WEAR STIFFER SHOES
Wait, increase stiffness to be more comfortable? Yes, it’s counterintuitive, but flexible
soles don’t work well with a harsh-riding
bike. They do a poor job of isolating your feet
from the vibrations that cause hot spots and
discomfort. If you’re not riding with them
already, try upgrading to a pair of clipless
pedals. The added stiffness of clipless-compat-ible shoes will not only improve power transfer, it will keep your feet and entire lower
body more comfortable. While you don’t need
to run out and buy the latest carbon-soled
wonder shoe, it’s important to pick a shoe
that functions well on the bike rather than
one that’s comfortable when you’re walking
around the shop.
CHECK SUSPENSION SETTINGS
The importance of proper setup seems obvious, but we’re constantly
amazed by the number of experienced mountain bikers who ride with
poorly setup suspension. Yes, your suspension is designed to have sag,
and yes, if you’re uncomfortable, your suspension is probably too stiff.
Try experimenting with different suspension settings in a controlled environment, like a section of trail you know by heart. Your ideal setting may
surprise you. Depending on the trail conditions, we may run suspension
with as much as 30- to 40-percent sag, even on lightweight trailbikes.
FIND THE RIGHT SADDLE, NOT THE BIGGEST
Finding the right saddle is a very personal quest, and bigger doesn’t always mean
more comfortable. In fact, we know plenty of big riders who have been profession-
ally fit to some of the smallest saddles around, and they swear by them. If you’re
not sure what you’re after when shopping for a new and more comfortable
saddle, instead of just throwing a dart at the wall and hoping for the best,
have your bike shop mount a couple on your bike before you buy
them. If you’re extremely particular about your saddles,
try a fit system like Specialized’s Body Geometry or
SQlab’s Active system. These saddle-fitting sys-
tems measure the width of your sit bones
and select the correct saddle for you.
Lower pressure in your tires creates a
softer cushion against harsh vibrations.
Unfortunately, if you’re running tubes, these
lower pressures will leave you more vulnerable to pinch flats. The simple solution is a
tubeless setup, which will allow most riders
to run pressures as low as 22–30 psi. Not
only will this improve small-bump compliance, it will increase traction and control and
dramatically improve performance. We’ve had
our best results with the tried-and-true Stan’s
conversion kit, which comes with everything
you need to convert a standard, tube-style
wheel to tubeless.