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  1. #1
    DTL
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    29er hardtail suggestions for trail/xc riding?

    Im interested in picking up a 29er hardtail for trail/xc riding. I dont want anything with too racy of a geometry because I dont like being hunched over with too much weight over the front end. I also dont like too steep of a head angle. Im looking to spend anywhere from 1800 to 2500 and am open to aluminum or steel. I also prefer components along the speck of slx, x7, x9, 2x10 etc. To give an example of something I am considering i am looking at a spec stumpjumper hardtail comp 29er. I just wish it came with a 100 mm fork instead of 90mm. Anyone ride one of these for the same purposes? Any suggestions of what else to look at?

  2. #2
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    See attached link. I was going to recommend the Scott Scale (which I have and love) but thought I would post the attached link instead. The Scale came out top in 2012 & 2013 and 3rd in 2014 but tgere's lots of other models to consider too. You should be able to get an awesome ht with your budget.

    Latest hardtail of the year Articles, Galleries & Videos - MBR

  3. #3
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    In your range are two carbon hardtails with good compliance and geo.
    The Orbea Alma M50 and the Trek Superfly 9.6. Both have lifetime warranties.
    Both have compliance way beyond any aluminum frame hardtail for longer more trail oriented capability. You will be much lighter than steel. I have been beating on a Superfly all season without a problem. I would swap in a SLX crankset and XT shifters on a 2015 9.6.

  4. #4
    DTL
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    Quote Originally Posted by eb1888 View Post
    In your range are two carbon hardtails with good compliance and geo.
    The Orbea Alma M50 and the Trek Superfly 9.6. Both have lifetime warranties.
    Both have compliance way beyond any aluminum frame hardtail for longer more trail oriented capability. You will be much lighter than steel. I have been beating on a Superfly all season without a problem. I would swap in a SLX crankset and XT shifters on a 2015 9.6.
    Is your superfly a carbon hartail? If so how does the rear end feel over small roots and such?

  5. #5
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    If you like Spec, then check the Crave. It's in your price/component/fork travel range.

    Don't just jump on carbon for being carbon. At the same price, a carbon frame will have cheaper and heavier components than an aluminum frame. With cheaper wheels and heavier components, you can end up with a bike overall that weighs more and rides worse than a higher end Al bike.

  6. #6
    DTL
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    Any chance of a shop being able to remove spacers in the reba fork to get it to 100 mm on a sj hardtail?

  7. #7
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    honzo or taro?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by kan3 View Post
    honzo or taro?
    This would get my vote too. Santa Cruz Chameleon, Trek Stache (maybe) all have similar geo. Laid back, slack HT, short CS.

    A more upright, steeper HT will help with the climb. Converse on the downhill. Most XC bikes have similar, middle of the road, geo.

  9. #9
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    Kona Honzo or Salsa El Mar would be my suggestion. You sound like you're in a similar boat to me. More upright position, looking to ride on more technical stuff on the regular. I bought my bike on Craigslist, upgraded wheels (WTB KOM rims are the sheez-neezy)and cranks for well under $2k.....

    One big thing about steel I've noticed is on a fairly hard/ technical out and back loop I'm more often than not amped for the back end, lots of peeps I know riding Aluminum bikes 1lb lighter than mine are bellyachin'!

    29er hardtail suggestions for trail/xc riding?-0816141616.jpg

  10. #10
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    Trek Stache, Scott Scale, or Specialized Crave would be my suggestions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Epic_Dude View Post
    Trek Stache, Scott Scale, or Specialized Crave would be my suggestions.
    Agree with the Stache recommendation. For the use you described, as well as your budget, the Stache seems like a nice fit.

    Not a pure xc whip, and not a super slacked out AM rig. Possibly the perfect compromise for your circumstances.
    Whining is not a strategy.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kan3 View Post
    honzo or taro?
    Yes. We got Honzo as a 5th bike for family of 5, and I can't stop riding it.

    Won't say no to the Stache suggestions but the steel feel of the Honzo stood out in addition to the "in it" vs "on it" feel.

    The Honzo, make it tubeless, and add quality dropper should keep you in budget and ear to ear grins.

  13. #13
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    Biased opinion but the Stache is awesome. Option to run 2x or 1x puts it above the Honzo and similar bikes in my view. Gives you a great platform from which to build.
    Here is the thing about equality, everyone's equal when they're dead. - Gavroche, Les Misérables

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by kosmo View Post
    Agree with the Stache recommendation. For the use you described, as well as your budget, the Stache seems like a nice fit.

    Not a pure xc whip, and not a super slacked out AM rig. Possibly the perfect compromise for your circumstances.
    Exactly. It isn't a Superfly (or a steep HT angle XC racing Stumpjumper either). It has a 120mm fork, more XC style geometry apart from the HT angle. You can put a dropper on it, and it has room for wider tyres.

    Trek Stache 8: Stache 8 - Trek Bicycle

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  15. #15
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    29er hardtail suggestions for trail/xc riding?

    Quote Originally Posted by bigkat273 View Post
    Biased opinion but the Stache is awesome. Option to run 2x or 1x puts it above the Honzo and similar bikes in my view. Gives you a great platform from which to build.
    No front derailleur is also part of the attraction or beauty of some bikes.

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    I don't get the 1x attraction.

    2 reasons I see it makes sense :
    1. You live in a flat place and are never under/over geared. And you never plan on going anywhere else.
    2. Its cool.

    I'm attracted to the 2x idea being an expat roadie, but still love the range of gearing triple offers. I like riding to /from the trail and having every gear imaginable to support it. If its a weight or function issue, get a little stronger or buy better gear.

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    +1 on the Salsa El Mar. I think it's worth checking out. It just seems to dance through everything for me.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by DTL View Post
    Is your superfly a carbon hartail? If so how does the rear end feel over small roots and such?
    It is carbon, but last year the carbon Superfly(not the 9.9 SL) was stiff as a board going over small bumps. This year the 9.6-9.8 bikes are totally new and very compliant and fun to ride over rocks and bumps. Fun because you still have trail feel you don't get with a full suspension. Getting the road bike engineers involved made a big difference. There is no aluminum bikes and almost all carbon bikes do not ride like this. Maybe an Orbea Alma carbon or a Pivot Less.
    But Trek also improved the geo. It steers quick but stays stable hitting bumps going downhill at speed.

  19. #19
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    Santa Cruz highball, great HT. i have the alum version from 2012.

  20. #20
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    I had a Scott Scale and loved it. Sold it to go FS, wish I'd kept it as a backup.
    Hold my beer and watch this!

  21. #21
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    29er hardtail suggestions for trail/xc riding?

    Quote Originally Posted by Back2MTB View Post
    I don't get the 1x attraction.

    2 reasons I see it makes sense :
    1. You live in a flat place and are never under/over geared. And you never plan on going anywhere else.
    2. Its cool.

    I'm attracted to the 2x idea being an expat roadie, but still love the range of gearing triple offers. I like riding to /from the trail and having every gear imaginable to support it. If its a weight or function issue, get a little stronger or buy better gear.
    Where I live is hilly but I never use my large gear on my 3x10 and I rarely ever use my granny. I've been thinking a 30t front might give me all the range I need for climbs and flats.

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    Bizarre. At the very least I like the Big ring to do some sprints / strength training on the bike and bomb serious dh fire road runs as well as riding home on the road at 90+rpm. Granny is useful for long, technical 10pct plus climbs and is also useful when I'm tired on longer rides. I could see running 3x11 for a fancy, not super technical xc race, otherwise I'll keep my gears and the versatility.

    I live in western MA and go north and south.

  23. #23
    DTL
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    [QUOTE=eb1888;11392997]It is carbon, but last year the carbon Superfly(not the 9.9 SL) was stiff as a board going over small bumps. This year the 9.6-9.8 bikes are totally new and very compliant and fun to ride over rocks and bumps. Fun because you still have trail feel you don't get with a full suspension. Getting the road bike engineers involved made a big difference. There is no aluminum bikes and almost all carbon bikes do not ride like this. Maybe an Orbea Alma carbon or a Pivot Less.
    But Trek also improved the geo. It steers quick but stays stable hitting bumps going downhill at speed.[/QUOT

    Good information thank you.

  24. #24
    DTL
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomikazi View Post
    +1 on the Salsa El Mar. I think it's worth checking out. It just seems to dance through everything for me.
    How does the front end feel on the el mar? I noticed it is about a 71 degree HA. Is it twitchy feeling when steering and descending?

  25. #25
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    El Mar

    Quote Originally Posted by DTL View Post
    How does the front end feel on the el mar? I noticed it is about a 71 degree HA. Is it twitchy feeling when steering and descending?
    It feels super stable. On very, very slow uphill I can trackstand and keep it going as long as my legs hold up. DH feel is solid, I tend to get behind the saddle on super steep/rocky stuff and can throw around the front end pretty easily. 29's make a huge difference in both departments too though.

  26. #26
    DTL
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    For those of you with the scott scale 29 ers is there any compliance technology built into the rear seat stays or are these frames teeth chattering over small roots etc?

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by DTL View Post
    For those of you with the scott scale 29 ers is there any compliance technology built into the rear seat stays or are these frames teeth chattering over small roots etc?
    Mine is the lowest end aluminum framed 970, the 960 and above have bridgeless seatstays on their aluminum frames which may be more compliant. But hey, who needs compliance? It's a 29er and can rollover ANYTHING!

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    But hey, who needs compliance? It's a 29er and can rollover ANYTHING!
    Eventually you bump up against the limits of what you can take in time and bumps on an aluminum or stiff carbon hardtail frame. The carbon Scott has more compliance than the aluminum version and more than a carbon Giant or Specialized. It is too tight for me on tire clearance between the chainstays.

  29. #29
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    29er hardtail suggestions for trail/xc riding?

    Quote Originally Posted by Back2MTB View Post
    I don't get the 1x attraction.

    2 reasons I see it makes sense :
    1. You live in a flat place and are never under/over geared. And you never plan on going anywhere else.
    2. Its cool.

    I'm attracted to the 2x idea being an expat roadie, but still love the range of gearing triple offers. I like riding to /from the trail and having every gear imaginable to support it. If its a weight or function issue, get a little stronger or buy better gear.
    It may not be for everyone.

    First, look at the range you have with the 10-42 and 11-36 cassettes using 28t to 32t rings.

    Next, my hard tail is limited in downhill performance not seeing the top speeds my 6 inch dual suspension AM type does. Add the safety and convenience you have jumping via no chain guide (requires clutch type der and wide plus narrow ring).

    1x is also nice for remote dropper levers.

    Simple, quiet, convenient, added safety (no chain dropping), and in some ways like riding my single speed bikes with adjustable ratios. Now I get the popularity like I understand the popularity of AM hard tails.

    2015 product announcements and even more 3rd party conversation products coming out tell me I'm not alone feeling 1x is good but it may not be for everyone.

  30. #30
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    Never experienced any twitch on my El Mar. I've run the gammet of NorCal trails on it. Annadel, skeggs, demo, Mr toads, as well as northstar and mammoth bike parks. Took it bikepacking on the Tahoe rim trail and it handled the load like it wasn't even there. I've been on it as much as 17 hours in 2days and it remained comfortable. Climbs like a goat, too. Can you tell I like it? For the record I'm Almost 50 and have have been riding since a kid. A bike is a very personal thing so check out a bunch. For me, the ElMar was the one.

  31. #31
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    29er hardtail suggestions for trail/xc riding?

    Quote Originally Posted by Back2MTB View Post
    Bizarre. At the very least I like the Big ring to do some sprints / strength training on the bike and bomb serious dh fire road runs as well as riding home on the road at 90+rpm. Granny is useful for long, technical 10pct plus climbs and is also useful when I'm tired on longer rides. I could see running 3x11 for a fancy, not super technical xc race, otherwise I'll keep my gears and the versatility.

    I live in western MA and go north and south.
    I'm stationed in upstate NY, my wife lives in western VA, our parents are in CO. Yet to find a location where XX1 doesn't work for me.


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  32. #32
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    Bit late to chime in, but will none the less.

    So many options to choose from in this category, Banshee Paradox, Canfield Yelli or Nimble9, Kona Honzo, Trek Stache, Airbourne Goblin EVO and I think there's a few more I'm missing. Can't beat the Airbourne for bang for your buck for a complete, but haven't seen too many reviews on it to confirm the geo and build of it, but on paper hard to beat.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    I'm stationed in upstate NY, my wife lives in western VA, our parents are in CO. Yet to find a location where XX1 doesn't work for me.


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    With XX1 price out of the reach for many it may be worth knowing there are less expensive crank options to get lower gearing with the newer and lower cost X1. Race Face, eThirteen have new cranks, and there are third party rings that work with other SRAM cranks.

  34. #34
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    29er hardtail suggestions for trail/xc riding?

    Just an FYI: with careful shopping, I bought a shifter, RD and cassette for less than $600.
    Last edited by Le Duke; 08-19-2014 at 09:31 PM.
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  35. #35
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    The Salsa sounds good. I have a Haro SS that I got on ebay for $465. What a steal. Rides great and I love the Mary bars. Rides like a heavy carbon bike. A geared Haro should cost you less then $2000. Have FUN.

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    Just bought a trek stache 7 and love it. Perfect for what you'll be using it for!! Swop the stem for 50-60mm and some 20mm riser bar :-)

  37. #37
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    Honzo, Honzo, Honzo.

    I wanted to get my son into mtn biking, so I gave him my Kona Dawg Supreme and bought a Honzo. One of the things I liked about it, was the 68 degree headtube (same as the Dawg). Intentionally I wanted a hardtail 29er to make climbing a hell of a lot easier, since my son runs x-country and is a cardio machine. One thing I've found I really enjoy about the Honzo, is the fact that I do not try to avoid obstacles on the downhill sections, also with the short chainstay and headtube angle, it really descends better then I had thought. Going from a 5" travel full suspension bike to the hardtail has been much easier then I thought it would be. My son still beats me on the hillclimbs, but he still can't hang on the downhills.

    Get the Honzo

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Le Duke View Post
    I'm stationed in upstate NY, my wife lives in western VA, our parents are in CO. Yet to find a location where XX1 doesn't work for me.


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    Having a Trek Marlin and liking it, I also like what I hear and see about the Stache. Not that I am an expert .

  40. #40
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    Get the Stumpy, have the shop lengthen/switch out the fork before you even leave with it, switch stem out for a 50-70mm. BAM! You're riding.

  41. #41
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    [QUOTE=powdertrax;11829802]Honzo, Honzo, Honzo.

    I wanted to get my son into mtn biking, so I gave him my Kona Dawg Supreme and bought a Honzo. One of the things I liked about it, was the 68 degree headtube (same as the Dawg). Intentionally I wanted a hardtail 29er to make climbing a hell of a lot easier, since my son runs x-country and is a cardio machine. One thing I've found I really enjoy about the Honzo, is the fact that I do not try to avoid obstacles on the downhill sections, also with the short chainstay and headtube angle, it really descends better then I had thought. Going from a 5" travel full suspension bike to the hardtail has been much easier then I thought it would be. My son still beats me on the hillclimbs, but he still can't hang on the downhills.

    How much does your honzo weigh (what size is it?). It is a great looking bike. How does the rear end feel over smaller roots (harsh? Not too bad?). How does the steel frame ride compared to aluminum?

  42. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by RiceBrnr View Post
    Get the Stumpy, have the shop lengthen/switch out the fork before you even leave with it, switch stem out for a 50-70mm. BAM! You're riding.
    I bought a 2015 stumpy HT Comp. I switched the air shaft in the fork out from 90 to 100 mm, put a riser bar on it, switched stem to 90 mm, switched front tire to a 2.2 captain and tubeless. It has been a great riding bike. Very complient for an aluminum frame HT.

  43. #43
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    Niner Sir9! I set mine up for smooth trail riding with a rigid fork. RaceFace NextSL Cranks as a SS. Hadley Hubs 142x12 with a Ti SS specific free hub Zero dish. Wide Blunt 35 rims. Niner bars stem Thompson set back seatpost WTB RocketV saddle Ergon grips(helps a lot with rigid fork. XT brakes. 22-23# depends on which tires.
    I had lighter DT Swiss rims on. but I love wide and will never go back. The combo of the 853 steel and wide rims give this bike a great trail feel.
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  44. #44
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    I have a Niner Air9 RDO and ROS9 both in Med, Air9 set up with carbon wheels 1x10 and SID, ROS9 pretty much stock 2-star singlespeed (getting rid of the sketchy front tire), and choose to ride the SS more. On the rides where i might consider the Air9 RDO (long climbs at elevation), I take my FS bike instead (which is mostly stock too). I'm not an XC racer... can't remember what it was that compelled me to build up a XC race bike. I did like it, but I just like my other bikes more. I had the Air 9 before I got the FS and ROS9. I find the simple SS is nice for just jumping on for simple easy rides, finding challenge on stuff that normally wouldn't challenge me on my FS, and the FS is great for actually riding on mountainous terrain.

    Just saying to possibly get people to think ahead. I much prefer having such a 2-bike combo, over 1 high end decked out bike.

  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by DTL View Post
    For those of you with the scott scale 29 ers is there any compliance technology built into the rear seat stays or are these frames teeth chattering over small roots etc?
    Quote Originally Posted by Kiwi_GR_Biker View Post
    Mine is the lowest end aluminum framed 970, the 960 and above have bridgeless seatstays on their aluminum frames which may be more compliant. But hey, who needs compliance? It's a 29er and can rollover ANYTHING!
    My 970's frame is brutal stiff lol. I like it stiffness of it but it is brutal. I've been kinda wanting the lighter alu frame. The carbon version i'm sure rides very nice.
    '12 Scott Spark 29 Team
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  46. #46
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    The Rocky Mountain Vertex 999 rigid carbon frame has been very good for me. I bought the frame, and did a custom build.

    29er hardtail suggestions for trail/xc riding?-dsc_0948-copy.jpg

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varaxis View Post
    Just saying to possibly get people to think ahead. I much prefer having such a 2-bike combo, over 1 high end decked out bike.
    I sure get that.

    My Honzo gets WAY more use than I ever imagined. I don't even take the suspension bike for a lot of rides. It's sweet to just leave from home vs drive to trail head.

  48. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by DTL View Post
    I bought a 2015 stumpy HT Comp. I switched the air shaft in the fork out from 90 to 100 mm, put a riser bar on it, switched stem to 90 mm, switched front tire to a 2.2 captain and tubeless. It has been a great riding bike. Very complient for an aluminum frame HT.
    Wanted to echo this post.

    I did almost identical upgrades to my 2012 Stumpy HT: In addition to the above, I build up a set of Chris King's to Stans Arch wheels, went with a 100mm SID RCT3 w/ 15mm TA, and to take the sting out of seated efforts I put on a Specialized Cobb Gobbler seat post (CG-R Carbon), TI railed saddle, and the highest volume tires the frame allows.

    The only thing I desire is the ability to run a rear 2.3 tire a little more comfortably. I'm thinking about going to a 1x11 setup but I'm going to ride my 2x10 drivetrain into the ground before making a final decision. This bike is set up so close to what I consider ideal for my kind of riding (trail-riding XC vs. XC only) I'm likely going to keep it going until I can pull the trigger on having a 44Bikes built for me.

  49. #49
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    I noticed no one has mentioned the Giant XTC Advanced 1 29er. MSRP is $2700, but it's on sale for $2200 (Giant-subsidized).

    - Carbon composite frame
    - Fox fork w/100mm travel
    - All-Shimano drivetrain & brakes (XT & SLX)
    - Front Thru-Axle

    I am actually considering one right now as an upgrade from my Hardrock I've had for 5 years. I really like the combo of Fox fork and all Shimano, as well as the carbon frame. I guess the only features I wish it had is a drop saddle and remote fork lockout.

    Anyone here have one or very familiar with it? I have no experience with Giant.


    XTC Advanced 29er 1 (2015) | Giant Bicycles | United States

  50. #50
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    Check the geo and you find a 71* very steep old school head tube angle.
    This can make handling twitchy on faster downs hitting bumps.

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