Build & Trips on a '12 Trek Mamba 29er

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#31
I should've been more specific. The tires themselves work well. However, I have little-to-no clearance under the fork for the front tire or from the front derailleur to the rear tire. After a quick google, the max recommended tire size for the Trek Mamba out of the box is 2.1. Perhaps if I went to single front chainring, then I'd gain the necessary clearance to keep a larger tire.

What do you think? If I just have to get used to debris (leaves and such) getting stuck on the FD hanger, then I'll adjust my expectations. I've done WAY more road riding than mtb, so I'm very open minded.
My $0.02 is what ultraclyde said. Run the largest tire that comfortably fits. It's like your truck, you want a tire that stuffs in the wheel well without rubbing the frame or fender. So it is with a MTB, a tire that fits without rubbing a stay when you consider it packing with mud or in the case of touring bike especially if the rim is knocked a little out of true. I think you have a good handle on what you're after.

My experience is usually the max size means just that, the largest tire that fits normally without being so tight as to not function. Also remember that the diameter and casing width isn't anything like standardized, so one brand and model 29x2.1 might be the same as another 2.0 or 2.2, so there's some trial and error here.

I usually end up with a tire that is a little smaller than a specified max, e.g. a 2.1 when the shop said it *should* fit 2.2. Most of the time my frames end up with two bare spots on either side of the tire due to trying to figure out what tire works best.

And yup, you can often squeeze in a bit more tire by eliminating the front derailleur. I run nothing but single front rings. But I also run single rear cogs so clearance is purely driven by my frame.
 
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#32
Are the tires rubbing the fork / derailleur while riding? You mention leaf build up - does it keep the bike from working or is it just annoying? Leaves gettign snagged sometimes is part of it. They usually pop loose in short order, but if it's keeping something from functioning, that's a different problem.
I appreciate the insight, especially the tire pressure vs trail conditions. It is purely an annoyance, though I found out that the 2.3 doesn't function on the rear. With my experience being primarily on the road, with exception to riding central Texas (not a lot of leaves), my mentality is tuned to "quiet ride is a happy ride". Sounds like I need to adjust my expectations.
 
#33
My $0.02 is what ultraclyde said. Run the largest tire that comfortably fits. It's like your truck, you want a tire that stuffs in the wheel well without rubbing the frame or fender. So it is with a MTB, a tire that fits without rubbing a stay when you consider it packing with mud or in the case of touring bike especially if the rim is knocked a little out of true. I think you have a good handle on what you're after.

My experience is usually the max size means just that, the largest tire that fits normally without being so tight as to not function. Also remember that the diameter and casing width isn't anything like standardized, so one brand and model 29x2.1 might be the same as another 2.0 or 2.2, so there's some trial and error here.

I usually end up with a tire that is a little smaller than a specified max, e.g. a 2.1 when the shop said it *should* fit 2.2. Most of the time my frames end up with two bare spots on either side of the tire due to trying to figure out what tire works best.

And yup, you can often squeeze in a bit more tire by eliminating the front derailleur. I run nothing but single front rings. But I also run single rear cogs so clearance is purely driven by my frame.
Your analogy up top resonated as I came from jeeps to bikes. I'll keep it stuffed and deal with the leaves and stuff, chalking it up to the experience. Regarding the FD, I'll put it down on the winter overhaul. Due to how much I've already invested, I'm going to ride it for a while and build a list of things to do this coming winter. So far thinking go SLX, new wheels/tires (tubeless?). Everything else is pretty much good to go.
 
#34
I pick up leaves here and there. It's buzzy but they usually fly out in short order with a few bumps. If not, just stop and pluck em out. Especially when riding loaded, speed and low ET aren't really the goal!

DavidinDenver makes a good point about tire size varying too. You see the same thing in vehicle tires to a lesser degree, but at least they usually publish actual measurement specs in addition to some nominal "size." You sure don't get that from bike tire manufacturers.
 

Co-opski

Expedition Leader
#38
Sweet setup and thanks for keeping the post running. To answer the question from back in January. I have the Bedrock Bags Tappets bag on my handlebar made by a member here Andrew.
 
#39
EDIT: Trying to add photos, but photobucket is sucking and Google Photos links aren't working. Will try again later.

My first bikepacking trip turned into a humble pie eating contest. The 3-day Blue Ridge Wrangler ride was cut short due to safety concerns of being a first timer, being solo, and limited/no cell phone reception.

The good: The gear and packing were perfect. Everything aside from the tools, spares, and first aid kit were used. Items needed throughout the day were readily accessible in the stem/top tube bags. I didn’t need to open the handlebar, frame, or saddle bags until I arrived at camp. One caveat is that I forgot my helmet despite all the gear layouts. Not sure how I managed that.

The bad: I didn’t trust my own capacity for the work. Being solo and on my first trip, my confidence waivered when I physically started to fall apart. I made course alterations to try and cut distance off to the first camp site. The attempts were about the same distance, though I have no idea if it was more or less physically demanding. Lastly, I made a decision to not go farther away from my truck. By the time I made it to a campsite, I could’ve made it to the first stop on the designated route though it would’ve been way farther from my truck.

The ugly: I poorly managed my effort and hydration right out the gate. The first 8-10 miles was an overgrown, wet, and rocky single-track ascent. As my first ride, I was concerned that the entire route was going to be this difficult. At 3 hours, I had gone 10 miles and had drank maybe 1 bottle of water and had pushed to my threshold for a long time because I didn’t think I’d make the 43 miles to campsite 1. By mile 25, I couldn’t pedal on flats or uphill on gravel or asphalt. The long walk had begun.

All in all, I had a good time. Despite the full leg cramps that lasted 90-120 seconds and the long stretches of hike-a-bike, I’m grateful at how much I learned and that the gear that I’d researched and practiced packing all worked. Operator error may have cut the trip short, but it didn’t stop me from enjoying the views, the wild, and sense of adventure. It was just part of it. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed in myself for pulling the plug. My confidence in the research and route selection melted with the heat and cramping. However, I’m going to take the experience, perhaps some electrolyte tablets, and reschedule this same exact trip and conquer it.

https://flic.kr/p/268ZpM4
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https://flic.kr/p/27rqX5G
 
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#40
It's hard to gauge difficulty when approaching something like that with no prior experience. Even for a trail rider with a lot of time in the saddle, multi day loaded slogs over mountains in warm weather is a completely different animal. Living in an area that doesn't have real mountains to train in adds to that load. Pacing and gauging your output at the beginning is something that takes a lot of time to really get the hang of and even then it's easy to misjudge it and cook yourself. In time you learn how to manage the aftermath and recover on the trail when you misjudge it badly. Honestly, calling it off at the point you were was probably the smart choice, but it's never an easy one.

The learning curve is steep, but it sounds like you're making fair assessments and learning from it. That's how you do better next time, and you will. The first few rides are always an omnishambles.
 

Co-opski

Expedition Leader
#41
Glad you made it back to the truck. Remember that this trip just made you a tougher bikepacker through experience. I've bonked on trips, had catastrophic equipment failures, some injuries and plenty of hike a bikes. Every one is memorable except the one when my wife went over the bars and took a chunk out of her chin. She still blames me for taking her on that trip.
 

DaveInDenver

Expedition Leader
#42
Learning! I usually assume I'll make about 4 MPH average speed for route planning but consciously try to do 8 MPH when actually riding on the trail. It usually works out that I fall somewhere between them. It's very rare that I don't go much better than 4 MPH unless there's a major issue. With food stops, photos, just checking maps doing 8 MPH is actually faster than it sounds.

If things are going well and you're ahead of plan you can always just stop and enjoy a moment, talk to someone. Everyone as they start out thinks it's going to be like rec rides but only the serious studs can actually average 15 or 18 MPH and when they do it's ultra light endurance racing, not touring like us regular stiffs.

A couple shake downs and you'll get your load-out and routine and then you'll start having fun.
 
#43
Appreciate it, fellas. I really did enjoy the experience. After combing through the journal entries over a beer in the AC, I'm already looking for dates this summer to try again. The work capacity is there, just gotta be smarter about it.
 
#45
I hit portions of the C&O on a short overnighter from home. Took the urban route all the way to the start of the C&O up to just past White's Ferry.

The Good: I definitely did a lot better this trip. Given the heat wave (index at 112*), I stopped every half hour for water, and did a 45/15 minute work/rest cycle. Additionally, I stopped every 2 hours for an extended break. I was drenched in sweat from start to finish, but didn't feel terrible. Additionally, I met a lot of cool folks on the towpath. One guy was on his 16th trip to Pittsburgh. Another had done some incredible trips and gave me some tips on using Amtrak and other means to get me and bike places. Lastly, the local shops and rental booths along the route were awesome about giving cool water and a break in the AC.

The Bad: The only real gripe is from my Kelty Salidas 2 tent. Even without the rain fly, that thing would NOT breathe. It was, at my guess, 5-10* warmer in there than outside. Made for a hot, hot night. Speaking of campsite, I need to find something to do. I enjoy the act of riding my bike, but I feel like all I'm doing is waiting around at the campsite. I definitely need the break physically, but I need to find something to do when holed up. I wish I had brought a few odd and end items (towel to dry off after a well bath, bandana for sweat, etc).

The Ugly: That heat, though. Woof. It was mitigated, but it was brutal. I flirted with disaster on my way home by riding hard back to VA. For reference, I rode 52 miles from ~0645-1640 on July 1st. The next day, I rode 40 miles from 0615-1200. I gambled knowing that I was heading back to the comforts of home and AC, but I was definitely feeling it when I got to the metro.


Crossing I-95 in Springfield, Virginia


Sitting on the approach to Reagan National Airport


Crossed the C&O to get down onto the towpath in Georgetown


Awesome free bike loaner and mechanic station at Great Falls NHP


Ferry mock up at the visitors center


Great little camp sites with wells between mile markers 20 and 50. Great place to cool off, but not too long due to the bugs.



Grabbed lunch at White's Ferry. They have breakfast all day. I wish I had noticed that prior to ordering.


Was going to go for a swim.....


Camp for the night at Marble Quarry campsite.


On the way back


These and a front tube were the only casualties


Made it back to civilization, not that I was ever too far from it
 
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