The most versatile bike ever

When I become president of this great nation, I will put two dirt jump hardtails in every garage.

I love my Specialized P.3. I use it for teaching, errands, commuting, road training, pump, jump, urban and occasional light XC. I’ve thought that if — God forbid — I could only have one bike, the P would be it.

But what about trail riding? I sure love ripping me some rocky Front Range singletrack. Would the hardtail be too much of an impediment?

Yesterday I rode the Mighty at rocky Hall Ranch in Lyons, CO. I was riding with a hardtail rider, and I wanted to match his equipment. No sense me pinning a section on the Enduro then saying, “See? Go for it!”

Dude: The ripped!

Setup: FOX F100 fork set very stiff. 32t front ring with a road cassette. Geax Saguaro White Collection 2.2 tires.


– The bike feels much stiffer and more responsive than even my new Stumpy. Duh — it’s a burly aluminum hardtail.

– The 32×22 gear was way too much for the steep, rocky tech sections. But I could stand and pull the gear everywhere else.

– The 21″ top tube and 50mm stem felt cramped on the tech uphills. If I could have pulled the gear, I would have been fine.

Smooth descending

– The top of Hall Ranch is super flowy, and the was unbelievably quick. The pump factor was off the hook. Every little backside was like, BRAAAP!!!

– The Geax tires were awesome (40 psi front, 45 psi rear). They rolled plenty fast, and they hooked up very well on the hardpack. One thing I noticed was a complete lack of side-knob squirm. Bonus: I didn’t flat.

Rocky descending

– Impressive. I rode all of my Enduro/Stumpjumper lines, and I’m here alive and writing.

– We were not really pinning it, so I can’t comment on full speed action, but at a moderate pace the bike was super fun. As long as my pump was on target, it was very smooth. The occasional CLANK!!! told me when my timing was off.

– One cool thing: The hardtail was fun at a much lower speed than I usually ride. That might be a good idea when the civilians are out.

Today’s pronouncement

If you want a solid, fun, versatile and affordable bike, a dirt jump hardtail is hard to beat. If you want to ride it everywhere, set it up like this:

– 100mm fork, or whichever fork the frame is made for. Don’t go any longer.

– A longish top tube. While a shorter TT feels great for pump/jump, a longer TT will feel better on a wider range of terrain. The new P.bikes have 22-inch top tubes. Pair the long TT with a short stem.

– All-around, durable tires.

– Either a dual ring, or a single ring with an 11-34 cassette. The road cassette is tough on real trail.

Very fun. Let the experiments continue!

12 replies
  1. MW says:

    I did the same experiment the other day and ripped my favorite rocky SB trails. Loved it but felt it in my sholders the next day. The super low bb of my DS hardtail is oh so sweet. So many of the new trail bikes have such high bb and feel like im riding high. It was a blast to rail corners that had only ever seen my DH bike. The fun factor was a 10 but at a melloer pace. Numbs hands, sore sholders and a big smile. Change is good and keeps it fresh and I even found a few new lines that I have just blasted past a hunderd time before.

  2. MW says:

    Oh and if the whole ” God forbid one bike” deal was in my hands, I would want 4 and 4 so my back might still work in 20 years 🙂

  3. 29erguy says:

    Awesome, this just confirms my “suspicions” about ht dj bikes, now I just wish they would make something similar in concept with 29″ wheels.

    ps gee 40/45 psi, imho that’s good for smooth dj/pump track/park terrain, but on a trail, with rocks roots etc, unless you’re over 250 pounds, sounds brain rattling, wrist numbing slow.

  4. Scott says:

    Sounds cool, Lee. When you trail ride on the P.3, do you pull up the seat like a “normal” bike or ride it slammed-down urban style?

  5. leelikesbikes says:

    I climbed with the seat all the way up.

    On this trail, I descended with the seat dropped three inches — just like with a Speedball.

  6. Chris says:

    I’m loving my Cove Stiffee. Today I fitted a second hand Gamut chain device on what is my all round commuter/hack bike. When the CG arrived it was actually a 38-40. Oops. So fitted a 38 ring. 12-25 ultegra cassette. The bike is silent!. I’ll change the block to a 12-34 or sell the Gamut 40 and get a smaller one. But as an experiment I couldn’t be happier. I love ragging the hardtail around the trails, it may not be actually as fast as my 6″ Foes but it FEELS like it is. Its a great way to refresh trails that you may have got bored with. Oh and simply the best way to learn how to rip a section. Get it dialed on the HT and you’ll be a god on the full susser 😉

  7. leichel says:

    I agree. After riding a 6 inch front and rear travel bike for about a year I bought a SC Chameleon as a second bike and set it up as a single speed 32/18 with a 100mm fork. Great for pump track with seat down. Raise seat and its a fun trail bike. Riding a single speed hard tail has helped me pay a lot more attention to terrain and building and maintaining speed and momentum! It is great for upper body strength and keeping balance at low speed too, especially uphill. When you go back the full suspension bike all of these skills transfer over. Sweet!

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