Durable bike for overseas military dude

Love your site a lot of great info. Quick question I want to buy a new bike and I need the toughest one you can think of. I am in the military and I travel a lot and not usually in the States. I don’t always get a chance to get to a bike shop. What is the most durable and work free bike for all mountain riding? gotta be tough…

Thanks Lee,

Hi Clint.

Good question. Let’s see here …

When you say “all mountain” I think of 5-6″ dual suspension bikes. Most of the proven designs are pretty durable. Specialized, Yeti, Santa Cruz, GT, Giant, etc. are all solid bikes. If you want to reduce the number of pivots, you could go with a single-pivot Orange or Morewood.

I’ve never had a pivot fail on a Specialized. Like I said, modern bikes are durable. But they do have a lot of parts. And you never know when a shock seal might go.

If you want the ultimate in durable yet ridable, go for a DJ hardtail with a coil sprung fork. Bikes like Specialized P.1s, Giant STPs and Norco hardtails are built like tanks. With a long seatpost you can ride ’em anywhere. No pivots, no air seals, no derailleurs. No funny business.

During the summer I ride all sorts of bikes, but in the winter I ride my P.bike almost exclusively. It’s super fun all over the place, and it’s indestructible (for me). I rode my old P.1 stock (except for a FOX fork) for four years, and now it’s stoking it’s second owner.

If you want minimal B.S., ride a DJ hardtail. Get one with a top tube length close to your XC bike.

No matter what you ride, learn to work on it. You can do most things on a modern bike with a small multi tool. Get one and learn how to use it. In the military you have to know how to strip your weapon, right? A bike is no more complicated — but it can still be a weapon.

This is my weapon, this is my gun
This one’s for riding, this one’s for fun

— Lee

5 replies
  1. Andrew says:

    Hey, Clint. Lee is the mountain bike master, but I want to add that the first bike that comes to my mind is the Brodie Holeshot. I used to own a Brodie Hellion, which is a little bro to the Holeshot, and I loved it.

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    That bike looks great.


    There are so many great choices. If I were in Clint’s position I’d look for:

    – Top tube akin to XC bike. But run a short stem.

    – About 69-degree head angle. Stable handling.

    – Short chainstays. Easy manualling.

    – Low seat tube but long seatpost. Ripping and pedaling.

    – Strong DH-style wheels.

    – DH tires with heavy duty tubes filled with Slime. No sense messing with tubeless in Iraq or wherever.

    – SRAM X.0 rear derailleur (if you do gears). It’s durable. It doesn’t hit the stay. The cable has no loop to catch stuff.

    – Coil-sprung fork. I’m partial to FOX Vanillas. If you get a good Rock Shox Pike, that’s a good choice. Marzocchis tend to be reliable. There’s one major brand missing from this list. That’s intentional.

  3. james says:

    I agree with above, maybe not full on DH wheels, something a bit lighter for the hill, and a X.9 rather than X.0, lots cheaper and a difference in quality most wont notice, at last check you could buy 2 x.9 for the price of an x.0. I have X.0 cause it was OEM but when it breaks im downgrading btw.

    But hard tails are lots of fun, people have forgotten the beauty of them. Also if your traveling around a lot you probably wont be hanging all the time in the bike Meccas of the world and the full sus can be overkill on a normal trail.

  4. Mark says:

    I would agree with a DJ hardtail.

    I would tend to look for something steel (that’s just preference, I like the compliance and reliability) from a respected brand that doesn’t have too many breakage issues. A warranty won’t do you too much good when you’re halfway across the globe.

    For a fork, a Marzocchi coil fork will be pretty much bomb proof. I’ve had leakage issues with Rockshox and Fox, and Manitous just suck.

    I would say go SS so that pretty much nothing can go wrong, and bring stuff that will eventually need replacing like tires/tubes/cables/housings/chain/chainring/cog.

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