I recently attended Dirt Rag Dirt Fest and had the opportunity to flog Niner's dated 140mm WFO, the Sight Killer-B, Ranger Killer-B, and Carbine 275.
The WFO felt like a long travel 29er...which is to say that it just plows through stuff. It was fun, but fun like driving a tank through a city.
Next up was the Sight Killer-B. All around an awesome bike. A 160 up front would have been nice, the large was not big enough for my 6'0 size, surprisingly.
After putting in nearly 20 miles on the previous bikes, I decided I wanted to try the Range Killer-B back-to-back with its smaller travel brother. This was a mistake. The Range is low and aggressive, and it does not particularly like to climb. Granted the bike I was riding was not equipped with a very high-end shock, and it also had the 36mm stanchioned SR Suntour fork but even so, the Range felt sluggish, even on a relatively flat trail. Pointed downhill, the bike was plush, but standing pedal strokes resulted in bob, or a precariously low bottom bracket. Allegrippis is not what I'd call rocky and I was having some problems with pedal strikes.
Under normal circumstances I could have said that maybe the fact that I'm out of shape and was pretty much dead for the day meant the Range felt like it weighed 40lbs and bobbed like a downhill bike, but my demo for Sunday would have me wondering if it just wasn't the weight, suspension design, and shock tuning that did not flatter the Range.
I put a very fast, very hard 11 miles on the Intense Carbine 275 on Sunday, and right from the get-go knew this bike was worth the $4000 asking price. The Large fit me perfect, and despite being the lower-end kit, the suspension tuning felt dead on, and bike just plain hauled ass. I'm normally a very critical guy, and I couldn't fault the Carbine at all. Well, the seat wasn't comfy, but I'll let it slide.
WFO needs updating. Shorter rear end. Really want to try an Enduro 29 now, but I may have a new bike by the time that happens.
Sight Killer-B is an awesome trail bike, and their new carbon version should build on that. Just realize you've only got 140mm in the rear suspension. This would probably be plenty for me, and it's probably plenty for most people.
The Range Killer-B could benefit from a diet, a platform/lockout shock, and it's still the best bargain in a 160mm FS 650b. Oh, and some suspension tweaks can get 170mm f/r out of the bike as well as lifting the bottom bracket a little.
Finally, the Carbine really brings to light how important suspension geometry is these days. The VPP is wonderful, and if the Santa Cruz was smart, the Bronson should climb better.
At the end of the two day demo session, the Carbine really stood out as the bike I'd like to buy if I could afford it, and they are readily available. The Bronson should be ready as well in a few months. The Enduro 29 is the one bike I'd really like to swing a leg over, but I won't buy before I ride, and with the big wheel wonderbike already sold out, I may own a 650b before I ever test the Enduro 29.
Mtbr's 2016 Winter Biking GearReviews and Roundups
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Thread: Wfo vs sight vs range vs carbine