I ride about 16 miles every day and 100 at weekends and I’m looking to spend about £1,500 on a good hardtail. I’m a big lad so it needs to have a heavy-duty frame and strong bits. After much
deliberation I have narrowed it down to three bikes: Trek 8500, Marin Indian Fire Trail and the Cannondale Taurine 3. Which one should I go for?
Stephen Jones, email

Unless the miles that you are putting in are on the road, or wide forest tracks we wouldn’t recommend any of these bikes for a big lad as they are geared more toward the classic (read 10-stone) XC rider. If it’s proper mountain biking that you’re into then you need something like the Kona Hoss with an upgraded spec. That £1,500 burning a hole in your pocket should allow you to put together a custom big fella’s package, so don’t limit yourself to mainstream brands. Alternatively, if it has got to be one of the three contenders, go test ride all of them and you’ll quickly discover which one suits your build best.


I have a Schwinn Mesa Alu which is about four years old. I’ve added Rockshox front forks, DMR pedals and a decent saddle for a girl’s behind. But I’ve now seen the 2007 Marin Hawk Hill and I love it!
I will have to save up for ages to afford a new bike, so would it be worth hanging on to the old one and upgrading it gradually, or is it too naff to keep?
I also have a rubbish Claud Butler commuter bike, which is too big for
me anyway and I could sell both and put the money toward the lovely shiny object of my desire? Please help a damsel in distress!
Jane Wenham, email

Jane, it sounds like you have reached a crossroads in your riding life. But before we advise on which trail to follow we’d like to point out that you should never let yourself get emotionally attached to a hunk of metal. With that in mind, you should ditch your trusty old Schwinn faster than a cheating partner and give into your desire for that shiny new Marin Hawk Hill. Just think of the seamless shifting and the buzz of the new freehub as you blast down your favourite trail and we know you’ll be able find a way to afford it. Don’t be too hasty to dump the commuter bike though, as you won’t want to tarnish your new steed with endless road miles.


I have the 2007 Specialized Stumpjumper with Fox Float RL forks.
I find it tricky using the lockout lever at times and with my extra padding, I could do with all the uphill help I can get. Are there any kits on sale which will convert my Fox Float Fork fork lever operation to a handlebar-mounted system? Or could I buy one from another fork that would work for this fork? Failing this would it be feasible for any handy amateur to rig something up along the same lines? Surely some enterprising soul must have carried out such a conversion.
Rob Craven, email

I’m assuming it’s your gut that you are referring to when you mention extra padding and if it’s so large that it prevents you reaching forward for the fork-mounted lockout lever, then we strongly recommend going on a diet. As for handlebar-mounted lockouts, as yet Fox does not produce such an item and it would be very difficult to attach one from another fork manufacturer as you’d need a custom top cap for the damper assembly on your Fox Float fork to get it to work. Losing weight, not fancy add-ons, is the best way to improve your climbing prowess.