XC-ifying a freeride bike

Many of us (not me) are selling our quivers for that single long-travel bike, and the question arises: How do I make it better for XC?

Hi Lee, how´s it going?

Since I discover the holy MTB “how to” Bible I´ve been a regular visitor. Bought both of your books and love them… Besides the amazing attention to details, they are fun to read!

I have a SX Trail II and I’m enjoying it a lot. The bike is almost perfect. The only issue I have with it is that I sold the rest of my fleet to buy it, so it’s got to do everything. From Epic Rides to DH riding. The thing is, as the bike is a bit on the heavy side and with a single front ring, it’s really impossible for me (weak legs) to do some good climbing and long rides. My idea is to upgrade the crank to a Holzfeller 2.2 RG (22-32), and build an extra, lighter wheelset (trail/epic riding oriented) and an extra longer stem in order to use the bike for EPIC rides and even Marathon events (I don´t wan´t to be competitive)… I really love the bike, but I need a bike that climbs ok and I hope that with these to different sets it will be the one bike I always wanted it to be…
Will it work? What do think?

Thanks for your patience and happy new year!
Guilherme Reis
Ṣo Paulo РBrazil

PS1: sorry for my poor english skills
PS2: I don´t know you at all, but you seem to be one of nicest mountain bikers out there. So about your “Big Life Changes” I really wish you the best man!

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

Hi Guilherme,

It’s going good. I’m pretty confused these days, but I’m good.

I think you’re in a common situation. As you know, I’m a big Enduro fan. As such, I’ve done a lot of fiddling to adapt it for different riding styles.

To make your SX Trail, Nomad, VP-Free, 6-Pack, Stinky or any other long-travel bike better for trail riding, you can do these things:

– Dual rings. 22/32 is as easy as it gets. Run an 11-34 in back.

– Chain guide. You need something to keep those links in line.

– Light wheels and fast tires. I always use a DH wheel in the rear. Too much power.

– I wouldn’t switch stems back and forth. It changes the cockpit too much. Choose one stem that you like, and run it everywhere. A 70mm or 90mm might be a nice compromise.

– Full length seatpost (of course). Telescopic or remote posts are great. Maverick Speedball!

– You can adjust the ProPedal or SPV pressure to make the bike climb more efficiently.

See also:


— Lee

PS1: Your English is better than my Portuguese.
PS2: Thanks brother. You seem nice too.

7 replies
  1. Anthony says:

    Consider 24/36 front chainring combo that Truvativ also offers. Gives a bit more top end, 32 is pretty limiting, and these days with the 34T rear cog you still have plenty of low gear.

  2. leelikesbikes says:

    When I’m in shape a 24/36 is great. It should be the ISSDG (International Standard Super D Gearing).

    But these says I’m rocking a 22/32 …

  3. Guilherme Reis says:

    Hey Lee! Thanks for the tips and for the compliment!
    As soon as I upgrade it, I´ll tell you how it rides…

    And I´ll go with the 22/32 for shure… Long live to low gears!
    I was wondering, why they don´t make 22/34 sets?

  4. rey_s says:

    you could also swap out your coils for DHX airshocks if your budget allows. did the same to my RMB switch. its been great

  5. GMac says:

    My mix.
    1) Good qaulity mid-weight wheels w/ single ply tires and XC tubes.
    2) 1×9 32Tx 11-34 & light guide SRAM
    3) Thomson, Pro-taper, Hollowtech crank.

    Pro-pedal helps.

  6. Ryan says:

    I have 26/38 up front, works pretty well. 11-34 in back. 38 is just about right for top end. I also use the e13 DRS, works good too. Just don’t use triflo on the chain because it makes the rubber wheel get sloppy.

  7. Biscuit says:

    I’ve done the same thing.. except I don’t have the balls to sell my other bikes. I have all kinds of bikes, but the SX Trail is by far the most versatile and gets the most use.

    I’ve swapped out nearly every part as convenience allowed (some I already had, some I bought).

    I run Fox DHX coil in the rear and a 36 Vanilla in the front. Those are the only “heavy” parts on the bike and are worth every gram. With a 50 or 60mm stem, the bike will handle just like a downhill rig, but spec’d properly, will climb like.. um.. something faster than one would expect.

    Other than that:
    – Truvative Stylo cranks w/LG-1 guide and a 34 tooth ring. Mated to an 11-32 I can still -climb everything.
    – Carbon DH bars.
    – 50mm Thompson stem (wouldn’t change that around – suspension and geometry I won’t sacrafice)
    – The headset, seat and post on the SX Trail are burly. Pretty much anything can save a ton of weight. I run King, WTB Rocket SLT, Truvative Team.
    – Wheels: WTB makes some sweet options. I’m running mavic 519’s which are extremely strong for their weight (welded vs. pinned) but do flex more than any dh rim. Whatever you build, alloy nipples and butted spokes are cheap weight savings. WTB makes the best $-per-pound stuff out there.
    – Tires: I’m currently running Kenda Nevegal 2.1’s. I prefer them over the 2.35’s because they are lighter and the center knobs have a much lower profile for better rolling. The DTC (dual compound) wears well, and corners excellent. The 2.1 is (knob-to-knob) almost as wide as the 2.35, but doesn’t have the volume/weight. You will have to run high pressure though to keep from flatting.
    I’m considering 2.35 UST Highrollers for my next set. (same width as a 2.1 kenda)

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