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  1. #1
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    Carve Pro vs. Stumpjumper Comp vs Trek Stache 8

    I will be buying my first mountain bike in about 20+ years in the next month or so. I have been an avid road rider for about 12 of those years and now want to get on the trails again.

    I ride a steel road bike (IndyFab) and thought I would want a steel mountain bike, so I went and tried the Salsa El Mar, which I liked but was not blown away by. (I have also ridden a Niner MCR, but it was out of my range.) While at the same shop I tried the Stache 8 and thought that it was much more fun then the Salsa El Mar. This was at a shop about 30 minutes from me.

    My local shop, which is owned by my neighbor, carries Specialized, Cannondale, and Scott. I went there yesterday and talked to him about the Carve Pro. I will ride it in the next week or so as my size wasn't built up, but I did talk to him about specs. I would change out the brakes to shimano XT and probably change the shifters to XT, which puts me in the price range of the Stumpjumper. I don't like the parts package on the Stumpjumper as well, but the frame may be a bit nicer. I definitely favor Shimano parts, particularly the brakes. I don't know much about the difference between the Fox shock on the Pro versus the Reba on the Stumpjumper. I am won't be a competitive racer, but will probably eventually do a 100 miler. I know I will have to replace wheels on both bikes after about a year of use. My initial budget was sub $2k, which I am obviously over. I would still like to be near that, but don't want to save $200 now only to spend another $400 in 3 months. I will buy from a LBS as I really like both guys and already road ride with them and like to be able to hang out at a bike shop. So, has anyone ridden some or all of these bikes? How about the forks? Experiences with customer service of Trek vs. Specialized? Are there any other bikes I should consider in this price range?

    Thanks for your input.

  2. #2
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    The Carve and Stumpthumper are both going to be classic feeling XC bikes. While the Stache is aimed directly as a AM/Trail 29er, although the chainstays are quite long at 17.5". I've ridden one of the newer generation Stumpy HTs and it was a nice bike for the price, but I never felt comfortable at speed and on steep terrain pointing down.

    If you liked the Stache you should check out a Kona Honzo. Better frame geo, no G2 fork, 142 rear end, and very short stays at 16.3". It is also steel, which the other three bikes you mentioned are not. So it will last forever.

    Don't buy from the LBS just because you like the guys that own it and want to be their friend. It's your money and you should spend it where you want for what you want. Buy the bike you like the most and feels the best when you ride it. You will still be able to hang out there and support the LBS with upgrades, parts, service, clothing, helmets, etc.

  3. #3
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    Better frame Geo is subject to the rider and where they are riding at. The stache also has a 142 rear end. G2 Fork is just a slight different crown offset. I think 1 or 2 mm only.

    Dont get too wrapped up in specific geo numbers. If you are looking for a "trail" 29er HT check out the latest dirt rag magazine. They do a comparison of the stache 8, Honzo and a couple other similar bikes. Just a couple weeks ago I did a trail demo of the stache 8. It is a great bike. I may end up selling my Trek fuel for one. You may also want to check out the specialized stumpjumper EVO HT 29er. The stache had a very solid quality feel. The bike put a smile on my face right away. I rode some what technical trails and was on the bike for almost 2 hours total. The shimano plus derailer is great. I love the 2x10...it is now a must for my next bike. I also demoed a bike with XT brakes and could not tell a noticable difference between SLX and XT so I would not sweat that a bit. I also have the new SLX brakes on my fuel right now. I have been going back and fourth on the 29er FS or HT. I will probably will debate it more. If I get a HT it will be a stache 8.

    I have had great service with trek warranty. I did break one frame a few years ago and they took care of it fast. I would assume Specialized would do the same.
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  4. #4
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    i can speak of the carve i have one the comp model but i already upgrade a lot of things, fork to a rs reba, transmision all shimano xt, i keep the original wheels i think that are ok i ben riding this bike for a more 1 1/2 years and is great is my second bike and i use for road rides mixed whit trails and jumps, speaking of the frame is very confortable for a hardtail sometimes you forget that you are on a hardtail, the bike is very fast climbing and in the downhiils, i can`t think anything negative about this bike maybe in very hard downhills trails whit jumps i like better my all mountain full suspension bike, but you said you don`t plan on doing that kind of riding, so go for the carve great bike. good luck.

  5. #5
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    Geometry on the 3 bikes is different enough to be noticeable to the rider. Pick the one that fits you best. I had budgeted for the SJ but picked the Carve for its better fit. The Carve replaced a 17 year old Rocky Mountain steel bike, so I understand where you are coming from.

    XT shifters aren't particularly important over SLX. Just replace the shifters when you break them.

    The Trek Stache 8 is quite a bit more expensive than the Carve Pro.

  6. #6
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    I own a Carve Pro - bit of a noob, but probably put 200+ miles on it on a mix of trails and I LOVE IT. I don't have allot of seat time on other bikes, but every ride I'm blown away at what this bike can do, and overcome. I've gone down some stuff I thought was over my head, and pulled it off with ease - front fork soaks up stuff great, and the hardtail adds a bit more to the fun factor.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gregon2wheels View Post
    Geometry on the 3 bikes is different enough to be noticeable to the rider. Pick the one that fits you best. I had budgeted for the SJ but picked the Carve for its better fit. The Carve replaced a 17 year old Rocky Mountain steel bike, so I understand where you are coming from.

    XT shifters aren't particularly important over SLX. Just replace the shifters when you break them.

    The Trek Stache 8 is quite a bit more expensive than the Carve Pro.
    I agree on the geometry and will ride all three, but it is always nice to hear what other people's experience have been.

    I am glad to hear you say that there isn't much difference between the XT and SLX as I was thinking about saving some money there. I did see a big difference between the SRAM X7 and the XT shifter so I thought the SLX would be comparable to the X7.

    In what way did you find the fit of the carve different from the fit of the Stumpjumper?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by shenvalleybiker View Post
    In what way did you find the fit of the carve different from the fit of the Stumpjumper?
    The top tube of the SJ is shorter for the frame size. I ride a size medium Carve, and I would have needed a size large SJ to get the right length to the handlebars. BUT my crotch is resting on the top tube when I'm standing over the size large SJ (or Carve for that matter). Since I do have some abrupt get-offs on the trail, that made me nervous.

    My road bike is a custom with a 55 cm seat tube and a 57 cm top tube with traditional geometry and an 11 cm stem - I liked to be stretched out.

    At about the same price point, go ahead and look at the Scott Scale 950 since your LBS has it. It is a little less expensive than the Carve Pro. Geometry is a little different. For the same frame size, the overall bike is smaller. It's got your Shimano brakes. It doesn't have the Shadow Plus rear mech - the Plus is nice, but not a deal breaker. It's got 3 x 10 gearing, not 2 x 10 gearing. Claimed weight is between the Carve and the Stumpjumper. Gearing is a little taller on the Scale.

    Good luck.

  9. #9
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    stygz1 is dead on. The latest Dirtrag is a must read based on the type of bike you're in the market for as it reviews 5-6 "progressive" "aggressive" "all mtn"...whatever you want to call 'em hard tail mtbikes. The Diamondback Mason, Kona's Honzo, the Stache 8 etc are great bikes that throw in all the latest tech into fun and durable packages.

    Full disclosure, I work for a Trek dealer. I just picked up a Stache 8 to round out my quiver of bikes...I added a stealth reverb 125mm travel seatpost with left hand remote, went with tubeless setup, and added a raceface atlas bar that matches up well with stock green turbine cranks. It weighed in at exactly 28lbs on the scale. I've put in about 5 solid trail rides and here are my thoughts:

    Whatever bike you get make sure it has Shimano's shadow plus rear derailleur...I was very impressed as the bike is a hardtail and is dead silent in rock gardens and roots with ZERO chainslap. The stache is a fun bike that is stable and confident on the downhills and climbs exceptionally well. With the thru axles (also recommended on any bike that you're considering), SLX brakes (you don't need to get XT's), Fox fork and the 2x10 drivetrain the bike leaves little to be desired build wise aside from a dropper post. The ability to rout a stealth dropper was a nice touch and cleans up the bikes appearance nicely since both the front and rear derailleur lines are partially internally routed also.

    If you want a turnkey bike that has a well thought out build out of the box the Stache 8 is a contender. It should be on your short list of rides to consider. I'd take a look at that Dirt Rag article though from this month. Any of those bikes would be worth a look except for the Moots, which will be way out of your budget b/c of Ti frame. You really can't go wrong but test ride each if possible. Happy hunting!

  10. #10
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    Well Shenvalley, if you're prepared to spend a bit more, then it might be worth test riding the Titanium version of the Salsa El-Mariachi. It's a bit of a bargain when compared to a Moots or an Indy Fab. I love mine but it's not for sale!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tea@Dimbola View Post
    Well Shenvalley, if you're prepared to spend a bit more, then it might be worth test riding the Titanium version of the Salsa El-Mariachi. It's a bit of a bargain when compared to a Moots or an Indy Fab. I love mine but it's not for sale!
    I think the Salsa El Mar Ti is going quite a bit out of my price range, but I did think about it. I ride an Indy Fab road bike, so I totally thought about that as I love my custom steel. This is a bike to get back into mountain biking, make sure I like it still, and if I do then buy another bike in 3 years or so. Glad you like yours.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by setransou View Post
    stygz1 is dead on. The latest Dirtrag is a must read based on the type of bike you're in the market for as it reviews 5-6 "progressive" "aggressive" "all mtn"...whatever you want to call 'em hard tail mtbikes. The Diamondback Mason, Kona's Honzo, the Stache 8 etc are great bikes that throw in all the latest tech into fun and durable packages.

    Full disclosure, I work for a Trek dealer. I just picked up a Stache 8 to round out my quiver of bikes...I added a stealth reverb 125mm travel seatpost with left hand remote, went with tubeless setup, and added a raceface atlas bar that matches up well with stock green turbine cranks. It weighed in at exactly 28lbs on the scale. I've put in about 5 solid trail rides and here are my thoughts:

    Whatever bike you get make sure it has Shimano's shadow plus rear derailleur...I was very impressed as the bike is a hardtail and is dead silent in rock gardens and roots with ZERO chainslap. The stache is a fun bike that is stable and confident on the downhills and climbs exceptionally well. With the thru axles (also recommended on any bike that you're considering), SLX brakes (you don't need to get XT's), Fox fork and the 2x10 drivetrain the bike leaves little to be desired build wise aside from a dropper post. The ability to rout a stealth dropper was a nice touch and cleans up the bikes appearance nicely since both the front and rear derailleur lines are partially internally routed also.

    If you want a turnkey bike that has a well thought out build out of the box the Stache 8 is a contender. It should be on your short list of rides to consider. I'd take a look at that Dirt Rag article though from this month. Any of those bikes would be worth a look except for the Moots, which will be way out of your budget b/c of Ti frame. You really can't go wrong but test ride each if possible. Happy hunting!
    I will pick up the latest Dirt Rag if it is still available. As a bike industry person, what do you think about the Fox fork on the Stache 8 versus a Reba fork?

  13. #13
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    What I took away from that artical is all the bikes were great. But they did say the stache was a bike that could be their daily ride. And it could be their one and only bike. That was not said about any of the other bikes.
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  14. #14
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    I guess another 853 steel 29er frame to consider would be the Cotic Solaris. Cotic's 26 inch bike (The Soul) is lengendary and I hear the Solaris is good too. I've tended to go for steel and ti hardtails myself as I like comfort.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shenvalleybiker View Post
    I will pick up the latest Dirt Rag if it is still available. As a bike industry person, what do you think about the Fox fork on the Stache 8 versus a Reba fork?
    The fox and reba forks are both great with air springs that provide good tunability. IMO, loook for a bike with the following: shimano brakes (avids...meh), thru axles (improve handling), wheels that are tubeless compatible (better grip/no pinch flats), and a shimano shadow plus derailluer (makes bike super quiet). Other than that, make sure you fit the frame and enjoy the bike's feel.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tea@Dimbola View Post
    I guess another 853 steel 29er frame to consider would be the Cotic Solaris. Cotic's 26 inch bike (The Soul) is lengendary and I hear the Solaris is good too. I've tended to go for steel and ti hardtails myself as I like comfort.
    Steel ais definitely a great feeling ride although heavier. Ti is awesome....just expensive. I agree on cotic...have also heard good things. As for original poster on this thread, try to get a bike from local shop especially if you're not mechanically inclined. The shop will help with service issues and has you covered in the event of a warranty issue. Plus, they should be able to help set up your cockpit and the bike in general.

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    Quote Originally Posted by setransou View Post
    The fox and reba forks are both great with air springs that provide good tunability. IMO, loook for a bike with the following: shimano brakes (avids...meh), thru axles (improve handling), wheels that are tubeless compatible (better grip/no pinch flats), and a shimano shadow plus derailluer (makes bike super quiet). Other than that, make sure you fit the frame and enjoy the bike's feel.
    Yes, yes and yes.

    Might also be worth your while looking at the scott scale bikes. Specialized makes some nice bikes, but at least in my neck of the woods, value for money isn't high on their list of strengths. The stache is a very different type of bike - much more a HT trail bike vs XC bike. I have also just come off road bikes, and have found that this style of bike suits me well for general trail riding. But it isn't what i'd choose for a 100 mile ride. I'd give some serious consideration to a FS 29er if you are thinking you might wanna do some big endurance rides.
    Last edited by The Dead Horse; 03-09-2013 at 03:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by setransou View Post
    The fox and reba forks are both great with air springs that provide good tunability. IMO, loook for a bike with the following: shimano brakes (avids...meh), thru axles (improve handling), wheels that are tubeless compatible (better grip/no pinch flats), and a shimano shadow plus derailluer (makes bike super quiet). Other than that, make sure you fit the frame and enjoy the bike's feel.
    This is a great shopping list. Also even the shimano brakes that are one step below the SLX are good. Magura's new brakes seem to have a good feel. Avid brakes will get you by but after you use the latest shimano you will want to switch. Also if you end up with something that needs the brakes upgraded check out blueskycycling.com they seem to have some of the cheapest prices of SLX or XT brakes. Also I beleive SRAM "type 2" derailers are similar to the shimano plus. My limited experience with Reba is great feeling fork just didnt seem as stiff as a Fox.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dead Horse View Post
    Yes, yes and yes.

    Might also be worth your while looking at the scott scale bikes. Specialized makes some nice bikes, but at least in my neck of the woods, value for money isn't high on their list of strengths. The stache is a very different type of bike - much more a HT trail bike vs XC bike. I have also just come off road bikes, and have found that this style of bike suits me well for general trail riding. But it isn't what i'd choose for a 100 mile ride. I'd give some serious consideration to a FS 29er if you are thinking you might wanna do some big endurance rides.
    I will try the Scott bikes as they are in my local shop. Regarding the FS, I find that most of my riding friends use hard tails for the local area. Some have had FS, but have gone back. They prefer the hard tail for all of the climbing. Also, I will only do a very limited number of endurance events. This is why I starters out looking at steel, for comfort.

    Just to be clear, you are riding a Stache8?

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tea@Dimbola View Post
    I guess another 853 steel 29er frame to consider would be the Cotic Solaris. Cotic's 26 inch bike (The Soul) is lengendary and I hear the Solaris is good too. I've tended to go for steel and ti hardtails myself as I like comfort.
    This bike looks interesting, but not available in my local area.

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    Quote Originally Posted by setransou View Post
    Steel ais definitely a great feeling ride although heavier. Ti is awesome....just expensive. I agree on cotic...have also heard good things. As for original poster on this thread, try to get a bike from local shop especially if you're not mechanically inclined. The shop will help with service issues and has you covered in the event of a warranty issue. Plus, they should be able to help set up your cockpit and the bike in general.
    Yes, I plan to buy from one of my "local" shops. My neighbor owns the shop that is 5 minutes from our homes and has Specialized, Scott, and C-Dale. He also has Niners at times,but not right now. My next "local" shop is 30 minutes away and then there are several that are 40 minutes away. I will ultimately buy the bike that fits the best and has the stuff I want, but if I have to pay a little extra to support my neighbor I will. I am only modestly mechanically inclined so a local bike shop is great for me. I also really hated having to drive for 30 minutes to go to a bike shop or a group ride. So I am a big supporter of the LBS, but not so much so that I can only buy a bike from him.

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    Well good luck with your search...whatever you get i'm sure you'll be stoked out on the trail. Btw, if ya want to set up your own cockpit, or learn the fundamentals at least, check out the latest mountain bike action. There's a solid artical on the topic. Also, coming from road you might be inclined to immediately go clipless. Don't w/o first considering a high end flat mated to a Five Ten shoe as an alternative. You lose a little efficientcy on the ups but flats are way more fun on the tech and downhills just my 2 cents...I rode clipless for years and moved back to flats and LOVE it!

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    OP, you have a lot of options in your price range. Too bad you don't have a giant dealer near you because the xtc composite would be worth a test ride. I ended up going with the stumpy comp because I prefered the reba and the fit was better but really; as long as your get a good fitting bike, you can't go wrong in your price range.

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    I work at a Specialized dealer and I can say that their warranty service is top notch. If you don't mind, how much do you weigh? The reason I ask is due to most bikes in this category, including both the Specialized offerings have aluminum nipples. At 28 holes, the Specializeds' wheels are not recommended for riders over 180 lbs (not something listed on the website). I don't know what nipples are used on the Trek, but if you do plan on doing a 100 mile race/ride at some point, you aren't gonna want to have to deal with stripped nipples and/or broken spokes in the middle of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by letour32 View Post
    I work at a Specialized dealer and I can say that their warranty service is top notch. If you don't mind, how much do you weigh? The reason I ask is due to most bikes in this category, including both the Specialized offerings have aluminum nipples. At 28 holes, the Specializeds' wheels are not recommended for riders over 180 lbs (not something listed on the website). I don't know what nipples are used on the Trek, but if you do plan on doing a 100 mile race/ride at some point, you aren't gonna want to have to deal with stripped nipples and/or broken spokes in the middle of it.
    Thank you for raising the point about the wheels. My Specialized dealer did tell me up front that I would have to replace those wheels, probably within a year. I currently weigh about 190-195 and get down to about 185 during the summer, so I am definitely above their weight. I don't believe there are a ton of bikes in this price range that come with "great" wheels. It is one of the reasons I started with the Salsa El Mar, because it came with Stan's. I have accepted that I will have to buy wheels probably within a year of buying the bike.

    Thank you everyone for all of the input, there are a lot of good bikes in this price range. Keep the feedback coming. Thanks.

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