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  1. #1
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    XC racer looking for playful trail bike (27.5 or other 29" trail bike)

    Been racing XC exclusively for last 8-9 years. Always been on 29" wheels and my last 3 bikes have been 100mm full suspension setups. 2 specialized epics and now a trek top fuel which I love. It's rigid, suspension is better than the epics in my opinion and the remote lockout is key for me. I'm a cat 1 racer and compete at fairly high level.

    As I get a bit older I'm looking to just have more fun on the bike and this is where getting a second bike comes in. A few months ago a YETI demo van stopped in our town and I rode the SB5, sb5+, and the SB5.5.

    The bike that stood out the most to me was the sb5. I felt that the bike wanted to jump around and be in the air. It was also willing to manual and ride wheelies. It was a whole new feeling and I felt like I saw the light. The other two I test rode were not quite that "playful". I'm 5'11" and they put me on a large. I felt like I was more on top of the bike than riding in it like I feel with my Top Fuel. Not sure if that "riding on top" contributed to its playfulness.

    I would say that riding my top fuel, its a hard bike to get in the air. yes a lot of that is how I've got my suspension set up and just the geometry in general, but it doesn't want to really leave the ground.

    I ride for a Trek sponsored team so I can get crazy deals on TREK, at or below wholesale due to the shop plus team discount and my buddy owns the shop who I want to support. I've ridden the newest Trek Remedy. Didn't like it so much. I live in the Midwest and I can see having that if I lived in the mountains, but it labored too much up hill for me. I'll be testing the newest fuel ex this weekend, hoping I can achieve some of those feelings that I experienced on the SB5. Looking back a previous years models, the older style remedy when it was 140mm/140mm with the option for 27.5 wheels seems like it would have been a good fit and most similar to the current SB5. I plan on taking more MTB destination trips in the future to places out west on more burly trails where my top fuel might suffer that is also where this bike will come into play, that and entering more Enduro events regionally.

    Anyone have any experience riding the older 140mm remedy and subsequently the newest 130mm Fuel EX? Or go from a pure XC bike to something they got specifically to be more playful? Interested to hear your stories and or comparisons.

  2. #2
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    XC racer looking for playful trail bike (27.5 or other 29" trail bike)

    Was initially on a Cannondale Scalpel 26" (100mm front/80mm rear travel soft tail), now on a Cannondale Habit (120mm f/r travel), I can really whack the bike more than I could on the Scalpel, and not worry too much.
    I think the more modern geometry helped a bit too (just a wee bit). If you're okay with Cannondale, you could perhaps take a look at the Habit SE, which has 130mm travel?


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  3. #3
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    I think playfulness is only partially driven by wheel size. I recently picked up a Scott spark 700 and still have a bunch of 29ers. It's definitely quick, but in a razor sharp XC kind of way, well, because that's what it's for. The geo is very speed and climbing oriented, not really made for popping off things and getting far off the ground. On the other end of things I've got a singlespeed 29er with a super short wheelbase and a slacker head tube that is definitely "playful", even with a pretty heavy wheel and tire setup.

    All that said, I'm 6'3" riding XL frames.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rumblefish29er View Post
    I think playfulness is only partially driven by wheel size. I recently picked up a Scott spark 700 and still have a bunch of 29ers. It's definitely quick, but in a razor sharp XC kind of way, well, because that's what it's for. The geo is very speed and climbing oriented, not really made for popping off things and getting far off the ground. On the other end of things I've got a singlespeed 29er with a super short wheelbase and a slacker head tube that is definitely "playful", even with a pretty heavy wheel and tire setup.

    All that said, I'm 6'3" riding XL frames.
    Iím 6f 4in on Scott 745 Large.

  5. #5
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    Treks new Fuel is the old Remedy, the Remedy is the old Slash, Slash is the Remedy the EWS riders used to a point, lol/



    The fuel in 27.5+ build is a super playful bike. 140 front travel, 130 rear travel.
    Too Many .

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadow4eva View Post
    Was initially on a Cannondale Scalpel 26" (100mm front/80mm rear travel soft tail), now on a Cannondale Habit (120mm f/r travel), I can really whack the bike more than I could on the Scalpel, and not worry too much.
    I think the more modern geometry helped a bit too (just a wee bit). If you're okay with Cannondale, you could perhaps take a look at the Habit SE, which has 130mm travel?


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    I agree with this,

    Also an old XC racer for way back, ridden lots of bikes recently, and just ordered a cannondale habit SE. xc feel, but some modern attributes... definitely playful, and fast!

    Cheers!
    W

  7. #7
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    I'm aware that the old Remedy is the new Fuel Ex etc along with the other shifts that Trek has made. I'm picking up my buddies size Large 2018 Fuel EX 29er to ride for a day. I'll get to ride it back to back with my top fuel. Curious to see how much more lively it is than the newest version of remedy (old Slash). Yes, getting a 27.5 version of the Fuel EX did cross my mind, that is actually what some at the shop were recommending even if I wanted to ride 29ers due to the 140 fork on the 27+ vs 130 on the 29. So I could get the 27+ and just do a swap...we'll see after this weekend.

    Curious if any of you have ridden both 27.5 and 29 versions of trail bikes and felt that they were equal enough in playfulness?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by holiday View Post
    I agree with this,

    Also an old XC racer for way back, ridden lots of bikes recently, and just ordered a cannondale habit SE. xc feel, but some modern attributes... definitely playful, and fast!

    Cheers!
    W
    Hey there! Glad to see another Habit convert, cheers to more fun rides!


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  9. #9
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    I ride quite a few different bike. And the most playful 27.5 bikes seem to be more playful than the most 29 bikes. Since you have a nice stable and fast 29 race bike you definitely want to get something that doesn't overlap that at all. So a 27.5 bike slacked out would likely be the way to go if you're looking for something to just have fun on (the Cannondale Habit people mentioned, while different than your race bike, wouldn't be different enough to choose it over your Top Fuel on many trails). You'll likely see the Fuel EX isn't as playful as the Yeti 5 although it'll be an awesome bike. Can't speak to Trek bikes but as a midwest rider my next bike will likely be a Guerilla Gravity Shred Dogg as you can roll it 130 or 140 or get a different rear shock and roll 150 or 160 (for those destination bike parks.) Of course if you're a Cat 1 racer and can manual and get air, I'd imagine once you get used to another style of riding, you'll want to enter enduro races, so I'd look for a playful enduro bike.

  10. #10
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    A Guerilla Gravity Shred Dogg will have you popping and jumping off every little trail feature that you can find with a big-ass grin on your face.

    Guerrilla Gravity | Shred Dogg | Info, Geometry, and Specs

    It's a silly-fun bike to ride on normal trails and works extremely well for big mountain adventures too.

    It's also made in USA by a really great company.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by GT Fatty View Post
    I ride quite a few different bike. And the most playful 27.5 bikes seem to be more playful than the most 29 bikes. Since you have a nice stable and fast 29 race bike you definitely want to get something that doesn't overlap that at all. So a 27.5 bike slacked out would likely be the way to go if you're looking for something to just have fun on (the Cannondale Habit people mentioned, while different than your race bike, wouldn't be different enough to choose it over your Top Fuel on many trails). You'll likely see the Fuel EX isn't as playful as the Yeti 5 although it'll be an awesome bike. Can't speak to Trek bikes but as a midwest rider my next bike will likely be a Guerilla Gravity Shred Dogg as you can roll it 130 or 140 or get a different rear shock and roll 150 or 160 (for those destination bike parks.) Of course if you're a Cat 1 racer and can manual and get air, I'd imagine once you get used to another style of riding, you'll want to enter enduro races, so I'd look for a playful enduro bike.
    The Shred Dogg is so packed with fun that I'll even go riding in miserable cold and wet weather to get my fix. I did a bike demo day and rode a crap-ton of different bikes until I took the Shred Dogg out. It was so incredibly fun that I ordered one on the spot.
    Riding Washington State singletrack since 1986

  12. #12
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    I wanted to chime in here as it was relevant to my situation over the last few years...

    Raced the local scene here in Upstate NY in my 30's, mostly on a 26" 2008 Cannondale Scalpel Carbon (I am 5'11" as well), then switched to a Epic 29er. Both bikes were great for their intended purpose at the time. Never felt totally comfortable on the Epic though as the wheelbase is long and it was a "big" bike...great for going fast, but sometimes felt awkward on the trails as I aged...not the right tool for the job kind of thing as I did less racing and more trail/fun riding.

    Now that I am in my mid 40's and my racing days are mostly behind me, I was looking for a more trail oriented bike with the legs to race that once a year event for fun. Went with a 2016 Cannondale Habit with the Lefty and couldn't be happier. Fits me well, playful and just plain fun. Great trail bike at 27.5 and 120mm of trail. The wide bars and short stem took some getting use to though.

    If I was in my 20's or 30's and racing more than trail riding, a 29er carbon hardtail or 100mm FS 29er would be my choice for sure. But for my riding now, 27.5 all the way. More control, more playfulness and better fit...more fun for sure!

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