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  1. #1
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    help me spec a budget off-road triathlon training/race bike...

    I'm a competitive road triathlete looking to add a few off-road triathlon races to my calendar. I'm 6'2, 195lb and have a budget of ~$2500 for a complete bike that will do double duty as both a training and a race bike. Due to my size and budget, a hardtail 29'er seems like the most logical choice. I don't need the latest bling. Think bang-for-the-buck.

    The LBS sells Niner. And, after reading some reviews, it sounds like a solid choice. Most likely either an Air 9 or an EMD.

    Here's where I need some help...

    1. Is the Air 9 worth the extra $250, or would that money be better spent elsewhere (wheels, grouppo, etc.)? Anyone know what the actual weight difference between these frames is in a size L? They're exactly the same aside from material, correct? What does the Scanduim give you that the 7005 aluminum doesn't?

    2. Grouppo. It's been recommended to go with Sram X.9 for excellent bang-for-the-buck. Would you agree?

    3. Brakes. Hydraulic discs for sure. But, which ones? Juicy 7? What size rotors front/rear for someone my size?

    4. Crankset. No idea. Someone mentioned Truvativ Stylo, but didn't mention a specific model. Any help is appreciated on this one.

    5. Wheels. Strong recommendation for the ZTR 355 rims and a tubeless system. But, what hubs? Are American Classics worth the extra $155 over WTB Laser Disc Lite? What tubeless system? Stans? What tires for all-around?

    6. Bottom bracket, headset, other. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Steve

  2. #2
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    Reputation: Cloxxki's Avatar
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    $2500 you call "a budget"? To many that's dreambike value!
    But then, you're a triathlete, you guys keep the LBS's alive :-)

    If you spec a $2500 bike, it's quite hard to take wrong turns.
    But for the sake of argument, you might lok at a Fisher Paragon. Well under your budget, but a fine bike. Some select upgrades would bring weight down to take crap from no 26" race bike. You could get a custom build tubeless wheelset with XT cassette, and keep the stock set for training/backup.
    Paragon $1870
    http://www.fisherbikes.com/bike/model/paragon/fullspecs
    (Lots of X9, dedicated Fox fork, LX cranks, no real compromizes)

    Suggested upgrades :
    - Schwalbe Racing Ralph tires for racing, Perhaps another set for variance in training
    - If you must spend :XTR/Stan's Arch wheels (performance, weight, cost optimized, in that order)
    - Salsa 17d carbon bar
    - Ti seat post. Not sure which brand is not the value champ. Ti posts are worth it.
    - A stash of latex tubes, unless you decided to run tubeless
    - XT 11-34t cassette
    - Grips that work with your hads best, rarely part of a stock bike.

    No reason to swap the cranks unless you need a specific length. Shimano tends to work well and have decents weights as far as I know. Upgraing cranks over Shimano gets costly, and often adds complication.

    In MTB'ing, it's perhaps relatively easy to find a stock bike that has many of the spec you'd be building your bike with anyway, and at a lower price.

    If you sell of the stock wheels, you have more money to burn on upgrades. Seems to me you got a superb bike there already.

    Niners are awesome too, frame quality is highly regarded by most anyone. You'd be between L and XL, perhaps closer to L as Niners run long. XL for the Paragon I'd say.

    But frankly, go out and buy a lightly used Superfly. Easier, sooner, better, and doable around budget. Get a 19 please, as I'm gettting that XL.

  3. #3
    mtbr member
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Mickstar
    1. Is the Air 9 worth the extra $250, or would that money be better spent elsewhere (wheels, grouppo, etc.)? Anyone know what the actual weight difference between these frames is in a size L? They're exactly the same aside from material, correct? What does the Scanduim give you that the 7005 aluminum doesn't?
    According to the Niner website, there is a 0.4lb difference between in the medium frames for those two models. The other advantage is that Scandium rides nicer than normal aluminum, more like a steel bike. That sounds like a nice quality to have for long distance off road riding and will save you some unwanted wear on your body.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Mickstar
    4. Crankset. No idea. Someone mentioned Truvativ Stylo, but didn't mention a specific model. Any help is appreciated on this one.
    The Stylo is a specific model by Truvativ (a very good one), but their are three versions of it with 1,2, or 3 chainrings.

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Mickstar
    6. Bottom bracket, headset, other. Any help would be appreciated.
    Modern cranks come with the bottom bracket built in.
    Most any headset will perform exactly the same if it is properly adjusted, even a Chris King. The Cane Creek S3 is widely regarded as a great deal and a very solid performer.

  4. #4
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    Thanks, guys. Point taken about some triathletes having more money than sense when it comes to their bikes.

    However, believe me when I say I'm not one of them. My race bike is my training bike (including wheels), it's an aluminum frame, and it was sub-$2500, too. While $2500 is a nice race-only wheelset for some, it's a lot of money for me. (My wife agrees!)

    Anyway... I could still use some help/education regarding 2, 3 and 5 if someone wants to take a crack at it.

    Thanks.

    Steve

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Mickstar
    2. Grouppo. It's been recommended to go with Sram X.9 for excellent bang-for-the-buck. Would you agree?

    3. Brakes. Hydraulic discs for sure. But, which ones? Juicy 7? What size rotors front/rear for someone my size?

    5. Wheels. Strong recommendation for the ZTR 355 rims and a tubeless system. But, what hubs? Are American Classics worth the extra $155 over WTB Laser Disc Lite? What tubeless system? Stans? What tires for all-around?
    2. SRAM is good. You cant mix and match SRAM and Shimano, but you can use Dura Ace/Ultegra with XTR/XT. Stick with X9 and go for gripshifters (cheaper and lighter than pod shifters).

    3. Why Hydros? Spend more time setting up, and fixing on the trail is difficult. Endurance racers stick with mechanical discs (BB7's are cheaper too).

    5. Stans Arch for your size, hubs depending on how much money you have left. Hope Pro 2's are good value. I have had bad experience with AM Classic. Racing Ralph for good rolling, all round tyres.

  6. #6
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    Cloxxki's got it right on this one. Start with a GF Paragon and upgrade where you deem necessary. Many of these being raced successfully bone stock at xc and endurance races. Spend the extra $ saved on a race wheelset/cassette/rotors so you can run 2 different types of tires depending on your race conditions. Ride it awhile and make changes as needed. I like the gripshift shifter exchange suggestion too.

    G
    You can't depend on honest answers from dependant hands...

  7. #7
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    2 3 & 5

    2. Go with the full X9 group. Definitely the best for the money. I have put 2k miles on my triggers and RD and they still work great. Instead of running an FD and since you will be on a 29er you may want to try a 1X9 set up for reduced weight and simplicity. Pick up the Truvativ Stylo single speed crank and put a bigger ring on it if you find you are spinning out (which you probably won't). The Stylo SS crank is cheap, stiff, and only 48g heavier than a Noir triple.

    3. I have gotten great performance from Juicy 7s. They are strong easy to set-up, and I like the pad contact adjustment. BB7s are nice and low maintenance, a little heavier, and don't feel as good as the Juicy's.

    5. The stan's arch rims are a safe bet for your weight. I weigh 185 and have had no problems with these rims. I don't thinkg the AC hubs are worth the extra money. The WTB laser discs are great hubs. I have a problem free SS rear, I crank on often. If it still fits in your budget, get the DT240s hubs. They are lighter and smooth as monkey snot on a glass door knob. For tires I like to run something bigger up front and tubeless; however I run a rigid fork. I run a nevegal frt small block 8 rear and it has worked out great. If you want light and fast rolling the small block 8 really does work in most conditions and they are +-575g.

    I hope some of this helps.

  8. #8
    Cassoulet forever !
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    I personnaly use a Salsa Dos Niner with a reba and Mavic C29ssmax whells for xterra and off road triathlon.

    I like the softail to prevent the beat up and be fresher for the run...
    Frenchspeaking 29"ers community site http://VingtNeuf.org

  9. #9
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    +1 for BB7 brakes
    and +1 for XT/or LX cranks and BB

    any money you save dump into a custom wheel build - Hope Pro II hubs and some swanky rims
    Richmond, VA
    Ra-MORE mtb club

  10. #10
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    A big strong guy on a Scandium bike, it's going to creak a bit.
    I love the Truvativ Blaze crank, the version that is compatible with the Howitzer BB.
    The BB has external bearings and looks like it's integrated but it's not.
    It is the most solid feeling, trouble free bottom bracket I've used.

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