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  1. #1
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    Help Picking Between Hardtail 29ers

    I'm picking my first mountain bike and have narrowed down my choices to three bikes. I've ridden some singletrack on rented/borrowed bikes the past two years and want to get more serious. Looking for a general trail bike, I'm in Piedmont of NC.

    2013 Scott Scale 960 @ $1320
    RockShox XC32 100mm w/ remote lockout
    Shimano Deore Front / Shimano XT Rear 3 x 10
    Shimano M445 Hydraulic Disc Brakes
    Rode this bike and liked it, great brakes, feels good, very solid and light, only negative is price and that I thought it's kind of ugly

    2013 Kona Kahuna @ $1200
    RockShox XC32 TK 100mm w/ twist lockout
    SRAM X5 Front / SRAM X5 Rear 3 x 10
    Avid Elixir 1 Hydraulic Disc Brakes
    Rode Big Kahuna which has SRAM X7 / Avid Elixir 5 and geometry felt fine but a little heavier

    2013 Cannondale Trail SL2 @ $1080
    RockShox Recon Silver TK Solo Air 80mm w/ twist lockout
    Avid Elixir 1 Hydraulic Disc Brakes
    Rode SL4 which has cheaper brakes and hardware and it was decent but didn't feel as good as Scale 960. SL2 is cheapest and best looking bike.

    My main concern is I haven't been able to ride SRAM X5 or Avid Elixir 1 setup. Both dealers are near my house and are single location local bike shops and I worked with the owner at each and liked both. My other concern is that this is too much bike for a beginner. Anyone care to chip in?

  2. #2
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    The Scott has excellent long-term geo, good for developing skills. It isn't too much bike if you want to ride the more difficult/fun trails.
    Avid brakes are usually soon replaced by many riders because the piston doesn't properly retract and they then make noise all the time. SLX is the recommended upgrade at about 160/set from Bluesky.
    The Airborne Seeker is about $1000 shipped. Different geo than the Scott, but nicely equipped.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by boilerdown View Post

    2013 Scott Scale 960 @ $1320
    RockShox XC32 100mm w/ remote lockout
    Shimano Deore Front / Shimano XT Rear 3 x 10
    Shimano M445 Hydraulic Disc Brakes
    Rode this bike and liked it, great brakes, feels good, very solid and light, only negative is price and that I thought it's kind of ugly
    The scott get's my vote. Doesn't look ugly at all to me..

  4. #4
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    I got the Kahuna and like it. Despite what people say about the brakes they've been ok to me. Put some better pads in which helped. Never squealed as yet either. I guess when I get faster they may be an issue.

  5. #5
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    If based on looks, I'd vote for Scott Scale 960, but I think the Cannondale Trail SL2 has more bang for the buck.

  6. #6
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    Scott has the best Geometry, the Cannondale has the best fork stock. For as cheap as SLX/XT brakes are, I wouldn't let crappy stockers dissuade you from any bike.

    I'd look at a Trek Cobia in that price range all day long myself. 69.6 HTA, 17.5" CS, decent fork and drivetrain, so so brakes (IMO).

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the responses. Didn't mean to offend anyone by calling the Scott Scale 960 ugly, honestly the only thing that bugs me is the white fork. Black would have looked so much cleaner. Anyway, they all look like prom queens with some dirt on them right?

    When I was at the Trek dealer they told me they couldn't order 2013s anymore, so if I wanted the Cobia I'd have to wait for the 2014s to be released this fall. That left only the Mamba which I didn't care for the brakes on. Thanks for the link to the Airborne bike, that seems like a better value especially without sales tax but I'd rather buy local where I can get free adjustments and get fitted to the bike.

    Sounds like I'd be looking at $100+ with labor to upgrade the Avid Elixir 1 brakes if they bug me and there's the SRAM X5 vs Deore/XT parts that aren't really cost feasible to upgrade later on.

  8. #8
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    They're all pretty nice. I had previous great success with a Kona. I also own a lower end Scott Aspect as a back-up. I would tell them to take $100 off the Scott and go that way. Konas have a rep for lasting, and I have had that experience. But with so much change-over year to year it's hard to even pretend that the bikes a company makes today have anything to do with bikes they made 7-10 years ago. Nice fork on the Cannondale for a 13' at that price.. Ride them and pick which one fits you.

  9. #9
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    It's funny you mention the Aspect, I also considered the Aspect 910, but they didn't have any in stock. It's the same dealer for Scott and Kona here, and they said they couldn't discount on a bike they had to order but they would cover shipping, provide free adjustments for six months, etc along with a 20% discount on anything else purchased with the bike. The Scale 960 was already discounted from 1450 to 1320 since it is in stock and a 2013. The Scale 960 and Aspect 910 were effectively same price with the Scale 960 discount which is why I stopped considering Aspect 910.

    So basically the Cannondale is reduced by 19%, the Scale 960 by 8%, and the Kahuna is list, but rather than looking at percent discount I'm trying to look at price compared to components you get. I'm comfortable with both dealers who were very helpful, took lots of time to explain things, allowed test rides, and are local guys who support the area.

  10. #10
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    I just got my first mtb last week and I went with cannondale sl2 vs the Scott scale. It just looks so much nicer and love the lightness of the frame. I took it to the lake this weekend and it went over rock paths easily.

  11. #11
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    I forgot to add I am a beginner as well. Haven't ridden a bike in over 20 years but wanted something that I didn't have to upgrade later. I think I made a good choice.

  12. #12
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    Intense Hard Eddie

  13. #13
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    Help Picking Between Hardtail 29ers

    I'm a huge Cannondale fan, and June 2013 MBAction had a very (VERY) favorable review of the Trail Sl1.... but the 2013 trails are all 3x front chainring, and that's a mistake. 3-by is not obsolete, but in my opinion, most riders will ride better with and prefer 38-24X11-36 20-speed gearing. Also, I'm against buying a bike you plan to upgrade soon, especially a crucial component like brakes. A leftover set of Avid-1's is a deal breaker for me. How about wait on the 2014 Cannondale? Or narrow your selection to trail bikes with Magura or Shimano brakes? Or take the $250 you were planning on spending on brakes and jump up the the Trail SL1? Yikes, I didn't help much, but hope these point help you make a decision soon! None are too much bike ... And great insight that you are sticking with an LBS that works with you. See you out there.

  14. #14
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    I think the Kona Kahuna has one of the best platforms for upgrading. It may not come with the best parts but the money is in the frame, the geometry is almost perfect. I've ridden one over long days in the saddle and short fun rides. I think for the money its one of the best. Just my opinion...

  15. #15
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    Scott gets my vote. Scale 960 was my first choice as my first bike, it just so happen that the owner of my LBS asked me if I'll be interested with the step up Scale 940 for $1,500. Needless to say I jumped on it the second I heard him say the price. A couple of small scratches was his reason why he's dropping $750 off of the bike w/c I'm very much ok with. You cant go wrong with a FOX 32 Float fork and shimano xt/xls group set.

  16. #16
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    Wow that is a sweet price on a Scale 940, I'd easily overlook a few scratches to get one of those for 1500.

    I hadn't looked at Intense before, looks like a nice bike but no dealers in town. Which is odd, they have some in smaller cities nearby.

    I took a look at the Cannondale SL1, it has the XT/Deore hardware and Shimano M505 brakes which look like an upgrade from the M445s on the Scale 960. I'll email the LBS on what pricing SL1 would be. Only concern is that the fork is 80mm travel vs 100mm?

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