Q: I’m in the market for a good mountain bike travel case! You guys travel all the time. Can you suggest a good case for airports and shipping in general? Maybe it would be a good idea to do a shootout on these animals. Let me know. Love your mag!
—Billy, who has a passport burning a hole in his pocket
A: The best case we’ve tested, bar none, is the EVOC travel case. It’s soft and collapsible but also very protective. It’s also very easy to use, which is nice when you inevitably have to pack your bike in an exhausted stupor at the end of your trip before you head to the airport. We’ve also heard good things about a similar case from Wren components, although we haven’t tested that one yet. The nice thing about the Wren case is that it is much more affordable. As a last resort, you can always go with the old, trusty, brown cardboard box and a bunch of packing material. It doesn’t look very pretty, but it has worked for us many more times than we’ve ever shipped a bike in a fancy piece of luggage.
Q: I ride a 2015 Norco Range 7.2 Carbon on the North Shore of Vancouver. The bike loves going downhill, but on our sometimes techy climbs, the front end likes to wander and the rear suspension is a little too active. Is it prudent to invest in upgrading parts for the Range to make it climb better, or should I cut my losses and invest in a new long-travel bike that can also climb (e.g., Salsa Redpoint, Yeti SB5.5, etc.)?
—Geoff, who doesn’t like to wander
A: Sounds like this is a simple problem to fix, and likely not something you should scrap your whole bike over. The front end is too high. You could try either a lower stem (or maybe even flip your current one over for a negative rise) or a lower-rise handlebar. You need to find a way to get more weight over the front of the bike, and your cockpit choices can help a great deal with that.
As for the suspension, buying a new Salsa or Yeti wouldn’t be a silver bullet to solve your efficiency problems. Those bikes are great, but so is the Norco Range. We’d recommend working on the tune you have with the shock you’re using first to see if it helps. Play with shock pressure, and definitely play with the compression-damping adjustment. That will likely fix the issue. And, hey, tinkering with your setup is kinda fun, and it’s certainly cheaper than buying an entirely new bike.
UPGRADING RIGHT OFF THE BAT
Q: I am an older cross-country rider— never too fast, not looking to do extreme (or any) drops. I’d just like a little more travel for my local loops. I am intrigued by the Kona Precept 120. It’s just the right amount of travel at a crazy-low price. Question is, is it worth getting this bike and throwing another grand at it for a Fox Float 32 Performance fork, Fox Float DPS XV Performance rear shock and new 15mm axle front wheel? Once I sell off the removed gear, I might be $2200 into it. Does this make any sense? Thanks for the help!
—Jeff, who wants the best bang for the buck
A: If you have $2200 in the budget to buy a new bike, you’re almost always better off buying the best complete bike you can right out of the gate. That not only avoids the headache of reselling the new/used stuff you take off to recoup the cost, but also takes advantage of the huge buying power bike companies have. These companies buy their components by the crate and get better pricing than you could ever get by buying them individually. Moreover, the Precept is an awesome bike for the price, but the Process is an even better bike with a better suspension design. We’re willing to bet you’d be happier with a , which is well within your price range. You’d end up with a better frame and would have the option to upgrade the rest of the parts when your bank account recovers from the initial purchase.
Have a question for the MBA crew? You can send your brain busters to email@example.com.
“Ask MBA” peeve of the month: When you’ve been waiting for a demo event for months to test a bike you’re hoping to buy, only to show up and find out all the bikes are beaten within half an inch of their lives. Demo drivers, take note. People save up a long time to buy their next bike. The least you can do is give them a clean bike that’s running like it should and not a dilapidated pile of garbage that’s running worse than a car that hasn’t seen an oil change since 1984.