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Ah yes, we all love Summer. The sun has finally made it’s glorious appearance, the trees have sprouted their leaves, and if you haven’t broken yourself off yet, you’re likely stoked! Now, I’ve made a habit of breaking myself for the last three summers, so don’t be like me. For me, summer means lots of hiking, camping, and housework, while wishing I were out riding.
This was last summer:
The single biggest reason why your set up needs to change is SPEED. The hard packed trails of summer roll MUCH faster than the soggy, soupy trails of winter. Unless, of course, you’re Danny Hart, in which case you go the same speed year ‘round, but I have a hunch that neither you nor I are Danny Hart.
With the increase in speed, you’ve also got an increase in impacts. You’ll be sending it deep and really smashing those poor wheels.
Tire choice. The soft conditions of winter mix well with tires that really bite into the muck. Often, a narrower tire will cut through the slop and get to firmer soil, not to mention offer less rolling resistance while things are already fairly slow going. I do swap tires based on the season, and while it’s not totally necessary, it can be one of the most cost effective ways of dialing in your set up. WTB has been supplying me with tires, so I’ll use them for my own example. I was really enjoying the WTB Verdict tire in the mud. The tall, skinny knobs had a ton of bite for heavy braking and cornering in the wet.
When things dry up, though, those larger, softer knobs start to flex, rather than bite, and the front end starts to feel little more vague. I’ll swap the Verdict Wet out in exchange for the Vigilante in a 2.5 or even a 2.6. I might even swap my Judge 2.4 rear tire for a Trailboss 2.6 if I really want to capitalize on less rolling resistance. That’s right, I’m going slightly wider for the summer, and with slightly shorter knob heights. I might also opt for the slightly firmer rubber compound in the rear. A Maxxis example could be going from a Shorty/DHR combo in the winter to an Assegai/Aggressor combo in the summer.
2. Tire pressure. In the winter, one of the easiest ways to find grip on wet roots is to lower your tire pressure. This works well, as we’ve noted there’s a slow down in trail speed. You’re less likely to smash your rims in the winer. In the summer, you’re going faster, and likely, charging harder, so consider adding a few PSI to each end fo the bike. I’ll go from as low as 20psi up to around 24 psi in the front, and from 22 psi to around 27 psi in the rear. The most consistent and accurate gauge I’ve found thus far is the Acu-gauge, it’s an analog gauge that won’t break the bank and will keep working year after year: http://bit.ly/JKWaccugage
3. Suspension set up. Some folks run very similar set ups year round, and I feel that this set up aspect will change mostly based on your location. I do find myself preferring a bit more high speed compression damping in the summer months. I’ll often keep my low speed the same year round. You could also consider adding a volume reducer if you find yourself consistently bottoming your fork or shock in those dry summer months. Here’s a link to a few volume reducers: http://bit.ly/FoxDPX2VolumeReducerJKW If you really want to get your suspension dialed, a nice digital shock pump is a great tool as well: https://bit.ly/FoxDigitalShockPumpJKW
4. Chain lube! In the winter, a WET lube makes sense as it is heavy enough to not be washed off the drivetrain, keeping things running dirt free and smooth for a solid ride. However, in the dry, dusty summer conditions, these wet lubes usually end up attracting that dust. It’s not uncommon to see a gunky, black and brown mix of thick oil and lots of dust soaked in when someone is using that wet lube in the summer. A DRY lube is a much thinner compound that doesn’t attract nearly that same amount of dust. Chain lube is cheap, and you’ll need it, so consider using the appropriate lube for the conditions.
5. Summer is a great time to take a break from riding with a backpack. While it’s critical to carry a water bottle, more and more bikes are including bottle mounts. When it comes to carrying a spare tube, a pump, and a multi tool, the stuff that gets rusted and roached in the mud, can now safely get strapped to the bike, allowing you to feel that nice, cool breeze on your back. Hopefully not your backside, though. Note to self- maybe I should invest in a belt…
I’ve been using the Industry Nine Matchstix tool in a couple of my bikes, and it’s a handy way to attach a tool to the bike. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s sweet. With a little research you can probably find some cheaper alternatives, but I’ve enjoyed the simplicity of the Matchstix.
Many of you are Ibis Mojo riders- be it HD3, HD4, HD5, Mojo 3, Mojo 4, or even an older Mojo HD160. Blackburn makes a bag that fits inside the frame that can hold an inner tube, a multi tool, some snacks, a quick link, etc: https://bit.ly/BlackBurnPorkChopJKW.
While we’re on the topic of Ibis bikes, the best cage that I’ve found is also the cage that Ibis stocks and sells- it’s the Arrundel side loader. Here’s a link: http://bit.ly/ArrundelJKW The Arrundel fits just about every carbon ibis bike made to date!
Keep in mind there are a whole host of other geographically charged items. Around here, our stinging nettles get bad in the summer, so I might throw on some moto style handguards. Otherwise, full finger gloves and arm warmers can help. Poison oak can also be a big concern in some spots. Maybe your trails get so dusty that a fender actually helps keep the dust out of your eyes. Pay attention to what other folks are doing, and feel free to ask questions, MTBers are friendly!
Remember what I always forget- even though it’s summer, and trail speeds are faster, traction is not necessarily better. My injuries the last three months all had one thing in common- water. When it rains in the summer it’s arguably more treacherous, as the ground is so firm that the water doesn’t soak in as deep, adn the top layer of soil is going to be more slippery than in the winter. So if rains this summer, and you can safely ride your local trails without leaving a big mark or rut, consider toning it down a hair. Or don’t, but send at your own risk.
If you found this helpful, do me a favor and share it with your friends over on Facebook! Alright guys, I’ll see ya on the trails sooner than a summer thunderstorm!