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Jon Woodhouse

Jon is the editor here at off.road.cc. Whether it's big days out on the gravel bike or hurtling down technical singletracks, if it's got two wheels and can be ridden on dirt, then he's into it. He's previously been technical editor at BikeRadar.com, editor at What Mountain Bike Magazine and also web editor at Singletrackworld.co.uk. Yes, he's been around the houses.

1 comments

1 year 5 months ago

I own a 2014 Trek XCal 9.  It is awesome on flowy single track, although burlier tires and better pedals are essential immediate upgrades on anything other than hardpack dirt.  Stock tires are horrible on rocks and roots. STEM and BARS- Agree with author about Stem- I replaced mine with a 15 mm stem and wider Renthal Fatbar handlebars.  I couldnt be more pleased with the change.  I take it up in the mountains on some steep long rocky decents that I absolutely bomb with this bike.  With the shorter stem and wider bars it's pretty sensative to steering input that on first couple rides I worried I had made it too twitchy, but once I got used to it I loved it- allows you to get those big 29er wheels around some tight turns and handles the left-right-left-right stuff great.  And while the wider bars make your steering input more immediate, I feel like they give me more control than narrower bars to get the correct amount of input once I start turning without oversteering.  Also, because I have pretty wide shoulders and thus a wider grip, they are so much more comfortable, especially when I'm bombing a rocky downhill.  BRAKES- Looking at getting better brakes- they are fine for the flowy cc stuff, but on my steep mountain downhills I need something better (I am 220 pounds (99.79 kilos) so that might have something to do with it too).  Geometry may seem a bit steep by today's standards but as of just 2-3 years ago, at under 70 degree Headtube Angle, it was pretty slack for a cc bike.  With the shorter stem I've had no problem getting my weight back for tackling the downhills (although I'm also 46 so while I go all out I'm not going for jumps or dropoffs over about 3 feet (1 meter)).  I feel like with these changes the bike does actually make a pretty good all around machine- especially if your local stuff is more flowy cc type trails and the long gnarly downhill stuff is more once in while have to drive to.  If the gnarly downhill stuff is more what you routinely ride, then I would look into one of the more slack hardtails that have more recently begun to appear on the market.  But with some tweaks to the XCal it can be a "do most" machine, with really the  only thing I wouldn't do with it being ski resorts.  And for pedalling efficancy and uphills you'll love it.  

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