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  1. #1
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    Best Climbing Mid-Travel 27.5 Bike?

    Looking for a FS 27.5 to replace my aging Ibis Mojo (1st Gen). I'm thinking 140mm-150mm rear travel is the sweetspot for me. I definitely need more help climbing than descending - what do you guys think is the best climbing mid-travel 27.5 bike for 1) Smooth 2) Rocky/Tech?

    Thanks!
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    The intense recluse climbs and accelerates really well. SC Bronson isn't far behind. The intense Spider climbs even better but is shorter in travel (130mm). That travel works really well, feels like more, and the geo is quite accommodating of frisky behavior. I demoed them all and bought the spider. First ride was over an hour of climbing then an epic down. It climbed so well I was totally blown away at how well it came down!

  3. #3
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    For smooth climbs and tech climbs I'd take 2 quite different bikes, so it's a ltitle tricky. Smooth = high anti-squat, tech = lower anti-squat (active). A fatter tyre goes some way towards helping a high-as bike climb better, but it can only help so much. A low-as bike can make use of a trail/lockout mode on the rear shock for helping on the smooth climbs, however may get annoying on trails that roll up/down both smooth and chunky sections a lot.

  5. #5
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    Kona Hei Hei Trail 27.5 140mm/140mm
    It uses their FUSE rear suspension which came from their Hei Hei XC bikes. It is active but definitely skewed to pedaling vs plushness.

    Friend just got a 2018 Rocky Altitude. For a big bike, they sure seemed to climb well on it.

  6. #6
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    I ended up with a Yeti SB5, but it's short for your category.
    I'd have to agree with grubetown. I only rode the Trance Advanced once on very techy, rocky, rooty terrain but I was blown away by it's performance. That was a couple of years ago, though, and I don't know what changes have been made since then.

  7. #7
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    Spot Rollik

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    Make no bones about it - the Rollik is an amazing climbing bike for 140 rr travel - under the right pilot as fast as most XC bike. Same can be said for DH capabilities and especially w a 160 frt fork.

    FWIW - there was a stage race here in CO called the Golden Giddy up recently - some steep climbs, chunky downs etc.. Probably more Rolliks and their 29er the Mayhem on podium than any other single bike.

    top spots for both men/women on the Chimney climb/Apex-Enchanted descent. #2 overall pro male, etc...

    Just saying - its not an enduro sled, not an XC whippet but sure strikes an amazing balance into both segments while sitting squarely in the trail/AM category.



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    Cool, I've never seen a Rollik before. Looking forward to a demo on one sometime!

    Sent from my Nexus 6 using Tapatalk

  11. #11
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    Knolly Endorphin for tech climbing. Hands down.

    Best tech climbing bike I've owned. And that's with a coil shock. Cane Creek Inline coil. The climb switch is the real deal, but as good as it works I almost never need it. No need to.

    Tire choice and correct pressure make a huge difference. I'm running the new Maxxis 2.6 tires. DHF/Forcaster. They climb anything.

  12. #12
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    Thanks for some interesting suggestions that I wouldn't have normally considered. I was looking hard at the usual suspects: Ibis, Santa Cruz, Pivot...

    The Spot is particularly interesting - kind of an oddball bike with a fantastic pedigree and something you don't see very often. But man, that seat angle is STEEP - I'd definitely need to demo that before pulling the trigger.

    Thanks again folks!
    Sycip Unleaded 650B
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    Pivot Mach 5.5 - in progress

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    Guerrilla gravity Shreddog (on the low end of your travel) or the meatrail (on the high end of your travel) paired with an push eleven six it is mental just how good it climbs for how much bike it is.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2zmtnz View Post
    Guerrilla gravity Shreddog (on the low end of your travel) or the meatrail (on the high end of your travel) paired with an push eleven six it is mental just how good it climbs for how much bike it is.
    I wish that Push had an 11-6 for the Shred Dogg. That would rock. Are you running an 11-6 on the Megatrail?

    Yeah, I'm surprised at how well the bike climbs, especially in trail mode. Just amazing.

    Another one that's a super climber is the Ibis HD3. I have no experience with the HD4.

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    If the Scott genius climbs anything like the Scott spark you'll be flying up hill like a bat out of hell.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes View Post
    I wish that Push had an 11-6 for the Shred Dogg. That would rock. Are you running an 11-6 on the Megatrail?

    Yeah, I'm surprised at how well the bike climbs, especially in trail mode. Just amazing.

    Another one that's a super climber is the Ibis HD3. I have no experience with the HD4.
    yes i have a push on my megatrail and it is how do you say... ****ING amazing!

    its strange I thought I would have been using the gravity mode way more but the 150 travel on the mega w/ the push is just so good and balanced that I end up using that mode for like 75% of my rides, only when I get into the really rough, long and narly descents do I switch over to gravity (165).

  17. #17
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    I love my Pivot Mach 5.5.

    Best climbing bike I've ever ridden.

    Check out my review.

    Pivot Mach 5.5 Review




  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    Tire choice and correct pressure make a huge difference. I'm running the new Maxxis 2.6 tires. DHF/Forcaster. They climb anything.
    Tires tires tires

    Yeaaaaa - another 27.5 x 2.6 tire option!

    My Pivot came with a Rekon in the back. Great tire, but I'm always looking for that little extra...

    What do you think of the Maxxis Forekaster vs the Maxxis Rekon???
    Last edited by Rockohaulic; 09-22-2017 at 10:28 AM.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockohaulic View Post
    I love my Pivot Mach 5.5.

    Best climbing bike I've ever ridden.

    Check out my review.

    Pivot Mach 5.5 Review



    That's a sweet ride! The Mach 5.5 is on my short list. Just have to find a place in the Bay Area to demo it.
    Sycip Unleaded 650B
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    Pivot Mach 5.5 - in progress

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockohaulic View Post
    Tires tires tires

    Yeaaaaa - another 27.5 x 2.6 tire option!

    My Pivot came with a Rekon in the back. Great tire, but I'm always looking for that little extra...

    What do you think of the Maxxis Forekaster vs the Maxxis Rekon???
    Couldn't tell you since I don't have them. But you could just get another Minion DHF 2.6" for the rear. I have a DHF 2.5WT (still waiting for the 2.6 Minion DHR2 release) on the rear of my Bronson. Eventhough its 200 grams heavier than the Rekon 2.6, I don't feel the weight, great traction.
    '18 SC Tallboy CC_Wife
    '17 Giant Anthem Adv_Kid
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    '17 SC Bronson CC

  21. #21
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    I can't vouch for all, but the best climbing bikes in the 120mm-160mm travel bikes I've ridden have been the Santa Cruz 5010/Bronson and the Turner Flux/ RFX. I'm sure all the VPP and DW link bikes would be similar to the bikes I mentioned, but those 4 bikes are my favorite.
    EXODUX Jeff

  22. #22
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    Second the Spider. Best tech climbing bike I've had, and a rocket on smooth flow trails.

  23. #23
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    Steep seat angle - seems as we are seeing 2018 bikes - has become even more the norm. You'll likely be surprised by just how well the angle works - not just on the Spot but the myriad of other brands that are bringing that forward...

    the GG bikes referenced here also use a steep angle - i demoed the Trail Pistol when it came out and was frankly quite amazed by it as well...

    whether the Spot, GG or any other brand - it will likely feel a bit odd as you start the ride, but becomes quite natural (IME) pretty quick...

    lots of good bike suggestions here so keep us posted as you go. New bikitis is my favorite health issue!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by kamper11 View Post
    Steep seat angle - seems as we are seeing 2018 bikes - has become even more the norm. You'll likely be surprised by just how well the angle works - not just on the Spot but the myriad of other brands that are bringing that forward...

    the GG bikes referenced here also use a steep angle - i demoed the Trail Pistol when it came out and was frankly quite amazed by it as well...

    whether the Spot, GG or any other brand - it will likely feel a bit odd as you start the ride, but becomes quite natural (IME) pretty quick...

    lots of good bike suggestions here so keep us posted as you go. New bikitis is my favorite health issue!
    Yeah, the steep seat angle on my GG Shred Dogg is a real eye-opener. Getting up steep pitches, I feel like I should scoot up to the nose of the saddle to keep the front end down because that's what I was used to doing. No need to do that on the GG though, just stay in the middle of the saddle and crank up while the front end stays down. Pretty amazing compared to what I was used to. I haven't noticed any compromises in the bike handling from the steep seat angle.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Curveball View Post
    Yeah, the steep seat angle on my GG Shred Dogg is a real eye-opener. Getting up steep pitches, I feel like I should scoot up to the nose of the saddle to keep the front end down because that's what I was used to doing. No need to do that on the GG though, just stay in the middle of the saddle and crank up while the front end stays down. Pretty amazing compared to what I was used to. I haven't noticed any compromises in the bike handling from the steep seat angle.
    Is this strictly in trail mode or also in gravity mode?
    Guerrilla Gravity BAMF, Colorado Front Range

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by stripes View Post
    Is this strictly in trail mode or also in gravity mode?
    Both modes for climbing position. The suspension doesn't feel as efficient in gravity mode though.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  27. #27
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    Definitely consider the Knolly Endorphin!

  28. #28
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    https://unrealcycles.com/2017/04/sco...0-review.html/



    Scott Sports Spark 930 Review
    24 April 2017 UNRL Leave a comment
    Scott-Sports Spark 930
    Scott-Sports Spark 930


    The Scott Spark is well known for its XC prowess and ultra light weight. Winning numerous XC races and championships. The 2017 Spark continues that lineage but now sports a more modern trail geometry and kinematics.

    Iíve always been a long travel bike fan. However, over the last few years my bikes have been getting shorter in travel. Mainly due to the fact that a majority of the trails in our area do not demand a lot of travel. Sure there are a few trails that demand, or are more confidently ridden on a longer travel bike. But I would say 95% of trails are easily ridden on a short travel bike. I also love efficiency. I want my energy to be used effectively.

    I was in the market to replace my aged Santa Cruz Blur TrC. Iíve been mostly riding my 2016 SC Nomad and a light weight Grammo Pako XC hardtail the last 14 months.

    While I love the Nomad, it is a lot of bike. It weighs in just shy of 29lbs but definitely behaves like a long travel bike. Which limits its efficiency on trails that do not require its big hit capabilities. But hey. Thatís why I bought it. To tackle the more extreme trails and bike parks. So I canít fault it for what it likes to do.

    The Grammo Pako is a light weight XC machine. Technical xc rides and the toughest climbs are itís fortay. Super fun bike for its intended use.

    With my Blur going the way of the Dodo bird. It was time for a new short travel machine.
    I had my eyes set on a Yeti SB 4.5. I rode a 5.5 last fall and was blown away with how that bike performed. It was literally like having the best of both worlds touting incredible efficiency and DH capability. I was planning on keeping the Nomad so I felt that the 5.5 would have too much overlap with the Nomad. I was also looking for something that leaned more XC than All Mountain. The new crop of trail bikes continue to be more and more capable and definitely blur the lines when it comes to bike categorization.

    The Yeti 4.5 was at the top of my list along with the Santa Cruz Tall Boy, Transition Smuggler, Scott Spark and a couple of other bikes in that category.
    After researching, pouring over numbers and internal debating. I had it down to the Yeti and the Spark. Both options were available thru Unreal Cycles.

    Scott being relatively underrepresented in our area, and with reviews of the previous model being lack luster in suspension performance, I was steering heavily towards the Yeti. However. As everyone knows, Yeti pulls a premium. Not that the top tier Scott bikes are cheap. Scott certainly offers quite a few good spec options to get you into a bike that fits your budget. That there is where my conundrum laid. In the budget. While I drooled heavily over the Yeti, my pockets just werenít quite deep enough at the time.

    Scottís new iteration of the Spark was a long way from its predecessor. Geometry, lengths and nearly everything about the frame had been redesigned and modernized. The numbers look pretty dialed to me. I also like the idea of the Twinloc. Normally Iím not into gimmicks and I like to keep my bikes simple. I was an early adopter of 1x for its simplicity. However, being able to toggle the suspension on the fly with the Twinloc system between fully locked out, trail and descend modes appealed to me. Not to mention I have always been a fan of single pivot bikes.

    So. I picked up the Spark on a blind faith purchase never having ridden the bike before.
    I have to admit. I was skeptical. The the numbers looked dialed to me and it was in the suspension travel ball park I was looking at. But numbers on paper and actual performance are very different things.

    Climbing. What can I say. Fully locking out the suspension essentially turning the bike into a 27lb fully rigid bike made fire road climbing easier and faster. Since I have been on the Spark, I have PRíd nearly all of my fire road climbs. That being said. I find that having locked out suspension does not necessarily help on steep and technical climbing. Having some suspension action actually helps the tires dig in for better traction. So on more technical climbs I switch from full lock out to trail mode as this helps in keeping the rear from spinning and allows me to load the front end. The clock doesnít lie. This has been the fastest climbing full suspension bike I have owned.

    Trail riding. Leaving the suspension in trail mode, the bike does what it is meant to do. Shred trail. Being my first 29er I had to get used to the wider turning radius and the idiosyncrasies that come with the 29″ wheel. I found that the bike liked to be pushed and leaned hard into corners. It loves it when you get low on the bike. It carries speed well and has a very lively and poppy feel which makes gapping sections of trail and placing the bike where and when you want it a breeze. Much more lively than I thought a 29er could be. Switching suspension modes with the Twinloc helps with efficiency on varied trail helping maintain over all speed when the trail includes climbs, flat pedally sections and descents. Using the Twinloc mech isnít the easiest thing to get used too. But once I got used to it I found myself using it a lot. More in the Twinloc later.

    Descending. The Spark is a well known XC machine that has been piloted by Nino Schurter to numerous XC victories. With that in mind, you would likely think the bike would be a lackluster descender. While that may have been the case with its predecessor. This newly redesigned bike is fully capable. Being long , low and slack, it is up to date with the latest geometry. I was pleasantly surprised by the itís descending ability. I was not expecting the bike to be as competent as it is when pointed down hill. It is stable, stiff and the suspension is supple yet supportive. The 29″ wheels definitely help the 120mm of travel eat up rough trail. Is it a Nomad ? No. But my Strava times are near identical on some of our local descending trails and actually a bit faster than my Nomad on more pedally descents. I know my Nomad will out perform the Spark on our gnarlier high elevation trails. But for my go to weekly riding spots the Spark is the one I will grab every time.

    Spec. The Maxxis Forekaster tires are doing a great job of keeping traction on the varied terrains and soil types here in S. Oregon. The GX drivetrain does the job shifting and the shimano brakes do the stopping. Are they as refined as the top tier stuff ? No. But they do the job well. The Syncros saddle is pretty comfortable and the Syncros dropper post so far has done the job without issues. No side to side play. Itís a little slow to pop up but nothing that is problematic. We will see how reliable it is long term. The Syncros 3.0 wheelset is pretty solid and does not feel flexy at all. I do notice the rotational weight when trying to get up to speed and the rear hub is clunky. I will likely be upgrading the wheelset sooner than later. The bars are comfortable to me and the stem is a good length at 70mm but I think I will shorten it up. The grips are too fat for my liking so I will swap those out.

    Twinloc. I do have a gripe about the Twinloc assembly. First of all. The designer must have been drunk or it was late in the day on a Friday when they designed it. The new twin lock mechanism combines the dropper lever along with the lock out system in one fairly tidy package which is a great idea in theory. However, there are some issues. They used a standard ridged noodle for the cable coming out of the mechanism which completely blocks the the pinch bolt that tightens the clamp to the bars. Hello ! Major over site that makes it a pain in the butt to remove or adjust the mechanism. Luckily there is a simple fix. Installing a flexible noodle provides just enough access to the bolt. This is something that should have come factory. Secondly. The mechanism acts as the inside bar clamp for the grip which is proprietary. So swapping out the grip for a different brand and using the the mechanism as the clamp is impossible. They obviously under stood the issue as they included a spacer that the mechanism clamps around so you can use other grips. This however pushes the Twinloc mechanism further inboard which makes it that much further to reach with your thumb. Thirdly. Their is no way to adjust the spacing between the Twinloc levers and dropper post lever which kind of sucks because the positioning of the levers is not the most ergonomic. And lastly. The throw distance to lock out the suspension is to far out. This is likely not a problem for guys with larger hands. But for guys like me with smaller hands itís a bit of reach to lock it out. Unfortunately, I think Scott needs to go back to the drawing board on the combination Twinloc/dropper mech.

    The Spark was a pleasant surprise for a leap of faith purchase. It does everything that I had hoped it would be capable of and more. Other than the design issues with the Twinloc mech, Scott has put together a very capable trail bike that I would recommend buying if your in the market for a new trail/XC bike"

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockohaulic View Post
    Tires tires tires

    Yeaaaaa - another 27.5 x 2.6 tire option!

    My Pivot came with a Rekon in the back. Great tire, but I'm always looking for that little extra...

    What do you think of the Maxxis Forekaster vs the Maxxis Rekon???
    Sorry about the delay as I've not been back to the thread in a while.

    Never rode a Rekon but, on paper, picked the Forcaster as a rear because...

    Open tread design that won't pack up in the wet, and hook up in loose stuff too.

    The dual tread compound seemed tough/burly enough.

    Appeared like it would still roll relatively well compared to say a DHF out back.

  30. #30
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    I love my knolly endorphin. Its my only FS bike ive ever had so i can't compare but theres a good thread on the knolly page with several riders who have tried many many bikes and they all say the same thing. They are raving about the endorphin's tech climbing capabilities.

  31. #31
    Anytime. Anywhere.
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    I have an Endorphin, and it's the best tech climber I've had in all 30 years of mtb. My buddy, who can climb just about anything rides a Troy.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  32. #32
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    Gonna plug a dark horse here... the new Diamond Back Level-Link suspension (variant of VPP) is an amazingly efficient platform... and the bikes are cheap to boot! Stock builds are fairly heavy, but you can get the bike so cheap, that you can easily upgrade the important pieces (namely wheels & tires).

    I built up a DB Clutch 1 for my wife (same as the DB Release) that I got from Nashbar for a song. It's a 130mm frame and works great with the shock wide open. Her bike is setup 130/130, which yields 67* HTA/74* STA and she absolutely loves it.
    I like 'em long, low, slack and playful

  33. #33
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    One thing that has struck me is how well the newer Horst-link bikes climb. I demoed a Transition Patrol and a Norco Sight before buying a GG Shred Dogg. All of them are great climbers and much better than older HL bikes that I've had.

  34. #34
    cio
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    Bronson 2.6/2.5WT

    Quote Originally Posted by ckspeed View Post
    Couldn't tell you since I don't have them. But you could just get another Minion DHF 2.6" for the rear. I have a DHF 2.5WT (still waiting for the 2.6 Minion DHR2 release) on the rear of my Bronson. Eventhough its 200 grams heavier than the Rekon 2.6, I don't feel the weight, great traction.
    What's your overall impression of the Bronson with the 2.6/2.5WT. Looks like it's been a couple of months since you put it on. This is the Bronson v2? How's the clearance, Clarence? (Sorry, it's never too late for an Airplane reference imo.) What pressure are you running with those tires? Any rubbing/damage?

    I'm thinking of doing the same thing, and wanted to know your latest thoughts on that setup.

    Thanks!

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by cio View Post
    What's your overall impression of the Bronson with the 2.6/2.5WT. Looks like it's been a couple of months since you put it on. This is the Bronson v2? How's the clearance, Clarence? (Sorry, it's never too late for an Airplane reference imo.) What pressure are you running with those tires? Any rubbing/damage?

    I'm thinking of doing the same thing, and wanted to know your latest thoughts on that setup.

    Thanks!
    The combo is great on my Bronson V2. Lots of traction for climbing but not on very loose climb, I mean like similar to loose sand. Yeah, itís heavy but Iím not going to fastest climbing, just enjoying mountain biking. The 2.6 on Ibis 742 carbon rims boost fork with plenty of clearance. The 2.5wt on the rear also on 742 carbon rims and plenty of clearance on the sides of chain and seat stay but wheel diameter is close to chain stay maybe 4-6mm clearance, a 2.6 might be closer but have not try it yet. Iím still waiting for the 2.6 DHR2 to try.
    '18 SC Tallboy CC_Wife
    '17 Giant Anthem Adv_Kid
    '17 Ibis Mojo 3
    '17 SC Bronson CC

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by cio View Post
    What pressure are you running with those tires? Any rubbing/damage?

    I'm thinking of doing the same thing, and wanted to know your latest thoughts on that setup.

    Thanks!
    22psi front, 24psi rear on knolly trails and 24 front 26 rear on loose leaves and smoother trails. These setup works out great with the x2 rear shocks.

    Oh yeah, I canít feel the flex of this tires with my 742 wheelset combo with the Sapim d-light spokes but I can feel the flex with the 742 on my ibis mojo 3 with the dt aero lites spokes, my riding weight are between 178-190 depends.
    '18 SC Tallboy CC_Wife
    '17 Giant Anthem Adv_Kid
    '17 Ibis Mojo 3
    '17 SC Bronson CC

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Travis Bickle View Post
    I have an Endorphin, and it's the best tech climber I've had in all 30 years of mtb. My buddy, who can climb just about anything rides a Troy.
    The Troy is one of if not the most underrated bikes out there

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