead of an adjustable stem.
2) I will use a very short stem or BMX stem, probably no more the 50mm.
3) I will use the Jons H-bar bend or a similar handlebar. For example I saw the Soma Sparrow.

If it doesn't work I will try another setup. It will cost me money but for now I think that's it.
Sounds good. Earlier you mentioned using a suspension frame. If you do, beware that converting a bike to a higher and further back riding position will increase the 'load-shift' that occurs with each pedal stroke. With an un-sprung frame this hardly matters, but can make a suspension bike rock back-and-forth (oscillate). I use the Giant NRS suspension system on my own bikes because the Horst-link and pre-loaded, dual-air shocks prevent this without locking out the suspension. Because of this my suspension bikes climb and accelerate as if they were hardtails. Using a pre-loaded, dual-air-spring fork, also means that you never need to lock-out or raise the pressure to stop the fork from bobbing.

Last edited by Graham Wallace; 08-25-22 at 03:42 AM. Reason: Typo
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