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!

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