Switching among bikes

First off I must say that you website is a daily visit for me and I appreciate all the time and effort you put into it.

I have been biking steadily for just over 2 years now. I started with a Kona Shred and now I have an 05 Bighit FSR as well since I discovered my passion for extreme sports carries over to DH as well. My problem is that when I switch between the bikes they feel so different that I almost kill myself in certain scenarios. Do
multi bike owners try to keep to specific hardware or configuration to avoid this feeling? Will I eventually get used to the feeling? Any tips or tricks are greatly appreciated.

Thx Lee.
Dan the Man

The more you click, the more I can post. Lee Likes Groceries dot com!

Hey Dan,

“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

I always loved that quote. It tells me that, while consistency is cool, foolish consistency is not. On your bikes, strive for consistency, but don’t be foolish.

Consistent setup: Try to rock the same bars on all your bikes. If you’re hardcore, rock the same stems too. Brian Lopes runs a 27-inch Easton bar and 70mm stem on all his bikes — 4X, DH, XC, AM. I have a mishmash of bars, but I almost always run a 50mm stem. Use the same grips and controls, and set them up identically. Oh: Make sure your suspension is set up correctly. I’ll bet you $1 million that it isn’t.

Flexible technique: If you worry about the position of your feet, butt and hands, every bike will feel different. If you rock the leelikesbikes style — find your feet, keep your hands light and ride from the middle of your bike — every bike feels the same.

In a given week I’ll ride my P.3, SX, Enduro SL, Demo, GSR Hardtail, CRF250R, CRF450X and other random bikes (especially in clinics). I balance on the pedals (or pegs), and let everything else flow from there. I can ride just about anything with the same level of proficiency.

BTW: This principle of balance works in skiing, yoga, picking up groceries and riding bulls. I’ve done that last one a few times, and it feels just like DH!

Have I said BRAAAP?

— Lee

7 replies
  1. Chris says:

    Firstly, I am astounded that Lopes runs a 70mm for everything. It was mentioned here the other day.

    I do the same as Lee and have for years. I found different length/rise stems were the biggest contributor to what you are feeling (once I quit flat bars). Pick which bike you like the set-up most, and after coming back from a long ride on it when it feels second-nature, set up the second bike. The difference will be obvious, especially the angle of the bars. I find when I am setting up a bike, popping wheelies and doing very tight, low-leaning slow turns on tarmac really shows if the new set-up matches the old. Try some extreme angles forwards and backwards on the bars that feel completely wrong and why will help get perfection.

    Oh, Lee, congratulations on the wedding, mate! I’ thrilled for you. I wouldn’t trade my wedding ring for all the bikes in the world!

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    BTW: Lope’s 4X bike is longer than you’d expect. I think he dialed his position way back in the early ’90s, and he’s been rocking it ever since.

  3. Chris says:

    I suspected as much because there was no choice back then.

    Aaah, the early ’90s… when having an anodized purple 200mm Ringle stem meant you were king. Will that trend of having matching colored bar-ends, brake calipers, stems and skewers ever return?

  4. Mark says:

    What Lee said about setups is right. Keep ’em dialed into your preferences and every one of your bikes will feel like home. I can hop from my brakeless Fly BMX bike to my Demo 8 just fine, because both have 28″ wide bars and a setup that feels comfortable to me.

    I used to have the same problem is you, but if you focus on proper technique as Lee also mentioned you’ll be fine.

  5. m-dub says:

    I jump between 50,70,90 stems on my bikes because of the drastic top tube length differences and intended uses. This keeps them pretty close in feel. But I do stick with the same brand and width bar, grips, levers and all my bikes and have zero problem jumping between them.

  6. Nick says:

    I run 27 inch bars on my dirt jumper and 25’s on my 5 inch travel trail bike and no problem switching between them but I find that running the same rise bar does a lot for making me feel at home on all my bikes.

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