Muddy vikings
I recently completed the Viking Challenge, my first challenge type event. Although I found the going very tough at times I did enjoy it, and found that people were very helpful, but I do have a few questions regarding the set up of my bike.
I ride a 2004 Giant NRS Team, it was built to a middle spec with Mavic wheels and giant MPH brakes. I currently run continental vertical tyres in size 2.3 which work well on the sandy soil and wet mud normally seen around where I ride, but at this event the soil was like clay and the going very wet. My tyres clogged very quickly causing no end of problems with mud on the frame stopping the wheels from going round. Some people coming past me had very little mud on there tyres even though they had gone through the same conditions, can you recommend a tyre which either will not clog or will get red of the mud quickly. My other problem was in the pedal/shoe combiantion. I do not like SPD pedals so I use flats. I use a set of DMR V8s which have proved reliable with O’neil flat cycling shoes, unfortunately once these were wet and muddy I had hardly any grip on the pedals, can you recommend a flat pedal/shoe combination.
The bike stood up very well so an investment in different tyres and pedals/shoes for next year would not be a problem.
Many thanks
Nick West

We have noticed more and more people using flat pedals for trail riding, so you’re not alone, and thankfully shoe manufacturers are taking note, producing soft soles shoes, with a hint of stiffness, improving your pedaling efficiency.
Nike’s Air whistler, Shimno’s DX, 661’s Dualie and even Five Ten’s impact shoes would all serve you well, and offer you more grip on your existing pedals than your O’neill’s. That should be your first step, if you’re still sliding about too much, try replacing the pins in the pedals. DMR produce longer Terror Pins to improve grip — at £3.50 well worth a try. If your still doing the pedal moonwalk after that, then we have had good experiences with the following flat pedals: Wellgo’s B25 and Mag’s, Gusset Slim Jims, And old faves Easton Flatboy’s. All will offer more support thanks to the larger platform. Squarer edges should also stop your foot rolling off the pedal.
Simply downsizing the width of your rubber would reduce the likely hood of clogging in such conditions. A specific mud tyre would be best but, from what you say, they would not see much action the rest of the year. However, it may be a good idea to keep a set in the arsenal as you may explore further a field more often. To keep the brand allegiance, try Continentals Edge or Survival. Michelins Country Mud and Panaracer’s Fire Mud have good reputations for claggy mile munching. Maxxis’s Medusa is another. Every manufacturer will offer something. Just look for tall – widely spaced tread – a narrow-ish carcass (around 1.8-2.0) and tapered knobs.

Finding a standard?
I Just started reading your mag and found it very informative.
I was wondering if you could help? I have recently taken up mountain biking and although my wife let me buy a new hardtail I have decided that I would like to try a full suspension bike. I managed to get my hands on a Mongoose SX frame and front forks and was wondering if there is anywhere I could get bike specifications that would allow me to build the bike up.
Money is a bit tight and I don’t want to have any schoolboy errors by buying things like seat posts that don’t fit, the wrong crank set, etc. Is there a web site that bike shops use to get the correct sizes for different bikes? Hope you can help, and keep up the good work.

Unfortunately there is no one-stop shop for frame info, published on paper or on the net that we know of. In fact it would be a massive undertaking, and goes to show how many ‘standards’ there are in the bike industry.
For your machine, the best port of call would be the importers (Hotwheels: 01202732288). The major variables are the seatpost diameter, and bottom bracket width. For the front derailleur you will need to know the diameter of the seat tube (not the same as the seat post) and type — top or bottom pull. Headset size is fairly standard at 1 1/8in, and unless you are below 1m 65cm then 175mm crank length should suffice, below that try 170mm. Brake cables or hoses depend whether you are using disc or V-brakes (make sure the mounts are there for whichever type you need). Gear cable inners are standard but the outer will depend on whether your frame is designed for full or interrupted outer, again, Hotwheels will be able to help.
You may also need to know the year your machine was produced, as some dimensions change year on year. Avoid asking for info on internet forums, as you may get inaccurate or contradictory answers. If in doubt always contact the importers for any information about a frame. That stands for all brands, not just Mongoose.

Quick Question
I have spent the last six months constantly assessing which bike to get whilst gradually getting my money together. Cut a long story short: my local shop is a Specialized dealer and has a 10 per cent reduction loyalty card, so as I’m looking at spending approx £1500 I guess I’ll be getting a Specialized. I’ve basically decided on a 2007 Epic, but am a little unsure of what to expect given your recent article p32, Oct edition. You describe the significant improvements that have been made on the new model over the 2006 version, which is all very interesting if your planning on spending £2699 on the top range FSR marathon. Unfortunately my budget does not stretch to
that, so can you clarify the upgrades/improvements/developments of the 2007 entry level Epic comp over the 2006 version? Is it still a decent buy or do you have any better suggestions for £1500(ish)? My riding consists of general all mountain stuff, but I need something that can handle a good bumpy downhill hamming from time to time!
James Rawlinson, Brighton

Last years Epic Comp would be equivalent to this years Epic Expert at £1899, but the difference between the two lower ’07 models is purely in the spec. The difference between these and the ’06 models is the frame, so comments will count for both. The frame uses lighter, stiffer M5 tubing and the upper link is now stiffer without gaining weight, making the rear end track more accurately. To gain the benefits of the Inertia valved Flow Control Brain shock you would, as you correctly point out, need to spend a good deal more.
As for other suitable machines, sticking with the Specialized range you need to choose from, the Stmpjumper FSR is worth a look, with five models ranging from £1499 to £3199. The Epic is designed as a race machine. Long, low and steep, it’s great for getting the power down but not so great after five hours on the moors. The Stumpy is set up in a more trail friendly way. More upright body position, fully active suspension and slightly longer travel front and rear – 120mm verses 100mm on the Epic. If you’re not a racer boy, from your letter it would seem not, then it’s definitely worth a quick shuftie before splashing any cash.

Fat Axles
Hope you can help I’m looking for an attachment, which will let me fit my bolt-thru forks to a standard QR rack attachment.
I am sure I saw a company advertised in your mag a few years back but I have looked at loads of web sites — Thule etc. — and nothing, they all do the standard QR attachments but I know there is attachment that goes on the QR.

Good memory Martin, we have mentioned such a product a couple of times before. Hurricane products make Fork Ups, although we have not had a great deal of success with them. At last years Interbike we came across Slikfit Fataxles. Rather than attach a separate adapter to your rack’s QR fixings, the Fataxles attach to your rack as a separate item, and include a locking mechanism. FatAxles go for $69.99, and you can get an adapter to allow you to fit a QR wheel for $9.99. Check for more info. As yet there is no UK importer, but that could well change if they get enough interest.