I was sent your link from a friend of mine regarding the ML-8. I am looking at a Durance and my concern is the amount of seat height change.
In your article, you have a diagram that shows a -1″ amount of seat height change at full travel. I don’t know if the exact geometry between the pivot points is the same on the Durance, but if it is, the 5″ of travel on the Durance (2007 XL is what I am looking at) would mean a -.77″ seat height change at full travel. Considering that I won’t be in the saddle when full travel is needed (does anyone do this? – I assume you would have your butt back and off the saddle), the amount of change in the 2″-3″ travel range would be .31″ to .46″ – I know that it is individualistic, but is that noticable? Have you heard of someone having ankle/knee/hip problems because of this amount of saddle height change?
My background is road and xc riding (hardtail only – never had a full suspension) and in this realm, seat height doesn’t change and is extremely important for effeciency, bike fit, etc. The mental side of me says that hard points on a bike that translate to biomechanical dimensions that don’t change, should not change.
Can you shed any light on this?
This is a great question. Let’s take it in two chunks:
1. Maverick bikes
I have some quality time on a Maverick ML-8 and a ML-7.5 (predecessor to the Durance). I really like both bikes.
The Maverick MonoLink suspension design yields very good pedaling efficiency and bump absorption. There are a few compromises: 1) The suspension gets stiffer when you stand. 2) There is a bit of chain growth and pedal feedback. 3) The seat height changes as you use the travel.
I hammered the ML-8 on my local trails with my normal riding partners. And you know what? The bike absolutely ripped. It descended almost as well as my DH-equipped Enduro, and it felt quicker on the climbs. The standing-stiffness was not an issue. The pedal feedback was slight. I didn’t notice the seat height changing.
– Here’s the detailed ML-8 review.
– I got to ride an ML-7.5 for a video shoot, and it was even quicker than its big brother.
Because the Maverick’s rear suspension yields very efficient pedaling, roadies and hardtailers tend to like it. I know several old school road/XC racers who ride Mavericks, and they seem very happy (and fast). You will never notice the minor pedal feedback or the change in stiffness. And I doubt you’ll notice the changing seat height. See below.
Arrange a test ride and see what you think. The Durance is right up there with the Stumpjumper, Blur LT, Turner 5-Spot and other high-end trail bikes. I would ride one in a hot second. (And I would wring it out!)
Rocking an ML-7.5, predecessor to the Durance. Notice that my butt is NOT on the seat. The post is a non-remote Speedball.
2. Real mountain biking
When I used to ride a road bike 10-15 hours a week, a 2mm change in seat height would ruin me. These days I ride all sorts of bikes at all sorts of seat heights, and my knees are thanking me. IMO, you’re in the most danger if you always ride in the same position. I mean, if you’re spinning for five hours, your seat better be PERFECT. I’ve never heard of anyone getting hurt by a variable seat height.
Real mountain biking is dynamic. If the terrain is making your suspension work, you should not be sitting on your seat. You should be standing up or unweighting, and I strongly encourage you to learn to pump terrain.
I’m going to assume you ride like a typical road/XC rider, which is to say you climb like a champ then hold on and survive the descents. I guarantee your butt is stuck somewhere near your seat, and you’ve never learned how to move on your bike. I say this because I’ve coached hundreds of riders just like you, and they all have the same issues. Heck, you don’t even know you have issues until you learn The Way.
If you’re going to step into the world of suspension, I encourage you to open your mind to a new way of riding. Some of the core principles:
– It’s all about being balanced and dynamic. This is the stuff I teach.
Once you’ve seen The Way, mountain biking is a whole new world. I still ride a lot of road, but this is hard to beat.
– Learn to ride with a lower seat, and learn to move all over your cockpit. These are the number one keys to better riding. The Maverick Speedball R remote seatpost is a must-have for your Durance.
– Pumping is just as important as pedaling.
1. Mavericks are fine bikes.
2. I doubt you’ll have any trouble with the seat-height thing.
3. Learn to really ride your new suspension bike (whichever you choose), and I promise a whole new, glorious experience.